SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT, 1883.
THE Committee commend the following Report of the work of the Association to the prayerful consideration of the Christian reader, gratefully acknowledging the goodness of God which has enabled them to complete another of the many years since the Association was founded.
They also take this opportunity of thanking the generous donors who have contributed the necessary funds, and trust: that many more may feel led to aid in spreading the Gospel, and pure literature.
The need was never greater than at present for such work. Education is enlarging the number of readers by thousands every year, and the enemies of purity and truth are increasingly active in using the printing press for their own purposes, to the temporal and eternal ruin of many. Let the church not neglect such a tremendous engine for good as a Christianized press, “whose leaves shall be as a tree of life for the healing of the nations.”
Colportage was once a foreign and ancient mode of evangelizing,. practiced by a few obscure mountaineers of the Italian Alps in the Middle Ages; ‘but: it is no longer a foreign agency or a modern experiment.
Experience proves that “it is second to none” in dealing with the question of the hour, which is, How to press home the Gospel individually upon the multitudes who neglect God and never enter a place of worship.
The fact that 392,745 regular visits to families have been made by our Colporteurs during the year testifies to the practical character of the work..
But this does not include the thousands of cases where the Colporteurs, while engaged in their regular work of selling good and attractive literature, have come into casual contact with people and directed attention to their spiritual interests.
By the roadside, in the kitchen, and in the workshop or factory, these- Christian workers are constantly meeting with persons to whom they endeavor to sell a Magazine, Book, or Bible, speak a word for Christ,. and lead men to him. Much success has attended these efforts, and many during the year have attributed their conversion directly to the agency of the Colporteurs in the varied branches of their work. The reading of a book or tract, a word spoken by the wayside or in the sick room, the simple preaching of Jesus Christ in the cottage or open air, fill have in turn contributed to the well-being of souls. It is impossible fairly to estimate the results for good of the circulation of so large a quantity of Christian and other reliable publications sold during the year, as tabulated in the following figures: — Books and Bibles, 228,573; Magazines, 290,017; total value. £8,156 18s. 7 d., including £235 9s. 4d. by book agents, etc., and many thousands of Tracts gratis. But while the extent: of the blessing cannot be fully realized, many illustrative cases will be found in the extracts from agents’ journals which follow. Bad books have been given up for good ones, drunkards have been made sober, and sinners led to the Cross of Christ. Working with all Evangelical denominations, but restricted to none, the Association has labored amid manifest tokens of the Divine blessing for which the Committee cannot feel too grateful. Liberal help has also again been continued by the Religious Tract Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society by substantial grants of Books at reduced prices, for which the Committee gladly acknowledge their indebtedness.
In conclusion, they would earnestly appeal to all who value Evangelical truth and the blessings of a pure and elevating literature to aid them to stem the torrent of infidelity and injurious reading, now so widespread and baneful in their effects.
The number of Colporteurs employed is 72; but the Committee are prepared to start others where £40 a year can be obtained in subscriptions, and it is hoped that applications will be numerous during the coming year.
THE object of this Association is the increased circulation of religious and healthy literature among all classes, in order to counteract the evil of the vicious publications which abound, and lead to much immorality, crime, and neglect of religion. This object is carried, out in a twofold manner — 1st.—By means, of Christian Colporteurs, who are paid a fixed salary, and devote all their time to the work, visiting every accessible house with Bibles and good. books and. periodicals for sale, and, performing other missionary services, such as visitation of the sick and dying, and conducting meetings and open-air services as opportunities occur. This. is the most important method, enabling the Colporteur to visit every part of the district regularly.
The average total cost of a Colporteur is from £75 to £80; but the Committee will appoint a man to any district for which £40 a year is subscribed, if the funds of the Association will permit. 2nd.—By means of Book Agents who canvass for orders for periodicals, and supply them month by month; these receive a liberal percentage on the sales to remunerate them for their trouble.
This second method is admirably adapted to the requirements of districts where the guaranteed subscription for a Colporteur cannot be obtained.
Shopkeepers or other persons willing to become oak Agents may communicate with the Secretary. The Association is unsectarian in its operations, “doing work for the friends of a full and free gospel anywhere and everywhere.”
SELECTIONS FROM THE COLPORTEURS’ REPORT.
In printing the selections below from Colporteur’s letters, etc., a few under each heading will be found as illustrations of hundreds more of similar character.
