LONG before the time the hall was seated to capacity, with many standing, and others unable to get in. It was estimated that five hundred people were inside the building, when Mr. J. K. Duff announced the opening hymn at 1.50 p.m.—“My chains are snapt, the bonds of sin are broken . . . .”
Mr. T. McKelvey read from Lev. 8. 14, 22-25, 28; Rom. 12.1; 16. 1-6, and said:
The occasion of our gathering to-day is one of great sadness to us all. This large company of believers from all over Ulster extends its deep and sincere sympathy to Mrs. Bunting and her family, and to our beloved brother’s aged mother, now 88, and his brother Joshua, who arrived home from South Africa on Wednesday morning, the 14th, just in time to have a little conversation with his brother Willie before he became unconscious, and passed into the Presence of the Lord at 6 a.m. on the 15th December.
We are all mourners to-day, for there has passed from our midst one of our best known and well taught Evangelists, whose passing leaves us with a sense of sorrow and loss.
Mr. Bunting was mightily used in the salvation of souls. As a Teacher he built up the saints in their most holy faith.
What made our brother a great man of God? Was it accidental? Or was there something divine in it? To answer these questions we suggest three things.
First—(Lev. 8)—Salvation and its Price.
“Without the shedding of blood there is no remission”. Sin brings death, and death for sin there must be. In Lev. 8 the blood of the bullock was “poured out at the bottom of the altar.” Chapter 4 adds, “All the blood thereof”, and chapter 5, “The blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar. It is a Sin Offering.” The typical suggestion is this—that nothing less than all the blood of the offering could meet the demands of God for sin.
This truth in the Old Testament becomes the subject of Fundamental Doctrine in the New Testament. In Romans it is “Justifying blood”; in Ephesians it is “Redeeming blood; in Colossians it is “Reconciling blood”, in Hebrews it is “Cleansing blood”.
“For my cleansing this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my pardon this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Sitting under the preaching of the late Dr. Wm. Matthews in the town of Lisburn 48 years ago Willie Bunting experienced spiritual awakening for sin, but realized the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to meet his need. This was our brother Bunting’s first beginning of spiritual things, that was to have such tremendous effect upon the whole of his life. There can be no beginning in God’s things apart from this.
Secondly—(Romans 12)—Salvation and its Purpose.
In Lev. 8 the blood of the bullock was poured out for sin, but in the same chapter we are told of “The Ram of Consecration”. The Ram was slain “and Moses took the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot”.
The typical teaching of this to Aaron was, “You are mine. Not only your soul for eternity, but your body for the years of time. Not part of it, but all of it—Ear, Hand and Foot. I have bought you with the price of blood, now I consecrate you to My service, and the service of My people”.
This same truth is taught in Romans 12. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”.
Forty three years ago our brother Bunting began to realise how demanding these “mercies” were. They sent him to his home—to his knees, where before his God he enquired how much of his life God required—and the answer was—“I need it ALL”.
“What shall I give Thee, Master? Thou hast given all for me.
Thou didst leave Thy Home above, to die on Calvary;
What shall I give Thee, Master? Thou hast given all for me.
Not just a part, or half of my heart. I will give ALL to Thee.’’
We believe he did that. For all those years, with the commendation of his brethren, at home, in Canada and the U.S.A. he served God devotedly and fruitfully. To-day, the account of his stewardship is closed, to be disclosed and rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. And to-day, his remains are surrounded in honour by his brethren. His garment unspotted by the world.
Thirdly—(Romans 16)—Salvation and its Praise.
In the closing chapter of Romans some twenty seven brethren and sisters are mentioned by name. Many others are referred to, all of them favourably because of their service for Christ and the Church. Some “laboured”, some “laboured much”. Others are said to have been “helpers”, “beloved”, “approved”. Phebe, Priscilla and Aquilla come in for special mention. All these are “saluted” and “greeted”. They stood high in Paul’s regard.
Speaking by inspiration as he does, Paul reveals net only his own mind about these workers and their work, but what is of greater importance, he reveals the Lord’s mind about them also.
To-day, we take our leave of one who stood high in our esteem. The secret of his life-long consecrated service for God was in his salvation, and after that the solemn realisation that his life belonged to God. “Whose I am, and whom I serve” (Acts 27. 23).
Mr. Samuel Jardine commended the sorrowing friends to the God of all comfort—until that day when we shall meet to part no more.
