THIS year is the centenary of ‘the 1859 Revival’. One hundred years ago what scenes of grace were witnessed in these Islands! Our hills and valleys resounded with the Gospel message. Preachers, in many cases simple and uneducated men, proclaimed the good news, and without the use of any outward attraction, drew vast crowds to hear them. Meetings were convened at the most unconventional hours, and in the most unconventional places—the public highways, quarries, and the open fields. So great was the interest that people travelled long distances, despite the fact that in those days transport was difficult, and at times stood for hours in chilling weather conditions, to listen to the Word of God. Not infrequently the services consisted of prayer, hymn singing, and the mere reading of a portion of Scripture. As they listened, strong men were bowed down and wept with conviction. Young and old inquired the way of life, and hundreds found rest through the peace-speaking blood of Christ. One result of this great work of evangelism, and that which presently concerns us, was the formation and growth of assemblies of saints. These companies of God’s people were formed in fellowship with older meetings in the British Isles, commonly known as ‘Open Brethren’. This term is used to distinguish them from so-called ‘Exclusive Brethren’ but they themselves have ever refused to accept any such denominational name. From the beginning they were marked by the utmost simplicity, and were subject in all matters of faith and conduct to what they “found written” (Neh. 8:14) in the Word of God. They had no ‘minister’. Their places of meeting were often uninviting. Their services were extremely plain. Their evangelists and teachers, contemptuously dubbed ‘tramp preachers’, were in almost every case men without any theological training, who received no salary, but looked directly to the Lord for all their needs, and whose movements, being free from all organisational control, were subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Though they lacked worldly prestige, however, and were often hated by the clergy and their former co-religionists, these companies of saints were characterised by the presence and power of God. “The shout of a king” was in their midst. There was a healthy glow of affection and unity amongst them, which drew to their fellowship many Christians who were wearied of the dead formality of the denominations. Above all, they maintained a zeal for the Gospel. Through their untiring evangelistic efforts a great harvest of souls has over the years been gathered in, and we to-day who enjoy assembly fellowship are still reaping the blessed fruits of that mighty work.
Present state of Assemblies
What concerns us, however, is the spiritual state of assemblies in this and other lands to-day. Is it not admitted by all that generally speaking a great change has taken place? Surely he must be blind who cannot see that spiritual retrogression has set in. Where is the old time devotion to a rejected Christ, the old-time fervour of Christian affection, the old-time passion for the souls of men? True, there is much activity, and we thank God that in many places souls are being won for Christ. God forbid that we should despise the day of small things or discourage any endeavour to reach the perishing. Hundreds of the Lord’s servants are doing noble, self-denying work in the great harvest field, numerically assemblies are larger and more numerous than ever, and in many cases are in a healthy, happy condition, which must afford much joy to the heart of the Great Shepherd. Nevertheless it is a day of spiritual apathy. Irrespective of ecclesiastical association, the world, the flesh, and the devil are sapping the spiritual vitality of God’s beloved people, as leaders in different groups of Christian life confess. We are becoming increasingly materialistic. Eternal realities seem to be losing their grip upon us. We lack the sense of God’s awful holiness which marked our fathers, and consequently we look more lightly upon sin. Internal strife and carnality have left the testimony of some assemblies weak and ready to die. The result is that we “have sown much and brought in little”, for the Holy Spirit in our midst is grieved and the soft refreshing showers of former days are seldom experienced. Yet the drift has been so imperceptible that many of us seem unconscious of our backslidden condition. O that we had hearts to feel and own it! What a change from the freshness and vigour of a century ago! and what a history to be accounted for at the Judgment Seat of Christ I Does the thought not appal us?
This is something which is causing deep concern to exercised souls and we thank God it is so. What, however, can be done about it? What is the remedy? How can the tone of our meetings be improved? How can we be the power for God we once were? How can we interest the unthinking crowds? How can we reach the masses effectively with the Gospel?
“O for the showers on the thirsty land,
O for a mighty revival!"
But how can revival be brought about? Surely everything which Scripture sanctions should be done to quicken interest in eternal things and to win the lost. Let us see to it that our halls are clean, well lighted, and comfortably seated; that the public notice board is not out of date or dilapidated; that our district is regularly visited, door by door, with good tracts and invitations. If possible, let us maintain a weekly open-air meeting; and let us see to it that our singing is hearty, and that only those whose lives are above reproach and who can give a clear, sound, warm-hearted presentation of the Gospel are permitted to occupy the assembly platform. Then let us not fail to extend to strangers a warm handshake and courteous welcome. These simple matters count more than one would think.
