When he came to be a man about thirty years of age he was publicly baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, "and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon him: and, lo, a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Jesus lived a life of sinless purity, going about doing good, teaching the people the way of everlasting life; healing the sick; raising the dead to life; giving sight to the blind; hearing to the deaf; cleansing the lepers, and casting devils and evil spirits out of people who were subject to the evil powers by which they were possessed. All these things are related by the four evangelists. Jesus also taught the people many things by parables, in which he set forth his great love for them; what he was able and willing to do to save them from their sins, and what it was necessary for them to do to be saved.
But the Jews would not accept the truth he told them. They were a very proud and self-righteous people, and were not willing to be instructed in things they vainly believed they understood better than Jesus did. He called on them to repent of their sins. They denied their being sinners. He told them he was the Son of God, and that he came down from heaven. They would not believe this: and just because he taught and did things contrary to the way their proud and selfish hearts thought right, they arrested Jesus the Lord of glory, took him before their high priest, gave him a mock trial, and had him crucified. Some may not know just what this means. It means that Jesus was nailed to two pieces of wood one across the other; his hands were nailed to the crosspiece above, and his feet to the high post that was fastened by its lower end in the ground. Thus he hung in agony till he was dead. This was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was done through the envy, malice and hatred of the Jews. It shows how very wicked they were. Some good men who had not consented to the death of Jesus took his body down from the cross and placed it in a sepulchre or vault cut out of solid rock. This vault had been cut out of the rock some time before and belonged to a man of the name of Joseph. This Joseph assisted in placing the body of Jesus in his new vault or tomb, and then they placed a large stone at the mouth of the tomb, and the body of Jesus was buried. As the pall of that night's darkness gently settled on the grave of the crucified Jesus, the Jews felt relieved that they had now, as they thought, put their enemy out of sight. But on the morning of the third day after this some women came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, and, behold! it was not there; but a bright and shining angel of glory was there, who said to those good women: "He is not here; he is risen from the dead." They could hardly believe for joy. Soon, however, they, with many others, saw the risen Lord for themselves, with their own eyes, and never doubted any more.
All that I have said so far is intended as an introduction to my text. My text says: "We were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ." The Lord told his disciples, who were his loving friends, the reason why he suffered the Jews to put him to death. It was, he told them, that all the things written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms concerning him might be fulfilled. He also said to two of them as they journeyed to Emmaus: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" The blood he shed on the cross was necessary to his glorification. Without it he could not have been glorified. The blood of Christ is called the blood of the covenant. Now what is a covenant? A covenant is a union of one mind and heart with another. It is literally a going together, as a man and woman join heart and hand in the covenant of marriage. When God and man enter into a covenant they unite and become as one. In this union God loves man with unspeakable love, and man loves the Lord his God with all his heart. Love is what unites. Love unites a husband and wife. When this union is perfect, what the one loves the other likewise loves; and when we are in covenant union with our glorified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, what he loves we love, and what he hates we also hate. As man enters into a covenant with the Lord he enters a state of salvation from sin, death and hell. But all covenants between God and men must be sealed or made with blood: and whereas a covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ redeems and saves man from death and hell, therefore the blood of Christ redeems and saves man because it is the blood of the covenant between him and God.
But let us carry this thought a little further. Jesus said to the Jews, "Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you." By blood here the Lord does not mean natural blood: he means the blood of the covenant by which we are united with him; the redeeming blood which Peter speaks of in the text. But we must drink it: otherwise we have no life in us. Now how is it possible for any one to drink the blood of Christ? I will tell you. Christ's blood is his life, and he says: "My words are spirit, and they are life." His blood, then, is his Word in its spirit and life. Now when we believe what he tells us with our heart, and do what he commands us because we love him, we are truly drinking his blood. When we forsake our sins by turning unto the Lord from a heart-felt faith in his Word and belief of the truth he tells us, we are drinking his blood; his blood, which is his gospel truth, becomes our life. "And because he lives, we shall live also." "I am the way, the truth, and the life. My word is truth." All this and much more is signified by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus. "Whosoever looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." God's truth is called the law of liberty. Why? Because it tells men how they may become free. It redeems them when they obey it.
Peter calls this change from bondage to liberty a new birth. Notice here in the chapter I read: "Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." We are naturally born unto sin, into the love of things that please our natural sight, our natural appetites and inclinations. Through these we love ourselves and the world to a degree that holds us in bondage, a kind of slavery. This is meant by Paul in these words: "To whomsoever ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." Peter means about the same by these words: "Of whom a man is overcome, by the same is he brought into bondage." And in the book of Hebrews we read of such "who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Being born again spiritually, into a new state of heart and life, we are set free from our bondage to sin. In this newborn state we love to do the will of God, and love the company of good people, and desire to be in the church with the people of God. The Lord Jesus says: "If the truth shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." It is by and through the truth that men are redeemed. "Verily, verily, he that committeth sin is the servant of sin." These are the Lord's own words.
But the worst state any one can be in is a state of bondage in sin, with no desire, no wish or feeling of any kind, to get out of it. This spirit of indifference stamps the seal of darkness deeper and deeper, until the soul loses all desire for anything better. I am just now reminded of what I read not long since. A family of the name of Slocum, living in the State of Pennsylvania, if I mistake not, many years ago, was visited by Indians for the purpose of plunder. With other things they carried off one of the children of the family, a girl several years old. The family was sorely distressed, and every possible effort was made to rescue the child. But all in vain. Many years after, when the poor little girl's father and mother were both dead, her surviving brother and sister heard of her. They felt satisfied they had been correctly informed, and resolved to go to see her, and if possible try to get her back to live with them once more. They went on horseback, and found her a long way off in what was then an unsettled part of Ohio. I may be mistaken even here, as to the part of the country they found her in. But they did find their sister living among the Indians, and in fact the wife of one of the chiefs. She still remembered some English words. They got her to understand who they were, and they wished her to go back with them to their home. But she would not go. She gave them to understand that she was satisfied to remain with the Indians, destitute and comfortless as they were. The last trace of home feeling had left her heart, and with it had departed every vestige of religious concern and love for social life. Sad and sorrowing did her brother and sister return to their homes; and to the time of their death they never ceased to mourn for their lost sister. I have told you a true story; and if it causes the eye of some tender-hearted mother to grow dim with a tear I say, It is well. God's children are exhorted to be tender-hearted, compassionate one for another, and to weep with the sorrowing.
But there is something that should touch our sympathies and bring our tears from fountains far deeper than those opened by such stories as the one I just related. And that is the condition which so many are in with respect to the things of salvation. Like the poor woman I told you about, they are deaf to all that is told them about a better life, and dead to all that God and man are willing to do for them. It is sometimes said of the sick that as long as there is life there is hope. So let it be with us in behalf of such. If the lost sister could have been made sensible of the great benefit it might have been to her to go back and live in a civilized and religious way, at last she might have consented to go. So let us hope that many, who are still in the bondage of sin and the darkness of this world, may see the truth that will set them free and give them light to repent and live.
SATURDAY, July 2. Cross the Cheat mountain to John Riley's in Pocahontas County, Virginia.
SUNDAY, July 3. In the forenoon I attend a Methodist quarterly meeting, at which they hold what they call a love feast; that is, they take bread and water; and after preaching they take what they call the Lord's Supper. They seem to be very sincere in what they do; but to my mind they are not consistent in calling a morsel of bread and a sip of wine, taken at the middle of the day, the Lord's Supper. I am sure we have no right to depart from God's order in anything appertaining to his church and worship.
In the afternoon I preach a funeral and baptize John Riley. Dine at Jacob Yager's on top of the Alleghany mountain, and stay all night at Adam Hevner's. Brother Kline got home Thursday, July 7.
SUNDAY, July 10. Baptize Samuel Bowman and wife. Brother and Sister Bowman give proof of being a good tree by the fruit they bear.
Samuel Bowman lived and died on Linville Creek, not far from Brother Kline's place. He raised a highly respectable family, very intelligent, and some of his children became members of the church of the Brethren.
SATURDAY, July 30. Meeting at Liberty, in Page County, Virginia. I speak on FOREORDINATION and ELECTION. Much has been said and written on these subjects. It is to be feared, however, that instead of light being thrown upon them in the way they have been treated, darkness, rather, has been added to darkness. No subjects wrongly viewed can look darker; and none rightly viewed can look clearer. The word FOREORDAIN means to ordain beforehand: and the word ELECT means to choose. Some that I have met with, in speaking on these subjects, particularly as they are given in the epistolary writings of the New Testament, remind me of fish in a net; they flounder about in the net, while every effort they make fastens them only the more tightly in its meshes. They read: "Whom God foreknew, he also FOREORDAINED to be conformed to the image of his Son, ... and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Rom. 8:29, 30. Likewise the text before us: "ELECT ... according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit." 1 Peter 1:2.
