EVEN in the darkest days of human history God has never left Himself without a witness. In the antediluvian and postdiluvian periods His witness-bearers were individuals. The book of Genesis furnishes us with the record of eight outstanding men—Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph—each of whom shone as a light for God amongst his contemporaries. Thus the torch of testimony was handed down from generation to generation in the Patriarchal Age.
Then in Exodus God called out a nation to represent Him in a scene which was rapidly becoming corrupted through idolatry and its attendant vices. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord”, was the message later thrice repeated to Israel by the mouth of Isaiah the prophet (Isa. 43:10, 12; 44:8). The Divine intention was that through the chosen nation the knowledge of the true God should be spread to all mankind “that all people of the earth may know His name, to fear Him” (1 Ki. 8:43). Israel, as God's “peculiar treasure,” was to be a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6), fitted to act as a channel of blessing between Him and the other nations. That their witness might be the more effective, the people were richly blessed and endowed with Divine Institutions. “To them pertained the adoption, and the glory and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4).
“Not Well Pleased”—1 Cor. 10:1-12
Our passage in 1 Cor. 10, however, shows that even before the redeemed people entered their inheritance, while they were yet in the wilderness, they failed in their testimony for God. In vs. 6-10 there are enumerated five sins by which they did so. Concerning these we notice that Israel's departure began in an apparently small way, for the first sin mentioned is merely one of desire— “lust after evil things” (v. 6). The fall of Eve (Gen. 3:6), and, later, that of Achan (Jos. 7:21), began in a similar way; and we know how grave and far-reaching the consequences were in each case. An old Puritan said, “To love a small sin is a great sin,” and so it turned out to be in the case of Israel. Saints must ever watch against the little beginnings of secret backsliding. Nip sin in the bud if you would not have it in the bloom. “Keep thy heart above all that thou guardest; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23, R.V. Marg.).
Another thing to be observed is that there was no excuse for Israel's unholy conduct. In vs. 1-4 the five repetitions of the word, “all”, indicate five great favours which the Lord had bestowed upon the nation. By these, every inducement had been given them to walk with God and shine for Him amidst the surrounding darkness. Although God blessed them five times, their only return was to sin against Him five times, as we have already seen. For every gift, they gave Him grief. For every act of grace on His part, there was a corresponding act of guilt on theirs. Instead of attracting their heathen neighbours to the true God, they copied their unhallowed practices to the dishonour of His holy Name. Thus did these ungrateful people requite the goodness of the Lord.
It is not surprising, therefore, when we read that “with most of them God was not well pleased" (v. 5, R.V.), nor that His disapproval was followed by disciplinary judgment—“for they were overthrown in the wilderness", and a line of premature graves marked the path of their desert march. These three words, “not well pleased”, sum up the entire story, and, so to speak, form their epitaph.
All this was, no doubt, meant to be a voice to the Corinthians, some of whom had also been removed by death because of their carnality, as we learn from the next chapter; and it is a salutary lesson to God’s people in these last days, which are characterized by so much loose living. The pity is that instead of learning from the mistakes of earlier times, saints often allow the history of failure and apostasy to repeat itself in their own experience. It was so in the case of the descendants of these Israelites, with the result that centuries later we hear almost the same words of reprobation addressed to them, as the Apostle uses of their fathers in 1 Cor. 10—“I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord" (Mal. 1:10).
“Well Pleased”—Matt. 3:13-17
But if testimony for God failed in the hands of Israel, Divine purposes were not on that account to be thwarted. At the appointed time, the long promised Servant of Jehovah appeared upon the bank of Jordan. It is of interest to trace the comparison between the history of the unfaithful nation, on the one hand, and that of this blessed Man, “the faithful and true Witness” (Rev. 3:14), as found in the early chapters of Matthew, on the other. Each of them:
Went down to Egypt (Ex. 1:1; Matt. 2:14).
Was persecuted by a cruel king (Ex. 1:22; Matt. 2:13).
Was named God’s “Son" (Ex. 4:22; Matt. 2:15).
Was called “out of Egypt" (Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15).
Had wilderness experience—Israel for 40 years, Christ for 40 days (Deut. 8:2; Matt. 4:1,2).
Came to Jordan (Jos. 3:1; Matt. 3:13).
Entered “the land of Israel" (Jos. 4:19; Matt. 2:20).
Was tested, the first trial in each case being physical hunger (Ex. 16:3; Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:2).
