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Observer, Mar. 1, '76.
upon how we read and hear the Words of God; upon the life wrought out here. The sword of the spirit is tempered thoroughly for our use, ready at all times to do good service.
“For the warfare gird it on;
Lay it by!
Mighty sword!” With this weapon, the Word of the living God, we have to guard our lives. Let us desire the Pure Word as the infant its mother's milk, in order that we may grow thereby. While in the world let us not be of it. As some in Sardis kept their garments undefiled so have we to tread this earth in order to receive
“the raiment given of God, Wrought of pure linen clean, and white, Fit for the eye of God to see,
Meet for His home of holy light." “Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain."--If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. “ Watch and pray lest thou enter into temptation." “Watch ye, stand fast, quit you like men.” By thus hearing what the spirit says we shall fulfill the apostolic injunction--"Be strong."
Love, fidelity, watchfulness, prayerfulness, purity and zeal are the Lord's requirements from all who have taken His name upon them. These are lessons culled from the mere surface of the seven letters to the Asiatic churches ; the hungering student who dives deeper down will find ample repayment.
These are stirring times, startling events follow quickly one upon another. God is working mightily among the people, and the call to the Church is—take unto you the whole armour of God, wield the sword of the spirit, " keep it free from earthly rust." Let the nations see thy beauty that they may desire it-that the Lord may use thee in His great work. Let not the crown be lost by coldness or negligence.
Grudge not the heavy cost,
Faint not at labour here,
The day of rest is near.
Give in the joy of love ;
Thy recompence above;
That poor weak deed of thine ;
Eternal and divine." “ He that hath an ear let him hear, what the Spirit saith to the churches." Birmingham
Observer, Mar. 1, '75.
CHURCH INCREASE. The year ending last August shows considerable increase in our number, for which we thank God and take courage. But is it what we ought to expect ? Considering the labour and money expended, I think you will agree with me when I say the results are amazingly small, and that no true follower of the Lord Jesus ought to rest satisfied with our present rate of increase. If our position be a right one-if we preach the truth-then how is it that we make not greater progress ? Some may say the gospel has done its work, we must look after other means; the Lord must come and do the work. From this I entirely dissent. If I thought so I would give up preaching and turn attention to something else. I believe with all my heart that the work of the gospel will never be done while there remains a soul to be saved ; and, further, I believe that there is a brighter day in store for our dark and benighted world ; and there appears to me, in the various movements now taking place, signs of its coming, and of the going forth of the gospel chariot over all the systems and kingdoms of the world. It will not do to excuse our slow progress on the ground that the gospel has lost its power, for it is as life-giving and soul-saving as when first made known ; it is still the incorruptible seed of the truth that liveth and abideth for ever; it is still the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit, and when used faithfully and well will produce the same results as at the first. I venture to suggest that what we now need is more individual effort—that is to say, that every one professing the name of Christ should be a missionary, telling to sinners round what a dear Saviour he has found. Among the various sects the minister is everything, and : the large majority of ordinary members do nothing towards evangelizing the world. I am led sometimes to inquire, how far we are better than they? I think I detect a proneness to lean too much on the Evangelist. The feeling on the part of some is something like this: “Well, now that we have an Evangelist with us, we can rest on our oars awhile.” Now if the presence of an Evangelist causes the church to fold its arms and sit at ease, then he becomes an evil rather than a blessing. The visit of an Evangelist ought to increase rather than diminish the efforts of the brethren. They should be on the look-out for openings and opportunities for him to sow the good seed of the kingdom beside all waters. Little differences and difficulties should be forgotten and all should strive together for the faith of the gospel. This done, far greater results would be accomplished. Permit me to draw your attention to a few facts which to my mind illustrate and enforce the importance of personal effort. There is the case of the man cured by the Saviour (Mark v.) This poor sufferer, possessed with a legion of demons, was driven to worse than madness, and no man could tame him. Jesus saw him and bade the demons depart, and he at once came to his right mind. Out of gratitude he besought the Saviour to allow him to remain with Him. But Jesus said, “ go home and tell thy friends how great things the Lord hath done for thee and hath had compassion on thee.” The Lord has done far more for us than what he did for this poor man, and surely the like exhortation comes to us with ten-fold force. Yes we are to tell the good news of a
Observer, Mar. 1, 75.
Saviour's love in our homes, among our relatives. Christian parents, do you talk to your children about the great things the Lord has done for you? Christian husband, do you talk to your undecided wife about the great compassion the Lord has bad upon you ? Christian wife, do you seek to speak to your ungodly husband about the great things the Lord has done for you? Christian workmen, do you look for suitable opportunities to talk about Jesus and His wonderful love and unbounded compassion that He has had towards you and all mankind ? O surely did we publish the good news of a Saviour's love to our relatives, friends and neighbours, the good Lord would bless our efforts, and our children would becoms His children, and our relatives would be related to Him by a living faith; then should we all rejoice together. The next case is that of Levi (Luke v.) A remarkable instance this of faith in the Lord. Levi is sitting at the receipt of custom, attending to his business, and Jesus says unto him “Follow me; " he left all, rose up and followed Him." He does not seem to hesitate. He left at once his lucrative calling and followed the Lord. We read in the next verse—“And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house, and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them." Levi did not believe in secret discipleship, he was anxious to gather a company of his own business men, so that Jesus might discourse to them on the things of eternal life. What a noble example. I suppose he had a two-fold object in view; first, to do honor to the Saviour, for he was the principal guest; secondly, to bring others into contact with Him. This is an age of feasting and banquet, but how very few feasts there are of the same type as this feast. There are very many feasts which Jesus never attends, simply because He is never invited. My soul, come not thou unto their assemblies.” Brethren, in all our feastings let us take care to have the presence of the Master; then it will be a feast indeed. Levi ceased to be a gatherer of taxes and wanted to be a gatherer of souls. He spared neither trouble nor expense to accomplish his purpose. Cannot we do as did Levi, make a great feast and invite the outcast and the perishing ones, that they may not only eat of the bread that perisheth, but hear about that Bread of Life that came down from heaven, which if any man eat thereof he shall live for ever. Let us show to our friends, our neighbours, our countrymen, that we are really in earnest about this matter of salvation; that to be saved is the first, the greatest, object in life, and that we are ready and willing to make sacrifice and endure self-denial so that others may rejoice with us in a knowledge of sins forgiven and acceptance with God.
