In handling these highly symbolic passages great care is needed not to allow imagination to carry us away to extremes of interpretation. Much will remain obscure until the actual fulfilment when spiritual minds will discern the meaning of the remarkable figures used. We shall confine ourselves therefore to general rather than particular interpretation.
The final Seal-opening (8.1) introduces a fresh series of divine visitations, each heralded by the sounding of a trumpet. Here the chronological sequence of ‘the Seals’ and ‘the Trumpets’ is shown; the events under ‘the Trumpets' follow as to time those under ‘the Seals', the Trumpet judgments being more intense. The seals may be regarded as providential preparation for the twelve hundred and sixty days, which are the time measurement of the Great Tribulation. (See 12. 6, 14; 13.5).
A little deeper consideration of this and the later part of the book will show that ‘the Trumpets’ run practically concurrent with ‘the Vials’ of Chapters 15 and 16. ‘The Trumpets’ divide into four and three, the latter being THE THREE WOES, revealing the rising tempo of travail and sorrow in the world's darkest experience.
The preliminary paragraph to this section has two instructive items. First is the silence which followed the final Sealopening. It is a solemn pause and fitting prelude to the outbursts that follow—the calm that precedes the storm. Second, an Angel appears in priestly capacity at the altars of God. He is referred to as “another Angel” and possesses powers and exercises functions not permitted to ordinary Angels. He stands at the Brazen Altar with the golden censer, and it is His to add much incense to the prayers of the saints, and to cause the smoke of the incense from the Golden Altar to accompany them. This is immediately followed by a recognition of these intercessions, as this Angel again fills His censer with fire from the Brazen Altar and casts it into the earth with cosmic sounds and disturbances resulting.
This Angel can be no other than He Who made Himself known to His covenant people as “the Angel of the Lord” (Gen. 22. 11-15; 48. 16; Judges 13. 18). “The Angel of His presence” we read “saved them” (Isa 63. 9) and this is unquestionably our Lord Himself. In our present context we can sense both the priestly and regal rights of the Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110. 1-7).
Here is the potency of a throne-ministry where sacrifice gives value to intercession; where the brazen-altar leads triumphantly to the golden-altar: where the Cross leads to the Throne. The glorified Christ adds His personal and sacrificial worth to the prayer-pleading of His people. It is so even NOW, for our prayers and offerings are presented and accepted in His fragrant Name (1 Peter 2. 5; Hebrews 13. 15). It will be too in that dark day of “Jacob’s trouble” as we see in v. 5. It is therefore no great wonder that the prayers of saints can influence the actions of God and the destinies of men, since it is the incense of Christ’s sufficient sacrifice and perfect person that gives them their efficacy (1 Tim. 2. 1-6).
The purpose of such intercession brings out the royalty of the Priest. Earth must be purged and conditioned for His coming to rule, and since His offers of grace have been obstinately resisted and finally rejected, there can be no other means of bringing the King-Priest into His rights than the weapons of justice. Thus the prayers of believers, harmonizing with the punitive purposes of God, will have this in mind. How fitting at such a time the petition in the pattern prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven” (Matt. 6. 10).
The Trumpet-Angels of the first movement (ch. 8) direct attention to drastic happenings upon the earth, in the sea, in the fountains of waters and amongst the Heavenly bodies. The sounding of the first brings into operation ‘the destructive agencies and powers of nature”, and men of high degree (Trees, Psalm 37. 35) and men of low degree (Grass, Isa. 40. 6-7) come under their forces. The recurrent “third part” in this section probably refers to the portion of earth known to us now as Christendom, and in those days soon to become the empire of the beast (Rev. 13. 1-8). “The earth” would appear to be used as the figure of settled government in contradistinction to “the sea”, the scriptural similitude for unrest and anarchy among the nations (Isa. 57. 19-21; Rev. 13. 9; 17. 15).
Then as the second Trumpet sounds, a great Empire obviously “petering out”, will create a great upheaval amongst the restless nations with deadly disasters attending. The burning mountain cast into the sea will turn a third of its waters to blood (Compare Dan. 2. 35; Rev. 17. 15).
