On our way back to where we had left our horses, however, we came across a "patch" of Golden Seal. This is a graceful plant, each one having a single calyx enclosing the seeds, somewhat in the shape of a button or seal of a bright yellow color; hence its name. "The root of this plant," said he, "is an excellent alterative and tonic." We dug up the yellow roots with zest; but being by this time very hungry, I began to fear that we might come across a "patch" of something else that might still longer delay our return. But he seemed satisfied with his success, and we found our horses all right. "Old Nell" had, however, loosed the strap of her halter, and was quietly browsing around. When she heard us coming she threw up her head; and at the call of his voice she came up to him.
It was past two o'clock when we got back to Brother Judy's. Dinner was soon served; and to this day I do feel that if ever I have been truly thankful for the good things of this life it was then.
We followed up the line of appointments to the last one, and returned home.
And now, my dear reader, I can truly say, that if it is as pleasant to you to read these reminiscences as it is to me to write them, you are well repaid.
Sermon by Peter Nead.
Preached at the Linville's Creek Meetinghouse, Sunday, January 3, 1836.
TEXT.—Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.—I Pet. 2:7.
Dear Brethren, this chapter is full of instruction and encouragement. Peter knew by experience what it is to backslide. Now, that he is restored again to full fellowship with the Lord and the church, Jesus seems nearer and more precious to him than ever before. In the seventh verse he says: "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious." I know he must be so, because he is so precious to me. I shamefully denied him when he most needed my loving support, and swore that I did not know him in the darkest hour of his temptation. Who can comprehend his grace? The meekness, the gentleness, the calmness of his forgiving heart under trials the deepest, under persecutions the greatest, even unto death, are surely worthy of God incarnate.
"'I know not the man' were the very last words he heard me utter on his way through tribulations to the cross; and I added oaths to the declaration. I now fail to find words to express my surprise and joy at the message he sent me on the morning of his resurrection. When he was placed in the tomb I had no hope of his ever coming out thence. But what surprised and overcame me more than the direct news of his rising was the special message of love he sent me by the women who saw him first. He said to them: 'Go and tell my disciples AND PETER, that I go into Galilee, and there they shall see me.' His forgiving love singled me out as one of its special objects, because I was such a vile sinner, and had treated him so badly. Brother Paul calls himself the 'chief of sinners,' because he persecuted the saints of God; but I feel that I must be, for I denied his Son. Truly did Paul say of all such great sinners as we are: 'Where sin abounded, grace did also much more abound.' Thanks to my risen Lord, I can now with heart and voice join the chorus of those that sing:
"'O, the length and the breadth, And the depth and the height Of the love of Christ! It passeth all understanding!"
I have here represented Peter as giving us some of his experiences; and I believe that my representations are correct; for in the chapter next preceding the one just read, we find this joyful exclamation: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his ABUNDANT MERCY hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." I must think that the mercy was much more abundant than Peter expected, for it wrought an effect upon him which he calls a regeneration, or a sort of new birth. At any rate, he says he was "BEGOTTEN AGAIN." It looks as if it made a new man of him. It gave him new life. He never denied his Lord again. When called to fulfill the prophecy of the Lord concerning "the death by which he was to glorify God," he faltered not, but met it "as seeing him who is invisible."
Brethren, some of us may, at times, have a taste of Peter's experience. We feel so vile in our own eyes, that, like him, we go out, and over our sins "weep bitterly." Ah, but these are "pearly tears" in God's sight. Though we may not know it, though we may still feel too bad to repair, on bended knees, to a "throne of grace," yet God knows how to value them. They are precious in his sight; and it is your experience and mine that after seasons of this kind he sends us the brightest tokens of his love, and we are joyfully amazed that it is so.
I once, when a boy, disobeyed my father. I have in mind a particular instance of disobedience, and of a character very trying to his patience. When I came rightly to myself and realized my sin I was afraid to meet him. He discovered, without any confession on my part, what I had done. I expected severe punishment. To my surprise he met me with a smile. Taking me by the hand he said: "Let us go out into the orchard." We sat down upon the fallen trunk of an apple tree, and gently placing one arm around my neck, he said: "Peter, do you know that I love you?" I instantly broke down under the weight of this arm of love, and answered as well as my sobs would let me, "Yes, sir!" "Do you love me?" he next said. Again I answered, "Yes, sir!" "Then never again disobey me, my boy, and we will have a sweet and happy life together." And I can say from my heart, right here, I never did.
I now think, dear Brethren, that you are prepared to understand what Peter meant by the words: "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious." You feel that he is precious to you, because he has taken away your sins by giving you a new heart and filling you with his love. You can now say with the Apostle John: "We love him because he first loved us." Now then, inasmuch as ye love him, "abide in his love," and "the God of love and peace shall be with you." May his grace, mercy and peace be with us all forever. Amen!
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached at Tobbins, Sunday, January 10.
TEXT.—As ye therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.—Col. 2:6.
Paul addressed these words to the church at Colosse, a city of Asia Minor, in the Roman province called Phrygia. It may be of interest to you for me to tell you something about the character of these people at the time Paul first visited them. Ancient history gives a very dark picture of this. What Paul said of Athens applied equally to Colosse: "The city was wholly given to idolatry." The lower classes, especially, were very ignorant, having no knowledge of God save that which the light of nature gave them.
But when Paul went into their midst, preaching the Gospel of salvation, the prophecy of Isaiah, concerning Zebulon and Naphtali, was fulfilled unto them, as it had been before at Capernaum on the shore of the Galilean Sea: "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, to them did light spring up." They opened their eyes to the light and rejoiced to see it; and their hearts to the love it revealed, and they took it in. They accepted Christ Jesus the Lord in all his fullness. Faith became to them a living principle. They felt its truth as surely as though with their natural eyes and ears they saw and heard all that it comprehended for time and eternity, for earth and heaven.
But you want to know how I find all this out. Turn with me to the first chapter of Paul's letter to them, and I will show you. Now notice that right in the beginning he addresses them as "SAINTS and FAITHFUL BRETHREN in Christ." By "saints" he means that they are holy; and by "faithful brethren" he means to tell how they got to be so. This, I think, is saying a good deal for them; but he goes on: "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you; having heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus; and of the LOVE which ye have toward ALL the saints, because of the HOPE which is laid up for you in the heavens."
You now see that these Colossian brethren had the three essentials that distinguish a Christian from a pagan, a saint from a sinner, and an angel of light from a demon of darkness. These three are faith, hope and love; but of these Paul says that "love is the greatest." This they had in large measure, because it extended "toward ALL the saints." It is natural for every Christian to love SOME of the saints when he is free "to pick and choose;" but to love ALL is quite another thing.
If you will thoughtfully read this first chapter through, you will see the high place these Colossian brethren held in Paul's confidence, not only as to faith and love, but also as to the enlightenment of their understandings with heavenly wisdom. He sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as the triune God—Creator, Redeemer and Savior—in loftier terms than are to be found anywhere else in his epistles. Had there been any doubt in his mind as to their ability to understand these revelations, and thus profit by them, they would have been withheld. He would have fed them with milk, as he did his Corinthian and Hebrew brethren, and not with strong food.
My text says: "As ye therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." They had received him in faith, and hope, and love. So were they instructed to walk in him. "Ye have been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead." "Inasmuch then, as ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is seated on the right hand of God." "Set your affections on the things above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died; and the new life which ye now live, ye live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you." "Avoid fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry; for the wrath of God is revealed against all these things. And ye know that a little while ago YE LIVED AND WALKED IN ALL THESE THINGS." This last quotation tells what these brethren had been, and the foregoing quotations show what they were when Paul wrote to them.
After a careful study of these good instructions, these faithful brethren could not mistake the way in which they were to walk. Paul not only showed them how to get into the good way in the first place, but he also told them how to keep in the way. It is one thing to get into the right road to any place, but it is quite another thing to keep it. In writing to his Galatian brethren, Paul says: "Ye did run well for awhile; who turned you out of the way?" Ah, brethren, there are many by-roads leading off from "the king's highway." I have known brethren and sisters to start well, to all appearance, and run well for a time; but by and by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, and other things, like the thorns in the parable, choked the Word in their hearts, so that they brought forth no fruit unto perfection.
In my travels among the mountains of our Virginia I have often seen the laurel holding out its evergreen but poisonous leaves in sprays of most enticing beauty. Miles and miles of road, in one unbroken stretch, may there be seen densely hedged on either hand by this beautiful emblem of sin and death. Herds of cattle and flocks of sheep are every year driven over these roads. Every herdsman and shepherd knows the danger to be apprehended from the inclination of some of either kind to "sidle" off from the plain and beaten track and pluck the green leaves of the laurel to their own destruction.
