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  • CHARLES SPURGEON -
    THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL - MARCH, 1883.


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    LEAVING SECULAR BUSINESS.

    BY C. H. SPURGEON.

    IN these days our churches cannot afford to maintain a single unserviceable minister. the hive needs more working-bees; but it has room for none who are inefficient. the commissariat is straitened, so that no man is welcome at the mess who is not worthily forward in the battle. the times are hard with most of our churches: there may be plenty of worldly goods in the hands of the Lord’s stewards, but they are not excessively eager to lay them out.

    Economy is therefore incumbent upon us, and we are bound to husband our resources for the Lord’s sake, and the work’s sake. Many struggling churches, especially in the rural districts, are unable to support a man whose time is wholly given to the ministry. they recognize the value of such a worker, and acknowledge the duty of maintaining him; but they have not the means to do so. there are also many districts in our large cities which are left almost to absolute heathendom, because there are no funds forthcoming for the support of missionary pastors.

    The most practicable remedy is to find volunteer laborers who will not need maintenance from the people. this admirable remedy is already largely used, but not so largely as it might be. We have among us numbers of brethren engaged in handicrafts and professions who are endowed with gifts at least sufficient for the gathering of moderate congregations; and some of them display ability equal if not superior to the average of stipendiary pastors. It is an exceedingly great gain to the community when these brethren addict themselves to the ministry of the saints. Attending to a store, or an office; driving a plane, or forging a bar; visiting patients, or building houses ; — they are also intent upon soul-winning, and abundantly successful in it. Some of these gather around them a band of earnest workers, whom they lead on to holy enterprises, while they themselves, so far from being weak:, and needing to be supported, are strong enough to support the weak. theirs is an exceedingly high style and order of Christian ministry: we know of none superior to it. Paul the apostle accounted it his glory that he earned his own bread, and was chargeable to no man. He would by no means come down from his elevation to the lower level of being supported by the gifts of his fellow-Christians. He did not teach that all preachers should belong to this honorable order; on the contrary, he claimed for the giver of spirituals that he should be a receiver of temporals; but he himself personally resolved to belong to the Great Unpaid. He rejoiced that he could say, “Mine own hands have ministered unto my necessities.”

    With devout thankfulness we remember many brethren who have taken and still hold high rank among the free lances of Christ’s army: all honor to them; may their shadows never grow less! Instead of being in the least looked down upon because they do not belong to “the regular clergy, ” but are miscalled “laymen,” they are deserving of double honor, for to them the church is under special obligation.

    We have too frequently noticed a great unrest among this class of brethren; it is evident that many of them think that they are not “wholly in the ministry,” and they are not easy in what they conceive to be their amphibious condition. this unrest is not so noticeable among the better sort of them as among the feebler. Those whom we would invite to the paid ministry are usually shy of it, and those whom we would dissuade are the most eager for it. The man has been a tower of strength in the village where he lives; he has preached the word, administered gospel ordinances, managed a church, and been looked upon as a father by all around him; but he cannot let well alone, nothing will do but he must undermine his own standing, and ruin his own usefulness, by quitting his secular calling, leaving those who esteem him, and casting himself on some church which knows nothing about him, for he is well aware that he could not find a support sufficient among his present people. He comes to ask our advice as to whether he had not better give up his grocery, and become what is called a “regular minister;” as if he had been irregular before. We devoutly wish that the craze had never touched the good man’s brain.

    A man is earning a living for his wife and family in a town, and having his evenings to spare, he zealously devotes them to the service of the Lord.

    His pastor looks upon him as invaluable, and his brethren. esteem him highly; he has taken up a neglected district, and worked it well, nobody could do it better: he is a godsend to the region. Suddenly he, too, is bitten with the clerical disease, he looks upon shop-keeping as degradation, he loathes the white apron and longs for the white cravat, — which said white cravat he has already donned, but the apron detracts from its starchiness.

    With or without the advice of others, this brother persists in casting himself upon the churches; and now, instead of a boon he is a burden, and the godsend is a hindrance. When it turns out that the brother has not sufficient ability or grace to be the leader of a people who have to support him, the support itself scarcely reaches starvation point, and the man becomes disheartened, and useless. It is wonderful what a difference it makes in the estimate of service whether it is remunerated or not; but another thing is by no means astonishing, namely, the different feeling of a man who is giving his work, and to another who is dependent upon the people. It is fine walking when you have a horse at hand, and it is splendid to be a pastor, and yet to feel that you can fall back upon your own resources. Many a man who has parted with his horse has found it rough walking all the rest of his days.

    We have just received a letter from a pious but weak person, asking’ us to give careful attention to a very important and importunate case. A dear man (they are always dear men), engaged in business, is the object of solicitude; he is such a dear man that he is bringing up his dear family in a most extraordinary and exemplary manner; but the dear man feels that his calling injures his spirituality, and he wants to get out of it. He is not sure that he has gifts for the ministry, but he had a liking for it when he was a boy in petticoats, and he is quite sure that he would like to have a living in one church or another, he is not particular as to which. If we could give him support for his dear wife and family for a couple of years, the probability is that the dear man would become a burning and a shining light; but it is necessary, first of all, that we should guarantee that a stipend should be found for the dear man sufficient for the future education of his dear, amiable, and numerous children. He would then feel that he was called in providence to take the important step of” selling off at a great reduction.” We had no difficulty in pronouncing upon the case. So far as we are concerned, this dear man, as valuable as he is unknown, will remain at his unspiritual counter. We have no doubt that the same application will be made to a dozen other ministers, and it is barely possible that some simple brother will consider the dear man’s case, but we shall not, for it needs no considering.

