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order. Old times were lived over again. It was now, more than ever before, that I came to understand what a thorough student of the Word of God he was, and what a thorough pastor he was, and how he not only retained the scholarly acquisitions of his youth, but mastered with painstaking the new forms of thought which agitated the church and the world. The fatherly ambition of my friend was gratified by the success of his second son at Cambridge, Mr. W. M. Spence having been third wrangler in 1871, and afterwards elected to a Fellowship at Pembroke College.
In 1868 Dr. Spence was appointed to the editorship of THE EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE, and the functions of this office he was able to discharge to the last. Only a few days before his death he put into the hands of the Rev. I. V. Mummery materials for the number which contains this brief memoir of his life. Of his other literary labours I can only mention some of the fruits—“The Pastor's Prayer for the People's Weal ": an exposition of Eph. iii., 14-21. “ Scenes in the Life of St. Peter” : an exposition and a biography. “Martha Dryland; or,
. Strength in Quietness.” “Sunday Mornings with my Flock on St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians ”, a series of discourses ; with sundry pamphlets and sermons, including “ The Martyr Spirit,” a discourse on the third centenary of the martyrdom of John Bradford. He has likewise left, ready for the press, a work on the seventeenth chapter of St. John's Gospel
It will be observed that Dr. Spence survived pulpit work for five years and a half. The trial and disappointment which befell him in being unable to minister in the beautiful sanctuary in Clapton Park, was such as few can understand. The meekness with which he bore it was to me a wonder. Nothing in all his life seemed so beautiful as the spirit which I was often privileged to witness in the long years that have passed since 1870—so childlike, so unmurmuring, so perfectly satisfied that the Lord had done all things well.
" When I see your name and others taking part in public work,” he would say to me, “I sometimes wish I were with you. But it is all well.” The Master who was with him when he girded himself for work and battle was with him still. His nature was ardent and impetuous, but the passive virtues must have their perfect work, as well as the active. And this was accomplished by "the things which he suffered.” Seasons of depression there must have been. To pass through so much pain and weariness, protracted through so many years, without mental depression, would have been a miracle. But I never found him otherwise than resigned and cheerful, illustrating the Apostle's words, “ Patience and long suffering with joyfulness."
Nordid this experience fail during the three or four weeks which preceded
his death. I saw him on the Friday before his departure. His articulation was then so impaired that only those most accustomed to his voice could distinguish his words. But they understood him to say“ Going home;" and, after a pause, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness.” An hour or two later he was unable to speak to Dr. Allon, but he pointed with his finger upwards. To Mr. Mummery he had said a few days before, “I have not a doubt or a fear; Christ is my all.” Three or four days before his death he exclaimed “Victory," waving his hand as he spoke. But while rejoicing in victory he was heard to say, “The valley long;" and, at another time, “ The waters deep.” But he could say, “I will trust and not be afraid.” Such fragments of thought and speech are precious, but they are gathered up not to confirm our hope that it is all well with him now, but to encourage others in the prospect of those days of darkness and of dying which await all mortals.
Dr. Spence breathed his last peacefully at a quarter to nine on the morning of Monday, February 28th, 1876. His remains were placed in the grave at Abney Park on the following Saturday, after a service in Clapton Park Chapel, at which Dr. James Legge (himself a native of Huntly, and intimately connected with the Spence family) delivered a most appropriate funeral address, and in which Dr. Spence's successor, the Rev. S. Hebditch, Dr. Allon, and myself took part. It fell to my lot to preach the funeral sermon in Clapton Park on the evening of the next day, the chapel being crowded to overflowing. At the funeral and on Sunday evening there were abundant signs of the deep respect in which his memory is held both by his personal friends and by the public.
I make no attempt to analyse the character and powers of my departed brother, whom Dr. Legge well described as an “accomplished gentleman, and a loving friend." He has left us the example of a highlycultured, highly-principled, and faithful minister of Christ, honoured with much success in labour, and gifted with much patience in suffering. With the perfect unselfishness of “the spirits of the just,” he would now be content with such memory and eulogy as are described in the words of Dr. Horatius Bonar :
He who ploughed and who sowed is not missed by the reaper ;
Yes, but remembered by what I have done.
The Three Petitions. That the work of saving and blessing men is God's work, every devout heart is swift to acknowledge. The conception of it is God's, not man's. The methods by which, through many generations, the way was prepared for the Advent, were solely of His devising. It was “ God that sent forth His Son” when the fulness of the times was come ; and the Gospel we love is “the Gospel of the grace of God.” The surprising and manifold effects of the Gospel also show it to be, not man's work, but God's. It is His “glory” which is revealed. It is “the beauty of
” the Lord our God” which comes down “ upon
" His servants. But although the origin, methods, and character of the work show it to be distinctly God's, man is associated therewith. The Psalmist speaks of a certain “work as God's work; and also “the work of his hands.”* It is equally true of this. Not that the world can save the world. It will not even try, since it does not think that salvation is needed. Evil cannot expel evil ; Satan will not cast out Satan. The expulsion of sin is a Divine act, no less than the implantation in the heart of the enduring good. Renewal is God's work; but He has entrusted to renewed men the happy and blissful toil of making known to men the manifold wisdom of God. They are God's servants, not of constraint, but willingly ; propelled to it by a grateful love, nerved for its difficulties by the power of a living faith, and cheered and sustained amidst its many discouragements by the inspiration of a Divine friendship
The servant of the Lord thinks about his work, plans for it, toils in it, prays for it. It fills his hands; what wonder that it should also fill his heart? He
prays for it to One who, from His relation to the work, will be both the Hearer and the Answerer of prayer; and the petitions which dwell oftenest upon his lips are clothed in the words of “Moses, the man of God :" “ Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children ; and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us ; yea, the work of our hands, establish Thou it."