CONTINUED INTEREST IN COLPORTAGE.
“I have muck pleasure in being able to say, that throughout my district there are here and there signal tokens of the Lord’s blessing resting on my labors. I have labored here for upwards of nine years, and I find that. my visits are welcomed more than they were, and many are anxiously waiting for me to pay them a visit, and bring their books.”
HOUSE TO HOUSE VISITATION.
IDON’ T WANT ANYTHING TO-DAY,SIR.
— In the course of my visitation, I am constantly hearing the foregoing remark from people on whom I call.
On one occasion, I hail scarcely reached the door of the cottage, and before I had seen or spoken to anyone, the good woman from within called out to me, saying, ‘ I don’t want anything to-day, Sir.’ Thanking her I turned away, but while retracing my steps the words struck me so forcibly that I again approached the cottage. On entering I said, I had come back to ascertain if the words I had heard a moment before were strictly true or not. You said you did not want anything; of course that would lead anyone to suppose that you had got all your heart could wish, that you were quite satisfied with yourself and all your surroundings, and looking into the future, you can say, ‘ I know that my Redeemer liveth’; also that because he liveth I shall live also, consequently you are looking forward with much joy to that time when your Lord shall call you away from earth to heaven.
May I ask if such is the case with you? She answered, ‘ I wish it was, Sir,’ and further told me of her great suffering in her body, especially the pain she had to bear arising from a diseased leg of long standing. After listening to this tale of sorrow, I very kindly told her that she did want something, she wanted at least freedom from bodily pain, and also freedom from sin, and then she would be free from eternal pain; and all this could be obtained by looking away from self and sin to the once-crucified but now exalted Savior whose words just suited her.. ‘ Come unto me.””
CONVERSION AT HOME.— In looking back over the quarter, one cannot but feel grateful as; I think and see that our feeble efforts to do good have been blessed. True, I sometime,; feel discouraged and cast down, yet, on the whole, the encouragements we get will far outweigh the discouragements, and there is much to cheer us. Every time we enter a village we are more warmly received, and there are very few doors that are not opened to us, and in every house I have an opportunity of speaking a word for the Master, and many a heart is gladdened, and sad countenances brightened as we talk with the people about the love of Christ; the one great difficulty is to get away from them, as they say, ‘ When are you coming again?’ ‘ Be sure you don’t pass without calling.’ Various cases come up before us where our visits or preaching have been made a blessing. One is that of a woman; as I entered the house, she exclaimed, ‘ Oh, Sir, I am so glad you are come; I have been anxiously waiting for you to come. I wanted to speak to you the last time you were here, but my husband and family were in and I did not like to open my mind, but oh, Sir, I am so miserable, and I am afraid I shall be lost; ‘ and she burst into tears.
I read several portions of Scripture, and talked to her; I then prayed with her, and as I rose from my knees she exclaimed, ‘I see it now; I believe Jesus died for me, and that he has pardoned my sins.’ I gave her a tract that I thought would help her. I have seen her once since and found her rejoicing in Christ.”
YOUNG AND AGED NOT FORGOTTEN. — “During my visits I have had many interesting conversations with the people in their homes, and have been enabled to speak: of a free and full salvation to the aged and the young. One such conversation was with a young woman, who told me she had been at home ill several months, and was then endeavoring to get admittance; into the hospital at Salisbury. I asked her what hope she had got for her soul if the sickness of her body should prove fatal ;, she replied, she had no hope, if she had she would be quite content to die. I told her of Christ, who came not to condemn, but to save and to set His children free from the fear of death. She seemed to drink in every word about the great salvation, and. I have every reason to believe that my visit, through God’s mercy, was greatly blessed, to her soul. I was tom of much blessing upon a visit paid to an old man who lived by himself. He was ill when I called upon him; I spoke to him of Christ, and prayed with him. When I called the next month I found he had passed away, but was cheered by the neighbors telling me that he had testified that God blessed his soul through the ‘man who comes round selling books.’ I am thankful, dear sir, for these small tokens of the Master’s presence and blessing with me, and earnestly pray richer blessing may yet be given.”