    If this worthy person thinks that God has called him to preach, let him do so; if the church wants him to give it all his time, let him consider the request; but he had better wait till that request comes. When God’s call and the request of a church unitedly press upon a man to renounce his means of livelihood, let him do so in full faith that the Lord will provide. this is a very different case from seeking guarantees, and proposing “to enter the church,” and all that nonsense.

    Upon this subject it is our fate to be frequently Consulted, and upon no point are we less eager to give advice. As a general rule, the brother has made up his mind long beforehand, and only wants our opinion to back up his own. We have gone down to zero in the judgment of those whose foregone conclusion we have questioned, and we have learned the truth of that little verse- “Determined beforehand, we gravely pretend to seek the advice and the thoughts of a friend.

    Should he differ from us upon any pretense, We blush for his want both of judgment and sense.

    But should he fall in with and flatter our plan, Why, really, we think him a sensible man. ” It is said that a certain village cure was waited upon by a young gentleman upon the matter of marriage. the priest, knowing the uselessness of all advice on this tender subject, bade him go and listen to the bells, and to do whatever they said. When the youth came out into the open air, the bells were ringing out as distinctly as possible the words, “Make haste and get married! Make haste and get married!” Capital counsel! Admirable cure! t he wedding was not long delayed. After a brief season of married bliss, the young man repented at his leisure, and at length called upon the good cure a second time to tell him of the ill result of obeying his paternal directions.

    Alas! Marguerite was not the pearl she once seemed to be. the cure replied, “I gave you good advice. I told you to listen to the bells, and you must have mistaken what they said. If you had listened more carefully, this would not have happened. Go out of doors now, and lend your ear to them, and learn their true teaching.” to the great astonishment of the distressed husband, the bells were, with manifest emphasis, declaring the following warning : — “ Never get married! Never get married!” In nine cases out of ten it would be wise for us also to transfer our responsibility to the bells, or to any other oracle A good man once wrote to us that he felt bound to preach, but that his pastor and the deacons of the church, and all the friends around him were cold, unspiritual persons, who had not the least sympathy with him; what did we t hink? for our judgment would be sure to be weighty and powerful.

    We sent a laconic reply upon a post-card to this effect, Dear brother, if God has opened your mouth, the devil cannot shut it; but if the devil has opened your mouth, may God shut it at once.” We chanced to meet that brother soon after, when he shook our hand with much enthusiasm, and declared that he had never derived more encouragement from anything than from our post-card: he had gone: on preaching, and, despite his minister and the devil, his mouth was not shut. We asked him if he had read the second of our two sentences, but he seemed to have forgotten what it was. the honors of the Delphic oracle were ours, but we did not put the wreath upon our brow, for we knew the tendency of sanguine natures to accept every word of encouragement and to overlook every form of warning.

    In the faint hope of deterring here and there one from what is often an act of mental suicide we have jotted down a few thoughts, leaving it to each wise man to use them or reject them as he sees fit.

    As a rule it is bad for a man to change his calling — at least, in England; we do not know what it may be in America. By frequent changes a man becomes Jack-of all-trades and master of none. transplanted trees never make much growth. Before their roots have well searched the soil of one spot they have to begin upon another, and when they are getting pretty nearly at home in the second garden they have to migrate again. the tree is usually stunted, and the fruit is scanty. A man may be everything and yet be nothing. If among his changes he in-dudes the ministry it is most likely that. this is the feeblest part he has played, and the church may be felicitated when he quits the stage and appears in another character.

    Next, it is. evidently unwise to leave a work which we do understand for one which is totally new to us. What becomes of all those years of apprenticeship to any one profession? A thoroughly good tailor may make a very moderate carpenter; and a first-rate carpenter may be hardly at home in setting bones and administering boluses. What becomes of the adaptation to the sphere which it takes so many years to acquire? New yokes are not so fitted to the shoulder as the old ones.

    A man may glorify God in his calling, and have money to give and time to spare for the cause of truth; but if he enters the paid ministry he may not glorify God, he may have no money to give, and his time may not be worth a brass farthing to anybody. there is a fancy among men to be other than themselves, — a fancy also to be what they were never meant to be.

    Several ancient rulers did not find the management of their dominions sufficiently burdensome, and so one of them became a fiddler, another a poet, and another an orator. the world never had, a worse fiddler than Nero, nor a more wearisome poet than Dionysius, nor a more blundering orator than Caligula; and we might fearlessly assert also that the world never had worse princes than these three. Such instances are exceedingly instructive, and remind us of the sculptor’s advice to the cobbler to stick to his last. Each tub had better stand on its own bottom; for when tubs take to rolling about they spill all that they contain, be it either wine or water.

    Would that all men had such a holy dread of the sacred office of pastor as to cry from their inmost hearts, Nolo episcopari : — I am unwilling to assume the bishopric.