These passages, with others of a somewhat similar import, do not teach the foreordination and election of individuals independent of character and fitness. A lack of perception of this comprehensive truth accounts for the general misunderstanding of these and like passages in the apostolic writings. The doctrine of election, as it is called, opens out into a very large field for thought and investigation. It takes in the whole way of salvation from beginning to end.
"God is love," and the universe, with all its display of wonders and apparent opposition of forces and their ends, was created and is upheld by the eternal hand, for no other purpose than to make his love be seen and felt by his intelligent creation. Any other view challenges the divine love and reflects discredit upon the divine wisdom. All that we know of God is revealed in the truth he has given to save man from sin and its consequences. His love, wisdom and power are all revealed in his great scheme to build up a heaven of eternal glory and bliss for all who desire or are willing to share in its blessedness. But God does not work out of order. He works in accord with the love and wisdom which are his essence, and both infinite and eternal with him. Before the heavens were made, or ever the foundations of the earth were laid, it was the divine purpose to create intelligent beings to be eternally happy. When God created the heavens and the earth he made man in his own image and likeness. Man was happy. But he fell. And God foresaw that man would fall; and to remedy the loss and restore man to the divine image again, Christ was, as a Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world. In the Divine estimation Christ was slain before the foundation of the world; but to us, visibly, not until four thousand years afterward. In the divine foreknowledge the church was established before the world was made, and God foreordained who should compose it, basing this foreordination, not on one in preference to another on any personal ground, but on the ground of fitness as to quality. Foreordination and election have nothing to do with man other than as pertains to quality and fitness. The penitent, believing, loving and obeying, humble, self-denying soul is foreordained to be one of God's ELECT, now, henceforth and forever.
I now repeat the text: "Elect ... according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit." What I have said harmonizes with this, because the qualified fitness of the elect is through sanctification of the Spirit. Our Lord prays for all in these words: "Father, sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." It is through the truth that men are sanctified, and the sanctified the world over and through all time are God's elect, according to his foreknowledge or foreordination, because no others can be. The all-in-all of this great subject resolves itself into the simple fact that men do not come into covenant union with God unto salvation because God elected and foreordained it to be so in their special behalf as individuals, unconditionally chosen beforehand, whilst others no worse than they are left to go to destruction; but they are elected according to God's foreordination because they have come into covenant union with him unto salvation; and have, therefore, the fitness to be worthy of being so chosen or elected. Their election and foreordination are not the cause but the result of the fitness. It is foreordained that "of such is the kingdom of heaven," because it cannot consist of any other kind.
But let us turn to Ezekiel's prophecy, 33:11, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye, ... for why will ye die; O house of Israel?" If the house of Israel was of the elect on an unconditional basis of salvation, they surely would return at some time, and why such concern? If not, all the calling after them that could be done would not fetch them back, because they were not of the elect. This is exactly where the doctrine of unconditional election leads.
Again, 2 Peter 3:9, God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." If God is not willing that any should perish, why did he not make provision and save all? If it is possible for him to save some just because he chooses to do so without any conditions, why not save all? I know what the advocates of this doctrine which I am combatting teach: they say God makes his elect willing to repent and turn to him in the day of his power. I ask, If he is not willing that any should perish, why does he not save all? If he wills that all should come to repentance, why does he not give repentance to all and remission of sins? I mention these things merely to show the contradictions and confusion involved in the doctrine of unconditional elections.
I will here relate what I read somewhere not long ago. A very pious African slave was employed in waiting on the guests at a public house of entertainment. One of the guests, who was a man of some prominence in the world, having been informed of the unaffected Christian piety of this poor slave, thought to sport with him. Addressing him by name, he said: "I want you to tell me whether I am one of the Lord's elect or not." "Indeed, sir," said the poor slave, "I have never heard of your being a candidate. If you want a place in the good Lord's service you must go to him and tell him that you are a candidate, that you will accept the lowest place that he is willing to give you, and that you will do whatever he requires at your hands. If," continued he, "you come out publicly in this way, I can then tell you what I think as to whether you are one of the Lord's elect or not."
FRIDAY, August 5. Harvest meeting at our meetinghouse. Much good singing, with thanksgiving and speaking suited to the occasion.
SUNDAY, August 28. Meeting at Edom, a village about six miles northward from Harrisonburg, Virginia. I spoke from 1 Peter 3:18, 22. The first part of this text should be handled with great caution. Precisely what is meant is not very clear. I am told that a critical examination of the Greek text does favor the doctrine that Christ went from the cross to carry the news of his victorious death to the spirits of those who perished in the flood. If it pleased the good Lord to carry the news of salvation to this throng of prisoners and release them from their prison, who can say aught against it? My heart would rejoice to think that every being in the universe could and would, sometime, in the course of the ages, be made sinless and happy. But we should never concern ourselves about what God has not revealed. It is our right and privilege to rejoice evermore in the free and full salvation clearly set forth and freely offered in his Word. To the unconverted and careless sinner, I here say to-day, as I love your immortal soul, Do not rest your hope of salvation upon anything short of a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. If our Father in heaven has provided another way, as some would say, "by fire," I know not that way.
History says that
"Kings are men to glory known Who wade through fire to a throne;"
but a seared and blistered body is a great price to pay for an earthly crown. So I think that "by fire," even if such a thing were possible, would be a very undesirable way of getting into heaven, especially if the fire means "hell fire." Martyrs, it is true, have gone to glory through fire; but not the fire that burns and sears the soul. It was only that elementary fire kindled by wicked hands around the stake. It could kill the body, but after that there was no more that it could do; and the purified and ransomed soul of the sainted being who thus had suffered could look down from heights of glory upon the ashes of his martyrdom and sing: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
But to return to the text. We here note this remarkable language, that "baptism doth also now save us." I suppose Peter uses the word "baptism" here in its authorized acceptation, which is the immersion of the body of a believer in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a properly authorized administrator of the ordinance. But in what sense can baptism be said to save us? My first answer is, It saves us just as the sevenfold washing in Jordan on the part of Naaman saved that leprous nobleman from being consumed by the leprosy.
I will extend my remarks somewhat concerning Naaman the Syrian. He came to the Prophet Elisha to get cured of his leprosy. He was well supplied with valuable presents for the man of God, to be given to him in the event of his being healed by him. The prophet of God told him to go and wash or bathe seven times in the Jordan. This appeared too insignificant for such a great man as he was to submit to. Besides he regarded the waters of Damascus as superior in virtue to the waters of the Jordan, and he started off in a rage from disappointment. But as he was leaving his servants said to him: "If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." Now, in my view, baptism saves us as this sevenfold dipping in Jordan saved Naaman. Not the water, but the spirit of obedience, is what saves. It saves us as going through the door into the ark saved Noah and his family. It saves us as passing through the Red Sea saved Israel from the host of Egyptians that were in pursuit. This passage of Israel through the sea is called a baptism.
And what shall I say more? For it looks as if this ought to be enough. But I would like to send my voice around the globe laden with the truth that "faith without works is dead," and that baptism is the very first outward work of obedience the believer is required to do. This, with the other ordinances of God's house, in connection with a good life ornamented with the fruits of love and good will toward men, gives life to faith and proves that it is a living reality in the soul.
Saul of Tarsus was a believing convict;
"Borne down beneath a load of sin; By Satan sorely pressed—"
for three days and nights, in which he did neither eat nor drink. Ananias came to him with instructions direct from the Lord, saying: "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Can we suppose that Saul would have become the happy convert that he was, had he refused to obey?
Some think that baptism is nothing, or so nearly nothing that it is hardly worth taking into the account of Christian life. May it not as truthfully be said that faith is nothing, and that repentance is nothing, and that obedience is nothing? Where is the difference?
