IN MY FIFTIETH YEAR, AND GETTING OLD BY C. H. SPURGEON.
THIS fiftieth year of mine has not been without its peculiar heartsearchings.
When feeling weary with an unbroken stretch of work, I began to fear that it, was the age of the man, as well as the work of the office, which was causing sluggishness of mind. We all remember how Bunyan says of his “Pilgrim’s Progress,” “as I pulled, it canto.” So ‘did my sermons; but they wanted more pulling, and yet more. This is not a good sign for the quality of the discourses. If I judge rightly, the best juice of the mind’s vintage is that which leaps from the cluster at the first gentle pressure of the feet; that which is squeezed out by heavy machinery is poor stuff: and therefore I have feared that, with increasing labor, I might only manage to force forth a viscid liquid acceptable to none. I hope it has not been so; I cannot judge my own productions, but I think, if I had greatly flagged, some of those delicious people, called “candid friends,” would have been so kind as to drop the acid information into my wounds at a time when they perceived that the vinegar would cause the most smart. Still, the critics may have formed very humiliating judgments on the subject, and may have been so fearful of the consequences to my feeble mind that they have in great tenderness repressed their verdict. An American brother says that “People’s tastes are such that preachers on the wrong side of fifty may consider that they are about done with the gospel trumpet.” Judicious friends may have reached that stage of feeling with regard to me, but may not care to express it.
Such were my lucubrations: they were humbling, and so far healthy; but one can drink so much of the waters of self-depreciation as to grow faint of heart; and this is not healthy, but the reverse.
Over all this, in the worn-out hours, came the dark suspicion that. the morning time was over, and the dew was gone, and that the beams of the sun were falling more aslant, and had less light and warmth in them; and the dread that the gloom of eventide would soon darken thought and expression, and show that the prime of the work-day was past. Faith saw the God-ward side of the matter, and sang, “At evening time it shall be light “; but prudence also whispered that the human side must be considered too, and that dullness would injure force, and weaken interest, and diminish usefulness.
In my rest-time I have been able to survey the situation with some fair measure of deliberate impartiality, and also to call in the aid of a considerable observation of the result of years upon other men. No one can deny that there is such a thing as “the tameness at forty, and the going-toseed at fifty.” The lively evangelist of former years has sobered down into the prosy sermon-reader, a man much respected by all who know him, but rather endured than enjoyed by his regular congregation. The brother who flashed and flamed has, by reason of age, become a strangely quiet fire: a live coal, no doubt, but by no means dangerous to the driest fuel. A brother of our own profession, by no means censorious, has said, “A very little examination will convince the most skeptics! that an appalling percentage of preachers are dull, dry, and tiresome.’ Surely these men did not begin at this pitch, or why were they allowed to begin at all? They must have grown into a routine of sermonizing, and have settled down into a flat, unprofitable style through the lapse of time. They were green and juicy once, but they have dried in the suns of many years, till the vulgar speak of them as “sticks. ” Shall we all go that way? Must my next volumes of sermons, if the sermons ever see the light in that form, become mere faggots, which none but the old man in the moon would care to be burdened with? A heart-rending question to me. I fear my personal observation of the bulk of preachers does not help me to a consolatory answer. Perhaps the remark may offend my brethren. Courage, my heart, it, will not offend those of whom it is not true; and those of whom it is true will be sure not to take it to themselves, and so I may escape.
But this writer whom I have quoted, whose somewhat lengthy and Latinized words persist in ringing in my ears, has done much to cheer me.
He says, “The dismal decadence of-a multitude of well-intentioned men is quite preventable.” Brave news! I will bestir myself to prevent it in my own case, if it be preventable. He adds, “No doubt any of us can number a score of men, in the range of our personal knowledge, who at sixty are fresher in thought, more attractive in manner, and in higher demand in the churches, than they were twenty years ago.” I am not sure about “a score” whom I know at this present; but I certainly know:, or have known, more than that number who answer to the description. There rises before me now a brother, whose age I will not even guess at, but he is certainly over sixty, who is as vigorous as he was twenty years ago, and more prominently useful than ever before throughout ‘a singularly useful life, I knew another who, towards his later days, largely increased the number of his always numerous hard words, and did not therefore increase the pleasure of his auditors; but. with this exception he hardly showed a sign of flagging, and went off the field because his wisdom urged him to make room for a younger man, and not because he could not still have held his post with honor. A third conspicuous instance is before me of a preacher, who, however he may have declined in faith, and erred in doctrine, to ‘the inexpressible grief of thousands, is still mentally as vigorous and fresh as aforetime. Our statesmen are many of them ancients; our greatest: political leader is “the Grand Old Man.” Observation therefore gives a second deliverance, which, if it does not reverse, at least qualifies the former verdict.
Soon ripe soon rotten, ” is a proverb which warns the precocious of what they may expect. He who is a shepherd at sixteen may be a mere sheep at sixty. One can hardly eat his cake and have it too. When a third of a century of work has already been done, the laborer may hardly expect the day to last much longer. In my own ease, the early strain has been followed by a continuous draft upon the strength through the perpetual printing of all that I have spoken. Twenty-nine years of sermons on those shelves; yet one must, go plodding on, issuing more, and yet more, which must all be in some measure bright and fresh, or the public will speedily intimate their weariness. The out-look to those eyes which are only in the head is not cheering. Happily there are other optics, and they shall be used.
It is the Rev. Martyn L. Williston that I have quoted, and I will borrow from him again. “It is not the first intrusion of gray hairs in the pulpit which is a signal of alarm to the pews. No man, in average health, should be less of a man at fifty, or seem so, than at twenty-five; but many are so in appearance and in fact; and to the,, not to the people, is chargeable the slackening demand for their services. The most of our professional feebleness is traceable to our own want of mental virility. If we will, we can remove a great deal of uneasiness from our congregations. Preachers who grow duller as they count their years, this side of sixty at least, do so from simple mental shiftlessness, very much as the Virginia planters have let their lands run waste from mere depletion. We must perpetually replenish heart and brain, or the fields of thought will turn meager and this is sound sense, and stirs ;he aging man to an increase of diligence in reading and study. But it should also he clear to him that he must have more time than ever for these purposes, He must conscientiously use his hours, and his people must as conscientiously yield them to him. The Israelites made bricks without straw, but they could not; have made them without time. Increased space will he needed for collecting useful materials, and preparing them for the upbuilding of the church.
