These eleven disciples, from this time on to do the work of apostles, had been with the Lord in nearly all of his public ministry and life. They knew how he had overcome in temptation; how victorious he had been in his conflicts with the accusing and fault-finding Jews, and how patient and forgiving he had been in his trial before Pilate and the high priest. They were witnesses of the purity of his character and life; of the disinterested love he bore toward all within his reach; of the good will toward men manifested by his going about doing good wherever he went. But the point above all other points in his character in which all poor sinners are most deeply interested is the duty and work he here laid upon these eleven apostles: the commission he gave them, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name. They were witnesses of his mercy so often shown to sinners of the lowest and vilest character. Did he ever send one away empty? If you will read the four Gospels in which are recorded the life of Jesus Christ you may be surprised to see how often he said, "Thy sins are forgiven." Once when he was in a Pharisee's house a woman in the city, who was a sinner, washed his feet with her tears of penitence, and he said: "Her sins which are many are forgiven." Some people brought to him a man sick of the palsy lying on a bed. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick of the palsy: "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven." This man's sins were remitted, because remitted and forgiven have the same meaning.
I must here call special attention to one point in all the miracles of healing wrought by the Lord, and that point has relation to the cause of all our woe. It is the sin of man. To the impotent man who had lain by the pool thirty and six years, unable to get in, after being healed, the Lord when he met him in the Temple said: "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee." Paul says: "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Death of the body is the point at which all diseases, ailments and infirmities aim; and the death, the eternal death, of the soul is the point at which all sins aim. "Death is the wages of sin." "And ye are witnesses of these things." In relieving insane, idiotic, epileptic and dumb people of the mental ailments afflicting them, he always removed the cause by casting out the devils or evil spirits as the cause of their troubles.
I know that some people doubt or disbelieve that sin is the cause of all suffering. I have met such. They freely aver that this cannot be so, because the brute creation suffers, which they say is sinless. It is a well conceded fact that brutes are not accountable. They have no future state of existence. They lack that freedom of the will to choose good or evil, and that understanding to know good from evil, both of which man has in unlimited possession. Still, brutes are subject in a low degree to the very same vile passions, the indulgence of which in man becomes sin to him. And why? Because man is destined to live to eternity, in another state of existence. If man's existence were to terminate with the life of his body, his sins, although of a somewhat viler character than those of the brute creation, would be of no more account. The Lord sent out his apostles, and in their steps others to follow, whose great business it was, has been, and ever will be to tell people that they are sinners; that sin is the cause of all the misery, wretchedness, suffering and unhappiness in earth and hell, and that the only way for people to be rid of the multiform evils of existence is to be rid of sin.
Salvation from sin, then, is immensely the most important matter that can possibly engage man's heartfelt attention, as I said at the start. How to get rid of the evil of sin—I mean the love of evil—and how to come into the possession of the love of what is good, and as a result of that love lead a good life, is the sum and substance of all divine teaching. And why? Because a man's character, whether good or bad, goes with him when he dies. Character is the only thing we do take with us when we leave this world and enter the next. "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." "Whatsoever a man soweth the same shall he reap," is a law as immutable as the law of gravitation. Our Lord has mercifully opened up a way, a highway, out of a life of sin into a life of holiness. The first step in this way, nay, the first step towards it, is repentance. This involves a very great change in the state of man's will or heart. Heart and will have the same meaning. Repentance is a change in the affections of the heart. It is a change so great that man of himself, unaided by the Lord, would never make it. It is a change from the supreme love of self and the world to love of the Lord and one's neighbor. "Except a man deny himself, and take up his cross daily, he cannot be my disciple." Self-denial and bearing the cross are repentance.
"If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." All these relationships symbolize evil affections and thoughts which are to be no longer loved. The withdrawal of the affections from all our inherited and acquired evils is repentance. If the right hand be in the way of our repentance, it must be cut off. If the right eye cause us to stumble, it must be plucked out.
But it will not do to leave the matter thus. The quotations and references I have given are so strong they almost overwhelm us. We almost cry out when we hear or read them, as the disciples did when the Lord had just told them of the impossibility of a rich man's entering the kingdom of heaven: "Who then can be saved?" But I give you the same answer the Lord gave the disciples: "With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible." It is the Lord who gives us the power to repent. Bartimeus could not see until the Lord opened his eyes. But when he called, the Lord heard. So we must call. "And whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved." This is faith; and I may here add the Lord's words: "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." But remission of sins is as sure to follow true repentance as day is sure to follow the darkest night. "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit." Remission of sins, and a life of good works, is the fruit borne by the penitent man symbolized by a good tree. And what does remission of sins imply? It implies casting our sins behind us; forsaking them; leaving them off, and not looking back. It implies putting one's hand to the plow in a new field of life and labor, and never looking back. "He that putteth his hand to the plow, and looketh back, is not fit for the kingdom." Looking back with a longing eye, as Lot's wife did, is sure proof that we have not fairly remitted our sins in heart, but that we still love them.
I perceive from the expression of some faces that surprise is felt at my intimation that man remits his own sins. But he does as truly as he destroys the grass from among his corn or the weeds from his garden. God gives him the strength and the will to do both, but man has his work to do. He must be a coworker with God. Would there be any good in blind eyes being restored to sight, unless man would be willing to see with them? Or any good in palsied arms made strong, unless they were used to do good? Or any good in having the whole leprous body cleansed, unless the cleansed man would return to give glory to God?
Isaiah's very first vision of the church called forth that wonderful exclamation: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes: cease to do evil; learn to do well." This, when done, is the remission of sins. It is sending them back, to the rear; while we have the Lord always before our eyes. He said to the blind Pharisees: "Cleanse first the INSIDE of the cup and the platter, that the outside may be clean also." Paul says: "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and SPIRIT." James says: "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." Does not all this look as if man had a good deal to do with the remission of his sins?
It is natural, or, rather, it is in harmony with God's order in the creation of man, for him to desire to have a part and lot in all the Lord does for him. He enjoys most the fruit of trees planted by his own hands. A lady appreciates the garden or lawn arranged and set according to her taste, and cultivated by her hands. God mercifully favors us with similar feelings in making good, pure-minded, truth-loving, faithful men and women of his intelligent creation. With this intention he has given man special work and ways of manifesting his will to work with the Lord. The only ordinance of this kind which I will call your attention to to-day is that of baptism for the remission of sins. It is also called the washing of regeneration. As the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, the three eternal and infinite essentials of the Divine Trinity, all have part in man's repentance, in the remission of his sins, as well as in the regeneration of his will unto eternal life, BAPTISM in water, in each of the three names, is enjoined in our Lord's great commission. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
As an order of Christian Brethren, we hold that a threefold immersion of the body in water by a properly authorized administrator is necessary to fulfill the requirement of the great commission. As water, in its highest and divinest significance, symbolizes all the holy means by which man is enabled to renounce and remit his sins, so baptism symbolizes his heartfelt acceptance of and submission to those means. From this it is called the baptism of repentance first, and, later on, as the truth became clearer, it is called baptism for the remission of sins. As additional light was still thrown upon man's salvation, a light which Nicodemus could not see, baptism acquired a new significance, described by Paul as "the washing of regeneration."
Almost unwittingly we now find a threefold significance in the ordinance. It symbolized first, in the ministry of John, repentance toward God the Father. But after the martyrdom of John no baptism was administered until the day of Pentecost, when it received its full significance. As Peter had experienced so much of the evil of sin and the joy of forgiveness, it symbolized to his mind the remission of sins. He was right. Paul was the unbelieving, educated Jew, whose heart was so set against the Lord that after his conversion he felt himself to be a new man, with a new name; and in his letter to Titus he calls it "the washing of regeneration." Thus we have a threefold significance of the ordinance, as well as a threefold act. Anyone, then, whether fully conscious of the truth or not, says, by submitting to the ordinance, "I have repented of my sins; I have forsaken my sins and desire to keep them forever behind me; I desire to walk in newness of life. I accept the love of the Father, the truth of the Son, and the power of the Holy Ghost by which I have been taken 'out of death into life,' and from the power of Satan to God; my feet set into the way of holiness, and a 'new song put into my mouth, even praises unto our God.'"