RELIGIOUS CONVERSATION USEFUL.—’On the 21st of February I went into a country village five miles from home with my pack of books, and sold a fair amount. I called at one house in which there were four women. I said to one of them: tare you saved?’ The reply was ‘No,’ and the tears began to run down her face, and she said she had not been able to rest because of her sin; so I told. her she was just the one Jesus came to save, and then I told her I would call and see her at her own home in a short time, so after making a few more calls I fulfilled my promise, and after a little religious conversation we both went down on our knees and prayed and believed, and before we got up God spoke pardon to her, and she was able to rejoice in God as her Savior. I may say she is still going on her way rejoicing.”
THE COLPORTEUR AND HOME INFLUENCE.—”A tract entitled ‘A Mother’s Love’ was liked so by a man that he ,ordered a hundred to give away.
Called at a house where there are two families living and sold them some books. When I first called there a few months ago, neither of them would buy such books as I sold, and they use very be language and their neighbors gave them very bad characters. I kept calling, and I am glad to say there is a marked change in their behavior before me, and I have sold them several books. One day I took out ‘John Ploughman’s Talk,’ and read part of the chapter, ‘A Good Word for Wives.’ They were so pleased with it that they bought it at once. At another place where there are two families living in one house, one woman I believe is trying to do right, but the other is a bad woman, and, as her neighbor says, she is an awful swearer. She is always asking for books that we do not supply, but every month I have managed to sell her some-thing out of my pack. She is now taking in a 6d. magazine. “I thank God as I look back upon the three’ years I have been in the district, I feel quite convinced my labors have not been in vain. There are three persons living who say that I have been the means in God’s hand of leading them to the Savior; and several others who have told me that what I have said to them has led them to think, and by other means, in some cases God’s providence, in others, the preaching of God’s word following, they have been led to Christ.”
THE PIG PAID FOR— “Among others, in December last, I called at a house, and the mistress salt, ‘: Will you have a piece of pork pie? ‘ I thanked her and said, ‘I will.’ While eating it she said, ‘ This is the first pig we have killed since we have been married that has been paid for; my husband used to spend his money in drink, and we had to feed the pigs on trust and pay for them after, but this one was 20 score (lbs.), and paid for when killed, and in addition to that — am thankful to say — my husband has given his heart to God, and it was all brought about by what you said to my’ husband about a year-and-a-half ago, and the death of our little one in about three months after.’” AYEAR’ S WORK.
— In addition to. the more regular work, the Colporteur has held 280 Evangelistic Services, unconnected with any particular denomination, where opportunity offered, in the open air, cottages, and other buildings. He has paid 600 visits to families, with the object of offering spiritual advice and consolation; and has distributed gratuitously 7,000 tracts. ‘he following extracts from the Colporteur’s Report will illustrate the usefulness of this part of the work:— “Among the visits made in the earlier part of my work, one has been attended with much permanent blessing. The case was that of a woman, mother of a large family, who had long been seeking the Savior; my visit and words of encouragement were made a blessing to her, and in a short time she was enabled to rejoice in Him whom she had long sought. She first purchased a Bible front me, and afterwards good books as means would allow...... Such is the desire to obtain books, that where ordinary means fail, the rags and bones of the house have been sold, and the money thus obtained applied in purchasing them.... In visiting homes, in cases of affliction, where there is no chance of selling books, my work has met with blessing.
As I was about to retire to rest one night, there came two women to my house, requesting me to visit their father, who was very ill; I went that night and about five or six times after, and, before the man passed away, he left the testimony of his acceptance with God.” Other cases might be quoted of working people, in the midst ,of overwhelming cares and troubles, being blessed (through this instrumentality) to a knowledge of that Savior who “was in all points tempted like as we are.”
THE AFFLICTED LOOKED AFTER. —After working here for a year and nine months, my faith in the value of Colportage as a Christian agency was never greater. I have frequent opportunity for speaking to the families visited about spiritual things. As a result, some have been led to their serious consideration. One woman told me a ‘.short time ago, that the words I had spoken to her had been the means by God’s blessing of leading her into peace. “The sick are always glad to see me. One who is an invalid told me when last at her house I should never know fully the amount of good done by thus seeking out the sick and aged, and reading to them God’s Word, and commending them to Him in prayer. I often visit those in this way who live in out-of-the-way places, who are especially appreciative. An elderly Christian woman asked my advice the other day with reference to her husband, who is opposed to religion, and would not allow her to read the Bible to him at night before retiring. His highest conception of life was to pay everybody their due, and look after himself; he ignored the idea that God had arty claim upon him. To meet the first difficulty I took her a copy of Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘Evening by Evening,’ a portion of which he listens to with pleasure every night, This book, together with a word spoken judiciously by his wife, seems to be: dissipating his prejudice against Christianity, and inducing in him a humbler spirit. This is only one instance; if necessary, I could give many such. “The preaching of the Gospel occasionally is also with much acceptance; whilst I cannot report any direct conversions, there is much to encourage.