Here the comparison ends, however, for while Israel failed to learn “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deut. 8:3), Christ conquered Satan, silencing him with this very passage of Scripture (Matt. 4:4).
But it was not upon this occasion only that Christ honoured His God. He did so in every circumstance of life, “being in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). His heart was resolute to do His Father's pleasure. No suffering could daunt the selfless devotion of His soul. If His first recorded words were, “I come to do Thy will” (Heb. 10:9), His last saying upon the cross was, “It is finished” (Jo. 19:30). He “witnessed the good confession” (1 Tim. 6:13, R.V.). It is no matter for wonder, then, that as Christ came up from His baptism, “the heavens were opened unto Him”. Because of the nation's failure, the Old Testament ended with a closed heaven (Mai. 3:10), and, so to speak, it had been shut during all the intervening 400 years, for throughout that long period God had not spoken publicly to Israel. Now the true “Israel” (Is. 49:3) was here in testimony, and “the heavens were opened unto Him”. When the silence of centuries was broken, God’s first word was, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased”—a statement that beautifully contrasts with the displeasure in His people which God had to express in Mal. 1:10, as already noticed.
It is instructive that Mark in describing the baptism of Christ does not employ the same word for the opening of the heavens as Matthew. Mark's word is the stronger and is translated, “rent”, in the A.V. Margin, and “rent asunder,” in the R.V. It is the same word as occurs again in Mk. 15:38, where we are told that “the veil of the temple was rent” when Christ died. The use of this word in chap. 1 is not only in keeping with the character of Mark, the Gospel of service, where everything is urgent, but seems also to suggest that the Father and the Holy Spirit (Who “like a dove descended upon Him”) were impatient to express their delight in the only perfect Servant God has ever had upon the earth. If the rent heaven declares the pleasure God had in the perfect Worker, the rent veil declares His satisfaction in His finished work.
It is of interest to compare the names given to Christ at the close of the first two chapters of Matthew respectively, with the one we are presently considering at the end of chapter 3. In ch. 1:25, the name “Jesus” tells what He is to His saints. In ch. 2:23 He is called a “Nazarene,” which expresses what He is to the world. Here in ch. 3:17 the voice from heaven owns Him as “My beloved Son”—what He is to His God.
It is also interesting to connect with our passage three others, in which God acknowledges the Lord Jesus as “His Beloved, in whom He is well pleased.”
In Matt. 3:17 He is well pleased with His thirty years' private life in secluded Nazareth and with His obedience to baptism, by which He is introduced to His public ministry.
In Matt. 12:14-21 He is well pleased with His meek retirement when the nation rejects His ministry.
In Matt. 17:1-5 He is so well pleased with Him upon the Mount that even the presence of the great representatives of the Law and the Prophets must not divide the heart-occupation of the three disciples with His glorious Person.
We may add that according to 2 Pet. 1:16-18 He will be well pleased with Him in His ‘ ‘power and coming” in a future day, when He will represent His God in righteous rule.
So whether we think of Him in the past or the future, the Father's pleasure in His perfections is summed up in the sublime expression—‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” Mr. Darby translates the sentence: “This is my beloved Son, in
whom I have found my delight.” No higher commendation could have been given, and no lesser one would have been fitting, for in every detail of His walk, He perfectly manifested the character of God. John asserts that “No man hath seen God at any time,” but so fully did “the only begotten Son .... declare Him (“tell Him out,” Newberry), that He could say to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jo. 1:18; 14:9). Satan had belied the character of God, but here was One who in every word and deed— in secret, with devoted friends, before treacherous foes—in life's sunniest hours and in days clouded by misunderstanding, misrepresentation and malignant hatred—yea, in life and in death— displayed with Divine perfection every attribute and grace of God's heart. “A more glorious revelation of God than the Incarnation,” says Dr. Adolph Saphir, “even Eternity will not bring. A more stupendous sacrifice of Divine love than the death of Jesus on the cross, Eternity will not unfold”.
“True Image of the Infinite,
Whose essence is concealed,
Brightness of uncreated light,
The heart of God revealed.”
“Our Aim ... To Be Well Pleasing Unto Him” —2 Cor. 5:9, 10
In all Ages, as we have seen, God has His witnesses. Each one comes upon the stage of time, plays his little part, and then passes on to be succeeded by others.
