LIFE AND LABORS OF ELDER JOHN KLINE
THE MARTYR MISSIONARY
COLLATED FROM HIS DIARY
ELGIN, ILL.: BRETHREN PUBLISHING HOUSE, 1900.
In the burying ground of the Linville's Creek German Baptist church in Rockingham County, Virginia, there is to be seen a marble slab engraved with the name JOHN KLINE.
In walking through a cemetery and pensively viewing the memorials of the departed, one question of deep interest often presses upon the mind and heart: Are these, whose names are here recorded on slab and obelisk, still alive and in the possession of conscious being, or are they dead—
"All to mouldering darkness gone; All of conscious life bereft?"
We turn to earth, and from her lips the ear of reason catches deep-toned words of assurance that death is not the end of life. The hue of the butterfly's wing, "the flower of the grass," the beauty of the vernal year, these all, all teach the sublime truth that "all great endings are but great beginnings." The voice of God from the unrolled page of plainer if not diviner truth, says: "These are not dead, but sleeping—they shall wake again."
Satisfied on this point, the next question turns to the lives and characters, works and words of those who lie buried here. Were they good or bad? Are their spirits now in heaven, or somewhere else? There are two classes, however, concerning whom no such questions arise. The first class is made up of those who have died in their infancy; and ever and anon while looking at the "little lamb," or "rose bud," or "young dove" not yet fledged, the words flow into the mind as from the lips of Jesus: "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." The other class is composed of such as have given clear evidence, by profession and life, that they are the children of God. The words for them come as did the others, from the page of Heavenly Truth, "Therefore are they continually before the throne, and praise him day and night in his temple."
The epitaph of John Kline is read without a doubt ever springing up in the mind of any one who knew him. We saw him, not as Elisha saw Elijah in sight, ascend to heaven; but with the eye of faith we saw him clothed in a celestial body; and with the ear of faith we heard the welcome: "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
THE ANNUAL MEETING OF 1878.
In the year 1878 the Brethren's Annual Meeting was held with the Linville's Creek church. Brethren and sisters from many sections of our Union were present. Many graves in the cemetery by the meetinghouse were to be seen. Epitaphs were read by the throngs of people who walked around to view them. Few of these bore anything beyond the simple inscription of the name and the two facts that fall to the lot of all: The time of birth and the time of death.
But there was one grave from whose humble mound each visitor seemed eager to pluck a flower, a leaf, or any other little thing that might be carried back home and enshrined in a casket for a memento of one never to be forgotten. That grave was the grave of John Kline.
One sister, with tears in her eyes, said: "He preached my mother's funeral." Another said: "He used to visit us in Ohio; and we always loved so much to see him come." A brother said: "I traveled with him over two thousand miles, and he was always one thing." Others said: "The meeting is lonesome without him." "He was at our love feast in Pennsylvania the year he was killed," said another. It would be vain to attempt to follow up all the affectionate memories that were expressed by the loving throngs of sanctified hearts that surrounded his tomb.
In this book ELDER JOHN KLINE is set forth not as dead, but as alive; as living and moving amongst us again. His life work stands recorded on earth as well as in heaven. With untiring perseverance Brother Kline kept a record of his work every day for a period of TWENTY-NINE YEARS. These records contain two great facts common to the life of every man, woman and child.
FIRST FACT.—Where he spent the day and night.
SECOND FACT.—How he spent the day and night.
A truthful record of these for many, made public, would blast their reputation abroad and blight their peace at home. But not so with our beloved brother. Whilst it is true that he had no expectation of his Diary ever being published, it is equally true that it does not contain a single entry of which he has cause to be ashamed before man or God. That the entries are faithful and true needs no proof other than the testimony that thousands still living are ready to bear to his untarnished name as a man honest and honorable in all things.
As a Christian, the beloved ministering brethren who spoke at his funeral are to-day not ashamed to apply to him the same words they applied to him then, and which were taken as the subject of discourse on that occasion. In speaking of his appointment to the ministry they took these words: "And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." Acts 6:5. They also added the other words spoken of Stephen in the eighth verse of the same chapter, a man "full of grace and power." Can anything loftier be said of a man's qualification for the work of the ministry?
As Stephen was the first Christian martyr, and Brother Kline the last then known, they closed their discourses in heartfelt realization of these words: "And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him." We all took part in the lamentation—the writer himself being present and speaking on the occasion—and felt that the ruthless hand of violence had wickedly torn from our midst a friend and counsellor whose place could not be filled by any other.
As a kind-hearted, loving mother puts her child's best new dress on it before taking it to church or in public, so have I endeavored to clothe the diary of Brother Kline in a suitable attire of Sunday clothes. I sincerely believe that the work in this form will be highly acceptable to the Brotherhood at large; and as Brother Daniel Hays says in a letter to me, "productive of much good."