After an address a young man came and thanked me for it, as it had been blessed to him. I have given some attention to GOSPEL temperance work, and I think I am within the truth when I say that 50 persons are total abstainers to-day directly through my influence. Drink is the greatest barrier to the moral and material advancement of the working people. “The sales of books this month are below the average, being only about £11 11s. in value. This is owing to the great depression in trade just now; consequently the people cannot afford much beyond the usual magazines. I see that during this first quarter of “84’ I have sold 52 Bibles and Testaments, and 1750 books and magazines, amounting in value to £39 18s. 10d. These have in some instances taken the places of questionable ones, and in others found their way to homes in out-of-the-way places where books are not often thought of. This work is quiet but effective; the wonder is that it is not more extensively taken up by the churches.”
VISITING AND RESULTS.— “I have made 6,x88 visits in my work during the past year, many of which have been to persons in sickness, trouble, bereavement and death, and I have, by the blessing of God, been able to comfort many by prayer and reading God’s; Word. One afflicted woman told me she had been confined to the house six years, and expressed the greatest delight at my reading the Scriptures and praying with her, saying what a blessing it was that someone like me should go about finding out these cases. The mother at the wash-tub, as well as the children, will often with pleasure gather around to listen to the old, old story of Jesus and his love All glory be to Him whose name is ‘ Manna to the hungry soul And to the weary rest.’” MARKETS ANDFAIRS. It is found desirable, in several instances, to allow the Colporteur to have a stall in the country market or fair. In this way thousands of persons are spoken to and carry to their homes the good seed.
IRONBRIDGE MARKET.— “I have enjoyed much of God’s presence and blessing in my work, both in selling of books and speaking a word for the Master in public and private. Just a word this time as to my sales and work in the Ironbridge Market every’ week. The sales have been very good; whilst in other ways I think the work has been very satisfactory. “First — In reaching a lot of people who come from a long distance in the country. “Second.. — By way of advertisement, the seeing of a book on my stall and its recommendation by the party seeing it to others, thus helping me in my regular round. “Third. — A person buying a book, ‘ Child of Jesus,’ one week, came the next week and ordered twelve more, saying that she had been blessed so much by it that she wanted the twelve ordered to give away. “Fourth. — Have taken an order entirely through exhibition of my books here for Fleetwood’s Life of Christ,’ to be taken in thirty shilling parts. “My monthly magazine parcel, of ‘which the value was only £12s. 2d. when I commenced the work now amounts to £2 15s. 0d. “I have been successful in securing the orders and making sales in several respectable families. In one, the lady of the house having been induced to read ‘ Brother John Pearce, Colporteur,’ has become very much interested in Colportage work. I am always to call when passing; she has been a good customer ever since. “Meetings held.—A woman attending one of my regular Cottage Meetings, said, ‘ Mr. G., I shall never forget the blessed season I have here enjoyed, and I know not only me, but many others as well.’ The hearty grasp of the hand, and the eager but happy look from many, speak volumes as to the good of our work here.”
MAKING THE BEST OF IT. — “ First I will give a description of market work. Shortly after being appointed Colporteur, it being the annual fair in the district, I determined t3 have a stall of some kind, and see if I could not do some work for the Master, and spread some good literature at the same time. This was in the middle of September, 1883. I brought out my kitchen table (I had nothing else), and set up a short distance away from the thick of the fair, and displayed the books to the best: of my ability. No sooner was I straight than I had a crowd. I had to endure a considerable amount of ‘chaff,’ and some direct insults, but I went on with my work, and although I did not sell as much as I would have liked, yet I consider ten shillings or thereabouts fairly good. “Some time after this I went down to Cradley Heath market with my box of books, hired a stall and lamp, and set to work. I got a friend to help me, and together we gave away 300 tracts and sold over £1 worth of goods.
We had a congregation at one time of over 300 people.”