ON behalf of this large company I would like to express to Mrs. Bunting and the family circle, our sincere Christian sympathy in the great loss they have sustained. We trust God will use His Word to their comfort and help, and to the blessing of all who have gathered to pay their respects to a brother beloved, an esteemed and valued servant of God.
The words of David concerning Abner are applicable and suit our present circumstances. “A prince and a great man is fallen”. Let nothing confuse our thinking, let no issue cloud our vision; William Bunting was “a prince and a great man”.
He was born in 1903. In this respect his birth was not royal; his parents were a respectable, God-fearing couple, who sought to bring him up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. In 1919 at meetings conducted by Dr. W. J. Matthews, in the mercy and grace of God he was saved. His first birth gave him a place in a human family and fitted him to live on earth, his second birth gave him a place in God’s family, and because of it, the dear man is to-day “with Christ”, and will forever be in heavenly glory. Solemn for us all to note, if he had missed salvation, despite his parentage and godly training, he would have lived in his sins and died in darkness without hope. God’s weighty and searching words are: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”.
But David said Abner was not only a prince, he was a “great man”. Some princes are not great men, some great men are not princes. Abner was both, so I feel was Mr. Bunting. He was a great man in a variety of ways. I know it is not always wise to make comparisons, but from what I knew, I would feel free to say, that amongst the many good men we have in the work of the Lord in the North of Ireland, likely Mr. Bunting was one of the best “all round” men we had.
Soon after his conversion he took an active interest in the Gospel, and in 1924 his own assembly in Lisburn heartily commended him to the work of the Lord. For the past 42 years he has laboured earnestly and faithfully with much success and blessing.
In recent years I have met on the prairies of Canada, in the cities of the United States, and in different parts of South Africa, those who were saved under his gospel preaching, some who to-day are full-time workers, and others leaders in assemblies. Likely many around the grave to-day could testify to having been brought to Christ under his ministry.
He was a “great man” in ministry. In earlier years it was mostly oral, in later years he did a good deal of writing. editing the magazine, and contributing to other magazines, as well as writing booklets and tracts. God only knows how much His people in many places owe to our brother’s ministry. Two elderly brethren told me recently in Capetown that assembly work there “took a decided turn for the better as a result of Mr. Bunting’s visit 30 years ago”. Would to God we had many more men of his type, who could preach the Gospel with power, as well as feed and edifv the people of God.
His ministry was varied, he could with ease handle all aspects of truth. His devotional messages were warm and comforting, his practical words solemn and searching. We have heard him teach Church truth effectively, and when the need arose he could take up prophetic matters and “confirm the souls of the saints in the things most surely believed”.
But now for him this is all over, the faithful labourer’s task is finished, the warrior has put off his armour, the diligent student has closed his book, the pen of the ready writer has been laid down. He has gone, to see his Lord, to rise in His presence, to receive His reward. We are about to turn away from his grave; as we do, what are our feelings? and what will our attitude be?
We certainly have feelings of sorrow, but thank God, “we sorrow not as others that have no hope”. Not a shadow of doubt arises in our hearts, our beloved brother is “with Christ”, and all is well for ever. We have feelings of loss, these will be very marked in the family, in the assemblies, and in many of our lives. We have lost a kind, courteous, helpful man, but despite this we will not leave discouraged and downcast. No. “God buries his workmen, but carries on His work”. When Moses died, God said to Joshua: “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go . . .”, that is, take up where he left off, carry on for God. This man who preached the Gospel so well will never do it again, but it is still ours to do it! This man who helped the saints so much by his life and ministry will never have opportunity to do it any more, but we have. Of Samson we read, “more were slain at his death than in his life”. During the lifetime of our brother many heard the voice and call of God; it may be, that at his death, others will hear God’s call, perhaps someone just now, thinking of days to come and the need in the work of God, the language of their heart would be, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to Thee”. Beside the cold remains of this noble servant, in God’s presence and in view of Eternity, I put it to my own heart and to yours: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what is done for Jesus will last”. What a tragedy for us to allow anything to turn us from the pathway of the will of God.
We leave these precious remains in the keeping of an all wise Creator, to await the Coming of the Lord. Then they will be raised and we shall be changed, and together we will be “caught up” to be forever with the Lord. Then we will be able to sing in truth, “Earth’s sad story, closed in glory, on yon shore”.
Until then, we commend Mrs. Bunting and her family to the Lord, and trust that they and ourselves will know the abiding presence and blessing of God.
