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that half only do so to shift their own burden on to another shoulder. A man who ought in all conscience to contribute £50 to the enlargement of the place of worship in which he hears the gospel every Sabbath, puts his name down for ten shillings, and sends off a card to a person who is not a fourth as well off as himself, and who never was within a hundred miles of the spot. Suppose he gets a sovereign from the generous friend, ought it not to burn his hand and make him remember that he is going to offer to the Lord a sacrifice which he has taken out of his neighbour's fold, because he grudged his own sheep? After we have ourselves done all we can, and given all we can spare, we may then honestly exhort others to greater zeal, and press them for contributions, but not till then. The personality of our service enters into the very essence of it. Paul must do Paul's work, and Peter must do Peter's work; but to tax Peter to make up the deficiencies of Paul is a mode of concealing indolence which the Great Master will see through and condemn.
What am I doing for Jesus ? is the New Year's question which we propose to every reader. We ask some to begin a work for the Lord and others to enlarge what they have commenced. Oliver Cromwell pulled down the twelve silver statues of the apostles which adorned Exeter Cathedral, and sent them to the mint to be coined, that they might as true apostles go about doing good : many a fine mass of ornamental silver in our churches needs the practical touch, the useful coinage which alone can turn it to account. The man of learning, the lady of property, the woman of education, the youth of quick parts, the aged believer of great experience, are too often more remarkable for capacity than for matter-of-fact usefulness. Purposes too often run away with lives. Plans and purposes are often the eggs of action, and therefore we would not awkwardly disturb those who are hatching them ; but really the process of incubation has been so long in hand, that we fear the eggs must be addled, and we are half inclined to deal roughly with the nest out of which nothing seems to come. We have no time to waste in projecting far-reaching enterprizes for others, which will never be carried out till generations have passed away : it is ours in our own proper persons while the day lasts to perform our own share of God's great work with all our might. Reader! again we press upon you the need of taking stock of your own business, and putting out your own talent to interest for your Lord.
Our constituency of magazine subscribers now numbers a little under fifteen thousand monthly, and our sermon purchasers some twenty-five thousand weekly, and we encourage ourselves in the belief that many of these take an interest in our work, and would be sorry to see it flag; yet because so few remember that their personal help is wanted, we frequently miss the aid of loving friends. Our College, Orphanage, and Colportage efforts are capable of great extension, especially the latter, which is left to pine in want. Personally we do all that our mind, body, and purse enable us, and we are not ashamed to say that we leave not a fragment of our ability of any kind unused for God, so far as we know : if we could preach more, labour more, and give more, we would do so without being pressed. Our work is for our Lord, and therefore we are bold in asking others to help us in it. We have long wanted suitable rooms for our College, for our Bible Classes, and for our Sabbath School, and we have about a thousand pounds available for that object; but we shall in all probability need four thousand pounds more, and we simply tell this to our friends, that when the Lord prospers them, and they feel inclined to do so, they may, if home concerns do not forbid, help one who is their minister in print, if not by word of mouth. God will move many we hope to say, “ Has Mr. Spurgeon's work
any claim on me? Have I been a partaker of the benefit? What is my share in the service ? "
To you, dear readers, who are so continually aiding us, we offer our best personal thanks, and assure you that our prayers ascend to heaven that you may enjoy a rich return for your liberality and thonghtfulness. Some of you have often eased us when we have been burdened, and been in our Great Father's hands a great strength to our weakness. Trials of our faith you have often ended, though you knew it not, and filled our heart with songs of gratitude which only the Lord has heard. If you count us worthy of continued confidence, help us still; above all, let us have a warm place in your fervent supplications.
