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   Chapter 17 John And other sheep I have, which are

Faces and Places By Sir Henry W. Lucy Characters: 29832

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My

voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." Thus the verse

runs in the ordinary translation, but the Dean preferred the word

"flock" in place of fold, and used it throughout his discourse.

Referring to an address recently delivered by Mr. W. E. Forster on

"Our Colonies," the Dean observed that the right hon. gentleman had set

himself the task of considering the question, "What were to be the

future relations of the Mother Country to the Colonies?" The Dean

proposed to follow the same course, with this difference: that the

empire of which he had to speak was a spiritual empire, and the question

he would consider was what ought to be the policy of the Church of

England towards fellow-Christians separated from it on matters of form.

There were, he said, three courses open to the Church. There was the

policy of abstention and isolation; there was the policy of

extermination or absorption; and there was a middle course, avoiding

abstention and not aiming at absorption, which consisted of holding

friendly and constant intercourse with Christians of other Churches,

earnestly and lovingly endeavouring to create as many points of contact

as were compatible with holding fast the truth. The errors of all

religions run into each other, just as their truths do. There was, no

doubt, some exaggeration in the statement of the Roman Catholic

authority who declared that "there is but one bad religion, and that is

the religion of the man who professes what he does not believe." But

there was no reason why, because the Church of England had done in times

past and was still doing grand work, there should be no place for the

Nonconformists. Church people rejoiced, and Nonconformists might

rejoice, that the prayers of the Church of England were enshrined in a

Liturgy radiant with the traditions of a glorious past. But that was no

reason why there should be no room where good work was being done for

men who preferred the chances of extemporaneous prayer--a custom of

Apostolic origin, and perhaps (very daintily this was put) fittest for

the exigencies of special occasions.

If some of the extremer Nonconformists, desirous of wrapping

themselves in the mantle once worn by Churchmen, and possessed by a love

for uniformity so exaggerated that they would tear down ancient

institutions and reduce all Churches to the same level, there was no

reason why Churchmen should return evil for evil and repay contumely

with scorn. There was a nobler mission for Christians than that of

seeking to exterminate each other, a higher object than that of

endeavouring to sow the seeds of vulgar prejudice either against new

discoveries or ancient institutions.

DR. MOFFAT.

Dean Stanley preached his sermon within the chancel, and it formed part

of the customary afternoon service of the Church of England. Dr. Moffat

delivered his lecture in the nave, its simple preface being the singing

of the missionary hymn, "From Greenland's icy mountains."

The pioneer of missionary labour in South Africa was at this time close

upon his eightieth year, but he seemed to have thriven upon hard work,

and showed no signs of physical weakness. His full, rich voice, musical

with a northern accent, which long residence in South Africa had not

robbed of a note, filled every corner of the long aisle, and no section

of the vast congregation was disappointed by reason of not hearing.

Wearing a plain Geneva robe with the purple hood of his academic degree,

he stood at the lectern, situated not many paces from the grave where

his friend and son-in-law, Dr. Livingstone, lies.

Dean Stanley was one of many clergymen present, and occupied a seat just

in front of the lectern.

Dr. Moffat began by protesting that he was very nervous, because, having

been accustomed for fifty years or more to speak and teach and preach in

a language altogether different from European, he had contracted a habit

of thinking in that language, and sometimes found it momentarily

difficult to find the exact expression of his thoughts in English.

"If I might," he said, with a touch of dry humour that frequently

lighted up his discourse, "speak to you in the Betchuana tongue I could

get along with ease. However, I will do what I can."

The lecture resolved itself into a quiet, homely, and exceedingly

interesting chat, chiefly about the Betchuanas, with whom Dr. Moffat

longest laboured. When he arrived in the country, early in the present

century, he found the people sunk in the densest ignorance. Unlike most

heathen tribes, they had no idea of a God, no notion of a hereafter.