    Do all our eager brethren really know the pressure of mind, and the strain of soul which are involved in preaching to one set of people year after year? Have they any notion of the heart-pangs, and the soul-travail, and the bitterness of disappointment involved in the care of souls? I)o they judge it to be so mean an employment that slender gifts and graces will suffice for it? Or do they think that a minister means simply a black coat and a white choker? No doubt many raw country lads think that soldiering means a red coat, a stripe down the legs, and evenings with nothing to do; but when they get enlisted, and war time comes on, they find that powder does not smell half so well as Eau de Cologne, and that an ugly hole in one’s breast is hardly repaid by the medal which may afterwards be hung over the orifice. We recommend to many an aspirant for pulpit honors the example of the young recruit who was thus addressed: “You need not have run away during the first five minutes of the battle.” “Well,” said he, “I had rather be a coward for five minutes than be a corpse all the rest of my life. ” ‘We think we know some brethren who have been not very unlike corpses ever since their ordination.

    The ministry is a high and honorable calling when a man is really fitted for it; but without the necessary qualifications it must be little better than sheer slavery with a fine name to it. We are overdone with mediocrity, and the grades below that poor level. We feel sure that many have mistaken their calling: we should not have so many preachers and so little good preaching if the divine call had been waited for. Oh that men could foresee the misery of non-success, and could recognize the possibility that it will be their portion.

    A man who is established in life, with a family about him, usually has many duties incumbent upon him. there are aged relatives to support, and, at any rate, the wife of his bosom and the olive-branches round about his table need looking after. May he make any remove which would unfit him for the fulfillment of these evident claims? We think not. It is always an evil thing to offer to God one duty stained with the blood of another. It is always a pity to leave a certain obligation for an uncertain one. It is always suspicious when the pursuit to which we aspire appears to be more honorable than that which we would relinquish. there is such a thing as giving one’s self up to the service of God and our own benefit; and when the two things rather evidently come together a few questions may always be suggested to the thoughtful man by the singular fact. We feel a little jealous of a man’s proposal to glorify God by that. which falls in with his own inclination and conduces to his own comfort. We all too readily insinuate self’ into our desire for the divine honor, and yet we may not be conscious of it. Our prayers are not quite so honest as the grace which is used by the Grocers; Company before their feasts, — “ God preserve the Church, the Queen, and the Worshipful Company of Grocers. ” Yes — that’s the point: the worshipful Company of Grocers must come in somehow, and so must our worshipful selves.

    We have frequently said to a young man making application for admission to the College: “Do not be a minister if you can help it. ” that “if you can help it” is the hinge of the matter. He who gives himself up, heart and soul, unreservedly, to the work of the ministry, because woe is unto him if he preach not the gospel, will enter upon his labors from a heavenly compulsion, which it is altogether beyond his power to resist. then, with confidence in God, he may face poverty, shame, discomfort, anything and everything; but without the call, where can be the faith? Without the impulse, where is the warrant? that preaching which is inspired by vain glory must necessarily be in vain. If a man gets where God did not place him he may take care of himself. Many a boy has clambered up a rock and has wished himself down again a thousand times; ere long broken bones have proven the wisdom of his wish. We do not doubt that there are hundreds of men, half-starved in the Christian ministry, who would act wisely if they could add a secular business to their sacred calling. If this would relieve them from want it would not encumber them, but set them free. they would serve the Master better rather than worse if they ploughed the fields or opened shop. We know men with large families and small churches who are greatly pinched. Why do they not take up their old trades? If it would be disreputable to do a little tailoring, is it not more so to be in debt? the apostolic spectacle of a man of God using the needle may be Seen of men and angels, and yet it need never cause him a blush. We know a very useful minister who at a pinch peddled maps, another to this day serves as clerk, a third helps in the harvest-field, and a fourth sells books and does colporteur’s work. Why not?

    While we would thus for the present distress urge our pastors to shake off all notion of being degraded by secular work, we still look for much aid from what are called our “lay brethren.”

    Instead of fewer of these, we need ten times as many of them: the more the merrier. Success to the guild! May its worthy members become more and more efficient, and supply for our poorer churches that lack of service from which they are greatly suffering. So we say for England :; we dare say the same truth applies to the United States.

    THE JOINERS’ MOTTO THAT is an instructive motto of the Joiners’ Company, “Join truth with truth. ’ Does it mean join one truth with another, and do not make up a creed of half Bible and half tradition; partly the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and partly the invention of carnal reason? If so, we commend it to those whose creed is not all of a piece, but a mingle-mangle of truth and error. the error is sure in due time to elbow out the truth, and even now it neutralizes its influence.

    Does it mean, join the truth of a holy life with the truth of an orthodox belief? It’ so, we commend it to those who fight for the doctrine-but; trifle with the precept. Practical righteousness is as precious as doctrinal correctness: the two should never be divorced, for he who is “the t ruth” is also “the life” and “the way.” to hear men talk about “the truth” while their lives give the lie to holiness is as lamentable as to see a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout.

    Or does the motto bid us join truths together in a loving and truthful spirit, the” with truth” being an adverbial expression? It may be so, and the precept is significant. When the portions of our faith are glued together by mere theory or logic, instead of being welded by the fires of conviction, our creed is apt to fall to pieces, and the fabric drops into fragments. Our joinery should be well and truly done: the marriage of good things should be legal, and not a sort of runaway match, wherein the name of unity stands for a sham. Heartily and sincerely let us love the truth which reveals to us the heart of God.