In the present Dispensation of Christ's absence, the Church is God's testimony upon earth. “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”, said the risen Christ to His disciples (Acts 1:8, cf. Lu. 24:48). When Matthias was chosen, it was to be “a witness of his (Christ's) resurrection” (Acts 1:22). Peter on the day of Pentecost said, “We all are witnesses” (ch. 2:32), and a little later we read that “with great power gave the apostles witness” (ch. 4:33). Some years after, Paul declares, “I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great” (ch. 26:22).
Now, a witness is one who gives evidence of what he or she knows, or has seen or heard. The evidence may not always be welcome. Nevertheless, a faithful witness will declare “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. He will not pander to popular taste, nor accommodate himself to all creeds. He will be true to the sacred trust committed to him. Such a witness was the beloved Apostle, who could take the Ephesian elders “to record .... that he shrank not from declaring unto them the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26, 27). How necessary such witnessing to the truth is to-day! The old scriptural landmarks laid by godly ministry are being removed. Attacks of the most undisguised nature are being levelled against long established principles of the] Word. Church truths, for which men of God in a past generation would have counted it a privilege to lay down their lives, are being publicly and shamelessly betrayed by some of their professed successors. Let any who doubt this read the present series of papers, “High Leigh: Whither? in “The Believers'Magazine", by the Editor, or the booklet, *“Findings of High Leigh," by Mr. A. M. A. Gooding. A perusal of these reveals that there is indeed a vital need to-day in all assemblies and in Conference meetings, for a loving and faithful restatement of New Testament church teaching. If we who minister the Word are not faithful in keeping this before the saints, how are young Christians to know what to believe? The freedom from clericalism and dead religious formality which we enjoy, is ours only because that providentially there were men in the past who, while they valued peace, had the moral courage to run the gauntlet of controversy, rather than suppress their convictions by remaining silent. God forbid that we by our guilty silence should expose to hazard the heritage which they at such a cost procured for us.
(* Publishers, John Ritchie Ltd.,)
Closely associated with the thought of testimony-bearing, are two expressions used by Paul. He speaks of saints being “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20) and “epistles of Christ” (2 Cor. 3:3). As the former we represent Him in this hostile scene; as the latter, He expresses Himself through us. The unsaved cannot see Him, except in the conduct of His people. They do not read their Bibles, but they read our lives. Do they see Christ in us? Is God “well pleased” with our testimony? Which are we following, the example of unfaithful Israel, or that of the Lord Jesus? Do we remember than an unerring hand is penning our history, and that it will be disclosed at Christ's Judgment Seat? What kind of reading will it make? “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” There will be no favouritism there. Just as the life has been lived, it will be revealed. If we “sow to the flesh” we need not expect to “reap to the Spirit.” Will the words “not well pleased,” be written across our history? Christians, awake, awake!
“Only one life, it will soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last”
On a cold, wintry morning some years ago, passengers were anxiously pressing through the wicket-gate to catch the early train to the city. According to instructions issued, all season tickets had to be shown on that particular day. Subscribers, as they fumbled for their tickets, were not at all in good humour, and much grumbling was heard. “You are not very popular this morning,” said one man to the Collector. Pointing to a window high up on the block of Railway offices, he replied, “I do not mind that, so long as I am popular up there.” Thus it was that Paul felt. “Wherefore also we make it our aim .... to be well pleasing unto Him” (v. 9, R.V.). Nothing else mattered to him. The one thing for which he toiled was his Master’s approval. May it be our ambition, too, till life’s day is ended, to please Him well in all things! He is worthy of it, and “great is our reward in heaven.”
SOME to-day seem impatient of any attempt to preserve a line of demarcation between the simple gatherings in the Name of the Lord, and the denominations of Christendom. Such is denounced as narrowness and Pharisaism: “The Lord has His people everywhere”, they say, “and they are just as much saved as anybody else!” This is no doubt true: many of us were converted in one or other of these systems; but there are other important questions in the Scriptures besides the forgiveness of sins. The simple assemblies of the Lord's people, with whom many of us are associated, originated in a movement of the Spirit calling the people of God back to the simplicity of the truth, and to the rejection of all else. Thus the great truth of the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus as our Centre of gathering; of the Holy Spirit as our Power for worship; of the Scriptures as our rule of faith and worship, and of many other important truths, including the common priesthood of all believers, became acknowledged. These truths seemed so vitally important to us, and so contrary to the surroundings in which we had been brought up, that we were led out of the denominations in which we had perhaps been converted, and that, we believe, by the Lord’s own hand. If such a step were justified at the time, certainly the Word of God has not changed back to something else now. We stultify ourselves and the truth itself, if we go back to what we once left.
