A Funeral Sermon by Elder John Kline.
At the Burial of Mrs. Lauck, Feb. 7.
TEXT.—Man that is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.—Job 14:1, 2.
The bulk of Divine Truth is addressed to our faith. We are not expected to receive it as we receive knowledge that is based upon our own experience, or upon the experience of others. God expects us to take his Word for the truth of what he says, whether we fully understand it or not. He addresses our faith, as a father does his child when he seeks to inculcate some truth or principle which the child cannot fully comprehend. But the text selected for this occasion is not of this character. It is addressed to our knowledge and every day's observation and experience. We have only to look at ourselves and at others to see and feel the truth that it tells. It is not, therefore, given to teach, so much as to remind us of what, in the busy whirl of life, we may for a time partially forget. The benefit of being reminded of our mortality comes to us in the way of leading us to seek for something better than this world can give.
The phraseology of the text is exquisitely beautiful. Notice the smoothness of its rhythm, the simplicity of its style, the harmony of its cadences: "Man that is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble." This is the direct opposite of what all naturally desire. All living human beings would rejoice in a life of many days, exempt from trouble. "He cometh forth like a flower."
"They bloom in beauty, side by side; They fill one home with glee."
This is pleasant to contemplate; and if the beauty could but last, forever free from all decay, few would wish for aught of life or love beyond the things of time and sense. But, alas! "he is cut down—" and soon
"Their graves are severed far and wide, By mount, and stream, and sea;"
and these graves all tell a tale of buried hopes, buried love, buried peace.
"The same fond mother bent at night O'er each fair sleeping brow; She had each folded flower in sight: Where are those dreamers now!"
We can but sigh our sadness in the closing lines of this beautiful poem—
"Alas, for love! if thou wert all; And naught beyond, O earth!"
Thus do Inspiration and Poetry alike paint the sombre realities of life and death; and point to death as the doom of life.
But I do not love to dwell upon these sad scenes, and will turn your attention at once to a birth that knows no death, to a flower that never fades, to a beauty that knows no decay. And can this be true? Can it be that there is a deathless life, a fadeless flower, a shadowless beauty? It may be that some of you are skeptical about things like these. You may have the unbelief that held the heart of Aaron Burr's daughter against all comfort, when she saw her son die. In her agony of despair she cried out: "Omnipotence itself can never restore to me what I have lost in my only boy."
Your faces may be turned the wrong way. You may be like Lot's wife, looking back. And one might just as well talk to a pillar of salt about the glory, and the beauty, and the bliss of the eternal state of the righteous after death, as to talk to men whose backs are heavenward and their faces earthward. You have no eyes in the back part of your heads. Your ears are set to hear what is said to your face, and to catch the sounds that meet you in front. You must turn yourselves round. And more than all this, you must open the eyes of your understandings that the light may shine in, and take the wads of earthly wax out of your ears that you may hear the Savior's words of "spirit and life," and loose the strings of your hearts that the good and truth of God's Word may enter. If you will do this I will show you wonderful things. I will show you a fountain from which, if you drink, you will never thirst again. Not like the fabled "Fountain of Youth," which many sought, but never found. The fountain I mean has been found by millions of the human race. It has quenched their thirst forever.
Do not, I beseech you, understand me to mean that one drink of its water is sufficient to do this. No! no! But I do mean that after you have come to the spring and taken one drink it is your privilege to stay by it forever: nay, more; the spring, like the Rock in the wilderness, will follow you wherever you go; and by and by a spring will be opened up in your own heart, flowing with the same sweet water of everlasting Life, and then you can sing:
"I heard the voice of Jesus say, Behold, I freely give The Living Water: thirsty one, Stoop down and drink, and live.
"I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream: My thirst was quenched; my soul revived: And now I live in Him."
But I will show you bread also. It is wonderful bread. The Israelites, many centuries ago, kept a representation of this bread upon the table connected with their altar of worship; and they called it "showbread," because it showed something to come. A kind of bread also fell upon the face of the ground all around them, when they were encamped in the wilderness; and they called it "MANNA." They gathered this in the morning, and the supply never failed. But it did not keep them from dying. They died all the same as if they had lived on wheat bread, as we do. It is of this that Jesus says: "Your fathers did eat of the manna in the wilderness, and they died." But our Lord, in speaking of the Bread of Life, which is none other than the great love of God in Christ Jesus, says: "This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall LIVE FOREVER."
Live forever! Does not that sound pleasant in your ears? Does it not have the note of solid comfort? If you believe it, it does. It is on this account that our Lord says so much about FAITH. Faith makes a man thirsty for the water of eternal life, and faith makes a man hungry for the bread of eternal life. Millions in heaven to-day, each one out of his own heart, can sing:
"I heard the voice of Jesus say: I am the Bread of Life: Eat of this Bread, O hungry one, And have eternal life.
"I took the Bread he gave me then: My hungry soul it fed; For this, he said, I gave my life, And on the cross I bled."
When our Lord was on earth he spoke to the people and to his disciples mostly in parables. In fact we are told that "without a parable spake he not unto them." It is from this that so many similitudes, and metaphors, and figures of speech are found in the New Testament. Thus, water and wine, in many places, mean divine truth; and bread means divine love. And now I will venture to make a statement for the consideration of every thinking mind in this house—a statement which, if it be true, is of infinite and eternal importance—and it is this: Love and truth support and keep life in man's spirit, just as bread and water support and keep life in man's body.
Jesus said to the tempter: "Man does not live by bread alone." Do any of you suppose that Jesus meant to inform the devil that man needs other kinds of food in addition, such as meats, and fruits, and vegetables? He had no such thought. He did not mean to inform or instruct the devil by anything he said to him. But he did mean to teach his tried and tempted followers to the end of time that love and truth are the very life and support of man's spirit. "My words," says he, "are spirit, and they are life." Man may love, and ardently love, what is evil. But divine truth tells him what to love. Hence our Lord's answer is about equivalent to this: "Man does not live by bread [love] alone; but by [water also, which is the truth of] every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
And now, in conclusion, I will ask you, friends, do any of you desire everlasting life? If you do, I say unto you, Come to Jesus. Accept his love. He loved you "and gave himself for you." Accept him by faith. He is the Bread of eternal Life. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." He invites you to come and take of the water of life freely. This water is none other than the truth of his Word. Be filled with it. Be immersed in it. As a most impressive emblem of your willingness to be thus, submit to the ordinance of baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
By your immersion in the name of the Father you declare to the world, and say to the church that you believe that God the Father loves you, and wills your salvation; that you accept his love in faith, and prove your faith by this act. By your immersion in the name of the Son you profess your faith in the efficacy and sufficiency of what Jesus Christ did to save you, that he is the Word made flesh, and that men should honor him, even as they honor the Father. By your immersion in the name of the Holy Ghost you profess your faith in the power and everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart, to lead you into all truth, to make you more and more holy by means of this truth, until you are filled with it, thoroughly leavened with "the leaven of truth and sincerity." The Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of Truth," and "if the truth make you free, ye shall be free indeed;" free from falsities in your faith. What benefit can there be in believing what is not true? Whoever yet found any substantial good in believing a delusion, a falsehood, an error? But we do read of some who "believe a lie that they may be damned." This sounds rough I know; but it is their own fault, because they love a lie; and "whosoever loveth a lie" is excluded, shut out of the Holy City, because nothing but truth and love can enter there. I again call upon every one here present to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and, believing, he shall have life in his name.
AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT.
The following encouraging thought comes into Brother Kline's mind in connection with a review of his work on Lost river. It is dated:
SUNDAY, February 18. One man may sometimes strike a hard stone a good many times without breaking it; when another may take the same hammer, strike it in a slightly different place, or in a different way, and it falls to pieces. It may be that the first man's strokes accomplished more than he knew of. The force of his blows may have diminished the solidity of the stone, and thus made it easier for the second man to break. If I cannot see much fruit of my labor here now, perhaps some, who will come after me, may.
SUNDAY, April 22. Brother Kline and Daniel Miller had meeting in a place among the mountains in Hardy County, Virginia, called the Cove. This consists of an area of country so nearly enclosed by mountains of a somewhat circular form that it has but one outlet both for its streams and its inhabitants. Viewed from the summit of some neighboring peak it has the appearance of a vast amphitheatre whose dome is the sky, whose floor is a variegation of corn and wheat fields interspersed with beautiful green meadows, and whose walls are the substantial mountain masonry of nature's own sublime art. Here these two beloved brethren broke the Bread of Life to a small gathering of people, mostly residents of the place we have described.