Many a time have I overtaken flocks of sheep, some of which were lying along the road "down with the staggers." This last is the name of the disease which is brought on by taking laurel. The old sheep avoid it. They will not taste it. The young sheep and lambs are the only ones that incline first to taste and then eat it. It is hardly necessary for me to point out to you the lesson of instruction to be gathered from what I have just said. The staggers, by veterinary surgeons, is said to be a kind of drunkenness often fatal in its effects.
The Prophet Isaiah speaks of some who "are drunken, but not with wine; who stagger, but not with strong drink." I fancy I hear someone in the congregation say: "I guess they must have taken laurel." Precisely so, friend! They took the very laurel that has been the ruin of thousands of the Lord's sheep and lambs. Let me tell you exactly what I mean.
The love of worldly pleasure is laurel of one kind. It blooms forth in the desire for fine dress, gay company, night gatherings, social parties, and the like things.
Worldly treasure is laurel of another kind. It blooms forth in the desire for worldly possessions, no matter how obtained, and only to gratify selfish ends. I have known some old sheep to take this kind.
Ambition to be great and highly honored is still another kind. This is the "deer-tongued" laurel, the very tallest kind that grows, and has the richest looking flowers. But it is just as poisonous as any, and it blooms forth in the desire to be admired for beauty, to be looked up to for superior power and wisdom, and to be held in high honor for great deeds. I have known some old sheep and even leaders of the flock to eat of this kind until they staggered considerably. It was plainly visible in their steps that their heads were not exactly level. I am glad, however, to be able to say, that in the flock to which we belong, I have met with very few who ever gave any signs of being afflicted in the way last described.
In his letter to the Philippian brethren, Paul says: "For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
But, brethren, there is a remedy for all these evils. God has provided the remedy. Nor is it a bitter draught. It is the "milk and wine" of his Word. Both mean TRUTH. I used to wonder why the Prophet Isaiah used both terms, when both mean the same thing. Now I will tell you. He says: "Come unto me, buy WINE and MILK, yea, buy WINE and MILK without money, and without price." Milk is TRUTH in its simplest and plainest forms. Gospel truth presented in a way that very young and uninstructed minds may readily take it in, is what Paul calls "milk for babes." But wine is the very same TRUTH extended and expanded into forms of instruction adapted to the understandings of "men in Christ Jesus."
All are invited and even exhorted to come; to come to the "fountain that was opened in the house of David." It is the same that is meant by the "river of the water of life which proceedeth from the throne of God and of the Lamb." I exhort every one, both old and young, to study God's Word for the truth it contains, represented by the beautiful symbols set before you therein. Even the unconverted sinner is invited to come and take of the "water of life freely."
"Here pardon, love, and joy divine In rich effusion flow, For guilty sinners lost in sin And doomed to endless woe."
The interval between the last given date and MONDAY, February 15, has nothing in it claiming special notice. But here he says: "To-day I attended the funeral of little Susanna Brower, who died yesterday morning. As it is our privilege to 'rejoice with those who do rejoice,' so it is our duty to 'weep with those that weep." I could but weep to see the remains of this interesting little girl laid in the cold and silent grave. I think it was the ancient Romans who personified DEATH in the form of a walking skeleton, scythe in hand, cutting down whatever the whim of his fancy might suggest. This representation may accord with the relentless strokes his scythe is sometimes seen to make; but the light of heaven reveals a Hand that holds his bony arm within its grasp; and that Hand is the hand of our God. For,
"'Not a sparrow to the ground may fall But our Father's in it: Heart of Love that governs all. Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.'"
"Heaven is largely made up of children; and until every crown shall have a head, and every white robe have a wearer, God will recall his own."
WEDNESDAY, March 16. Brother Daniel Trump and Sister Polly Moyers were both buried to-day. These make six funerals that I have attended in the space of four weeks.
"One by one, we cross the River; One by one, we're ferried o'er; One by one, the crowns are given On the bright, celestial shore."
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached at the Old Brick Meetinghouse, Augusta County, Virginia, Sunday, April 24.
TEXT.—Lest there be any ... profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.—Heb. 12:16, 17.
Esau and Jacob were twin sons of Isaac. But Esau was born first; and this, according to the law of primogeniture in that day, gave him special privileges, among which was the right on his part to a double portion of the heritage to be received from the father.
This right Jacob treacherously bought of his brother Esau. Rebekah, their mother, was favorable to the contract, and laid the plan for its successful completion. Esau had been unsuccessful in his pursuit of game, and soon found himself in a famishing condition. Jacob took advantage of this, and proposed to purchase the birthright. He said to Esau: "Sell me this day thy birthright." And Esau said: "Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me?" And he sold his birthright to Jacob. "Then Jacob gave Esau bread and a mess of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright."
Esau is here regarded as a profane or wicked person, because he did not more highly esteem the blessing to which he was born. Paul refers to this fact, to teach us that it is our duty, as the regenerated or "firstborn" children of God, to place a very high value upon our relation to him conferred by this birth.
"Esau found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." This means that all his sorrow or regret for the foolish bargain he had made would not and could not place him back where he was before. The blessing of his father had been given to another past all possibility of calling it back. I do not, and can not, however, as some do, apply this to the sin against the Holy Ghost. The blessing of Jacob was all external. It comprehended only earthly things. I will read it, so that you may hear it: "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee; and blessed be he that blesseth thee." There is nothing in all this giving Jacob any claim to special favor from God, beyond that of mere earthly good. Neither does the sale of the birthright exclude Esau from any higher claim. He did not sell his right to serve the Lord, and thus inherit a heavenly blessing.
The people of God sometimes do things in the way of sin that cause them deep distress. At the same time they do not shut themselves irrevocably out of heaven, because repentance and reformation of life will reinstate them into the divine favor, and place them back into the good way again. But such may lose much, both in the church and the world by the misstep. After the sin of adultery, for example, has been fairly proved against a brother or sister, he can hardly reinstate himself fully into his former standing either in the church or in society at large. Thus is he like Esau. He has sold his birthright; yet still the Lord is ready, with outstretched arms, to receive him the moment he resolves to return, just as the loving father received his prodigal son. Thus it is with many other sins. They leave a sting in the heart which may rankle and fester a long time; and a stigma in the character which may never, in this world, be entirely wiped out.
In regard to the relation of Esau and Jacob, one more thought presses upon my mind, and I will give it utterance. In Jehovah's prophecy to Rebekah before the birth of the children, these words from his own lips were spoken: "The elder shall serve the younger." And in the prophecy of Malachi, the Lord Jehovah is represented by the prophet as saying: "I loved Jacob; I hated Esau." Paul to the Romans quotes both these passages.
The Bible reader justly enquires: "Why this opposition to Esau and this favor to Jacob, when the children, as yet unborn, had done neither good nor evil?" Paul says it was: "That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." Brethren, I do sincerely believe that right here we find the key to many obscure passages in Paul's writings on the subject of election and predestination. God can do nothing without means. Ends as surely imply means as effects imply causes. Esau and Jacob are the Lord's chosen, elected, predestinated means of teaching his people a lesson of instruction that covers the whole ground of every Christian's state and experience from the alpha to the omega.
Every true child of God possesses two distinct natures. A knowledge of this wonderful truth lies within the range of every one's experience. But it is equally confirmed by divine revelation. Paul calls the one nature or consciousness the OUTWARD MAN, and the other the INWARD MAN. The one bears the image of the first Adam, and is of "the earth earthy;" the other bears the image of the last Adam who is the Lord, "and is heavenly." Esau represents the first; and, as such, he can not inherit the heavenly birthright, because he is carnal, and "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven."
As the antitype of this great truth which underlies the scheme of redemption, God could not but "hate Esau," because "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are not of the Father, but are of the world." "But Jacob he loved," because Jacob is the child "born of God" in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, "the inner man," which after God, is "created in righteousness and true holiness." "The elder shall serve the younger." This means that "the natural body" must be brought under subjection and serve "the spiritual body." For "there is a natural body" first born, and "there is a spiritual body" last born.
In another place Paul uses lofty terms to designate these two. He there calls the one "the earthly house of this tabernacle," which must perish; the other "a building of God, a house not made with hands"—God's hands—"eternal in the heavens." The reason why he says "in the heavens" is because it is in the light of heaven; just as he says in another place, "We have been made to sit together in heavenly places," by which he correlatively means just the same that we mean when we say we sit in the sun, meaning that we sit where the light of the sun shines upon us.
Now, Brethren beloved, I have been very brief on a subject that might be profitably expanded into a volume. I hope that I have given you points by which you may take the subject and think upon it for yourselves; and thus add faith to faith, and knowledge to knowledge. May God add his blessing to what I have said, that it may prove to be strength in much weakness.
