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when he went from land to land preaching the gospel of the kingdom, the Master abundantly prospered his work. Brethren, it is not given to all of us to shine, but we can all burn. And, if with personal holiness and likeness to Jesus we devote ourselves to our high vocation, though we may not dazzle by our splendour, we shall be able to impart warmth to the perishing around us, and thus God, even our own God, shall bless us.
The intimate connection between these two things—holiness and usefulness- will be seen further from the consideration of a few points.
Holiness of life will enable the minister to defeat opponents, and so it will increase his usefulness. It is probable that in every church and congregation there will be some enemies who will oppose you in your ministry. Do what you will, and be as careful as you may, they will be offended. Some of them will deem themselves your superiors in everything, others will set up as conservators of their ancient customs and privileges, while both will combine to weaken your influence and increase their own power. Now, the very truths you proclaim will come directly across the preconceived notions of these individuals ; and it may be that, for the general good, you will be compelled to oppose their schemes. One result will be that without intending to offend them they will become your enemies, and will bestow upon you their genuine hatred.
What are you to do with these men ? Argue them down ? Preach them down ? Fight them down ? No! But live them down. By "meekly instructing them that oppose themselves” in the beauty of Christ's character, and illustrating your teaching by the holiness of your own life, you will eventually either shut their mouths, or render their opposition useless. There is a potency in holiness which defeats opponents-converting them into coadjutors or driving them from the field. Luther was devoutly hated, continually watched, and unceasingly opposed by the priests of Rome, who dogged his footsteps, hoping that, as he had beaten them in controversy they might discover impurity in his life, which they would have unhesitatingly used against him and his work. At length, with undisguised rage they wrote of him : “ This German beast is so scrupulously holy that we can bring nothing against him on this ground.” Thus they were defeated. Many ministers by living near to God, and breathing the spirit of Christ in their daily life, have silenced opposition and accomplished their long-cherished desires. Darkness ever flies before the light, and evil still yields to the inherent power of holiness.
Having power with God will make a man useful, and holiness will give him this power. The minister of godly life will be clothed with divine might. He who walks with God touches the Deity, and is privileged intimately to know the Lord. God will allow himself to be moved by such a man. The prophet of Sinai seemed to live in the immediate presence of Jehovah; his life, too, was sublime from its very purity, and he was permitted to talk with God as a man talketh with his friend. Does the Lord threaten to consume the Israelites from off the face of the earth ? Moses argues with him, reminding him of what the Egyptians will say, and the people are spared. No wonder that such a man could deliver his people from the thraldom of Egypt, and lead them
through the wilderness, bearing with all their waywardness, for God was with him.
Elijah, too, was a holy man, and hence had power with God. Does he desire a drought to bring the nation to a sense of its sinfulness? He asked that it might not rain, and straightway the heavens were closed for the space of three years and six months. Again he prayed that it might rain, and the rain descended and the earth brought forth her fruits. He would convince the nation of the power and presence of Jehovah, asking for fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice; and, while he was yet speaking the fire of the Lord fell, burnt up the sacrifice, the rood, the stones, the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. Here was the human having power with the Infinite, but it was granted, you will observe, to a man of devout and holy life. If we would be blessed in our work we must have power with the Most High ; and this gift is bestowed upon those who habitually live near to God.
Personal holiness will give the minister power with men, hence he will be useful. I take it to be the business of the preacher of the gospel to lay hold of, and to mould men. He will not be greatly successful till he has acquired this power.
The force of our piety will be felt in every department of our work. Whether in the social circle, the Bible class, the prayer-meeting, the streets, or the home-life, the influence of godliness will tell upon men. But it is in the pulpit, preaching the word, that the largest influence is exercised. Here we should be a power. You are there with the people round you ; you have to move, stir, arouse them. Would you have them under your sway? Then, always supposing other things, as preaching ability, etc., to be yours, be intensely a man of God. You will see the bearing of your life upon your work if you remember that, as a minister, you have to do with the heart. This is not the case to the same extent with the philosopher, the lawyer, the philanthropist, the politician; but the preacher's sphere lies more particularly in dealing with the hearts of men. Do not, therefore, suppose that we ignore the the intellect. We would enlighten the understanding, influence the will, and bring conviction to the conscience, but only as a means to an end. We aim through all these to reach and influence the heart.