The two brethren had night meeting at John Eby's, where they stayed all night.
MONDAY, October 7. They got to Brother David Kinsey's, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
TUESDAY, October 8. They had night meeting at Brother Jacob Rile's.
The next day they joined company with brethren Christian Long and John Glock, who come up the Shenandoah Valley with them to Brother Kline's home, which they reached Saturday, October 12.
On December 8 Brother Kline started to Baltimore. He went partly on a visit to his relative, Michael B. Kline, who was, at this time, a very prosperous commission merchant in the city. Brother Kline spent about six days in Baltimore this time; and whilst hardly any one else would have thought of anything beyond the pleasure of the visit and a little business to be attended to, he must have a gathering and preach. He made his voice heard time and again. No doubt many heard what they had never heard before—the truth. On his return home, he stopped in Washington City and had a pleasant interview with President Fillmore.
In the year 1850 Brother Kline traveled 4,070 miles. He preached thirty-one funeral sermons. Twelve of these were for persons over fifty years of age; seven, for persons between twenty and fifty; and twelve for persons under twenty. He delivered one hundred and ten sermons at appointments for preaching, besides the many councils and other meetings attended. When at home he was also called to administer medicine to the sick. This service and the ministry kept him actively employed almost the whole of his time.
THURSDAY, January 9. Perform the marriage ceremony of Conrad Custer and Nancy Shoemaker; also the same for George Hulvey and Diana Turner.
TUESDAY, February 11. Perform the marriage ceremony of Jackson See and Bettie Whitmore.
THURSDAY, February 20. Perform the marriage ceremony of Solomon Hulvey and Catharine Ritchie.
MONDAY, February 24. A fearful storm unroofs part of my barn to-day.
SATURDAY, March 8. Council meeting at Beaver Creek meetinghouse. The church has under consideration the matter of preparing for Annual Meeting to be held at the Brick meetinghouse, near Christian Kline's, on Middle river in Augusta County, Virginia, to begin Saturday, June 7, 1851.
SUNDAY, March 9. Meeting at the Beaver Creek meetinghouse. First Peter 1 is read. Afternoon meeting in Bridgewater, in the Lutheran church. Speak on John 3:29. TEXT.—"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled."
This is a wonderful testimony, borne by John the Baptist. It at once shows the love which that wonderfully great and good man had for the Lord, and at the same time his own deep humility of heart in his presence. And the Lord's testimony concerning John given in these words, "He was a burning and a shining light," is equally wonderful, and carries with it the great love he had for John.
John had many friends. All held him to be a prophet of extraordinary character; and if his popularity had tended to corrupt the honest simplicity of his heart he would not have borne this testimony to Jesus. But he goes still further in his disavowal of all claim to preferment by confessing and not denying that he is not the Christ. He says: "He must increase, but I must decrease." Jesus was the sun rising in his splendor; John the moon paling in his light.
The church is the bride. The Lord is the bridegroom. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." There is a doctrine of deep interest involved in John's testimony. It concerns every one of us to know it. It is the relation subsisting between the Lord and the church. This relation is represented as that existing between husband and wife, the very nearest that can subsist between two human beings—the unification of one with the other to the extent that they are no more twain, but one flesh. Reference to this relation of the church to the Lord is to be found in the Scriptures at several places. Isaiah prophesying the glory of the true Christian church exclaims: "For as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee."
But it is consistent and proper for a bride to adorn herself preparatory to her marriage. But even for this occasion she should be arrayed in modest apparel, as becometh saints. But God recognizes the propriety of suitable ornamentation, and uses it as a figure in these words: "My soul will greatly rejoice in the Lord, for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." The garments of salvation beautifully symbolize the holy life of God's saints, and correspond to the fine linen, clean and white, in which the bride, the Lamb's wife, is arrayed, as described by John in the Apocalypse. Her jewels correspond to the divine truths of the Word, which ornament a good life.
I will now offer some practical thoughts on what I have stated, so as to draw the attention of your minds more closely to the subject. Some people seem to think it a matter of small moment whether one makes a public profession of religion or not. Such seem to satisfy their minds by concluding that God knows what is in their hearts, and that the church has no business to concern itself about them. They think they can live as good and as pure lives out of the church as in it. This last conclusion may be correct, for many do not live very pure or good lives in the church. But all this has nothing to do with God's established order. A man might say: "I love that lady, and with her consent I will live a virtuous life with her. But I do not intend to marry her after the ceremonial style of most people. Marriage ceremonies are useless, and with her consent we will just go together as husband and wife, and so live; and whose business is it but our own?" In the first place I have to say, that if two could be found who were willing to go together and live in this way, if they were not in some way severely punished, they might thank their good stars for it. In the next place I have to say that such cohabitation would wholly subvert the order of society by giving loose reins to lust which would break in upon the legal relationships of the social compact to an extent that would place us on a social level with the aborigines of America.
And what would the Lord's kingdom be without a visible church? He says: "My kingdom is not of this world." His kingdom being essentially invisible, it remains a matter of necessity that there be some way for making its subjects visible to one another as such, and capable of being recognized and known as such.
Our Lord says: "The kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation; for lo! the kingdom of heaven is within you." Now, we cannot look into a man's heart. All we can know of a man's heart is from what he says and does. But the Lord has established an order for the subjects of his kingdom. He has proclaimed a law, call it a ceremonial law if you choose, by obedience to which all the subjects of his kingdom on earth may be found out and become known to each other. That law is the Lord's will made visible in the order of his brethren, carried out in the forms of church organization by means of established ordinances appointed by him. The Lord does not want his bride to wander through earth's vanities a viewless, inactive, unprotected entity:
Doing nothing for his cause, Learning nothing of his laws;
but he wants her to appear "all glorious within" and without; "bright as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners."
I have been accused by some of never preaching a sermon without having something to say about baptism, as if discoursing on that subject might be criminal in their eyes. I can boldly say I do not like to close a sermon without saying something about it, because baptism in water, as the door to the visible church, has so much significance in it that I do not feel as if I had fully discharged my duty to the souls of men without it. But I am not altogether singular in this respect. I have some very good company. John the Baptist had baptism in two of his sermons. Peter the apostle had baptism, in two out of three of his sermons. Ananias had baptism in the sermon he preached to Saul, and that in a shape altogether too strong for many, as that Saul should wash away his sins in it. Philip had baptism in his sermon to the eunuch, and Paul had baptism in his joyful anticipations of heavenly glory, and calls it the washing of regeneration; and in fact he laid strong emphasis on it in his answer to the Philippian jailer's question, "What shall I do to be saved?" But the Lord's sermon to Nicodemus gives the crown to baptism as the visible birth into the visible church. He calls it "born of water,"—internally born of the Spirit, externally born of water. So you see, friends, I have plenty of company in this line of preaching, and good company too.
Baptism, as the visible ceremony of union of the penitent, believing, loving candidate with the church, and of the church with the Lord as his bride, holds the same rank in its relation to the Divine Law as the ceremony of marriage holds to human law. Both are simple in form, yet both are absolutely essential to order and an orderly life both in a religious and social sense. The ordinance of marriage and that of baptism compare remarkably in another point of view. Both cement a union to be dissolved only in death. Both have the stamp of the divine seal, impressed by the Lord's hand, engraven with the words: "WHAT GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER, LET NOT MAN PUT ASUNDER."
Now, friends, let me beg you to take the Lord's way. He invites you affectionately to come and take his yoke upon you. Learn to work in his vineyard. Your own heart is a vineyard which the Lord will own if you will but give it to him: and he will help you to keep it clean. He will give you richly to enjoy the first ripe grapes of a good life lived in his service. But remember: "He that is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his Father's glory, and the glory of the holy angels." Then why not come into the church? None are too poor to come. It costs no money or goods. Why not please your King by visibly becoming his subject? Why not honor your Lord by obeying his commands? Why not glorify your Husband by publicly taking to yourself his name and living henceforth a holy and virtuous life in his sight?