Acts 3 was read. After many instructive remarks by Brother Kline concerning the great Prophet spoken of in the latter part of the chapter, Brother Daniel Miller followed with a brief discourse, so clear, so pointed, so forcible, that I will give his remarks as nearly as I can in the order and manner in which he presented them.
He first endeavored to draw the attention of the unconverted part of the audience specifically to these words: "Every soul, which will not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed." "I know of no expression in the Bible," said he, "more sharply pointed than this. The word 'destroyed,' as here used, does not mean blotted out of existence. But it does mean cast out as evil, unfit for the companionship of God's people in heaven. In much the same sense of the word it is said that intemperance destroys men. It unfits them for the duties of life, and for the society of the pure and the good.
"A ship may be said to be destroyed even though its dismantled hulk still floats upon the sea, borne by the waves and driven by the winds. A fruit tree is destroyed when a worm, secretly gnawing at its root, girdles it with a belt of deadness. It may still stand, but fruitless and lifeless. An eye is destroyed when it becomes so far injured by disease or accident as to be forever out of the reach of power to restore its sight.
"And is this the sense in which every soul will be destroyed who refuses to hear this Prophet? Most assuredly it is. O, friends, how shall I tell you the difference between a soul saved and a soul destroyed? The one is forever happy, the other forever miserable. The one is an eye that sees and enjoys all the beauties of earth and sky, the other is an eye forever blind. The one is an ear that will forever hear the melodies of heaven, the other is an ear forever deaf to all but the wailings of hell. The one is a ship completely rigged and fitted to bear herself nobly and safely over the surging surface of a stormy sea, the other, a floating hulk; mastless, sailorless, only waiting to be cast upon some desert shore to rot.
"But no one can ever have a just excuse for being thus destroyed; for it is plain that whosoever hears this Prophet shall be saved. Jesus Christ is a wonderful Savior. 'He is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him.' Will not you come? 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.' The text does not say that GOD will destroy every soul that will not hearken to that Prophet. I do not believe that this is meant. Our Lord says in one place: 'Fear him, who, after he hath killed the body, is able to destroy both soul and body in hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.' Who is this that is thus to be feared? I tell you that it is SIN, impersonated in the devil. Sin, SIN is what is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Sin, disobedience to God, transgression of God's law, has placed the seal of death upon every living human body in the world; and sin has stamped the seal of death upon every unsaved soul in hell.
"O friends, I am afraid of sin. I am afraid to disobey my God and Savior. I am more afraid of sin than I would be of smallpox in an infected district. I am more afraid of sin than I would be of leprosy on the plains of Syria. That or this could only kill my body; but SIN is able to destroy both my soul and body in hell.
"It is plain that to hear the voice of that Prophet, who is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, to hear his voice with an ear to find out what he says and what he wants us to do, and then in love and faith to do it, is the only way any soul has by which to escape the threatened destruction. I wish that I could implant in the heart of every sinner here to-day such a fear of sin and its awful consequences as would lead him to flee for refuge, to lay hold of the hope set before us in the Gospel. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is this house of refuge. Sinner, come to him. No, no! You need not do that, for he comes to you, and you only need rise up and open the door and let him in."
A SINGULAR PHENOMENON.
FRIDAY, June 1. This day, says the Diary, I witnessed a very wonderful appearance about the sun. About eleven o'clock I saw a bright circle around the sun like a rainbow, with the sun in the center. At the same time there was another circle somewhat larger than this, on the west side of the sun; and the east side of this ring rested upon the face of the sun. At the points where the rings crossed each other there was a peculiar brightness and blending of colors. The whole was a sublime and beautiful sight.
Sermon by Benjamin Bowman.
Preached in Brock's Gap, Virginia, June 17.
TEXT.—There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God.—Heb. 4:9.
FROM NOTES IN THE DIARY.
We are informed by the Apostle of the Gentiles that the sojourn of the children of Israel in the wilderness and the subsequent dealings of Jehovah with them were examples to us who live under the gospel dispensation. These examples comprise two great facts:
I. Their obedience was always attended with blessings.
II. Their disobedience was always attended with sufferings.
These two great facts comprehend the all of man's life and experience in both worlds, from the alpha to the omega. I am well aware that many in this assembly are not Bible readers. I will therefore give you a brief sketch of the children of Jacob or Israel as I find it in the books of Moses and the book of Joshua, which comprise the first six books of the Bible.
Jacob, who is also called Israel, was the grandson of Abraham. He had twelve sons, of whom Joseph was the next to the youngest. These twelve sons, with their descendants through all time, are called the children of Israel. Later on they are also called Jews. The Jews of the present day claim to be the descendants of these twelve sons of Jacob or Israel. Joseph's older brothers became envious of him and sold him to a company of merchants who carried him into Egypt. Here he was elevated by the Lord to a position of great power, to a place and power next to the king on his throne.
Soon after this a very grievous famine came upon the land of Canaan, the country in which Israel, with his other sons, still lived. They heard that there was plenty of food in Egypt, and so Jacob sent his sons there to buy grain for bread. When they arrived in Egypt, to their great surprise, they found their brother Joseph there, whom they had sold to the merchants for thirty pieces of silver. He received them kindly, supplied their immediate wants, and very soon made arrangements for them and their father Jacob to come down to Egypt and live with him. And Jacob went down into Egypt and lived with his son Joseph till he died.
These Israelites grew and multiplied in Egypt until they became a great people. But the time came when the Egyptians oppressed them, laying heavy burdens upon them; and treated them as slaves. At this time the Lord said to Moses: I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt; and I now send thee thither to bring them out of that land, and into a land that I will tell thee of. Under the leadership of Moses, the most interesting and instructive part of their history is found.
After a succession of miracles, wrought by Jehovah through Moses, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, agreed to let them go. But they had to pass through a desert and uninhabited country, which lay between Egypt and the land of Canaan. Pharaoh knew this, and to get revenge for the way the Lord had compelled him to let them go he gathered a very large army and pursued after them. Just at the time Pharaoh thought he had them in his power, and when the whole camp of Israel trembled with fear of being suddenly destroyed by the hosts of the Egyptians, the Lord opened a passage for the children of Israel through the
The Red Sea, at this place, had a very smooth bottom of sand, as has been discovered since, although it is very deep, and perhaps twenty miles across. The water stood like a wall on both sides of this passage. Some of you may think this could not be. I will here relate the substance of a conversation, which is said to have really taken place between the first English minister to Siam, and the king of that country. Siam is a very hot country in the south part of Asia. There is never any winter, or even cool weather, in that country. So the people there know nothing of ice, and even the king himself had never heard of any such thing. The English minister told him many things about England and other countries, and among other things referred to the effect of cold upon water, that it makes it hard.
"You do not say," said the king, "that water gets hard in your country!" "Indeed I do," said the minister. "It sometimes gets so hard all over the surface of broad rivers and lakes that men, and even heavy beasts, may walk upon it with dry feet; and if your heavy elephants were there, even they could walk upon the hard water too." "I have, thus far," replied the king, "been willing to listen to you, and believe what you say; but now I know you lie."
So it may be with some who read or hear the story of the children of Israel. They may think it all reasonable and fair enough, until they come to the passage through the Red Sea: there faith stumbles and falls. But we must never forget that all things, not self-contradictory, are possible with God. It is just as possible and easy for him to crystallize the billows of an ocean as to freeze a drop of dew on a blade of grass. At the command of Moses they enter this avenue through the deep, walled by the waves, and roofed by the sky. Surely no eyes but theirs ever witnessed so sublime a sight.
"Water to right of them; Water to left of them; Water in front of them;"
while over their heads passed the cloud of Jehovah's presence and glory to follow in their rear; at once to hide them from the sight, and to shield them from the attack of the enemy that was pursuing them. I can hardly ever read this simple statement without a tear. The kindness, the love of the Lord in thus placing himself between his children and their enemies, like as a tender father would shield his offsprings from danger, always melts my heart. But this is just the way the Lord always does. If his own dear people will but shelter under his wings, the devil will never be able to get one of them.