The peculiar danger of advancing years is length of discourse. Two honored brethren, have lately fallen asleep, whose later years were an infliction upon their friends. To describe one is to depict, the other. tie is so good and great, and has done such service that you must ask him to speak, tie expects you to do so. You make hold to propose that he will occupy only a few minutes. He will occupy those fear minutes, and a great many more minutes, and your meeting will die out under his protracted periods.
Your audience moves, all interest is gone, your meeting is a failure, and all through a dear old man whose very name is an inspiration. The difficulty is not to start these grand old men but to. stop them when started: they appear to be wound up like clocks, and they must run down. This is a seductive habit to be guarded against when years increase: it may be wise to resolve upon being shorter as age inclines us to be longer. It would be a pity to shorten our congregation by lengthening our discourse.
It is also frequently true that elderly speakers become somewhat negligent in theft orator!/. It has been said that a young man is mainly taken up with the question — “ How shall I say it?” and hence he attains a good and pleasing style; while the older man thinks only of — “ What shall I say?” and thus, while he improves as to the matter of his discourse, his manner is all too apt to become slovenly and drowsy. If it. be so, it ought not to be so. We ought to improve in all respects, so far as our powers have not declined. We cannot be blamed if memory does not serve us quite so nimbly as aforetime, or if imagination is not quite so luxuriant; but we deserve to be censured if in any’ point within our power we decline even a hair’s breadth. We must not make a mistake as to what really is improvement. It is possible to preach better according to the canons of taste, and to preach worse as to real usefulness: God grant that we may not improve in this fatal way! It; is easy to become more weighty, and at the same time more dull, so that though more is taught less is learned; may we haw: grace to avoid this form of unenviable progress! The art of growing old wisely will need to be taught us from above. May we be willing scholars of the Great Teacher!
When all is said and done, the jubilation of our Jubilee does not call for any’ great blowing of trumpets, but rather for uplifting of hand and. heart in prayer to God for further help. It may be that we are only in mid-voyage.
May that voyage end in landing our freight in port, and not as some life- .passages have terminated, namely, in an utter wreck of every hope! Our friends and fellow-helpers will, we trust, supplicate on our behalf that we may receive a fresh anointing from on high, and we will begin life again without fear. The Scripture remains as ore’ inexhaustible text-book, the Lord Jesus as our boundless subject, and the Holy Ghost as our infinite Helper — what therefore have we to fear? What is lost in sparkle may be gained in value; the departure of vivacity may be made up by the incoming of experience; and thus the old man may be as useful as the young. “Such an one as Paul the aged” is an honor to the church: we are not such as yet, but grace can cause the middle-aged to mellow into fathers of that order.
To this end I have printed this personal morsel, that I may sit by the wayside, and beg the prayers of the faithful. It may be that it is folly to make public such maunderings; be it so confessed; but hitherto I have lived these many years in the hearts of ten thousand willing’ helpers, and their affectionate sympathy has been my solace, and I cannot do without it now.
I would enlist their loving prayers upon my’ side, at this hour, with double force. If there should seem to be no special need, yet renewed prayer will not be wasted. There is ample room, and verge enough, for increased usefulness in the multiform directions in which my strength is already engaged. While I would stand in line with all my brethren, and swell the common pleading, “BRETHREN,PRAY FOR US,” I also venture, in this my fiftieth year, to take up my own personal place as a beggar, and cry, “BRETHREN, PRAY FOR ME. ” NO LAW AGAINST BEGGING OF GOD BOW-STREET. — ABLIND BEGGAR — Richard Robert Griffiths, 23. was charged with begging.—The defendant is totally blind, and for some considerable time past has been in the habit of occupying a seat at the corner of Milford-lane, near to the porter’s lodge in the Temple gate. He was taken into custody on the present charge by Police-constable M’Loghland, who alleged that under the pretense of selling matches he had importuned passers-by for alms, and was heard to say, ‘ Help a poor blind man! ‘ He was seen to receive money from four or five persons. It was admitted by the constable that no complaints had been made about defendant; and he denied that he had begged, though he was thankful if people bought his goods, or gave him alms unasked. — A gentleman from the Temple, who was in the habit of passing defendant two or three times a day, stated that he had never known him to solicit alms. — A letter was read from Mr. Firth, M P., stating that he was passing when defendant was taken into custody, and he saw nothing to justify the interference of the police. — Mr. Vaughan considered that he could not convict defendant.
He was discharged, and the learned magistrate expressed a hope that he would go back, and remain quietly at his usual place unmolested by the police.”
If we are poor’ seeking sinners, this paragraph will be interesting to us. In many points this blind beggar’s case should excite our gratitude, for it is so much the reverse of our own. It is true that spiritually we sit at the gate of the Temple, asking alms; but this is not contrary to the law. We are encouraged, yea, commanded to pray, and we have the promise that our petitions shall be heard. The more often we cry for help the better. We need not disguise our action, we do most distinctly beg and importune; but there are no officers employed by the court of heaven to forbid our appeals. We have it under the King’s hand and seal that we may beg as much as we will.
It is pleasant to observe that the blind beggar of the Temple had friends at court, and that those who were hard upon him came off second-best. Rest assured that, if any take upon themselves to forbid s, sinner’s prayers, they will make small headway before the Court above. If doubts and fears bid us cease our petitioning, it will be a great comfort to hear the voice of Jesus bidding us “Pray without ceasing.” Let us get back to the mercy-seat, and able in the place of supplication, knowing that no one may lawfully offer us any molestation while we lift up our petitions to the God of heaven.—C.