TUESDAY, March 25. Aunt Mary Kline, Uncle Frederick Kline's widow, was buried to-day. Age, seventy-two years, eleven months and five days.
WEDNESDAY, March 26. Attend the funeral of Giles Devier's little child. It was buried at our meetinghouse. Age, one year, five months and sixteen days. It is a pretty thought that angels may gather little children from the arms of their parents, as love plucks roses from their parent stems. "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."
THURSDAY, March 27. Perform the marriage ceremony of Robert Allison and Mary Kline, daughter of Joseph Kline.
TUESDAY, April 1. William Smith took leave of us for his new home in Illinois.
WEDNESDAY, April 9. Council meeting at the Brush meetinghouse. John Wine is elected speaker.
THURSDAY, April 10. Council meeting at our meetinghouse. Christian Wine is elected speaker.
FRIDAY, April 18. Council meeting at Lost River meetinghouse. Jacob Pope is advanced. His work in the ministry is very acceptable to the Brotherhood as far as known.
THURSDAY, April 24. I am sick. Erysipelas right bad.
For the next six days Brother Kline is confined to his room. Dr. Jacob Driver, a very well informed and successful Botanic Physician, is called to the case. His treatment is so judicious and active that by Thursday, May 1, Brother Kline is able to ride out. Dr. Jacob Driver was born and raised in Rockingham County, Virginia. He gave rise to a numerous family, and in the autumn of 1852 moved and settled in Allen County, Ohio. His children all became members of the order of the Brethren. His son Jacob is now an active minister in the Sugar Creek congregation in the above County. Dr. Jacob Driver died in Allen County about the year 1867, deeply lamented by all who knew him. He and his wife, in their early days, became members of the Brotherhood. He was a son of Peter Driver, a brief notice of whom has been given.
TUESDAY, June 3. Meeting and love feast at our meetinghouse. Revelation 2 is read.
SATURDAY, June 7. Meeting in the grove near the Brick meetinghouse, on Middle river. Many people gathering. Acts 3 is read. From present appearances there will be a very large concourse of people at this Annual Meeting.
SUNDAY, June 8. Meeting in the meetinghouse and also in the grove.
MONDAY, June 9. The Yearly Council opens. Take in the questions. Transact some business. Good order prevails, and a spirit of love and union abounds. If by these meetings we can foster and preserve the unity of the faith and order of our beloved Brotherhood, so that wherever we may go among our Brethren we may be able to see eye to eye and face to face as to the doctrines we preach and the order of Christian life we uphold, our highest aim will have been reached. It may be that as time goes on and knowledge is increased new things will come up demanding consideration; but I sincerely hope and pray no departures from what we now regard with so much love and unanimity as the will of the Lord will ever take place.
TUESDAY, June 10. All the queries and business items left over from yesterday are taken up and disposed of to-day. The Annual Meeting breaks up in good feeling, but with the sad forecast that some present to-day will never attend another Yearly Meeting. Be it so. In heaven no farewell tears are shed. It is not the parting that makes one sad. It is the how and the where and the when we shall meet again that break up the fountains of our hearts.
WEDNESDAY, June 11. Meeting in the Methodist church in Harrisonburg. Brother Daniel P. Saylor spoke on the Great Commission, Matt. 28:19, 20. He showed great boldness of speech. He shuns not to declare the whole counsel of God. Many were present to hear a sermon from a minister of our faith for the first time in their life. I have sometimes feared that Brother Saylor's love for souls is at times obscured by the severity of his speech in the stand, and by the austerity of his manner among the people. Whilst Christian propriety does set limits to "becoming all things to all men," still, as far as consistency will allow, God's ministers should show great love for the people in their associations with them. Some preachers, I believe, do more good out of the stand than in it. They do this by little acts of kindness and little words of love.
Between the last date above given and the thirtieth day of July, Brother Kline preached ten funeral discourses, each of which was delivered on the day of burial. Paul uttered a great truth when he said: "It is appointed unto men ONCE to die." But only once. If they die a second death, it is their fault. The death of the body is the only death ever appointed unto men.
WEDNESDAY, August 6. Attend the funeral of Nimrod Dove. Age, forty-eight years, eleven months and thirteen days. Nimrod Dove was a patient and persevering school-teacher. Some, who are now young, will doubtless remember him gratefully when they are old.
FRIDAY, August 8. Harvest thanksgiving in our meetinghouse. Betty Frey is baptized.
SUNDAY, August 17. Meeting in Andrew Chapel in Harrisonburg. Good attention. Stay all night at Christian Myers's, near head of Linville's Creek. I spoke to-day on Luke 14:10, from this clause: "Friend, go up higher." This is what the Lord says to every one who comes to the gospel feast in that spirit of deep humility and self-abasement that is willing to take the lowest place. God's people go up higher when they arise to walk in newness of life. When they add to their faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge charity. They go up higher as they increase their knowledge of his Word, in the love of its saving truth. They go up higher as they love God and their neighbor more.
The love of self and the world attracts man downward into the foul pits of vice, immorality, intemperance, gambling, profanity, anger, jealousy, worldly fashions, and all the forms and phases of evil. God would have men come out of these horrible pits, wash themselves in the pure water of his Word, and take a lowly seat at his table. Then with joy he will say to each: "Friend, go up higher."
These are the outlines of my discourse to-day. The Editor would love to expand the rich thoughts, condensed in these outlines, into an elaborate discourse in exact accord with what he feels sure the beloved brother said, but the limits of this work forbid.
SUNDAY, September 21. Meeting in our meetinghouse. I this day baptize Noah Frey and wife; Isaac Smith and wife; Widow Dove; Mrs. Bulger and Barbara Baker.
MONDAY, September 22. Brother Kline started to Maryland. The Diary shows many meetings, councils and love feasts attended. On
FRIDAY, September 26, he assisted at the ordination of Brother Christian Keafer to the full work of the ministry. Brother McCleningen was elected speaker. This service was in the Welsh Run congregation, near Brother William Engel's. He speaks of union meetings in which he served, at different places, but does not say a word further about them, as to why they were so called or for what particular object they were held.
TUESDAY, September 30. He attended a union meeting in the Beaver Creek meetinghouse, in which he served; and on
WEDNESDAY, October 1, he attended a union meeting in Welty's meetinghouse, in which Brother Shaver served.
After attending several other meetings and making many visits, he started for home, where he arrived October 5.
TUESDAY, October 28. Attend the funeral of Sister Gibbons. She died yesterday at the home of her son Samuel Gibbons, near Luray, Page County, Virginia. She grew old in years, but the service of the Lord was not old in her heart. She passed from labor to reward at the high age of ninety-one years, lacking nineteen days.
WEDNESDAY, November 12. Brother Kline started on another journey to Hardy and Hampshire Counties. He held a night meeting at James Stump's in Hardy; preached the funeral sermon of Brother Solomon Arnold; held a union meeting at Brother Benjamin Leatherman's; attended morning meeting on
SATURDAY, November 15, at the meetinghouse; and held night service at Joseph Arnold's.
SUNDAY, November 16. He had forenoon meeting at William George's and night meeting at Solomon Michael's. He filled six other appointments between this, and his return home, where he arrived Friday, November 21. I find extended outline notes of but one sermon preached on this journey. These I will here put in as good shape as I can. He delivered this sermon at Jacob Keplinger's, in the Gap, the night before he got home. Jacob Keplinger was a Lutheran himself, and the sermon was preached right in a community of people of the same faith. But they had respect for Brother Kline. The religious warmth of his heart and the purity and simplicity of his life won for him the esteem and friendship of people wherever he went.
TEXT.—The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.—Luke 17:20, 21.
People never grow entirely out of their childhood feelings. We naturally incline to value most what our eyes can see and our hands handle. Our natures are so sentient that objects of sense please us best. It is from this that object lessons attract the young. They can best apprehend what their senses can grasp. It is very difficult for the mind to grasp abstract truth. But right here lies the basis of all true education. The power to comprehend truth in the abstract, to take hold of its ramifications as subjects of thought, and reduce them to order in the mind, so as to develop and give them concrete form for practical ends in life, is education.