Some of you may wonder why the Lord did not close up the way behind them, after they were all in, so that Pharaoh and his hosts would be compelled to stay back. But God knew best. He is wiser than men. He allowed the Egyptian army to enter. They followed just as close behind the Israelites as the Lord would let them come. The way was still open, and Pharaoh, no doubt, thought the way as free for him, and quite as safe too, as for Moses. His intention was to slaughter the whole camp of Israel as soon as his army got through. But see how he failed! The salvation of Moses was the destruction of Pharaoh. When the children of Israel had all reached the land in safety they ascended the hills on the shore to look back at the long train of Pharaoh's host. But what did their eyes behold! All at once the walls of water broke down; and the sea closed over them.
It seems strange to us now that Pharaoh would venture to follow the Israelites. We now think he might have known it would prove his own destruction. But this is one example of the folly of which Satan is always guilty. At the very time he thinks victory is within his grasp disappointment and defeat overtake him. Let me show you another instance of this.
For some time he had been plotting the destruction of our Lord Jesus Christ. One time he tried to have him cast down a very steep place on the side of a hill. But he failed. At another time he tried to have him stoned to death. But the Lord escaped out of his hands. At last, however, he succeeded in having him put to death. He entered into the heart of a man by the name of Judas, and made arrangements with him to betray our Lord into the hands of his enemies. The plot was successful, and when Satan saw our Lord expiring on the cross he felt jubilant over the victory he had gained, in the belief that he had now rid the world of its most dangerous foe to his kingdom. But you see how it turned out. The resurrection and glorification of our Lord have given such a deathblow to Satan's power that, after awhile, the eyes of all heaven will see that old Serpent, the devil, and Satan cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
After the children of Israel all got through the Red Sea they formed a camp on its eastern shore, and each family prepared the food they had brought with them to eat. But the supply soon gave out, and as there was none to be had in the desert where they were encamped they began to fear that they must all starve. They complained to Moses, and he carried their complaints to the Lord. Very soon the manna began to fall in abundance.
This was a kind of bread which fell all over the ground at night, and looked like hoar-frost. They gathered it every morning, except the morning of the Sabbath day. It was just what they needed to satisfy their hunger and impart health and strength to their bodies.
The Lord also caused a great spring of fresh water to burst out of a solid rock near the camp; and thus they were supplied with water.
We can hardly see how these people could ever turn against the Lord and become unthankful and disobedient toward him after he had been so kind and done so much for them. But they became so. They even went so far as to make a golden calf to worship instead of Jehovah, who had brought them through the Red Sea. For this they were sorely punished.
After awhile Moses died, and Joshua led them into the land of Canaan, after they had wandered about in the wilderness under Moses for the space of forty years. The land of Canaan was a good land, flowing with milk and honey, and if they had been willing to serve the Lord by obeying his commands they would have found rest and peace. But they never found either rest or peace, because they were never able to drive their enemies from the land. They found many enemies in the land when they entered it, and on account of their disobedience to the Lord they were unable to rid the land of Canaan of them. This is what is meant by the verse that next precedes my text: "For if Joshua had given them rest, the Lord would not have spoken of another day."
But as Joshua failed to do this, on account of their disobedience, we have the words of the text: "There remaineth therefore a rest unto the people of God." But where is that rest? In the beautiful lines of Montgomery we ask:
"Oh, where shall rest be found? Rest for the weary soul: 'Twere vain the ocean's depth to sound; Or pierce to either pole. This world can never give The rest for which we sigh."
Where may be found that favored spot in whose delightful shade the soul may fold her wings and be at rest? I imagine that some of you are now saying to yourselves, "This rest is in heaven." In this you are right, in one sense. Heaven is a place of rest to those who are prepared for it. But let me say to you in all candor and love that heaven is rest only to those who first find rest here in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is now calling to every sin-burdened sinner: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The hardened unbeliever could no more be happy in heaven, even if allowed to enter there, than a fish could be happy out of water. Heaven is not the sinner's element. Besides, an unconverted sinner can never get there.
"Those holy gates forever bar Pollution, sin, and shame; For none can find admittance there, But followers of the Lamb."
Rest must first be found in Jesus by coming to him, accepting his yoke, and working in his service. And to encourage all to do this he himself says: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If you want to find out how easy his yoke is, and how light his burden, take it upon you, and see if it does not give your soul rest.
I sincerely believe that Charles Wesley, long ago, gave expression to feelings similar to those of some in this house, in the lines of a beautiful hymn, a part of which I will repeat. See if it does not find an echo in your soul:
"O, that my load of sin were gone! O, that I could at last submit, At Jesus' feet to lay it down! To lay my soul at Jesus' feet!
"Rest for my soul, I long to find: Savior of all, if mine thou art, Give me thy meek and lowly mind; And stamp thine image on my heart.
"Break off the yoke of inbred sin: And fully set my spirit free: I cannot rest till pure within: Till I am wholly lost in thee."
You will realize the truthfulness of every one of these lines by coming to Jesus and fully consecrating your life to him. But rest does not necessarily imply inactivity. It means a heart and mind at peace. It means a heart filled with love to God and his people. It means a life of good works, wrought in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. This is the rest that remaineth unto the people of God. It begins here; it goes on eternally in the heavens.
THE YELLOW SPRINGS (at present Orkney Springs).
This health and pleasure resort is near the head of Stony Creek, in Shenandoah County, Virginia. It is now universally known by the name of "Orkney Springs." It is beautifully situated near the eastern base of the Church mountain. From the yellow color of the sediment, left by its chalybeate waters, it first got the name of Yellow Springs.
It was, for many years, a favorite health resort for the German population of Rockingham and Shenandoah Counties in Virginia. Almost every Sunday during the "spring season," there would be preaching there by the ever earnest German Baptist Brethren. Attentive audiences would assemble under the shade trees, and on rustic seats listen to the plain but earnest sermons of such men as John Kline, Peter Nead, Samuel Wampler and others. All was quiet and order. But the goddess of fashion soon found her way to this lovely spot, and a long train of worshipers at her shrine, robed in rustling silks and sparkling with jewels, followed her leadings. In a few years not only the character, but the very name of the place was changed. It is at this time a very popular pleasure resort for the rich and fashionable.
On SUNDAY, August 19, Brother Kline delivered a very interesting and instructive discourse at the above-named place. It is with profound emotions of gratitude that I report this sermon. I was there myself and heard it. Whilst I do not retain in memory much of the substance of it, being at the time very young, I do well remember the feelings of veneration and regard for the preacher with which his earnest manner and kind looks impressed me. Little did I then think that fifty-five years from that date I would be expanding that discourse, and thus preparing it for the eyes of the world, from the leaflets of the Diary that was then being faithfully kept by that good man.
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached at Orkney Springs, Sunday, August 19.
TEXT.—Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.—Rev. 22:17.
In view of our surroundings and the attractions that have drawn so many of us to this quiet and beautiful mountain retreat, I feel that the subject selected for to-day suits the occasion.
When I look at a mountain spring and see the wavelets playing on their pebbly beds, or chasing one another down their steep descent, I am ever led to think how free from all the taints of sin these innocent drops of water are! Not one of them has ever transgressed the divine law of its being. Not one has ever failed in a single point to fulfill its mission. Are you thirsty? They never refuse to quench your thirst. Does your field need rain? They never refuse to wet the ground. Always ready, they cheerfully serve the behests of God and man.
The diversity of the applications and uses of water, the variety of its forms—its frozen state in that of ice, its fluid state in that of a liquid, its aeriform state in that of clouds and other modes of atmospheric suspension—all these, together with its transparency and cleansing power make it a most appropriate emblem of DIVINE TRUTH. As such, water is much spoken of by the prophets in the Old Testament, and by our Lord in the New. I will here quote some passages from each:
"Then with gladness shall ye draw waters out of the wells of salvation." Isaiah 12:3. What can be meant by the "wells of salvation," but the fountains of truth in God's Word?
By way of describing the abundance of the supply of truths from this source I will here quote from the forty-first chapter of Isaiah, as follows: "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water: ... that they may see, and know, and consider, and understand." One man is a hillside; another is a valley. One man is a desert; you think he never can be made to produce anything. But he shall be supplied, and thus be made to blossom as the rose. Others are dry land of a general character; but there is water enough to make all fruitful: so that instead of the thorn, the myrtle; and instead of the thistle, the fig; and instead of the deadly upas, the olive shall grow.
In Jeremiah's description of the departure of the Jews from the TRUTHS of God's Word we find the following complaint against them from the mouth of the Lord himself, recorded in Jer. 2:13, "My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." This can mean nothing, spiritually, but a departure from the TRUTH of God as revealed, and substituting in its place some false doctrine of man's own invention.