In all love, with my heart moved in good will toward every one in this house, I do here say that for the life of me I cannot see how any one can hope for salvation while living in open disobedience to the only Savior, Jesus Christ. Can any plead ignorance? From this hour forth you shall not bring that in as a plea for neglect of duty, for I now repeat in your ears the words that fell from the lips of Jesus himself: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Have I a right to say that you will be saved without baptism? I claim no such right. You may say the penitent thief on the cross was saved without baptism. So he was; all things are possible with God; and notwithstanding all that God has said in his Word about baptism and its blessed followings, I boldly say to you that if you die knowing as little about it as the thief on the cross did, with no better chance to have it administered upon you and to you than he had, God will never require it at your hands. But from this day on, if not before this day, you are lifted out of the darkness that encompassed his mind, and can nevermore plead ignorance. Besides, your hands and feet are not nailed to a cross as his were. You are not reduced to the extremity of calling for mercy with the last gasp of expiring life. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
Again: Hear what was said to the convicted multitude on the day of Pentecost: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Have I a right, has any one a right, to say that these promises would have been fulfilled without baptism? But they were fulfilled, for the same day there were added to the brethren then present, about three thousand souls. Would such addition have been made without a compliance with the terms of admission? But those who speak and think lightly of baptism, whilst they may not see it so, do virtually dishonor the blessed Jesus by their implied belief that he demands something of his people which is of little or no account. They insult him by substantially saying they understand his business better than he does himself. Are any ashamed to be baptized? If there be one such here to-day, I warningly repeat in his or her ear this saying of Jesus: "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels."
I have a clear conscience that I am attaching to this subject no more importance than it justly claims in the scale of salvation. When I lay me down to die, above all things I desire to feel assured that "I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God." I submit these remarks to your consideration, with a prayer for the divine blessing upon us all to his glory. Amen!
TUESDAY, September 13. Perform the marriage ceremony of Michael Brake, of Hardy County, Virginia, and Julia Ann Hevner, of Rockingham County, at the home of her father, William Hevner.
THURSDAY, September 22. Attend a love feast at Abraham Huffman's in Page County, and stay all night at Nathan Spitler's. These two brethren give promise of great usefulness in the church.
SUNDAY, October 9. Brother Kline started to Maryland and Pennsylvania. I here name the families he visited on this journey, in the order the visits were made: Brother Waltman's, Jacob Saylor's, Widow Baer's, Jacob Rees's, Jesse Royer's, Widow Rees's, Moomaw's, David Garber's, Widow Bofamyer's, Joseph Pontz's, Minich's, Harnley's, Hartzler's, on Tulpahocken, Daniel Zug's, John Gipple's, Abraham Gipe's, Isaac Brubaker's. At this place he stayed the night of Monday, October 24. He reports that a snow began to fall about three o'clock Monday morning, which continued till evening, when it was over a foot in depth. A remarkable occurrence for the time of year, October 24. It will be remembered by many for a time to come. He then visited Abraham Balsbach's, Moses Miller's, Allen Mohler's, William Etter's, Sollenberger's, Engel's, Christian Keffer's.
I now name the places where he attended meetings: Jacob Saylor's meetinghouse, October 13; Pipe Creek meetinghouse, October 14; Jacob Rees's meetinghouse, October 15; Meadow Branch meetinghouse, October 16; Brother Moomaw's, October 17; Mount Joy, October 18; Widow Bofamyer's, October 19; Joseph Pontz's morning, Brother Minich's evening, October 20; Brother Harnley's morning, Shafferstown evening, October 21; Brother Hartzler's on Tulpehocken, October 22; Milborough morning, John Gipple's night, October 23; Isaac Brubaker's, October 24; Spring Creek morning, Abraham Balsbach's afternoon, October 25; Mechanicsburg, October 26; Allen Mohler's, October 27; William Etter's, October 28; Sellenberger's, October 29; Welsh Run meetinghouse forenoon, Ridge meetinghouse night, October 30.
MONDAY, October 31. Start for home. Brother Kline arrived home safe November 4. This report speaks for itself in behalf of his energy and activity in the work of the ministry. Such instances of untiring effort! Twenty-three meetings attended; and as many discourses delivered, in seventeen consecutive days! Besides, he had considerable traveling to do in reaching these appointments; and never stayed more than one night at the same place! We involuntarily ask, When did he sleep? or, Did he never get tired?
TUESDAY, November 15. Brother Samuel Bowman died this morning. I rejoice to think he was a sincere follower of the Lord, and that he has left a life record which he will not likely be ashamed to own in a coming day.
SATURDAY, November 19. Night meeting at Prince's schoolhouse, near Brother Abraham Huffman's, in Page County. Acts 8:12. TEXT.—"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."
The dispersion which followed the fiery persecution of the saints at Jerusalem was productive of good. The scattered apostles, and the overseers of the deacons as well, of whom Philip named in the text was one, preached wherever they went, and many believed. The very steps taken by the enemies of the cross to put an end to its power "turned out unto the furtherance of the gospel." In this we can see the overruling hand of Providence.
There is one point in this line of thought which I desire to make specially prominent. This point is the readiness with which believers in that day submitted to the ordinance of baptism, and the consequences which were almost sure to follow. The duty of being immersed seems to have pressed itself upon their hearts, and nothing short of obedience to this command could give their consciences rest. But how is it now! Error has done so much to rob this impressive ordinance of its beauty and significance that many seem indifferent to its claims, or ignore it entirely.
Thousands professing faith in Christ at the present day go away from the revival singing:
"Nothing, either great or small; Nothing have I now to do: Jesus died and paid it all, Long time ago."
This would surely be getting salvation at a cheap rate. There is in this no "trial of faith, more precious than gold," no "cleansing of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." This means receiving the crown without bearing the cross. But the early Christians were never soothed with such sedatives. On the contrary, they were admonished to count the cost. Some of the items in this cost were "self-denial, no certain dwelling place," the loss of all things, persecutions, fiery trials, bonds, imprisonments, death. They were not taught to regard the church as a cradle in which their spiritual infancy was to be rocked, but as being a camp for soldiers, with stout hearts and strong sinews, ready to do battle for the Lord. They were therefore exhorted to put on the whole armor of God: and their baptismal vow was the act of putting this armor on publicly, and their enrollment in the Lord's host, prepared for the great conflict. They were expected from that hour forth to "fight the good fight of faith," and the battle hymn that flowed out of the heart of every baptized believer of that day was, in spirit if not in form, the same that some of us are still ready to sing:
"Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord: I'll bear the cross, endure the pain, Supported by thy Word."
I would rejoice if I could here, this night, be the means of melting the ice that binds the hearts of some halfway believers, and if the angel would trouble the sluggish pool in others. May God help you, friends, to feel a sense of your duty, and, like these honest Samaritans named in the text, "believe the things spoken concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and be baptized, both men and women."
Brother Kline was actively engaged in preaching and visiting the sick professionally as a physician to the close of the year. He traveled in the year 1853, 4,411 miles.
I find it impossible to trace all the visits to distant churches and families made by Brother Kline, and keep this book within the limits of a suitable size. I therefore omit much which might be of interest.
FRIDAY, March 3. Council at the old meetinghouse above Harrisonburg.
SATURDAY, March 4. Council closes. Night meeting in Dayton, Virginia. I speak from Psalm 144:11, 12: "Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace."
This is a wonderful prayer from the heart of one who was both priest and king of his people. As a priest, David had the care of the spiritual welfare of his people; and as a king, the civil prosperity of Judah and Israel. The prayer of my text is offered in behalf of both these interests, the spiritual and the temporal. Probably no man ever felt more deeply the truth expressed in his own words, elsewhere recorded, "Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah," than David did. The lofty consciousness, which is the orderly outgrowth of correct knowledge of God's love, wisdom and power, and man's utter lack of all these attributes, accounts for the dependence and trust he reposed in God. This called forth the prayer of my text. It contains three petitions. The first is for deliverance from strange children; the second, that the sons may be as plants [olive trees] grown up in their youth; the third, that the daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.
David comes into the presence of the Lord-as the representative of his kingdom. His watchful eye has seen the tracks and his listening ear has heard the steps of strange feet. They are the feet of the surrounding idolatrous nations. He calls them strange children, for such they are; because in language, manners and dress they give proof that they are not of Judah and Jerusalem, but of Sodom and Egypt. More than this, these strange children are enemies. They would break up the self-denying worship of the true God and rob the sanctuary of all its sacred garniture. They would corrupt the morals, debase the manners, and deprave the tastes of the young. "Their mouth speaketh vanity." They boast of their liberty. Their sinful indulgences are not restrained by law. They are free to do whatever the lust of the flesh and the eye may incline them to do. "Their right hand is the right hand of falsehood." This figure is very strong. The right hand in this place is figuratively put for knowledge, wisdom, power, and whatever else they may vainly boast of having. But they are destitute of all these. They have no knowledge of that which is good, because they desire it not. They have no wisdom, because they have never lifted their minds and hearts to the high plane of desire to do justice and judgment. They have no power save that which is of the natural man; and that power, unless properly restrained, is always to be feared. No wonder that he says of these idolatrous, licentious people that "their right hand is the right hand of falsehood."