OUR first acquaintance with William Henry Bunting was in 1925. He had been commended the previous year, by his assembly in Lisburn, to give his time to the work of the Lord. Our well-known and highly esteemed brother, the late Robert Curran, encouraged our brother Bunting, and on his introduction, tent meetings were commenced by these brethren about 3 miles from our hall at Shanaghan, Co. Down. The older saints wondered about his youthfulness; how boyish he appeared; could this youth be God’s man? Soon God manifested, as in the case of David, “this is he” (1 Sam. 16. 12). Numbers increased as the meetings continued. The Holy Spirit used the Word preached to the awakening of many. The “Word was with power”. Month followed month from July to November before it was feasible to take down the tent. Over twenty professed to be saved. Some are now in the glory. Others continue stedfast.lv in various assemblies to this day. What lasting impression was formed of the boy preacher? Soon it was apparent he was a godly young man. His praying revealed that he knew the reality of communion with God. His earnestness was equally impressive. The sight of him wiping the perspiration off him as he thundered out his message at 180 words per minute, left no doubt as to his sincerity in preaching that which concerned souls for eternity.
We watched with interest his development in the service of his Lord. When advised, by older brethren, against his fast rate of speaking, he persevered in overcoming this defect, resulting in a carefully-worded, deliberate message for saint or sinner. This characterized him to the end. He benefited much by sharing meetings with most of our older brethren in North of Ireland. Later, our able and esteemed brother, the late W. J. McClure encouraged him to go further afield. This resulted in him journeying often with Mr. McClure in South Africa, Canada and the U.S.A. Many souls were saved on those extended itineraries, and recently, from these countries, many have written us expressing thanks to God, that they had been saved under the preaching of Willie Bunting.
In all his activities in the service of his Lord, he was convinced it was the will of his Lord, as revealed in His Word, to confine his help to the assemblies of saints, gathered unto the peerless Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. True, he loved all God’s people, but not for him at anytime in 42 years service, was there any thought of linking up with denominationalism, however evangelically disposed. He dearly loved the assemblies of the saints, and their prosperity was a constant source of delight to him. This led him, some 16 years ago, to see a need for this magazine. He rejoiced to see it increase year by year. Its pages reveal the servant that Willie Bunting was. Our knowledge of his patience, grace and courage in connection with it, and correspondence accruing from it, did, and shall, increase our faith in that God, Whom he knew as a faithful God. Criticism was to be expected. Reproach must be borne. Some suggested the magazine should be burned without being read! Others judged we had joined in apostasy! Still it continues, as we believe the Lord wills it should, and, as another wrote “the continuance of the magazine would be the best memorial to a faithful servant”. In all these trials, now past for ever for our dear brother, our sweetest memories of him shall be the smiling face and calm composure through them all, by a servant who knew he had sought fearlessly to please his Lord.
That this servant has also left a goodly legacy to the people of God by his pen, is also a cause of thankfulness to God “Bible Problems and Answers” took up many hours of his time for months, when he was also engaged in meetings. Other books, more recent, and some yet to be announced, shall be long treasured by the people of God.
One other cause for thankfulness to God is that the fearless preacher, the apt teacher and frank writer was a man with a soft heart for others. When tragedy from time to time struck homes in Dromore, where he resided for long, Willie Bunting was quick to visit the sorrowing. Nor were such homes left without him bowing the knee with the sorrowing and commending them to God. This grace was as much appreciated by Catholic as Protestant. His work led him to enjoy hospitality in hundreds of homes, but never did we hear of his conduct being other than gentlemanly and considerate. We thank God he, by grace, ran a clean course, which is more important nowadays than ever. Despite long enforced absences from home, due to the nature of his work, his affection for his own loved ones was impressive to the end. How like his Lord! How he loved!
May God be pleased to raise up other young men, who, like our dear brother Bunting, shall willingly place all on the altar for the same Lord, Who has said, “I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be”. (Rev. 22. 12).
GRIEF and gratitude mingle strangely in our hearts as the fact of the home-call of our beloved brother Bunting begins to make itself felt. We have deep thankfulness that we have known him and for some years to have known him intimately. And speaking for a very wide circle of Christians we thank God that such a man of God, such an affectionate and loveable brother, such an able and devoted servant of Christ should have been given to us. In the same measure we have deep grief that such a rare and useful personality has been taken from us. The combination of virtues and talents of which he was so manifestly possessed spoke eloquently of the grace that saved his soul, moulded his character and endowed his ministry. We glorify God as we remember his Christlike ways and Spirit-endued life and labours.