The Pharisees wanted a sign. Even Herod hoped to see some miracle done by the Lord. The reply of Jesus to the Pharisees was that "an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." And now they want to know when his kingdom will come. My text is the Lord's answer. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." It is not something representative, with visible outlines and surfaces that you can perceive by means of your senses. It is altogether invisible: it is a state of mind and heart: it has its place in a man's soul: it is not outside of you; "for lo, the kingdom of God is within you." In this regard the kingdom of heaven is like education. You cannot tell by simply looking at a man whether he is educated or not. And why? because education is not a thing of the body, but of the mind; and the mind or understanding is invisible.
Just so it is with the kingdom of God. It has no connection with the body. In fact the body, with its appetites and passions opposes it. For as Paul says: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other." The kingdom of God, then, has its place in man's renewed heart and mind, and can therefore never be a thing of observation. But let us look a little further. The most precious and valuable things of earth are worthless until brought out into use. Of what good are all the mineral treasures of earth while hidden in the mines? Just so "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in the field."
But our heavenly Father has prepared a body, a visible, organized body for his kingdom on earth, so that it may become active, useful, and in every way promotive of man's highest good on earth and his highest bliss in heaven. This body is the Lord's visible church. Like the human body, it is composed of members, and each member has his place and office of service in the body. The church is composed of those who do the Lord's will; and he owns all such as his brethren. On one occasion he exclaimed: "Who are my brethren?" And immediately he said: "Behold my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Thus the church is composed of such as hold a relationship with him, symbolized by that of brother, sister and mother. It is for his church that Jesus offered that wonderful prayer recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John. He there says: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word." The church, then, is composed of such as keep the Lord's Word.
He said: "My kingdom is not of this world." Neither is the church, which is the visible, active, use-loving and use-performing body of the kingdom, of this world. It is not organized according to the order of human institutions and laws, but according to God's order. Human laws and customs have really and legitimately nothing to do either with its organization and government or with the admission of members into its body and their retention and conduct in the body. But the church is in the world. By its being in the world, where sin and sorrow and suffering abound; where there is so much pain to assuage, so much want to relieve, so much evil to combat, so much ignorance to dispel by the light of truth, numberless and boundless opportunities and demands are presented for "the good man, out of the good treasure of his heart to bring forth good things."
And in the world is just where the Lord wants his church to ever be. It is in the church on earth that God's people learn those wonderful lessons of self-denial, humility, gentleness, brotherly kindness, forbearance, patience, and all other heavenly qualities and graces. In a word, the church, in its purest form and highest sense, is heaven begun on earth. Hence the blessed Jesus, in the prayer referred to, says: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
Since the church is the outward, visible form of God's kingdom on earth, it is of the utmost importance that the church give expression to and be a representative of the soul and spirit of the kingdom. Paul says: "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The church must be righteous. By this is meant that it must obey the Lord's Word. He says: "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." It is obedience on the part of the church that makes any organization bearing that name acceptable to the Lord. In the great day to come some will say: "We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." But he will say: "I tell you I know you not whence ye are." Many others again will say: "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." The lips of man may not apply these terrific words to any whose doom is yet to be disclosed; but all organizations claiming to be churches of Jesus Christ will do well to see to it that they obey from the heart those ordinances given by our Lord both by example and precept. When he pronounces us happy, we may feel sure that we are safe.
Let us now, before we close, look over the ground and see where the church of the Brethren stands, which it is my privilege to represent here to-night. Jesus was baptized, that is, immersed by John in the river Jordan. We follow his example as further set forth in the great commission he gave. He washed the disciples' feet, giving us an example that we shall do to one another as he did to them. This we do. He ate a supper with them before the administration of the Communion. This we do; and from other scripture authority we feel justified in calling it a love feast. He administered the Communion of his body and blood, symbolized by the bread and wine. This we likewise do. Now we have his blessed Word for it: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
SUNDAY, December 7. Michael B.E. Kline and wife are baptized at Timberville.
WEDNESDAY, December 31. I have traveled this year 3,816 miles, mostly on horseback; and preached forty-five funeral discourses.
THURSDAY, January 22, 1852. Attend upon my aged mother. She passed a calculus or stone from the bladder to-day weighing seven ounces and two and one-half drachms. Its greatest circumference is nine inches. A very wonderful concretion indeed.
THURSDAY, March 11. My dear aged mother passes away from earth to-day, at 1 o'clock. She has been a good mother. I rejoice in the thought that from her bright home in heaven, if saints are permitted to look down upon earth, she can still witness the fruits of her good example and influence, manifest in the well-doing of all her children, and most of her grandchildren.
FRIDAY, March 12. Take Anna over to Brother Samuel Kline's, where our dear mother now lies a corpse.
SATURDAY, March 13. Mother is buried to-day. Her age was eighty-one years, three months and twenty days.
MONDAY, March 22. This day Brother Kline started to Maryland. As usual on such journeys, he visited many friends and Brethren, among whom he mentions D.P. Saylor, Jacob Saylor, Howard Hillery, Brother Cover, Joseph Engle, Philip Boyle, Israel Engle, Brother Rupp, Jesse Royer, Betsy Engle, William Deahl, Abraham Deahl, Brother Rhinehart, and others. He preaches and prays as he goes; leaving behind him good examples, good instructions, good doctrines, with prayers and good wishes for all. What a life of good works! He returned home Thursday, April 1.
THURSDAY, April 15. Council meeting at the Flat Rock meetinghouse. John Neff is elected speaker.
FRIDAY, April 16. Council meeting at our meetinghouse. John Zigler is elected to the deaconship.
SATURDAY, April 17. Council meeting at the Brush meetinghouse. Jacob Miller is advanced in the ministry of the Word.
SUNDAY, May 16. Attend a meeting in the Campbellite church in Baltimore. I meet Brother D.P. Saylor there. He speaks from Heb. 12:1, 2. Outlines of his discourse. TEXT.—"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us; looking unto Jesus."
He said: The book of Hebrews is, in one respect, the most extraordinary book in the New Testament. It sets forth Christ the Lord to us in a somewhat new light, and new relation. All the other books of the New Testament are mainly occupied in setting forth Jesus as the atoning Savior. But this book is preeminently taken up with Christ the anointed High Priest of our profession. The other books tell what Jesus has done to redeem the world from sin. This book tells what he is now doing to save his people.
In his admonitions and instructions Brother Saylor beautifully referred to the Olympic games celebrated by the ancient Greeks once every four years. From these the figure of running a race, given in the text, was borrowed. A man cannot run long and well with a load on his back. You have no doubt seen the fabled demigod Atlas pictured with the world on his shoulders. I have often thought of that old Grecian representation of avarice, as being something like a true picture of many professors of the Christian religion at the present day. You see the old myth struggling along with this big round world on his back, apparently casting his eyes upward at times as if he might be longing to reach the top of Mount Olympus, the home of the gods: but alas! his head is bowed and his back bent under the mighty pressure, and he never got there. It will fare no better with the man who tries to carry this world with him to heaven. The apostle says: "Let us cast off every weight" that would hinder our progress.
You know the devil is called a serpent. No sane man ever yet invited a snake to bite him. If one is bitten by a copperhead or rattlesnake, it is either because he has gone where he ought not go, or else, if compelled, he was not watchful, but was off his guard. Besetting sins are these snakes in the grass and along the hedges. The apostle here takes it for granted, as a thing settled long ago, that the Christian has laid aside his habitual sins. Besetting sins are such as we meet or overtake unexpectedly in the way, and like robbers that beset us and take our goods, they spoil our peace and take away our joy. The best way for all Christians is to keep out of the way of snakes and robbers.
"And let us run with patience the race that is set before us." In another place Paul says: "I press forward to the mark for the prize." He represents the Christian as running, but not as uncertainly. Not as if some one else might beat him and take the prize, and he thereby lose it. No, no! In the Christian race there is a prize for every one that runs with patience the race set before him.