This opening chit-chat of a new volume came into our head through the following amusing incident, with which we close our talk, wishing all our readers
A HAPPY NEW YEAR. Sitting down in the Orphanage grounds upon one of the seats, we were talking with one of our brother trustees, when a little fellow, we should think about eight years of age, left the other boys who were playing around us, and came deliberately up to us. He opened fire upon us thus, “ Please, Mister Spurgeon, I want to come and sit down on that seat between you two gentlemen.” “Come along, Bob, and tell us what you want." Please, Mr. Spurgeon, suppose there was a little boy who had no father, who lived in a Orphanage with a lot of other little boys who had no fathers, and suppose those little boys had mothers and aunts who comed once a month, and brought them apples and oranges, and gave them pennies, and suppose this little boy had no mother and no aunt, and so nobody never came to bring him nice things, don't you think somebody ought to give him a penny? Cause, Mr. Spurgeon that's me.” Somebody felt something wet in his eye, and Bob got a sixpence, and went off in a great state of delight. Poor little soul, he had seized the opportunity to pour out a bitterness which had rankled in his little heart, and made him miserable when the monthly visiting day came round, and, as he said, “Nobody never came to bring him nice things. Turning the tables, we think some grown-up persons, who were once little Bobs and Harrys, might say, “Suppose there was a poor sinner who deserved to be sent to hell, but was forgiven all his sins by sovereign grace, and made a child of God, don't you think he ought to help on the Saviour's cause? 'cause Mr. Spurgeon, that's me.”
The Happy Beggar.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”—Psalm xl. 17. VAERE is no crime, and there is no credit in being poor. Everything
depends upon the occasion of the poverty. Some men are poor, and are greatly to be pitied, for their poverty has come upon them without any fault of their own; God has been pleased to lay this burden upon them, and therefore they may expect to experience divine help, and ought to be tenderly considered by their brethren in Christ. Occasionally poverty has been the result of integrity or religion, and here the poor man is to be admired and honoured. At the same time, it will be observed by all who watch with an impartial eye, that very much of the poverty about us is the direct result of idleness, intemperance, improvidence, and sin. There would probably not be one-tenth of the poverty there now is upon the face of the earth if the drinking shops were less frequented, if debauchery were less common, if idleness were banished, and extravagance abandoned. Lovers of pleasure (alas ! that such a word should be so degraded!) are great impoverishers of themselves. It is clear that there is not, of necessity, either vice or virtue in being poor, and a man's poverty cannot be judged of by itself, but its causes and circumstances must be taken into consideration.
The poverty, however, to which the text relates is a poverty which I desire to cultivate in my own heart, and it is one upon which our divine Lord has pronounced a blessing. When he sat down upon the mountain and poured forth his famous series of beatitudes, he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in pocket may be blessed, or may not be blessed, as the case may be ; but the poor in spirit are always blessed, and we have Christ's authority for so saying. Theirs is a poverty which is better than wealth ; in fact, it is a poverty which indicates the possession of the truest of all riches.
It was mainly in this sense that David said, “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me:" certainly in any other sense there are vast multitudes who are poor and needy,” but who neither think upon God nor rejoice that God thinks upon them. Those who are spiritually " poor and needy,” the sacred beggars at mercy's gate, the elect mendicants of heaven, these are the people who may say, with humble confidence, “ Yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”
Two things are noteworthy in the text. First, here is a frank acknowledgment, “ I am poor and needy;" but secondly, here is a comfortable confidence, " Yet the Lord thinketh upon me."
I. First, here is A FRANK ACKNOWLEDGMENT.
Some men do not object to confess that they are poor in worldly goods. In fact, they are rather fond of pleading poverty when there is a collection coming, or a subscription list in dangerous proximity. Men have even gloried in history in the name of “the Beggars;" and “ silver and gold have I none,” has been exalted into a boast.
But, spiritually, it is little less than a miracle to bring men to feel, and then to confess their poverty, for naked, and poor, and miserable as we are by nature, we are all apt enough to say, “ I am rich and increased in goods.” We cannot dig, and to beg we are ashamed. If we did not inherit a penny of virtue from father Adam, we certainly inherited plenty of pride. Poor and proud we all are. We will not, if we can help it, take our seat in the lowest room, though that is our proper place. Grace alone can bring us to see ourselves in the glass of truth. To have nothing is natural to us, but to confess that we have nothing is more than we will come to until the Holy Spirit has wrought self-abasement in us. The emptiers must come up upon us, for though naturally as empty as Hagar's bottle, yet we boast ourselves to be as full as a fountain. The Spirit of God must take from us our goodly Babylonish garment, or we shall never consent to be dressed in the fair white lineu of the righteousness of saints. What Paul flung away as dross and dung, we poor rag-collectors prize and hoard up as long as ever we can. “I am poor and needy,” is a confession which only he who is the Truth can teach us to offer. If you are saying it, my brother, you need not be afraid that you are under a desponding delusion. But, true as it is, and plain to every grace-taught child of God, yet only grace will make a man confess the obnoxious fact! It is not in public that we can or should confess our soul-poverty as we do in the chamber when we bow our knee secretly before God, but many of us in secret have been compelled with many tears and sighs, to feel, as well as to say, “ I am poor and needy." We have searched through and through, looked from the top to the bottom of our humanity, and we could not find a single piece of good money in the house, so greatly reduced were we. We had not a shekel of merit, nor a penny of hope in ourselves, and we were.constrained to fall flat on our face before God, and confess our inability to meet his claims, and we found no comfort till by faith we learned to present our Lord Jesus as the Surety for his servants for good. We could not pay even the poorest composition, and therefore cast ourselves upon the forbearance of God.