    We are all joiners in some way or other, and so, good liverymen of the City Company, we thank you for your pithy advice, and we would join one holy truth to another, till all truth dwells in us. We would add truth of faith to truth of courage, and to true courage the truth of knowledge, and to true knowledge the grand truth of temperance, and to true temperance the truth of brotherly kindness, and to true brotherly kindness the noblest of all truths, which is charity. What marvelous cabinet-work shall we make if we carefully gather together the virtues, omitting none of them, and then arrange them in fair harmony, and ore them together so that they may never be rent asunder. Good things are all the better for being placed in good company: each grace lends a charm to every other. It is a pity when men cultivate one excellence at the cost of all the rest. What God hath joined together let no, man put asunder. We cannot afford to omit a truth from our creed or a virtue from our lives. A body deprived of a single member is maimed, and such is a life from which any one point of obedience is absent. At the same time, as a dead bone in the body causes pain and breeds mischief, so will falsehood in faith or hypocrisy in life create sin and sorrow in the heart that tolerates it. Join truth with truth, and truth only, is the advice of wisdom. — C. H.S. REPORT OF MRS. SPURGEON’S BOOK FUND MRS.SPURGEON’ S Book Fund pursues its useful course, placing sound and useful theology upon ministers’ shelves, and thus blessing their hearers. If anyone wants to know how much this work is needed, and how greatly it is appreciated, let him read this Report. He need not fear that he will be wearied by dull pages of dry recital; on the contrary, he will be charmed with graceful writing and pleasant imagery. Although we may be supposed to be partial, we do not hesitate to say that a more delicious piece of composition was never given to the press. No one who peruses the sweetly-flowing sentences would ever dream that they cost; their authoress an amount of anxiety and labor which so exhaust her that we fear she will not be able to prepare a Report for next year. the cross of the Book Fund work Lies mainly in the necessity laid upon the worker to write an account of what she has done; yet no one else could write it half so well as herself, nor throw such touching interest into it. We counsel our readers at once to invest sixpence in this little book, and we believe that in every case we shall be thanked for the advice. Apart from its subject, the Report is in itself most interesting reading; its glimpses of home-life, and its choice pictures from nature, must gratify every reader whose tastes and desires are of the right sort.

    The sore famine of books yet continues and threatens to do so, for our ministerial brethren in the villages can hardly expect any improve meat in their position while the agricultural depression continues, and another bad season is threatened. Our rural churches are being crushed by the poverty of the farming members who were once their strength: many of their pastors have barely bread to eat; how can they purchase books? and without books how are they to maintain the freshness and attractiveness of their preaching?

    It is a sad, sad thing that so many ministers should be poor, but it is a glorious fact that so many should be willing to be preachers of the gospel even though poverty should be the condition of their office. So long as there are ministers in need, so long will it be a holy work to supply them, not only with food for their households, but with books for themselves. the Report is a plea for the servants of the Lord of the most. touching kind.

    Here is a specimen of its pleadings :— “That there are! good men in the ministry who would do God better service by coming out of it I have no manner of doubt; they would make far better shoes than sermons, and more consistently occupy a pew than a pulpit; they are fitted to work with their hands rather than with their heads, and everybody but themselves can see that they have intruded into the sacred office, and lack the credentials with which a true ambassador of the King of kings is always furnished.

    Dwindling churches, empty baptisteries, lifeless prayer-meetings, fruitless services..... these all mark the course of such a man, and methinks he had better go and sweep a crossing, ‘ doing it heartily, as unto the Lord,’ than seek 1o remain in a position for which his Master never designed him, and where, consequently, the dew of his blessing does not fall. “So much I must sorrowfully confess as regards some who have evidently mistaken their vocation, and there I leave them, for to their own Master they stand or fall. “But my reflections and my somewhat extensive experience in the matter both assure me that by far the majority of poor pastors are true shepherds of the sheep, feeding the flock of God with loving care, bearing the burden and heat of the day with patient fortitude, enduring hardness for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s, doing good and faithful work which will have its reward in heaven. I do not believe that their poverty is the result of their unfitness for service, or is owing to repletion in their ranks, but that it is partly an outcome of the universal depression brooding over our land, partly a dishonor on the churches to whom they minister, and wholly a state of things to be ashamed of and remedied as soon as possible. I can with perfect truthfulness say that, I know scores of men who toil on from year to year in the face of bitter, privation, seeking not their own, but their people’s good, and in many cases hiding their sufferings lest the work should be hindered. they are ‘ heroes,’ some of them; and, though the world never hears their name in song or story, it shall be proclaimed in that day when the Lord shall say, ‘ Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’ I know one brother with a wife and seven children, and barely £100 per annum to keep them on; yet he says, ‘Our need is very real, but the Lord knows it, and I would not for the world take the matter out of his hand!’ And another who writes, ‘ With £80 a-year, a wife and three children, I have but very little to spend in books; but it is God’s work, and he will provide.’ “Are not these bright stars shining out of a dark night? Does not such sweet submission and cheerfulness under trial bring glory to God? this radiance of faith and trust would not have been visible in the daylight of prosperity, and so the very darkness is made the means of revealing the grace of God shining in the heart. ‘ A few years ago,’ writes a very poor but successful preacher, ‘ I was an untaught collier boy, yet from the depths God called me to labor in his vineyard, and by his grace I have been upheld till now. My whole soul is in the work, and I would not exchange my pulpit for a throne.t his is the manner of spirit God’s ministers are of, and surely such men claim our hearty love and sympathy — men who, like Paul, are ready, not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus! “Those who are ‘called, chosen, and faithful’ have necessity laid upon them, yea, woe is unto them if they preach not the gospel, and then it naturally follows that ‘ even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’ “I have said that some sensitive natures try to hide the fact of their poverty from the people, and it is often thus; but why do not their congregations open their eyes, their ears, their hearts, their purses? Is not the laborer worthy of his hire? If he has sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if he shall reap your carnal things? Why, the rough men in yonder brickfield are far better paid than many a village pastor, and the wages of a head gardener, coachman, or valet would be comparative riches to some of our straitened brethren. there are people who act as if they thought their ministers were fashioned in a different mould to other mortals, not needing so much to eat or so many garments to put on; they deem them, in fact, so nearly celestial, that a little judicious starvation will transform them altogether into angels! (the experiment will succeed one day if they are allowed to persevere.) Ah! if they would but know it, this way of dealing with his servants is displeasing and dishonoring to the Great Master, and is likely to provoke his correction and rebuke. they do not, perhaps, go to quite such extremes as did the husbandmen in our Lord’s parable, who, when the messenger came to them, ‘ caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty;’ and yet — and yet I fear there have been cases in which it came to pretty much the same thing, and then is it any wonder that straightway that vineyard brought forth nothing but wild grapes? the minister’s comfort should be the church’s care, and then his care for them will be their constant comfort. An old writer says —’A minister’s calling is not easy, but painful and laborious; as it, is an honor, so it is a burden, and such an one, too, as requireth the strength of angels to bear it.’ “People of God let your love for your pastors flourish again; hold up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees: help them with sympathy, prayer, and temporal blessings. ‘ Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.’” We abstain from quoting the beauties of this tempting book, because our confidence is that our readers will sooner purchase the whole mosaic than desire to see a few of the marbles of which it is composed. We heard of a preacher saying, “I read it for the illustrations,” and he was no mean master of the art Of metaphor. Private Christians may read it to see what one person may accomplish even when weighted with weakness and pain.

