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was no lack of buckets, ladders, and shovels; while would-be sightseers were required to stay at home until sent for by the Lord Mayor, whose presence on the scene was indispensable to impart due eclat to a considerable conflagration, and he commonly came up with an imposing guard of "company" men, whose duty may have consisted in seeing that no timbers or firebrands fell on the chief magistrate's coach. These picturesque exhibitions are now substituted by fire engines and trained firemen, the fire offices having united to establish the London Fire Brigade. The Brigade is now in a high state of efficiency; its movements and achievements exciting the surprise of all observant foreigners who visit England.
An evangelist who specially devotes his time to firemen has greater difficulties to encounter than are common to similar work among the police. The very nature of the firemen's calling tends to make them careless, and those among them who are disposed to attend public worship will not always find opportunities of following their inclinations. A certain missionary, when appointed to these duties, at once perceived the obstacles he should have to overcome. By way of commencement, he called at the chief station in Watling Street, carrying with him a number of publications, which he offered to lend. On his entering the establishment, the men, engaged in cleaning their engines, were unable to account for the intrusion of a stranger, who spoke what was to them the strange language of Christianity, and so treated the affair as a joke, and turned the business into laughter. At first, judging him by the pack he carried, the company half suspected the missionary of being a travelling jeweller, but when, instead of Brummagem trinkets, interesting books were shown them, a real interest was excited. The chief engineer, in a most respectful manner, selected a book, and the late unfortunate Mr. Braidwood politely welcomed the newcomer. In this manner was the ice broken. The routine at other offices was similar to this. At one of them, a man said he had no time for reading, nor for worshipping God, though he considered himself none the worse on that account; but when he proceeded to depreciate the Bible as a book of contradictions, he was rebuked by the others, who confessed that they should be better men if their lives were guided entirely by Scripture precepts. At another station there was scarce time to put down the pack, and to begin to speak to the officers, ere news of "fire" was flashed into the building, and in two minutes the engine was ready, horses were buckled to, and all sped away as if for dear life; "Ah, sir," called out one of the men, 66 we don't know that we shall ever come back, when we are
These men are extremely subject to accident; often is some strong fellow found prostrated on a bed of pain in the hospital. But whether at work or at rest, they are indispensable public servants, and as such deserve sympathy and Christian instruction at the hands of those whom they serve. Many whose duties oblige them to spend the greater portion of their time in the streets, cab and omnibus men, police and firemen, are being blessed by the all-reclaiming touch of Christianity, and in every instance wherein good is communicated, the public is a substantial gainer. Since we accept their services, let us give them something better ia return, and show that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Real Contact with Jesus: a Sacramental
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.-Luke viii. 46.
UR Lord was very frequently in the midst of a crowd. His preaching
was so plain and so forcible that he always attracted a vast company of hearers; and, moreover, the rumour of the loaves and fishes no doubt had something to do with increasing his audiences, while the expectation of beholding a miracle would be sure to add to the numbers of the hangers-on. Our Lord Jesus Christ often found it difficult to move through the streets, because of the masses who pressed upon him. This was encouraging to him as a preacher, and yet how small a residuum of real good came of all the excitement which gathered around his personal ministry. He might have looked upon the great mass and have said, "What is the chaff to the wheat?" for here it was piled up upon the threshing-floor, heap upon heap; and yet after his decease his disciples might have been counted by a few scores, for those who had spiritually received him were but few. Many were called, but few were chosen. Yet, wherever one was blessed our Saviour took note of it; it touched a chord in his soul. He never could be unaware when virtue had gone out of him to heal a sick one, or when power had gone forth with his ministry to save a sinful one. Of all the crowd that gathered round the Saviour upon the day of which our text speaks, I find nothing said about one of them except this solitary "somebody" who had touched him. The crowd came and the crowd went, but little is recorded of it all. Just as the ocean, having advanced to full tide, leaves but little behind it when it retires again to its channel, so the vast multitude around the Saviour left only this one precious deposit-one "somebody" who had touched him and had received virtue from him.
Ah, my Master, it may be so again this evening! These Sabbath mornings and these Sabbath evenings the crowds come pouring in like a mighty ocean, filling this house, and then they all retire again; only here and there is a "somebody" left weeping for sin, a "somebody" left rejoicing in Christ, a "somebody" who can say, I have touched the hem of his garment, and I have been made whole." The whole of my other hearers are not worth the "somebodies." The many of you are not worth the few, for the many are the pebbles, and the few are the diamonds; the many are the heaps of husks, and the few are the precious grains. May God find them out at this hour, and his shall be all the praise.