CONVERSION OF ADISCHARGED SOLDIER.—”In Newport, in one week in March, I met a young man who had just left the army, and he asked me should he carry my pack. I said, ‘No, thank you,’ but, going into conversation, I found he had been kicked in the leg by his officer’s horse, in India. He had been in hospital about three months, and about a week or so from this time he had been looking for employment, but could not succeed, and had the night before been out all night, and he had only had one penny basin of soup for two days. I gave him a few pence, believing him to be a deserving young man. I spoke to him about his soul. He said he had a praying mother, but never thought much of her. I asked him to pray to God with myself that night at ten o’clock, and he promised. A fortnight from this date he came to me in the market, where I had told him to come, and he had a handkerchief full of groceries for the week; he said he had given his heart to God that night, am! he shall never forget it. He is now still serving God, doing well, keeping himself clean and tidy, and visits me in the market every Saturday.”
SCRIPTURES SOLD. — “Visited Overend, near Cradley and Shortcross.
Visited 41 families; sold a Testament to a family that possessed not a single copy or portion of the Scriptures.”
TRACTS AND THEIR USEFULNESS.
Two CASES OF BLESSING.— “Calling at a house on my way home, one woman told me, with tears in her eyes, that through reading a tract called ‘ Widow Bright,’ I left some time before, she had given God her heart.
During the month of January, the 9th, a man told me the same tale of joy, through reading a small tract I had left at h. is house.”
HISTORY OF ATRACT. — “I have much pleasure in giving you the history of a tract that I gave away three months ago. The person to whom I gave it met me, and asked if I remembered giving him a tract, and I told him I did.
He said, ‘ That tact was such a blessing to my soul that I put it away very carefully for a few days, when I thought of my Son in the Mediterranean; so I wrote a letter to him and sent the tract in it, hoping that the Lord would bless it to him as He did to me. I thank God that I had the happy lot to receive: it.’” ASERVANT SAVED.—”I thank God I have been the means of saving a young woman, a servant at a gentleman’s house, in this manner — I knocked at the door and offered introduction card, when she gave utterance to this sentence, ‘ What do you ,call this old thing? ‘ I said, ‘ Give it to the master.’ ‘ He’s not in,’ she said. I then asked her if she would like a book for herself, but she did not want one, and I gave her a tract, entitled, ‘Guilty.’ Calling on her the following week, she invited me in; I went, and she told me that the tract I gave her had been the means of saving her soul.”
COLPORTEUR ON BOARD SHIP.
“I have lately devoted a part of the Sabbath to visiting ships and distributing tracts to the sailors. When I go on board they always welcome me, and then we have religious conversation. I sometimes find Christians on board. Sunday mornings ,is the best time, as most of the crew have nothing to do before dinner. Sometimes I ,find them mending their boots; some reading newspapers, and some writing, and some walking about with nothing to do. As soon as I begin to distribute the tracts they leave their work and put their newspapers away. I then speak to them about their souls, and. give them a hearty welcome to join us in our evening service. If they can get on shore, sometimes they come. Sometimes there are foreign ships in harbor. I go on board of these.”
PREACHING AND COTTAGE MEETINGS.
Though an addition to Colportage proper, many of the agents engage in preaching the gospel in a simple way, and several have been very useful.
UNDENOMINATIONAL WORK.—Sunday and Week Evening Services.— “On Sundays I am generally engaged in preaching the good old gospel of good will to man,’ and some most blessed and refreshing seasons we have had amongst our Independent, Baptist, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist friends, in their various places of worship in this district. Old Christians have been helped on in the old good narrow way, and others have professed to find peace, through faith, in the all-atoning blood and finished work ¢,f Jesus Christ our Lord. I am very pleased to make mention of our week-night: services which have been held during the past three or four months, they have for the most part been well attended, especially at some of the chapels, where, heretofore, few week-night services have been held for the past few years. At such meetings we have endeavored to bring the gospel before the people in the most attractive form, and the meetings have been made lively with song, and I am believing that good must and will follow, for ‘Our labor is not in vain in the Lord.’ During the past winter months we have delivered fourteen lectures in the different places of worship around us, illustrated with views. With pleasure we report: that the meetings have been crowded each evening and much enjoyment experienced while going through the life, of our Lord with about striking views to illustrate his life on earth, and best of all it has come to our knowledge that not a few received much good through our efforts on these occasions.”