SELECTIONS FROM SPURGEON’S LITTLE BOOK ENTITLED
“THE CLUE OF THE MAZE SCIENCE AND THE BOOK ATONE.
BETWEEN therevelation of God in his Word, and that in his Works, there can be no actual discrepancy. The one may go further than the other, but the revelation must be harmonious. Between the interpretation of the Works and the interpretation of the Word there may be very great differences. It must be frankly admitted that the men of the Book have sometimes missed its meaning: we have never held the doctrine of the infallibility of Scripturists. Nay more, it is certain that, in their desire to defend their Bible, devout persons have been unwise enough to twist its words, or, at least, to set them in an unnatural light, in order to make the Book agree with the teachings of scientific men. Herein has lain their weakness. If they had always labored, to understand what God said in his Book, and had steadfastly adhered to its meaning, whatever might be advanced by the scientific, they would have been wise; and as professed science advanced towards real science the fact that the old Book is right would have become more and more apparent.
SCIENTIFIC STATEMENTS NOT INFALLIBLE.
Those who have addicted themselves to the study of Nature, and have despised the Word, certainly cannot claim such immunity from mistake as to demand a revision of Scripture interpretation every time they enthrone a new hypothesis. The history philosophy from the beginning until now, reads very like a Comedy of Error. Each generation of learned men refuting predecessors, and there is every probability that much of what is now endorsed as orthodox scientific: doctrine will be entirely upset in a few years’ time. When we remember that one coterie of savan’s has proved to a demonstration that there is no such thing as mind, and that another has been equally successful in proving that there is no such thing as matter, we are led to ask the question, “When doctors differ, who is to decide?”
LITTLE SETTLED IN SCIENCE.
There are many voices in the world, some powerful, and others weak; but there is not yet a consensus of thoughtful observers sufficiently strong to demonstrate any one system of science to be absolutely true. The inductive process of Bacon, no doubt, yields the nearest approach to certainty; but even this cannot raise a deduction beyond question, for no man of science knows all the instances that can be adduced, and his deduction from what he knows may be upset by equally sure inferences from what he does not know. The time over which scientific observations can travel, even if it be extended into ages, is but as a watch in the night compared with the eternity of God; and the range of human observation is but as a drop of the bucket compared with the Circle of the heavens; and, therefore, it may turn out, in a thousand instances, that there are more things in heaven and earth than were ever dreamed of in the most accurate philosophy of scientists.
These good people have done their best, from Aristotle downwards, but they have hardly accomplished more than to prove us all dunces, and themselves scarcely a fig better than the rest of us.
WHERE ALTERATION IS EASIEST.
Instead of altering the Bible, or allowing that it may be mistaken upon mundane matters, it is a far safer course to continue the long-ago-begun process of amending science, which is made of a substance so plastic that no great effort is required to change its fashion to the reverse of its present; shape. From the first doctor in the school of science down to the last, error has not only been possible, but almost unavoidable, from the limitation of human faculties and the mystery of phenomena. Even the interpreters of Scripture have been less absurd than the interpreters of Nature: though certain of these have gone to grievous lengths. Yet THE BOOK retains its impregnable position. If it ever comes to a matter of decision whether we shall believe God revelation or man’s science, we shall unhesitatingly cry, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”
NO REMARKABLE PRESENT DIFFICULTY.
At the present moment we do not see any considerable difficulty existing.
Scripture may not square with certain hypotheses, but it agrees ‘with facts.
The Scripture, interpreted in an intelligent manner, displays as great an agreement with Nature and Providence as Words can show with Works.
An article in the Illustrated London News may describe in words a scene which, on the opposite page, is depicted by the pencil of an accurate artist: the two forms of instruction may fully coincide, and yet the impression upon the reader, who fails to see the engraving, may not be the same as that produced upon an observer who only notices the sketch and neglects the letter-press. The man who cared only for the typography might quarrel with the votary of the wood-block, while the picture-observer might equally well retort upon the reader: but if the two could be combined, the intent of the author would more surely be understood. Let him that teacheth the Word consider the Work, and let him that observeth Nature attend to Revelation, and growing wisdom shall be the reward of both.
ANCHORAGE AND ROOT-HOLD OFFAITH.
When the Bible is fully accepted as God’s own revelation of himself, the mind has come to a quiet anchorage; and this is no small gain. A safe resting-place is an urgent need of the son. To find a sure foothold somewhere, men have tried to rest in an infallible church, or in their own supposed infallible reason. Of two earnest brothers one became a Papist, and another an infidel. We do not feel attracted to either haven, if haven either of these can be called; we prefer for our own part to cast anchor once for all in an infallible revelation. Drifting about must be fatal to a growing and advancing life: root-hold is essential; here, then, is ours.
When first the anchor goes down, or the root strikes, little can be known of the anchorage or the soil compared with that which will be discovered by the test of experience. Thousands are quietly moored in the fair havens of Scripture; myriads are growing and bearing fruit in the garden of the Lord.
Their witness is assuring, but our own -experience will bring the most satisfactory conviction.
Down goes the anchor: the rootlets embrace the soil.
THE SNAKE IN THE BOTTLE AWORKING-MAN had settled in Australia upon a small allotment of land, which he obtained from the Government. He married, and was soon surrounded by a family. By hard work the trees were felled, and the timber burnt off, and he had quite a considerable farm. His live stock increased, and he began to thrive; and everything might have gone well with him if he had not been the victim of strong drink. From a frequent tippler he became at length a confirmed drunkard. Of course, the farm was neglected, and everything was impoverished. Soon he began to sell the live stock, and at last all had gone except one pig, which was ready for the knife, but would in all probability never be eaten but drank. He went to bed one night, after having taken his usual “night-cap,” and fell asleep. He dreamed that he was very thirsty, and had gone to the bottle for another drop. He was about to lift the bottle, when a snake thrust its head out from the place where the cork should have been, and with open jaws and protruded tongue began to strike in all directions. He seemed fascinated by the deadly fire of its eye, and just as in his dream he was about to be struck for death he awoke. His first instinct was to thank God that it was only a dream; and the second was to turn over in his mind what it could mean. “Ah!” said he to himself, “there is a serpent in the bottle, and I will hate no more Is do with it. ” He trundled out all the paraphernalia of the old serpent, became an abstainer, and what is better still, a Christian, and was soon the center of holy influence in all the region roundabout. We can only hope that any of our readers, who delight in their little drops, may behold just such a vision.