During the interval between the twenty-fourth and the twenty-eighth, Brother Kline visited many Brethren in Augusta County, Virginia.
THURSDAY, April 28, he attended a love feast at the brick meetinghouse. Of this he says: "The afternoon meeting was well attended. The second chapter of Peter's first letter was read. Much good instruction for self-examination was given, both in German and English, from the general scope of the chapter. I made a few remarks on the middle clause in the seventeenth verse: 'Love the brotherhood.'
"I fear we do not speak and exhort one another as plainly and warmly as we should on this most essential part of every true believer's experience and life. What keeps us a united and happy people? Love of the Brotherhood. What keeps us from quarreling with one another, from slandering and defrauding one another? Love of the Brotherhood. What keeps alive our sympathies for each other in times of distress and in seasons of sorrow? Love of the Brotherhood.
"This is the golden chain that binds us together on earth, and will forever bind us together in heaven. As the rain first comes from the sea, and after refreshing and beautifying the land goes back to the sea again, so it is through us, Brethren, that the love we receive from Christ here will be made perfect and return to him there. Oh, Brethren, 'let us not love in word only, but in deed and in truth.'"
WEDNESDAY, May 4. Peter Nead and Daniel Garber started to the Annual Meeting.
SUNDAY, May 22. Meeting at the Linville's Creek meetinghouse. Brother Kline spoke briefly on Acts 2. He said: "As this is the traditional day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out in a miraculous way, so that the whole house wherein the apostles and brethren were sitting was filled with his presence, so that they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit and in the heavenly fire, we think it good to meditate and speak upon these things.
"It may be that we err by believing that each apostle was endowed with the gift of all the tongues here enumerated. It would be natural, I think, for those who spoke the same tongue to sit or stand together in companies. We may, even at the present day, see examples and instances of this in large cities and public places. Here we see a group of Germans. There, a company of Swedes, or Dutch, or Italians. People of the same nationality as naturally seek for each other as birds seek for their own kind.
"The order appears beautiful to our minds in the light of this interpretation. Each apostle was gifted by the Spirit to speak in one tongue at least. If we go to the pains to count, we will find there were nearly as many apostles as nationalities represented. In this way all could speak at the same time; each one to his own group or class of hearers, in gentle tones of voice; and all in the house hear at least one speak in the tongue in which he was born. This interpretation relieves the mind of the apparent confusion which seems to have pervaded that assembly, from a mere cursory reading of the account given of it in the second chapter of the Acts.
"I pray God, that our dear Brethren in Yearly Meeting to-day and to its close may all, like the apostles, be of one mind and speak the same thing."
SUNDAY, June 5. Meeting at the Dry Fork. Brother Kline made a few remarks upon Eph. 5:14, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
"We called upon the drowsy, sleeping sinner to arise from his deadness and indifference, pointing him to the promise that Christ would shine upon him and give him the light of life. Whilst speaking on this subject to-day, I related what was said to be a well authenticated fact which I lately read.
"An Indian, one evening, tied his canoe fast to a tree not far above the falls of Niagara. Feeling that all was secure, he lay down in his canoe and went to sleep. Just about the break of day the fastening from some cause got loose. Very probably the cord was untied by some mischievous person. The Indian continued to sleep. Noiselessly the canoe glided down the stream, nearer and yet nearer the awful brink, softly rocking its sleeping victim to destruction. Just before the frightful leap, roused by the thunder of the cataract, the poor Indian awoke, only in time to see himself hurled into eternity.
"O, how many unconverted men and women are borne down upon the stream of time, unconcerned, thoughtless, careless of the doom that so surely awaits them!"
Sermon by Elder Daniel Miller (German).
At Lost River Meetinghouse, West Virginia, Sunday, July 3.
TEXT.—But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.—John 1:12, 13.
This Scripture has a very deep meaning; and it should be well understood, since the power in us to become children or sons of God depends on the nature of our birth. If this be in any other nature than that of God, it is like counterfeit money; it may look to be all right, and pass current for a while, but it will not bear the test of a rigid scrutiny.
Some are born of blood. Such may be those who adhere to a certain church, and hold certain articles of faith without examining the Word, because their father and mother and other blood relatives held the same, lived and died in that faith, and lie buried in the churchyard where they worshiped.
Some are born of the will of the flesh. Such may be those who make a profession of religion; but because they cannot have their own way in everything, and take the lusts of the flesh with them under the cloak of a Christian profession, they either forsake the people of God entirely or else never come into their number.
Some are born of the will of man. Such may be those who suffer themselves to be influenced by others; coaxed, persuaded, nor even induced by the promise of reward, to join a certain church and worship in a certain way, because it is fashionable and in good style.
Some are born of God. Such are those who out of an honest heart bring forth the fruit of the Spirit unto perfection.
Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, shows the striking contrast between the fruit of man's fleshly, sensual or animal nature and that of his spiritual or renewed nature. The first he calls THE FLESH; the last, THE SPIRIT. Man's spirit is what is born again. In one place he designates the new birth as "being renewed in the spirit of the mind." In another place as "dead to the world, but alive unto God." The prayer of such is: "Lord, what wouldst THOU have me to do?" Finding a clear answer to this prayer in the Word of Truth, they are willing to follow its leadings. They descend into the baptismal wave "for the remission of sins." They go into the house of God and are not above stooping to wash one another's feet. They eat the Lord's Supper. They commune with him in the emblems of his broken body and shed blood. They continue to walk as nearly as they can in all the commands and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
The difference between the present and future state of the man who lives after the flesh and that of the man who lives after the spirit is very sharply marked in many places in Paul's writings, in words that cannot be easily misunderstood. He uses such language as this: "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds [lusts] of the body, ye shall live." "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." "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." "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God,"—which is the new birth,—"is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
All these quotations are in perfect accord with our Lord's closing words to the Sermon on the Mount: "Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: ... and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
I do not think it is very hard for any one to tell the kind of birth he is of. As an individual can tell by looking in a glass, if in no other way, whether he is black or white, so the professor of religion, by turning to the Gospel Mirror, can see what kind of a birth he is of.
I sometimes feel sorry when I think that a child has no control over its own natural birth. If it is born black and into slavery, poor little thing, there it has to remain for life, and bear and suffer all the evils incident to its color and condition. If one is born with natural deformities which baffle all surgical skill; or with blindness or deafness past all remedy; we can but pity and weep. True, our sympathies are aroused, and but for such objects probably the very purest and noblest springs in our nature would remain forever sealed with ice.
But, thanks to our God, no such unalterable conditions ever attend man's spiritual birth. He himself is a party to the covenant under which every spiritual birth is effected from conception to parturition. God is one party; and man, in whom the new spiritual birth is to be effected, is the other party. This I speak in respect to the divine, heavenly birth. Men are the parties on both sides in all the other births spoken of in the text. God has nothing to do with them.
The Jews were nearly all born after these ways. Most of them seem to have been "born of blood." "We have Abraham to our father." Some were born of the "will of the flesh," for when the Lord told them the truth "they took up stones to stone him." These were included among those to whom he said: "Ye are of your father the devil." The will of the flesh and the will of the devil in spiritual things is one and the same. Some among them seem to have been "born of the will of man." There may have been a good many of this class. When the Lord was teaching in Jerusalem many asked the question; "Have any of the rulers believed on him?" Such were the children of the rulers, born of their will.
One fact is true of all these births; no matter how black, or deformed, or blind, or deaf, all these were spiritually, they were all born just as they wished to be; and all chose, with comparatively few exceptions, to remain in the state in which they were born. On the day of the crucifixion spirits from all classes of births culminated in the cry: "His blood be on us and our children."
I hope what I have said may awaken some thought in the mind of each hearer, as to the state of his own heart. Do I love the Lord my God with all my heart, and my brother as I love myself? Do I show this love in my dealings with him, and in my daily conduct towards him? Do I show my love to the Lord by walking continually in his ways? Enoch walked with him thus for three hundred years. Am I careful to follow his example during the few years allotted me here? If I do not love my brother and find delight in his company here, how can I be happy with him in heaven? If I do not love the Lord here, in whose love alone there is bliss, what will heaven be to me?
No wonder the doom of the hypocrite is so fearful! When his cloak is removed and the wolf appears in the presence of the angels, will they not shrink from him as one of us would shrink from a viper coiled about our feet?
Brethren, let us be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Brother Kline bore a hearty testimony to Brother Miller's discourse throughout.
A Short Discourse by Elder Daniel Garber.
Sunday, August 7.
TEXT.—For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.—John 1:17.
By the law spoken of in the text we are to understand the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, as they are usually called. We are not to understand that this law is not truth. Far from it. It is truth so sacred and holy in God's sight that he directed Moses to construct an ark or small chest out of pure gold and place therein the two stone tablets on which the law was engraved by the finger of God, and keep them there forever.