    Wealthy persons should study it that they may see where their Master’s substance can be well laid out. All may peruse the humble page that they may join in praising the Lord for hearing prayer, and remembering his servants: in time of need. Our beloved wife has dipped her pen in her very heart while writing these pages; and therefore we feel persuaded that her tearful labors will not be in gain. Christian people, while reading her appeals, will become impressed with the needs of ministers, and will not only replenish funds already in operation, but will carry out personal plans of their own by which at; least a part of the dire distress may be alleviated.

    If our readers could see the load of books which goes forth from Westwood each fortnight they might fancy that ministers would soon be stocked; but when they saw the daily pile of letters their minds would change. No better work was ever dreamed of than to feed the fountainhead of church life with streams of holy thought. Let our friends one and all see what has been done and what is doing, that they may be moved to make it sure that more will be done.

    NOTES

    On Tuesday, Jan. 23, according to long-established Custom, the pastors and deacons of the tabernacle entertained the ministers of the London Baptist Association to dinner, and the delegates to tea. the Association has a warm place in our heart as the center of brotherly fellowship, and the means of mutual help, and the instrument for extending the Redeemer’s kingdom in London. One object of it is to build at least one chapel a year in London. At this time we are in need of sites and local committees. Are there not many districts in the metro-polls where new populations are gathering, and there is no Nonconformist place of worship for them? If in such localities friends would get together and form a committee, they could hopefully apply to the Association for aid. In laying out estates, friends should reserve a site for a chapel, and give it to the Association. Our friend, Mr. Higgs, did this some time ago, and others did the same before him. We hope the suggestion now sown in these pages will prove to be a fruitful one.

    On Wednesday evening Jan. 31, the annual meeting of the tabernacle church was held, under the presidency of Pastor C. H. Spurgeon. It was a great gathering, a holy and happy festival. the heavy losses suffered by the church during the year in the deaths of two deacons and four elders, and many members, added unusual solemnity to the proceedings of the meeting; but a spirit of devout thankfulness and cheerful hopefulness pervaded the whole assembly. this is not the place to record in detail the business transacted, but we may just mention that our venerable friend, James Stiff, Esq., was unanimously elected to the office of deacon; and that the statistics for the year were as follow : — Increase: ’ by baptism, 267; letter, 116; profession (those who have been previously baptized), 57; restoration,4. Decrease: by dismissions, 140; person, who joined other churches without letters, 45; names removed for non-attendance, 57; for other causes, 5; emigration, 15; deaths,65; making a net increase of 117, and bringing up the number of members on the roll to 5,427. On the reading of the balance-sheets of the church, the poor, and the almshouses, it appeared that there was about £150 due to the treasurer., but the Pastor was able to announce that the whole amount had been paid by himself and the deacons and a few friends, so that the church should start upon the new year without any encumbrance of debt. the number of the: poor of the church is very great, and quite out of proportion to the usual condition of churches; hence the poor fund needs strengthening. t he work carried on is great, and those who can afford to give largely are few in comparison with the needy who are in fellowship with us. It is our joy and honor to be a church in which the working-class and the poor abound; but this fact tries our finances sternly. the annual meeting was of the most cheering character. Pastors, officers, and people work for the Lord with a warm heartiness which makes fellowship real and delightful. How grateful we ought to be that, on entering upon the thirtieth year of the same pastorate, the same affection is displayed all round as at the first; and, what is better still, the same blessing rests upon the labors of the church! Our second Pastor, J. A. Spurgeon,. deserves special mention for the manner in which he conducts the internal work of this large church, and leads on our honored elders in their laborious care of so great a flock. At this meeting the accounts of the College were presented and passed, the College being always regarded as a peculiar institution of the church.