AN AGED MAN LED TO JESUS.’ Another case is that of an old man, years of age. He said to me one day, ‘ I thank God that ever you came here to preach, I used to think I was all right until one day I heard you preach. I was then led to see that I was wrong, and that I had been living in the dark all my life, and a few Sundays after, when you were preaching again, I was enabled to rejoice in Christ as my Savior; and now, though I am an old man, my work goes lighter, and I am very happy, and oh, it does me good when I see you, because I know you were the means of bringing me to Christ.’ I said to him,’ My friend, give God the glory’; he said, ‘I do, but oh, Sir, go on to preach Christ, for I fear there are many like myself.’ Thus one is cheered in the thought that our feeble efforts are blessed to the good of souls. It is a source of very great joy to me to be able to point a poor perishing sinner to Christ. During the three last months I have conducted or taken part in about 17 services each month. May the Lord make us more abundantly useful, for his Name’s sake.”
CONVERSION IN COTTAGE MEETING. In the evening I held a Cottage Meeting in one of the rows, and there a young fisherman gave his heart to the Lord. Since then I have helped at many meetings, both in speaking and pointing souls to Jesus.”
COLPORTEURS PREACHING USED. — “After preaching one Sunday in our own little chapel at Cookhill I noticed a strange gentleman; the following week he wrote to me telling me the worn was blessed to him.
AYEAR OF SERVICES. — “I have delivered 152 sermons and addresses on gospel and temperance subjects, besides the prayer meetings and Sunday School work, as for three months I conducted a Sunday School five miles from my house, which was without a Superintendent. I am thankful to say the work has not been without God’s blessing. At an open-air meeting last summer a man received impressions which afterwards resulted in his conversion. One Sunday evening, two girls from the Sunday’ School professed to have found Jesus, they still give every token that the change was a real one. “I have distributed 2,862 tracts in homes, by the wayside, and to men at their work, and they have invariably been received kindly. The results I must leave with Him who has said ‘ My word shall not return unto me void,’ etc.”
FRUIT OF OPEN-AIR WORK.— Some time ago I told you of a place where I used to go during; the summer months to hold open-air meetings. When I was there the other day I heard of the conversion of three young men that first got their convictions, if not converted, at those meetings. To use the words of a man who told me about them, ‘We beat the bush but someone else caught the birds.’ Thank God they are caught. Another is the case of a woman in this village who heard me give an address one Sunday afternoon, and the word was blessed to the conversion of her soul. She came to me one morning before I went out and told me how she had wanted to tell me before but could, not, and she said I shall always feel thankful to you; and now her husband is trusting in Christ and their home is happy. Another is that of a young woman of praying parents who for years has been leading a gay life, but now she has given up her former habits and is an earnest and sincere Christian, and she told rue that God made me the means of her conversion. One day I quoted a text and it made an impression upon her, and I spoke to her, and she told me she thought she was too bad for God to forgive her. I pointed her to the promises, and one evening I read a tract to her, and she told me that it was through that she was led into peace through believing. Thus is the work going on here. I am persuaded that not till the last great day will be known the good that has been done by the Colportage Association.”
RESULTS FROM PREACHING SERVICES. A young man, having given his heart to Christ at a week evening service, informed me that I invited him to the service that very morning, when I was giving tracts among a lot of working-men about two miles away. A month afterward-the same young man purchased a nice pocket Bible to carry with him, also ordered the ‘Sunday at Home’ monthly, and changed his lodgings because unfavorable to his new and better life. ‘Also,. a woman remarked, ‘ I do like your Butter-cross services. I have been thinking it over; I want you know I want you know :,’ I said, ‘ You want Salvation.’ ‘ Yes,’ she replied. May the Lord Himself give her peace.”
RESULTS OF BOOKS, ETC. SOLD.
SUPPLANTING INJURIOUS LITERATURE. — ‘‘ I should be very much better satisfied if I could sell more good books and could see souls saved, but the latter is the Lord’s work and not mine; but I see very much success accomplished in my work apart from immediate conversions to God. There is what I in my ignorance call ‘ stemming or counteracting’ work. What would be the influence of bad literature and fortune telling, &e., at great houses where many giddy young females live, if the pure literature was not carried and circulated by us, and a word of warning spoken for the Lord in such places? And yet some ladies and gentlemen would not allow us to call if they knew, but I thank God all are not of that mind. I believe I have been blessed to counteract a good deal of the evil in that way. I succeeded in placing John Ploughman’s Almanac in a place where rubbish had been posted previously. “People speak sometimes of much enjoyment in reading the gospel tracts we distribute. One woman said she had derived very great benefit from reading a book I sold her— ‘Prince of the House of David.’”