But how is the Lord to rid him of and deliver him from the hand of these strange children? By causing fire to fall from heaven and consume them? By causing a flood of water to drown them? Or by making the earth to open her jaws and devour them? No, no; in none of these ways; for in such destruction of enemies there is no trial of the faith of his people. Brethren, do you know that it is, has been and to the end of time will be the pleasure of our heavenly Father to try the faith of his children? This cannot be done independent of means. Do you know that a tree standing in a stormy place takes deeper root than one that grows up in a calm, sheltered spot? Do you know that a child shielded from every trial, and kept out of the reach of all temptation, will grow up with a very weak moral development? The back that is never made to bear a load will forever stay weak. The hand and arm unused to toil will lack strength and skill. God does not want a kingdom made up of imbeciles. He wants a people strong in faith, who can make a good fight, "the good fight of faith; lay hold of eternal life;" and if needs be "take the kingdom of heaven by violence," the violence that resists the devil and makes him leave tracks which point away from where his people stand. The track always tells which way the fox has gone.
This strength of faith, Brethren, is included in David's prayer for his people, and he puts it in this shape: "That our sons may be as plants [olive trees; see Psalm 128:4] grown up in their youth." We all know that plants, including trees, make their best growth and yield their best results in the open air, where they are exposed to the sun, wind, rain, storm and drouth. And it is there they can receive the tillage they need.
You see how readily this beautiful figure applies to the rearing and education of children. "That our sons may be grown up in their youth." Their manhood as to faith, virtue, obedience, wisdom, intelligence and piety is largely developed while they are yet young. How many mistakes are made by parents right here! They say of their sons: "Ah, they are young. After awhile they will be through with sowing their wild oats, and then I expect better things of them." The better things may come, but David prayed otherwise. He wanted the better things to grow up with their growth, and strengthen with their strength, so as to be perfect men even while yet in their youth, as lambs may be perfect in form and quality before they are fully developed into sheep.
But more. He prays that "our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace." Many of us, no doubt, have seen palaces built of polished stones. David almost breaks me down under the weight of his strong and significant figures. He wants the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to be fruit-bearing trees with strong roots struck deep into the ground. But the sphere in which the daughters are to move, the part they are to act, the place they are to hold in the social and religious life of the church and the world, is different from that of the sons, and so he uses a very different figure. They are to be corner stones, polished and set into a palace. Corner stones, from the ground to the roof, are those upon which the strength and beauty of a building greatly depend. A defect here mars the appearance and detracts largely from the permanence and value of the structure. David wants to see the daughters strong and solid as corner stones, in faith, virtue, wisdom and all else that helps to make a woman strong: and at the same time polished with all the refinements of taste, modesty, beauty, gentleness, tender-heartedness and love.
Since God has specially endowed woman with large capacities for developing these powers and graces, let her look to it that they be not suffered to lie buried in a napkin, or perverted to the idolatrous worship of the goddess of fashion. The plastic and pliable temperament of woman tends towards making her an easy prey for the tempter, when he approaches her with smiles, bearing in his hands jewels of gold, braided hair, and costly apparel. She is lured the same by the giddy revel and the fashionable dance—trusting, thoughtless, happy child; ready for almost any pleasure that makes the cheek to glow and the eye to sparkle with delight!
Mothers, be patient, watchful and wise in training your daughters. Withhold from them no good thing, but teach them to shun the ways that are "the ways of hell." Fathers, be mild, but firm in training your sons into habits of sobriety, temperance and abstemiousness from all bad habits. Pray with them and for them, and if possible teach them to feel that there is something better than the life and purer than the love of this world. May God bless the young people of our land and make them the pillars of his truth, is my prayer.
THURSDAY, April 13. Council meeting at the Mill Creek meetinghouse. Brother Isaac Long is elected speaker, and Christian Hartman deacon. Brother Isaac Long gives promise of great power in the Word. He has a very good voice for both speaking and singing. I do not wish to attach undue weight to this most wonderful gift of God, but when the head is stored with knowledge and the heart with the love of truth, the human voice is one of the great means by which God makes known the saving virtue of his Word.
FRIDAY, April 14. Council meeting at the old meetinghouse. Brother John Thomas is elected to the deaconship.
SUNDAY, April 30. Meeting at our meetinghouse. Samuel Wampler and wife baptized.
THURSDAY, May 11. Perform the marriage ceremony of George Wine, son of Samuel Wine, and Lydia Good, daughter of Jacob Good.
MONDAY, May 22. This day Brother Kline starts to the Annual Meeting. He gets to Cumberland on the twenty-third, where he meets Brother E.K. Beachley, who takes him to his home. The same evening he attends a love feast at a meetinghouse near by.
FRIDAY, May 26. He attends a union meeting at the Middle Creek meetinghouse, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
SATURDAY, May 27. He has meeting near Brother David Lichty's. I will clothe the skeleton of this discourse as best I can. Acts 10:34, 35. TEXT.—"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him."
It required a miracle to convince Peter that any besides Jews were to be favored with the Gospel. But a man of his stamp of character, hard to be convinced, resolute even to drawing the sword in defense of his friend or faith, is not likely to be imposed upon by false appearances, nor deceived by unreliable promises. Just such a man Jesus needed, and just such a man Jesus chose to be foreman in his little band of disciples. But when all doubt was removed from Peter's mind, his faith became to be a part of himself. Its roots branched out into every part of his nature, and permeated his entire self. Well could Jesus say of the TRUTH which Peter so nobly confessed, and to which he so nobly adhered in the later years of his life by a faith that bore the test of fire: "Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Such faith ever has been and ever will be the foundation on which his church stands.
But now Peter clearly sees that the Gentiles are "fellow heirs with the Jews," and equally entitled to the right of becoming members of "the household of faith." "God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him." Neither social, moral nor political caste, nor age, sex, color nor condition impose any barrier to God's acceptance. Peter was taught this by his vision; and this is the meaning of the text. But whilst God is thus impartial, we must not forget that his acceptance of any and every one depends upon their acceptance of him.
"He that feareth God." I will say something on this. A misunderstanding of this may do serious harm. Let me first say that our heavenly Father, God, is not a despot or tyrant. There is no element in his nature or essence that in the slightest degree savors of despotism or tyranny. Jesus says: "He that seeth me seeth the Father: the Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. And from henceforth ye have both seen the Father and know him." Jesus was also called Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, "God with us." Do we, then, desire a correct knowledge of God the Father? Let us acquaint ourselves with his Son Jesus Christ, and we will have it, for he came to do the will of the Father. This was his explicit work; and he accomplished it, for he says in his last great prayer: "And now, O Father, I come to thee, having finished the work thou gavest me to do."
Now I ask, Did Jesus ever show anything else than good will toward men? Is there not manifest love in every act of his recorded life? Did he not go about doing good? Did he not say: "No man hath greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you"? God's love is seen in the life work and words of Jesus.
Now, then, in what sense is Jesus Christ to be feared? In the very sense in which his disciples feared him. But this was not in the sense of being timid or fearful of his presence. On the contrary, they desired to be with him and near him, for they felt secure in his presence. They could take hold of his hands and see the nail prints, and the spear mark in his side. John leaned on his breast at table, and the women took hold of his feet. His word of comfort was: "Fear not," and he often repeated this in their ears. "Be not afraid; it is I." In all this we see the heart of our heavenly Father, for "the Son is the express image of him." In what sense, then, are we to fear God? Only in the sense of fear to go counter to his will. "Perfect love casteth out fear." The redeemed saints and angels who stand before his heavenly throne in perfect love know no fear of God, "for fear hath torment." But we, who still grovel on earth battling with the world, the flesh and the devil, have cause to fear offending his righteous and holy will. But this only when we are tempted to leave some duty undone or to commit some actual sin. As long as we walk in the good way of love, faith and obedience we have nothing to fear. To all such Jesus ever says: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure [delight, joy] to give you the kingdom."
"And worketh righteousness." It is in order now to speak on this point in the text. We know that God is just, "and there is no unrighteousness in him." The prophet Daniel in his confession said: "O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee." To work righteousness, then, is to do the righteous will of the Father. All works of righteousness have their origin in supreme love to God and subordinate love to man. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" covers the ground. It is very much the same as that other saying of Jesus: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets." This command comprehends all the possible relations of men with each other. It takes in the social, moral, civil, commercial, national and religious relations of the human family in all time; and when a man's conduct in these varied relations is governed by the Lord's golden rule, he is working righteousness in the eye of God and is accepted of him. "He that worketh righteousness" takes in every human being that lives a good life. But no one can live a good life without help from the Lord. Jesus says: "Without me ye can do nothing." Cornelius had help from God. He feared God. He worshiped God. He was a devout man himself, and all his house had the same reverence for God. He had also heard of Christ, especially of the witness borne by the Holy Spirit, at his baptism, and that of the Father acknowledging his divine sonship.