One has thought of the close parallels that are traceable between the God-fearing man of Psalm 112 and our much missed brother. The Hallelujah of v. 1 is followed by a description of one who knew his God, who was conscious of His greatness and His presence and who therefore found a great delight in the fulfilment of His will. “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments”. Was not this an outstanding feature of the late William Bunting and the secret of his manifest sincerity and unfeigned earnestness. He walked with God.
The thought of increase of seed and the blessing of God upon the generation of the upright follows that description. This was wonderfully seen in “labours oft” of brother Bunting. On no less than three continents of earth he was privileged to see souls saved. In Canada, the United States and Africa many were brought into the family of God, numbers of these remain to this day to thank God for him as their spiritual father while others have reached the glory before him.
The man of Psalm 112 is also marked by “wealth and riches” (v. 3), and our brother possessed a prosperity of a spiritual kind above many of his contemporaries. He was rich in grace and truth and his wealth increased as he dispensed it. A man of “five talents” he gladly invested them in whole-hearted consecration to the Christ He loved so well and his profiting appeared to all. Some of this is recalled in the special emphasis of more recent years on “the Blessed Hope” which so often occupied his lips and pen to the edification of the people of God.
How true too, it was of him that “a good man sheweth favour and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion!” (v. 5). His truly was “the enlarged heart” and his affection and liberality embraced a wide circle. They were favoured who came within the range of his helpfulness. And were not affairs guided with discretion (judgment)? The balance of what may be termed opposite virtues, and of which he has been in recent years a strong advocate, had in himself a practical example. The meticulous care with which any task he undertook was accomplished was a rebuke to slovenly or careless ways in the service of God.
The man of our Psalm is also called “the righteous”, and it is said, “he shall be had in everlasting remembrance”. The ranks of the godly are being sorely depleted. “Chief men among the brethren” have been promoted to glory, but we cannot forget them. They made a mark for God upon our lives which time will not erase. Not the least of these, through the grace of God, has been the impact and influence of William H. Bunting. As we think of him we can use with feeling and sincerity, the opening words of the Psalm, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! And we want to pray the Lord of the harvest that He will thrust forth labourers into His harvest, and that they will be worthy successors to this gracious, holy, humble servant of the Lord.
I KNEW William Bunting for more than forty years, and always had a great admiration for his sterling Christian qualities. Highly endowed with spiritual gifts, as an evangelist and teacher, he was greatly used of God in the salvation of sinners, and for the edification of saints. In this respect, I have special cause for thanksgiving, as under his faithful preaching of the Gospel, two of my daughters were awakened and saved.
His literary talent was also outstanding, and by means of his pen, many of the Lord’s people throughout the world were instructed in the right ways of the Lord. Thus many who never saw his face in the flesh, will thank God for the grace given unto him, to set out in the printed page Assembly principles as revealed in the Word of God.
While strength remained, he took a keen interest in the progress of the Lord’s work at home and abroad, and was always ready to encourage fellow-servants.
His home-call will doubtless call forth our sympathy and prayers for his wife and family, and his aged mother, who are left to mourn his loss. May it also challenge all our hearts to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, realizing that “the time is short”
“THE old year, with its many changes, strange happenings, and continued mercies from the Lord, has now passed into history. How rapidly its months glided away! What 1966 holds in store we know not. We have not gone this way before.” These words were written in the Jan.-Feb. number of our little magazine last year, by the hand of our dearly beloved brother Bunting. He shall use his pen no more. December 15 witnessed his farewell to earth. He has gone by a way he had not known before. Thank God, we know where he has gone, and how he fares there! He is “with Christ”; “very far better”. Do we fell lonely? Yes, assuredly. He shall be missed, because his “seat will be empty”.
What of the future? Praise God, “The Master cares” and of Him it shall ever be true, “Thou remainest”. May we have grace to “cleave unto the Lord” until He come. As we enter 1967 we are consciously more cast upon the Lord than ever. It is only to be expected we have been deeply exercised about the will of the Lord for us. To us it appears clear that the Lord would have us continue the issue of the magazine. Many have expressed the desire to have it continue. None yet have suggested we should cease publication. We considered it unwise to have too much left in the hands of one for administration. The Lord has graciously enabled a small committee to be formed. This will spread the work and responsibility connected with the magazine, and we trust it shall be possible to add to the committee from time to time, as need may require. We have been favoured with brethren willing to help, who are not engaged in giving their whole time to the work of the Lord. This means that all services rendered shall, as in the past, be purely of an honorary nature. Likewise, contributors of papers accepted, shall receive no financial consideration for such contributions.