Sectarianism is a work of the flesh (see Gal. 5:20), and clericalism, seeing it practically quenches the Spirit and renders null and void the common priesthood of believers, denies the true Christian position, and makes collective Christian worship not only difficult, but impossible. When we compare with the Scriptures, for instance, the official services, say of the Established Church, even when the clergyman is a truly converted man, who can pretend that the common priesthood of believers is respected or allowed scope? Such a thing is impossible. The presiding cleric, even if converted, and sharing the common priesthood of his fellow-Christians (Rev. 1:6), is obliged to fill the role of a priest of another order; he takes a privileged position, even when he makes no claim to be a sacerdos or sacrificing priest; he wears a distinctive garb—a relic of Rome, half Jewish, half pagan; he claims a title, which no apostle claimed; he holds the exclusive right to pronounce the absolution or administer “the sacraments”, and he alone may set his foot within the communion rails, a sort of holy place; whereas all true believers have equal liberty “to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19). We are all priests; we worship in the heavenly temple not made with hands, and as Luther used to say, “If any man claim to be a priest in any other sense than all the true people of God are priests, let him be anathema!” The conditions described above constitute no mere surface differences, but fundamental divergencies between what is Christian and what is not, and never could be, Christian. It is sometimes advanced, we believe, by those who would break down all the distinctions the Word of God has set up, that our brethren in these denominations are enquiring after further light, and that it is our privilege to bring it to them by frequenting their “places of worship”, and sharing their platforms. Such has not been our experience. To quote one instance: many years ago we wrote a book in a spirit, we hope, of moderation and charity, pointing out the vital differences between the Levitical and Christian economies, and that the churches of Christendom, to judge by their practices, are based on the former, rather than on the latter. A relative of ours lent a copy to a business friend of his, known also to me: a prominent C. of E. Evangelical, father of one of the best known London clergymen of to-day. He brought it back a day or two later in a high state of dudgeon, with words I can never forget, though I should be quite prepared to hope that they travelled beyond his true thought. “Never lend me such a book again!” he cried to my relative; “I hate the book, and I hate the man who could write it”. The language is extreme, but I do not think the attitude exceptional.
But someone may say, “Why touch on these matters? Why not be content to limit ourselves to the “simple Gospel”? If we do, we betray the truth and disobey the Lord. These differences lie at the root of all Christian progress, and are vital to the present enjoyment of our true Christian position. If the systems of men are right, then the work of Christ has stopped short at obtaining forgiveness for us, leaving things much as they were in the Old Testament times; but if Christ has gloriously triumphed, and He has, then we are delivered from every chain, brought to God by the blood of Christ, to offer to Him, as spiritual priests, acceptable worship by Jesus Christ.
IT IS quite a common thing to-day to hear saints in assemblies called "sectarian" by their fellow-believers. It is certain that this is not meant to be complimentary, and those of whom it is said are quite right to take strong exception to it, if only because of the false impression such a statement is calculated to make upon others.
Just exactly what some mean by such a remark is not always certain, but it could very well be that what is intended as a slight might turn out to be an unintentional compliment.
"Sectarian" seems to be a term like some others, such as "exclusive," "legalistic," etc., that some people use with little appreciation of their true significance or regard for the possible effects their use may have upon others. Some there are who, having no Scripture with which to condemn their brethren, employ these terms, which to many carry such a sinister significance, and make it appear that those to whom they apply them have been guilty of some dreadful offence.
Actually "sect" and "sectarian" are words whose meaning largely depends upon the way in which they are used and the person who uses them, as a perusal of their occurrences in Scripture will plainly show, and it is what Scripture means by them that is of importance to believers.
In the A.V. of the New Testament the word "sect" occurs six times (all in Acts) and the word "heresy" (which is only another translation of the same Greek word) three times. The adjectival form occurs only once and is translated, "he that is a heretic."
Because "sects" (heresies) are included in the list of "the works of the flesh" in Gal. 5:20, it is sometimes taken for granted that all sects are necessarily evil, but Scripture does not support this conclusion. "Jealousies" are also in that list but Paul elsewhere speaks of "a jealousy of God" (2 Cor. 11:2, R.V. Marg.). All sects which spring from the flesh are, of course, like everything else which springs from it, evil.