Then there is the woman of Samaria (John iv.) This woman came under the gaze of the great Searcher of hearts, and He revealed to her her true condition. They had never met before, yet He knew all about her, her name, abode, past history, and the sad life of sin she was then living. So astonished was she that she forgot her errand, left her waterpot, and returned to the city, a missionary, saying, “Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?” Moved by her appeal a company return with her, and the result was that Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I
did." Brethren can we not bear the same testimony as did this woman? Surely we know far more of Jesus than she did. We have seen farther into His loving heart and know more of His word. He has told us all things that ever we did ; and, bless His holy name, He has blotted out of His book of remembrance all our bad past, and we can sing :
“I came to Jesus and I drank of that life-giving stream,
And now I live in Him." But are we doing as this woman did? Are we saying to our fellowmen, Come see this man through whom is preached the forgiveness of sins ? If we are, I know no reason why the same results should not be produced. The woman said, “ Come see,” not “ Go." It was not, Well I have been and got a blessing, now you go and get the same.
Come," I will take you, I will go with you, I will be your guide. Let us go to friends, neighbours, relatives, and even to strangers, and say, “Come thou with us and we will do thee good, for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.” We can all do this. It is not the work of the Evangelist only. It is the work of all the regenerated. The only qualification needed is love to Christ and a heart filled with sympathy for the lost and for those who are out of the way. The poor as well as rich, the illiterate as well as the educated, females as well as males, can all join in this important mission. For “ The Spirit and the bride say come, and let him that heareth say come." Depend upon it if we attend to this work God will bless us and we shall experience the joy of knowing that Jehovah is pleased to crown our feeble efforts with success.
“ And they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word," and it was this everywhere preaching the word that caused the church to increase mightily.
There is one other case that I must mention. It relates more to the church and to our duty to one another. At the first interview which our Lord had with His disciples after His resurrection Thomas was absent. We do not know the cause of his absence. It is hardly likely that he was ignorant of the meeting.
But from some cause Thomas was absent and so lost a great blessing. The other disciples went to him and said “ We have seen the Lord.” How often have we seen the Lord at the weekly prayer meeting; and what a precious hour that has been to us-a season of refreshing from the Lord, a light by the way, a stream of living water in the midst of a sandy and parched desert, at which we have drank and gone on our way rejoicing; and yet it is lamentably true that many come to the prayer meeting so seldom, and that some we never see there. These brethren know not their loss. We, who do attend, can tell something of it, by the great gain it
Let us do with them as the disciples did with Thomas, look them
up, visit them, talk with them about it, and tell them how we have seen the Lord at the prayer meeting. Then again we see the Lord when we gather at His table; O yes, and a most precious and endearing sight do we get of Him there. He makes Himself known to us in the breaking of bread. We gaze upon that thorn-crowned brow. We
See from His head, His hands and foot,
is to us.
and as we look are compelled to exclaim,
Did e'er such love or sorrow meet,
And thorns compose so rich a crown? In all this we are taught the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and we covenant afresh to battle with it wherever we find it. We also see the infinite love of our dear Redeemer, and we covenant afresh to love Him more and to serve Him better. We thus meet together to show forth our Lord's death, that we may go into the world to show forth His life. Notwithstanding all this there are many who stay away from the Lord's feast. Surely they think not of the loss they sustain ! Let those of us who do value this privilege seek out those who do not, and lovingly talk to them about the necessity of availing themselves of these means of peace, that they also may rejoice with that joy that flows from the knowledge that we are doing the things well-pleasing to our Heavenly Father. We are to a large extent our brother's keeper, and we ought to watch over each other with a godly jealousy. Our religion is personal. I cannot be religious for my brother. We are saved one by one. We shall die one by one. We shall be rewarded one by one. To all who have done well the Master will say, Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Let every Christian this year determine in God's name and strength, to bring at least one soul to the Saviour. Then shall those who are spared to see another Annual Meeting be able to thank God that a large number have been added to the saved.
A FORTNIGHT WITH MOODY AND SANKEY.
EDITORS, generally, have deemed it desirable to discuss the merits of the current revivalistic operations. We had no intention to deal with the subject, but numerous requests seem to demand some measure of attention in that direction. Having attended nearly the whole of the meetings held by our two American friends, during their stay in Birmingham, we shall note events as they passed under our observation,
THE FACTS. The Meetings commenced on Lord's day, January 16, in the Town Hall, at eight o'clock in the morning. Admission by ticket issued only to " Christian Workers.” The ball, which seats 3,000 people, was filled before the time announced. Mr. Moody gave an earnest address to believers. The hymns sung by Mr. Sankey and those by the audience were selected to accord with the discourse. At three o'clock the hall was crammed in every part. There could not have been less than 4,000 present, and apparently there were as many who could not get in. A church opposite was thrown open, and an address given by the Curate; the Moody and Sankey Hymn-book being used. In the evening Bingley Hall was filled an hour before the time; and, perhaps, such an indoor meeting was never before addressed in England. The hall is a vast building erected for Cattle Shows, and holds somė 16,000 persons. Crowds could not obtain admission, and another meeting was opened in the neighbourhood.