PART II OF INTRODUCTION.
This book, if carefully read, will instruct both young and old. In this age of progress, when the forces of nature and art are being applied to practical ends; when "men are running to and fro and knowledge is wonderfully increased," it becomes us as intelligent Christians to look around and see whether we are not living in perilous times.
Far be it from me to discourage any one from seeking that knowledge which is good, or from availing himself of the benefits to be derived from the arts and sciences; but if this knowledge and these benefits are sought and gained only for worldly ends, only to add to worldly accomplishments or worldly treasure, they are dangerous for time and ruinous for eternity. What support can the soul have in its deep conflict with temptation, or in the dark hour of affliction or bereavement, when stayed on this world only? In all the tenderness of a father's heart I turn to the youth of our land and say to them in the words of the best Friend that God himself could give: "Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and all earthly blessings will be added unto you.
In the following pages you may see what one man may do by "patient continuance in well doing." Brother Kline was a man "subject to like passions as we are." He was once an infant just as you were, and lay at his mother's breast. He very well remembered, when an old man, how he felt when she made for him his first pair of "pants." When that kind mother put them on him, pleased and smiling in the tenderness of her nature, "the first use that I made of my hands," said he to me shortly before his death, "was to feel for the pockets." "We incline," continued he, "to carry this feature of our boyhood into youth and age. The pocket never ceases to be a very important appendage to our dress, and the hand inclines to put into it every valuable thing it can."
Brother Kline never went to school very much. He learned to read and write both German and English; and he also studied arithmetic. Further than this he never went in school. He did not have the advantages of free schools as young people now have. But you may learn from this that one may carry on his education after leaving school. In fact, schools only open the way for acquiring an education.
When a boy I was very fond of reading the lives of great men. I did not then know very much about poetry, but I surely did feel something of the fire that Longfellow has made to glow with so much heat and light in his "Psalm of Life." I am glad to add, by means of this book, one more name to the list of great men, so that in the lines which follow he too may be included.
"Lives of GREAT MEN all remind us We can make our lives sublime; And departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of Time: Footprints, that perhaps another Sailing o'er life's troubled main— A forlorn and shipwrecked brother— Seeing, may take heart again."
Elder John Kline will be set forth in this work as one of the great PIONEER PREACHERS of the Cross. A brief but clear outline of many of his sermons, together with the time and place of preaching them, will be given. Many of the love feasts which he attended, and the substance of what he said at some of them will also be noted.
He has left a record of the name of every family he ever visited in all the States, together with the day and year when such visits were made. Those brethren and sisters of the Lord who still remember him, will, while reading this work, live over again the years that have passed away and been almost forgotten. You will again listen to the voice of his holy, healing words at some love feast long ago gone by. You will again sit with him by the "old home hearthstone" as it used to be when father and mother were living, and all the brothers and sisters together in the room, and hear him talk and sing, and read and pray. And will not this exercise of the mind and heart be pleasant? Will it not be profitable? Will it not serve to refresh your love to Christ and the Brotherhood? May it not rekindle in your heart a flame of that first and tender love which shone so brightly when first you saw the Lord? You then could sweetly sing:
"Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow thee."
Since that time many cares and toils and afflictions and bereavements, perhaps, have caused you to sigh in mournful memory:
"What peaceful hours I then enjoyed!"
and the heart-sobs sadly echo:
"But they have left an aching void The world can never fill."
In such seasons of sadness and despondency it is helpful to the heart to hold communion with the great and the good through the medium of their writings. Men who leave such comforting testimony behind them are a blessing to all within the circle of their influence while living, and when dead they continue to speak. Their words are felt and blessed on both banks of the "River of Time" as it flows down through the ages.
There were a few points in the life and character of Elder John Kline which may very appropriately be referred to here. I sincerely hope that all the youthful members of the Brotherhood, especially, may become acquainted with these points.
THE FIRST POINT.—He was truthful. He never spoke positively about anything without first examining the matter carefully; and even then he said about it only what he knew to be true. How different this habit from that of many who speak positively about things which they do not well understand, or which they are for the most part ignorant of!
THE SECOND POINT.—He never spoke evil of any one. It is not to be understood from this that he spoke good of every one. On the contrary, he spoke freely of the sinner and to the sinner; warning him of his danger and pointing him to his impenitent doom. But it is to be understood that he never spoke evil to injure any one. Whatever he said in that way was to reform and to bless. His heart overflowed with love to all.
THE THIRD POINT.—He was temperate. During a long personal acquaintance with him, I never knew or heard of his taking a drink of ardent spirits or intoxicating liquor of any kind. If he ever did use any at all, it was only as a medicine. But as he was very temperate in his eating, and judiciously careful of himself generally, he was rarely ever sick.