O SIN, WHO CAN LOOK ON THEE?
YOU shall as soon espouse light and darkness, and marry midnight to the noonday, as you shall espouse or marry a holy God to an unhumbled sinner. Oh, who can look upon sin as an offense against a holy God, as the breach of a holy law, as the wounding and crucifying of a holy Savior, as the grieving and saddening of a holy Sanctifier, and as an eternal loss and undoing of his own soul, and not mourn over it? Oh, who can east a serious eye upon the nature of sin, or upon the exceeding sinfulness of sin, or upon the aggravations of sin, and not have his heart humbled, his soul grieved, and his spirit melted for sin? Oh, who ,can look. upon sin as it strikes at the honor of God, the name of God, the being; of God, the glory of God, and the design of God, ’ and · not have his mouth full of penitential confessions, his eyes full of penitential tears, and his heart fall of penitential sorrow?—Thomas Brooks.
SAVED ON THE BRINK OF DESTRUCTION DR.GUTHRIE, in his autobiography, writes as follows: — “A merciful interposition of God’s hand occurred during my ministry at Arbirlot. I had gone to the rocks on the east side of Arbroath that culminate in the noble promontory of the ‘ Red Head,’ on a day when the waves were, so to speak, ‘running mountains high.’ Though the tide was. making a considerable breadth of the rocks that shelved at a sharp angle into the sea lay bare, I leaped down on one, and had no sooner lighted on. the slippery weeds that covered it, than my feet went out front below me, and, laid flat on my back, with my face to the sky and my feet to the sea, I was off, like a ship at her launch! Instantly taking in all the danger, I gave myself up for lost. I could swim, but in such a sea I would have been dashed in pieces against the rocks. By God’s providence the very extremity of the danger had the effect, not of confusing, but of calming my mind. I remembered that the rocks there, formed of what is called’ plum-pudding stone,’ had often nodules that, consisting of harder matter, had resisted the action of the waves, and rose above their polished surface. I remembered also how, but the very day before, I had got the heels of my boots armed with iron, and it came on me like a flash of lightning that, if I pressed firmly against the rock in ray descent, I might peradventure catch a projecting nodule, and be saved — brought to a standstill by that. This flashed on my mind like an inspiration; and, through the divine blessing, by this device I was plucked from the jaws of death — saved, when nothing else short of a miracle could have saved me.”
Depend upon it, Guthrie never needed arguments to convince him of a special providence. Here was no miracle; but was not the God of miracles there, giving to the mind calmness, and remembrance, and resolve to test the possibility of escape? It is in the little things that God is seen. Chance did not place the projection where it was, nor put new iron heels on Guthrie’s boots, nor nerve him to keep his feet well down upon: the rock.
No, the Lord himself was there, and his holy angels were keeping watch over a precious life so full of after-usefulness. C. H.S. MRS. SPURGEON’S BOOK FUND IT has been our custom to give just a taste of Mrs. Spurgeon’s Annual Report of her Book Fund. From many who have read it we have heard the, emphatic declaration that it is the best report which has yet appeared. The writer of the record thinks very little of her own composition, but in this we take leave to differ from her, and we think that those, friends who spend sixpence with Messrs. Passmore an t Alabaster in purchasing “The Book Fend and its Work, 1883” will be of our mind. It is a delicious morsel.
Alas, since the issue of this little book certain of the most generous donors to the work have been taken home. All ore’ enterprises have during the last few weeks lost several of their bast supporters; but the Lord liveth, and as he has provided hitherto, we are persuaded that he will not fail us, but will send by other stewards as the former ones go home.
The extract given is from the notes of the month of July.
HOW THE GIFTS OF THE BOOK FUND ARE VALUED.
Looking through some of my letters to-day to see what I could gleam of summer fruits for my dear reader’s enjoyment, I thought it might be pleasant to make a “confection” of a few of the innumerable “good things” which are constantly dropping from amongst the leaves of my very large correspondence. There will be no novelty in this digest — can any new thing come out of a Report? — but it will at least convince any one who will take the trouble to read it, that, “partial” as I may be to my dear “Master’s” books, I am by no means alone in my avowed enthusiasm.
Taking first the “Treasury of David” (it being seemly to give the place of honor to the magnum opus), I note the experience of a Congregational minister, who says concerning it: — “It has been most helpful to me in quickening and strengthening my spiritual life; it has enlarged my understanding, and added immeasurably to my store of knowledge. It has provided me with such savory meat, and I have relished it; so much, that now I seek diligently to obtain more. You could not have conceived of a truer or better way of helping a poor minister than by adding to the little stock of books which he fondly calls his library.”
A pastor in the Midland Counties writes :—” The 119th Psalm has been a favorite portion with me for years, but I have found it difficult to commit; to memory. Was this because ‘ its expanse was unbroken by a bluff or headland... a great sea of holy teaching... without an island of special and remarkable statement to break it up’? (See preface to Vol., VI.) Be this as it may, henceforth I launch upon it with such a copious and accurate chart to guide me, that I long once more to explore the whole; and already it seems to lie before me like a vast lake:, whose every creek, and bay, and island, promises some new scene of delight. It has been my custom for years to keep some work in reading as a sort of companion to the Bible; and when, on Saturday night, I saw the pains Mr. Spurgeon had taken to unfold the riches in this wonderful psalm, I resolved at once to put it side by side with my Bible, and to study the whole comment which forms the bulk of the goodly volume. Thank you so much for sending me this Royal Banquet, and please thank Mr. Spurgeon for letting so many of us share; in what he tells us has been a means of grace to his own heart.”