The Greek word rendered "sect" and "heresy" comes from a root which literally means, "to choose," and the verb form of the word is so translated in Phil. 1:22; 2 Thes. 2:13 and Heb. 11:35. Generally the idea is of choosing for oneself, and so when a person (or persons) chose differently from others those from whom they differed called them a "sect." So Paul was accused by the Jews as "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes," and when he answered he said, "I confess unto thee that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers" (Acts 24: 5, 14). Note the phrase, "the way which they call heresy." Paul therefore unashamedly confessed that he belonged to (what the Jews called) a sect.
A modern dictionary definition of a sect is, “those who dissent from an established church.” No believer in assembly fellowship can properly object to being called “sectarian” in that sense of the term. The writer of this article certainly has no wish to deny that he is sectarian in this sense. Would any intelligent Christians repudiate the name “heretic” as it is applied to them by the Romanists?
But the word is sometimes used by brethren in assemblies of others who are also in assembly fellowship. This has been done by magazine writers with reference to writers who have expressed views different from their own. In that case again the writer of this article must plead guilty to the charge, for he oftentimes (and sometimes very strongly), has to dissent from what he reads in some magazines circulating among assemblies. But then would it not be just as proper for him to call those writers “sectarian” as vice versa? Or do some writers suppose (and here lies the gravity of the matter) that they and those who share their view of things, are somehow qualified to sit in judgment upon all who “dissent” from them to the extent of calling them “sectarian” for that reason? Are they “an established church” from which it is heresy to dissent? There are not wanting disturbing signs that some such idea as this is forming (if it is not already formed) in the minds of some, as when we read the expression “the mouthpiece of accredited brethren or of the assemblies in that country.”
This is serious for more reasons than one. What right has any magazine to exist to be the mouthpiece of any brethren or assemblies? Are assemblies to be so affiliated that they can speak with one voice through some magazine? And which magazine is it to be? “Mouthpiece of assemblies” is running dangerously near the Romanist dictum of “the voice of the Church.” Is not the only proper function of a magazine to teach the Word of God, whether those in assemblies agree with it or not?
But “accredited brethren”! Who are they and who accredits them? Is there any body of brethren or other authority empowered to accredit (or discredit) brethren? This would surely be sectarianism in an extreme form and not of a sort according to God either.
But can a sect ever be according to God? Not only can it be so, but there are conditions under which sects are required by the mind of God. Such were conditions in the assembly at Corinth that Paul wrote, “there must be heresies (sects) among you that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). So many errors both in doctrine and practice were being permitted in the assembly at Corinth, that loyalty to Christ and the truth demanded that those who would be faithful must dissent from them, and so become “heretics,” or “a sect,” relatively to the rest. Notice these “sects” were inside the assembly, not around it.
At a conference of brethren not long ago a brother publicly used the phrase “our beloved national church in this country”, and not a single voice was raised in protest. Can it be denied that to call that conglomeration of things which takes the title “Church of England,” a church at all, and then to speak of it as a “national church (which is a contradiction in terms), and then to own it as “our church,” and, finally, to crown it all by saying “our beloved national church” would be an accumulation of error on anybody’s lips. But to think of those words leaving the mouth of a brother connected with assemblies, and a highly accredited teacher among them at that, is absolutely incredible. If these words be true then the assemblies ought not to exist at all.
And how could it be that not a voice was heard in dissent? Could it be due to fear of being called “a heretic” or “sectarian”? How much more to the glory of God if someone had been bold enough to brave a charge of “heresy” and point out how contrary to Scripture such language was! But because no “heretic” was heard and so no “sect” declared itself, the whole conference must stand condemned as being involved in such a denial of truth. In the absence of any dissenting voice none of the “approved,” if such there were, were “manifested.”
Actually then every assembly is a “sect,” as, professedly at any rate, dissenting from, and choosing a course apart from, the mass of Christendom. But it has also to be admitted that within assemblies themselves differences exist, and are increasing, even in regard to matters of importance. Now where such differences exist all may be wrong, but, at least, some must be wrong. What then is to be done to maintain the truth of God? If those who know and love the truth and desire to maintain it, keep silence because they are in a minority they are guilty of base disloyalty to Christ. If they bear testimony to the truth then they become “sectarian,” because they dissent from what others teach and do, and choose a course different from them. As conditions are to-day in many assemblies, there must be sects if the truth of God is to be maintained.