But Cornelius needed instruction in matters pertaining to the ordinances of God's house. His knowledge and faith were sufficient for the purposes of living a good, righteous life. He was a man of prayer. He also possessed that element of goodness which Paul says is greater even than faith, and that element is charity. Notice, the angel said to him: "Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up as a memorial before God." The angel included nothing else. In our acknowledgments of regard and favor in the behalf of any one we refer to one's character and standing in the eyes of men. But the angel made no such reference. From this we may learn what God loves most in his people, and that is LOVE. The love of Cornelius for God was manifested by his prayers. Loving, faithful, trustful prayers are the proof that we love God: and kindness, gentleness and goodness toward others, the proof that we love our neighbor. This was manifest in his alms.
But the Lord wanted Cornelius to arise and mount a higher plane in the life of righteousness: a high plane of holy intelligence and knowledge respecting himself and his people. The Holy Ghost falling upon him and the rest brought with it the illuminating power, in verification of the Lord's words: "The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things." This inflowing power, teaching, quickening, regenerating the soul, is what Jesus means by a man's being born of the Spirit: and in its order and connection "the washing of regeneration," the water baptism, the water birth into the church, follows. Cornelius was baptized, and all the devout members of his family with him. This is the last mention that is made of him. Very soon after this time that fearful persecution of the saints arose in Jerusalem and Judea, which resulted in their dispersion to foreign countries and places, so that Cornelius may never have enjoyed the privilege of having the remaining ordinances of feet-washing, the gospel salutation of the kiss, the love feast, and the holy Communion of the bread and wine administered to him and his house. As no church could be organized at the house of Cornelius at that time, these ordinances had to be postponed. In truth, their introduction and observance must always be guarded with care, lest they be abused and perverted, as they were at Corinth some years later. But of this we are sure: "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted of a man according to that which he hath, and not according to that which he hath not."
I cannot close without a few reflections on what has been said. When Cornelius was told what to do, he did not hesitate a moment. Forthwith he sent for Peter. When Peter came he received him with joy, and would have worshiped him in devout solemnity, had Peter not instantaneously rejected his approach. When the inflowing baptism of the Holy Spirit gave him and those with him the new birth of the Spirit, they were ready to receive the water birth by baptism in water. The water was not forbidden, because no opposition to the Gospel had as yet arisen in Cesarea.
Now, friends, here is an example worthy of imitation. Let me prevail in my appeal to you in behalf of your immortal souls. "To whom much is given, of him they will require the more." Much is given you, my dear friends who have so attentively listened to me to-day. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." To hear is to obey. "He that knoweth to do his master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" These "words are spirit and they are life." "Learn of me," says the best friend on earth, "and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
SUNDAY, May 28. Love feast at Forney's. Christian Schmucker is ordained to the full work of the ministry.
TUESDAY, May 30. Love feast at David Summers's. An election is held. Brother David Royer is elected speaker; and Daniel Newcomer and David Summers deacons.
THURSDAY, June 1. Love feast at Brother Joseph Royer's, nine miles north of Canton.
SATURDAY, June 3. Stay all night at Brother Nathan Stern's.
SUNDAY, June 4. Come to place of Annual Meeting. Breakfast in the shed. Six persons baptized.
MONDAY, June 5. Form committees, and begin to take in queries. Stay all night on the ground.
TUESDAY, June 6. Begin the discussion of questions. Get through with the slave question by noon. All night on the ground.
WEDNESDAY, June 7. Get through with business by eleven o'clock, and the meeting breaks up.
SUNDAY, July 23. This day Joseph Miller and I start to the counties of Pendleton, Hardy, Randolph, Pocahontas, and Highland. I ride Nell.
These two brethren were absent on this journey precisely three weeks to the day. I fear it would be tedious to the reader to trace them day by day and step by step through all the ways they went. Not a day passed in which they did not fill one appointment for preaching, and often two. Brother Kline felt at home among the mountains. He had a lively appreciation of the sublime in nature; and more than once does he note the grandeur of some mountain's lofty summit over which he passed; the majestic power of some falling stream; or the awful solitude of some deep forest. It was mainly a timbered country through which they passed. The regions traversed by the Alleghany mountain proper were in that day still in a state of nature; and the scattered inhabitants very nearly in the same state. Many of them live very remote from any railroad or other public highway.
At a private house, in Randolph County, he says: "Extensive forests of very tall and straight timber which would be exceedingly valuable for building and other purposes, could it be gotten to market, cover large sections of Randolph, Pocahontas, Tucker and other counties further west. But as time goes on population will increase; and after awhile the urgent demands for the timber and other productions of these regions will cause roads to be constructed for their transportation to markets. We should not be backward in our efforts to secure permanent foothold for the truth as we hold and practice it. Many here cannot read for themselves; and it pains my heart to find how poorly they have been instructed in the things pertaining to the way of salvation. The small amount of preaching they hear is not often of an instructive character. It appeals to the feelings, but does not inform the mind. This I learn by conversing with them. They are told to believe, it is true; but what their faith is to lay hold of, and what the Lord requires them to do that they may serve him acceptably, is not made clear to their minds. It is not to be inferred that all are on the low plane of intelligence I have described. There is here and there an exception. But the exceptions are rare. And in our preaching we aim to speak, as did Paul, 'as to babes.' As to natural capacity, and their capability of attaining to high intelligence in the things of men and God, things human and divine, under the hand of adequate instruction, I regard them as being equal to any people in our State."
The two brethren continued in the company of each other throughout this journey. They got home Sunday, August 13.
FRIDAY, September 29. This day Brother Kline starts to the counties of Hardy and Hampshire. He visits Isaac Dasher's, James Parks's, William Michael's, Adam Cosner's, Henry Cosner's, Joseph Arnold's, John Leatherman's, Samuel Arnold's, Adam Michael's, Michael Lyon's, Solomon Michael's, Jacob Cosner's, Martain Lantz's, Enoch Hyre's, Isaac Shobe's, Chlora Judy's, Peggy Dasher's, and James Fitzwater's. He got home Thursday, Oct. 12, after an absence of two weeks. He rode Nell. I beg the kind reader to pardon the entry of the foregoing list of names.
The Editor will here tell a short story of what really took place very recently. He happened to be at the house of one of his friends, and in looking through his library he discovered a very old copy of the life of Isaac N. Walter, who had been dead over forty years. He remarked to the lady of the house: "I see you still have on hand a copy of the life of Isaac N. Walter." "O, yes, and that is the most precious volume to me in all the library. You see from its appearance that it has been handled very freely. Mr. Walter used to come to our house, and whilst papa was not a member of his church he and papa thought a great deal of each other; and whilst I have but a childhood recollection of him, reading that book carries me back in thought to the old home place where I was raised, and calls up the thousand and one pleasant memories of my early days." Thus she went on; and very soon opened to the place where the date of one of Mr. Walter's visits to her father's house was given. She could no longer restrain her tears, but excused them by saying: "You know a woman never forgets her first love, and that is the love of her childhood home."
On this trip Brother Kline baptized Josiah Simons and James Hilkey, October 7.
SUNDAY, October 15. Meeting at our meetinghouse. I baptize eleven persons to-day. They are Noah Rhodes and wife; Frederic Kline and wife; George Wine and wife; Susanna Showalter; Jacob Sanger; John McKee; Catharine Fink, and Polly Wampler.
SUNDAY, October 22. Meeting at the Lost River meetinghouse. Matthew 28 is read. Philip Fitzwater and Catharine Sowder are baptized.
SUNDAY, October 29. Meeting at John Glick's, in Shenandoah County. After meeting I baptize John Glick and wife. Stay all night at John Neff's.
SUNDAY, November 12. Meeting at our meetinghouse. This day I baptize John A. Showalter; Mary Kline; Mary Kesler; Anna Hoover, wife of Emanuel Hoover, and Mrs. Fogel.