But he also speaks of a mark. The language here employed indicates that the mark must be reached before the prize can justly be claimed. This mark is conformity to Christ in spirit and life. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." "He has set us an example that we should follow in his steps." The prize is heaven and eternal happiness. God is pleased to give to his children things which they are incapable of obtaining by their own efforts; but he will not give direct what they are capable of getting by judicious means rightly applied. It is no credit to any one to depend on others for what he could win for himself. It is so in the Christian's race for eternal life.
"Looking unto Jesus." If you have ever been at sea you noticed the interest with which sailors watched the lighthouses along the shore in a dark night. This figure may help us in our thought of looking to Jesus. His word is a "lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path." Friends, when you look prayerfully to the Lord's Word for guidance in your religious life you are looking unto Jesus. He is nowhere else to be found. But he is always there, and whosoever will look may find him there unto the salvation of his soul.
They stayed all night at Michael B. Kline's.
MONDAY, May 17. They stopped awhile with Sister Rubicum in Philadelphia; and arrived at the Irving House, in New York City, at 10:30 P.M.
Men love to honor their favorites. Washington Irving has caused his name to be stamped upon the affections of the people of this city. Irving collars, Irving hats, Irving signs and Irving attached to many things give evidence of the high regard in which he is held. We will pass his home on the Hudson to-day.
TUESDAY, May 18. Take the steamer "Henry Clay" to Albany, where we land at 3 P.M. Kossuth is in the place. A great procession, with many other demonstrations in honor of the Hungarian exile, is given. These things are not done for the man personally, but for the cause which he represents, that of freeing his country from the galling yoke of bondage. We have a delightful boat ride up the Hudson.
I must here relate a short encounter which I had with a professed infidel on the boat. He some way came to the conclusion that I was a religious man, and probably a preacher. This led him to approach me for a talk, and he introduced himself in a very courteous and agreeable manner. After he had stated his objections to the Christian religion, I asked him if he was absolutely certain that there is no place and state of future punishment. He answered: "I do not contend for this; but only hold that hell is unreasonable, and that heaven is impossible: and according to Bible description, to me at least, it would be undesirable." I answered: "I suppose you will allow, that if the Bible is not true I will fare no worse after death for having taught its doctrines and the faith of Jesus Christ: and you no better for having denied both?" "All this," said he, "is self-evident." "But if it so turns out that we both, after death, find that God's Word is absolutely true, which, my dear friend, will fare the better then? You, for having rejected the Lord Jesus Christ before men; or I, for having humbly confessed him?" We parted at the landing to meet, perhaps, no more until that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made known.
WEDNESDAY, May 19. Get to Buffalo, New York, at 8 P.M. Stay all night at the Mansion House. Philip Dorsheimer, proprietor.
THURSDAY, May 20. This day I enjoy my first sight of Niagara Falls. Cross on the bridge over to the Canada side and go up to the falls. Return by the bridge and go up to the falls on the American side. Go to see the buffaloes; and visit the telegraph office. Return to the Mansion House and stay there all night. I suppose that all the thoughts and emotions which a view of Niagara Falls is capable of exciting in the beholder have been so clearly and graphically expressed in prose and verse, so far as lies in the power of words to express them, that I feel like keeping silent. This, however, I will venture to say, that in the sight of such mighty power I felt very small and weak. How, then, thought I, will I feel when I come in sight of the Power that made and moves the world!
Cold and snow this morning. But I must remember that I am not in Virginia.
FRIDAY, May 21. Take passage on the steamboat "America" to Erie; then on to Cleveland, where we arrive at 5 A.M. Sleep a little. Then, on same boat, to Sandusky City, where we take cars to Tiffin, and from there go to Brother Eversole's, in Hancock County, Ohio.
SUNDAY, May 23. Brother Kline attended forenoon meeting at Brother Peter Weant's; and afternoon meeting at Brother Dickey's. In the evening he went to Brother Daniel Rosenberger's and assisted in anointing a sick sister. Next day they had meeting at Brother Jacob Kendrick's. On Tuesday, while they were detained at Perrysburg, Brother Kline says: "We saw the fishermen make a haul with their seine. While witnessing the adroitness and care with which they separated the bad fish from the good, I was reminded of the parable in which the same performance is spoken of. The gospel net catches or takes in both good and bad. But the separation of the good from the bad cannot take place on earth. 'At the end of the world the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.'"
WEDNESDAY, May 26. They take the boat "John Hollister" for Toledo: from there they take cars to Elkhart, Indiana. The two brethren, Kline and Saylor, do not appear to have been together all the time on this journey; but at Elkhart it seems they got together again and two other brethren with them; for he now speaks of brethren Saylor, Krontz and P. Ebersole all going together and staying all night at Brother Jacob Studebaker's; and on the twenty-ninth they all go to Jonathan Wylan's, the place of the Annual Meeting. Brother Kline reports a wonderful concourse of people.
SUNDAY, May 30. They have meeting at three places. On Monday business begins. Many queries are placed in the hands of the subcommittees. On Tuesday the reports of the subcommittees are taken in, and discussions follow freely, but all in a spirit of love.
WEDNESDAY, June 2. Business is all disposed of by 3 o'clock, and the meeting breaks up. Brother Kline goes to Michael Waybright's and holds night meeting.
On his return trip Brother Kline revisits Elkhart, and goes to Dayton to Brother Henry Yost's. From there he goes to Cincinnati to see Drs. Kost and Curtis, with whom he spends a night; thence back to Columbus; goes through the state prison; visits other places of interest; and thence through Cleveland and Pittsburg home. He arrived home
SATURDAY, June 12. He reports 2,685 miles traveled from the time he left home till his return.
SUNDAY, June 27. Meeting at our meetinghouse. I baptize Daniel Wampler and wife.
FRIDAY, July 2. Write letters to Brethren in Pendleton and Hardy Counties to make appointments for preaching. He gives plenty of time for those Brethren to whom the above letters were sent, to make the appointments generally known; and allows time for the slow transit of the mails in that day. Brother Kline's successes were never brilliant or dazzling, as some men's appear, but they were acquired by methods which few men are willing to adopt; and achieved by self-sacrifices and labors which few men are willing to undergo.
FRIDAY, August 20. This day Brother Kline started to Pendleton County, Virginia. From Pendleton he went to Hardy County, and from there to Hampshire County. He filled every appointment made for him by the Brethren to whom he had written on July 2. On his outward way he left a line of appointments which he filled on his return homeward. On this tour he traveled 183 miles on the back of his faithful mare Nell, over roads and mountain paths next to impassable. He was gone from home on this trip just two weeks, in which time he preached nineteen sermons, attended one council meeting and one love feast.
Such preaching tours, as this work abundantly shows, were but common proofs of his missionary spirit and love for the souls of men. Added to this we find a purely unselfish spirit in him. Not long before his martyrdom he told me that if he would have asked for money along the lines of his work extending over many years—using his very words—"I know that I would have freely received it; but I have never asked one cent; and, God prospering me in the future as in the past, I never expect to." He went on his own expenses, always and at all times, apparently more ready to give than to receive.
THURSDAY, September 30. On this day Brother Kline started to Tennessee. He rode Nell. He went up the Valley of Virginia, stopping with Brethren and preaching by previous arrangements made by letters. He stayed all night with Peter Nininger, and one night with Benjamin Moomaw. At both places he filled appointments previously sent on.
MONDAY, October 4. He dined at Jacob Brubaker's. He arrived at Brother John Bowman's on Friday, the eighth.