Jesus the Lord honored it. He fulfilled it, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. His outward life was so righteous that none could convict him of sin. "He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners:" not separate in the sense of not eating and drinking with them, of not associating and conversing with them; but separate in the sense that he was not, like them, a transgressor of the law of God.
The Lord's heart and hand were together in all he did. His thoughts and his words were one. His looks, and all the expressions of his face, were but images of the love within. His denunciations against Pharisaical hypocrisy, cloaked under the guise of outward rectitude, were like an avalanche of snow and ice, unlocked by the rays of the Sun of Righteousness.
Jesus said: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." A tittle is a very small point in a letter. Many Hebrew letters have dots or tittles. A change in the tittles of the letters that compose a word changes the meaning of the word. But Jesus says not a tittle shall pass from the law. It will to eternity mean just what it means now, and will continue to be the bond of union with saints and angels forever in heaven. It is all love. Love is the alpha and the omega of the law; for the law is of God, and "God is love."
Some people call MERCY God's darling attribute. They clothe her in a white robe down to the feet; they fill her eyes with the milk of human kindness and her mouth with the tender words of forgiveness. But JUSTICE is a very different personification in their eye. He is not only masculine as to gender, but all his looks and ways have an air of condemnation in them. He is a dark-faced, frowning judge, forever watching with keenest eye not only the outward life of every man, but his mind and heart within; and is always ready to pass judgment against every one guilty of the slightest transgression and disobedience.
Such conceptions may not be sinful; but they are very far from agreeing with the revelations God has made of himself to men. In these he discloses himself as "a God merciful and gracious; abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands; slow to anger; ready to pardon; and of great kindness." (Nehemiah 9:17.) He is just, it is true. But what is justice? I answer that justice, in its highest and divinest sense, is equal good and equal right to all. And does not this imply love? I do unhesitatingly declare that there is quite as much love in the administrations of justice as there is in the bestowments of mercy.
In justice, however, the love appears in one light; and in mercy or grace the love appears in another. God's love for the holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect is unmixed love, or the love of complacency. This manifestation of his love is JUSTICE in its highest and purest sense. God's love for sinners who have transgressed his law, and who, on this account, are "miserable and wretched, and poor, and blind, and naked," is mixed love. It is mixed with pity, and is what is called the love of compassion. This manifestation of his love is GRACE in its highest and purest sense. This is just what our Lord Jesus Christ brought with him. If all the race of mankind had continued righteous, as man was when first brought into being, the word GRACE would never have had a place in heaven's vocabulary. But since man has fallen, fallen into sin, into death both corporeal and spiritual, into sickness and sorrow, into labor for his bread, into hunger and thirst, and anxieties and cares, God has ever pitied him. Instead of our Lord's saying, "God so loved the world," he might have said, "God so PITIED the world."
In reading the New Testament now you need not wonder why the word GRACE is so often met with. It means just what Jesus has brought into the world—love for sinners. "He came not to condemn the world, but to save the world." But notice, he brought not only love but truth with it, and truth is neither more nor less than the forms or manifestations of true love. Let me illustrate this. You love your brother. But he does not know it until you manifest your love by the thousand ways that are open for this in your associations and dealings with him. Every manifestation of this love is a truth by which you prove that you do love him.
How does our Lord prove that he loves sinners? By the TRUTH that manifests or shows it. In the first place he went about doing good, in the way of healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers, making the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and the dead to come to life. In the next place he showed his love by the meekness and patience with which he bore the scoffs and sneers, and persecutions of the opposing Jews. In the next place, by the promises of eternal life and salvation which he gave to the very worst of sinners, on the easy terms that they repent of their sins, by turning to God and living a life of faithful obedience to his Word. In the next place,—and all the other proofs culminate in this,—by dying upon the cross, by which he atoned for the sins of the whole world. In this, his last temptation, he conquered sin, death and hell; and as a mighty Conqueror he has become the Captain of our salvation and the Author of eternal life to all them that obey him.
But light will not enter the eye that is closed; neither will the words of grace and truth enter the heart unless there be a will to take them in. Some here present, I feel sure, have taken the words in, and ye rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Yours is the joy that no man taketh from you. Yours is an unfailing treasure in the heavens. Yours to sing:
"Should earth against my soul engage, And fiery darts be hurled; Now I can smile at Satan's rage And face a frowning world.
"Let cares, like a wild deluge, come, And storms of sorrow fall, So I but safely reach my home, My God, my heaven, my all.
"There shall I bathe my weary soul In seas of heavenly rest; And not a wave of trouble roll Across my peaceful breast."
But I am sad to think how many there are who have never yet "tasted that the Lord is gracious." May I not induce some to look to him to-day? There is life in a look when it springs from love and is followed by obedience. "Look unto me, saith the Lord, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth." Sinner, thou art one of these ends. Look and live.
BAPTISMAL SCENE AT BENJAMIN BOWMAN'S, SUNDAY, AUGUST 29.
Peter Driver and wife, and Benjamin Byerly were baptized to-day.
Whilst it is our delight and joy to see even the vilest and the lowest come into the church through the divinely appointed way, still it is an additional pleasure, especially in the view of helpfulness to the cause, when such excellent and true-hearted people as those above named cast in their lot with us.
These dear people will draw their children into the church where they are, and many of the grandchildren will follow their steps. Thus will they sow the seeds of a good life by the power of example, and others will reap the harvest. These, in turn, will sow again for others, until, after awhile, all will realize the truth of our Lord's words: "He that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
LOVE FEAST AT BEAVER CREEK MEETINGHOUSE, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24.
Preparatory services began at two P.M. Second Corinthians 5 was read. There was much good speaking. One brother's remarks on the ninth verse deeply interested me. They were in substance as follows: TEXT.—"Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him."
No better aim can ever have place in the breast of man or angel. But how natural it is for us to aim to please ourselves and others! There is no wrong in trying to please others, when that aim does not conflict with what pleases God. But for any one, especially a minister of the Gospel, to make it his chief aim to please others, that he may become popular and be highly esteemed of men, is an abomination to God.
Whether we are as humble and self-denying in all things as we should be, is a subject for self-examination, not only on the part of our lay brethren, but as well on the part of us who are ministers of the Word. Self-love is self-worship. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," is as true to-day as when it was hurled against the devil from the lips of Jesus Christ. Worship is love; and love unites us to the Lord, as the branch is united with the vine which is its life. Man has no spiritual life in himself other than what comes from the Lord.
A man's home life is his real life. In the presence of his family, when no stranger's eye or ear is nigh, he is out and out himself, and he then and there appears in his real character. But when absent, either among his brethren or strangers, he aims to put the best foot foremost and leave a favorable impression. I do not say that this is true of every one; but I do say, and say it from the depth of my soul's deepest affection, that the apostle's resolution should be true in the heart of every brother and sister: "We make it our aim, whether at home or abroad, to be well-pleasing unto God."
BAPTISMAL SCENE AT THE LINVILLE'S CREEK MEETINGHOUSE, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9.
John Zigler and wife, Celestine Whitmore and wife, and David Haller were baptized to-day.
I rejoice that these good people have cast in their lot with us; and hope that they will prove to be a blessing and an ornament in the church. Brother David Haller is a very sensible and active man, with a young family, and he can do much for the good cause. Brother Celestine Whitmore will exert a good influence on Lost River. And Brother John Zigler will show to the world how an active business may be carried on in a godly way. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, did put on Christ."
History tells us that Xenophon, in his famous retreat from Cunaxa, wore a wolfskin about his shoulders and breast. This was becoming to him as the general of an army of Greeks trained to slaughter, and bent on cutting his way through all opposition with the sword. It might also have been a suitable covering for each soldier in his army; since the uniform of an army is thought to signify, in some measure, the spirit by which the soldiers are incited to action.
The uniform of the soldier in the army of the Lord should, therefore, signify the spirit and mind that is in him. If the spirit is that of nonconformity to the world, so should the dress or uniform be. If the spirit is that of meekness, humility, kindness, goodness, purity, peace and love, the dress of both sexes, each in its appropriate form, should correspond to these affections of the heart.
THURSDAY, October 20. Brother Kline and Daniel Garber started to
The Diary does not say where THE GLADES are, but, from the churches and Brethren visited, it is inferred that they lie in the southern part of western Pennsylvania.
Among the places named at which they attended meetings may be mentioned Abraham Beachley's; Myers's schoolhouse; William Miller's; Brother Blaugh's; Berben; Brother Moser's; Dr. Krone's; Jacob Myers's and Bearkles. At the last-named place a council meeting was held at which brethren Cover and Fahrney were established in the second degree of the ministry. "They both," so the Diary says, "have a good report from those that are without, as well as from those that are within."