Thus we see that although Paul speaks of sects which emanate from the flesh and Peter warns of “destructive sects” (“damnable heresies,” A.V.), there are “sects” which are necessary to the keeping of “the faith.” The “sect” of the Nazarenes” was of God, and it was a sect because it separated from Judaism, and Paul confessed that he belonged to it. But he belonged to it because loyalty to Christ and the truth of God required it. He did not belong to the sect because he repudiated Judaism, but because he loved Christ and desired to be true to Him.
Similarly to-day. It is not mere repudiation of error in either doctrine or practice that is to be the actuating motive for the people of God, but love to Christ and His Word, but where this
requires, as at times it must require, them to dissent from error, and even dissociate from them who practise it, they need not be ashamed of being called “sectarian." It has, in fact, become a compliment.
Sects, in themselves, of course, are not desirable, and would be inexcusable were the people of God as a whole maintaining the truth of God in doctrine and practice. To dissent then would be to dissent from what is of God, and this would therefore be both carnal and destructive heresy.
Such, doubtless, is the sense in which the word is used in Titus 3:10-11. Paul, having declared what he calls “a faithful saying/' exhorts Titus to affirm these things constantly (or strongly), because they are good and profitable, and to avoid all foolish questions and contentions, because they are unprofitable and vain. Then he says, “He that is a heretic (a sectarian man) reject, after the first and second admonition, knowing that such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself (self-condemned)" The person who dissents from truth and “doctrine according to godliness," especially after repeated efforts to persuade him, thereby condemns himself as perverted and sinful. But to suggest, the same is true of one who dissents from what is not according to God, and because he knows it is not according to God, is to turn things upside down. “Sectarian" he is, but neither perverted nor sinful.
Furthermore, it is a serious reflection for those who are so ready to call their brethren “sectarian," that those who create the conditions from which the faithful must dissent, must bear the responsibility for the “sects" which they make necessary. Those who teach and practise in assemblies what is alien to the Word of God are the real creators of “sects," and not those who in love to God and His Word are compelled to dissent from their teaching and practice.
The offensive manners of some servants of the Lord are to be deplored. Whether as casual visitors or as guests they ought to keep their place, and leave behind them a savour of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. A rude overbearing manner is not a feature of one who has been with Jesus. Some interfere with what they see and hear in the homes of those they visit. They have no right to do so. As guests for the time being, they should not go out of their place. They are not called upon to put everything and everybody right which they may deem wrong.
The Lord did not interfere in the domestic scene recorded in Luke 10:38-42. He was there as a guest, but when appealed to He uttered His mind. When your help or advice is asked, give it, but not till then.
A servant should represent His Master in all things. “Good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33) are incumbent on all, but especially on those whose profession is to be much in the company of the Lord. We have met with many of heaven's aristocracy, with heaven's nobility, beneath a fustian jacket or a tattered gown. Thoughtful consideration for all, especially for the weak, the aged, and for all of the gentler sex is the very essence of Christian courtesy, and that at all times and under all circumstances.
Evangelists need not be rude. There is a wide gulf between rudeness and faithfulness. There is lacking amongst us all in Christian intercourse the spirit of Christ. All—servants of the Lord especially—should assiduously cultivate “good manners” which are formed after Christ.
SOULS are pouring into Eternity at the rate of 30,000,000 a year, and most of them are unsaved. What a dreadful consideration! If it were possible for us to behold the look of despair on the faces of the damned: and if we could hear their hopeless cry as they plunge into the abyss, our own souls would quail at the awful sight. O my brother! My sister! What are we doing to prevent this awful, this indescribable holocaust of human souls? The reflection is all the more tragic, when we think of our Lord's soon return and of mercy's shut door. “The morning cometh.” Yes, “but what of the night” of this world’s greatest sorrow? “For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the world began” (Matt. 24:21). Ponder the thought!
“Put In Trust With the Gospel” (1 Thess. 2:4)
What a trust! What a responsibility! What a privilege! (1 Cor. 9:16, 17; Ezek. 33:8, 9). May the following questions search us as if asked by His own holy lips. When did you lead a soul to Christ? When did you last speak to a sinner of your Saviour? When did you last pass out a tract that might have opened the eyes of the blind and have saved a soul from hell? O Christian! It is later than you think. When the clock strikes the midnight hour, then our day of testimony will be gone forever. Then, our tongues, made to warn sinners to “flee from the wrath to come,” will be singing the praises of the King; but the unsaved—those we walked and talked with while on the earth, never again will we be able to warn them of coming doom; or whisper into mortal ears, the sweet story of Christ's undying love. Shall we, oh, can we silent be, while life and breath He gives?