A few years ago there appeared a rather strange cartoon in a religious magazine. It was that of a man sitting in a meeting with his hat on. Some held their hands over their mouths in disgust. Then an usher approached the offender and kindly reminded him that he had forgotten to remove his head-gear. “I just thought that would do it”, exclaimed the stranger. “I have come here for six weeks without a soul speaking to me”. The moral, dear brethren, is obvious. We usually get what we go in for, and if in the elementary things which have been named we show more diligence, our effort will not go unrewarded.
Are we, however, to have recourse to the methods which some brethren suggest? They advocate closer co-operation with the religious world and the adoption of ideas and innovations undreamt of in assembly life until a few years ago. They cater for the spectacular and sensational. Is the remedy for present day indifference therefore to be found in solo-singing, musical programmes, film services, elaborate plans, intellectual addresses carefully written out, hiking parties, games, and what not—all of which appeal to the natural man and savour so strongly of this age? In certain quarters even the principle of the Lord’s servant being ‘out on faith lines’ is at a discount, as is indicated elsewhere in this issue, and emphasis is increasingly being laid upon education, organisation and centralisation.
“A New Testament Church in 1955”("High Leigh", 1955)
“50 Selected Men supported by 50 men of means both during their training in a Bible School, and afterward during their ministry” (p. 77).
“Large meetings should guarantee the ministering brother a stipend of £400 a year; that he should devote half his time to the meeting, and the other half of his time going to other meetings. There should be a recognised fee which should be given when he visits other assemblies” (p. 82).
“Might it not be possible to appoint two or more brethren in different regions of the country to test those who feel the call, and to see if they are competent and suitable to do the work?” (p. 83).
“It might be well if there were a Home Ministry Fund to supplement local gifts, and for meeting the needs of many special cases: but this is a matter for discussion amongst leading brethren” (p. 80).
“Faith Lines” by Dennis E. Clarke ("The Witness”, June, 1959)
“Cannot it be recognised that practical and clear-cut procedures for the support of the Christian ministry, in which both the assemblies and the workers concerned have a full understanding of what is involved, does not in any way detract from faith in God or eliminate the necessity for prayer.
“The constant reiteration of this phrase (‘Out on faith lines’) has misled a number of Christians to feel that this way of serving Christ is the norm, the New Testament pattern. One result has been an avoidance of organising finances for the ministry on a budget basis, and a disinclination to assume any responsibility for workers.”
"Because of the prevalent view on ‘faith lines’ there is resistance to any proposals that would provide ‘Home Workers’ with anything in the nature of a regular minimum sum to meet the cost of living.”
“If once we see that faith in the Bible sense of the word, is not necessarily linked to the financial support of the Christian ministry, then we shall be ready to readjust our methods of support to conform with systematic principles which in no way conflict with the Scriptures.”
This was the title of an article which appeared in the June issue of "The Witness" and was from the pen of Mr. Dennis E. Clarke of India, who complains of expressions such as “being out on faith lines” and “stepping out on faith lines”, stating that to some Christians (average Christians!) these phrases suggest “a mystical working of God which assures an adequate supply of personal needs for the full-time workers in assemblies,” and adds that "these and other current opinions may account for the irresponsible attitude towards the support of full-time workers, that is characteristic of much assembly work at the present time”.
We pause to point out that these quotations from the introductory paragraphs of the article charge the assemblies of God’s people with two shortcomings: (a) ignorance (b) irresponsibility. We consider that both accusations are without foundation. We are only too aware that those who wish to alter assembly procedure do indulge in unwarranted criticism. We have shown that the new article expressed similar ideas to those put forward at High Leigh in 1955. The report of that Conference entitled, “A New Testament Church in 1955”, stated that the discussions took place in an atmosphere that was permeated by a spirit of gracious brotherhood and Christian love, in fact “no ungracious word was spoken” and yet the Report abounds with criticism of the assemblies. It is very easy to criticise, it would be far better to become assembly builders and "strengthen the things that remain.”
The expression, “Faith Lines”, is actually not found in the Holy Scriptures and is not so widely used as the article before us seems to presume, but even so, simple believers in the assemblies (and the Editor is one of them) recognise that the' Lord’s servants, “who for His name’s sake have gone forth taking nothing of the Gentiles,” look to the Lord Himself for the supply of their needs. They know also that the Lord would have them to give as the Lord has prospered them for the care of the saints and the needs of His servants.
