The Battle of the Beanfield. 2 Samuel, xxiii, 11, 12.
What a picture is here! A field of ripe beans, just ready for the harvest, and then the leaves and pods all blood-stained or trampled down! Those Philistines liked to fight rather than to work, preferring plunder to ploughing, so they would cross the border and carry away the results of the farmer's toil. But they made a mistake in coming where Shammah lived!


Have not many of us to complain that the enemies of God's people still like to plunder our harvest fields? How Satan grasps at our elder scholars! He is not content with gutter-children. He likes to take our young men and women, and so we hear drunken men quote scripture, and bloated women hum psalm tunes!

What shall we do? We read, "The people fled from the Philistines." Shall we leave the results of our Sunday school work in the hands of the enemy? Is it not time that we made a stand? The thing is becoming monotonous, so much so, that in some places it is thought not worth being grieved about, that the young men and women, who have passed through our schools, never attend the chapel, and are lost to us for years, if not for ever!

"Soldiers of Christ arise!"

If a lad enlists, and is sent to Aldershot, we soon put the chaplain on his track, and shall we not do something for those who are carried away by those sons of Anak which we call the theatre and racecourse? Would it not pay us to have a holy band of men and women to hunt up our lapsed scholars, and to fight for the harvest we sowed and have waited for so long, only to see it carried away by the Philistines?

In all our large towns there are neighbourhoods where the enemy of God and man is strongly entrenched. And yet there are churches and chapels in those streets. The few who attend those places pass houses, once respectable, but now given up to vice. Homes where there was once family worship, are now, to use the words of the Wise man, "The way of hell, going down to the chambers of death."

What is to be done? "There are not many members now." "There is no one to work." So it might have been said in the bean-field; the people were gone, all gone but Shammah. He stood, and God showed, then, as now, that He was prepared to stand by the minority, if it were loyal to Him, for He wrought a great, not an ordinary one, but a great victory!

There are yet great victories to be won when we turn on our pursuers. Don't be carried away by bad example. We go with a multitude to do evil, when we refuse to fight for the results of past work done by ourselves or our fathers. Shammah seems to have said, "If I am to die, I will die here among the beans. Better so than pine to death for want of them." Is it not true that with the harvest of our toil they carry away our faith in God, and in His word? Much of the Bible is lost to those who flee rather than fight. A great deal of our hymn book is for


Those battle songs cannot be enjoyed by men who never leave the barracks. No wonder the old tunes are not sung by craven hearts. Let those of us who have left Shammah to fight alone, rejoin him, then we shall have the joy of conquest, and the gladness of those who divide the spoil.

* * * * *


The other day, looking out of a train, as we stopped at a country station, I saw a row of buckets painted red, with the word FIRE on each of them. There they were, waiting to be used, if occasion required, and I noticed that each of them was filled with water. Only a humble kind of agent is a bucket, yet being full of water and near at hand, it is easy to see that in the event of fire breaking out there, it is more than likely it would be put out without doing much damage.

Are we, -- Ministers, Local Preachers, Sunday School Teachers, Class-leaders, and other workers -- are we ready for use? It is not enough that people can tell by our appearance that we are separated for service -- are we ready? It did not suffice the man in charge of that little station to have those buckets on the stand, and it is not enough that we are in the pulpit or the class-room.


We can be filled with that which will put out the fire, and if we are not full, who is there to blame but ourselves? Those buckets might have been neglected till the hoops dropped off, and the power to hold water was gone, all because they were not kept full, and if so, they would be an apt illustration of some who have ceased to be the men they were, and only that they fill the same place, we should not dream of them being used at all.

iv a short home mission
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