THE FOURTH POINT.—He was abstemious. This, in connection with strict temperance and pure morality, made him a clean man. His mouth was not polluted with chewing tobacco. His nose was not defiled with snuffing tobacco. His breath was not vitiated with smoking tobacco. He consequently never used tobacco in anyway. My dear young reader, in all the love of my heart, I urge you to "go and do likewise, that it may be well with thee."
LIFE AND LABORS
ELDER JOHN KLINE.
We have no certain account of the time and place at which Brother Kline was set forward to the ministry of the Word. On Sunday, Feb. 8, 1835, he spoke for the first time after his appointment to the ministry of the Word. This much, at least, is inferred from its being the first entry made in his Diary.
He, and Elder Daniel Miller, from near the head of Linville's Creek, in Rockingham County, Virginia, were together at John Goughnour's, west of the town of Woodstock, in Shenandoah County, Virginia. The meeting was at Goughnour's dwelling house. Brother Miller put John Kline forward to take the lead in speaking. Brother Kline had previously selected the subject, and thought upon it, to be ready, in the event of his being required to take the lead in speaking. Matthew 11 was read; and Brother Kline took his text. It was verses 4, 5 and 6 of the chapter read. These are the words: "Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
"It may be proper in the first place," said he, "for us to inquire why John sent the message to Jesus which gave rise to the words of the text. The message may appear strange to some, as John had, not long before, pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He had seen the 'Heavenly Dove' descend from the open heavens and abide upon him as he came up from the baptismal wave, and had heard the Father's voice from beneath the same uplifted veil: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' It is my belief that John had become doubtful. The iron gates of Herod's castle had shut out from him all bodily comfort, and with this his hope seemed to vanish. This experience has had many a repetition in the realizations of good men since John's day. He felt himself neglected. If Jesus is the friend I took him to be, why does he not come to my rescue? I do not understand him. How can he feel satisfied to know that I am lying here in great bodily distress and perplexity of mind, and put forth no effort to release me, and thus restore me to useful activity in his service? Many, many, not in Herod's castle, but in other castles, such as beds of affliction, castles of poverty, castles of persecution, castles of bodily infirmity, castles of bereavement, castles of losses and crosses in one way and another, have had the same experiences, the same doubts and misgivings.
"John resolved to try to find out about all this if possible. So he sent the messengers. Here note the love of Christ. He does not upbraid John for this half reproachful message. He calmly returns to him in the shape of an answer a series of the most wonderful truths the world has ever heard; truths which, in their spiritual sense, comprehend the work of salvation on the part of Jesus from the alpha to the omega. 'Go and show John again the things which ye do hear and see.' The use of the word 'again' implies that a similar answer had been returned to John at least once before. This testimony, with the love in which it was sent, may have refreshed John's love for Jesus, and reassured his faith. The last words of the returned message contain something like a gentle reproof to John, 'And blessed is he that is not offended in me.'
"I think the Lord knew that John had been somewhat offended in him; that he had doubted his love, or his wisdom, or his power, or all these together; and that the Lord's apparent neglect of him was traceable to a want of these perfections. Doubts of this kind, from weakness of the flesh and spirit, have often been known to invade the hearts of other good men, when the divine love has been partially veiled from sight in seasons of great distress. Even our Lord himself upon the cross cried out, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' I cannot think that the divine love ever did forsake him for one instant. It was so only in appearance to him.
"The things connected with the life-work of Jesus, which John's messengers had just seen and heard, bore a much stronger testimony to his divinity and Messiahship than any declaration he could have made by mere affirmation. Here is verified the old proverb: 'Actions speak louder than words.' All may see a valuable lesson here. We are commanded to let our light shine. What an honor it would be to Christ and the church, if every member of it would be able to point to his good works as proofs of the sincerity and genuineness of his religious profession!
"Notwithstanding John's doubts and impatience, the Lord still loved him tenderly; and after the messengers had departed, he said to the multitude: 'Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.' Our way would have been to include this encomium in the message, and let John hear it. In our way of thinking this would have done him more good than the other. But as the heaven is high above the earth, so high are the Lord's thoughts above our thoughts, and his ways above our ways.
"Could our eyes catch a glimpse of the bliss that thrills John's heart in heaven to-day, we would no longer wonder why the Lord left him lie in Herod's castle."
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached at Forrer's, in Page County, Virginia, Sunday, February 15, 1835.
TEXT.—And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals: and so he did. And he saith unto him: Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.—Acts 12:8.
Peter's hands were chained, and he was lying in a cold and gloomy prison in Jerusalem. Herod, who was at that time viceroy of Jerusalem and Judea, had imprisoned Peter just to please the Jews. These were the bitter enemies of Christ.
It looks to us as if it would hardly be worth while to pray for the recovery of a sheep already dragged into a den of wolves, and lying there only waiting to be devoured. But the saints at Jerusalem did pray for Peter, and they had to pray secretly too. You may be sure they did not pray to be heard of men. They were only afraid that men might hear. But there was one that did hear. For "the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands."
