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Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
The two men just mentioned have wisely so arranged that they are but little incumbered with the cares of the world, and devote themselves very much to the care of the church. They have a competence, and are therewith content. They have avoided some things that old, worthy and good men have not, in some instances. They have not made the meetings preachers' meetings, and themselves the preachers, and thus continued to preach till nobody would hear them, as is complained of in some instances, till they have preached the church to death. Some one said not long since, that it was the hardest death a church could die to be preached to death. Some accused the churches some years since of living on converts, and if they made no converts they soon died. These men have never inculcated the idea of living on converts, or on preaching. They do not inculcate the idea, and the church does not have the idea, of coming together on the first day of the week to hear preaching. They retain the scriptural idea of teaching the Disciples, but do not give teaching the prominence to make it the object of coming together. They do not say, come together on the first day of the week to hear preaching, or to be taught. They will have it, as it reads in the Book, come together on the first day of the week to break bread.” This they never fail to make prominent. The songs may be raised, so as to sing less or more; the prayers may also be raised, more or less, shorter or longer, or the teaching ; but the commemoration of the Lord's sufferings and death is the object of coming together, and must always be there. The contribution also is never omitted.
When they come together the worship begins by the overseer presiding announcing and reading a hymn. The congregation rise and nearly all sing. There are hymn-books for all in the assembly. The
singing is no mere artistic nor theatrical performance, nor attempt at musical display. Then, they understand singing, and sing with the spirit and with the understanding also; “teaching and admonishing one another, with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord.” All are again seated, and attention is given to the reading of the word of the Lord. Then all stand in the Divine presence, while they unite with some brother who offers prayer. All are again seated, and an appropriate song is sung. The deacons come forward and are seated in their regular places. The emblems of the body and blood of the Lord are then uncovered and exposed to the view of the assembly. A few fitting remarks are then made touching the design, the nature and importance of the institution. All then rise and stand in profound silence, except the one voice that utters the united thanks of the saints. The loaf is broken and passed by the deacons to all the Disciples in the assembly. In like manner they stand again while thanks are offered for the cup. The wine is then poured in the presence of the assembly, in memory of the pouring of the blood of the Lord for our sins, and in like manner passed by the Deacons to the Disciples. This is followed by a song, and the contribution is made. A chapter is then announced and a brother called on to read it. The reading in every instance was clear, distinct and good. Then the way was clear for teaching, for the members of the body to edify one another. This closed the morning meeting
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
The announcement would then be made that we were present, and we were requested to speak to the people. This we did on each of the four Lord's days while we were with them, and in the same order. They listened to us, each time for the space of near an hour, without the least interruption or perceptible uneasiness. On Lord's day nights they announced preaching, and on these nights, and during the nights of the week, the meetings were conducted in much the same order as we find elsewhere in meetings for preaching to the world. They have regularly as good audiences as they do under similar circumstances where they have the most straight-out “pastor;" and, what is better, they have more general intelligence than we have ever found in a congregation of the same number. They have developed the talent of the members, called it out and into exercise, and made it a church in the true sense.
We have never spent a month more pleasantly and happily than we did the month of April in this instance. We gathered many valuable lessons of instruction, and trust we imparted many that will not be forgotten. If our memory is not at fault, we had eleven confessions during our stay. The interest held up well all the time, and the attendance on the last night was larger than at any previous time. Truly were we loth to see the time come when we had to part from these friends of the Lord. Several of them followed us to the train and lingered, thinking that probably we would meet no more on this side of the great river. Long shall we remember them and all their kindness.
We made the acquaintance of Bro. Ellis, a pleasant and an agreeable young preacher, employed by the other congregation. He is a young man of fine information, and, we were informed, good preaching talent. If we understand him, he does not consider himself a “pastor” in the popular sense, but is stopping with the church, labouring for it and at other places, as he has opportunity, as an Evangelist. He visited with us repeatedly, and participated in our meeting. Others of the members of that congregation were with us frequently, and all was pleasant, so far as we learned, in their relation to us.
They have had some serious reverses of fortune that have changed their condition very much ; but there are those among them good and true, and we hope they will struggle for eternal life.
Mr. Hawley, who started the open, free or mixed communion question some years ago, that led to so much discussion, with his wife, now has his seat in the Congregational Church. If he had been there all the time the cause in Detroit would have been in a better condition. His influence and that of his family have been in the wrong
direction all the time. The cause is decidedly better off without them.