There was not an idol to be found in all their province, and one the

lecturer's daughter showed to an intelligent leader of the people

excited his liveliest astonishment. He was, indeed, so hopelessly

removed from a state of civilisation that he ridiculed the notion of any

one worshipping a thing made with his own hands.

Dr. Moffat seems to have been, on the whole, kindly received by the

natives, though they could not make out what he wanted there. A special

stumbling-block to them was, how it came to pass that when, as sometimes

happened, he and Mrs Moffat were disrespectfully treated, they did not

retaliate. This was satisfactorily explained to the popular mind by the

assertion of a distinguished member of the community that the foreigners

had run away from their country, and were content to bear any treatment

rather than return to their own people, who would infallibly kill them.

The great difficulty met by Dr. and Mrs. Moffat on the threshold of

their mission was their ignorance of the native language. There were no

interpreters, and there was nothing for it but to grub along, patiently

picking up words as they went. The Betchuanas were willing to teach them

as far as they could, occasionally relieving the monotony of the lesson

by a little joke at the pupils' expense. Once, Dr. Moffat told his

hearers, a sentence was written down on a piece of paper, and he was

instructed to take it to an aged lady, who was to give him something he

was in need of. He found the old lady, who was scarcely handsome, and

was decidedly wrinkled, and upon presenting the paper "she blushed very

much." It turned out that the missionary had been the unconscious bearer

of a message asking the old lady to kiss him, "which," Dr. Moffat added,

with a seriousness that appeared to indicate a sense of the awkwardness

of the position still present in his mind, "I did not want to do at

all."

But he mastered the language at last, and then his moral mastery over

the strange people amongst whom he had been thrown commenced. He found a

firm ally in the Queen, who, first attracted by the flavour of the pills

and other delicacies he was accustomed to administer to her in his

capacity of physician, became his constant and powerful friend. Under

her auspices Christianity flourished, and in Betchuana at the present

time, where once a printed book was regarded as the white man's charm,

thousands now are able to read and treasure the Bible as formerly they

treasured the marks which testified to the number of enemies they had

slain in battle. Peace reigns where once blood ran, and over a vast

tract of country civilisation is closely following in the footsteps of

the missionary.

Dr. Moffat concluded a simple address, followed with intense interest by

the congregation, by an earnest plea for help for foreign missions. "If

every child of God in Europe and America," he said, "would give

something to this mission, the dark cloud which lies over this neglected

and mysterious continent would soon be lighted, and before many years

are passed we might behold the blessed sight of all Africa stretching

forth her hands to God."

MR. SPURGEON.

In a lane leading from the station at Addlestone is a massive oak,

which, if the gossips of the neighbourhood be trustworthy, has seen some

notable sights. It is said that under its far-reaching branches

"Wycliffe has preached and Queen Elizabeth dined."

Here one summer evening I first heard Mr. Spurgeon preach. The occasion

was in connection with the building of a new Baptist Chapel, and when I

arrived the foundation stone was being utilised as a receptacle for

offerings, over which Mr. Spurgeon, sitting on the wall, and shaded from

the sun by an umbrella reverently held over his head by a disciple,

jovially presided.

After tea a pulpit was extemporised, upon the model of the one at the

Tabernacle, by covering an empty provision box with red baize, and

fastening before it a wooden railing, also with its decent covering of

baize. A pair of steps, constructed with a considerable amount of

trouble, were placed in position before the rostrum; but when, a few

minutes after seven o'clock, the preacher appeared, he scorned their

assistance, and scrambled on to the box from the level of the field,

grasping the rail as soon as he was in a position to face the

congregation, as if he recognised in it a familiar friend, whose

presence made him feel at home under the novel circumstances that

surrounded him. There might, when Mr. Spurgeon stood up, have been

some doubt whether his voice could be heard throughout the vast throng

gathered in front of the tree. But the first tones of the speaker's

voice dispelled uncertainty, and the congregation settled quietly down,

whilst Mr. Spurgeon, with uplifted hands, besought "the Spirit of God to

be with them, even as in their accustomed places of worship." A hymn was

sung, a portion of the 55th chapter of Isaiah read, another prayer

offered up, and the preacher commenced his Sermon.