You know something about Peter's disposition. He often spoke without thinking very well what it might be best to say; and sometimes he acted without thinking what it might be best to do. On this occasion I do believe that he would have followed the angel through the streets of Jerusalem, bare-footed and in his night clothes, if he had not kindly ordered him to gird himself and bind on his sandals and cast his garment about him.
I, for one, do believe that all the miracles and providences wrought by the Lord and recorded in his Word are for the instruction and ultimate good of all who read or hear them.
THE LESSONS OF INSTRUCTION.
I. Sometimes men who have been subject to very bad habits are, by the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, led to forsake them. They form new loves. They find joy in a new life. Old things with them have passed away. They come from the baptismal wave clad, as it were, in a new garment, even the beautiful garment of salvation; and the new song in their mouth is praise to our God. I can name some of this class in our church who have run well; some who have fought the good fight of faith with unflinching courage and resolution to victory complete. But others have been made to weep and lament from the fearful truth that this same beloved Brother Peter tells us, that "our adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," for they have been devoured by him.
In the garden of Eden the devil came to Eve in the form of a serpent. I imagine this to be his most natural form. We sometimes see him caricatured as a man with horns and cloven feet. This is a mistake. A man in this form would make a frightful appearance. But the devil never approaches any one in a way to frighten him. He is too cunning for that. A fox takes care not to frighten away his prey. Even the lion, when he is seeking his prey, never roars at that time, but crouches and hides in the tall grass or thicket until his prey comes near enough, and then he springs upon it with a single bound. The reason why Peter calls him a roaring lion is because he roars furiously after his prey is in his power. His roaring then is but a note of victory and defiance. The devil knew that he would not frighten Eve by coming to her in the form he did, because she had never then, as yet, known anything of evil. But when he comes to men now in the serpent form, he comes as "a snake in the grass."
I sometimes think that age adds shrewdness to the devil's plans. He comes to men in so many forms and ways, first to delude and then to destroy, that they may be called legion. But, as Paul says, "We are not ignorant of his devices, for Satan is transformed into an angel of light."
He learns to know every brother's and sister's weak point. To the brother who has been fond of ardent spirits he comes behind the deceitful, covetous smile of the rumseller. In this instance the order of the fable is reversed. There the ass put on the lion's skin; here the lion puts on the skin of the ass. To the brother whose weakness is adultery he comes in the form of a harlot, "jeweled and crowned." To the brother whose special sin has been covetousness he comes as a friend. He takes him by the hand, leads him to the top of some high mountain, there shows him the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and pledges to him the enjoyment of all this glory and power if he will but fall down and worship him.
Now, Herod was a type of this devil, and the prison in which Peter was chained is a type of the "horrible pit" into which many a good-meaning Christian has been cast by him. But even for such there is quite as much hope as there was for Peter. The Lord is ever nigh to redeem and to save. But there must be a willing mind. If Peter had said in his half-asleep state, "Just leave me alone—I'll come after awhile—I'm too sleepy to go now"—what then? It would have been impossible for the Lord to rescue him, if he had not been willing to be rescued by the Lord.
Some, who have "been taken captive by the devil at his will," keep awake in a certain sense. The pall of darkness and deep sleep has not yet settled down upon them. They are conscious of their situation. They know and feel that they are in the hands of the enemy, but how to escape is the trouble with them. If such would only have the mind and will to do as Christian and Hopeful did in "Doubting Castle," they could readily find a key in their bosoms with which to unlock every gate, and thus make their escape.
II. In this respect they differ from Peter, for "he was sleeping between two soldiers." Besides this, there were men stationed at the door to keep watch all night. But the Lord is prepared for every emergency. What storm can sink a ship when Omnipotence is at the helm? If you or I, brethren, were to see a brother confined and guarded as Peter was, I greatly fear we would utterly despair of ever seeing him rescued; especially so if public sentiment were rife with malice and rage against him. I fear we would say, It is no use to pray for that man. Nothing short of a miracle can save that man; and miracles are not wrought by prayer nowadays. But the loving hearts gathered together in secret places in Jerusalem thought not so. They "made unceasing prayer for him."
Now let us note the order in which the Lord proceeded to answer these prayers. He came to Peter and smote him. Whether the stroke was light or heavy is a thing of little consequence. It succeeded in awaking the man. This was its object. I think the Lord gave Peter only a slight tap on the side, because he was not hard to wake up that night. But there are some, and I have known such, whom the Lord had to smite very hard to stir them from their sleep. They open their eyes in amazement and wonder why they have been so smitten. Unfortunately for some of this class, they open their eyes, but they see not; they hear, but they heed not. I think I have known a few such; and I fear the Lord said of them what he said of Ephraim: "He is joined to his idols, let him alone."