The third trumpet heralds the coming of an exalted personality whose influence and policy will be poisonous to the ordered ways of human society (Rivers and fountains of water). This apostate power, the fallen star “Wormwood”, will saturate the springs and streams of religion and politics with impurity and antagonism to God and truth, the results being bitterness and death.
The realm of rule is next specifically visited (Sun, Moon and Stars) in the sounding of the fourth Trumpet (Gen. 1. 16). Our Lord Jesus declared that just prior to His coming as the Son of Man in a cloud and with great glory the powers of the Heavens shall be shaken (Luke 21. 25-27). Darkness follows as the inevitable outcome of greater and lesser powers in the Roman Empire being smitten. These calamities as set out in this first group of Trumpet-angels are to be eclipsed by the second who introduce “the three Woes” (8. 13), now to come upon “the inhabiters of the earth”. Such a description recalls the promise of Christ to the true Church, consisting of all true believers, of immunity from the “hour of trial” which is to come upon the whole habitable earth, and to “try them which dwell upon the earth” (3. 10). EARTH-DWELLERS are spiritually humans of the Cainite order (Gen. 4. 17-24), of the Nimrod and Babel kind (Gen. 10. 8-10), further described by the inspired Apostle as “enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction who, MIND EARTHLY THINGS” (Phil. 3. 18-19). The Christian on the contrary has a heavenly status, and a felicitous expectation beyond this soiled and transient scene.
We consider the rapidity of events to-day to be swift and perilous, but our studies show that in “the hour of trial” cataclysmic changes will come to every department of human life with devastating suddenness and destruction. “When they say, peace and safety, sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thess. 5. 2-3).
The title of this story will suggest at once that I was highly favoured, the Gospel and its claims being known to me since childhood. Despite the fact of having Christian parents and so much Christian influence around me I was a sinner and on the way to hell. From very early days I had thoughts about salvation, and where I was going to be when life was over, but again and again these wore off as I was occupied with school and the things of everyday life.
Once when staying with my grandmother in the country, I had a time of serious thought, which was, humanly speaking, due to something she said to me. One day when in the field with her where some men had been cutting hedges and burning the cuttings, I said, “Granny that fire is very hot”. She replied, “What will it be like to be in hell?” That plain and simple statement made me very sober and worried about my future.
I had always a concern regarding the coming again of the Lord, knowing full well, that if he came and found me unsaved I would be lost forever. This more than anything was a source of continual anxiety to me. When I had such days of concern, I used to try to get saved. Well do I remember standing at a pillar in the country and trying hard to believe, and then waiting to feel saved, but nothing happened and I was hopeless in my sins and still travelling downward to hell.
In the summer of 1934, my father and Mr. Wm. Johnston conducted special Gospel meetings in the town of Banbridge, where we then lived. I went nightly, as this was what was expected in our home. God was working in these meetings and some around my own age were getting saved. This with the fact of the Return of the Lord still being very much before me, made me again concerned about my soul.
One night one of the preachers spoke from the text, Isa. 14. 9. As the Lord gave help, I was greatly troubled, feeling 'if I die here in this seat I will be in heir. That night I made up my mind that if there was salvation for me, I would go in for it in these meetings, let others do what they would, I really did want to be saved. I am very thankful now that that was my attitude.
For about a week I was in despair. Though I knew the facts of the Gospel well, all seemed to be dark and hopeless. I arrived at the place where I felt I could try no more, honestly wanting to be saved but feeling lost and helpless.
On Wednesday night the 5th September I went to the meeting in that condition. I could scarcely tell a thing the preachers said, I was so thinking about my soul. As the first speaker was about to close his message, however, he quoted the words of the Lord Jesus : Matt. 11. 28. “Come unto Me all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. Many a time I heard these words, but then they seemed to come to me as never before. Who was the speaker? The One Who died for sinners at Calvary. To whom was He speaking? To sinners who were weary and burdened about their sin, and that was what I was. What was He saying to them? “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.” Just there I saw He had died for me, and was there and then inviting me to come and trust Him for salvation. I did so and the great matter was settled.
Since that night, a little more than 26 years ago, many have been my mistakes and shortcomings. But on this I have assurance and joy: Christ is mine and I am His, not because of any merit of mine, but all due to the grace of God and the work of Christ upon the Cross. It has been my joy since then to speak to others about their need and present to them the Saviour I have found to be also a Friend and Guide along the journey of life.