Jesus said: "If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink." For, said he: "My words are spirit, and they are life." His words are the water of life. This explains my text.
It might surprise some of you if I were to point to that spring yonder and say, "There flows the water of life." But would I not tell the truth? Can man or beast live one moment without it? Let us think a little. What is your blood? It is water, holding in solution the various elements with which your bones, and sinews, and muscles, and nerves, and other tissues of your body are to be supplied and nourished. Can man or beast live a moment without blood? Then they cannot live a moment without water. Can trees and plants live a moment without sap? They cannot, because their sap is their blood. But the water of that spring, indispensable as it is to your bodily life, ceases as to its uses in this respect when this end is met; and if man had no life other than that of mere corporeal or animal existence, no other water would ever be demanded by him. In that case there would be no need of the invitation given in the text.
But every human being has a twofold nature. He has a spiritual body as well as a natural body. Paul says: "If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." Man's natural or physical organization consists of flesh and blood. Paul calls this the "outer man." This is man's animal or sensuous nature. Man's spiritual body consists of will and understanding. Paul calls this the inner man; because it is the interior, "hidden man of the heart." This is capable of becoming the higher, nobler, better part of man, because it is the "house" of his affections and thoughts, of his loves and enjoyments.
There is a wonderful difference between the two natures; and yet the one corresponds to the other so perfectly that in all of man's experiences, in all that pertains to his life in this world, the two natures make one man. Whilst this is so, we must not forget that our natural bodies are mortal; they will soon die. But our spiritual bodies are immortal; they will never die. This is quite as true of the evil as of the good. The spiritual bodies or souls of men will live on, after the death of their natural bodies, through the countless ages of eternity,—the good, in the enjoyments of ineffable bliss; the evil, in the sufferings of deepest woe.
And is this true? Can it be that one or the other of these experiences is sure to be realized by every one present here to-day? Can it be so? Or am I here just beating the air to make you and me hear myself talk? I solemnly protest that I am not here for that purpose. I have a higher aim, a nobler end. But let me point you to my authority for what I say, and show you the Rock on which my faith is built. All the authority which any man dare claim on this subject is found in God's revealed Word. I will here quote a few passages:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.... Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal."
These words are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; he here portrays, in one grand view, the good state of the righteous in the next world and the evil state of the unrighteous. In the very inmost of my heart I believe what our Lord here says, and out of the abundance of my heart my mouth now speaks. I also sincerely believe, friends, that every one here to-day can most surely determine for himself, even while living in this world, whether he will be happy in heaven forever, or miserable in an everlasting hell. You may justly ask, "How can this be determined?"
I answer that a man's life in this world determines this for every individual, as surely as the fruit of a tree makes the quality of the tree known. Notice these passages from Paul's writings: "He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." "God will reward every man according to his works."
Every intelligent man can know with certainty what kind of seed he is sowing. Is he sowing the seeds of love and good will to his neighbor, the seeds of peace, and order, and comfort, the seeds of faith, and hope, and love? He surely can know what his will is, at least; and if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted of a man according to what he hath; and if he does his all it is the widow's mite in God's eye. Every intelligent man can know with certainty whether he loves God or loves him not. His readiness to keep his commandments is the proof of this both ways. I tell you, friends, there is no getting around this. Your obedience to our Lord is the unquestionable and undeviating test of your love. "He that loveth me, keepeth my words. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings." "A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things: but an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth evil things." Is not this plain?
It may now be asked, "How is an evil man to become good?" No question of deeper interest can ever be asked. No answer of deeper importance can ever be given. The Lord direct me in this. Relying on his Word, I answer, that the very first step in the direction of this change is to respond to the invitation given in my text: "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Jesus says to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." To be born of water is to drink of the water of life—the TRUTH of God's Word—by hearing it, by loving it, by believing it, by obeying it, until it makes a new man out of him,—a new man in the image of Christ our Lord.
As a most impressive and appropriate emblem of this change water baptism has been ordained by the Lord; and every convert to Jesus Christ is commanded to submit, cheerfully in love, to this ordinance. Baptism, say what you please, is one of the first fruits of this change. To the church it is the external act of the internal birth. To be born of the Spirit is to live the life and enjoy the blessedness of the kingdom of God, which is a life of righteousness, a life of peace, a life of joy in the Holy Ghost.
All this is effected by taking the water of life freely, by drinking in the TRUTH of God's Word because one loves it, because one desires in the heart to be saved, because one desires in the heart to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
"If any man thirst," says Jesus, "let him come unto me, and drink." The water of this mineral spring here can do no one any good except he drink it. But not one of us can go to that spring yonder and take a drink of water from it without the power of God in us. "In him we live, and move, and have our being." But he gives us the power so freely that in the use of it we are unconscious of any power within us but our own. So with drinking of the water of life. The power of every one to drink is all of the Lord, but is so freely given by him, and so freely used by us, that it is to all intents and purposes the very same as if it were all of ourselves: and this makes us accountable.
Jesus wants every man's will to drink the water of life. A sick man may come here to regain his health. But upon tasting it he may say, "I do not like this water; I have no thirst for it; let me have some of another kind." But his physician says: "You must drink it or you will die." He obeys his physician and drinks the water. After awhile he begins to feel better, and as his health improves the water tastes more natural to him; and by and by, as he regains his health, he loves it and feels loath to leave the spring. But no one ever need leave the fountain of divine love and truth: for if a man drink of it freely to the healing of his soul, it will be in him "a well of water, springing up into everlasting life" and he will love it more and more.
In a large spring you will hardly ever see all the water come from one orifice or opening. It boils up through the sand and pebbles in many places; and one observer will think this the main stream, and another that. So with the water of eternal life. It is not all found in one verse; nor in one chapter: nor in one book even. Jesus said to the devil: "Man liveth by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Ah, friends, time would fail me, were I to attempt to bring to your minds the many precious promises we have in Jesus Christ. His Word is full of them; and I most affectionately exhort every one here to-day to go to that Word and find the water of eternal life.
You may sit by the spring; And in your soul you may sing:
"I heard the voice of Jesus say: Behold, I freely give The Living Water; thirsty one, Stoop down, and drink, and live.
"I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream: My thirst was quenched; my soul revived; And now I live in him."
DIRECT FROM THE DIARY.
THURSDAY, October 4, 1838. Attended the funeral of one of Brother Christian Niswander's sons. His age was thirteen years and one month.
MONDAY, October 8. Attended the funeral of another one of Christian Niswander's children to-day. Age, nine years, nine months and twenty-one days.
SUNDAY, October 14. I attended the funeral of Susanna, daughter of Brother Christian Niswander, to-day. She was fifteen years and nearly seven months old. This is the third child that this deeply bereaved family have been called to part with in the brief space of ten days. Gladly would we pour into their bleeding bosoms the oil of consolation. We weep with them that weep. Our tears mingle with theirs. We lead the way with them to the throne of grace. Our Father on high, pity them, and do for them exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. Help them to feel that their dear children are not dead; that their deathless spirits have soared above all sickness, sorrow, pain and death. Thus we pray, and thus we try to comfort. But our feeble, tender, sympathizing natures sink under the load of grief; and the eye of faith but feebly catches the rays of hope that beam from the pages of Heavenly Truth. Verily, here we see through a glass darkly.
Sermon by Elder Daniel Garber.
Preached at Arnold's Meetinghouse, Sunday, October 28.
This sermon was delivered in the course of a visit brethren Kline and Garber were making among the churches and Brethren in Hampshire County, West Virginia. They left home October 25, and returned October 31, by way of Moorefield and the South Fork in Pendleton County, West Virginia.
TEXT.—Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love.—Eph. 5:1, 2.
Some one has said of this letter to the Ephesians that it is the whole Gospel in a nutshell. This may be true; but I must confess for myself that in some parts the shell is so very hard, that in my efforts to crack it the broken fragments, under the hammer of investigation, fly out of sight, with the kernel still sticking in them. It may be that Peter had some of these hard shells in mind when he said: "Our beloved brother Paul hath written many things hard to be understood; which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they also do the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." The Lord forbid that I should thus do with any of the Scriptures.
I am delighted to say, in full view of all this, that there is not much danger of the honest seeker for truth being misled by anything Brother Paul has left on record. If there is any danger at all of this kind, I think it is to be found in giving what he says on election and predestination a wrong interpretation. I have been frequently asked how I interpret his strikingly bold utterances on this subject, and how I reconcile them with my belief in the absolute freedom of the human will.