Jesus said, "Somebody hath touched me," from which we observe that in the use of means and ordinances we should never be satisfied, unless we can get into personal contact with Christ; secondly, if we can get into such personal contact we shall have a blessing; "I perceive that virtue is gone out of me;" and, thirdly, if we do get a blessing, Christ
will know it; however obscure our case may be, he will know it, and he will have us let others know it; he will speak, and ask such questions as will draw us out, and manifest us to the world.
I. First, then, IN THE USE OF ALL MEANS AND ORDINANCES LET IT BE OUR CHIEF AIM AND OBJECT TO COME INTO PERSONAL CONTACT WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Peter said, "The multitude throng thee and press thee," and that is true of the multitude to this very day; but of those who come where Christ is in the assembly of his saints a large proportion only come because it is their custom to do so. Perhaps they hardly know why they go to a place of worship. They go because they always did go, and they think it wrong not to go. They are just like the doors which swing upon their hinges; they take no interest in what is done, at least only in the exterior parts of the service; into the heart and soul of the business they do not enter, and cannot enter. They are glad if the sermon is rather short, there is so much the less tedium for them. They are glad if they can look around and gaze at the congregation, they find in that something to interest them; but getting near to the Lord Jesus is not the business they come upon. They have not looked at it in that light. They come and they go; they come and they go, and it will be so till at the last they will come for the last time, and they will find out in the next world that the means of grace were not instituted to be matters of custom, and that to have heard Jesus Christ preached and to have rejected him is no trifle, but a solemn thing to be answered for in the presence of the Judge.
Others there are who come to the house of prayer, and try to enter into the service, and do so in a certain fashion; but it is only selfrighteously or professionally. They would come to the Lord's table; they would attend to baptism; they would join the church; but they have baptism, yet not the Holy Spirit; they have the Lord's Supper, but they have not the Lord himself; they eat the bread, but they never eat his flesh; they drink the wine, but they never drink his blood; they have been buried in the pool, but they have never been buried with Christ in baptism, nor have they risen again with him into newness of life. To them to read, to sing, to kneel, to hear, and so on, are enough. They are content with the shell, but the blessed spiritual kernel, the true marrow and fatness, these they know nothing of. These are the many, go into what church or meeting-house you please. They are in the press around Jesus, but they do not touch him. They come, but they come not into contact with Jesus. They are outward, external hearers only, but there is no inward touching of the blessed person of Christ, no mysterious contact with the ever-blessed Saviour, no stream of life and love flowing from him to them. It is all mechanical religion. Vital godliness they know nothing of.
But, "somebody," said Christ, "somebody hath touched me," and that is the soul of the matter. Oh, my hearer, when you are in prayer alone never be satisfied with having prayed; do not give it up till you have touched Christ in prayer; or, if you cannot get at him, at any rate sigh and cry until you do. Do not think you have prayed, but try again. When you come to public worship, I beseech you, rest not satisfied with listening to the sermon, and so on-as you all do with
sufficient attention; to that I bear you witness;-but do not be content unless you get at Christ the Master, and touch him. At all times when you come to the communion table, count it to have been no ordinance of grace to you unless you have gone right through the veil into Christ's own arms, or at least have touched his garment, feeling that the first object, the life and soul of the means of grace, is to touch Jesus Christ himself; and except " somebody " hath touched him, the whole has been a mere dead performance, without life or power.
The woman in our text was not only amongst those who were in the crowd, but she touched Jesus; and therefore, beloved, let me hold her up to your example in some respects, though I would to God that in other respects you might excel her.