On their homeward way our two brethren had night meeting at Abbey Arnold's in Hampshire County, Virginia. The last chapter of Revelation was read. Brother Kline says: "Toward the close of my discourse I gave a farewell invitation to sinners to come and take of the 'Water of Life freely.' After meeting one man came to me and said that he was tired of drinking of the bitter waters of sin and thirsted for the sweet 'Water of Life.' I told him that our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life as revealed in his Word, is the Water of Life, that our loving acceptance of the truth of his Word as a matter of faith, and our living a life of obedience to God in conformity with that truth is drinking the Water of Life. It then becomes eternal life to our souls. I tried to encourage him to drink in this way; but I do not know what he may do."
Some things may appear in this book that are of little interest to the general reader. In this respect, however, it may not differ from many other books. The reader should kindly bear in mind that nearly all of the ministers and other Brethren whose names appear, in the fore part of the work especially, are known on earth no more, save as they live in the memory of those whom they have left behind.
In the list of deceased ministers are to be seen the names of Peter Nead, Abraham Flory, Daniel Garber, Daniel Miller, Martain Miller, George Hoke, Benjamin Bowman, Jacob Wyne, John Wyne, Daniel Thomas, John Harshberger, and a host of others. The records of these noble ministers of the Word are on high. No earthly monuments have ever been reared in honor of their achievements; and they need none. The good they have done by leaving the world and the church better off than they found them has won for them a crown of glory in heaven as imperishable as the throne of the eternal. The reader should remember that a sort of filial love for these men still lingers in the memory of many, who, in their younger days were personally acquainted with them. They heard them preach; and they looked up to them as children to parents. A lock of hair from a loved one long since passed away, is a little thing,—a very little thing in the eye of a stranger,—but in the eye of a loving friend it is above price. So some things in this work, apparently trivial to the general reader, may be highly prized by others. I will give, for an example, the following statement:
MONDAY, November 21. Peter Nead and Benjamin Bowman go with me to Harrisonburg, and obtain license of the County Court of Rockingham County, Virginia, to perform the ceremony of marriage.
This statement, taken from the Diary, may seem of no consequence to some; they may feel, as their eyes glance over it, that it is of no interest to them; when at the same time, to others it will be an incident they will never forget. Many can now say that one or the other of these ministers performed the ceremony when their father and mother were married. One or the other of these names stands upon the "Marriage Record" in many an old Family Bible. Even the grandchildren will find interest in things like these; and to learn more about these, and many other great and good men who have lived and died in the church of the Brethren, will not only interest the mind, but improve the heart.
A MAGNIFICENT DISPLAY OF THE AURORA BOREALIS.
THURSDAY, January 26. This night, says the Diary, a very wonderful display of the Aurora borealis was witnessed. The sky was all over a bright red, with white streaks streaming up from the north. The sight was wonderfully grand. As to the cause of this sublimely beautiful phenomenon various opinions have been held, and various theories launched upon the waves of scientific thought; but none, as yet, to my knowledge, have covered the ground of a satisfactory solution. Let the cause be what it may, there seems to be no good reason for fearing any harm to the earth or its inhabitants from its occasional appearance.
I have since learned, however, that many people were frightened at the sight, and feared that the last day was at hand. One sister in particular, not far from here, wrung her hands screaming almost spasmodically, fearing in her soul that the next thing would be the sound of "the last trumpet."
Some may smile at this; but suppose the trumpet had then sounded! Would those who now smile, or perhaps laugh, have been able to hear the thunder of its voice with a steadier nerve than she? Her faith was strong; nay, too strong for the weakness of her feeble body. She believed every word of Divine Truth. She believed in a final judgment, than which nothing is more positively declared in the sacred Scriptures. But because she had never seen such a sight before, and as no one could account for it, the conclusion was quickly reached that it was supernatural and sent as a herald of the coming Lord.
But he will come, and every eye shall see him. But "who shall abide the day of his coming?" Only they who shelter under the almighty wings of Jesus. "How often"—said he to Jerusalem, and now to every one else—"would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings." To those who laugh at sacred things now, it may then be said what follows in the above connection: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
"Hide me, O my Savior, hide; 'Neath the shadow of thy wing."
The above phenomenon lasted till midnight.
SUNDAY, February 12. "Peter Nead was with me at the Plains to-day." Whether Brother Kline saw or heard something in Peter Nead to-day that especially wrought upon his attention, he does not say; but this follows in the entry: "Brother Nead gives promise of becoming a very able speaker and a very useful man. May the Lord prosper him in all he sets his heart and hand to in his service." The church now knows the singular correctness of Brother Kline's estimate of the man, written over sixty years ago.
Brother Nead, like many other good and live men, may have had some apparent eccentricities in the direction of practical conservatism and the like; but, take him through and through, it is questionable if the church has ever been favored with a purer or sounder man.
THURSDAY, May 4. Preparations are being made to-day for the Annual Meeting. The brethren and sisters are all alive with desire to make all the visiting brethren and sisters as comfortable as possible during the meeting.
The Diary reports the arrival, during the next week, of brethren from Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Among those named are John and Joseph Bowman, Henry Kurtz, George Hoke and Brother Yant.
THURSDAY, May 11. Brother Beachley arrived. Brother Kline reports something like a heavenly feeling permeating the heart at the sight of the arrival of those beloved brethren. They all stopped with Brother Kline, whose house and heart both were large enough for their reception and entertainment.
As editor of this book, what would I not give for an exact report of the heart-refreshing conversations and sweet interchanges of thought and sentiment enjoyed by this group of heavenly-minded brethren, during their sojourn here! As a relief, however, to this thought another comes to mind, that this same group are again together, not for a "Yearly Meeting," but for an eternal meeting. The last one has been called to glory. The cross then; the crown now.
The interviews of brethren with each other fifty or sixty years ago present a striking contrast when placed side by side with those of the present day. The native simplicity, the artless manners, and the honest motives of all betokened a purity of heart and life that was truly charming. We mourn the absence of these marks of genuine piety, when at the present day, we see artistic display, formality, stiffness, and a "putting on" of studied courtesies and civilities on the part of many. The exterior of the hive is more ornamental now than it was then, and the swarm may have the appearance of better order in some of its workings, but it is a question whether there is as much pure honey inside. The robe may be more showy, but there is less wool in the "nap."
FRIDAY, May 12, and SATURDAY, May 13, were spent at the meetinghouse preparing to have everything in order.
YEARLY MEETING BEGINS.
Introductory Sermon by Elder George Hoke, of Ohio, Sunday, May 14.
TEXT.—And it came to pass, that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.—Luke 24:15.
To the true child of God no conceptions of bliss are worthy of being compared with those that flow from an ideal companionship and association with our Lord Jesus Christ.
"To dwell with him; to feel his love, Is heavenly bliss enjoyed above: And the sweet expectation now Is the same bliss begun below."
The text selected is suited to the occasion that has brought many of us together. We have met to commune in our thoughts with each other, and to reason together. Since the first hour of my arrival here I could but notice the delight, and even joy, on the part of many at meeting former acquaintances and renewing the ties of love, both social and Christian, that have bound us together in one common Brotherhood for years in the past, and which are still to bind us and our children's children together in the future on earth and the eternity in glory.
The subject for to-day naturally divides itself into three propositions:
I. They communed and reasoned together. II. Jesus himself drew near. III. Jesus himself went with them.
We readily enough, at the start, inquire who they were that communed and reasoned together. This we never can know with certainty, until the scales of mortality drop from our eyes. One, we are told, was Cleopas by name. It may have been the same Cleopas whose wife had stood by the cross. Some think the other was Luke, the writer of the Evangel, whom Paul calls the beloved physician.
Slowly and sadly, with crushed hopes and broken hearts, these two loving disciples of our Lord were wending their way from the scenes of confusion that had attended his crucifixion in Jerusalem to a quiet little village about eight miles distant, called Emmaus. Here, at least, they hoped to find exemption from the taunts and sneers of the infatuated mob in the city, whose mutterings were still to be heard in the distance, like those of a cyclone that has done its work.
I. "THEY COMMUNED AND REASONED TOGETHER."
The particular point in their conversation is not stated, but it is included in the general topic which is given as "the things which have happened in Jerusalem concerning Jesus of Nazareth." The imagination here finds scope to multiply themes without limit, on which they could reason, and over which they could be sad. At this very point of time, just when despair, like darkness at the close of an evening twilight, had settled down upon the entire landscape of their mental sight,
II. "JESUS HIMSELF DREW NEAR."
"But their eyes were holden that they should not know him." This simple statement has more than once caused "smiles in tears;" smiles at the half playfulness of Jesus talking to these two beloved disciples as a tender father sometimes talks to his little children; and tears at the condescending love of Christ our God and Lord, walking as a wayfaring man with two of his heartbroken creatures. Can you take this in, and not fall at his feet and kiss them? Can you take this in, and not look up into his face smiling through your tears?