With regard to the second charge, may we state that the fact that the assemblies have not “adopted practical and clear-cut procedures for the support of the Christian ministry,” “organising finances on a budget basis” so that workers receive "a regular minimum sum to meet the cost of living,” does not mean that assemblies show an irresponsible attitude towards the support of the Lord’s servants. It simply means that they do not agree with the ideas now suggested by Mr. Clarke and which have been suggested by others before him. The assemblies as a whole are directly opposed to the introduction of a salary basis either for workers in the foreign field or those that labour at home.
THE Author of “all scripture” has always had in mind the need of all believers: there are therefore no parts of the great treasury of truth that are the peculiar property of any one group of Christians. The fact that the key to the understanding of God’s Word lies in spirituality and simplicity makes possible to any child of God the knowledge of any part of the whole. Christ exulted in the fact that “these things” were “hid from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes” (Luke 10:21). In such a frame of mind one can turn to the book named "The Unveiling of Jesus Christ” and confidently expect to discover the mind of God in it’s pages.
Satan’s policy has ever been to keep God’s people from the appropriation of their wealth in Christ and so he has sought to throw clouds of mist over much of the inspired record and one successful measure has been to exaggerate the difficulty of understanding the book of Revelation. To accept his suggestion is to discount the blessing God has promised to those who read it, who listen to it being read, and who obey its precepts (ch. 1:3). Further, it is to ignore the grand intention of the whole; the apocalypse or unveiling of Jesus Christ. Amidst all the symbols and visions of this remarkable prophecy, a Personality of unparalleled majesty emerges and dominates the inspired page until He is seen supplying every requisite evidence of divine vindication. He is seen to be the One in Whom all the prophesies converge and in Whom all the purposes of God have their consummation. He is seen as having “burst the bars of death, shivered the gates of the grave and standing triumphant on the ruin of Hell’s empire.” (See ch. 1:17-18). He is seen as supreme among the churches (chs. 2 and 3), as glorified in Heaven, as possessing full governmental powers over the nations, because of His redemptive prowess (ch. 5:6-14; 11:17), and as returning to the earth for the establishment of peace and righteousness (ch. 19). In the final scenes He is unveiled as the Judge at the last great Assize, and as the centre and radiator of Heaven’s glory and felicity (ch. 20:11; 21:22 and 23). If for no other reason, the pre-eminence of our Lord Jesus Christ in this great record should ensure the believer’s closest attention and inspire his most worshipful study.
From the explicit injunctions given to John by the Risen Lord, it was essential that the book should have three distinct divisions, and if this be accepted (and one cannot see how it can be rejected), we possess a solid platform on which to build our interpretation of the book. The Lord said to John: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are and the things which shall be hereafter” (or, after these things) (ch. 1:19).
To be true to his task the Seer of Patmos must present his material in that form. That he did produce it in three distinct sections should not be hard to discern.
Chapter 1 corresponds with “the things which thou hast seen”, including the introductory facts: the vision of the Son of Man, that of the Stars and of the golden Lampstands. This is beyond reasonable doubt division one. Chapters 2 and 3 correspond with “the things which are”, being the described conditions of the churches existing in Asia in John’s time. The seven letters to them form one unique and concrete part of the book—it’s second division. There only remains one part and a fair-minded scrutiny compels the conviction that it is as solidly concrete as the other two, even though it’s matter is more involved and intricate. Here are “the things which shall be after these things”—the third division. It is unwise of the student and unfair to the book to attempt to interpret “the Unveiling” without reference to this God-given clue to it’s meaning. Now let us consider each of the parts a little more closely.
I. "THE THINGS WHICH THOU HAST SEEN”—Ch. 1
‘Seven’ is observed to be the ruling number of the entire prophecy, but ‘three’, unwritten, is discernible as the “method-mark” of division one. John presents this section in a series of remarkable triads of truth. The matter of the book has a threefold description: “the Word of God”, “the testimony of Jesus Christ”, and "all things that he saw”, thus stamping it with divine authority, reliability and actuality. The beneficiaries of "The Revelation” are also three, benediction being pronounced upon: (i) reader, (ii) hearer and (iii) doer. Three divine Persons are included in the salutation and the first of them is identified by a three-fold description: “Him which is, which was and which is to come”—without question the great unchanging and eternal Jehovah-God. The reason is represented as “the seven Spirits before the throne”, the symbolism of which connotes the fulness of the Holy Spirit’s activities, backed by the authority of the eternal throne. These terms should be compared with ch. 4:5 and Isaiah 11:1-3 where the Spirit of God is connected with perfect illumination—seven lamps—and has ideal and complete expression in “the Root and the offspring of David”, the incarnate Son of God. The third Person introduced is our Lord Jesus Christ, and since He is central to the theme of the unveiling we are given a double triad. His offices are three, His activities are three.