I wonder is the reader on the way to heaven? If not, please remember you are on the way to hell. What a tragedy if you should end there, when there is salvation for you, if you will accept it on God's easy terms and in His simple way!
The Saviour Who so lovingly invited and welcomed the writer, is the same still, He now invites you and will welcome you, if you but come to Him. He says—
“Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out ” (Jo. 6. 37).
May you have help, even now, to say from your very heart, and with honesty and sincerity :
Before reading this article on the subject of baptism please pray to God for light and guidance and be sure you are willing to obey the truth. Then open your Bible and read the following passages with their context: Matt. 28. 19; Mark 16. 16; Acts 2. 38, 41; 8. 12, 13, 37; 9. 17, 18; 10. 47, 48; 16. 15, 33, 34; 18. 8; 19. 4, 5; Gal. 3. 27; Rom. 6. 3, 4; Col. 2. 12; 1 Peter 3. 21. With these Scriptures in view we will consider seven simple questions.
WHO WERE BAPTIZED? (1)
Those who received the apostles’ word concerning repentance (Acts 2. 38, 41); men and women who believed Philip and his preaching (Acts 8. 12, 13, 37); Saul who had confessed Jesus as Lord and is called a brother (Acts 9. 5, 17, 18); those who had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10. 44, 47); Lydia whose heart the Lord had opened and who had been judged faithful (Acts 16. 15); the jailor and all his household who had believed (Acts 16. 33, 34). Many Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized (Acts 18. 8). Twelve men who had been baptised as disciples of John were baptised again as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 19. 4, 5). In these examples we see the carrying out and the results of the Lord’s commission to teach (make disciples) and baptize them, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Matt. 28. 19; Mark 16. 16). Not one example or even a hint is found in Holy Scripture of the baptism of any but believers. If any affirm that infants were included in the households baptized they must prove it. Infant sprinkling involves fundamental error for it teaches that infants are thus made children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; that their ingrafting into Christ and engagement to be the Lord’s are thus signified. This is unadulterated popery and downright falsehood. Infants after christening are still children of wrath even as others (Eph. 2. 3).
WHO BAPTIZED? (2)
Philip the evangelist baptized the Ethiopian (Acts 8. 38). Ananias a disciple baptized Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9. 10). The six brethren who accompanied Peter baptized Cornelius and his family (Acts 10. 48; 11. 12). Paul personally baptized some of his converts, and left his fellow-labourers to baptize the majority (1 Cor. 1. 14-16). The conclusion is that a disciple of Christ can baptize. Neither pope, prelate, priest, pastor or preacher is requisite.
WHERE WERE BAPTISMS CARRIED OUT? (3)
The only positive answer is : in water. In no case is it possible to be dogmatic about the place where any Christian was baptized. It may have been in rivers, pools, the sea, or baths, but it was in water. God seems to have purposely omitted details that no rules may be imposed. Certainly a consecrated building was not a necessity. Let none be so foolish as to bring up the old wives’ fable about the scarcity of water in Palestine. Any reader of the Bible can see that in those days it was a land of abundant water.
WHEN WERE BELIEVERS BAPTIZED? (4)
The three thousand converts on the Day of Pentecost were baptized the same day (Acts 2. 41). The Ethiopian, listening in his chariot to the preaching of Philip and seeing water, requested to be baptised, and it was carried out there and then (Acts 8. 36-39). Saul, who seems to have been physically prostrate after his conversion, was baptized three days later (Acts 9. 9). Cornelius and his household were baptized at the close of the meeting in which they were saved (Acts 10. 44-48). The jailor and his family were baptized straightway after conversion, after midnight (Acts 16. 33). If this scriptural order were observed it would largely keep down the number of false professions that bring reproach on the Lord’s work and name.
WHAT IS BAPTISM? (5)
The word baptize means dip. Practically every scholar of every denomination says so. The Church of Ireland Prayer Book lays down that the priest shall dip the subject to be baptized, but permits pouring in case of infirmity. Dipping was almost universally practised until the 14th century and in Scotland until the Reformation. In the Eastern Churches it is the custom until the present time. Philip and the Ethiopian “went both down into the water, he baptized him and they came up out of the water” (Acts 8. 38). Baptism is dipping.