SATURDAY, October 9, he had meeting at John Bowman's. It would seem that he had leisure here to jot the outlines of his discourse on that day. He spoke from Rev. 2:7. TEXT.—"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
There is a wonderful correspondence of natural things with things spiritual. It is this correspondence which makes a good life give evidence of a good heart within, and intelligent conduct prove that it is the offspring of an enlightened mind. If there were no correspondence between internal and external things—between the tree and its fruit—what would we know about anything? It is from this law that all our Lord's parables and miracles derive their significance. When he spoke of external, natural things, he wanted his disciples to learn internal, spiritual things. In the text he speaks of a hearing ear. "He that hath an ear." Do not nearly all men have ears? In several other places the Lord says: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." It is plain that the natural ear is not meant; but the ear of the soul (by which is meant an understanding mind) is the ear meant in the text. But to hear means more than just to understand what is said. People may understand what they hear or read, and still be none the better off for it. To hear, in a divine sense, is to hearken; and to hearken means to obey, or a willingness to obey. The text then means about this: "He that understands what the Spirit saith to the churches, let him obey." This brings up the question whether or not people of ordinary intelligence are able to understand what the Spirit says to the churches.
Let us turn to what the Spirit says to the church at Ephesus. After reviewing the good qualities and characteristics of this church, much to their praise and credit, he does not flatter their vanity, by intimations or otherwise, to think themselves all right and in need of nothing; but "I have this AGAINST thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent." It is truthfully said "our best friends are those who warn us of danger." This is God's friendship for his churches. He shows his people by his Word where they may go wrong, and, if they have ears to hear and eyes to see, where they are wrong. Leaving their first love is the charge brought against this church of Ephesus. And it is the only charge. To what extent or degree they had departed is not definitely said; but they had gone so far that repentance and reformation, or the doing of their first works, was necessary that they might be restored to the state they had once enjoyed.
Now it appears plain to my mind, from all the teachings I find elsewhere in the Word, that love to the Lord their God with all the heart, and love to the neighbor, which is the church, is, and forever ought to be, the first and only love. The church is the good Samaritan that lifts up the wounded brother who has fallen among the thieves of temptation, and restores him. This love to the Lord and the church is the love from which these Ephesian brethren had fallen. Departures from first loves are not uncommon in the church and out of it. The newly married couple enjoy a warmth of affection that sweetens their cup of happiness and strews flowers all along their pathway of life. This pleasure lasts while their love lasts; but when love dies, happiness dies with it. This accounts for the joyless, pleasureless life of many married partners. First love, alas! departed; the first fire all burnt out, leaving naught but the dull ashes of cold indifference and burning tears. It sometimes goes somewhat the same way with members coming into the church. They run well for a season, manifest a deep interest in the things of religion, but when tribulation or persecution ariseth on account of the Word, directly they stumble. Entire churches sometimes lose their first love for the Lord and for one another. This seems to have been true of the church at Ephesus.
The best way for all is to be sure that the first love is of the right kind. I have heard of some coming into the church from motives of mere personal interest. I have heard of one man who confessed, after he had been expelled, that he got out of the Dunkards all he wanted. Said he: "They helped me out of debt, and that is what I went in for." That man never lost HIS first love. His first love was the love of self and the world, and that is the love he carried with him when he was turned out. Such examples, however, are rare. As a people we are not often imposed upon in this way. But some who come in with the best of motives, desiring to live in the church, to be built up in the church, and to help build up the church, may, as I have known instances of the kind, lose these good feelings, become discouraged, and altogether unhappy. To such, if any of that class are here, I now speak.
At the start I have to say, I have glorious news for you. The Lord says to us all: "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." The blessed Savior has overcome the world for every one of his people. We all have our tribulations; but some are better able to bear them than others. The Apostle Paul says: "Confirm the strong, support the weak." It seems strange to us that any could ever grow weak in his day, when they were as yet almost in sight of their ascended Lord, and in hearing of the echo of his voice. But so it was then, and so it will ever be. But God knows our feeble frame. "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Our Lord, just before his crucifixion, said: "I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you." This he spoke to his sorrowing disciples. This he says to you, and to every discouraged disciple of his: "Ye, therefore, now have sorrow, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." As he was preparing to wash the disciples' feet it is said of him: "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."
"His is an unchanging love, Higher than the heights above; Deeper than the depths beneath; Stronger than the hand of death."
It is impossible for one human soul to enter fully into the feelings of another, so as to realize in all the particulars of experience what the other suffers. But the Lord knows it all. "He that made the ear, shall he not hear? He that made the eye, shall he not see? He that made the heart, shall he not understand?" He consequently knows the proper remedy for all the backslidings, declensions of our first love, and all relapses into states of lukewarmness. His prescribed remedy is repentance, in every case. If you will take the time to read carefully the seven letters addressed to the seven churches of Asia, you will see that repentance is the remedy prescribed in every case of failure in duty, weakness of faith, coldness of love; together with all the troubles growing out of these.
Repentance is a change of mind. It is a change from wrong feelings and affections in the soul to right feelings; from weak faith in the Lord to strong faith; from weak love for the Lord and the church to strong love. Joy of heart and peace of mind are as sure to follow a change like this as a tree is sure to bloom in spring. Blossoms on trees, other conditions favoring, give promise of fruits. Your joy and peace from true repentance, like the bloom on a good tree, will give promise of a life full of good fruits. No one need tell me that he cannot repent. "Nothing shall be impossible unto you." Who says this? Jesus says it. Again: "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." But again he says: "Without me ye can do nothing." Speaking to the Father, of his disciples, the Lord said: "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one."
We are slow to learn the greatest of all the truths God has revealed, the truth that the Lord is personally, in the fullness of his love, wisdom and power, in the soul or spiritual body of every one of his children. "Ye are God's temple; ye are God's building." As the life of the vine is the life of the branches, so is Christ our life. The Lord is ever at hand; not only around us, but in us. And he is not only able but ready at all times to do us all the good we are capable of receiving from his hand. Say not then, "I cannot repent;" for one earnest, believing, trusting look to him, with whom all things are possible, will cause the tears of penitence to flow down your face in a stream that will "make glad the city of our God," rebuilt with its walls, in your heart.
But the Lord tries to encourage his lost-love children with promises additional to those of his presence, love and power. He sets forth inducements of a character that surpasses all worldly considerations as far as the heaven is high above the earth. Notice some of them: "To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." To eat of the tree of life is to enjoy all the blessedness and happiness of a heavenly life. "In the paradise of God" is a figure taken from the garden of Eden, for paradise means garden. We sometimes wonder at the folly of our first parents in disobeying God's commands, and thus bringing upon themselves the disgrace and ruin which followed. But do we not act after the same manner when we disobey the Lord? We as surely deprive ourselves of the enjoyments of his favor and conscious presence as they did. But through his abounding love in Christ Jesus we can be reclaimed and reinstated sooner than they. Thanks be to God, the scheme of redemption and salvation is now complete; and we are not now required to wait four thousand years to have the head of the serpent bruised under our feet. Neither is there a flaming sword of threatening vengeance to guard the gate against our return. We are invited to return. The gate is open. Yea, the Lord himself is the gate. He stands beckoning, even calling and saying: "I am the way; I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." The paradise of God, the garden of Eden, is planted by the Lord in the heart of every true follower of his. This is a great truth. When we are in heavenly frames of feeling we are in a state to enjoy its cool shade and partake of its fruits. There the sun does not light upon us, nor any unpleasant heat.
Hoping that what I have said in much weakness may be made strong by the Spirit of God, unto edification and comfort, I now close. On
SUNDAY, October 10, he had meeting at Brother Christian Wine's. Next day he visited David Garst's; and stayed all night at the widow Bowman's.
He visited successively, in order, the following named brethren and sisters, preaching nearly every day: Daniel Crouse's, John Sherfey's, John Basehore's, Henry Swadley's, widow Bowman's, John Bowman's, Henry Garst's.
TUESDAY, October 19. He started homeward, but stopped at Brother Michael Grabil's and attended a meeting in Roanoke meetinghouse. Assisted by brethren Kinsey and Brubaker, he ordained Brother Christian Wirt to the full work of the gospel ministry.
FRIDAY, October 29. He arrived home safe, after an absence of something over four weeks. The whole distance, going and returning, was about 600 miles. This he traveled on Nell's back. Good, patient, faithful Nell!
From this time on to the close of the year, Brother Kline was mainly engaged in the practice of medicine, together with his ministerial labors. On far into the next year the same may be said of his work. Ever active, no such thing as idleness ever had a place in his life. Looking through his Diary, observing the unintermitting activity of his life "every day and Sunday too," I am struck with wonder that he did not get tired.