    On Monday evening, Feb. 5, the monthly missionary prayer meeting at the tabernacle was made an occasion for pressing the claims of the Zenana Auxiliary formed last year in connection with our church. Pastors C. H. and J. A. Spurgeon took part in the meeting; addresses were delivered by Mrs. Rouse, of Calcutta, and the veteran missionary, Mr. t. Morgan, of Howrah; and Mr. Allison reported that £185 had been received by the treasurer, and that the committee desired to make up the amount to £200.

    Prayer was offered by several brethren. this work by Christian ladies in the shut-up rooms of the women of India is full of hope. If the wives and mothers of Hindostan can be elevated, it will be in itself a God-like blessing; but the benefit will not stay there, — the whole, population will be the better for the upraising of the women. Everything in society depends upon the mothers. If Christian mothers are found in the Zenanas, India will be won to Christ. We, therefore, rejoice greatly that our tabernacle sisters have united with others in this hopeful work.’

    On Tuesday evening, February 6, our son, Pastor Charles Spurgeon, of Greenwich, delivered his singularly interesting lecture on his trip to America to a large audience at the tabernacle... the eighty dissolving-views, which illustrate the rapid, condensed descriptions, are as fine as any we have ever seen; and the whole lecture made everybody wish to hear it again. At the close a well-deserved vote of thanks was heartily accorded to the lecturer on the motion of Mr. W. Olney, seconded by Mr. Allison. thanks to kind friends in the United States for generous hospitality to our son. We wish they could have heard his hearty expressions of appreciation of their large-heartedness. though it may never be our privilege to visit the States in person, our heart abides in hearty fellowship with dear and faithful friends in the great Republic. Thursday, Feb. 15. — Our sermon at the City temple was well attended by a host of kind friends of all denominations. Never was a reception more hearty than that accorded to us by Dr. Parker, who has on many other occasions displayed a kindness towards us for which we are at a loss to account, except by the largeness of his own heart. A Colportage Society was inaugurated by that service, to which we wish abounding prosperity. the more we see of Colportage, the more we regret that it is not more extensively employed in England, and the more glad we are to see the public mind directed to it. Led by so vigorous man as Dr. Parker, we may hope to see the City t emple sending out scores of colporteurs. So be it.

    We beg to intimate that the case of Mr. R. A. Lawrence’s wife and family, which is fully described in our advertisement columns, is one which deserves aid. think of a mother left with eight children, and no provision!

    We trust that the design of her friends will be fully accomplished.

    Our well beloved brother, Mr. Archibald Brown, has issued his Report of a year’s work in t/he East-end of London. It makes us pray for this most useful worker, but far more it makes our flesh creep, and ore’ heart bleed, to hear of what he sees with his own eyes Can this be England; Can this be London. People so crowded together that decency is gone! So poor that their nakedness is not covered, and they cannot come out even to beg!

    How much we wish that Mr. Brown’s utterances could be heard, repeated, and thundered out by the daily press till something is done for overcrowded regions where vice becomes well-. nigh inevitable to both sexes from the condition of their lodging — say of their pigging in together.

    Modern sensationalism in religion is alluded to by Mr. Brown in very sensible terms. He sees and feels the mischief of it. It is time that somebody spoke now that the attempt is made to make men’ religious by turning all religion into a game of soldiers Because they would not hinder anything.: that promised well, Christian met\ have borne with much that grieved them, but; then, is a point beyond which longsuffering charity cannot; go. that point is nearly reached: even the most ultra-tolerant must; feel that hope has been disappointed, and fear now takes its place. Our readers can get Mr. Brown’s Report by writing and enclosing a subscription to East London Tabernacle, Burdett-road, Bow. AUCKLAND TABERNACLE—the following letter, has come from our son Thomas: — “My Dear Father, At a late deacons’ and church-meeting it was unanimously resolved to forward to you, and through you to all our home-helpers, the hearty thanks of the Auckland Baptists, for the practical sympathy which has poured on to our shores like a warm gulf-stream. the Sword and the trowel list for each month tells the names of kind contributors; and the large cases lately received for bazaar, and now turned into cash, spoke loudly of the loving interest of tabernacle workers. Please convey our gratitude to the good ladies whose busy fingers plied the needle and thread on our behalf and the Master’s. I was especially gratified, amongst numerous notes accompanying the present (which I fear I cannot answer) to find some from the good folk in the almshouses, with halfcrowns for our Building Fund. the blind and the lame and the old have come to our help as well as the young and able. You and they will rejoice to hear that our sale proved an unqualified success. £1,155 was the total intake, which will leave us about £1,000 clear. this is wonderful for a comparatively small place like Auckland, and for the despised Baptists— for they have been so in days gone by. We altogether discarded raffles, lotteries, lucky-bags, and auctions. Our own people worked magnificently, and spent freely, and the whole affair has done us good — eliciting enthusiasm and interest and kindly feeling from all. “John Ploughman’s Stall proved (as I knew it would) a great attraction. “So fully were the various stalls furnished that £500 worth of goods remains unto this present. these must be disposed of at some future date — possibly at the stone-laying. I know whom I should like to perform that ceremony, or to open the Brew tabernacle, or both / But I fear it cannot be. Regard this as an ample invitation, will you? and don’t say you weren’t asked. the Auckland church desires hereby to greet its friends across the seas, and to wish them and their beloved Pastor the choicest blessings possible. He who writes for the church heads the list, and adds hereto the warmest love of “Son Tom.” “Auckland, N.Z., “December 29, 1882.”