WHAT DOES BAPTISM MEAN? (6)
According to 1 Peter 3. 21 it (like Noah’s ark) is a figure of salvation. Noah in the ark passed through the waters of judgment and was safe in the ark. The believer’s sins have been judged but the judgment did not reach him, sheltered in Christ. The ark bore the weight of the flood and Christ bore the penalty of His people’s sin on the cross. Baptism is a figure of what took place at the cross. That is why in Rom. 6 it is brought before us as a figure of our death, burial and resurrection with Christ. Christ died and the believer was crucified with Him (Gal. 2. 20). Christ was buried and the believer with Him. Christ was raised and the believer was raised with Him. This he shows by being buried with Him in baptism and living in newness of life (Col. 2. 12). As many as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3. 27). Baptism is making publicly known that I belong to Christ, confessing Him before men, taking sides with Him before His foes and in His rejection. Modern methods have been introduced such as hand-raising, card-signing, standing up, going forward, etc. These put human devices in the place of what God commanded.
WHY BE BAPTIZED? (7)
There is one all-important reason : the Lord commands it.
Peter in the name of the Lord commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10. 48). This was to Gentiles just as he had previously commanded Jews to repent and be baptized (Acts 2. 38). You may argue, reason, boast and talk loudly, but until you have been baptized you have not taken the first step in discipleship.
One final word, the Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures daily whether certain things were so (Acts 17. 11). “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10. 37).
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, and with apostolic authority deals with the important subject of the local church or assembly. How valuable surely are these sixteen chapters,, filled with warnings and instructions from our blessed risen Head, regarding our individual and collective privileges and responsibilities as gathered unto Him!
Moses in a past dispensation was admonished regarding the Tabernacle, God’s dwelling place in the wilderness : “See saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8. 5). In the New Testament, and especially in the first Corinthian epistle, we are also definitely and solemnly admonished in a similar way regarding God’s present dwelling place amongst men, not a material building of brick or stone or such like, but “a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2. 5). In Matthew 18. 20 our Lord says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” And without pretensions of a wrong kind, we most emphatically insist that a company of redeemed ones, thus simply and truly gathered, is nothing less than a dwelling place of God. But this will meet us further, as we look at the fourfold view of such a gathering in chapter 3 of this local assembly epistle. The opening words of this chapter are—“And I brethren ”
The first view therefore is—a company of “brethren.” The word is not at all a Sectarian term, and should not be used as such. It is a name inclusive of every saved person on earth. Note the word in Hebrews 2. 11—“for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” This term “brethren” here, is just as wide as the term “many sons” of the previous verse. Both include every saved person in this present church period.
In the Word of God it is noteworthy, that the first mention of any theme is very significant and suggestive. Now the first mention of “brethren” in 1st Corinthians is an appeal to the saints as such (ch. 1. 10)—“by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together, in the same mind and in the same judgment.” What a precious and beautiful assembly of brethren that would be! Truly an affectionate family—wise sons and daughters “making a glad Father” (Proverbs 10. 1; 15. 20). Nine times in the first nine verses of First Corinthians, chapter 1, the name of our adorable Lord is mentioned. In the 10th verse we have the tenth mention, and it is the full title—“by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.9' Ten is the number of responsibility, as we see in the “Ten Commandments,” “Ten Virgins,” “Ten Talents, etc. How striking therefore that by this precious Name thus emphasised in a tenfold way, the apostolic appeal is made to the saints as “brethren” (children of one family—eternally related to one another) for manifest, God honouring, and Christ exalting unity! But at the second mention of the name “brethren” (1. 11) the sad fact is revealed that this unity was marred at Corinth. And may we not say that this deplorable scene of 'contentions” (1. 11), “envying and strife and divisions” (3. 3) in that early church, is the seed plot of the terrible sectarianism and confusion of Christendom to-day? The third and fourth mentions of “brethren” (1. 26; 2. 1) should be pondered also, and when the fifth is reached (3. 1) the Apostle solemnly declares that this divided sectarian state has rendered the Corinthians “carnal” (fleshly) instead of “spiritual.” As such they were only able to take babes’ food; they were undeveloped, whereas they ought to have already reached spiritual maturity. Oh, how true this picture is of many Christians now, hindered from spiritual growth by sectarianism; gathering to human names instead of the one blessed Name; adhering to human creeds, instead of the precious Word of the Lord—spiritual babes whereas they ought to be spiritually “young men” or “fathers!” (1 John 2. 13, 14). Have we noticed the words of verse 4 in 1 Cor. 3? “For while one saith T am of Paul’ another T am of Apollos’ are ye not men?” This is the word here—“men” (see R.V., etc.). “Natural men” (2. 14). What a sore pity if saints become in action, mere natural men, instead of spiritual brethren! Glance at the remarkable scene in Genesis 13 where Abraham “the father of all them that believe” (Rom. 4. 11) nobly and spiritually says to Lot his nephew, “Let there be no strife I pray thee between my herd-men and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” How precious an example for brethren to-day! Note the previous verse— “and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” Did not Abraham thus realise—“their eyes are upon us,” and if these Canaanites and Perizzites who are mere worldlings can dwell in peace together, how shameful if we strive with one another, and if we cause them to feast their eyes on our folly?” Let every saint and every assembly take heed to this old time picture to-day.