III. There is a third class, and they compose a great multitude, who have, so to speak, grown up in the devil's prison house, and have grown so used to his ways that they are willing to stay there. These may be said to be bound with two chains. Their love of the world is one chain, and their love of self is the other. I may be addressing some now who are thus bound. Let us see. Jesus says: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And a second is like to it which is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Does every one who is now under the sound of my voice do this? Are you sure, my friend, that you love God more than the world, and that you love your neighbor as yourself? What proof have you to give of this? Jesus again says: "If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that loveth me will keep my words." There can be nothing more perfectly in harmony with human nature in all its phases than these declarations of our Lord. Where is the subject that is unwilling to render obedience to the prince or king that he loves? Where is the loving child that refuses to obey its parents? I tell you that obedience is the test and proof of love. Do you obey our Lord Jesus Christ? Do you say "No"? Then, my dear friend, let me say to you, in all candor and love, you do not love him. You may imagine that you do, but your imagination on this point is a delusion. But perhaps you are ashamed to confess him. Hear again what the Lord says: "He that is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his glory."
But perhaps you ask: "How am I to get rid of my chains?" Get rid of them, my dear unconverted friend, just as Peter got rid of his. The Lord is just as willing and as able to rescue you from the chains of sin and the thraldom of bad habits as he was to rescue Peter from the chains with which the Roman guard had bound him. The Lord came to him, not in darkness, but in light. He brought the light with him. He never works in darkness. Even when he was about to fashion the world, the first thing he did was to throw a flood of light all over its wide, chaotic surface. But the light which he caused to shine in the prison did not wake Peter up, although it must have shone in his eyes. So he smote him on the side, and no doubt shook him gently.
Peter opened his eyes and saw the light. The angel "raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly." At the very first move he made to stand on his feet, his chains got loose, and when he rose to his feet they fell right off. This is the way you are to get rid of your chains. The Lord comes to you as he is present now and says to you, "Arise up quickly, and follow me." The very moment you firmly resolve to obey him in love, that very moment will your chains begin to get loose; and when you arise to follow him in the way his Word directs, they will fall off.
You may here see how the Lord works with man. It is said the angel raised Peter up; and at the same time, while he had hold of him, he ordered Peter to arise up quickly. This is just the way we would do in trying to get one awake and up, whom we dearly loved if he was in great danger. An infant we would pick up and carry out; but one in health and strength we would expect to act for himself; we, at the same time, doing what might be necessary on our part. Just so the Lord acts with every poor sinner. He comes with light and he comes in love. Sinner, I am sure he has come to you to-day. He is saying to you now, Rise up quickly, and follow me.
And where does the good Lord propose to lead the sinner? He offers to lead you out of your prison house of sin into "the glorious liberty of the children of God." He proposes to take you out of darkness into "his marvelous light." He will, if you but rise up and follow him, give you eternal life, and a home in heaven forever, free from sickness, sorrow, pain and death. Will you not go with him?
VISIT TO A SICK WOMAN.
After preaching the above sermon, Brother Kline, in company with Brother Kagey, visited a sick woman living on Forrer's land. He says: "She seemed to be suffering a good deal in body; but more, I think, in spirit. We told her that Christ Jesus was the only substantial hope we had to set before her; that faith in him would bring salvation and peace to her soul. I read to her from the Sermon on the Mount: 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for if ye know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things unto them that ask him.' The best thing that our heavenly Father can give us is a heart to love and obey him. God works in us both to will and to do the things that please him; but we at the same time must have a willing mind to do them. In this way we come to be co-workers with God.
"'Baptism,'" I said to her, "is the first public act of obedience required at our hands. Here our sins are in figure washed away; for baptism is called in the Word 'the washing of regeneration.' As a newborn child is washed before it is clothed and set before the family, so the newborn child of God must be washed and made pure before he or she can come into the church as a full member. But the baptism of the child of God denotes a spiritual cleansing; whilst the washing or bathing of a newborn infant means only bodily cleansing. Hence Peter says that 'baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.' This means that it fills the heart with a sense or feeling of 'righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.'"
"After instructing her awhile in this way we ended our call with prayer."
On Sunday, March 15, there was meeting in
DANIEL MILLER'S DWELLING HOUSE.
This is about five miles north of Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County, Virginia. It is at present occupied by Benjamin Miller, the youngest son of Daniel Miller. He stands high as overseer of the Greenmount church. He has a numerous family of intelligent and godly children, all now grown up, and members of the Brethren church.
At the time of this meeting, Brother Daniel Miller's family was young, and most of the children were at home, eighteen in all; and all children of one mother. Brother Kline says: "I felt deeply impressed with the weighty responsibility resting upon the father and mother of this pleasant and orderly household; and not upon them only, but upon us also, who are preachers of the Word. In this feeling, I proposed the reading of the fifteenth chapter of John's Gospel. I spoke briefly from these words: 'If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.' John 15:22."