SUNDAY, November 26. This day John Bowman and I take a steamer at Alexandria and attend a Methodist church in Washington City. After looking around at the gorgeous displays of artistic ornamentation in the structure and finish of the building itself, and being comfortably seated in a pew cushioned with silk velvet, with my feet resting on a Brussels carpet, I was ready to hear. The first thing I heard was a sort of chant, with organ accompaniment. But I could only now and then distinguish a word chanted; so I could not say amen to their giving of thanks. Next came the reading of the twenty-fourth Psalm. Being a good way back, I could not hear distinctly, but knowing the Psalm by heart, memory served where hearing failed. This was more satisfactory. Next came the musical interlude, and the opening prayer followed. I hardly ever criticise a prayer; but when that prayer was through with it did occur to my mind that if it were to be suddenly answered none would probably be so much surprised as the preacher who offered it. A familiar hymn was now sung, and many in the congregation joined their voices in the song. This was very enjoyable. Next the sermon. The preacher used fine language, and ornamented his discourse with flowery similitudes and opposite figures. Such eloquence as flowed from his lips to-day, other things being equal, does not fail to attract large audiences. But when I took a view of the congregation, and beheld the display of fashion everywhere visible, I could not suppress the inquisitive reflection as to what John Wesley would think of that being a congregation of Methodists, could he suddenly appear among them. Would he own them? And would they own him in his plain dress and old-fashioned ways? And then the thought—what if the next hundred years bring on as great a change in our Brotherhood as the past seventy-five years have unfolded in the Methodist society! But here I let the curtain fall upon my thoughts, to hide them from my sight, for I cannot endure the prospect of such a change.
I aim to cultivate a spirit of forbearance toward all denominations of professing Christians; but I am forced to conclude that in this place the sons of God have fallen in love with the daughters of men; that the church and the world have shaken hands in a mutual agreement to live together in peace.
MONDAY, November 27. At 5 o'clock we take the train for Baltimore, where we arrive at 6:40 P.M. Stop at Globe hotel.
TUESDAY, November 28. Attend to business in the city, and in the evening go to Michael B. Kline's.
WEDNESDAY, November 29. At 8 A.M. meet Brother D.P. Saylor at the depot, and take cars for Philadelphia, where we arrive at 12:30 P.M. Dine at Brother John Kagey's; then come to Morristown, and from there to Brother John Umstead's, where we stay all night.
THURSDAY, November 30. Come to Brother Isaac Price's, and then to Brother David Fricke's, where we stay all night.
FRIDAY, December 1. Come to Price's meetinghouse. Make arrangements; take the voice of the church touching the grievance; close our meeting; come to Brother Peter Hollowbush's; stay all night and prepare our papers.
SATURDAY, December 2. Come to the meetinghouse again. Brother D.P. Saylor speaks in the forenoon, and in the afternoon we present our papers and try to settle, but great commotion follows, and we close the meeting. Come to Brother John Price's; stay all night. Night meeting. Speak on John 10:9.
SUNDAY, December 3. Meeting at the meetinghouse again. I speak on 1 Peter 1:22. TEXT.—"See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
Scientific moralists teach that man's love is his life. They support this statement by what they regard a self-evident truth, that such as a man's love is, such is his life. The wide field for investigation to which this line of thought leads, presents many plausible arguments in favor of the doctrine they hold. For one, I can and must confess that I have never been able to look deep enough into the human soul to find out just what the principle of life is. Neither is it important that I should know. But there is One that does know. That One needs not that any should testify to him concerning man, for he knows what is in man.
Brethren, you all know to whom my thought now turns. I mean our Lord Jesus Christ. And let the life principle, the heart principle, the love principle be one and the same or not, it is he who says of men: "By their fruits shall ye KNOW them;" not doubtfully, but surely. The life record of every man, written not with pen and ink on paper, but with the finger of God on the tablet of his memory, will be the basis of his adjudgment to hell or his acquittal to heaven. For "a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things; likewise an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things." "And they that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
Man is created for society. He cannot be happy without it. If it would be possible for us to conceive of a world inhabited by but one human being, with all hope of society forever banished, if that human being could ever think at all, it would only be to wish himself dead. All our affections and thoughts are so intimately connected with the affections and thoughts of others as to derive all the zest of their enjoyment from this source alone. We enjoy the pleasures of the table most when those we love enjoy them with us. This feeling is so inwrought in the character that when any we specially love are absent, who we may fear are not faring as well as we, the reflection mars the relish of our food. This is what should be. But the length and breadth of social enjoyment is exactly commensurate with the length and breadth of social love. The man whose heart is so small as to be able to take none but the members of his own family in the grasp of his contracted regard can have a meager enjoyment of life. He is somewhat above a brute, but very far beneath the dignity of a man; and, worst of all, destitute of the spirit of Christ. "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" And this thought brings up my text: "See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
Brethren, if I could impress these words upon your hearts in a way and to a degree that would be adequate to their importance, I would return home in the happy reflection that I had been instrumental in doing a work by which God is glorified and my Brethren saved. These words encompass the whole ground of salvation. Inside this compass of brotherly love is salvation, and nowhere else. Say what you please, love is what saves man after all. Some say faith saves, and so it does when it is quickened and filled with the warmth of brotherly love. Otherwise, though it be strong enough to remove mountains, as Paul says, it is nothing. Faith without love is a dead faith. Devils have this kind, and tremble. This dead faith may be compared to ice which is water as to substance, but worthless as to form. Frozen water may bridge rivers; and a frozen faith may bridge some of the streams of earthly life; but it will never bridge the stream of death and land us safe in heaven.
But what is to be understood by brethren loving one another with a pure heart fervently? I am afraid that if I attempt to tell what brotherly love is, and how it is to be shown, I will only darken counsel by words without wisdom. There is not a brother or sister in this house who does not know what it is to love another with a pure heart fervently. I will, however, venture to say a little under this head, by way of drawing our minds to think more closely upon it. I will say, first, that when one brother loves another with a pure heart fervently, he tries in all ways and at all times to do his brother good, and no harm. This love fills the mouth with good things and the hands with blessings.
But the text implies that this love can be increased, that it may grow ardent, burning, by the use of right means, or suffered to grow cold by neglect. There can be no doubt of the truth of this. In all man's relations to this life, experience shows that love may be fostered by kindness, or frozen by unkindness. This last remark reminds me of a conversation I had with a United Brethren preacher whom I chanced to fall in with in one of the western counties of Virginia. Speaking of his work, and the number of converts he reported at different meetings he had held, led me to ask how they were doing since then. He replied that a goodly number appeared to continue faithful; but he added that some had burnt out by unholy fire, and that others had frozen out by unholy frost. I afterward thought this to myself, that here was the commingled fire and hail which John, in his apocalyptic vision, saw falling from the same cloud. Ah, Brethren, let us beware of the unholy fire of evil passion, anger, malice, wrath, strife, that would burn and consume our love for one another; and on the other hand avoid all feelings and expressions or other manifestations of contempt, or neglect, or unkindness that would freeze it to death.
This brings me now to speak of forgiveness. You have read the story, told by our Lord, of the debtor who owed the ten thousand talents, and was forgiven the debt; and how he afterward treated a fellow-debtor who owed him a hundred pence; and how the first debtor was delivered to the tormentors because he would not forgive his fellow-servant. "So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you,"—says our Lord—"if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts." Brethren, you and the Lord for it. I this day wash my hands clean of your blood as I repeat in your ears these words of love and warning: "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
When I was yet a boy in Pennsylvania, before we moved to Virginia, my father very strictly forbade me playing marbles on Sunday. I obeyed his orders for some time; but one Sunday, when father was at church, a neighbor's boy came to our house and persuaded me to play with him. I did it reluctantly. The play did not amuse me as usual. But I transgressed all the same; and in the very act my father saw me on his return home. He called me to come to him. Expecting chastisement, I went with trembling steps. I never had felt so unhappy in my life. "What were you doing?" he asked. I burst into tears. "Are you very sorry for what you have done?" I nodded and wept assent. "Come a little nearer to me." I went; and he then drew a handkerchief from his coat pocket and gently wiped away my tears, saying at the same time, "I feel sure, Johnny, that you are very sorry for what you have done, and I forgive you with a kiss." Ah, Brethren, if I had never known sorrow before, I had never known joy till after that kiss. In itself it was but the contact of lips; but its power went to my heart; and I can say here solemnly that I had never loved my father before as I loved him after that. Love is what conquers after all. Love is the root and the offspring of happiness. There can be no happiness without love. Therefore, Brethren, "see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
After meeting I go with Brother David B. Kline in his carriage, and have night meeting in a schoolhouse near his place. Snows all this day.
MONDAY, December 4. Travel thirty-five miles to-day in Brother George Gipel's wagon to his house. Snowing and blowing all day. Snow wonderfully drifted. Stay all night at Brother Gipel's.
TUESDAY, December 5. Get into Brother Gipel's sleigh and go to meeting at Brother Brachtbil's. From there come to Brother Jacob Wanger's, near Jonestown, to night meeting. Speak on Rev. 3:21. [This sublime discourse is withheld for want of room.] Stay all night at Brother Brachtbil's. Wonderful blowing of snow continues. Roads blockaded very much.