He took for his text a portion of the 36th verse of the 9th chapter of

Matthew--"He was moved with compassion." At the outset he sketched, with

rapid eloquence, the history of Jesus Christ. The first declaration that

might have startled one not accustomed to the preacher's style of

oratory was his expression of a preference for people who absolutely

hated religion over those who simply regarded it with indifference.

These former were people who showed they did think, and, like Saul of

Tarsus, there was hope of their conversion.

"It is," he said, "a great time when the Lord goes into the devil's

army, and, looking around him, sees some lieutenant, and says to him,

'Come along; you have served the black master long enough, I have need

of you now.' It is astonishing how quietly he comes along, and what a

valiant fight he fights on the side of his new master."

Mr. Spurgeon had a protest to make against the practice of refusing to

help the poor except through the machinery of the Poor Law. Referring to

Christ's having compassionated the hungry crowd and fed them, he said:

"If Jesus Christ were alive now and presumed to feed a crowd of people,

He would be had up by some society or other, and prosecuted for

encouraging mendicancy. If He were alive in these days He would, I much

fear, have occasion to say, 'I was hungry, and ye fed Me not; thirsty,

and ye gave Me no drink; destitute, and you told Me to go on the

parish.'"

He thought tracts were very good things in their way, but should not be

relied upon solely as a means of bringing poor people to the Lord. "I

believe a loaf of bread often contains the very essence of theology, and

the Church of God ought to look to it that there are at her gates no,

poor unfed, no sick untended." He was rather hard on "the clergy of all

denominations," regretting to say that "as fish always stunk first at

the head, so a Church when it goes wrong goes bad first among its

ministers." He concluded by an eloquent appeal to his hearers to lose no

time in seeking salvation, calling "heaven and earth, and this old tree,

under which the Gospel was preached five hundred years ago, to bear

witness that I have preached to you the word of God, in which alone

salvation is to be found."

The sermon occupied exactly an hour in the delivery, and was listened to

throughout with profound attention. When it was over, Mr. Spurgeon held

a sort of levée from the pulpit, the people pressing round to shake his

hand, and it was nearly nine o'clock before the last of the congregation

had passed away, leaving Wycliffe's Tree to its accustomed solitude.

The next time I heard Mr. Spurgeon preach was in his famous church. The

Tabernacle will hold six thousand people when full, and on this night it

was thronged from door to door, and from floor to ceiling, with a

congregation gathered together to "watch" whilst the Old Year died and

the New was born. At eleven o'clock when Mr. Spurgeon, gownless and

guiltless of white neck-tie, or other clerical insignia, unceremoniously

walked on to the platform which serves him for pulpit, there was not a

foot of vacant space in the vast area looked down upon from the

galleries, for even the aisles were thronged. The capacious galleries

that rise tier over tier to the roof were crowded in like manner, and

the preacher stood, faced and surrounded by a congregation, the sight of

which might well move to the utterance of words that burn a man who had

within him a fount of thoughts that breathe.

There was no other prelude to the service than the simply spoken

invitation, "Let us pray," and the six thousand, declaring themselves

"creatures of time," bent the knee with one accord to ask the "Lord of

Eternity" to bless them in the coming year. After this a hymn was sung,

Mr. Spurgeon reading out verse by verse, with occasional commentary, and

not unfrequent directions to the congregation as to the manner of their

singing.

"Dear friends, the devil sometimes makes you lag half a note behind the

leader. Just try if you can't prevail over him to-night, and keep up in

proper time."

There is no organ, nor even a tuning-fork, in use at the Tabernacle. But

the difficulties, apparently insuperable under these circumstances, of

leading so vast a congregation in the singing of unpractised tunes is

almost overcome by the skilful generalship of the gentleman who steps

forward to the rails beside the preacher's table, pitches the note,

and leads the singing. The hymn brought to a conclusion, Mr. Spurgeon

read and commented upon a passage of Scripture from the 25th of Matthew.