The “Treasury of David” is so serviceable a work to men with small libraries that it is no wonder its appearance is hailed with joy and gladness when sent as a gift by the Fund. “Many a hearty ‘ God bless him!” says a ,country pastor, “escapes from our lips when the goodly volumes are unwrapped, and a glance into the pages reveals the treasures awaiting appropriation.” The “Treasury “is a continuous stream of blessing, an unfailing storehouse of provision, a rich mine of sacred wealth; and, therefore, the poor pastors, hungry and thirsty and needy, covet it earnestly as one of the “best gifts.” “There is no work,” writes a clergyman of the Church of England, in acknowledging the volumes which I had sent, — “ there is no work the possession of which could have given me greater pleasure than the ‘ Treasury of David.’ A brother-clergyman of extensive reading said to me a short time ago, ‘ Whatever you do, get Mr. Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David “; it is by far the most valuable contribution to the literature of the Psalms.’ Indeed, a glance at the volumes has convinced me that my friend was right, and that Mr. Spurgeon is a Christian philosopher of the Eclectic School. I only wish it were possible that he could do for the whole Bible what he is doing for this special portion.”
As for the “Sermons,” no words of mine can tell the blessing the Lord vouchsafes to them, not only in the conversion of sinners, but in quickening, arousing, and refreshing the preachers of the Word; they are prized and used largely as patterns and helps to pulpit preparation, and as constantly serve as aids to private devotion. A pastor in the far west of America says : — “ I read a ‘ Sermon’ for my own spiritual advancement every morning after the Bible, and this keeps me so full of good things that I am always fresh for my work. I use them as I use the water from my well — to refresh myself and regale my friends, serving them up in my own measure and manner.” Again, a minister in England writes : — “ Last week I was making a sermon on Colossians in. 2, 3; and, turning to Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘ Sermons’ for 1880, I found on page 193 some thoughts which put my mind just into the right course; and, aided by the Holy Spirit, a difficult subject was made clear, and I was enabled to present it to my people; and this morning I was meditating on the Beauty of Christ as set forth in the words, ‘ Thou art fairer than the children of men.’ and again I received much help from the same source. I just refer to these recent instances to show how great a boon you have conferred on me in putting these volumes on my shelves.” “I never allow my sitting-room to be without a few of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons,” says another friend, “so that those who come in may read, or take away a copy with them, and some very dear to me have thereby been greatly blessed.”
May not this suggestion of quiet service for the Lord find a quick response in some timid heart? Those who cannot “speak a word for Jesus” might surely be able to place a few “Sermons” in the way of ,careless or seeking souls, and let Mr. Spurgeon speak to them, while they pray for the Word to be made fruitful. “The amount of good I get from reading the ‘ Sermons’ no tongue can tell,” writes a grateful recipient; “they are full of savor and blessing! It is a marvel how Mr. Spurgeon can continue to pour forth such utterances as these sermons contain, and even to excel all previous efforts, as the last volumes abundantly testify. Of course, I say this, looking at the human side of the matter; it is no marvel that the Lord, whom he serves, should thus show his divine power and sustaining grace in his servant.”
The first series of “Lectures to my Students” was the “first-born” of the Book Fund: the “beginning of its strength” —and it must not be passed over without loving notice, coupling with it now the two later volumes, of which some one has truly observed, “The very best of Mr. Spurgeon’s work, and the very best things he says, are to be found in these Lectures.”
The joy with which I send out these volumes knows no qualification; I am as sure of my harvest with such precious seed as if the golden grain were already gathered within the garner. To young and old alike they bring wholesome instruction and weighty counsel — offered, too, with such genial grace that none can turn away offended. “I am delighted,” writes a minister of high standing, “with the sanctified common-sense which characterizes the two volumes of ‘ Lectures to my Students’; and though I have been some years in the ministry, I find valuable hints in them, and many echoes in my own answering experience of the need of friendly advice such as they offer.” “Thank you very much for the ‘ Lectures,’” says a young beginner; “from them I have gleaned many a wise suggestion, and in them I have met with many a hard but not unprofitable blow. God bless Mr. Spurgeon for the loving, earnest, faithful words found in these volumes.” In one case a very practical improvement in demeanor is induced by the perusal of these fervent addresses, and amusingly confessed thus:- “I have carefully read the ‘ Lectures,’ and I believe they have done me good. My wife says I have not so many silly ways as it used to have: I don ’t look at my watch so much when speaking, or use my handkerchief so vigorously! ” Then, again, comes testimony to higher influence:- Mr. Spurgeon lecture on Attention benefited my delivery; but when I read the address on ‘ Earnestness,’ my soul was led into the very presence of God; and, after a day spent in holy joy, I preached at night as I had never preached before, and two souls were brought to Jesus!” A learned doctor, who presides over a missionary college in Egypt, shall be the last witness on behalf of these precious books. He says, in a letter to me :—” I used the first volume of ‘ Lectures’ last year with my students, reading it off in Arabic ;while they took notes. Mr. Spurgeon is easily translated even into Arabic — clear, ,logical, simple, solid. ‘ May his shadow never grow shorter!’” Surely all this is blessed encouragement to continue the distribution of books which are so powerful for good! ‘“For every printed word becomes a seed That, planted, must spring up — A flower or weed; And he who writes — may write What millions read. ” I think, dear friends, you will know that my desire in transcribing these few testimonies out of the thousands at my command, is not unduly to boast of or triumph in my dear husband’s works — to God be all the glory for all that has been done through them! But I want you to catch the tone of the bell which is always ringing at my door, and to see the quality of the provision which is being constantly handed out to eager applicants. These letters exhibit my work and its consequencers far better than any amount of dry statistical information could do; and therefore I give them to you with a happy and grateful heart, and “TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE.”