    We wish we had much more to send out to our worthy son, for he has a heavy task before him. He will need at least £6,000 more, than he has at present, and we earnestly pray that he may not break down under the pressure which this must bring upon him. We have received comparatively little as yet, but we must give a drawing of the proposed building, and make an appeal further on. Auckland is not like London, and all the towns and cities in Australia lie wide apart; hence the toil and weariness of a collecting-tour to a young man who is not strong. May a bountiful Providence supply the used of his servant in this thing.

    COLLEGE — Mr. J. Hope has become pastor of the church at Ipsley-street, Redditch; Mr. T. J. Longhurst at Cambray Chapel, Cheltenham; and Mr.R. Scott at Ulverston, Lancashire.

    Mr. W. Durban, B.A., of Chester, has been elected Secretary to the Monthly tract Society. He will be glad to hear of preaching engagements in and around London on Sundays. Mr. J. T. Almy has removed from Ryde to Brixham, Devon. Mr. A. Billington, whose health has been re-established during his stay in England, has returned to mission-work on the Congo.

    So many students have settled recently that we shall be able to receive in August rather more men than we anticipated. those who have good reason to believe that they are called to the ministry, but need more education, should apply at once.

    The Annual Conference of the Pastors’ College Association will (D.V.) be held in the week commencing April 16, i.e., the week preceding the Baptist Union meetings.

    The half-yearly meeting of the StudentsMissionary Association was held on Friday, Feb. 9. In the afternoon Professor Gracey occupied the chair. the Rev. E. E. Jenkins, M.A., Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, delivered an eloquent and instructive address. For an hour and three quarters the students listened to him with the closest attention. After combating the hostility to missions which is manifested in some quarters, he described a visit he made to Japan. In the capital, Tokyo, he found a flourishing university, with English and German professors, where English was thoroughly taught. Such questions as these were put to the students in their examinations:— “Why is Shakespeare a more popular poet than Spenser?” “Contrast the style of Johnson and Addison.” Leaving Japan, Mr. Jenkins related how he found all China on the move. Many secret disciples were there, who but for fear of persecution would openly become Christians. In India, Christianity had made rapid strides since he labored there, thirty years ago. When he visited that empire in 1876 he found that the Bible had penetrated almost everywhere. It was studied by the cultured Brahmin as well as by the peasant and tradesman.

    In the evening James Stiff, Esq., took the chair. Pastor W. Williams, of Upton Chapel, delivered a stirring address, and was followed by the Rev. Sinclair Paterson, M.D., who spoke of the difficulties of foreign mission work; and the Rev. J. Davy, of the Bahamas, who related the story of missions in that group of Islands. All felt the meetings to be both pleasant and profitable.

    EVANGELISTS.

    — We have received several very cheering accounts of Messrs. Smith and Fullerton’s services at Hitchin. We can only give brief extracts from the various communications. Our esteemed friend, Professor Marchant, thus describes one service : —.” My chapel was crowded to the doors. Mr. Smith’s singing and exposition were excellent One solo made me feel more than I ever realized before that this new weapon of our warfare is not only not carnal, but rightly used is one of ‘great power. But how shall I describe the holy and marvelous address of Mr. Fullerton.? I could only think of it in the light of the phrase, ‘the Lord working with them.’ The people were spell-bound, and the spell was the healthy gospel of the grace of God. Mr. Fullerton’s close pleading, his tender and earnest spirit, his racy manner, his grip of his subject, and his hold of men, all these were good; but, better than all these, I felt the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. Some twelve or fifteen persons came into the vestry at the close of the service, where they were met by an earnest band of workers, who felt that most of these dear seeking friends had really found the Savior.”

    Pastor A. Mcintosh, the Independent minister, writing at a later date, says:— “My chapel seats 750, but last night there were about 1,000 crammed in, and about 200 in our upper school-room. Power from on high was there. At the prayer-meeting after the service, the chapel was full of people. Very many went into the lecture-room to seek and find Jesus. It was a glorious sight. I am greatly pleased and delighted at the blessing which has come through dear Fullerton and Smith. there has been on their part an earnest, constant endeavor simply to win souls and glorify the Master.”

    Another correspondent writes : — “ I have seen many religious gatherings in Hitchin, in the course of over fifty years, but have never witnessed such large companies brought together, night after night for a whole fortnight, to hear the truth as it is in Jesus, without any sensational attraction or improper excitement.”

    On Sunday evening, Feb. 4, the Evangelists conducted a most interesting service in the study at “Westwood”; after which they spent five days at Benson, Oxon, with the most encouraging results; and for the past fortnight they have been at Liverpool, where their mission gives promise of great SUCCESS.