The next phase of the fourfold view is “God‘s husbandry” (tilled land or cultivated field, 1 Cor. 3. 9). A true assembly is a fruit bearing portion for God. The planting and the watering (vv. 6-8) are in connection with this. Paul planted, through Gospel labour, the company at Corinth; Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. By the way, let us individually inquire: “Am I a true planting of the Lord?” (Isaiah 61. 3). We dare not forget the solemn declaration, “Every plant which My Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt. IS. 13).
Precious fellowship existed between Paul the planter, and Apollos the waterer. Neither one is “anything but God that giveth the increase.” What self-effacing, God-honouring attitude and condition. Surely these beloved men present a precious example for every planter and waterer now! And we are pointed to the Judgment Seat of Christ in verse S where each planter and waterer shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
As we thus consider the assembly as God’s “tilled land” let us remember the striking simile used in Genesis 27. 27, and let us earnestly pray that the assembly with which we individually are connected (and all others also) may have the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed
Set a watch , O Lord,” cried David, “before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141. 3). How urgently, too, should this plea, beloved, spring from our hearts! James reminded his readers that although “the tongue is a little member” (3. 5), yet “it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (verse 6).
Often enough words have escaped our lips, better and wiser and kinder and more thoughtful never to have been uttered. “Oh! I could have bitten my tongue off!” is an exclamation many of us have used as we have witnessed the flushed cheek, the downcast eye, the involuntary wincing of the object of our unkind speech. But it is too late. Words spoken can never, no, a thousand times never be recalled. What grievous, never-healing wounds do thoughtless, callous and even flippant words inflict, to say nothing of the scathing, unmerited rebukes which, alas, not infrequently soil our lips.
Ponder, too, the fact that if voices are recorded by man's machinery, stored, and then played back thousands of miles away and after a lapse of years, how much more does the God who. made the tongue and “planted the ear” (Psalm 94. 9), place on record every solitary word that has been spoken. From the cradle murmurings, the lispings at one's mother's knee, childish prattle and schoolday talk, the boasting of youth and the gloatings of middle age, down to the querulous criticisms of old age, each and every syllable has been indelibly registered in the annals of heaven, by the unerring and meticulously accurate hand of God.
The One whose finger inscribed those tables of stone (Ex. 31. 18), traced Belshazzar's dread summing-up by candlelight on the plaister of the palace wall (Dan. 5. 5), wrote on the temple ground in John 8. 6, 8, is the Divine Calligraphist whose skilful pen is that of iron and diamond pointed (Jer. 17. 1). Job exclaimed, “Oh! that my words were now written ! Oh! that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!” (Job 19. 23, 24). They were. So are ours.
What an encouragement to recall that the One who spake as none other man did, has left “us an example that we should follow His steps; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2. 21, 22). When vehemently pressed by Herod who “questioned Him in many words”, as Luke 23. 9 reminds us, “He answered Him nothing.” Set at nought, mocked, blindfolded, smitten and stricken and spitted upon, our blessed and adorable Lord Jesus “reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2. 23).
Truly, the object of our lives should be to emulate Him whose lips were like “lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh” (Cant. 5. 13), into which “grace was poured” (Psalm 45. 2).