Now, in order to this, we must understand human nature, not only in men generally, but specially in ourselves. It is required in physicians that they study anatomy, physiology, and the diseases incident to the body, that they may grapple with these diseases and overcome them: and should not the minister of Christ be acquainted with the more subtile workings of the soul ? Let the servant of God study himselt. Let him know his sins, and which among them has the most power over him; his peculiar weaknesses, and where to get strength; let him watch carefully the workings of his own heart, and how it is affected by sorrow, joy, and a multitude of other things; let him mark the growth of his own spiritual life, and what most accelerates its progress; let him daily realise the joy of pardon, the fulness and sufficiency of Christ and his own personal interest in Jesus ; let the secrets of his inner life be a daily dependence upon the Lord; and when from such a study of himself he stands before the
multitude and deals with men, they will exclaim, “this man knows
, me; he understands my difficulties, my dangers, my temptations, my sins, and my sorrows ;” thus he will have won their hearts, and his power with them will be almost unlimited. This must be the result, for such a man speaks with authority of the things he has tasted, handled, and felt, because he speaks from heart-knowledge and therefore influences men by his heart-life.
Some time since two gentlemen, both exceedingly intelligent, the one a follower of Jesus, the other highly moral in deportment but destitute of grace, went to hear one of our brethren. The sermon was from the well-known words, “Come unto me,” etc. At the close these two friends went home, scarcely exchanging a word on the way, and it was easy for the Christian to see that his intelligent friend was feeling intensely the power of the word. At length, the cold, calculating man of the world said to his friend with the deepest emotion, "There's nothing like heart-preaching is there, George”? He was right. But ever remember that heart-preaching and influencing men spiritually are allied with holiness of life and conversation. When such a man as I have described speaks, his word comes with a “ Thus saith the Lord,” and under its influence men are broken in heart and brought into the liberty of the children of God.
If the position we have taken in our paper be correct, "what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness ?” Brethren, may the Holy Ghost sanctify us wholly, body, soul, and spirit, so shall we be made a blessing to very many who come within the sphere of our ministry.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
has been our lot to attend many anniversary meetings of societies
interesting, amusing, and full of real life and vigour as the meeting of the Colportage Society at the Tabernacle. The society had brought up from their country districts most of their book-hawkers, and some of these told their experiences with hearty simplicity, in language full of racy expressions and striking provincialisms. Probably the audience obtained a better idea of the work of colportage through these vivá voce descriptions than could have been communicated to them by a score of annual reports. Fine language and feeble propriety spoil many public meetings, but in this case there were both force and freedom, and a degree of vivacity which was quite refreshing. One brother appeared with the model pack upon his back-in harness, as he said-and described his dangers from “dawgs." His district is in Lancashire, where “ dawgs” abound, beautiful bull-pups among them, whose education has been so neglected that they are constantly mistaking a man's leg for a shin of beef, and are never more happy than when they can make their teeth meet in something alive. Amid abundant laughter, our
friend declared that he had not fought wild beasts at Ephesus, but had often been forced to do so round by Haydock ; he had found it well to trust in God and carry a big stick. Another excellent colporteur, who rides a velocipede, described his journeys twenty miles in all directions, from his centre at Warminster, Wilts, giving a graphic account of the lone farm-houses and hamlets which he visits. He appeared to be a very acceptable and laborious preacher of the gospel, carrying the word of God on his tongue as well as upon his back. The labourer in the Isle of Sheppy also gave details of the power of the gospel, and of the cagerness to hear it evinced by the villagers everywhere. It was clear enough to all present that the rural districts need just such an agency as the Colportage, that the society has found a staff of right men, and that the work ought to be indefinitely extended. Nonconfor. mity will not for many years be strong enough to support a sufficient staff of ministers in the more sparsely populated districts ; many of the church clergy are worse than useless, and make the darkness around them darker still; those of them who are evangelical are glad of the colporteurs' aid, for they cannot get at all classes, and the best, if not the only available means, of saving the benighted people is to reach them by means of the colporteur. To a district subscribing £40 a year the society sends a man to sell books, who will visit the sick, distribute tracts, gather prayer-meetings, preach on the green, and probably form bands of hope and temperance societies. It is the cheapest agency known to us. The excuse of selling his wares makes the colporteur bold to push in where otherwise he might not dare to call. He knocks at the doors of the rich as well as the poor, and has a word for old and young. As his report of sales will have to come before the committee he has a capital reason for diligence in business, and is not likely to loiter. If he is a live man, as our colporteurs mostly are, he finds abundance of work all around him, and opens doors for himself where at first he found but little scope.
Instances of conversion have been very many by the means of our colporteurs, and we expect yet more. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.