The psalmist is doubly humble, for first he says he is poor, and then adds that he is needy, and there is a difference between these two things.
He acknowledges that he is poor, and you and I, if taught of God, will say the same. We may well be poor, for we came of a poor father. Our father Adam had a great estate enough at first, but he soon lost it. He violated the trust on which he held his property, and he was cast out of the inheritance, and turned adrift into the world to carn his bread as a day labourer by tilling the ground whence he was taken. His eldest son was a vagabond; the firstborn of our race was a convict upon ticket-of-leave. If any suppose that we have inherited some good thing by natural descent, they go very contrary to what David tells us, when he declares, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Our first parents were utter bankrupts. They left us nothing but a heritage of old debts, and a propensity to accumulate yet more personal obligations. Well may we be poor who come into this world' “ heirs of wrath,” with a decayed estate and tainted blood.
Moreover, since the time when we came into the world, we have followed a very miserable trade. I recollect when I was a spinner and weaver of the poorest sort, I dreamed that I should be able by my own spinning to make a garment to cover myself withal. This was the trade of father Adam and mother Eve when they first lost their innocence; they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. It is a very laborious business, and has worn out the lives of many with bitter bondage, but its worst feature is that the Lord has declared concerning all who followed this self-righteous craft, “ their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works.” Even those who have best attired themselves, and have for awhile gloried in their fair apparel have had to feel the truth of the Lord's words by Isaiah, “ I will take away the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails, and instead of a girdle there shall be a rent; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth.” Vain is it to spend our labour on that which profiteth not, yet to this business are we early put apprentice, and we work at it with mighty pains.
We are miserably poor, for we have become bankrupt even in our uretched trade. Some of us had once a comfortable competence laid by in the bank of Self Righteousness, and we meant to draw it out when we came to die, and thought we should even have a little spending money for our old age out of the interest which was paid us in the coin of self-conceit ; but the bank broke long ago, and now we have not so much as a farthing of our own merits left us, no, nor a chance of ever having any; and what is worse, we are deep in debt, and we have nothing to pay. Instead of having anything like a balance on our own account, behold, we are insolvent debtors to the justice of God, without a single farthing of assets, and unless we are freely forgiven we must be cast into prison, and lie there for ever. Job described us well when he said, “ for want and famine they are solitary, fleeing into the wilderness, in former time desolate and waste. They have no covering in the cold, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.” See, then, what poverty-stricken creatures we are—of a poor stock, following a starving trade, and made bankrupts even in that.
What is worse still, poor human nature has no power left to retrieve itself. As long as a man has a stout pair of arms he is not without a hope of rising from the dunghill. We once thought that we were equal anything, but now Paul's description suits us well—“ without strength.” Our Lord's words, too, are deeply true, " Without me ye can do nothing." Unable so much as to think a good thought, or to lifo our hearts heavenward of ourselves—this is poverty indeed! We are wrecked, and the whole vessel has gone to pieces. We have destroyed ourselves. Ah! my fellow man, may God make you feel this! Many know nothing about it, and would be very angry if we were to say that this is their condition ; and yet this is the condition of every man born into the world until the Spirit of God brings him into communion with Christ, and endows him with the riches of the covenant of grace. “ I am poor,” it is my confession: is it yours? Is it a confession extorted from you by a clear perception that it is really so ? I will recommend yon, if it be so, to take to a trade which is the best trade in the world