Here are three petitions. Let us look at them in their logical order of thought, rather than their poetic expression. Let them talk with us, and we with them, that we may gather something of their inner sweetness.
The first petition asks for some visible results from the work attempted. “Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants.” Is not this a most natural and lawful petition ? The worker longs to see some of the fruit of his work, some positive testimony that he has not toiled in vain. Do not most men ardently desire this, no matter what the nature of their work, be it never so lofty, or be it never so humble and obscure? The statesman wishes it, the merchant, the farmer, the teacher; and why not the Christian? But whilst this desire is very natural, and even lawful, the Christian is sometimes tempted to carry his desire too far. God may therefore think fit to withhold from his sight no small portion of the actual result, lest the servant forget whose the work really is, and what is his true relation to it. The Wise Master-builder schools us in our work and by our work, in order to fit us the better for doing it.
* Psa. xc. 16, 17.
He does more. He so deals with us, in our service for Him, in our co-working, that our patience may have time to take root and grow, and that we may catch some surer and completer glimpse of His own Divine patience. He baffles and even disappoints our natural desire for visible results, in order to draw us nearer to Himself, to deepen our trust, and to brighten our hope. He also perfects our sympathy with other Christian workers, by our own hardships and failure. He helps us to understand, what we are so slow to perceive, that, from the very character of our work, we never can see in this world more than the harvest of a few conspicuous ears. The farreaching issues are not visible, and cannot be made visible, on this side eternity. And yet, though few Christian men ever see what they wish of the results of their work, or when they wish it, or all they wish, God does not leave us to toil on without
any “comfort of hope.” The day is coming wherein every man's work will be seen, of what sort it is. Sowers and reapers will yet rejoice together.
- The work of our hands” -all of it will hereafter 66 appear;" not a grain of it lost, not a single product of that grain hidden or obscured. We may therefore still continue to offer the petition to the Lord of the harvest, for some visible results of our sowing; but do not let us be discouraged if, for reasons best known to Him, our prayer is not answered here and now. The answer will be given, complete, abundant, and far beyond what we ask, or even dare to think.
The second petition, taking the logical order of thought, asks for the stability of the work. . And is not this as natural as the desire that the work should “appear ?" No one wishes that the thing upon which he has bestowed his ripest thought, his severest and most conscientious labour, should be scattered and lost. It depends, humanly speaking, upon the character of the work, how long it will endure. It is so in material works. The Egyptians built the pyramids to stand for centuries, not for a single age ; and apart from the dryness of the climate, the honest character of the work has had not a little to do with their durability.
The Greeks built their temples and theatres in the same spirit; and it was thus that the Romans constructed their aqueducts, their cloacæ, and their roads. The work was good, and much of it has outlasted the ravages of time, and the greater ravages of barbarous men. It is thus with the products of pen and pencil—the good endures, the inferior perishes. Perhaps but few great writers have said, like Milton, that they were intent on work“ which the world would not willingly let die;" and yet it is an error to suppose that men can have the highest genius without knowing it. Good honest work, even if it be not of the highest type, is the only durable work. But what work can compare in value with “ turning men to righteousness ?” What material or mental masterpiece can be put upon an equality with the work of Him who "turns a man from the error of his way, saves a soul from death, and hides a multitude of sins?" Many Christian workers, however, tremble for the future of their work. Losing faith in the power of its living energy, they have, as they thought, “established" it, lest it
“ should die out and be no more seen ; with what results, a thousand damaging facts, patent before our eyes, declare. The work, in its root of life, is not man's, but God's; and hence the appropriateness of this second petition—“ Establish Thou the work of our hands." The repetition of this prayer is not a mere poetic device. It is doubled for the sake of emphasis, and expresses the deep-rooted conviction of all true hearts, that all the hope of the durability of our work is to be found in God. He began the good work ; He alone can make it constant and firm. “Establish Thou it"-set it up, as a throne is set up, as a city is founded, as an altar is reared ; make it a regal thing in the soul ; aswell ordered and defended as a city with its appointed rulers and safeguards : as an altar from which ascends evermore the smoke of a living sacrifice.
There is great beauty and force in the third petition. It asks for the succession and expansion of the work, for its widest possible influence. The beauty and glory have come down upon us, thy servants; let them also descend upon our children. That is the parent's wish, and his fervent and continual prayer. “After us, our sons," who has not passionately pleaded for this? We remember that God is himself a Father ; that, as a Father He pities ; as a Father He hears ; and as a Father He answers and blesses. “Our Father ”—that is evermore our pattern invocation. Like one of the Psalmists, we pray “ that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth, our daughters as corner pillars sculptured to grace a palace ;” and like another Psalmist, we desire that the promise may be fulfilled—“Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children.”
The sons of Christians are the hope of the church. Where should we 80 naturally look for increase to the fold as to the homes of believing