SUNDAY, March 13, 1853. Meeting at the Elk meetinghouse, in Page County, Virginia. Acts 9 was read. My topic was Saul's conversion. There are three points in the conversion of Saul which I noted particularly in my discourse to-day. They are as follows:
I. Saul's conversion was unexpected. II. It was miraculous. III. It was thorough.
No event could have been less expected than the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Lightning from the clear blue sky, or the breaking forth of the sun at midnight, could not have struck both Jews and Christians with deeper amazement than did the report of the change of Saul from persecutor to protector of God's people. But this is sometimes God's way. Often does he send us blessings and do wonders when we least expect them. Day breaks at the darkest hour. In the midst of parching dryness the refreshing shower comes. The hardest pain is just before the birth. A sleepless night ends in a joyful morning. In this way he shows us that the "excellency of the power is not of men, but of God."
In our religious experiences we sometimes feel prayer a burden; reading and meditation a task. We loathe ourselves and wonder how Jesus can love us. Out of such frames of feeling the Lord sometimes suddenly lifts us, by causing light to break in upon our souls, revealing some new truth, some fresh affection, in which we rejoice. In addition to these instances of unexpected blessings, we sometimes see men gathered into the fold, for whose conversion we had lost all hope.
We need not wonder that Saul's conversion was wholly unexpected. He had shown such hostility to Jesus of Nazareth that no ground for hope of any change in him was anywhere visible. His conviction was therefore, in the eyes of Christians, a miracle. But it was so only in appearance. The light, above the brightness of the sun, that shone upon him, was but the same light that shone from the face of the Lord and glistened from his raiment on the holy mount when he was transfigured. John had a somewhat similar vision of the Lord upon the isle of Patmos. John was better prepared to receive the vision than was Saul; but even John fell at the Lord's feet as dead. The Lord immediately laid his right hand upon John, and in the tenderness of his love said: "Fear not." These same sweet words fell from his lips upon the ears of the three disciples on the holy mount. But Saul heard far different words. A voice sounded into his soul: "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest." This terrific announcement broke up the sealed fountain of his sinful heart and he cried out: "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" He was then told to go into the city of Damascus, and it would there be told him what he had to do.
Notice the difference. The Lord did not say to him as he had to many others: "Fear not." This seemed to be his cherished phrase to all who loved and believed on him. To the women at the sepulcher, these words, "fear not," were addressed by the angel. To the church, seen in vision by the prophetic eye of Isaiah, the words, "Fear not, for I have redeemed thee: fear not, for I am with thee," are tenderly spoken by the Lord. If Saul's conviction had been brought about by human agency through the preaching of the Word, the adversaries of the cross might have said that he had been persuaded, or bribed with money to change his manner of life. But nothing like this could be said now. The men who journeyed with him could testify otherwise. They saw the light that flashed upon him; but they heard not the words spoken. They were not persecutors of Jesus by intention as Saul was. Like the soldiers who nailed the Lord to the cross, they knew not what they did. But Saul knew what he was doing, and the light struck conviction to his heart.
Conviction is a knowledge of sin imparted by the Holy Spirit through the Word. The light that Saul saw is an expressive emblem of the light of revealed truth. Light signifies truth, in very many places in the Scriptures. Take, for examples, the following: "The people which sat in darkness saw great light." Darkness here does not mean natural darkness, but mental or spiritual darkness, which is ignorance. Again: "Every one that doeth evil, hateth the light." This was Saul's state exactly. He was doing evil, and he hated the light to such a pitch of passion that he sought to take the lives of the children of light. But it was God's way then, and it is God's way now, to convict and convert men by means of the very thing they hate, which is the Word of Truth.
Saul remained three days and nights in this awful state of conviction in which time "he did neither eat nor drink." The anguish of spirit suffered during these days and nights no heart but his own can ever know. His sins were red with the blood of the saints. Doubts as to what the persecuted Jesus might require of him, with a thousand unanswerable questions, harassed his mind. Conviction, or a feeling sense of sin, always precedes conversion. Repentance cannot take place without a knowledge of sin's condemning and destroying power. When this is felt man desires to be rid of sin, and asks what he must do to be saved. This is the first step in repentance. Conversion and repentance, complete, are expressions meaning one and the same thing. Our Lord's illustration is instructive: "When a woman is in travail, she hath anguish; but when she is delivered she straightway forgetteth her anguish for joy that a man is born into the world." These words from the lips of Jesus tell us more about conviction and conversion than all else that has ever been written.
We must notice the kindness in which Ananias approached Saul to complete the manward side of his conversion and usher in the new birth. He put his hands on him, not roughly, but gently, and said: "BROTHER SAUL,"—"and immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." His spiritual eyes were now open; his sins washed away; and out of the baptismal stream he was visibly born into the church a new creature in Christ Jesus, with a new name. I hold the belief that Saul changed his name himself. His old life was now so abhorrent to him that he could no longer bear to hear the name by which he was called when pursuing that course of life. It was his desire to cast all recollection of it out of mind, and the old name with it. But he never did forget entirely. He calls himself the chief of sinners, and almost gets wild with exultation over the mercies of God. Hear some of his joyful exclamations: "Who shall condemn us! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ! O, the length, and the breadth, and the depth and the height of the love of Christ!" Paul never doubted his conversion. He became as enthusiastic in building up the church as he had been in tearing it down. He tried to repair the evil he had done by adding new recruits to the church to fill the places of those whom he had either driven out or caused to be martyred.
Brethren and sisters, here is a lesson for us all. Let us follow Paul's example in self-denial, in love for the Brethren, in love for the unconverted, in the love of doing good at all times and in all ways.
THURSDAY, April 7. Council meeting at the Flat Rock. David Kline is advanced in the ministry, and John Long is elected to the deaconship.
SUNDAY, April 10. Meeting at the Lost River meetinghouse. George Halterman is baptized.
SUNDAY, May 1. Meeting at Turner's schoolhouse, in the Gap. Samuel Smith is baptized.
SUNDAY, May 8. Meeting at Joseph Glick's. Samuel Good and wife baptized.
MONDAY, May 9. Meeting in our meetinghouse. John Bowman and Daniel Crouse are with us, on their way to the Annual Meeting.
THURSDAY, May 12. This day Brother Kline and Benjamin Bowman started together, on horseback, to the Yearly Meeting, which, according to the Diary, was appointed to meet near William Deahl's. They went down the Valley of Virginia, and arrived at Brother William Deahl's Saturday evening following.
SUNDAY, May 15. Diary: There is preaching at three places. We were made to witness a very distressing occurrence to-day in the sudden death of Brother Daniel Haines's wife. She came into the meeting in her usual state of health, and in two hours she was a corpse. Death had done its work upon the body; but it could not touch the soul to which Jesus had given eternal life. "Hither shalt thou go, but no farther; and here shall all thy waves be stayed," may be applied to death as it comes to the child of God, as appropriately as to the great ocean.
MONDAY, May 16. Come to the meetinghouse. Committees are appointed. Go to Jacob Saylor's and take in questions. In the meantime preaching is going on at the meetinghouse as yesterday. We stay all night at Brother Deahl's.
THURSDAY, May 17. Business progresses slowly.
WEDNESDAY, May 18. At about four o'clock it is announced that all the business before the meeting has been disposed of, and the meeting breaks up, with many farewell salutations and much tender feeling. We stay all night with John Waltman, married to Martin Deahl's daughter.
MONDAY, May 23. Love feast at our meetinghouse. A great concourse of people, but good order. The brethren John Bowman and Daniel Crouse are here. They speak to good acceptance.
TUESDAY, May 24. Go to the Tristle meetinghouse. Christian Funk is buried. Age, eighty years, three months and nineteen days. He was a very consistent member of the Mennonite persuasion, and suddenly died in the meetinghouse, on Sunday before, in the very act of singing a devotional hymn with the congregation. Let us hope that as the song died on his lips here his soul caught its echo in heaven.