First: “The Faithful Witness”. He came from Heaven as the reliable Exponent of the character and claims of God (John 8: 26-28). He came, faithfully exposing the sin and hypocrisy of men (Matthew 23). He came, revealing the vanity of mere human tradition (Mark 7:1-13). He came, bearing witness to eternal verities, having relation to man both in this life and that which is to come (Mark 8:35-38; Luke 16:19-31). The Faithful Witness therefore points to “the Prophet which was to come” (Acts 3:22), and of whom the Father said, “This is my beloved Son . . . HEAR HIM”. The values of His ministry are further extended to us in His heart-searching words to the seven churches in chaps. 2 and 3.
Second: “The First-born of the dead”. This descriptive title of the Lord Jesus does not mean that He was the first to rise from the dead. Quite a number of others had been brought again to life before His death and resurrection. The term, "First-born”, is used in Holy Scripture entirely apart from the idea of receiving a new life, and always as a title of rank and precedence (cf. Psalm 89:27 where David as a King was elevated to the rank of First-born). In demonstration of this Col. 1:15-16 states that Christ is “the image of the invisible God and the First-born of all Creation, for by Him were all things created”, a statement that requires Him to be of the very substance of God and His essential expression, and which attributes to Him the Omnipotence of the Creator in every realm material and immaterial, and could not possibly mean that He was the subject of creatorial power Himself. As “the First-born of all creation” Christ stands at the head of the Universe, holds the highest rank and exercises sovereign authority in the mighty spaces. Similarly, when He is said to be “the Firstborn among many brethren” it is place not origin that is emphatic. This glorious Person condescended to share the humanity that belongs to His people (in it’s perfection and sinlessness) and is not ashamed to call them brethren. Nevertheless He possesses inherently what sets Him “above His fellows”. As the Son of Man He is one with them, as the Son of God He is infinitely superior to them. They shall wear His image in “the day of Christ” but the very fact that it is derived from Him and a sharing of His glory places Him in rank and honour as “the First-born among many brethren”.
Thus in the title, "First-born of the dead”, we see One who has taken the prey from the mighty and triumphed gloriously. In the realm of resurrection, He is the first and final authority (ch. 1:17-18). The Vanquisher of death rides forth to share His triumphs with His own in both resurrection and glorification (John 11:25-26; 1 Cor. 15:53-57).
Third: “The Prince (or Ruler) of the Kings of the earth”. These three titles have seed-thoughts which anticipate the full scope of this prophecy: Christ’s witness to the churches, His conquest of the realm of death, and His ultimate reign upon the earth. The Kings of the earth will be finally subjugated by Him (ch. 19: 20) and broken in pieces like the potter’s vessel (Psalm 2). The submissive amongst them shall do Him homage and bring their presents to His feet during the period of His earthly reign (Psalm 72:10-11; Psalm 2:10-12).
The second triplet of truth relative to Christ reveals His intimate activities for His own (v.5).
First: The love He bestows is eternal: “Unto Him that LOVETH us”. It is not an affection expressed in the past but one that is enduring and eternal. It is such a deathless love that many waters cannot quench it, nor can the floods drown it. He loveth at all times. Only such a love could have survived the flood-tide of Judgment into which the great Lover of our souls was willing to go.
Second: The price He paid was effectual. "And hath washed (or loosed) us from our sins in His own blood”. Here we perceive the Lover to be the Kinsman Redeemer. He is prepared to pay the ransom price that will liberate the captives and make them His own forever. The captives, the chains, the cost and the conquest are devoted in these words of praise and worship to the mighty Redeemer.
Third: The purpose He cherished is evinced. “And hath made us a Kingdom: priests unto His God and Father”. The Lover Who Redeemed us is a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek and has fitted us for princely and priestly association with Himself, in constituting us a Kingdom, priests unto God, that in Him and through Him we may glorify the Father, God. To Him therefore we gladly say, be glory and dominion forever and ever.