Then another hymn. "Sing this verse very softly and solemnly," says the

pastor; and

the congregation in hushed tones, that seem to thrill all

through the aisles and up through the crowded galleries, sing:

"Who of us death's awful road

In the coming year shall tread,

With Thy rod and staff, O God,

Comfort Thou his dying bed."

After another prayer from the pastor, and one from one of the deacons

who accompanied him on the platform and sat behind in the crimson velvet

arm-chairs, a third hymn was sung, and Mr. Spurgeon began his short

address.

He took for text the 42nd verse of the 12th chapter of Exodus: "It is a

night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the

land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the

children of Israel in their generations." The night referred to in the

text was that of the Passover--"a night of salvation, decision,

emigration, and exultation," said the preacher, "and I pray God that

this night, the last of a memorable year, may be the same for you, my

friends. Oh for a grand emigration among you like that of the departure

of the people of Israel--an emptying out of old Egypt, a robbing of

Pharaoh of his slaves, and the devil of his dupes!"

It was understood that Mr. Spurgeon was labouring under severe

indisposition, and probably this fact gave to his brief address a tone

comparatively quiet and unimpassioned. Only once did he rise to the

fervent height of oratory to which his congregation are accustomed, and

that at the close, when, with uplifted hands and louder voice, he

apostrophised the parting year: "Thou art almost gone, and if thou goest

now the tidings to the throne of God will be that such and such a soul

is yet unsaved. Oh, stay yet a while, Year, that thou mayest carry with

thee glad tidings that the soul is saved! Thy life is measured now by

seconds, but all things are possible with God, and there is still time

for the salvation of many souls."

At five minutes to twelve the preacher paused, and bade his hearers "get

away to the Throne of Grace, and in silent prayer beseech the Almighty

to bless you with a rich and special blessing in the new year He is

sending you."

The congregation bent forward and a great silence was upon it, broken

only by half-stifled coughing here and there, and once by the wailing of

an infant in the gallery. The minutes passed slowly and solemnly as the

Old Year's "face grew sharp and thin" under the ticking of the clock

over the kneeling preacher and his deacons. The minutes dwindled down to

seconds, and then--

"Alack, our friend is gone!

Close up his eyes, tie up his chin

Step from the corpse, and let him in

That standeth at the door."

"Now, as we have passed into the New Year," said Mr. Spurgeon, advancing

to the rails as the last stroke of midnight died away, "I do not think

we can do better than join in singing 'Praise God from whom all

blessings flow.'"

No need now of instructions how to sing. The congregation were almost

before the leader in raising the familiar strain, with which six

thousand voices filled the spacious Tabernacle.

Then came the benediction, and a cheery "I wish you all a happy New

Year, my friends," from Mr. Spurgeon.

A great shout of "The same to you!" arose in response from basement and

galleries, and the congregation passed out into a morning so soft, and

light, and mild, that it seemed as if the seasons were out of joint, and

that the New Year had been born in the springtime.

IN THE RAGGED CHURCH.

The Ragged Church is one of the numerous by-paths through which the

managers of the Field Lane Institution strive to approach and benefit

the poor of London. It is situate in Little Saffron Hill, Farringdon

Road, the service being held in a barn-like room, which on weekdays

serves for school, and is capable of accommodating a thousand children.

No money has been expended in architectural embellishment, and no

question of a controversial character is likely to arise in connection

with accessories in the shape of altar, surplice, or candles. The Ragged

Church avoids these stumbling-blocks by the simple expedient of doing

without candles, surplices, or altar. It does not even boast a pulpit,

but draws the line so as to take in a harmonium, indispensable for

leading the tunes. At one end of the room is a platform, on which the

harmonium stands, and whereon the service is conducted.