NOTES Since our return to London we have been inundated, as usual, with requests for sermons or speeches in various parts of the kingdom. How much we wish we could satisfy them all! It may save some trouble to intending applicants, as well as afford us a little relief, if we inform all our friends that we have already made as many promises as we can hope to fulfill between the present time and the close of the May meetings, and it will be a great mercy if some who are expecting us do not again suffer a disappointment through our oft-recurring sickness. No one knows except those who are constantly with us how great is the ever-increasing strain of the work that properly claims our first attention, and if we could only perform that as it deserves, we might well be excused from outside engagements. On coming home we plunged into a flood of extra work., and the result is inability to leave our be, d, through pain and weakness.
On Monday erecting, January 28, special prayer was presented that the Pastor, who was expected to leave Mentone the following day, might be brought back in safety and in health. Dr. Kevorkian, a native of Armenia, who was present, told the story of his conversion through reading a Bible lent to him by one of the Christian converts employed by his father. His decision cost him the loss of parents, friends, and home, and his name was even erased from the national register. Dr. Van Lennep, who labored at Tocat, where Henry Martyn died, received him into his house, gave him further instruction in divine things, and sent him to America to acquire some medical knowledge, tie is now returning to Tocat to open a Medical Mission.
On Monday evening, February 4, Mr. Wm. Olney, in the name of the whole church, gave thanks for the safe return of the Pastor, and prayed for continued and increased blessing upon all the work of his hands. Mr. Harrald was asked to give an account of the efforts made to carry the gospel to the natives of Mentone, and Pastor C. H. Spurgeon spoke of the many opportunities of usefulness of which he had been able to avail himself during his period of rest. It was a happy season. It is one of the finest sights under heaven to see some 1500 persons met together to pray. We must have a blessing while prayer is thus highly esteemed among us.
On Monday evening, February 11, ‘the pastors, deacons, and elders of the church met to celebrate the communion of the Lord’s Supper before the usual prayer-meeting, and spent a very pleasant and profitable season together. At the public gathering in the Tabernacle, among other matters of special interest, Mr. Win. Olney gave an account of the service held on the previous evening at the Bermondsey Town all, where the Lord Mayor of London delivered an evangelistic address to a crowded congregation. The Pastor also spoke of Mr. Moody’s visit to him on Saturday, and of the beginning of the mission at New Cross on the following Tuesday. In the prayers that followed, a blessing was asked on both these efforts, and on all similar work. On Wednesday evening, Feb. 13, the annual church-meeting was held in the Tabernacle. after about twelve hundred of the members had taken tea together in the school-room and lecture-hall. Pastor C. H. Spurgeon presided, there was a large attendance, and the proceedings throughout were marked by the hearty cheerfulness which seems ever to pervade our large church-family whenever it meets. The treasurer was able to report a balance in hand on every account except one, on which there was a small deficiency, which was defrayed before the meeting. The statistics were as follow: — Increase: by baptism, 310; letter, 108; profession, 30; restoration, I. Decrease, by joining other churches, 302; emigration, 13; non-attendance, 127; other causes, 8; death,69; making a decrease for the year of 70, the present number on the church-books being 5,341. The names of 43 pastors of churches who were formerly students in the College had been allowed in error to remain on the roll, and the removal of these, together with a specially severe revision of the books, accounts for the lessening of our numbers. One new deacon, Mr. Buswell, was chosen to fill the place of our late Brother Mills; and the following resolution, proposed by Pastor J. A. Spurgeon, and seconded by Mr. W. Olney, was unanimously and enthusiastically carried :-”’That the church gratefully recognizes the goodness of Almighty God in sparing t6 it, and to the Christian church at large, the invaluable life of ,our beloved Pastor, C.H. Spurgeon; and that, in order to celebrate worthily this his Jubilee, we raise a suitable memorial and present it to him; and. that it be an instruction to the deacons to take this matter vigorously in hand, and carry it forward as they’ may deem best.”
THE PASTOR’ S JUBILEE.
— If the Pastor is spared until the 19th of next June he will be fifty years old, and the church at the Tabernacle desires to commemorate the event in a suitable manner. At the Pastoral Silver Wedding in May, 1879, the sum of £6,233 was presented ‘to the Pastor, as a thankoffering to God for enabling him to complete the twenty-fifth year of his pastorate. £5,000 of this amount was at once invested as an endowment for the almshouses, and the remainder was devoted to various portions of the Lord’s work at the Tabernacle which were in need of help.
The Pastor has no wish to be personally benefited by any testimonial that may be presented at his Jubilee celebration, but he does desire that some permanent monument of God’s goodness to him and to the church should be erected as the outcome of the approaching commemoration. Plans are not yet fully matured, but one of the objects to be secured is the erection of aTABERNACLE JUBILEE HOUSE, in the place of the chapel-keeper’s cottage which has now been pulled down in connection with the improvements that are being made in the street at the back of the Tabernacle. With everincreasing works of charity, additional accommodation is needed, and it has therefore been decided that a house shall be built suitable for the present needs of the various agencies that will have their head-quarters there. The cost of this, with the necessary fittings and furnishing, will not be less than £1,000, in addition to the amount required to pay the groundrent, so that the church may not be burdened with the annual charge: and this sum will be the first to be defrayed out of the Jubilee Fund.
The demolition and rebuilding have been proceeding so rapidly that the new house is already in course of erection, and will be finished during the coming summer. On Friday afternoon, February 8, the memorial stone was laid by Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, in the presence of the students of the College, and a number of the London ministers who had met to make arrangements for the Conference. After the ceremony had been duly performed, prayer was offered by Mr. B. W. Carr, and short addresses were delivered by Pastors C. H. and J. A. Spurgeon.