Next in section one comes the announcement of Christ’s return to earth, to emphasize once more the theme of “the Unveiling”. Here three effects of His manifestation are noted. First, that there will be universal recognition of His return— “every eye shall see Him; second, that it will have a specific relation to Israel—“and they also which pierced Him” (Zechariah 12:10); third, that there will be an anguished cry from all the tribes of men as the significance of the mighty Lord’s appearance bursts upon them. At its very portal this prophecy issues a warning to all mere spiritualizers who would rob God’s people of the truth of the personal, actual, visible return of Our Lord Jesus Christ. However solemn it’s import to a Christ-rejecting world, we must echo John’s “Even so, Amen”.
John’s explanation of his writing has also the “method-mark” upon it (ch. 1:9-11). He designates himself as (i) "John, (ii) brother, and (iii) partaker”, and relates himself to the saints in the churches in three connections: “in the (i) tribulation, (ii) Kingdom, and (iii) patience of Jesus Christ”. It can be discerned that he was in the bonds of fellowship with them, that he was in the bonds of persecution for Christ, and that he was in the bonds of ready service with His Lord and Master, being “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”. The things he saw he was to convey by writing to seven specially selected Assemblies in Asia.
The vision includes: (i) the group of Lampstands, (ii) the description of the pervading Presence, and (iii) the effect upon the servant of the Lord. The golden lampstands are for the time-being dwarfed by the majesty and awe-inspiring presence of the Son of Man (ch. 1:12-20). We are intended to see not only His greatness and glory but to apprehend the offices suggested by His appearance and attire. The ideal of perfect, representative, but rejected, manhood is in the thought of “like unto the Son of Man”. His garment down to the foot is surely suggestive of the Great High Priest, while the golden girdle links with the divine service upon which he is embarking. His resemblance to the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:22) is a reminder of His goings forth which have been from of old from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2). The penetration of His vision is that of Omniscience, at one and the same time apprehending what is good and opposing what is evil in its fiery inquisition. The Judge appears also in the appearance of His feet and in the terrible authority and power of His voice. This fittingly is followed by the evidence of His control of testimony upon the earth. His holding of the seven stars and possession of the sharp two-edged sword—all crowned with the bright radiance of His countenance—ablaze with the glory of God.
The prospective human is prostrated in the presence of such majesty, and no wonder. There is for him however a three-fold compensation: First, the comfort of a touch—“He laid His right hand upon me”. To John this no doubt brought back memories of the days of His flesh, when he had such intimate contact with the Lord Jesus, and knew the tenderness of His love. Second, the comfort of a disclosure—His triumph over and authority in the realm of death, dispersing every fear—“Fear not ... I have the Keys”! Third, the comfort of a great commission: “Write”.
This final use of the “method-mark” is most probably the explanation of it. That is, to underline the fact that the great unveiling of the Lord Jesus has three specific movements: (i) the preparatory visions of the writer, (ii) the instructive conditions of the churches, and (iii) the character of Christ’s future conquests.
AS we contemplate the two passages of Scripture before us, we readily conclude that the beloved Apostle attributed the secret of his life and work to a Living Christ and to the grace of God.
It is indeed well for us, if we in this day and generation keep this truth before us. It would no doubt save much of the vain glory so evident from time to time. The flesh is still with us, and will rear it’s ugly head if given the least opportunity. Then before we are aware we will be carried into a spirit of self glorification.
It was said of Ephraim that “gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not” (Hos. 7:9). Poor Ephraim, the old man was evidenced on the top, and to continue in that state will without doubt terminate in spiritual cowardice. “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle” (Ps. 78:9). May God, through our Risen Lord, fortify us from the sanctuary, so that we by His enabling grace may do exploits for Him, rather than shun our responsibilities.
Perhaps it would profit us if we remind our hearts that when God saved us He had as part of His Divine purpose a desire that our lives should be a replica of the life of His Beloved Son. It was so with Paul; note his progressive development in the Galatian letter. He states in Chap. 1 that God in marvellous grace called him to reveal His Son in him. In Chap. 2 through this same grace and the Spirit’s power, the Risen Chiist could take up residence within him, and manifest Himself through him. In Chap. 4 he longs in his heart for a self same experience to be the portion of these dear children to whom he writes. Their spiritual progress had been retarded, the blessedness of former days had gone, and now he agonises and “travails in birth again until Christ be formed in them”. As for himself, his one ambition is that ere the lamp of his earthly life flickers, Christ shall be magnified in him. Oh, that we too may experience this going on unto full growth in our lives while here below, till that day when we shall be like Him and see Him as He is:—Christ revealed in us, Christ living in us, Christ formed in us, and Christ magnified in us.