WEDNESDAY, December 6. Brother John Kline near Millerstown takes me in his sleigh to meeting near his house. Speak on John 14:6. Night meeting at his house. Speak on Revelation 22. Stay with him all night. Still cold and stormy.
THURSDAY, December 7. Write a letter home, and one to Michael B. Kline, of Baltimore. Stop at Jacob Frantz's, and get to Samuel Royer's, near Myerstown, for dinner. Afternoon meeting at the meetinghouse. Stay at David Zug's all night. Snowing and blowing continues. Very cold.
FRIDAY, December 8. Meeting at Brother George Bolinger's. John 10 is read. In afternoon come to Brother Samuel Hilsman's. Visit and help to anoint a sick sister. Come to Brother John Gipel's. Night meeting. Speak of John 14:6.
SATURDAY, December 9. Come to David Zug's. Meeting. Speak from Hebrews 2.
SUNDAY, December 10. Meeting at Christian Longenacre's. Speak on Luke 1:77. Night meeting at the widow Eby's.
MONDAY, December 11. Visit Aunt Anna Hershey. She is very weak. Dine at Abraham Hershey's. He takes me to Mount Joy, to Henry Kurtz's, where we have night meeting. Sup at David Sharlocher's, and stay all night with Brother Kurtz.
TUESDAY, December 12. Dine at Brother Jacob Rinehold's, and take the eleven o'clock train in Lancaster for home, where I arrive Friday, December 15.
In the year 1854 Brother Kline traveled 6,463 miles. I feel sure that it is safe to say that every mile he traveled was in the direction of some good object. Here is something for every one to think on: Do all the steps of my life tend in the direction of some good object? Are all my motives pure, sincere, honest, fit for the eyes of the world, and, above all, fit for the eye of God?
SATURDAY, March 31, 1855. Attend council meeting at the Brick meetinghouse in Augusta County. John Brower and Abraham Garber are elected to the ministry, and Enoch Brower and Levi Garber to the deaconship.
THURSDAY, April 5. Attend council meeting at the Beaver Creek meetinghouse. Martain Miller is ordained; Daniel Thomas forwarded; and Joseph Miller, of Thorny Branch, elected to the deaconship.
FRIDAY, April 6 and SATURDAY, April 7. On these two days I vaccinate sixty-three persons.
THURSDAY, April 19. Attend council meeting at the Brush meetinghouse. Jacob Spitzer is elected to the ministry, and Felix Senger to the deaconship.
FRIDAY, April 20. Council meeting at our meetinghouse. Abraham Knupp is ordained; Christian Wine forwarded, and Martain Wampler elected to the deaconship.
SATURDAY, April 21. Attend council meeting at the Flat Rock. Jonas Early and Abraham Neff are elected to the deaconship.
SATURDAY, May 12. This day Brother Kline and Daniel Thomas, in company of each other, start to the Annual Meeting on horseback. The meeting opened Monday, May 28. They consequently had two weeks before them to spend on the road, and this time they took up in traveling and preaching by the way. They went first to Hardy County, where they filled appointments at different places on the South Fork, South Branch of the Potomac, and North Fork. They then crossed the Alleghany mountains over into Randolph County, where they held a number of meetings. The Diary reports Brother Daniel Thomas as taking the lead in preaching at nearly all the appointments. And well was he worthy of the honor. Few men are ever endowed with better natural abilities for public speaking than was Brother Daniel Thomas. His voice had the rare power of making every word he uttered to be distinctly heard all over a large audience, without any apparent effort on his part. Besides, it was musical. The hearer went away with its expressive inflections and cadences still sounding in his ears. But his voice was not his only forte. He had a mind as full of sanctified wit and quick perception as an egg is full of food. A clear thinker, a cogent reasoner, and I may add, full of love and the Holy Ghost, it is not a matter of wonder that he excelled. What he might have achieved had he lived to an advanced age, God only knows. His death was caused by an attack of pneumonia. He left a comparatively young family. In the view of the writer, who was intimately acquainted with him, the church of the Brethren has never been called to give up a brighter or better man. He is not lost. He has only moved away to the better land.
The following discourse was substantially preached by Brother Daniel Thomas at the dwelling house of Elijah Judy in Hardy County, Virginia, now West Virginia, on the evening of
MONDAY, May 14. The parable of the sower is his subject. He said: This parable, viewed in its natural or most obvious sense, is so easily understood that it would be a suitable lesson for a primary school reader. At the same time it holds within its grasp a fund of spiritual instruction which, being received into the mind and heart, fills both with light so clear as to illuminate many an otherwise dark portion of Revealed Truth. To my mind this parable is the link connecting the two ends of the great chain of God's work and man's work in both the natural and spiritual life of man.
The Holy Land, as it is called, where our Lord was born, and where he lived and died, comprised three small districts of country called Judea, Samaria and Galilee. These districts, each about the size of some of our Virginia counties, lay along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Their gusts of rain, with their lightning and thunder, came from the west as ours do. The south winds came loaded with warmth to them as ours do to us. On the eastern border of this land was the river Jordan, a stream just about as large and swift as your South Branch of the Potomac. Near the northeastern corner of this land lay the beautiful Sea of Galilee, about three miles in breadth, and from four to six miles in length. It was on this sea that our Lord stilled the tempest. It was on the surface of this sea, that he was seen walking as on a smooth pavement.
In our Savior's day the Holy Land was an agricultural country. The farmers raised wheat and barley. These grains are often mentioned in the Scriptures. But they had few fences in that country. The roads ran through farms and fields with no sign of fence on either side. If sheep or cattle were turned out to graze, they had to be watched by men or boys called shepherds. I have been thus particular in my description of this land to enable you the better to understand the parable itself, and its higher or spiritual meaning. But farming has ever been but poorly done in that country, and patches of briars and other filth were suffered to grow. These were sown with the rest of the field, and instead of being dug out were plowed and harrowed over. No concern was felt about the seed likely to be wasted. The sower opened his hand as freely in crossing the highway or the patch of briery ground as anywhere else. Even those sections of the field which showed no depth of soil on account of underlying rock were treated like the rest. What a site for a parable! But what is a parable?
A parable is a statement of some fact literally or possibly true in the natural world, and used to represent some spiritual truth. It is the correspondence of the external or natural meaning with some internal or spiritual meaning that makes any parable to be what it is. The parable before us in its external or natural sense teaches nothing beyond what we may learn by the sight of our eyes every year. If it possessed no hidden meaning, no secret of life, it would be no holier than a similar statement in an agricultural paper. This is just what our Lord meant by these words: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth. The flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you are spirit, and are life."
I think you are now prepared to derive some benefit from the internal sense of the parable before us. It has ever been a great question as to what man is required to do to be saved. If we were to go by what is generally preached at what are called revivals of religion, we would only need to say we believe in Jesus Christ, then manifest some joy in the new experience, get up, perhaps, and tell how we feel, and we are ready to be counted in the list of new converts in full possession of eternal life. This experience corresponds with the explanation given of the rocky places: "This is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway he stumbleth."
But here the query very naturally arises: "Are such to be lost? Is there no hope for these rocky-ground, thorny-ground and wayside hearers?" I say such need not be lost. There is salvation for such as truly as for any, if they avail themselves of the proffered gifts. It is wrong teaching, together with the influence of bad examples and bad habits, that has made them to be the kind of ground they are. Here is a lesson for all. Parents, if you desire your children to become good ground, train them up in the way they should go: and when they are old they will not depart from it.
There is another all-important truth bearing upon this connection of my subject; and that truth is that "our Father, God, is the husbandman." He is the great Farmer of souls, and "with God all things are possible." It is a thing of very common occurrence, inside the different denominations, for their members to backslide, as they call it. This is not because they could not continue faithful, but it is from a lack of the true knowledge of God, and a want of reliance upon him, and looking in prayer to him. The divine teachings are very clear on this point in the Christian's life. If an individual will repent, believe the Gospel, and be baptized for the remission of sins, leave off, that is, shun and forsake all evil ways and deeds as sins against God, he has the blessed assurance that he will be led into all necessary truth. Notice this: "If any man will do his will, he shall KNOW of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Again: David says: "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." And Solomon says: "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." And our Lord applies the prophecy of Isaiah: "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light." He was the great Light which they saw, but they saw him and heard him by going to him.
