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A PASTORAL ADDRESS TO OUR LADY SUPERIN
TENDENTS, BY THE REV. CANON THOROLD.
22nd February, 1872. We have been happy to receive from various ladies present, notes of this valuable address, which have been collated for the benefit of those who were unable to hear it.* We have Mr. Thorold's permission to insert it, “on the understanding that he has not been able to revise it, but that it sufficiently contains the substance of his remarks."
He commenced as follows :“ DEAR FRIENDS,
“I come among you to-day very gladly and with a great sense of responsibility. I have had the happiness of watching this work from its very commencement, my interest in it is just as warm as ever,
and I never had more faith in it than I have at this moment, for I think that never was it more needed than it is now. I am to speak to you in the character of SUPERINTENDENTS OF BIBLE-WOMEN, and I wish to do so as honestly and completely as I can in three points of view.
“ I. With reference to the poor among whom you work.
“II. With respect to the Bible-women who work among them.
“III. With respect to your own souls—for unless the candle of the Lord is burning brightly and steadily in your own souls, the work you do for others will have very little effect.
“One word comprises much that I would say to you under each head. The word for your work among the poor is WISDOM; for the Bible-woman, SYMPATHY; for yourselves, GRACE.
“1. Wisdom describes the spirit in which you should work among the poor; it is a gift that all should ask of God, out of love to whom you have undertaken this work. There are a
* As our Superintendents' Meetings are but quarterly, and by a cari of invitation, we hope that once in three months each Lady's Weekly Mothers' Meeting might be so arranged as not to prevent her attendance.
VOL. VIII.-xo. 4.
great many blunders and mistakes made by good people in helping the poor, and it is very easy to give unwisely and in a mischievous inconsiderate way.
“Blessed is he that considereth the poor ; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”—Psalm xli. 1.
“ It is not he who gives the poor man all he asks for, but he who takes the trouble to consider the case, and tries to do the most good in the best manner. If your mission degenerates into a mere agency for giving relief, eked out with a few good words, the sooner you give it up the better, or commence it again on a new system. It is not your duty to be relieving officers.' You may observe indeed that our Lord attended to the bodily wants of those who came to Him for instructionJohn vi. 5, 14—but when they followed Him the next day thinking He was just the King they desired, who would feed them at any time without trouble, He met them with the stinging reproof :
“ Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”—John vi. 26, 27. Do not neglect the body, but your work must begin and end with the Word of God or it will be worthless. Ask God to give you loving, firm, gentle, considerate, spiritual Wisdom. Your aim must be to bring them to the Cross of Christ to be made 'whiter than snow,' and to receive that Eternal Life which God gives in Jesus alone.
‘My second point is Sympathy with your Bible-woman. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of tender, wise, discriminating, loving sympathy with her. All know the value of sympathy, all can give it; but the nature, method, and measure of it varies with the individuality of our nature. Some have it more on the lips and the surface; with others it is not so readily expressed, but it is shown in action ; it is a grace, it is our duty to the Bible-woman, and let each Lady Superintendent show it
in her own way.
“Encourage your Bible-woman to tell you everything. If ever you see a danger of self-exaltation in her, be sure you kneel down with her, pray over her cases, and ask for the gift of humility for her and yourself, and she will understand what you mean.
I am certain the great requisite in dealing with the Bible-woman is sympathy. You cannot sympathise too much with her if you do it wisely ; if you find it difficult to show as much as others do, ask the Lord to help you to ó rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.'—Romans xii. 15. Let each bear her sister's burthen and so fulfil the law of Christ.'
“My dear friends, you should listen to the things that do not please you as well as to those that do ; then you will be so much better able to guide your Bible-woman. Get her to tell of her failures as well as of her successes—not to tell you half a story and leave the other half untold. We know how prone we all are to speak of what goes well and to be silent concerning our mistakes and our failures. Get her to tell
of the rebuffs she must often have; something of this kind must often happen to her, if she would but tell it, I wanted Mrs. so-and-so to buy a Bible, and she wouldn't, and I got quite cross with her and said some sharp words, and she shut the door in my face when she turned me out of her room. Well, you will feel you were cross yourself yesterday, and may be again to-morrow, so you will be patient with her; let her feel that what has tried and worried her would try and worry you also ; and then if she comes to you rejoicing, quite lifted up because of some victory over dirt and vice, or because she has sold a great many Bibles, rejoice with her; never throw cold water on her enthusiasm.