COLPORTEUR THE ONLY VISITOR. — “ I am well received all through the district, and am often told that if I did not call to see the people nobody would. The reason is there are no ministers in the villages except the church minister, and in several villages there is no one at all; only in two is there a nonconformist minister, out of the twenty-seven which I visit. At Lockerby there are some coming forward to join the church. I go there once a month, mostly the first Sunday. “The little: work ‘ God’s Light on Dark Clouds,’ is very much liked; I think it will do good; and ‘ Garfield’s Life’ is very much liked, and they sell well. I find I have rather more subscribers for monthly periodicals than I ever had, and they increase. This. is cheering. I never see one of those vile publications now ; there were plenty “ when I came here. This is a good sign, and we know good books have taken their place.
INFLUENCE OF GOOD BOOKS. — “I find that for the year ending December 31st, 1883, I have taken for books and magazines £140 2s. 11d. “Although I often meet with those who do not want any such books as I carry (they say my books are all so religious), still, many do buy, and I believe that good is being done. A lady bought ‘ The Life of President Garfield,’ and gave it to a young man, and she tom me afterwards that she believed it had done him much good. Another person read a part of it, and she wanted one for herself, and she hoped everybody would read it. Have sold a lot of ‘ Peep behind the Scenes,’ ‘ Christie’s Old Organ,’ ‘Jessieo’s First Prayer,’ ‘ Black Speck,’ etc. I believe these little books have done and are still doing a good work in this district. “First let me notice bookselling and its results. Although I cannot speak with certainty of conversions, I am very hopeful of several, especially one young woman who took: the ‘ Sunday at Home,’ and who professed to have derived great good from it during art illness, and from inquiries I have made I have every hope that she has found Jesus. I haw; several testimonies to great moral good resulting to young men and others. I find people will read or get others to read to them, and by a little tact I am often able to get them to take good literature instead of the trashy, sensational stuff they have had before. I have during the last thirteen months added 272 new subscribers to my list, and scarcely lost any except by removal from the neighborhood. “A woman attending our Cottage and Open-Air Services has given up reading her penny weekly novel, and taken to reading the ‘ Christian Herald’ instead. Another woman, who keeps a respectable lodging-house, testifies as follows :—’ Yours are good books,. Mr. C—, our young men have spent many a happy evening with them indoors.’” BOOKS SOLD LEADING TO CONVERSION, OR OTHER BENEFICIALEFFECTS. GOOD FROM APRAYER BOOK. “To day a poor woman at whose house I called, said to me, ‘ I have been looking forward to your coming round this time, as I wanted to see you. Have you a little book called “Prayers for Private Use” with you.’ I said, ‘;No, I have not.’ She said, ‘ Will you get me two next time, and do you remember selling one to my neighbor a short time ago?’ I said, ‘ Yes, I remember bringing her one.’ ‘ Well,’ she said, ‘ I am so glad to tell you that it has been lent to my husband, and the Lord has blessed it to his soul’s salvation. He was very ill when she lent it to him an,/we all thought he was dying, but the Lord has spared him. But if he.. had died he felt that he was safe. He said it was the reading of the book which brought peace: to his mind, and now he is raised a new man and is going down to the chapel as soon as he is able to tell what the Lord has done for him.’ The woman said she used to have preaching in her cottage for eighteen months to which he would never stay at home; and at last forbad the preachers to come any more. But now he wants the two books to give away, one for the village, and one to send to his son, who is a long way off, hoping that they may receive the like blessing through them.”
GRACE AND TRUTH.—” All that I could say at this time seemed but of little use, and I recommended a little book entitled ‘ Grace and Truth’ which could be read and studied after I had gone. The same was purchased and read, for on my next monthly visit I was greeted with much joy and very much thanked for having said anything about the one thing needful, even faith in Christ, but more particular, for selling the book which had indeed been the means in God’s hands of opening her heart to his knowledge and love; her words being, ‘I do love that book, I have had it on the table before me all Clay ever since, and I tell everybody about it.’ I encouraged her to hold fast and came away rejoicing, giving praise to our God.”