We cannot tell how much our friends at home and abroad will be constrained to consecrate in connection with our 50th birthday, but we could mention several other desirable objects for the reception of their bounty. Among other matters, we find that the ALMSHOUSES ENDOWMENT is not sufficient to meet the increased allowance to the aged sisters who there end their days, and, as a consequence, the Church Poor Fund has to bear a strain from which we should be glad to have it relieved, as every penny of its income is needed to meet the constantly-growing needs of the large numbers of our poor members whom we must continue to assist. If the Lord should move some one or more of his generous stewards to devote £1,000 of his Master’s money to this useful purpose, it would awaken in us intense gratitude, and, we believe, would be an offering of a sweet smell unto our gracious God.
On the afternoon above mentioned (Feb. 8), a small meeting was held at the Almshouses in celebration of the ninety-fourth birthday of MISS FANNY GAY, the oldest member of the church at: thee Tabernacle.
Pastor J. A. Spurgeon, Deacon W. Olney, and Elder J. T, Dunn attended as representatives of the officers, and there were also present eight of the other inmates of the Almshouses, whose united ages, together with Miss Gay’s, amounted to 701 years. Our aged sister Was born on the thirty-first of January, 1790, and joined the church in February 1807, so that she has just completed her seventy-seventh year of membership. As a Christian her life has been most exemplary. In her early days she devoted herself heartily to work-for the Lord, and specially aimed at bringing young women and girls to a knowledge of the truth as it is in ;Jesus. Her memory for good things is as fresh to-day as it ever was, and she can repeat with ease hymns and portions of sermons that have been blessed to her soul. Prayer was offered, Psalm 23, was read, Psalm 103 was sung, and each ox the mmates gave her personal testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness to her during the long period! of her earthly pilgrimage.
COLLEGE—Mr. J. R. Watson, who, since he completed his course with us, has been studying medicine at the Charing Cross Hospital, has been accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society for Mission work in North China. Mr. J J. Turner, who came home from China some months ago, has gone back to the Celestial Empire as the representative of the Baptist Missionary Society in Tai Yuen Fu.
Mr. C. A. Fellowes has left Keynsham, in order to become co-pastor with his father at Trinity Chapel, Edgware-road. Mr. A F. Brown has removed from Brentford to Endeld Highway ;Mr. W. Goacher from Milton to Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire; Mr. W. W. Haines, from St. Leonard’s to Wood Green; Mr. G. H. Kemp, from Langham to East Dereham; Mr.A. H. Smith, from Coningsby to Chesterfield; and-Mr. T. N. Smith, from Monks Kirby to Warwick.
Mr. W. C. Bunning, who has for many years done a noble Work in Geelong, has taken charge of the church at West Melbourne, which Mr. A; J. Clarke left that he might devote himself entirely to evangelistic labors.
Mr. McCullough writes very hopefully of his services in the Exhibition Building at Hobart, and he hopes that before this year ends the erection of another Tasmanian Tabernacle will be commenced. On Friday evening, February 8, about seventy, of the London members of the Pastors College Association met to make arrangements for the Twentieth Annual Conference, which is to he held in the week commencing April 2!. A happy evening was spent in prayer and conversation upon the best method of making the Conference a season of spiritual profit.
Up to the date of this meeting we had not heard of the loss of any of our number during the year, but a few days afterwards we received tidings of the sudden death of Mr. John Wilson, of Mount Union, Iowa; and about the same time we heard that one of the students, Mr. Alexander Stewart, had fallen asleep at Ventnor, where he had been staying for the past five months, in the hope of recovery. “Who’ll be the next?” is a question that we who are left behind may well ask.
EVANGELISTS. — Messrs. Fullerton and Smith ’s two months’ mission at Leicester will be brought to a close just as the present magazine gets to most of our readers. The following letter from Pastor F. B. Meyer, B A., will convey a good idea of the blessing which has rested upon our brethren’s labors : — “Leicester, Feb. 14, ‘84. “My dear Mr. Spurgeon, — I know you will be interested to hear of the progress of Messrs. Fullerton and Smith’s mission in this town. It has been so far an unqualified success, and though they have now been with us for six weeks, the interest shows no signs of decrease; on the contrary, the meetings are better attended than ever. They have already visited Caricy-street Chapel; Archdeacon-lane, with its spacious Chapel and Memorial-hall; and Emanuel Church; and are now in the midst of a three weeks’ visit to Melbourne-hall. The pastors of the chapels already mentioned are more than satisfied with the results; but I will specially speak of our own experience.
We are accustomed to crowds at Melbourne Hall, but certainly never such crowds as rove gathered to hear these two men. The place seats 1,300, but on the last two Sunday nights 1,600 must have been crowded into it, and hundreds were sent away unable to gain admission. The impression made is very deep, not only upon our own people, but upon those who are not accustomed to attend places of worship, and scores have been inquiring the way to be saved. The Evangelists are so different that there can be no comparison between them, and each draws his own constituency, whilst they are so one in purpose, that each meeting works up to a common and glorious result. I never remember to have listened to evangelistic addresses more full of Scrip-rural teaching, grace of style, and spiritual power than those given by Mr. Fullerton. They captivate the more cultured, whilst they arrest the masses. “The Evangelists evidently do not fear work. They add a daily prayer, meeting and an afternoon Bible-reading to the Evening Addresses; on Saturdays they hold immense gatherings for children, and crowded Song Services in our large Temperance Hall; and on Sundays they are as fresh as the morning air for the seven o’clock meeting. Every Sunday in February, in addition to their other services, they have addressed large gatherings of men only in the Skating Rink; and we propose that they should conclude their Mission by a week’s services in the same place; and for this purpose we have arranged to have it seated. is early yet to speak about results, but I am sure that hundreds will have reason to thank God that ever you sent out such men, and that their steps were directed to this town, ‘ ‘ On March 9th the Evangelists commence a series of services in the Free Assembly Hall, Edinburgh, under arrangements made by the Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association in that city. In April they will be at Dr. Barnardo’s New Hall, and Haddon Hall, Bermondsey, and will afterwards visit Cardiff, Dundee, and Galashiels and neighborhood.