In the first place, I unhesitatingly profess my belief in the absolute freedom of man's will. How else could man comply with the injunction given in the text: "Walk in love?" If he has no will of his own, why give him a command? This freedom of man's will is a logical necessity. Reason demands it. Now, let us look at this a little. If man is not free to choose between good and evil; between right and wrong; between truth and falsity; wherein lies the reasonableness of instructing him? of exhorting him to do what is right, and to shun what is wrong? of commanding him to do good, with promises of reward for his obedience, and threatenings of judgment and fiery indignation as the sure penalties of his disobedience and sin?
Some admit the freedom of man's will to do evil, but not to do good. But do you not see that if this be true man's will is only half free—free to act in one direction, but not in another? On this assumption, where is the reasonableness of giving him admonitions, invitations and entreaties to do good, when he has not the power within him to comply?
You may answer by quoting the Lord's words: "Without me ye can do nothing." I fully believe these words of our Lord. But if you apply them specifically to the will, they prove that men can do neither good nor evil without the Lord. This you may not admit; but I believe it is just what our Lord meant. All life is from him as God. All beings, the evil as well as the good, "live and move in him." I believe that our Lord is, every hour and every moment of every man's life, seeking to turn the heart, the WILL of the man from evil to good, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to himself. "He causeth his sun to rise on the evil and the good; and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust."
The light and heat of the sun, as well as the falling of the rain, are beautiful emblems of the life-giving love of our heavenly Father. He freely imparts the power to every one who hears the words of gospel grace, to love and obey him if he will; to turn from his sins, and walk in newness of life. It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance; and repentance is neither more nor less, and nothing else than a change of one's love or will from evil to good; from the love of self and the world to God supremely.
Thus briefly have I sought to prepare your minds for a few remarks I propose making on the doctrine of election.
Election simply means a choosing. It is an undeniable fact that our Lord Jesus Christ elects, chooses, accepts every one that truly repents or turns his heart from evil to good. "Him that cometh unto me," says he, "I will in no wise cast out." "He that believeth and is baptized, SHALL BE SAVED." "WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take of the water of life freely." TRUTH is the broad platform on which the elect of God forever stand; and LOVE is the golden chain that first drew and forever binds them there.
There is not a living thing upon the face of the earth but is predestinated to a certain end. The horse, in his very creation, is predestinated to be the horse in kind, and to serve the end of his creation; and his nature and characteristics as such admit of no change. Predestination is one of the essentials of God's eternal order. If the horse, or the ox, or anything else which God has created, could be changed from the nature and order of its creation, confusion would be the inevitable result.
I do not wonder that Paul wrote what he did upon predestination, because it implies the immutable, eternal order of God's love and wisdom. Heaven and earth may pass away, but Christ's love shall never pass away from the lowliest and poorest soul that loves and obeys him. His love to Christ is the seal of his predestination to eternal life.
"He that believeth the Son hath life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." This is the sum of election and predestination. God's eternal love has given to man the way of man's salvation. All who choose that way are on that very account elected and predestinated to eternal life in heaven. Elected, because this fits them for heaven: predestinated, because it is God's eternal purpose to save all such. Predestination applies equally to the impenitent; because, according to the same plan and the principles involved in it, they must be forever lost.
Nothing can be more reasonable than that God's elect, the people of his choice, should be holy and without blame before him in love; that they should be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love. This is both the cause and the proof of their election to eternal life.
If you will take the pains to look into a dictionary for the word WALK, you will find that it means: To conduct one's self; to order one's life. Every man feels in himself the power to order his own life according to what is just and right in the sight of God and men. To regard man in any other light would be to place him on a level with the brute. It would be taking away from him his moral feelings, and depriving him of the just exercise of his will through the understanding. Whilst man feels in himself this power, still he must not forget that all life is from God, and that without God man is nothing. "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us." And every true child of his can say: "I love him because he first loved me."
Sinner, let me say to you that God loves you and wills your salvation. But he cannot save you without your will to be saved by him. You must reciprocate his love. You must answer his call. You must obey his voice. His Holy Spirit is now saying to you: "Be thou reconciled to God. Turn thou, turn thou, for why wilt thou die?" You need not pause and wonder whether or not you are one of his elect. I can answer this myself. I say to you that in your present state you most assuredly are not one of his elect. But if you truly repent of your sins by giving your heart to him in love and obedient faith, just as surely as his Word is true, you will become to be one of his elect; for election is salvation. But if you stay away, who is to blame? "He that will not plough by reason of the cold, shall beg in harvest." If you fail to sow, where will your ingathering be? But note this: "He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." To sow to the Spirit is to do the will of God from love to God; and to all who do this, the promise is sure.
Brethren and sisters, I must exhort you to remember the text. Don't forget it as you go home after meeting closes. When you get home look for it. Some of you, I fear, have already forgotten the place where it is found; so I will tell you again. It is the first, and part of the second verse of the fifth chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. These are the words: "Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love."
You know that good children imitate good parents. They follow their examples. Now ye are called to follow the leadings of God, to imitate the examples of love he has set before you. Let me present to you some of these: "If any of you have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." This is the best way to settle a quarrel I have ever found.
Here is another: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them; for this is the law and the prophets." This means that all that God has ever spoken to man is to the end that each one love his neighbor as he loves himself. No one can be a true neighbor who does not love God. The neighbor, then, that is to be loved in this way must be a brother or sister in the Lord; and none but a brother or sister in the Lord is capable of loving in this way, and to this degree. So you see that love to the neighbor, such as the law of Christ sets forth, implies supreme love to God. This love makes heaven here, and there, and everywhere.
Here is one more: "Love not in word only, but in deed and in truth. He that hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
Brethren, the devil does not like the odor of CHARITY and FAITH in the church. It is worse in his nose than the smoke of burning brimstone. If you want to keep him out of the church, all you have to do is to keep brightly burning the fire of love on the altar of every heart; and from these altars, all together, there will ascend the odor of an incense that will put the devil to flight and keep him away forever.
FRIDAY, December 7. Brother Kline, in company with brethren Brower and Rodecap, started to
The Pastures comprise a considerable scope of rich grazing country in the western part of Augusta County and the eastern part of Highland County, Virginia. This section is watered by two principal rivers of small size, respectively called the Calf Pasture and the Cow Pasture. They are tributaries of the James river in Virginia. Here these brethren preached day and night for some time.
We rarely find anything amusing in the Diary. Brother Kline's mind and heart were too deeply imbued with sincerity in religion and the life flowing out of it, to give place to things of a light or trivial character. But for once, on this journey, we find one entry that brings a smile to the face: One evening, when they were all seated around the fire at Brother Henry Snell's the conversation turned upon a company of Indians that had, shortly before, passed along that way. They asked permission to spend the night in one of Brother Snell's outbuildings, which was cheerfully granted.
These Indians, Brother Snell went on to relate, had killed a wild turkey on their way that day, and in the evening asked the family for a suitable vessel in which to cook it. This being furnished, they went on to prepare the turkey for the pot. This they did in true Indian style. Two squaws went through the performance. One took hold of one wing, and the other took hold of the other wing; and thus between the two most of the feathers were removed. They then opened the bird, removing such of the internal viscera as were thought not fit for food, washed it in a vessel of water, and then put it on to cook in the very same water they had washed it in.
Brother Kline could not help applying the last point in the above incident to some features in the lives of men. He says: "That minister who gets up and in a beautiful and glowing discourse sets forth the Christian 'cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit;' and then comes down to mix with the world, and follow its fashions and vanities, is cooking his turkey in the same water he washed it in. That professor of religion who, to appearance, makes a very humble confession of his sins, with seeming repentance and deep contrition of heart, only to go away and thrust himself again into the filthiness of his former life, is cooking his turkey in the same water he washed it in."
REFLECTIONS ON THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR. FROM THE ENTRY OF DECEMBER 31.
This evening closes the work of another year. The record of this year is now nearly complete. Have I any idea of that record? I think I have. Of one thing I feel sure. It has not been kept with paper, pen and ink. Neither has it been written in the skies. Each one's yearly record is written by no hand but his own, and upon no tablet but that of his own heart. Each one's LIFE, therefore, is his record. This, before God and the angels, is a faithful transcript of his mind and heart within. "A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things; likewise an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth evil things." The good things of the one and the evil things of the other constitute the life record of every man. This makes character, and character is the basis on which men make up their opinions of one another; but the HEART, out of which the character grows, is the BOOK that will be opened before the throne, out of which every one will be judged. A good heart is each redeemed saint's BOOK OF LIFE: and an evil heart is each lost soul's book of condemnation.