Bro. Ellis is deserving of much credit for holding on to the good and true, now that their reverses are such that they can give him but little support. Had he been a mere hireling he would have fled when the money failed. The Lord preserve the good and the true among them, and open their way to peace, usefulness and happiness.
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
AFTER DEATH : A DREAM. * AFTER death! In that thought what solemity, what mystery dwells ! None have ever come from the grave to tell us what is after death. 0 if one only would be allowed to return from beyond the grave to tell us what he had seen and what were his experiences, what delusions would be dispelled, what doubt and scepticism would be swept away, what comfort would be imparted, and what zeal and devotion would be kindled among many callous Christians ! But would this indeed be the result? The fear is that it would be otherwise, and that the Scriptures would be found true when they say—“ They have Moses and the prophets; if they hear not them, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” It is true, however, that there have been dreams in which faithful servants of the Lord have had impressions of the eternal city, the recollections of which have aroused them to greater diligence and self-sacrifice in the work of their Heavenly Master. A considerable time after I had committed to the dust the remains of a beloved and only daughter, in the hope of meeting her again in heaven, I had a dream which removed my sadness, dried my bitter tears, made me perfectly resigned, and fired my soul with fresh zeal and devotion, and infused greater determination to labour and endure in the work of the Lord. In the morning I left my home for a quiet walk, and in the course of my musings and wanderings I at last found myself standing on the bank of a broad majestic river. My whole landscape was bathed in brilliant and warm sunshine, and the river was calm as a sleeping lake.” The course of the river ran east and west, and towards the east, where it was broadest, it lost itself in a boundless sea, which was also calm, still, and beautiful. The bank on which I stood formed the northern boundary of the river, and between the bank and the river's edge was a very broad and smooth sandy beach. A stillness, which seemed even to have a voice, prevailed, and with feelings of inexpressible pleasure I stood and admired the scene. What a picture of beauty, of peace-beauty, like unto the beauty of the Spirit which reflects the wondrous power and grace of its Creator; peace, like unto that peace which, when the assurance of pardon is possessed, passeth all understanding. While I gazed on the enrapturing scene and traced in the distance the line formed by the edge of the river I discovered that there were stakes at intervals in the water with Christians bound to them, some having already suffered martyrdom for their Lord, and round others the waters were fast rising. Looking away to my left hand I found also other stakes, but without any one bound to them. What, thought I, can be the cause of all this? These men had been telling the story of the cross when they were seized by persecutors, opposed to Christianity, dragged to the river, pinioned to stakes in its
* We understand this to be a real dream. The dreamer had lost a young and lovely child by death, and he found strength and stimulus to closer walk with God by the dream. We look not to dreams, nor to dreamers, to unfold the secrets of the unseen and future world, nor do we Expect to receive information in that way. We have the Bible, and neither expect nor want revelation from any other source. Why then comply with the request to print this dream? Because it was a cause of increased devotion to eternal things on the part of the dreamer, and may give a measure of impulse in that direction to others. While we cannot learn from it anything as to the future, we may be seasonably impressed by solemn truth which we have otherwise learned, and of which we may be thus seasonably reminded.