MR.SPURGEON’ S WORKS VALUED.—” A woman said she thought Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘ Morning by Morning’ and ‘ Evening by Evening’ were dear at the time she bought them:, but she had derived great blessing from them that money could not buy, and would not now be without them. She belongs to the Church of England. Another said, ‘That last book you sold me is the nicest book I ever bought; I get great help from it.’ This was Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘ Morning by Morning. “I find the ‘Prince of the House of David’ spoken of very highly very often, also Mr. Spurgeon’s Sermons. “A woman at a lone house said the other day, ‘We are so glad to see you, to bring us books and speak to us, for no one else comes to us.’ “Another said, ‘I wish you would bring me, when you come again, one of your monthly books, as my daughter is so fond of reading ‘ Bow Bells,’ and I want to break her of it.’ “Mrs. A. of M. says that she has received much blessing through ‘Waymarks to Wanderers.’ Mrs. T. at T., who said she was so full of doubt and fears, has been enabled to place her whole trust in God through reading some poetry in ‘ The British ‘Workwoman.’ Mr. D. of F. speaks to me of Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘ Present Truth’ as being the means, in God’s hands, of doing him a lot of good. Mr. B. of F. tells me that the book that he bought of me has been made a great blessing among his family. I could mention other similar cases through either the book sold, the word spoken, or the prayer offered. “Offered on sale to a lady ‘ Present Truth’ big C. H. Spurgeon. “Yes,’ she says, ‘I must have that for I am very anxious 1:0 be right, and all Mr. Spurgeon’s works help me very much. Bring me another of his Farm Sermons to lend out.’ I believe she has been saved by Christ through reading Mr. Spurgeon’s works.”
AFAMILY CONVERTED. — “ I called upon a woman whose son had a broken leg, caused by his uncle throwing him over a hedge. I sat Clown and read part of a book, entitled, ‘Her Benny.’ The woman began to cry, and after reading a bit farther, she told me to sell her the book, and I did so. I called on her again; she expressed great joy at seeing me, and said that her husband had signed the pledge, given his heart to God, with herself and her daughter, aged 19 years; saying, ‘God bless those two little children whose lives they had read in that nice book called ‘Her Benny.’”
READING LEADS TO INQUIRY.— I am glad to tell you that ‘ A Peep behind the Scenes’ and 6 A Child of Jesus’ have been blessed by God, and the means of causing three people, all living in one of the rounds I travel, to inquire about their souls’ salvation. One woman, with her husband, had been accustomed to spend her Sundays in reading ‘The Family Herald,’ etc., but who, being persuaded to purchase ‘A Peep-behind the Scenes,’ and reading it, was aroused, and led to the house of God; the preaching of His Word was blessed to her soul, and glad at heart am I to tell you both she and her husband have been brought out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, and although they have left the neighborhood, yet I keep hearing from them. The last letter was as follows, which was written to a Christian friend : — ‘ Tell Mr. W. my husband and I now spend our Sundays in reading God’s Holy Word, ‘A Peep behind the Scenes,’ and attending God’s house. Tell him how thankful we are he ever called at our house and persuaded us to purchase that book.’”
THE PRINTED AND SPOKEN WORD. — “ A woman who had been reading ‘ A Peep behind the Scenes,’ never before felt that she indeed was a lost sheep, until she read therein about the Good Shepherd. Came to hear me preach, and the Lord sent the word home to her heart. The next Thursday, being that way with my books, calling upon her, she said, ‘; Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, all is well! How glad I am that ever the Lord sent you here. When will you come and preach to us again? for I am glad to tell you that I am now happy in Jesus. Oh! what blessed books are those two. you sold me!”
TASTE FOR READING CREATED BY THE COLPORTEUR.—”There is an increased desire for reading good books all over my district, and very frequently am I told of the benefit derived from reading them. It is now nearly twelve months since I gave one of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons to a person which led to her decision for God, and who has, since that time, witnessed a good confession before her family. Her husband also has been ‘brought into the liberty of God’s own children.”
SALES.— I am glad to report increase of sales during the past year. I find I ‘have realized £214 2s. 8d., increase about £30 on last year. Bibles, 127; Testaments, 117; books over 6d., 1,153; books under 6d., 2,080; magazines, 7,639; tracts given away, 5,000. Although I cannot give any instance of conversion direct from books, yet much seed has been sown, and I pray that it may bear fruit to God’s. glory. The Lord has been pleased to bless my feeble efforts in preaching to the conversion of souls during the past year, and I am working two Bands of Hope during the week, besides other meetings that I am called upon to attend. I hope that you will remember me in your prayers.”