Hence we are told by our Lord "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment;" and that "whatsoever is spoken in the ear in the closet shall be proclaimed upon the housetop." Good words leave the lines of their light upon the heart's love-tablet; but evil words leave their shadows in the chambers of the soul, and deepen the darkness there.
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached on Lost River, West Virginia, March 3.
TEXT.—Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many be they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it.—Matt. 7:13, 14.
It is declared that our Lord spake to his disciples in parables; "and without a parable spake he not unto them." A parable is a brief statement of such facts as men are well acquainted with; which facts are designed to correspond to or represent things they are not well acquainted with. Every parable, then, carries with it two lines of thought. The one line is natural, and is based upon the natural things given in the parable. The other line is spiritual, and follows the natural line, as a shadow follows its substance. My text is not properly a parable, but it is in the parabolic form, and must be treated as such.
We notice at once the two gates and the two ways. We also notice that these two ways or roads lead in opposite directions and to opposite destinies. These statements the simplest mind can lay hold of. Even young children know what gates are, and what roads are. They can also look in thought toward the ends of roads, and comprehend, in some measure at least, what is meant when they are told that one road ends in a great fire that will burn forever, and that the other ends in a delightful garden where flowers of beauty and fragrance, with fruits of exquisite taste and healthfulness, hang upon trees and vines of unfading loveliness.
It is never necessary to speak to the simple-minded man or child about the freedom of the human will. Their lessons in this are learned from observation and experience. By experience every one knows that he has the power to choose what he likes and to reject what he does not like. Even beasts, and birds, and reptiles do the same. They choose and appropriate the foods they like. They mate together according to the same free will, which is their love. Birds select their roosting places, and construct their nests where and how they will. "Foxes have holes;" but this is so because God first made the caverns in the rocks, and the foxes afterward chose them for their habitations. Every unit in the whole animate world, not only chooses the place of its abode, but also the modes and means of its subsistence. Even plants in a state of nature conform to this general law. Shall man, born to glorify God and enjoy him forever, be cut short in the free exercise of his will? I cannot believe it. But I do believe that the brightest saint in heaven is where he is because it was first his will to go there; and being there, it is forever his will to stay.
I am not ignorant of the arguments advanced by the other side. Many good, but, I believe misguided men, hold the opinion that man is so depraved as to his will, so lost to all sense and understanding of what is good, that he is wholly incapable of choosing the right and shunning the wrong. But I believe the Lord knows just what man can do and what man cannot do. And it is a thing self-evident to my mind that Goodness and Wisdom has never yet commanded man to do anything that is out of man's power to do.
Let us grant that man is dead in trespasses and sins, as Paul represents him. But does not Jesus say: "My words are spirit and they are life"? The Lord's words have LIFE in them; and if man will but hear them with his natural ear, as you now hear me speak, and then be not a forgetful hearer, but be a doer of the Word; this man shall be blessed in his deed; and soon be filled with the new life of God.
The text opens in these words: "Enter ye in at the narrow gate." This is impossible for any one to do without his knowing what the narrow gate is, and where it is. Whilst we have no direct and positive information upon this point in connection with the text, we still may learn something by noticing into what it opens. The narrow gate opens into the narrow way, and this leads to LIFE. The narrow gate and the narrow way are one. I mean by this that entering the narrow gate means making a start in the direction of a good life, and walking in the narrow way is progress in a good life. But where is the gate, and where is the way? I answer:
"The Gate is before you, and so is the Way; The Gate is wide open, and no toll to pay."
and this gate is our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in his Word.
"Where'er we seek Him, He is found; And every place is holy ground!"
But, my dear hearers, do not for a moment imagine that it is a small thing to make the change here implied. First, it means a change of the heart or will. Of course no one ever leaves a road that leads in one direction, to turn right around and enter upon another that leads in the very opposite direction, without a great change of mind. Second, it implies that there has been new light imparted, new truth received into the mind. This new truth teaches the understanding that it is neither wise nor safe to keep the broad road, because it leads to destruction. Fear of destruction, then, on the one hand, and the love of life on the other are involved in this change.
I am just now reminded of what we are told in history that a great man, many years ago, left his home in Europe and came across the Atlantic ocean in his own ship to hunt for the fountain of youth that was confidently believed to exist somewhere in the wilds of America. This fountain, it was said, possessed the virtue of imparting youth to the aged, and life and health to the sick and dying. To the dying it was, Drink and live; to the aged it was, Bathe in its waters and return to the vigor and beauty of youth. As this great man was far advanced in age he thought it would be WISE to make an effort to find this fountain, which never has existed but in the imaginations of silly men; and never will exist in any other way in this world. Of course he failed to find it; and, worst of all, he died in the vain effort.
But not so with any that have ever entered into the narrow way through the narrow gate. It surely leads to life, as thousands now living in this world can testify. It does appear to me that this change is quite as rational, quite as harmonious with man's common sense, as anything that he does in the daily course of his life's experiences and operations. The intelligent, rational man acts from reason in all the affairs of life. What he loves he calls good, and what he fears or hates he calls evil. This he shuns and that he covets, and puts forth every effort of mind and body to gain it.
In this fact we find the truth of our Lord's words verified: "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." The word GENERATION in this place means state or condition from which proceeds a given manner of life, and daily attention to business. The men of the world are active as to their works, and watchful as to their interests. This watchfulness and activity is what our Lord calls their wisdom, and in its degree it exceeds that of the children of light. Our minds and wills act as freely in choosing the things of religion, and doing the duties connected therewith, as they do in the things that belong to this life only.
But we must not forget that every one who enters in by the narrow gate is but a child in experience when he first enters. He is but a lamb. But the Good Shepherd and Father go with him, leading him and feeding him. Like Enoch, he walks with God.
The text does not say that the narrow way is life; but that it leads unto life. To my mind it is clear that whenever the "sinner forsakes his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts," he then and there enters in by the narrow gate. This is repentance. He returns to the Lord by the narrow way: and the Lord is life.
It may well be asked why the gate and the way are narrow. The narrow gate is the TRUTH of God's Word as it is first found and loved: and the narrow way is the same TRUTH as it is followed and obeyed. Truth is always a straight or narrow track, because any departure therefrom, either to the right or left, is error and falsity.
Jesus says: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." This door is just as narrow as the gate. He also says: "I am the way." As such, he is so narrow that, as the prophet represents, it is as if a fire of destruction were on the one hand and a flood of wrath on the other. Ah, Brethren, the truth can never be made to bend. It is as the builder's line to the foundation; and as the plumb line to the column.
To such as walk in the narrow way our Lord says: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish." Is not this encouraging? It is to be in the Lord, and the Lord in us. It is to be a live and fruitful branch of the true Vine. It is to be a son of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ. It is, when the coil of mortality is laid aside, to shine as the sun in the kingdom of our Father in heaven.
It would afford me much joy to find some here to-day ready to enter in by the narrow gate. Do I hear some one say: "I feel that I ought to leave the broad road that ends in destruction, but I cannot"? It is true, you can of yourself do nothing. If left to yourself you would never draw another breath; you would never again move your hand or foot. But for the life-supporting power of the good Lord you would instantly be a dead man or woman in every sense. Do not forget that in God you live, and move, and have your being. This is as certainly and as literally true of every man's natural life as of his spiritual life. God is constantly present with you; for without him you can do nothing.
Now, since he is ever present with you, sustaining a life which you acknowledge is not being spent in his service and to his glory, will he not much more give you at the same time power and love and faith to do his will? O, try him. Try my Lord in one sincere, humble, honest, fervent prayer. Say, Lord, open my eyes. Take away my heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh. "Create in me a clean heart; and renew a right spirit within me." My friend, the moment you sincerely wish to do his will by loving and obeying him he will enable you to do so, as surely as he now enables you to rise to your feet and walk home, or go wherever you will and do what you choose.
It is not a small thing the Lord means when he says: "Consider the lilies of the field, ... they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If God so clothe the grass of the field, ... shall he not much more clothe you?"
My friend, let me here impress your mind with the sublime truth that it is quite as much in accordance with the Lord's way, and quite as harmonious with his love, to clothe you with power to do his will as to clothe the grass of the field with beauty. He gives life and beauty to every sparrow. Are you not more in his eye than many sparrows? Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. O friend, think of it. He even hears the young ravens when they cry. And will he let your soul perish? Will he suffer your naked soul to sink into hell when you cry to him for help? Perish the thought! For it "is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"; not to condemn them.