“The King’s Business Requires Haste” (1 Sam. 21:8)
Yes, “the King’s business requires haste . . . . ; and so much the more as ye see the day approaching .... Behold I come quickly (suddenly).” Reader, are you—am I—ready for that day? Paul could say: “I am now ready .... I have finished my course.” And now I want to tell you of two small creatures that left an enviable record. You will remember the little captive maid who waited on Captain Naaman’s wife, and who, with the breath God gave her, told proud Naaman where he could be healed of his leprosy. Then consider the tireless efforts of a tiny despicable spider, that wove her silvery web over the mouth of a cave in which King Bruce of Scotland had hidden. His enemies seeing the unbroken web, passed by. Think of it! The mighty Naaman saved by the breath of a child and a king saved by a spider’s web. Surely we have more intelligence than a spider, but I doubt if we have the zeal and courage of the little maid. Our breath is a gift—a talent from the Lord. Are we using it for His glory?
I have had, and continue to have, the most exquisite delight in the Bible ... I hope you will chew the cud of the Scriptures; they afford an inward nourishment which few enjoy. I would say, read them much, and chew them more.—
The Spirit of God will never tell a Christian anything good about himself, for He is the Spirit of Truth. But He will enlarge on the beauties and excellencies of Christ.
Whenever a saint affects to do more in the kingdom without, than he enjoys of the sanctuary within; in other words, when his service for God exceeds the measure of his communion with God, there is unreality. It may appear in a variety of ways, but it is the energy of nature, that is of the flesh, which is of no value in the sight of God, but a positive hindrance to all that is of God, and also in opposition to what is the work of the Spirit. Here, as elsewhere, “the flesh lusteth, or warreth, against the Spirit,” and by its very activity is a hinderer of the Spirit’s work. Some must preach, teach and work who seldom find time for a quiet waiting hour in the presence of their Master, either to examine their own spiritual condition, or to get the needful instructions from Him as to what He wants them to do, and where and how they are to do it. It is the lack of thus being in the presence of God, and coming forth from that presence with the savour thereof in the soul, that makes so much of the preaching and teaching of our time pointless and fruitless. It is common enough to sing—
“O, the pure delight of a single hour,
Which before Thy throne I spend.”
But when in reality did you last spend an hour—a literal hour of sixty minutes—there?
We note in the Free Will Echo that Mrs. Prayer Meeting is dead. In the belief that friends of the deceased might be interested, we print the death notice.
Mrs. Prayer Meeting died recently at the First Neglected Church on Worldly Avenue. She was born many years ago in the midst of great revivals and deep spirituality. She grew to be a strong and healthy child, fed mostly on testimony and Bible study. She was educated in the school of Christian service, under the supervision and teaching ability of the famous world wide teachers, the Holy Spirit and the Divine Scriptures. She soon grew to womanhood and was prominent throughout the world for a number of years, and was one of the most influential members of this famous church family.
For the last several years, Mrs. Prayer Meeting has been in failing health and gradually wasting away until recently when she was rendered almost helpless by stiffness of the knees, coldness of heart, weakness of purpose, lack of will power, and inactivity.
At the last she was but a shadow of her former self. Her last words were whispered inquiries concerning the absence of her loved ones, now busy in the markets of trade and places of worldly amusements.
Experts, including Dr. Works, Dr. Reform, Dr. Joiner, and Dr. Churchman, all disagreed as to the cause of her fatal illness, administering large doses of organization, socials, contests, and drives, but to no avail. A post-mortem showed a deficiency of spiritual food coupled with a lack of faith and of heart-felt religion. Also shameless desertion and non-support hastened her death.
Only a few were present at her death, sobbing over memories of her past beauty and power. The body rests in the beautiful cemetery of Bygone Memories awaiting the judgment.
In honour of her passing, the church doors will be closed on Wednesday nights, except the third Wednesday of each month, when the Ladies’ Pink Lemonade Society will serve refreshments to the Men’s Handball Team, and members of the local Golf Club.