To conclude with a word as to service, methinks we are at present standing in the midst of Luke Chap. 19, with the conversion of Zacchaeus on our left hand and the Coming of the Lord on our right. We look back to the day of our conversion, we contemplate the day of His Coming, and we hear His voice saying “occupy till I come”.
May we have grace to do so as those who must give account.
THE significance of long hair in the Book of God is of deepest solemnity to the Christian, whether male or female. The subject nowadays is taken up occasionally, but only occasionally, in respect of the woman, as taught by the Apostle in 1 Cor. 11. Seldom, very seldom, is it taken up with regard to the man. It is with the man—the brother—that we are immediately concerned. In connection with the Nazarite we read: “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow”.
Long hair is a sign of being under power, under authority, and it consequently brought one into a position demanding absolute obedience. The spiritual Nazarite no longer possesses the right to decide what he shall do or say or where he shall go. This rests entirely with the One under Whose authority he moves. “For me to live is Christ”, said Paul. Being under this power we are strong. Indeed, the secret of strength lies in the fact that we are under authority, and not only under it, but utterly obedient to it. Samson, we remember, lost his sight, his strength, and his liberty, because he lost his hair. Typically, he threw off authority, and the Holy Spirit uses most solemn words when He puts it upon record that Samson became “like any other man”. You, dear fellow believer, were brought into spiritual Nazariteship at your new birth. You were separated to God. You came under His authority, and you are called unto utter obedience.
But there is another aspect of this Nazariteship vow and sign. If a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (1 Cor. 11:14). The long hair brings a man into a place of shame—a place which inevitably carries with it rejection and reproach. This means, however, that you are intimately associated with the Lord Jesus, Who was the true Nazarite, for He was “despised and rejected of men”, and the measure of His obedience was unto death.
“A perfect path of purest grace
Unblemished and complete,
Was Thine, Thou spotless Nazarite,
Pure, even to the feet.
The vow was on Thee—Thou didst come
To yield Thyself to death;
And consecration marked Thy path,
And spoke in every breath”.
To be wholly for God, however, means synonymously that you are nothing to men, yea, less than nothing. They will consider you to be totally unfit for association with them. They will shun you as one having a loathsome disease. Christendom too will have no room for you. Its dignitaries, out of fear of being unpopular with their worldly associates, will not wish to be identified with you. They may even speak evil of you to prove to their friends how foreign you are to them. Thus your path will be lonely—ah, so lonely at times. One begins to understand the prophet Elijah, that rugged witness for God in a day of apostasy, when he cried, “And I only am left”. God knew all about the seven thousand whose knees had not bowed to Baal, but Elijah did not. They had not chosen to be identified with him in his testimony for God. Elijah was a lonely man. So you may be lonely, but here again you are brought into association with the Lord Jesus—God’s lonely Man—for none was ever so lonely as He.
Now, are you, fellow believer, prepared to take this place of shame with your Lord—“without the camp, hearing His reproach”? Do not answer quickly, for it is a costly business, as this world counts things. Identification with the Cross and the Christ of the Cross ever has been costly. But it bringeth rich spiritual gain to the obedient soul and will in “that day” win His “Well done”.
Many friends will regret to learn that MR. McSHANE and MR. CAULFIELD have resigned from the work of “Assembly Testimony”. Both of them have rendered us valuable help over the years, for which we express warm and grateful thanks. We wish our brethren every blessing from the Lord in their future service for Him.
A wealthy farmer was in the habit of having a nightly reading of Scripture with his family and dependents, after which he usually engaged in prayer. One evening he prayed very earnestly for the poor and starving, there being great distress in his neighbourhood. On rising from his knees, one of his children, a bright little fellow, said:—
“Papa, I do wish I had some of your corn.”
“Why, my child?” asked the father.
“Because”, said he, “I’d soon answer your prayer.”
One who comes forward much in public, will need that chastened spirit, that matured judgment, that subdued and mortified mind, that broken will, that mellow tone, which are the sure and beautiful result of God’s secret discipline; and it will generally be found that those who take a prominent place without more or less of the above moral qualifications, will, sooner or later, break down.
A great many people speak before they know what they want to say. They often express the lack of an idea, rather than an idea. God did not give us words to use idly; they are too powerful and contain too many possibilities. A word may be a dagger, a bullet, a balm, a poison, a serpent, a mine of wealth, a dynamite bomb—it can build or blast a reputation. Then what right have you to be playing with such engines of power without understanding them? Unless you learn to weigh well your words you are as dangerous as would be a child entrusted with the throttle valve of a mountain locomotive.