Mr. Burnham’s services at Countesthorpe, near Rugby., and Barton’s End, Gloucester, were blessed to the conversion of many, and the awakening of others to concern about their souls. He has since visited George Lane, Woodford, and this month is engaged at Melbourne, Cambs., and Swanage, Derset; although at the date of making up these “Notes,” he is obliged to send a substitute to take his place, as he is too ill to leave home. Messrs Mateer and Parker ’s meetings at Ross were instrumental in leading many to decision, and a like result followed from their fortnight’s work at Stratford-on-Avon. They have also conducted a Mission at Frome, which has been equally blessed; and they have since visited Mr. Knight’s church at Bradford. Our brethren will be glad of a few more engagements for the summer months, in which they have some vacant dates. Mr. Russell has been for the past two months holding evangelistic services in various towns in the Potteries, according to arrangements matte by Pastor C. T. Johnson, who speaks very heartily in commendation of the evangelist’s work. The first fortnight was spent at Longton, then a week at Fenton, another at Stoke, and afterwards Eastwood Vale, Bursleto, Latebrook, and Butt Lane were to be visited in turn. Up to the date of making up the “Notes” most cheering reports ha e come from each place. The way had been well prepared by prayer-meetings an house-to-house visitation, and large numbers have professed to find the Savior. Mr. Russell writes that he is free after May, and will be glad to make arrangements with any brethren who desire his help. In the summer he would prefer the sea-side, or some other part where open-air work would be likely to be successful.
ORPHANAGE —The third annual report of the READING YOUNG LADIES’
WORKING PARTY has recently come to hand. Through the willing help of the forty-two ladies who have met month by month at the house of our esteemed friend, Mrs. James Withers, the honorary secretary, one of our untiring collectors both for the College and Colportage, two parcels have been dispatched, containing 217 garments for the children, beside 8 sheets, 3 pillowslips, 5 comb-bags, and a large scrap-book. We are very grateful to all who have thus assisted, either by their work or by their contributions, to minister to the wants of the orphans committed to our care.
On Tuesday evening, February 12, a large number of the collectors brought their boxes and books with the amounts received, and after tea, assembled in the dining-hall. The President occupied the chair, and heartily thanked all present for their help in maintaining the institution. Two of the girls recited, several of the children sang, the hand-bell ringers rang a merry peal, and interesting addresses were delivered by three of our “old boys.”
Pastor R. S. Latimer gave an interesting account of his work at Willingham; Mr. Lake, a member of Pastor A.. G. Brown’s church, spoke of his labors at Lea Bridge; and Mr. J. Maynard, who is now a student in the College, related the story of his conversion while in the Orphanage, the meetings which he and other Christian lads used to hold while in the institution, and the work for the Lord in which he had since engaged, first in London, and then in Africa. As these earnest young brethren related what God had accomplished through them, we think all who listened to them must have felt amply rewarded for everything they had done or given towards the support of the home which had sheltered them in their time of helpless orphanhood.
The total brought in by the collectors was a little over £120, in addition to which we received more than £100 from friends who were unable to come to the meeting, to all of whom we are deeply grateful for their continued sympathy and practical help.
We find at these meetings that we greatly need a suitable hall in which to hold our evening gatherings, for at present we have to turn our kind helpers out of the dining-hall, where they have had their tea, and leave them to shiver in the open-air while the room is re-arranged. We cannot tell whether the forthcoming Jubilee celebration will help us out of the difficulty, but it will be a great boon to us when the way is made clear for the erection of a building which will be available for such meetings, and also for the Sunday services of the children.
The builders are proceeding satisfactorily with the new house for the headmaster, and the offices and apartments for the teachers and the staff, and we think all who come to the fete in June will be pleased with this portion of the Stockwell property. At the present time we have in hand, on the Girls’ Orphanage Building Fund account, about £70 less than the amount that will be required to complete the contract, while we shall also need at least £600 to pay. for the making of roads, walls, gates, drains, etc., in addition to the cost of furniture and fittings for the buildings now in. course of erection. We shall be glad, therefore, if our friends will still continue to help this portion of the funds, while not forgetting the general fund for the maintenance of both boys and girls; for we have yet to erect the laundry before we can consider our plans complete, whatever may be done in the matter of the hall above-mentioned. Since writing the above, one generous donor has sent us £500, of which one half is to be devoted to the Building Fund. On Thursday morning, February 14, Dr. Parker’s noon-day service at the City Temple was made the occasion for directing special attention to the character and claims of the Stockwell Orphanage. A number of the children attended, and assisted in the musical portion of the service; the Vice- President, Pastor J. A. Spurgeon, Mr. Charlesworth, and Mr. J. Manton Smith took a public part in the proceedings; and at the close of the worthy doctor’s eloquent sermon, twenty of our little girls made the collection, which amounted to £58. We feel specially grateful to Dr. Parker and his friends for this spontaneous act of liberality.
During: the end ,of February and the beginning of March, Mr. Charlesworth has arranged to hold meetings in aid of the Orphanage at Peterborough, Melton Mowbray, Boston, Louth, Grimsby, Gainsborough, Rotford, Lincoln, Grantham, Wisbech, and Holbeach. We trust our friends in each place will do all they can to ensure the success of the gatherings.
Our readers will remember that, in the January number of our magazine, we in-sorted a notice “To Poets,” at the foot of which was placed an engraving of a waste-paper basket. One of our friends has sent us the following effusion, which, in spite of what he says, must be described as poetical, and we need scarcely say that neither cheque nor verse found its way to the basket:— “My dear Mr. That I may not transgress, Not a verse shall I send (if I know it); So please do not found, Spite of rhyme or of sound, Any charge on me as a poet. Of verse, not a speck Will you find, but a cheque Enclosed for Stockwell, since you ask it: But though prose the most terse, If you should count it verse, Cheque and verse must go both to ‘the basket.”
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle :-January 31st, thirteen.