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
bed, and drowned by the rising tide. While thinking of the solemn and impressive lessons of the scene before me I was suddenly seized by a number of men, who came from behind. Without a word of warning, without an offer of mercy, I was quickly and rudely dragged from the bank on which I stood to the river bed, and there I soon learned what my fate was to be when I found myself placed against one of the stakes and the chains rattling with which my persecutors were binding me. This was the work of a few moments, and then I was left alone to meditate with God, and prepare for death. Fully I realized that now my earthly course would soon be closed, my life passed quickly in review before me, and then at last I sought to lose myself in communion with God, hoping that, in that communion, I might pass from death to life. Bye and bye the rising waters covered my feet; they continued to rise higher and higher till they reached my waist, and then my shoulders. A few minutes more and the waters overwhelmed me; I was struggling with death; and in a moment of inexpressible agony I cried—“O
Lord, save me !” My cry was in faith to Him who promises help in time of need, and help instantly came. In the twinkling of an eye my suffering was gone, the world had disappeared, and I was in a glorious world of angels, a number of whom came to my deliverance and carried me away. They were clad in white and spotless robes, they possessed the strength of manhood and the bloom of youth, their faces were radiant with joy and light, and their eyes beamed forth sympathy and love which thrilled my very soul! Oh, the bliss of that moment, language cannot express it! As far as my eyes could see there were throngs of angels holding blessed fellowship with those who, like myself, had passed through death. All were filled with joy, and in possession of the fullest life, vigour, and activity. All appeared to know each other, and all felt interested in each other, the angels finding peculiar delight in the association of every one who had passed through the valley of the shadow of death. The light of that world was not the light of the sun, but a light whose splendour far excelled it, and it never varied in the intensity of its brilliance. And this was the world to which after death I was introduced. How my heart swelled with love and gratitude to God that I who felt so unworthy should have been made to realize so amazingly God's saving power and goodness. My heart from its fulness was ready to burst forth into praise, and to unite with all the hosts of heaven in glorifying His name. On earth I had aspired to a higher and nobler life, expecting to find the wants of my soul satisfied, here these wants were fully met; every desire was satisfied ; this indeed was heaven; this indeed was bliss, and I was contented and prepared to spend eternity. Oh, the rapture that filled my soul! That this was the state into which the righteous entered at death I had often declared and argued, and now I was found to be right in the convictions I had held. Oh, how I prayed within myself that all the sincere followers of Jesus might hold fast to the same belief, and live and labour in the strength and joy of it!
What thoughts passed through my mind respecting those I had left behind on earth! 'I felt sure they were mourning my loss, as I had also when in their state, mourned the loss of my beloved daughter. I fancied I saw the big tear rolling down the cheek, the sorrowful
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
countenance, and the sombre mourning garb! But O how I desired the opportunity and privilege of communicating with them to tell them of the ineffable bliss and the glorious company I enjoyed, so that instead of shedding tears over my departure they might be led to sing for joy; and instead of wearing sombre habiliments they might dress themselves in the gayest apparel; and instead of being sorrowful they might be comforted and be led to thank God that one of theirs had gone before them to the realms of the blessed. But there was no such communication afforded. Why it was denied I did not inquire, nor did it even cause me regret. That I had been so suddenly separated from my family and relatives, whom I loved most devotedly, caused me not the slightest sorrow, for my soul was so full of bliss that there was no room for any kind of regret whatever. I was certain that if my family and relatives knew the glory of the state in which I was they would be contented and happy; and would be led to work their work, and bear their burden of life with patience and resignation, and sing for joy because of the glory which they in the course of time would also soon be admitted. Their absence did not grieve me because I now enjoyed fully and truly that which they also believed existed, but could not describe.
While this train of thought was passing through my mind, and the angels who delivered me at death were conducting me through the realms of glory, I awoke, and found it was a dream. The inexpressible
I bliss which I felt when traversing those realms of glory with my delivering angels still thrilled my soul, and I was deeply sorry to find myself still in the “ earthly house of this tabernacle !"
Since I had this dream I have ever felt heaven to be very near; my labour for the Master to be easy and light, and the world far more beautiful than before. That some besides myself may also find comfort and encouragement in their trials and labour from the narration of this dream is the only motive for its publication by
NOTES FOR THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
INTERNATIONAL SERIES OF LESSONS. August 1. THE WATER OF LIFE.—John iv. 1-15. Jesus had been immersed by John, the Spirit of God had descended npon Him, He had fasted forty days in the wilderness, being tempted of the devil, and John had been cast into prison. Matt. ïïi., iv. Jesus had taken up the preaching and baptizing, and it was reported that He had baptized more Disciples than John. John iv. 1. He had preached in Judea over seven months (from the Passover to December), v. 35.
“ Must needs go through Samaria." Why? Not in order to get to Galilee, as there was another way. We know of no other necessity than that of His meeting the “Woman of Samaria,” thus to give early instruction that the despised Samaritans were not excluded from the love and salvation of God. Sychar”-anciently called Shechem, or Sichem, where God promised to give the land to Abraham and his seed, Gen. xii.; a dwelling place of Jacob, Gen. xxxiii; the bones of Joseph buried there, Joshua xxiv. Now called Nablons from Neapolis, which signifies New Town, a name given by the Romans who rebuilt it. " Jacob's well.” Not mentioned in Old Testament. “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” The Samaritans descended from the mixed race of whom we read. 2 Kings xvii. 24-34. The strife between them and the Jews most likely dated from the time when they were prohibited from