It is the congregation rather than the preacher that I remember best in

connection with the Ragged Church. Half-past eleven is the hour for the

commencement of service, and was fixed upon chiefly to suit the

convenience of a portion of the congregation, who, having slept

overnight in the casual wards, are considerately detained in them till

eleven o'clock, by which time society is supposed to be comfortably

seated in its own churches, and is thus saved the shock of suddenly

coming upon Rags and Tatters going to church or elsewhither--Rags and

Tatters, it being well understood, not always showing themselves proof

against the temptation of improving the occasion by begging. At a

quarter to eleven there filed into the church threescore little girls,

all dressed in wincey dresses, with brown, furry jackets and little

brown hats, a monotony of colour that served to bring into fuller

contrast the red and black wool scarf each wore tightly tied round her

neck. They all looked bright, clean, and happy, and one noted a

considerable proportion of pretty-faced and delicately-limbed children.

How they were born, or with what parentage, is in many cases a question

to which the records of the institution supply no answer. They were

simply "found" on a doorstep, or arrested when wandering about the

street crying for the mother or the father who had cast them off. This

class of school-girl is generally distinguished by the fineness of her

Christian name, Blanche, and Lily, and Constance, being among the waifs

and strays who have found a refuge with the kindly matron of the Field

Lane Institution. There are others whose history is written plainly

enough in the records of the police-courts.

There is one, a prematurely aged little woman in her eleventh year, who,

previous to being sent here, passed of her own free will night after

night in the streets, living through the day on her wits, which are very

sharp. Another, about the same age, when taken into custody on something

more than suspicion of picking pockets, was found the possessor of no

fewer than seven purses. A third, who is understood to be now in her

ninth year, earned a handsome livelihood in the Haymarket by frequenting

the public houses, and with dramatic gestures singing the more popular

concert-hall songs. One of the most determined and head-strong young

ladies of the establishment was not privileged to be present at the

morning service, being, in fact, in bed, where she was detained with the

hope that amid the silence and solitude of the empty chamber she might

be brought to see in its true light the heinousness of the offence of

wilfully depositing her boots in a pail of water.

Conviction for offences against the law is by no means a general

characteristic of the girls. For the most part, destitution has been the

simple ground on which they have obtained admission to the institution.

The girls being seated on the front benches to the right of the

harmonium, the tramp of many feet was heard, and there entered by the

opposite side of the church some sixty boys in corduroys, short jackets,

and clean collars. They took up a position on the left of the harmonium,

and, with one consent, gravely folded their arms. Their private history

is, in its general features, much the same as that of the girls. All

are sent hither by order of the police-court magistrate, but

many have not committed any crime save the unpardonable one of being

absolutely and hopelessly homeless. It is not difficult, stating the

broad rule, to pick out from the boys those who have been convicted of

crime. As compared with the rest they are generally brighter looking,

and gifted with a stronger physique.

The distinction was strongly marked by the conjunction of two boys who

sat together on the front form. One who had stolen nothing less than a

coalscuttle, observed projecting from an ironmonger's shop in Drury

Lane, was a sturdy, ruddy-cheeked little man, who folded his arms in a

composed manner, and listened with an inquiring interest to the words

poured forth over his head from the platform. The boy next to him, a

pale-faced, inert lad, who stared straight before him with lack-lustre

eyes, had the saddest of all boys' histories. He was born in a casual

ward, his father died in a casual ward, and his mother nightly haunts

the streets of London in pursuance of an elaborately devised plan, by

which she is able so to time her visits to the various casual wards as

never to be turned away from any on the ground that she had slept there

too recently.

The foreground of the Ragged Church was bright enough, for whilst there

is youth there is hope, and in the present case there is also the

knowledge that these children are under guardianship at once kind and

wise. Presently the back benches began to fill with a congregation such

as no other church in London might show. Crushed-looking women in limp

bonnets, scanty shawls, and much-patched dresses crept quietly in. With

them, though not in their company, came men of all ages, and of a

general level of ragged destitution--a gaunt, haggard, hungry, and

hopeless congregation as ever went to church on a Sunday morning. Some

had passed the night in the Refuge attached to the institution; many had

come straight from the casual wards; others had spent the long hours

since sundown in the streets; and one, a hale old man who diffused

around him an air of respectability and comfort, was a lodger at

Clerkenwell Workhouse. His snuff-coloured coat with two brass buttons at

the back was the solitary whole garment visible in this section of the

congregation.