We should like it to be understood that we wish to see a Colportage society, including all denominations, and if some brother will take over the work we shall be glad for the present society at the Tabernacle to become a branch of it. If this does not occur we hope the Tabernacle Committee will plod on until they convince Englishmen that the work is good and necessary, and ought to be taken up with spirit. Our own solemn conviction is that Colportage, as an agency, is second to none. It ought to be worked by a society as large as the Bible Society, or the Religious Tract Society. We have nowadays an association for almost every supposable purpose, from the feeding of stray dogs to antivaccination, surely Colportage cannot be long neglected.
At the annual meeting, our excellent Committee presented a report from which we will make extracts :
The object of this association, the increased circulation of religious literature, is carried out in a twofold manner :- 1st. By means of colporteurs, whose whole time is devoted to the work, and who are paid by a fixed salary. 2nd. By Book Agents
, who canvas for orders for periodicals, and supply them month by month; these receive a liberal per-centage on the sales to remunerate them for their trouble
. The first of these methods is the more important, as the colporteur is thereby enabled to
engage in Christian labour in all parts of the district; and his regular visits afford an opportunity of teaching the people in their own homes. The average total cost of a colporteur is £80, but the committee will appoint a man to any district for which £10 a year is subscribed, if the funds of the association permit. The second method is admirably suited to the requirements of village churches and Sunday schools, where the guarantee for a colporteur cannot be obtained. Shopkeepers, or other persons willing to become book agents, may communicate with the secretary, Metropolitan Tabernacle. The association is unsectarian in its operations “doing work for the friends of a full and free gospel anywhere and everywhere.” [By this second method friends who are shopkeepers might aid in spreading pure literature by keeping a small stock in a corner of their window. Village general shops might be thus used.]
The number of colporteurs in the employ of the association at the commencement of the year was nine, but at its close thirteen, and through the kind liberality of two gentlemen deeply interested in colportage work, eighteen men are now engaged in various parts of the country.
The sales effected during 1872, by an average of eleven colporteurs, reached the sum of £1,238 Os. 11d., and consisted of 66,835 different publications, nearly all of a religious tendency and for the most part circulated among those who would not otherwise have purchased them. In addition to these our book agents have disposed of good literature to the value of nearly £120. The total expense of the association for the year (deducting profit on the sales) was £539 8s. 5d., while the subscriptions and donations amounted to £662 ls. 5d., including one large contribution of £100 received just as the year closed, which has enabled the committee to make the extension in its operations previously referred to.
The colporteur, in his constant, regular rounds, has some of the best possible opportunities for evangelistic work, and our agents have not been behind in their efforts in this direction, 121,100 visits have been paid, the sick and dying read and prayed with, careless sinners exhorted to repentance, and many thousand tracts distributed monthly; but in addition to this valuable work very much has been done in holding cottage meetings, Sunday services, Bible classes, and in some instances night schools, and the testimony of many has been borne to their efficacy, through the blessing of God, in leading souls to a saving knowledge of the truth. Notably in one instance a gracious revival of religion, resulting in the conversion of scores, has followed the faithful labours of the colporteur, but in many other cases good evidence has been given of the working of the Holy Spirit of God through this agency.
These facts lead the committee to hope that since colportage has been proved to be as successful in England as elsewhere, a larger response may be given to their appeal for subscriptions, that they may be enabled not only to maintain the present number of agents, but very largely to extend their operations during the present year. Never was the need greater, both for pure literature and for faithful dealing with the souls of men, than at present, and no form of agency seems better suited to the requirements of the time, or obtainable at so moderate an expense.
The increase in the number of agents has rendered it necessary to enlarge the staff of officers, by engaging the services of a permament paid secretary, the honorary officers finding the efficient working of the association now demands more time than they can possibly devote to it after their own business hours, and the committee have obtained the assistance of Mr. W. Gordon Jones in that capacity, which choice they trust may tend to the welfare and extension of the association.
The committee desire to record their obligations to the District Local Committees for their assistance in supervising the work of the agents, and to the Religious Tract Society, London, and the Dublin Tract Society, for liberal grants of tracts and books.
In the following extracts from the journals of the colporteurs it will be seen that the work is both appreciated and successful.
THE COLPORTEUR APPRECIATED. Often such an expression as this comes to my ears: “If it were not for the colporteur there would not be any spiritual influence in these villages,” and I hear this from the most thoughtful and spiritually-minded people. Wherever I go the people seem to have a word ready to cheer me, and express sympathy with our work. Every Christian person seems to say that he believes colportage to be one of the