SUNDAY, June 19. Go to Philip Ritchey's schoolhouse in the Gap. Speak from Jer. 7:23. TEXT.—"But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people."
I said in substance: Man is to-day what he has ever been. "The carnal mind is enmity against God" now, quite as deep-seated in man's heart as when he led his unholy and rebellious people out of Egypt. Man's will now, as then, is contrary to God's will. But God wants to change man's will so as to incline it to good instead of evil. God is infinitely blessed and happy, because he is infinitely just and good. Man is unblessed and unhappy, because he is unholy and evil. One of the clearest proofs of man's degeneracy is found in his willingness to remain in his sinful and unhappy state. Like the man among the tombs, he is ready to cry out, in thought if not otherwise, "Let us alone! what have we to do with thee? Art thou come to torment us before the time?"
The two great lessons given in the text, are OBEDIENCE and REWARD. I will tell you about obedience first. To make this very plain you must first be told that obedience consists in doing what one is commanded to do. Two things, however, are necessary to make obedience a duty. First, the command must come from a right source; it must be based upon the right authority. Second, it must be given in a way that can be understood. The command must be plain. These two things being established, it is the duty of every one to hear and obey what he is commanded to do. Disobeying good commands is as sure to bring suffering and loss as violating the laws of health is sure to bring disease into our bodies. Let us notice some of the commands which, in the course of our lives, it may be our duty to obey. There is no difference between a law and a command. Every law is a command in substance, and every command is a law. There are very deep things involved here, but I will not now enter upon them. Every command is but the expression of the will of the commander; and the will of the commander in every case, when expressed, and compliance with it is demanded, is a law.
Authority has many grades. There is parental authority, teachers' authority, magisterial authority, legislative authority. All these grades of authority are necessary for our well-being. But no benefit can be derived from authority of any kind without obedience to that authority. The best law can do no good unless it be obeyed. Parental laws, no matter how wise and good they are in themselves, are of no account unless the children obey their parents. It is the same with all laws.
Possibly it may not be clear to the understanding of some how obedience to God's laws makes man happy. Let us then consider this matter of obedience on a lower grade. Parents love their children. Parents have much of life's experiences. They are capable of knowing better than their children can what is best for the children. Now if children will heed what their parents say to them in the way of good counsel, instruction, and government, love, peace and harmony will prevail in the household. Joy will be a constant guest. Happiness will crown the board. Habits of good will be formed in the young which will not forsake them when they are old. In youth the foundation is thus laid for honorable success in later years. Reverse this picture: instead of happiness, discontent; instead of joy, distress; instead of peace, contentions and broils; instead of respectability, disgrace; instead of honor, shame. What an amazing difference between the rewards of obedience and the effects of disobedience! The good results of obedience to good laws are boundless in extent and endless in duration.
This now brings me to the main point of my discourse, obedience to God and its rewards. As God is infinitely good, and therefore wills nothing beyond the good of his creatures; and as he is infinitely wise to know in what the highest good of his creatures consists, it becomes man's highest duty and privilege to know what God would have him to do. But inside of all the externals of obedience there must be a state of heart and mind conformed to God's will before any works can be done acceptable to him. What is this state of mind and heart? It is all expressed in two words,—love and faith. Jesus says: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." As much as to say, "Do not act the part of a hypocrite by putting on the form of obedience with no love in the heart." He continues the thought by saying: "He that loveth me will keep my words." Obedience, you see, is the proof of love, true obedience, I mean.
Some gravely ask, Which is first in the heart, love or faith? This question is very nearly like that of asking which is most necessary to the growth of plants, heat or moisture? The truth is plain, that both are necessary; and both together. Without both together no seed could sprout, no plant put forth its leaves. Just so it is with the growth of gospel seeds in the soul. There must be love and faith, both. But this is very plain and easy to be understood. No one can believe in Jesus truly without loving him; and no one can love him without at the same time believing on him. "We love him because he first loved us:" and faith is but a belief in and joyful acceptance of the words which tell us how he has made known his love for us. Out of this love and faith true obedience springs.
We must notice one particular in our thought upon this subject. It is a matter of the deepest interest to every one of us. I now state it: Our love and faith grow with our obedience. What class of children love their parents most and repose the most confidence in them, obedient children or disobedient children? Obedient children, you all answer. Why is this? It is because obedient children receive daily rewards for their good conduct in the expressions of appreciation and love on the part of their parents, brothers, sisters and friends. Love begets love. Just so it is with man and God. The Apostle James puts this thought beautifully: "If a man be not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." How will he know this? By the heart consolations and comforts it brings him. The Holy Spirit will bear witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. "God is not slack concerning his promises." When he says: "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people," do you think he has no way of letting them know they are his people? Will not a father and mother own the child they love? How much more our heavenly Father will own and bless his child!
"The opened heavens around me shine With beams of sacred bliss, When Jesus shows that he is mine And whispers: I am his."
There can be no greater enjoyment than the reading of the Scriptures when we feel that we have complied with their injunctions and requirements, and have a will to do so for ever. It is then the "peace of God which passeth all understanding" fills the soul, and the mind is happy.
The text says: "I will be your God; and ye shall be my people." This is the reward of our obedience. If men would preach from this to the end of time they could tell but a very small part of the blessedness wrapped up in this promise. People think much of the blessings of this life when they are joyous and cheerful from health and prosperity. But in this promise life and health are guaranteed to all eternity. "He that believeth on me shall never die." We are assured that in the glory world sickness and pain and death shall be no more. "I will be your God." This means in the way of every good. "No good thing," says the Psalmist, "will the Lord withhold from them that fear him." This will be made clearest in the world to come. "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think." "I will be your God,—not for awhile and then cast you off. I do not repent of my promises and gifts. You may make a promise, or give something, or do something from an impulse of feeling, which you afterwards regret; but I am subject to no such weakness." In this sense he speaks to us in his Word. He will, if we heed his voice, make of us all "a people prepared for the Lord," a converted, obedient, sanctified and eternally saved and happy people.
Some may regard God as man's enemy. They seem to think there is something terrible in religion, and the farther away they can keep from it the safer they are. What a fatal mistake! To be a child of God is to be safe and happy. Our heavenly Father feels the love of pity for the sinner. I lately read a very touching account of a lost child. The father went calling, calling the name of his boy. After awhile the boy was found; but his mind was so bewildered and confused that he did not seem to know his father's voice. So it is with the sinner. He has wandered so far away from home, the home of peace with God, that he knows not the voice of the Father. That voice is still calling: "Come unto me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls;" for "he came to save that which was lost."
"And ye shall be my people." We get to be his people by true repentance, faith and baptism. He commands us to repent. He commands us to believe on the Son. "He that believeth the Son hath everlasting life." He commands us to be baptized. Obedience from love and faith makes us his people. As Jesus ascended from the waters of the Jordan, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and a voice from heaven said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This was an expression of the Father's love which he has for every one who, from the heart, will hear his voice.
WEDNESDAY, June 19. It is now delightful weather, and Brother Kline is this day on the Great Cheat mountain, filling two appointments at a place which he calls Marsh's. The Great Cheat mountain lies west of the Alleghany proper, and for many miles ranges nearly parallel with it. A branch of Cheat river drains the valley between the two. The people in this section are mainly employed in rearing cattle and sheep. The lands are well adapted to grazing. But in most localities of this country meetings for preaching and other religious services are rare, and the Gospel is seldom heard. Brother Kline's heart ever leaned toward destitute regions like these. He would say: "I occasionally find one whose sense of sin has so mellowed his heart that, like a ripe apple, he is ready to fall by a gentle touch of gospel truth."
FRIDAY, July 1. Yesterday I had meeting at Josiah Simmon's, and to-day have meeting at the same place. I speak from 1 Peter 1:19. TEXT.—"Ye were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ."
I tried to set before these dear people the only hope of salvation. I told them about the Son of God; that he was born of a woman, a pure virgin who conceived him not of man, but of the Holy Spirit of God; that his birth was heralded and announced by an angel from heaven who named him Jesus before he was born, for, said the angel, "He shall save his people from their sins."