    Encouraging reports have reached us concerning Mr. Burnham’s visits to East Finchley, Thorpe-le-Soken, and Highgate. In all these places pastors and people appear to have been pleased and profited by our brother’s preaching and singing. This month Mr. Burnham is to be at Walton-on-the- Naze; Melbourne, Cambs.; and Great torrington, Devon.

    Mr. Frank Russell has conducted services in St. Margarets and Harefield during the past month. He continues to receive very cheering news of the results of his work at Richmond, and he believes that at St. Margaret’s also many have been brought into the liberty of the gospel.

    ORPHANAGE.

    — On Friday, Feb. 2, the trustees elected James Stiff, Esq., and William Higgs, Esq., jun., to fill up the two vacancies caused by the lamented decease of Messrs. Higgs and Mills. May they prove towers of strength to the Institution.

    It will be remembered that about this time last year Mr. It. Cory, of Cardiff, sent us £250 towards the amount needed for the completion of the Girl’s Orphanage buildings, and offered to, double his donation if nine other friends would during the year give an equal sum. He has now forwarded £250 more, without insisting upon the condition of his offer, although tie hopes that his challenge will prompt others to give liberally to the same object. A few more such generous helpers would enable ‘us speedily to finish the whole scheme. ,Just as the lists were being printed we received £200 as a thankoffering from two sisters, to be divided between the General Fund and the Girls’ Orphanage Building Fund. We are very grateful to the kind donors. The second annual report of the Reading Young LadiesWorking Party for the Orphanage has just come to hand. It contains fresh evidence of the love of our Reading friends for the orphans, and of their desire to help us in caring for them. the meetings are held monthly at the house of our valued helper, Mrs. James Withers, and, as the result of the gifts and work of the ladies, the, Orphanage has received during the year 231 garments for the children,42 sheets, and 7 pillowcases.

    How heartily we thank these young ladies! May the best of blessings rest on each one of them! Could not other towns follow the example of Reading? Within the last few weeks Mr. Charlesworth and the Orphanage choir have visited Brighton, Eastbourne, Lewes, Hastings, Stockwell Baptist Chapel, John-street Chapel, Bedford-row, the Lambeth Baths, and New Southgate; and as we are making up the “Notes,”’ arrangements are being completed for meetings in, Norwich, Swaffham, Dereham. and Bury St. Edmund’s. Everywhere that the boys go they meet with a most enthusiastic reception, and by their singing, reciting, bell-ringing, etc., and Mr. Charlesworth’s description of the institution, they bring in substantial help to the funds, as our contribution-lists continually prove. We are deeply grateful to all who have helped in the various places to bring about such satisfactory results, Mr. Charlesworth will always be glad to hear from friends, in London or in the provinces, who are willing to devote an evening to this object. It injures no ore., and helps the cause of the fatherless. On Friday afternoon, February 9, a large number of the collectors brought in their boxes and books, and after tea spent a pleasant evening listening to the children’s singing, bell-ringing, and: reciting; to addresses from the ;President and Mr. Charleswelch; and to some humorous sketches by Mr., Leslie Main. the receipts of the day amounted to a little over £100, in addition to which a considerable sum was received by ;post from collectors unable to be present at the meeting. thanks are hereby rendered to all subscribers and collectors, great and small. ‘What a grand work is performed by the many littles which come into the treasury.

    COLPORTAGE.

    — During the past month two new applications have been received for the appointment of colporteurs in districts where £40 a-year has been guaranteed, and the men will soon be at work. the association would gladly start others at once upon the same terms. We are most anxious to extend the benefits of colportage, but are powerless unless friends or churches in the districts to be worked will first arrange to provide a part of the necessary funds. Constant testimony is received, both from the colporteurs and from observers of their work, as to the value and efficiency of the agency. the following letter was received quite recently from Swadlincote, signed by the Pastor and Secretary of the Baptist church. It was unsolicited, and contained a donation to the General Funds. “We forward herewith a small sum subscribed by a few friends in this locality towards helping on the good work in which your agents are engaged. We are directed by the Baptist church in this place to express the deep sense of obligation they have for the earnest self-denying efforts of our friend Mr. Beard, who for some years has been your agent in this district. “His labors, more especially among those who are rarely, if ever, found in our places of worship, and among the sick and dying, have won for him a good name; and he is held in the highest esteem by all classes of the community. We trust the day is far distant when his efforts on behalf of Christ’s kingdom and precious souls in this neighborhood will cease, and that the divine blessing will still’ more richly descend, upon him and on his important work.

    Will no good friend find the £10 needed to keep on for this year the poor district for which an appeal was made last month? the colporteur calls upon hundreds who are far from any means of grace, and have no other visitor.

    Surely so many precious souls are not to have the gospel withheld for lack of these few pounds!

    The Association earnestly solicits the prayers and increased sympathy of the readers of the Sword and the trowel for an enlarged blessing upon its useful work.

    PERSONAL NOTE.

    — An Australian minister writes to us : — “ the first Lord’s-day evening in last month was a red-letter day in my life since I left my happy home and kind church; for my soul and intellect had been on starving allowance, so far as sermon hearing is concerned I hope God will spare you yet for many’ years to England, and not only to England, but to the uttermost ends of the earth. My eldest daughter, who is married to a minister in Tasmania, says in a recent letter — ‘ If Mr. Spurgeon knew how his sermons are appreciated in our Southern forests, where no preachers have been for years until my dear husband went to them, and how many cases of conversion met with through the reading of them, he would be amazed, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.’”

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