It was his "Sunday out" and having had his breakfast at the workhouse,

he had, by way of distraction, come to spend the morning and eat his

lunch at the Field Lane Institution.

One man might be forgiven if he slept all through the sermon, for, as he

explained, he had "passed a very bad night." He had settled himself to

sleep on various doorsteps, with the fog for a blanket and the railings

for pillow. But there appeared what in his experience was a quite

uncommon activity on the part of the police, and he had been "moved on"

from place to place till morning broke, and he had not slept a wink or

had half an hour's rest for the sole of his foot.

There were not many of the labouring class among the couple of hundred

men who made up this miserable company. They were chiefly broken-down

people, who, as tradesmen, clerks, or even professional men, had

gradually sunk till they came to regard admission to the casual ward at

night as the cherished hope that kept them up as they shuffled their

way through the day. One man, who over a marvellous costume of rags

carried the mark of respectability comprehended in a thin black silk

necktie tied around a collarless neck, is the son of a late colonel of

artillery, and has a brother at the present time a lieutenant in one of

her Majesty's ships. After leading a reckless life, he turned his

musical acquirements to account by joining the band of a marching

regiment. Unfortunately, the death of his grandfather, two years ago,

made him uncontrolled possessor of £500, and now he is dodging his

way among the casual wards of London, holding on to respectability and

his good connections by this poor black silk necktie.

Among the congregation was a bright-eyed, honest-looking lad bearing the

familiar name of John Smith. Three months ago he was earning his living

in a Yorkshire coal pit, when a strike among the men threw him out of

work. There being no prospect of doing anything in Yorkshire, he set out

for London, having, as he said, "heard it was a great place, where work

was plenty." With three shillings in his pocket he started from Leeds,

and walked to London, doing the journey in nine days. He had neither

recommendation nor introduction other than his bright, honest, and

intelligent face, and that seems to have served him only to the extent

of getting an odd job that occupied him two days.

The service opened with singing, of which there was a plentiful

repetition, the boys and girls in the foreground singing, the melancholy

throng behind standing dumb. Hymn-books were supplied to them, and if

they could read they might have found on the page from which the first

hymn was taken a hymn so curiously infelicitous to the occasion that it

is worth quoting a couple of verses. These are the two first:--

Let us gather up the sunbeams

Lying all around our path;

Let us keep the wheat and roses,

Casting out the thorns and chaff;

Let us find our sweetest comfort

In the blessings of to-day

With a patient hand removing

All the briars from the way.

Strange we never prize the music

Till the sweet-voiced bird has flown,

Strange that we should slight the violets

Till the lovely flowers are gone;

Strange that summer skies and sunshine

Never seem one half so fair

As when winter's snowy pinions

Shake the white down in the air.

After the opening hymns Sankey's Sacred Song-Book, in which this rhymed

nonsense appears, was abandoned, and the congregation took to the

admirable little selection of hymns compiled for the use of the

institution, containing much less sentiment, and perhaps on the whole

more suitable. After prayer and a short address, the boys and girls

filed out as they had come in. Then the rest of the congregation rose,

and as they passed out received a large piece of bread, supplemented by

the distribution from a room on a lower storey of a cup of hot cocoa.

Stretching all down the long flight of stone steps, they drank their

cocoa and greedily munched the bread, and when it was done passed out

into the sabbath noon, to slouch about the great city till the doors of

the casual wards were open.

They had "gathered up all the sunbeams lying around their path" as far

as the day had advanced, and there was no more for them till, at eight

o'clock in the evening, the bread and tea should be set out before them

under the workhouse roof.

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