WHAT IS IT TO BE SAVED? Let the Lord answer: "He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed out of death unto life." This is salvation.
This is a section of country in the southwestern part of Shenandoah County, Virginia. In early days it was very densely timbered, and its few scattered inhabitants were said to live in the forest or woods. In this way they were locally distinguished from those living in the eastern part of the county, along the North Fork of the Shenandoah river. At present it is one of the wealthiest and most highly cultivated sections of the county. The population is largely composed of German Baptist Brethren. Many of these are now distinguished for piety and usefulness. In this number we find the names of Peter Myers, Benjamin Wine, Daniel Wine, Christian Haller, Samuel Garber, Martain Garber and others, with their descendants, many of whom are church members. Brother Daniel Hays married in this section, and formerly resided there; but he now lives near Broadway, in Rockingham County, Virginia.
Among the deceased from this section, posterity will long remember the name of Jacob Wine, who was, for many years, so noted for his liberality and activity in the ministry. His uncle, Michael Wine, was, perhaps, no less distinguished for his outspoken opposition against everything he did not like, as well as for his earnest defense of what he believed to be good and true. Such men, by force of character in the direction of right, secretly carve their names upon the rock of memory, where they defy the surges of time.
Here may be seen the old Flat Rock meetinghouse, a substantial brick structure, so-called from the rock on which it stands. This is limestone, and presents a comparatively smooth and level surface, probably two hundred and fifty feet in length, by two hundred feet in breadth. The formation is wonderful, and affords a striking emblem of the Rock of Truth on which are founded the doctrines and practices of the Brethren.
May 10, 11 and 12 were spent by Brother Kline in visiting, mostly with a view to religious conversations and instructions. In these three days he visited Martain Good's, Abraham Glick's, Christian Garber's, David Wampler's, Peter Nead's, George Kline's and Daniel Glick's.
THURSDAY, May 13, there was council meeting at Christian Garber's. John Wine, John Harshberger and Joseph Miller were elected for speakers. Martain Miller and Solomon Garber were elected for deacons.
SUNDAY, June 6. Meeting at the Flat Rock. I baptized Emanuel Grabil and Christian Funkhouser. John 3 was read.
SUNDAY, June 13. Meeting at our meetinghouse. Matthew 3 was read. I baptized James Mauck and Susanna Shull.
SUNDAY, July 18. Meeting at Jesse Whetzel's on Lost River. Acts 3 was read. Brother Daniel Miller is with me. In the afternoon we had meeting again, and Brother Jacob Motz was baptized.
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached at William Fitzwater's, August 8.
TEXT.—We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.—2 Cor. 5:20.
Every chapter and every verse of Gospel Truth discloses the love of God in one way or another. Our Lord came into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world; and all the words that make that salvation known to men are words of love. I am sure we think too little upon
THE LOVE OF GOD.
In my talks with sinners I very often discover in them a sort of impression that God is their enemy. I would not, on any account, intentionally misrepresent a single individual; either as to the opinions he may hold or the secret sentiments he may entertain; but I am impressed with the belief that if the hearts of many, if not all, unconverted persons could be laid open to view, they would in their inmost recesses disclose the belief or impression that God is not their friend; that he does not wish them well; that he is only bearing with them until it suits his time to cut them off and send them to hell. This sentiment springs from a consciousness of sins indulged and duties neglected. Hence, when such fall into deep affliction, when danger threatens or destruction impends, they call on God to have mercy upon them; and beg him to turn away his wrath.
A wrong interpretation of many passages in the Bible tends to foster this impression. I will here quote a few passages of this kind, and then interpret them according to what I believe to be the truth. When the children of Israel were about ready to cross the Jordan over into the land of Canaan, Moses said to them: "Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God TO WRATH in the wilderness.... Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord TO WRATH, so that the Lord WAS ANGRY with you, to have destroyed you." Deut. 9:7, 8.
The Old Testament abounds with passages of similar import, and many are found in the New Testament. But let us examine carefully the kind of wrath and anger to which the Lord may be provoked. It cannot be such wrath as men and devils feel. In Rev. 12:12 we read these words: "The devil is come down unto you, having great WRATH, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
We can not, we dare not, think for a moment that the word wrath, when spoken of God, means the same as when spoken of the devil. The devil's wrath implies a feeling in him to do all the evil and mischief he can. But the wrath of God cannot mean anything like this; because, when his wrath burns the fiercest, he is still ever ready to forgive all who repent and turn from evil. Nay, he even entreats and beseeches men to be reconciled to him, that his anger may be turned away. I might quote many passages in proof of this. I have time to give but one from the Old Testament. When the Lord made an end of laying before the children of Israel the blessings and the curses, he wound up all by saying: "And there shall cleave naught of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers; when thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God."
An appeal to the light of reason must convince any unprejudiced mind that our heavenly Father is angry and wrathful toward no one, in the sense of willing evil to him, or of seeking an opportunity to do him mischief. Men may, and no doubt often do, have this feeling; but it is a wicked feeling. Perish the thought of such wrath ever having a place in the heart of our heavenly Father. The Apostle Peter says: "The Lord is long-suffering toward us, NOT WILLING that ANY SHOULD PERISH, but that all should come to repentance."
But let us crown all this argument with the Lord's sunrise upon the night of Nicodemus. Here it is: "God so loved the world,"—the very worst, and wickedest, and most depraved and abandoned part of it; he made no exceptions—"that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Do not imagine that God, our Creator, took a spell of love and good will when he sent his Son into the world. God does not take spells, either of love or wrath. He is the same yesterday, to-day and forevermore. The same God who brought destruction upon the disobedient, wayward, unthankful tribes of Israel, is the God who so loved the world. He loved it then, just as he loves it now. He loves it now, just as he did when he sent his Son to die for its sins. But let us inquire a little further into the nature of the
When I am crossing deep water I always find it best to be calm, go slowly and steadily, and look well to the point where I expect to land. The wrath of God is such only in appearance. The real wrath is in man, and upon man. Let me explain this. Our blessed Savior says: "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect:" "for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
There lies a man who gave himself up to intemperance. Alcohol had permeated his body, carrying its deadly poison into every nerve, and fibre, and tissue of his entire organism. He exposed himself to the sun's rays on a very hot day, and he fell dead from sunstroke. The WRATH of the sun destroyed his life. God made the sun to rise on the morning of that day; and God filled the sun with its heat; but it was wrathful to the man who was not prepared for it, and to no one else. Nature everywhere rejoiced in its light and heat; the corn grew; the hay was cured; and devout hearts thanked the Lord for that lovely day.
Right there, on that sand, is where a man once built his house. He was told by many that it was not a safe place to build a dwelling house, that it would certainly be in danger of being swept away by high water. He would not hear, but went on building; and finally he moved in. But great WRATH came upon him; for in one night his house, with all in it, including himself, was washed away. Wise people all over the land rejoiced to see the rain. It had been a dry time, and everybody said: "What a fine rain! It has replenished our wells and flushed up our springs. The mills can now start up again. When the ground dries off a little people can go to plowing again." But this very same rain was destruction and WRATH to the foolish man who had built his house in the way of its flood.
You may now better understand what I mean by saying that the wrath of God is not wrath as we usually understand the word to mean; but wrath only in appearance. The Lord did not send the flood to destroy that man's house; the flood was just as necessary as the rain, and its end quite as benevolent. The destruction of the man's house was purely the result of his own folly.
All just laws are founded upon love, because their highest end and aim is to protect the good. But the law, "which is holy, just, and good," is full of WRATH to the evil doer when it overtakes and punishes him for his crimes. But does the good law, which essentially is nothing but love, change? Is it to-day in a good humor, and to-morrow angry? Such is our heavenly Father. To the wise and good he is love, both in appearance and essence; but to the foolish and evil, the very same unchangeable love assumes the appearance of anger and wrath. You are now prepared for
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." The life of Jesus on earth was a life of love. A part of the angelic chorus as it floated down from the skies, announcing the birth of the Son of God, was: "GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN." Good will toward men was everywhere manifested by our Lord in the life he lived and in the death he died. In his life "he went about doing good;" and no part of that good gave him deeper joy than to see sinners repent of their sins.