"These words are a part of our Lord's farewell counsel to his little band of chosen disciples. This was just before his betrayal into the hands of his murderers. He spoke to them about this sinful world. He told them how the people of the world would treat them, and what they would think of the glorious Gospel which they were soon to proclaim. 'In the world,' said he to them, 'ye shall have tribulation; but in me, ye shall have peace.' The text does not teach that men who are ignorant of God's Word are sinless; neither does it teach that the doctrine which our blessed Savior taught tends to make men sinners. Oh, no! But this is what it means: That God is so merciful and gracious that until men are instructed and warned of their danger, he does not hold them severely accountable. But when the light of truth is shed around them, and the way of life and salvation pointed out to them, and they then shut their eyes to the light and close their hearts to knowledge, he holds them accountable, and deals with them as sinners.
"I feel now to address a few words to the dear young people who are assembled here. The Lord bless you in the dew of your youth, while your hearts are yet tender; before age and sin have made you hard, give your hearts to God. This you can do by loving our Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for you. When you love him with the heart, you believe on him with the heart; and when you believe on him with the heart, you have a desire in your heart to obey him by doing his commandments. You will purify your souls by obeying the truth. 'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.' 'Seek the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near;' for, saith he, 'they that seek me early shall find me.'
"But you may desire to know how you are to seek the Lord, and where you are to look for him. I hope you are thinking of this now; so I will tell you. The only place where the Lord can be found is in his Holy Word. There you find him in the form of the man Christ Jesus. And whilst he is there set forth as the 'man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,' he is also set forth as the 'true God and eternal life.' He there says: 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.' 'And he that drinketh of the water that I will give unto him shall never thirst.' This water is the TRUTH of his Word. It so fills the soul with love and light and joy and peace, as to become a fountain of delight within us. Reading God's Word in the right spirit is drinking of the Water of Life. When this truth finds a place in the memory through the love of it, the memory keeps our thoughts perpetually supplied with it, and thus it becomes, as our Lord says, 'a fountain within us unto everlasting life.'"
SATURDAY, March 21, Brother Kline, in company with Brother Daniel Miller, went to Brock's Gap, and spent the night at Brother Sunafrank's.
This is a small area of country in Rockingham County, Virginia, containing about one hundred and fifty square miles. It is the head basin of the north fork of the Shenandoah river. It is almost completely surrounded by high and rugged mountains; and where the river has broken a gap for its outlet the scenery is not surpassed by that of Harper's Ferry.
A considerable number of people live in it, and there are some good farms and thrifty farmers. In Brother Kline's day Brock's Gap was only a mission field. At this time the German Baptist Brethren have two well-built and commodious houses of worship in it. At the time Brother Kline commenced preaching there they had no house of worship and the membership was very small. The membership at this time includes some from nearly all the leading families in the section. The Fulks, Fawleys, Richies, Hevners, Moyerses, Smiths, Doves, Lambs, Shoemakers, and many others are represented in the Brotherhood.
SUNDAY, March 21.—The two brethren crossed the Shenandoah mountain and arrived in
This valley lies in Pendleton County, West Virginia. It extends northward along the west foot of the Shenandoah mountain for about eight miles, and is separated from the South Fork valley west of it by Sweedlin mountain. It is the habitation of a good many families, is exceedingly picturesque, and is in some respects beautiful.
The two brethren were called here to preach the funeral of old Brother Nazlerode. His father had been a Hessian, and served under British colors in the American Revolution. At the close of the war he, with many others, declined returning to his native home in Hesse-Darmstadt in Germany, and decided to stay in America. But this class of citizens was not very welcome among the patriots of American liberty. They were looked upon with a degree of opprobrium; and hence they sought homes in the more remote and secluded valleys among the mountains. Brother Nazlerode had died some time before. The preaching was at the house where the old brother had lived.
Sermon by Daniel Miller.
Brother Daniel Miller spoke first in the German language. He took for his subject 1 Pet. 1:24, 25. "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass: ... but the word of the Lord endureth forever."
He spoke very beautifully and impressively on the short-lived pleasures of earth. He said that the new birth and the new life, which lift man to God and fit him for heaven, are not begotten of the corruptible seed of man, but of God through the Word of his Truth, which liveth and abideth forever. He pointed them to Jesus as the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." He then, in a very affectionate manner, exhorted all to accept the salvation offered and walk in the way that our Lord has made plain in his Word.
Brother Kline followed and said: "Brother Daniel and I both felt moved to pity when we considered the situation of these people. They have a poor chance to hear the Gospel, and but few of them can read the Bible. We closed the services suitably, and then went to friend Jacob Wansturf's and spent the night."
