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Sword and the Trowel;
COMBAT WITH SIN AND OF LABOUR FOR THE LORD.
EDITED BY C. H. SPURGEON.
"They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me."-Nehemiah iv. 17, 18.
PASSMORE & ALABASTER, 4, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS,
AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.
THROUGH another year I have tried to cater for you, hunting up topics of interest with no small degree of anxiety, and sending forth my monthly magazine with earnest desires that it might not only win a hearing, but produce beneficial results of all kinds. You are the best judge as to how far I have succeeded in avoiding dulness, and at the same time providing solid matter. It is mine to thank you for the courtesy which has borne with me, and the generosity which has continued to give the periodical the benefit of your perusal; I do thank you very heartily, and beg at the same time to wish you in all sincerity the benedictions of God at this season.
The year 1873 is now a matter of history. To each one of us in the retrospect it wears a different visage, but to each one it has doubtless been a year of great mercy, for which we do well to bless the name of the Lord. Let us shut the gate of the year with thanksgiving, even as we opened it with hope. To the church of God, as a whole, it has not, we fear, been a year conspicuous for growth. Its colour is not altogether black, but certainly not altogether bright; it has been a mingled season, calling forth both regrets and praises. The zeal of God's people is not dead, neither is it distinguished for fervour; the character of the work done is not to be censured, neither can it be greatly praised. Our progress has been but slow, yet progress there has been. Our light is not clear, neither is it turned into darkness. There is a general need of improvement, revival, and refreshing; but there is a sense of this need pretty widely felt, and this is a very hopeful sign. Every moment of the wheat's history, from the time of sowing to the day of reaping, is big with importance to the husbandman, and so every year of the history of the church is a crisis, upon which vital interests depend; the present time is probably neither more nor less fraught with peril than eras now past and forgotten, but it assuredly is a period in which there is need of great faith, and no room for vainglorious exultation. The most sanguine must see reasons for watchfulness, and the despondent may be excused if they suffer from a measure of serious anxiety. Clouds are gathering, storms are threatening, and the vessel had need be kept in good trim, with all her crew at their posts. Superstition possesses the public mind, and divides
the empire of current thought with her equally deadly rival, unbelief. Both from the side of ritualism and of scepticism there have come developments little expected, which cause us to wonder at the perversity of fallen humanity. Nothing seems too absurd for men to believe, nothing too sacred for them to cavil at. Now is the time for the upholders of the truth of Jesus Christ to be firm and unflinching: to waver now will be treason to men's souls. Now also is the hour for vigorous action, and intensely ardent endeavours to disseminate true religion. May my readers not be found backward, but be among the vanguard of the Holy War.
I would venture to request my friends who are interested in the magazine to do their best to increase its circulation. A little effort from each one would double our area of usefulnesss, and increase our means of doing good. As the pastor of a large church, president of a college, chairman of an orphanage, &c., &c., I have little time to spare, and am most anxious that the work I do should tell to the greatest advantage, and this depends much more upon my friends than upon anything which I can do myself. I edit this periodical most conscientiously, giving it my personal attention, and I spare no pains to make it as good as I can; I cannot expect help from those who do not sympathise in my views and modes of action; but from those who are in accord with me I do affectionately seek continued and increased cooperation. They can render me great aid by assisting the College, Orphanage, and Colportage; they can do it almost as well by increasing the number of my readers; failing both of these, they can do it by their prayers. Soon will editor, writer, and readers be beyond the region of earthly service; may we be able to render in a good account of our stewardship.
Possibly some of my readers are unsaved. The Lord grant that ere the year closes they may taste his love. May faith in Jesus now be wrought in them and be exercised by them. This is at this moment my soul's prayer.
Unsaved reader, will you not say Amen to it?