And then he said: "Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?" This very sentence, by which he shed the first rays of light upon the dark waters of their storm-beaten bosoms, tells the whole tale of Christ's redeeming love. The cross and crown! Joy of earth and bliss of heaven! The cross of dishonor; the crown of glory! The cross of death; the crown of life!
"But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him." He came as the divine Word. He is the truth and the life of the Word; for "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Though they knew not that it was he, still their hearts did burn within them as he opened unto them the scriptures. "Beginning at Moses he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." They do not tell us the passages he quoted and explained; but it is believed we have them all in our Bibles. I think it is evident we have all the Scriptures now that were extant then; and it is our great privilege to hunt up for ourselves and others these broken pieces of the Bread of Life.
The word "HOLDEN" means simply, held back; restrained. For wise reasons he held back the sight of their eyes that they should not know him. Had they known him at first sight, it would have interfered with and prevented the accomplishment of his gracious purpose to make himself known in the "breaking of bread." In this very act he has taught his people one of the most precious lessons in all the Christian's experiences. He is the Bread of eternal Life. His whole Word is but one great loaf, and he is that loaf. And how my soul quivers with the thought that if we invite him in as these loving disciples did, and ask him to abide with us, he will take a seat with us at table, and break unto us the Bread of Life. Our spiritual eyes will be opened, and we shall joyfully know him. Then will
"Our hearts grow warm with heavenly fire; And kindle with a pure desire; While our blest Savior from above Feeds all our souls with holy love."
None but those
"that know the Lord, And taste the sweetness of his Word,"
can ever know the joys of his salvation.
III. "JESUS HIMSELF WENT WITH THEM."
We are not informed how many of the sixty furloughs they had already passed over on their way when "Jesus himself drew near, and went with them;" but from the loving kindness of our Lord we readily conclude they had not gone very far. "Can a mother forget her sucking child? Yea, she may forget; yet will not I forget thee." He knew the depth of their disappointment and the grief that followed when they could say: "We hoped that it was he which should redeem Israel." "We hoped—;" but alas! all hope is now forever gone. It lies buried with him in his tomb.
If one born blind could unexpectedly open his eyes to see the light of the morning sun in a cloudless sky, the surprise and joy could not be greater than were these to the two sitting at the table. They forgot to eat. They were so filled with the sight of the Lord that their hunger for that which merely represented him was all gone. They not only saw the proof of his resurrection; but in him they felt the resurrection of their own buried faith, and hope, and love.
"They rose up that very hour,—" I do not believe they sat still one minute after he vanished out of their sight—"and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, ... saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." This was to them one of the wonders connected with his rising, as Simon had so shamefully denied him so shortly before. But such is the fullness of his grace, that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound unto all such as are willing to receive it.
Some people do not believe the story of the resurrection. But, strange to say, they can believe something a hundred times less reasonable, and absolutely false. They can believe that a LIE has done more to better the condition of mankind in this world than all the truth that has ever been told. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the keystone to the great arch upon which rest all the truths of Divine Revelation. Destroy this, and the arch, with all upon it, falls a pile of ruins.
There is one special fact connected with the Lord's resurrection which we must not forget. He never appeared to any but his own. They, only, had eyes to see him. Some may wonder why he did not go out into the streets of Jerusalem and there, to gaping crowds, show his risen form with the nail prints and the spear mark still fresh in his hands and his feet, and in his side. In answer to this I have but little to say, more than that he was ever averse to casting pearls before swine or giving that which is holy unto dogs. I will add this, however, that as none but spiritual eyes can see him now, so none but spiritual eyes could see him then. This is what he meant by saying: "Yet a little while, and the world beholdeth me no more; but ye behold me: because I live, ye shall live also."
And now, my dear Brethren, what have we learned by our meditation to-day? If we have learned to know the Lord a little better, that we may draw nearer to him, we are edified, and our preaching and hearing have not been void. In all our communings with him, Brethren, let us believe and love with all our hearts. In our reasonings together let us know and feel that "he is nigh, even at hand." When we are in the way of duty, we love to feel that Jesus is with us, that he knows all we think, and sees all we do; but when out of the way, when walking in forbidden paths, how abashed and confused would we feel, if "Jesus himself were to draw near!" O brethren and sisters, let us so live, that every thought and word and act of our lives may be fit for his eye. Lord, give us grace so to live. Amen!
YEARLY MEETING OPENS
At the Linville's Creek Church, Monday, May 15.
Brethren Henry Kurtz, John Garber, Umstead and Price spoke in exposition of the Word and doctrine in the forenoon meeting, which opened at 8 A.M.
Brother Price took the lead, and spoke from 1 Peter 1:12. I will give a faithful report of his discourse as nearly exact as it can be made from the very brief outlines left by Brother Kline. Had the thought ever entered Brother Kline's mind that his Diary might at some future day be published in a regularly prepared form, I feel sure he would have left more extended entries on points of intense interest.
TEXT.—"Which things the angels desire to look into."
Salvation is infinitely the most momentous subject that can engage the thoughts of men. It embraces a knowledge of God on the one hand and a knowledge of man on the other. It is a pleasing thought that as the knowledge of God is unfolded to the mind, a knowledge of man's own sinful and lost condition flows in along with it; so that the very same light which enables him to perceive the love and goodness and truth and holiness of God imparts to him at the same time a view of his own sinful state. He is led to see and feel in himself a spiritual condition which is the very opposite of that which he discovers in God his Creator, Preserver and bountiful Benefactor.
The Bible tells us that "in the beginning God made man upright," that he created him in his own image, after his own likeness, and pronounced him, with all else that he had made, "very good." But how is man now? What is his moral and spiritual condition? I appeal to the heart experience of every one in this house for an answer. Brother, there is no charge on the part of the church against you. The church has never at any time preferred a charge against you. You are loved and held in high esteem by all the brethren and sisters. The laws of your land have never brought an accusation against you. You have, in the most minute particulars, been "a law-abiding citizen." More than all this, you labor to do all the good you can, by feeding and clothing the poor; by helping to keep up the church, and by aiding in the spread of the Gospel. You also help your neighborhood, county and State by paying all your dues and by voluntary contributions of money or labor to public improvements, education and whatever else may be for the general good, as necessity may demand.
But, with all these excellencies in your character and life in full view, I ask you, as in the presence of God: Do you feel in your heart that you are a good man? Would you be willing for the world and the church to know every thought and imagination and desire that enters your heart and passes through your mind in the short space of one day of your life? Do you feel that all within is fit for the eye of God? I know, or think I know, just what is in your mind, and your answer is in words like these: "I do not feel that I am good. It is only by constant watchfulness, by looking to Jesus in his Word, and by reading his Word with prayer, in connection with my attendance upon the ordinances of his house, that I am enabled to walk in the path I go, and lead the life I do.
"'He LEADETH me: HE leadeth me: By his own hand he leadeth me.'
"His promise, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,' sustains my hope and assures me that 'he will never leave me, nor forsake me.' Thus, God being my helper, I do all the good I can, and shun the evil. In this way 'I labor, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing to him; and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling;' feeling, however, at the same time, a blessed assurance that it is God who worketh in me both to will and to do the things that are pleasing in his sight."
Brethren, this is salvation. It is the sum of "the things which many prophets and wise men desired to see, and saw them not; and to hear, and heard them not." But let us look at the divine forces, brother, that have wrought in you this wonderful change from a life of self-love, into which you were born by nature, to a life of divine love, joyful, holy, heavenly love to God and your brother, into which you have been born by the Spirit.
Peter tells us something about this in the chapter read. He here says: "Ye were REDEEMED, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with the precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.... Ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth; ... having been begotten [or born] again, ... through the word of God, which liveth and abideth."
He now introduces the contrast between man's natural birth and his spiritual birth: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit;" and he says:
"All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth."
"Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," is the doom of flesh and blood sealed to every mortal as a consequence of sin. No wonder the grave is sad and lonely to the contemplation of those who have no hope of aught of life or love beyond it. It is sad to think how many have no higher claim to life and happiness than mere fleshly, bodily existence. But our Lord hath "brought life and immortality to light," and
"The good Spirit of the Lord Reveals a heaven to come; The beams of glory in his Word Allure and guide us home."
"Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be;" but we know that we have the promise of "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
Brethren, this inheritance which Peter talks of—what do you think about it? Is it something extraneous to the man, something outside of him? Or is it something intrinsic to the man in his renewed state, something internal, something inside of him? I, for one, believe that man's eternal and blissful inheritance, which Peter and John and Paul describe in such glowing terms, is in the man himself, in his adaptation to the bliss-inspiring garniture of heaven. It is "Christ in him the hope of glory."