“Christians should encourage each other. Praise, but do it wisely. If you praise a child one minute he is almost sure to do something naughty the next. We cannot bear much praise, but it is good to commend judiciously. The Lord commends; He commended Peter. Blessed art thou Simon Barjona.'-Matt. xvi. 17. Think of the words with which He will one day greet His people, “Well done, good and faithful servants; enter ye into the joy of your Lord.' “The life of Bible-women must be often discouraging and depressing. They want all the help you can give them. Many little acts of personal kindness which will suggest themselves to your minds are well bestowed. Never let them feel that they are intruding when they come to see you ; and, when they knock at the door, let them be sure of a welcome. It is best for the woman that there should be some general arrangement as to the hour. It teaches her regularity, and it is best for you, as you have other claims upon you besides this one. Still let her feel that in reason you are always accessible to her. It is better to have regular times for seeing her, to make her punctual, but let her feel that if she wishes to see you to ask about anything particular out of the usual time, that you will see her if it is at all possible.
“As Superintendents of Bible-women, you should never let them think you feel there is a great gulf between your position and their own. It may happen that thirty years hence they may occupy a high place in the kingdom of God, when you are in a lower one ; now they are at your feet, but then you may sitting at theirs. Always treat your Bible-women as Christian sisters. It is seldom that those who are thus treated presume upon it, and we know not how great may be the change of places when earthly condition will not be the measure; when our Lord shall come in His glory.
“But we come now to the third point, which is the most important of all; we refer to the work in your own souls described in the word, GRACE. It is possible—but is it probable that any one has undertaken this work who has never gone with the burden of her own sins to Jesus? I hope I am justified in taking for granted that all engaged in it have found out what God has done for their own souls, and wish to tell others also of the great salvation. Endeavour to do this,-more and more earnestly to do your part of the work as well as it can be done, and seek to do it better and better-never as if you were tired of it. Forgetting those things which are behind, press towards those which are before-to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Seek to do the work of this Bible Mission more thoroughly than you did ten years ago, for you have had ten years' more experience, and are nearer the vision of the Lamb. This grace is in the hands of God for all of us. He has given it already, and it is our duty to receive it and use it. It is laid up for you and me in untold abundance if we will believe. Let us not forget that in proportion to our holiness will be our usefulness. Grace must have its outflow in words and actions. Pray more and more for this ó grace'; thirst for it; ask to be made more capable of receiving it, and it seems to me you need three things involved in it:
“I. The joy of faith; II. The patience of hope ; and III. The comfort of love.
“I. The joy of faith. How is it that Christians have so little joy? To be joyful is a duty, because it is a command, and there is no duty for which power is not given us by God to full. We read much of joy in the Psalms, Epistles, and Gospels. Our Lord speaks of joy being full (John xv. 11). St. Paul writes :— Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord ; ' and again, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.' (Phil. iii. 1; iv. 4.)
“Why have we not more joy? I think it is for want of faith in the purpose, will, and presence of God. God is ready to work with me; and for me to say merely, I think, I hope God will bless my work, is really dishonouring to the Spirit and Word of God. Have faith in the power of the Spirit of God, in the power of the Word of God, in the power of the precious blood of Christ. Depend upon this, if you really believe that God will give you what you ask for, you will have it. Oh! the joy of going to work feeling I am on an errand for my Saviour! I cannot fail, for His word cannot return to Him void.' I cannot work in vain, for it is Christ's work. This is not a selfish life, but a crucified life. (Gal. ii. 20.) I believe those have most joy who are most thorough in their self-surrenderin their self-surrender to God's work, and to whom God gives everything. Those have least joy who are the most circumspect in their surrender, who have their hearts so filled with other things that there is only just breathing room, so to speak, for you have no joy, the reason is
have little faith ; the fault is not with God, but with yourselves. Believe