Note, first, she felt that it was of no use being in the crowd, of no use to be in the same street with Christ, or near to the place where Christ was, but she must get at him; she must touch him. She touched him, you will notice, under many difficulties. There was a great crowd. She was a woman. She was also a woman enfeebled by a long disease which had drained her constitution and left her more fit to be upon a bed than to be struggling in the seething tumult. Yet, notwithstanding that, so intense was her desire that she urged on her way, I doubt not with many a bruise, and many an uncouth push, and at last, poor trembler as she was, she got near to the Lord. Beloved, it is not always easy to get at Jesus. It is very easy to kneel down to pray, but not so easy to reach Christ in prayer. There is a child crying, it is your own, and its noise has often hindered you when you were striving to approach Jesus; or a knock will come at the door when you most wish to be retired. When you are sitting in the house of God, your neighbour in the seat before you may unconsciously distract your attention. It is not easy to draw near to Christ, especially coming as some of you do right away from the counting-house, and from the workshop, with a thousand thoughts and cares about you. You cannot always unload your burden outside, and come in here with your hearts prepared to receive the gospel. Ah! it is a terrible fight sometimes, a real footto-foot fight with evil, with temptation, and I know not what. But, beloved, do fight it out, do fight it out; do not let your seasons for prayer be wasted, nor your times for hearing be thrown away; but, like this woman, be resolved, with all your feebleness, that you will lay hold upon Christ. And oh! if you be resolved about it, if you cannot get to him, he will come to you, and sometimes, when you are struggling against unbelieving thoughts, he will turn and say, "Make room for that poor feeble one that she may come to me, for my desire is to the work of my own hands; let her come to me, and let her desire be granted her."
Observe, again, that this woman touched Jesus very secretly. Perhaps there is a dear sister here who is getting near to Christ at this very moment, and yet her face does not betray her. It is so little contact that she has gained with Christ that the joyous flush and the sparkle of the eye, which we often see in the child of God, have not yet come to her. She is sitting in yonder obscure corner, or standing in this aisle, but though her touch is secret, it is true. Though she cannot tell another of it, yet it is accomplished. She has touched Jesus.
Beloved, that is not always the nearest fellowship with Christ of which we talk the most. Deep waters are still. Nay, I am not sure but what we sometimes get nearer to Christ when we think we are at a distance than we do when we imagine we are near him, for we are not always exactly the best judges of our own spiritual state, and we may be very close to the Master, and yet for all that we may be so anxious to get closer that we may feel dissatisfied with the measure of grace which we have already received. To be satisfied with self is no sign of grace, but to long for more is often a far better evidence of the healthy state of the soul. Friend, if thou canst not come to the table to-night publicly, come to the Master in secret. If thou darest not tell thy wife, or thy child, or thy father that thou art trusting in Jesus, it need not be told as yet. Thou mayest do it secretly, as he did of whom Jesus said, "When thou wast under the fig tree I saw thee." Nathaniel retired to the shade that no one might see him, but Jesus saw him and marked his prayer, and he will see thee in the crowd and in the dark, and not withhold his blessing.
This woman also came into contact with Christ under a very deep sense of unworthiness. I dare say she thought, "If I touch the Great Prophet it will be a wonder if he does not strike me with some sudden judgment," for she was a woman ceremonially unclean. She had no right to be in the throng. Had the Levitical law been strictly carried out, I suppose she would have been confined to her house, but there she was wandering about, and she must needs go and touch the holy Saviour. Ah! poor heart, you feel to-night that you are not fit to touch the skirts of the Master's robe, for you are so unworthy. You never felt so undeserving before as you do to-night. In the recollection of last week and its infirmities, in the remembrance of the present state of your heart, and all its wanderings from God, you feel as if there never was so worthless a sinner in the house of God before. "Is grace for me?" say you. "Is Christ for me?" Oh! yes, unworthy one. Do not be put off without it. Jesus Christ does not save the worthy, but the unworthy. Your plea must not be righteousness, but guilt. And you, too, child of God, though you are ashamed of yourself, Jesus is not ashamed of you; and though you feel unfit to come, let your unfitness only impel you with the greater earnestness of desire. Let your sense of need make you the more fervent to approach the Lord, who can supply your need. The woman came under difficulties, she came secretly, she came as an unworthy one, but still she obtained the blessing.
I have known many staggered with that saying of Paul's, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself." Now, understand that this passage does not refer to the unworthiness of those persons who come to the Lord's Table; for it does not say, "He that eateth and drinketh being unworthy." It is not an adjective; it is an adverb. "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily," that is to say, he who shall come to the outward and visible sign of Christ's presence, and shall eat of the bread in order to obtain money by being a member of the church, knowing himself to be a hypocrite, or who shall do it jestingly, trifling with the ordinance: such a person would be eating and drinking unworthily, and he will be condemned.