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4. 6), means tender and gracious utterances, albeit laced with firm and resolute maintenance of the truth. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4. 15) is another of Paul's ways of declaring this necessary, vitally necessary, adjunct to true Christian living.
Something which is totally unbecoming in the saint of God is “foolish talking” and “jesting” (Eph. 5. 4). Whilst we feel that the “filthiness” referred to in this verse is not, certainly, in outward manifestation amongst us, yet levity, empty joking and unseemly laughter are, alas, very apparent. Beloved, this verse concludes, “but rather giving of thanks,” and this is what should flow from our sanctified lips. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13. 15). David did not possess the light that we have, but he had a sweet appreciation of what constituted saintly language, and acceptable sacrifice. “Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141. 2, 3).
In every sphere, whether it be the local assembly, the home or the place of daily toil, the tongue is a major factor. Dear saints, do not allow virulent gossip to riddle the assembly and mar the testimony. Fathers, do not shout at your children : husbands, do not use bitter speech against your wives. Wives, refrain from nagging: children do not “answer back” at your parents : brother, do not bicker with brother or sister with sister. Employers do not be churlish with those who serve you: employees be civil to those whom you serve, avoiding scarcely veiled insolence!
As we bow in prayer this night, may it not of necessity be with confession of unsound speech that can be condemned. That much neglected book, the book of Proverbs, contains no fewer than 43 instructive references to the usage of our lips, for better or for worse. The word “glossa” (tongue) is found 50 times in the New Testament. From this word comes the English “glossary” or vocabulary. Let tongue and lips unite in nurturing and cultivating a healthy, holy vocabulary, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile” (1 Peter 3. 10).
This is a smiling dazzling idol, that has ten thousand worshippers—lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. What have you to do any more with this idol? Sometimes it is a gross idol. The theatre is one of its temples—there it sits enthroned. The tavern is another, where its reeling, staggering votaries sing its praise. What have you to do with these? Have you the love of God in your soul—the Spirit of God in you? How dare you cross the threshold of a theatre or a tavern any more! What! the Spirit of God amid the wanton songs of a theatre, or the boisterous merriment of a tavern! Shame on such practical blasphemy! No; leave them, dear friends, to be cages of devils and of every unclean and hateful bird. You must never cross their threshold any more. What shall I say of games—cards, dice, dancing? I will only say this, that if you love them, you have never tasted the joys of the new creature. If you feel the love of God and the Spirit, you will not lightly sin these joys away amid the vain anxieties of cards, or the rattling of senseless dice. What shall I say of simpering tea-parties, the pleasures of religious gossiping, and useless calls, without meaning, sincerity, or end? I will only say, they are the happiest of God’s children who have neither time nor heart for these things. I believe there cannot be much of the Spirit where there is much of these. What shall I say of dress? A young believer, full of faith and joy, was offered a present of flowers for her air. She vrould not take them. She was pressed to accept them; still she refused. Why will you not? Ah, she said, how can I wear roses on my brow, when Christ wore thorns on His? The joy of being in Christ is so sweet, that it makes all other joys insipid, dull, lifeless. In His right hand are riches and honours; in His left are length of days. His ways are ways of pleasantness. What, then, have I to do any more with idols?
An aged servant of the Lord who was very much discouraged went early one evening into the vestry to pray before the night service. While he was there alone, one of the deacons came to inform him that the congregation requested his resignation at once. “Because,” said the deacon, “there has been no result to your preaching during the last year. The only convert is just a little boy.”
At the close of the service that night the aged preacher went again into the vestry to weep and to pray. His work was fruitless, his service done, his preaching days were over. Into the silence of that holy scene a little boy walked, and reverently waited until the aged gentleman arose from his knees. “Sir,” said he, “Do you think that if I study hard, and try to do the will of God, that when I grow up, I can be a missionary?” That boy did live for God, and that one convert of that year studied hard, went to Africa, won souls to Christ, and glorified God in a long and fruitful life. That boy was Robert Moffat.
The Lord alone knows the mighty powers for good that are hidden in the immature lives and hearts of the children in our Sunday School classes. Let us win them for Christ; let us lead them on in the ways that are pleasing to the Lord. In the coming day, we shall rejoice together with them over service accomplished in and through them.