MONDAY, April 13.—Brother Kline, in company with Brother Frederic Kline, went to Brock's Gap on the yearly visit. He says: "We found some of the members in a very poor condition. One sister, in particular, moved my feelings deeply. Her husband is somewhat dissipated and does not provide for his family as he should. She is the mother of three small children; and, judging from their present appearance, they have undergone a good deal of suffering for want of food and clothing. None of them have any shoes; and the thin coverings they have on are so patched and darned that one can hardly tell the kind of goods they were originally made of.
"I inquired how they were off in the way of food. She replied that they had about a peck of corn meal in the house and several bushels of potatoes buried in the garden; and she reckoned they could do right well till she could get some more washing and other work to do. I gave that patient, uncomplaining sister three dollars out of my own pocket money. 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' There is a day coming when we shall more fully realize this truth than now."
THE YEARLY VISIT CONTINUED.
TUESDAY, April 14.—"We have found a quiet and peaceable state of feeling in the Brotherhood generally. There is, however, among the younger members, too great a tendency to conform to the world in dress and conversation."
MEETING AT BENJAMIN BOWMAN'S.
FRIDAY, April 17.—"His son, Samuel Bowman, was baptized to-day, and the subject of discourse was the baptism of Jesus as recorded in Mark's Gospel. John seems to have been a sort of open link by which the chain of prophecy in the Old Testament was united with the chain of its fulfillment in the New. As a prophet, he went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah. But Elijah of old uttered his prophecies surrounded by midnight darkness. John utters his in the light of the rising Sun of Righteousness; and they all point to the future glory of that Sun. The Sun rose publicly from the waters of Jordan in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.'
"What a recognition! What a reception! And will not our heavenly Father meet every true-hearted believer in the same way, as he rises from the baptismal wave? Not visibly, to his natural eye; not audibly, to his natural ear; but by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. For 'baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God.' This is its first blessed power."
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
A Funeral Sermon at Sunafrank's in Brock's Gap, Sunday, April 26.
TEXT.—Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.—John 5:25.
The Lord spoke these words to the Jews. They would not believe that he was the Son of God. They sought to kill him, not only because he had broken the Sabbath by healing a man on that day, but also because he said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. In his reply to them he uttered some of the most wonderful truths the world has ever heard. He said: "THE DEAD SHALL HEAR."
In the ear of a Jew these words had an ominous ring. They could not gainsay them in a direct way, because the Lord had, that very day, and before their eyes, wrought a miracle which was almost equal to that of making a dead man hear. It appears strange to us that any class of people could harbor feelings of enmity toward one so kind and good as Jesus was. But the Jews were a very proud people, and exceedingly vain in their imaginations. And because the Lord would not flatter them, and give them credit for great knowledge and wisdom in divine things, they fell out with him and hated him.
Jesus does not say that all the dead shall hear. But he does mean that all shall have a chance and the power to hear if they will. But who are the DEAD of whom he speaks? They are all who are not spiritually alive; Jews and Gentiles. The Scriptures in many places speak of men as dead who are bodily alive. They are dead in one way, and alive in another. I will explain this. In respect to faith in the Lord and love to him, the Jews were dead. There was no spiritual life in them. Jewish worship was all an outward, external thing. But God regards a man's spirit, his heart. "For they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him."
There stands a tree. It is just now in full bloom, and the sight is beautiful. A few months ago that tree was dead in one sense and alive in another. It was winter-dead. There were neither leaves, blossoms nor fruit upon it. Had it continued in that state, it would be cut down as a worthless thing. But it had a receptacle of life, and that life is in the sun which imparts heat and light to everything. The sun makes the earth warm; the watery vapors to ascend and form clouds which give rain; the sap to rise and form itself into leaves, blossoms and fruits. Every unconverted man and woman, just like that tree in winter, is dead as to all divine or heavenly life in the soul. Let us see: He is dead as to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not love him. He lives just as if there were no God to love and obey; no hell to shun; no heaven to obtain. He does not love the people of God as such. But, notwithstanding all this, he has a capacity, such as God has given to every man, to be made alive in Christ Jesus. Christ is called the Sun of Righteousness. He is so called because he, like the sun in our sky, rises and shines upon the evil and the good; and whosoever opens his heart to the light of this Sun is filled with the light of truth and love, and made alive to walk in the way of righteousness before him.
This light comes through his Word, the Gospel of our salvation, as it is proclaimed by his faithful ministers, and falls upon every sinner. If the sinner will open his ears to the voice, and his eyes to the light, the promise in the text is that he "shall live." Jesus says: "I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall have the light of LIFE. In him is light, and the light is the LIFE of men." But if the sinner, like the owl, closes his eyes to the light of truth, and his ears to the voice of the Lord, he will abide in death, and, like the owl, love darkness rather than light forever.