This exalted and blissful state of man redeemed is what Peter calls his "inheritance which is incorruptible." Think of it, Brethren. No more sin to bewail; no more sickness to suffer; no more death to dread! It is also "undefiled." No more "filthiness of the flesh;" "neither idolatry, nor adultery, nor whatsoever loveth and maketh a lie." And "that fadeth not away." The luster of the eye; the bloom of the cheek; the facial expressions of beauty and love, purity and truth, know nothing of decay in the amaranthine bowers of spotless purity.
We often wonder about heaven. But I will tell you, Brethren, what I believe about it. I do believe in my very soul that every Christian man, after the death of his body, finds himself in the very heaven he takes with him from this world; and that every man's heaven is the LOVE and the TRUTH that abound in his mind and heart. If his heart is filled with love to God and to his brother, and his mind stored with the truth of God as revealed in his Son Jesus Christ, that man's heaven is in him. Do you remember, Brethren, that when Jesus was on earth he said that he was also at the same time in heaven? Now let me show you this. He says to Nicodemus: "No man hath ascended to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man WHICH IS IN HEAVEN." John 3:13.
And right here a difficulty confronts us which we must try to settle. Did not Elijah ascend to heaven? How about Moses? These two redeemed saints were both of them in heaven at the very time our Lord said this to Nicodemus. Very shortly after this conversation they made their appearance, not only to Jesus, but to Peter and James and John on the holy mount in glory. How had they gotten there? I will tell you just what I think our Lord meant. He meant to teach that stupid, materialistic Nicodemus that people do not go to heaven by merely ascending, like as one would ascend or go up from a lower room in a building to a higher one. He meant to teach him that heaven must be in the man, inwrought into his character and life. This follows in perfect harmony with what he had just before told him about the new birth and a change of heart. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and nothing more. But Paul says: "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Elijah had not really ascended. The Lord just took him up as he had taken Enoch many years before. He was in heaven whilst on earth, just as Jesus was. The only change he underwent in his departure from this world was a change in the relations of his state. While here his state was a heavenly state, but surrounded by earthly things. After his departure from earth his state was the same; but his surroundings were heavenly, and he could feel at home.
No wonder, Brethren, that the angels desire to look into these things. Some very good and wise men are of the opinion that all the angels of heaven are none other than saints redeemed from the earth. How this may be I do not know; but some things that the Bible says about angels seem to favor this conclusion. The main thing in this direction is the deep interest they have always felt, and the active part they have always taken in the things of man's salvation. Paul covers this whole ground by a single sweep of his pen. "Are they not all," says he, "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Of course he means by the heirs of salvation those still tabernacling in the flesh, and still exposed to the ups and downs of the waves of life.
I think, though, that one reason why the angels feel such a deep interest in the things of man's salvation is because they are there—in heaven, I mean—always beholding the face of our Father who is in heaven. They see and feel the glory; they know the bliss of that celestial state. So full of love are they even for poor, fallen, lost, ruined man that we are told by the Lord himself that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." Their joy in this is commensurate with the exalted knowledge they have of the blessedness of true penitence. In it they see light shining in the darkness of the poor sinner's heart. Peace to the waves of his storm-beaten soul,—a new creature in the image of their and our Lord Jesus Christ coming forth into the enjoyment of a new life in him; deliverance from the bondage and power of sin, and restoration to the glorious liberty of the children of God! How much more than all this they see in the return of one soul to God. I do not know; and we never can know fully until we go up higher.
"The blessedness of those above, Why longs my panting soul to know? For future bliss I know is LOVE, And love is felt by saints below.
"But love so pure, exalted high Beyond compute, beyond compare— No eagle wing that height may fly; No mortal breathe that upper air.
"There, love springs pure and unrepressed; There, all are loved, and love again. Love fills each burning cherub's breast; Love fires each flaming seraph train.
"Soon, soon shall I, this conflict o'er, From sin be freed, with love be fired; Soon, soon in heaven, my God adore, With love, celestial love inspired."
And right here this thought comes to mind: If angels are so much interested in the salvation of men, should not men be quite as deeply interested in the salvation of one another? If there are such exultant emotions of joy in the bosoms of angels over one sinner that repents, should there not be an equal measure of joy in the bosoms of men from the same cause?
But the text says: "The angels desire to look into these things." We should not infer from this that their knowledge of the way of salvation is limited, or that they meet with difficulties in the way of understanding it. Oh, no! Their desires are being constantly met and supplied with the means of acquiring knowledge upon this subject, fully up to the measure of each one's capacity to take it in. We may, therefore, justly infer from the text that the subject is immensely vast in its proportions and range.
As salvation is infinite in respect to the TRUTHS contained in it and connected with it, so is it also eternal in respect to the SCENES and experiences through which the redeemed will be forever passing.
"Could we, so rich in rapture, fear an end, That ghastly thought would drink up all our joy; And quite unparadise the realms of light."
And here, dear brethren and sisters, another thought comes to mind suggesting another question: If angels desire to look into the things of man's salvation, should not men have an equal desire to look into them? Should not those who still have the stream to cross, and to whom the ford looks somewhat dark and uncertain, be quite as much interested in it, and in all connected with it, as those who are safely landed on the other shore? Think of this, will you? Let me impress this thought: If the angels, who are out of the reach of all harm and danger, feel such a glow of interest to learn all they can about the way in which all are saved; should not men, who are still exposed to danger, feel an equal or a still deeper interest?
But how is it with the bulk of professors? Who of you, my dear Brethren, make the Bible the man of your counsel? Who of you read and study it with that devotion of faith which makes you feel that your eternal life is in that Word? With joy would I give you the touch of heaven's galvanism to quicken your souls to a livelier sense of the transcendent importance of this matter. I feel sure that many of you do read. You love your Bible because it tells you of your sin and your Savior, of your cross and your crown. But how is it with many? They read some, no doubt; partly from a sense of duty and to quiet their consciences; but not, I fear, with a deep and inmost desire to learn the things of salvation.
Brethren, if the Bible be true, it is tremendously true. It is true with a power that lifts the contrite, penitent, faithful follower of our Lord to the gates of the Holy City, and opens them to him; and it is true with a power that sinks the faithless, impenitent, careless, sin-loving sinner to hell. To which class do I belong? With which class am I going to spend a long eternity? I am happy to see in the luster of many an eye here the evidence of your being in the class first named, and on the side of salvation. God grant that all may be in that number; and in a better world and a purer life, with angels on high, sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.
Brother Price was followed by brethren John Garber, Henry Kurtz and Umstead, all bearing testimony more or less extended. The services were brought to a close, and an intermission was given. In the afternoon queries were taken in.
TUESDAY, May 16. The meeting was continued to-day. Seven queries were disposed of. Love and harmony abound.
WEDNESDAY, May 17. The meeting was brought to a close to-day. The business being all disposed of, it broke up in the afternoon by the singing of the hymn:
"Blest be the dear uniting love That will not let us part; Our bodies far apart may move, We still are joined in heart."
O my God, I pray that we, as thy dear people, may ever be thus joined in heart; that we may ever be of one mind and speak the same thing; that thy Spirit may fill us and guide us into a clear understanding of thy revealed will that we may not err therein; that we may keep all pride and emulation of the flesh out of our hearts; that each one may esteem another better than himself with all lowliness and meekness; with long-suffering; forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Amen!
THURSDAY, May 18. Some of the Brethren from a distance start home to-day. Set things in order at the meetinghouse. While thus engaged our thoughts would turn to the pleasant season of brotherly communion we had just passed through. I can but wish and pray that the same spirit of love and union may pervade every meeting yet to be held in the Brotherhood, through all time, to the end of the world.
THURSDAY, August 10. Benjamin Bowman and Samuel Wampler were established in the ministry to-day, in a council at our meetinghouse.
TUESDAY, August 29. Brother Kline and Brother Flory start to Maryland and Pennsylvania on horseback. Brother Abraham Flory, by the way, was a suitable companion for Brother Kline. He loved home, it is true, and he had a home worthy of being loved. But when he made up his mind to go he left all his home cares behind; and, like Abraham of old, he said to these servants of life: "Stay ye here while I go yonder to worship; and I will return again unto you." He consequently never fretted about home in his absence; but was habitually calm and self-possessed. Even a rainy day or high water did not interfere with the equilibrium of his mild temper.
These two brethren were well mounted. Their horses were good travelers, not only as to gait, but bottom as well. This, in common parlance, means great power of endurance. We must not forget that this journey was undertaken more than sixty years ago. The two travelers did not know what weather they might have to contend with on a journey which was to occupy more than five weeks. Umbrellas were rare in that day; but even if they had been abundant they were too much "after the fashion" to have been used by these unfashionable brethren. Indeed umbrellas were not used by the Brotherhood, at least in Virginia, until many years after this.