The burden of John's ministry, by which the way of the Lord was prepared, had for its keynote: "Repent, and bring forth fruits meet for [corresponding to] repentance." When our Lord sent out the twelve to preach, he charged them to say: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Right here I wish to impress your minds deeply with this thought that repentance and reconciliation mean one and the same thing; at least, there can be no reconciliation without repentance. Reconciliation is repentance made perfect.
What keeps men in a state of enmity toward each other? It is pride, self-will, and self-love.
Pride says: "I will not bow to him. He has got to come to me."
Self-Will says: "If he will not accede to my terms, there will be no reconciliation."
Self-Love says: "What would others think of me, were I to humble myself to him?"
It is self-evident that just so long as this state of feeling exists with the parties, the enmity will remain. Where deep enmity exists, both parties may be in fault, as is often the case; but this is not necessarily so. There are cases where the fault and enmity are all on one side, and nothing but love and a desire for reconciliation on the other. I just now call to mind a case of this kind. An avowed infidel had been at considerable expense to have his daughter educated in the refinements of learning and art. She excelled in these, and became her father's pride.
But a day came when her heart was stirred within her. Accidentally meeting with these words of Paul, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth," her mind was led to think and wonder what they could mean. Her father had taught her to look upon religion as a thing of mere superstition, and to treat the Bible as a book of fables and delusions. But these words clung to her thoughts, and with them some others which fell from the lips of the minister who preached where she sometimes went to church.
Finally she opened her heart to a minister who took great care to instruct her in the way of salvation, and gave her a Bible. This she read to the illumination of her mind and heart, made an open profession of her faith, was baptized, and would have gone on her way rejoicing every day but for one thing. That one thing was her father's displeasure. His daughter's conduct in the things of religion had wounded his pride. He became wrathful, and for a time lost his self-control. In this outburst of passion he ejected her from her home, and threatened her minister with violence. In this case you readily see that the fault and enmity are all on one side, and if a reconciliation is ever effected it must be based upon the repentance of the guilty party.
I see you are interested to know how all this turned out. I will tell you very briefly. About two years after the above occurrence the lady's father met with a very serious accident, in which his leg was broken and his body otherwise injured. His recovery was slow. When he could begin to sit up a little he thought what a comfort it would be to have his daughter's company, if she still were as she once had been.
Waiving all this, he resolved to ask her to come back home. She had been with her uncle all this while. Having returned home in compliance with her father's request, she showed him all the kindness and attention in her power. One day, when the two were alone together in the room, he asked her what had induced her to treat him as she had done. Her tearful eyes and gentle words, as she told him of the love of Christ which had constrained her to do as she had done, of the joy and consolation she felt in his service, of her bright hope of bliss with angels and glorified saints in heaven so impressed him that he listened with rapt attention. He had never been so talked to before. From this time on, up to his complete recovery, conversations on the subject of religion were of daily occurrence; and I am happy to say that they resulted in deep and godly repentance on his part, which effected a reconciliation to his daughter and her minister forever.
My dear, unconverted friends, the enmity between you and your God, like the enmity of this father towards his daughter, is all on one side, and that is your side. No steps are needed to reconcile God to man. No such steps ever have been needed, because God holds no enmity in his heart towards men. His words of invitation, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest," mean love, love to the guilty. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," means love. His bleeding heart on the cross, and his bleeding hands, and his bleeding feet and his side, all, all mean love. He ever loves you, and asks you to be reconciled to him. He is not visibly here now, but he has committed to his faithful ministers this word of reconciliation; and as a very humble one of their number I take up the refrain, and in the words of my text I say to you and to all: "Now then, I am an ambassador for Christ, as though God did beseech you by me: I pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
ELDER JOHN KLINE AND ISAAC LONG VISIT PENNSYLVANIA.
THURSDAY, August 12, the two brethren started on their journey. They attended council meeting at the Flat Rock. Here they took leave of the Brethren, and started on a journey that was to occupy about five weeks. Brother Kline, as was his custom when his spirit stirred him to go on a journey of this kind, had sent many appointments ahead; and many were eagerly expecting and hopefully awaiting his arrival.
The imagination can find much pleasure in accompanying these two brethren on this protracted visit to the churches. Both on horseback, they had every opportunity to view the country as they passed along; and many must have been the remarks and observations suggested by things along the way. Brother Kline's mind was peculiarly active, and his temper and social disposition genial in an eminent degree. It was never my privilege to be with him on one of these protracted excursions, but from the short ones I occasionally took with him in later years, I feel sure that each day, all else favorable, was a sort of heavenly delight.
Seeing a fine looking tree in the forest, whose leaves and branches and general appearance showed that it was solid to the core, straight grained, and deeply and firmly rooted in the soil, he would say: "That tree is a fair representation of a good church member. He stands upright. You see he does not lean to one side or the other. He holds his head high in the perpendicular line of justice and truth. The squirrels that run up and down on his trunk and over his Branches do not annoy him: these are his little charities. They feed on his fruit, to be sure; but a pleasant smile is all the account he takes of them. You tap him with a mallet, and his trunk gives out a dull but certain sound of solidity to the core. There is no wind-shake about him. His thrifty appearance proves this. The storms, in the church and out of the church, have never disturbed the solid texture of his faith and Christian integrity. He is not twisty. The fibers that compose his huge trunk are just like his principles; they all run straight up and down. You always know how to take him, and what to depend on when you have him.
"But there stands another tree of a very different character. Tap that tree, and the drum-like sound tells you at once that it is hollow. You can see, too, by the furrows in the bark not running up and down in perpendicular lines, that it is twisty. It can hardly be said to be wind-shaken, for there is not enough solid timber in it to be affected in that way. The few nuts or acorns which it bears are worthless; for there is not sufficient vitality about it to mature its fruit. It would have been to the ground long ago but for the support given it by that other tree on which it leans. I leave you to form your own opinion of the church member represented by this tree. I hope there are not many such, for if there were I fear we would not be able to find enough solid material to build a house that would stand."
Brother Kline was gifted with that fortunate cast of mind which enabled him to draw from nature themes for thought and conversation, which added much to his happiness when alone, and to his geniality in company; and not only so, but even in his preaching he drew largely from the magazines of God's creation. I have not a doubt that if all the items of interest that passed between himself and Brother Long, in the way of conversations on this journey, could be collected and presented in proper form they would make a most instructive and entertaining volume. I sometimes fear that the world's best thought escapes its hands. It may, however, so turn out that after awhile stenography will set her delicate nets and catch these wild birds which now flit by us on such active wing that we catch but a glimpse of their forms and beauty.
FRIDAY, August 13, the two brethren got to Jonas Goughnour's, below Woodstock, in Shenandoah County, Virginia. They had meeting in a schoolhouse near by. Brother Isaac Long, at this early day, gave clear indications of the ability and usefulness which have characterized his ministry to the present time. Trained to correct business habits from early youth, he carried them over into his church work; and judging by his success, to plan and to perform, to design and to execute, with him mean one and the same thing.
Between the fourteenth and twentieth of August the two brethren visited John Rowland's, Emanuel Long's, Joseph Long's, Daniel Reichert's, Daniel Long's, David Kinsey's and John Brandt's.
FRIDAY, August 20. The two brethren, in company with David Kinsey and John Brandt, go to Brother Nussbaum's. They went through London, Path Valley and Fennelsburg. They must have had a long ride this day; but who could think the road long with such company? The next day they went towards Huntingdon. Brother Kline says they crossed a tolerably high mountain this day, and dined at Brother Jacob Berket's.
I wonder how they kept him from wandering off and hunting for medicinal roots and herbs while crossing that mountain. You may be sure that no patch of Lady's Slipper, Golden-Seal or Golden-Rod escaped his eye. The absence of a hoe is all that saved them from a deal of trouble with him. They went on through Shirleysburg, and got to Brother Andrew Spanogle's about sunset.
Following Brother Kline on this and similar journeys, by means of the Diary, enthuses my soul with an undefinable longing to have been with him. The excitement, and danger, and hurry and bustle constantly incident to travel at the present day were all unfelt and unfeared by this company.
Brother Kline's habit was ever to rise early; and, especially on excursions like the present, would he often rise before the family and walk out to take the air, as he said, and see the sun rise. This he did even when the days were at their longest. To get up with him and take a walk before breakfast to some elevation not distant from his lodging place, and hear him discourse upon the rising sun, the balminess of the air, the clearness of the water, the songs of the birds, the delicate tints and wonderful mechanism of the flowers of fields and woods, was a treat of rare enjoyment.