There can, I think, be no doubt that some have stronger temptations to evil than others. Bad habits, encouraged by long indulgence and fostered by strong natural appetences, are hard to get rid of. But the faith that worketh by love, and purifieth the heart, gets strong enough to remove these mountains of sin; yea, strong enough to enable a man even to hate his own sinful life.
I have known men to reason and conclude from this parable that God is partial. They speak on this wise: "If the different kinds of ground symbolize or represent the different natures and dispositions of men with respect to believing and obeying the Word, then all have not an equal chance for salvation. If a man (say they) has no better show for bringing forth the fruits of righteousness in a good life than the rocky or thorny ground has for bringing forth a crop of wheat or barley, he can have no show for salvation at all." This argument appears plausible at a first view. And in the estimation of those who look only upon the surface of things it is convincing. The first point of error with those who reason in this way is to be found in their belief that God has made this difference among men. But the entire history of man, as given in the Bible, shows that men bring upon themselves these varied degrees of opposition to what is pure and good. "God made men upright, but they have sought out many inventions," says the prophet. Of course he means inventions of evil things. An apostle says: "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." The natural tendency of man with everything of earth is downward. The loveliest garden, by being neglected, will get full of weeds. The most highly improved breeds of domestic animals tend toward degeneracy and deterioration as to quality, unless carefully guarded. Man is no exception to the rule. It is only by watchful care that one generation of people becomes wiser and better than the generation that preceded it. Our Lord would oft repeat such expressions as these: "What I say unto one, I say unto all, Watch." "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning." "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
There is no heart so stubborn hard but that the softening power of Divine love can mellow it; and there is no soul so full of the thorns and briers of evil passions and bad habits, but that the sanctifying power of the truth can cleanse it. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. They that be whole need not the physician, but they that are sick. God is able to do for all who look to him for help, exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think; and in Christ he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. No case of leprosy was ever beyond the power of the Lord to cleanse. No blindness was ever too dark for him to remove. No palsy was ever too dead for him to quicken into healthy life. No fever was ever too burning for him to cool. No demoniac was ever so insane or epileptic, under the power and in the possession of even a legion of devils, but that he could have them all cast out and the possessed one sit calmly, be clothed and in his right mind. Nothing is impossible with God. The good-ground hearer brings forth fruit unto perfection because he looks to the Lord, through his blessed Word, for help. This help comes through his obedience to its holy precepts and commands. God cannot help any one who continues to live regardless of and indifferent to the precepts of his Holy Word.
In a modified sense the same laws govern in the spiritual world that govern in the natural. As it is impossible for God, according to his established order, to give you a rich and remunerative crop of corn or wheat from a field covered with briers, thorns and weeds; just in the same measure in a spiritual sense is he unable to give you happiness, peace of mind and joy in the Holy Ghost while you continue in a life of sin. "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."
Brethren and sisters, it may be that some of you fear, at times, that your heart is no better than a bed of rock; or that it is full of thorns; or that it is hard and poor as the beaten road. But such self-examinations give evidence that the Holy Spirit is in your hearts and that he is carrying on a glorious work of grace there. "Blessed are the meek." "Blessed are the poor in spirit." "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." "God resisteth the proud; but giveth grace to the humble." Be not discouraged. Our Father is the great husbandman, and he knows just how to treat every kind of ground, just what to do in every heart. Then let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
The foregoing sermon was preached by Brother Daniel Thomas May 14. Between this and the following Sunday he preached every day once or twice. Brother Kline jotted down one other discourse which he delivered on Saturday following, which I am compelled to omit for want of room. On
SUNDAY, May 20, they had forenoon meeting at Josiah Simon's. This day Brother Kline baptized Joseph Summerfield and wife, Mrs. Workman, and Jane Hilkey. In his quaint way he adds: "God calls, and some still answer. All glory to him."
SUNDAY, May 27, finds the two brethren at the place of Annual Meeting. They attended meeting in Wine's barn; and also report meeting being held at the same hour in the meetinghouse. He does not give the name of the meetinghouse where the Annual Meeting was held this year, but says that he and Brother Daniel had lodging at Brother Umbenhaver's the first night.
MONDAY, May 28. Annual meeting begins. Take in questions, form committees, and set them to work. We stay all night at Brother Spanogle's.
TUESDAY, May 29. Go to place of meeting. Discuss and dispose of nearly all the queries to-day. We stay at Brother Umbenhaver's.
WEDNESDAY, May 30. Go back to place of meeting and get through; preach awhile; and after dinner we start from Brother Andrew Spanogle's towards home. We get to Matthew Wineman's, where we stay all night.
THURSDAY, May 31. Stop awhile with brethren Michael and Jacob Sollenberger; then by Mercersburg and Clear Spring to Sister Nipe's, where we stay all night.
FRIDAY, June 1. Through Martinsburg and Winchester, Virginia, to Brother James Tabler's where we stay all night.
SATURDAY, June 2. Get to Brother John Neff's, in Shenandoah County, and on
SUNDAY, June 3, get home. On this journey Brother Daniel Thomas and I traveled together on horseback 466 miles. Our horses became so attached to each other that they could not bear separation. At any time, when out of sight of each other, they showed almost uncontrolable restlessness and dissatisfaction. I may add here that one of their riders at least was very similarly affected toward his companion by the way. The attachment of our horses was that of mere instinct. It was generated through the sense of hearing, seeing and smelling. But our attachment sprang from higher and more interior causes, such as none but the people of God can understand and appreciate. It has its place in "the hidden man of the heart," and springs from the unity of our faith and the spirituality of our love. Death ends the attachments of poor brutes; but the love of Christians for each other rests on a foundation that death cannot destroy. Even here, in our imperfect state, love fills life's cup with joy. How ineffable, then, must be the joy of the redeemed in glory where love is perfect and life is eternal!
From the last date given to the thirteenth day of September Brother Kline was called to engage with considerable activity in the practice of the medical profession. There was much sickness in his own and adjoining neighborhoods. His death record was very small in proportion to the number of his patients. This fact alone establishes his success as a medical practitioner. The writer has been a careful and candid observer of the different methods and medicines employed in the treatment of the sick for a period of fifty years, and he ventures to give it as his impartial verdict that the course of treatment of the sick, medically, pursued by Brother Kline and the other physicians of his school, was attended by as small a death rate as that of any school in the profession in his day or since. In addition to this, convalescing and recovered patients were rarely heard to complain of any after effects of the disease or medicine. Brother Kline was often heard to speak of this. He would say: "Our patients do not complain of rheumatism, weak joints, broken down nerves, rapidly-decaying teeth, impaired hearing or generally enfeebled constitutions. We give no medicines which can leave any injurious after effects." But, after all, his heart was set on the ministry of the Word. He regarded the life and health of the body as incalculably subordinate to the life and health of the soul. This consideration incited him to untiring activity in preaching, praying, exhorting, singing, and to whatever else might instruct, comfort and encourage the child of God, or warn the sinner of his danger and bring him to Christ.
THURSDAY, September 13. This day Brother Kline, in company of Martain Miller, starts on another journey to some of the western counties of Virginia. He of late years begins to take company with him on these trips. In the earlier part of his ministry he would often go alone, I guess because no one volunteered to go with him. You remember Brother Daniel Thomas was with him on his last trip before this. Now Brother Martain Miller goes. Martain Miller was a brother of Daniel Miller, near Greenmount, Virginia. He lived near the Beaver Creek meetinghouse, in Rockingham County. His election to the ministry of the Word, his subsequent advancement, and his ordination are given in the Diary. Whilst he was not regarded as a minister of great power in the stand, his influence in the councils of the church at home and abroad was felt and acknowledged. A man like Elder Martain Miller, of ready and deep perception, can quickly arrive at just and wise decisions, which the man of ordinary mind might never be able to reach. Hence the worth of such men as leaders in the realm of thought.
In the year 1862 W.C. Thurman began to preach the second advent of the Lord as near. He subsequently became so bold in the expression of his belief as to name the day on which that greatest of all events might confidently be looked for to take place. As Thurman at that time was a unit in the Brotherhood, and allowed to vent his soul breathings in the church buildings of the Brethren, some, even among the thoughtful, were deeply impressed with the probability of his conjectures being well founded. The writer was present when the following little incident took place, and remembers it with distinctness. It was at Greenmount meetinghouse. Brother Martain Miller had led in preaching that day, but had made no allusion to Thurman. After meeting broke up some of the Brethren privately asked Brother Miller what he thought of Thurman's doctrines. He shut his eyes, gave a very significant but negative shake of the head, and after a brief pause said: "Do not regard them. They will in due time prove their own fallacy. You cannot convince Thurman that he is wild by any argument; but in a short while he will be convinced without argument."