A GREAT COAT, made of heavy and compact stuff, with long skirts reaching to the feet, and a large cape attached, covering completely the shoulders, and buttoning over the breast, constituted a covering defying both rain and storm. Superadded to this was a very broad-brimmed hat of solid felt. Every saddle in that day was provided with what was called a coat-pad. This was a flat leather pad fastened to the saddle just behind the seat, and furnished with straps and buckles so as to hold an overcoat, when properly rolled up and fastened, in perfect order whilst traveling. Leather saddlebags well stocked with changes of clean underwear completed the outfit.
Thus equipped, these two brethren started on their journey. Their spirit in all this reminds one of what passed between two ministering brethren of another persuasion who were traveling together, neither so well equipped nor mounted, but on foot. Trudging along in the face of foul weather to meet an engagement, Comer said to Proctor:
"I don't mind the rain If souls I may gain."
To which Proctor instantly replied to Comer:
"I can face every storm of rain and foul weather, When I and my Lord are walking together."
Wherever Brother Kline and his companion went they were recognized, whether personally known or not, as DUNKARD PREACHERS. No doubt the sneer was sometimes thrust at them, and the lip curled with contempt by those whose stolid ignorance and stupid brains had locked the door against the inflow of good breeding and truth. But in the eyes of all honest, sincere-minded people their mission was one of mercy, truth and love; and they were loved and respected accordingly.
Near the close of the third day of travel, they passed
Brother Kline's experienced eye took in the whole scene at one view. He says: "The scenery here is greatly surpassed by that of many places within the Allegheny ranges. It is not nearly equal to the South Branch Gap below Petersburg in Hardy County, Virginia; nor does it at all compare, in sublime grandeur, with the Rocks at the mouth of the Seneca, in Pendleton County, Virginia. It is tame in comparison with either of these places. But so goes the world. It is with places as with people. When one gets a name by being lauded high by some distinguished personage, as Thomas Jefferson, for example, he soon has the eyes and the ears of the world; whilst others, more worthy, perhaps, in all the elements of true greatness, are left unnoticed and unknown. This thought awakens my recollection of a stanza in Gray's 'Elegy.' It touches tenderly and beautifully upon the neglect and lack of appreciation often experienced by real beauty, virtue and goodness. Here is the verse:
"'Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.'
"But we must tone our criticisms down to a just standard. The lack of fame with many justly meriting it is not their own fault, nor is it the fault of the world; but the trouble lies greatly in the place of their birth and in the surroundings of their lives. If the South Branch Gap had had its birth at Harper's Ferry the summit of its fame would reach the clouds; whilst Harper's Ferry, born among the rugged recesses of the Alleghenies, would never be thought of. The world is not so partial and full of favoritism as we think. It readily takes up what suits its uses and its tastes, without stopping to inquire whether there might not be something better found."
Crossing the Potomac at the Ferry, they go to Brother Letherman's and spend the night.
FRIDAY, September 1. Love feast at Brother Herschman's in Middle Valley. Luke 3 was read. Three persons were baptized. Next day the brethren go to Beaver Dam, and pass the night at John Garber's.
At this time letter postage was very high, as much as twenty-five cents on some letters; and the transportation of mails very slow. Regardless of this, however, by means of letters, Brother Kline knew just where to go and what to expect before starting on a journey. Appointments for preaching, councils and love feasts fell in the line of his route from beginning to end. Have a little bit of patience, please, and let me quote the entries just as I find them in the Diary for this journey. If they do not interest you, they may interest others deeply, especially the children and the grandchildren of the good people named in them.
SUNDAY, September 3. Love feast at Beaver Dam. Luke 14 was read. Three persons were baptized.
MONDAY, 4. Visit Brother Deah's and Saylor's, and stay all night at Joseph Engle's.
TUESDAY, 5. Meeting at Pipe Creek. Luke 16 was read. Stay all night at Peter Royer's.
WEDNESDAY, 6. Meeting at Rupp's. John 1 was read. Stay all night at Christian Royer's.
THURSDAY, 7. Stay at Brother Keeney's.
FRIDAY, 8. Love feast at Brother Keeney's. John 18 was read.
SATURDAY, 9. Visit Jacob Myers's. Stay all night at David Brillhardt's.
The families visited in the order of Brother Kline and Brother Flory's route were as follows: Christian Longenacker's, John Zug's, Abraham Zug's, Daniel Zug's, Jacob Gipe's, John Gipe's, Abraham Harshey's, Shoemaker's, Brother Myers's on the other side of the Susquehanna, Andrew Deardorf's, David Pfoutz, Fogelsanger's, John Stauffer's, Brother Royer's, Brother Holsinger's, Welty's, Fahrney's, Joseph Emert's, Eschleman's, David Kinsey's, Brother Martain's, James Tabler's; Carter's, in Frederick County, Virginia, Jonas Goughnour's, in Shenandoah County, Virginia; and home Tuesday, October 3.
Brother Flory and I did not separate for one day or night on this journey. He preached a good deal, and has, I think, left a very good impression. He related a little incident about a local preacher with whom he was personally acquainted, and which he stated for a fact, that has several times amused me. It came in at a suitable place in one of his discourses. The preacher had been regularly receiving one hundred dollars a year from his Conference, for stated preachings to several poor congregations not far from his home. The preacher owned a farm and a mill, both at the same time; and with the two combined he became independent. His brethren saw this and concluded that he ought no longer be paid the hundred dollars a year; so the pay was withheld. But his preaching stopped as suddenly as his pay. When asked about the cause of this he pointed to his mill wheel and said: "Do you suppose that that wheel will run if you keep the water off?"
The brethren and sisters generally appeared to be alive to their spiritual interests. The meetings were usually well attended, and good attention was paid to the preaching. In some places, however, worldliness in dress and manners is becoming too apparent.
In Maryland we happened to fall in company with a man traveling our course, who represented himself as a United Brethren preacher. He was very plainly dressed himself, and as we were plain I guess he thought that to give his conversation a turn upon the fashions of the world would not be unpleasant to us. At any rate he went on to tell how pride was gradually creeping, inch by inch, into his own denomination; and, "worst of all," said he, "it looks like it is beginning to take hold of some of our preachers." He then stated that at their last yearly Conference, the bishop had scored some of them fearfully about it. He then repeated what the bishop had said on the occasion about the
ORIGIN OF FASHIONS.
"Some of you may be curious to know from what place the American people obtain their fashions. I will tell you. They get them from New York City. And from what place does New York City get them? From London. And from what place does London get them? From Paris. And from what place does Paris get them? I answer," said the bishop, "that Paris gets them from hell through the devil and his agents."
In the journey from which I have just returned I preached twenty times; attended eight love feasts; visited and conversed with many families on religious topics. In all this service, if I know my own heart, I have been actuated by no selfish motives. As Paul said: I desire that my service may be acceptable to the saints; but to make it so, I have used no deceit, no flattery, and have put forth no effort of any kind save that of trying, by the grace of God, to make myself a faithful minister of Jesus Christ. As one called to preach the Gospel, this is my duty at all times. Conscious of this, I aim to be "instant in season, out of season." May God bless our labors, including those of the dear brother who was with me. "Paul may plant, and Apollos water; but God only can give the increase." We must, by his grace, use all means to keep the Brotherhood pure, by defending it against the inroads of worldliness and pride in every form. May God forgive all our sins. Amen!
SUNDAY, October 15. Brethren Martain Myers and Samuel Lehman were with us at our meeting to-day. They spoke beautifully on John 5:24.
Resolutions Made by Elder John Kline,
Monday, January 1, 1838.
He says: I now resolve
To do all the good I can this year.
To shun all evil in thought, word, and deed as far as I can.
To learn all I can of wholesome truth.
To make the best use I can of what I learn and know. To do all this with an eye single to the glory of God and the good of mankind.
Could any one resolve better? Could an angel from heaven, if sent down to live with men on earth, resolve to a better purpose? But it is easier to resolve than to carry into effect; easier to think wisely than to act wisely; easier to plan well than to execute. But of this one thing I am sure: If Brother Kline failed in any of the above resolutions, his failure was not chargeable to his will, but to his weakness. Even Paul could say: "To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. When I would do good, evil is present with me." The cause of this conflict in the course of every Christian's experience is what has been very appropriately called "indwelling sin." The serpent's head may be bruised to death, but the tail will not die until the sun goes down. It is true, the tail is not at the dangerous end of a snake; but while the tail rattles and wriggles it gives evidence that there is still some life left; and before one turns away from it in the satisfied assurance that it needs no further attention it might be well for him to look again and make sure, beyond all doubt, that the head end has been crushed to death.