We are very happy to introduce as Editor, Mr. A. M. S. Gooding. Our brother Gooding fills a post of responsibility with Messrs John Ritchie Ltd., Kilmarnock. He has been regularly engaged in the ministry of the Word in conferences in Britain and Ireland. His ministry has also been very acceptable at Toronto and other Canadian centres. He was closely associated with our brother Bunting for many years. They shared in a happy fellowship in the truth concerning God’s assemblies and prophecy, and during the illness of our brother Bunting the help in editorial work by our brother Gooding was of inestimable value. For this we can all sincerely thank him. He would value your prayers for physical and spiritual strength as he undertakes this additional service for the Lord.
Of the new members of committee we may introduce Mr. James Mayhew, who, like myself, is now retired from business. He, too, has had a long association with our brother Bunting, and a long experience of assembly life.
Mr. Thomas Beggs is in business on his own account. He was for many years linked with our late brother Mr. C. H. McAlister, who for years, was joint-treasurer of this magazine.
Mr James Moore is also in business on his own account. Like our brother Beggs he has been closely associated with our brother Bunting, and these brethren alike have more youth in their favour than others of us.
We trust the Lord shall be pleased to guide and help us with wisdom and courage, so that future issues of the magazine, in His will, shall be such as He can richly bless to His dear saints in many lands.
We are glad to record the goodness of God to us in the year that has ended. Notwithstanding the constant severe pain our dear brother Bunting so patiently bore for months past, the Lord preserved to him clearness of mind up to his last night with us. This was a great help to us in the difficult period of transition, for which we praise the Lord. Throughout the year we received many new applications for the magazine, which, through the faithfulness of our God we were able to fulfil. Many faithful friends of the magazine have gone into the presence of the Lord they loved and served during the past year, but our needs have been graciously met by the Lord at all times, despite increasing postal rates and costs. For this we praise the Lord. We return thanks to all those who sent papers for publication. We appreciate greatly the letters of encouragement received, and thank all who sent these. We are glad to be able to express our thanks to those who so kindly assist in the work of distribution. We thankfully acknowledge the practical fellowship of the many saints who have generously communicated with us, as also those many assemblies sending us their generous gifts. Without such practical thoughtfulness it would not now be possible to continue the issue of the paper. We wish to record the kind co-operation of our brother Mr. Glenville. His services deserve our best thanks. We sincerely thank them all.
We earnestly solicit the fervent prayers of the Lord’s people for the guidance and help of the Lord, during the coming year, which we so much need.
Warm Christian love, and hearty greetings in the Lord’s Name, to all who read “Assembly Testimony”.
IT is indeed fitting that I should add a few words to all that has been written in appreciation of our dear brother Willie Bunting. Though I am but a youth compared with others who have spoken of our brother’s long years of service, I have known him for a considerable time. In the later years of his life we had much in common in our approach to the things of God. Our brother was characterised by a genuine love for the assemblies of God’s dear people, and a desire that they might continue in the right ways of the Lord. Amid the increasing tendencies of departure from “as it is written”, our brother was ever valiant for the truth. As I think over conversations and correspondence that I had with him, it seems to me that in the last five or six years that he was with us, two things stood out very prominently in his mind, and these he sought to impress upon God’s people.
Our brother possessed a determination to preserve for the saints of God, the truth of the Imminent Return of the Lord for His Church. He spoke fearlessly when this truth was being assailed and his series of articles in this magazine on A-Millennialism did much to establish the saints in the hope of the Coming of the Lord.
While it is true our brother valiantly stood for the things most surely believed among us, yet he did it with a real love for the people of God. It was indeed apparent both in his oral and written ministry that he had a deep concern that there should be better relationships, more love, more consideration and more kindness between the Lord’s people. He wrote and strove for unity among the saints. He sought to impress upon the Lord’s servants the need for a balanced ministry that would both correct and unify the local assemblies. May we indeed take note of this and endeavour to love one another with a pure heart fervently, while being also steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
It is with a deep sense of inefficiency that I seek to continue the work of the magazine. I shall value the prayers of the people of God, that the magazine may continue to stand four-square on the Word of God, and thus continue to be a real help to the dear saints, and gatherings of the Lord’s people. May the Lord richly bless all who read this magazine.