SUNDAY, July 19, Magdalena Wampler and John Miller's wife baptized.
Sermon by Elder Daniel Miller.
In the German Language, at the Linville's Creek Meetinghouse.
TEXT.—And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.—Mark 1:5.
Judging from the multitudes that went out to John's baptism, his preaching must have created a lively sensation in Jerusalem and Judaea. All who went out were Jews. In justice to the text, we must notice the fact that the word ALL, as there used, applies only to the common people. These came to John confessing their sins. He pointed them to the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." The scribes and Pharisees and lawyers, the chief men of Judaea and Jerusalem, went not out to be baptized of John. These had no sins to confess; no ignorance to deplore; no spiritual ailments or infirmities. "They that be whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick."
It was with the common people that John succeeded in preparing the "way of the Lord." May we not also do the same? When we induce men to think upon the subject of religion, when we persuade them to repent and believe the Gospel, we too are preparing the way of the Lord. The Word of Truth does not have free course all over the world yet. Many amongst us oppose it. Millions far away are still in pagan darkness. But every soul that truly believes in Jesus and is baptized has the promise of salvation; and every such soul is a fresh light in the world's darkness. The more of such lights we can get to shine in the world the lighter will it grow, and the more and more will the way of the Lord be prepared.
In John's day the people were not ashamed to come and be immersed in the Jordan. There does not seem to have been any doubt or uncertainty with them as to the mode or form of baptism. Every one went to the river Jordan. If a few drops of water, applied to some part of the body, had answered the end of baptism as well as the immersion of the whole body in water, I think most of them would have saved themselves this long journey. They would have called John to Jerusalem, to that wealthy and populous city. He could have just passed through the streets with a pail or pitcher of water in his hand, and with little trouble could have applied a few drops to the head or face of each one that asked it.
For want of room, we now pass over all the entries in the Diary from July 19 to September 11. This time was actively taken up by our beloved brother in attending love feasts, council meetings and regular appointments. In body he was robust, vigorous and active: in spirit he had long reaches of faith and hope and love. This incited him to great activity; and I often heard him say: "An hour misspent or trifled away is just so much time given to Satan."
JOURNEY TO OHIO AND RETURN THROUGH KENTUCKY AND TENNESSEE.
This journey occupied two months to the day. Friday, September 11, he passed up through Brock's Gap, and down the Lost River Valley.
This is a small but very clear and beautiful stream in Hardy County, West Virginia. It flows through a rich and delightful valley between Church mountain on its eastern side next to Shenandoah County, Virginia, and the South Branch mountain on its western side. After a course of about twenty miles in a northeasterly direction it suddenly disappears at the base of a mountain extending like a huge dam across the valley. After a subterranean passage of a few miles it reappears on the opposite side "clear as crystal." From this point to its mouth in the Potomac it bears the name of Ca-capon or Capon. Tradition says this is an Indian name, and means FOUND. This stream, from its head to its mouth, may aptly represent the life, death and resurrection of the Christian.
STATE OF THE COUNTRY.
For the information of the young especially, many of whom it is hoped will read this book, I will give a brief description of the state of the country through which our beloved brother expected to travel, partly alone and on horseback. No doubt you have read the story of George Washington, not quite twenty-one years of age, starting on horseback with only a single companion, to carry a letter from Dinwiddie, Governor of Virginia, to the commander of the French military forces at Venango, in the extreme northwestern part of Pennsylvania. Washington delivered the letter and returned the answer. Many books of American history give an account of this wonderful achievement, and praise the man who performed it.
Brother Kline, in part, passed over very nearly the same ground on this journey that Washington had passed over on his. Washington went with a motive altogether worldly. He was complying with the wish of the governor of his State. Brother Kline went with a motive as far transcending in sublimity and importance anything appearing in that of Washington as heaven is high above the earth, and the thoughts and ways of God are above those of men. He went to raise men from the depths of sin into which they had so deeply fallen, and exalt them to companionship with angels in the skies. His mission was to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. He laid no claim to any power within himself to do this; but he went in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and in the power of him who is able and mighty to save.
We must bear in mind, too, that this journey was undertaken more than fifty-eight years ago. A very large part of the country through which he had to pass was yet in a state of virgin forest. No railroads bore the lightning trains on their bosoms. Very few houses in much of the country were to be seen; and many of these offered little besides shelter, and some barely that. There were hardly any bridges. Broad and deep rivers had to be forded on horseback, or crossed in what the Indians called a CANOE. This is a kind of long boat made from the body of a single tree, by cutting or burning out the inside, and leaving the bottom, ends and sides like a trough. He reports having crossed some streams in this kind of a boat. His life was several times endangered by crossing deep waters.
SATURDAY, September 12, he arrived at Abbey Arnold's, in Hampshire County, West Virginia. On the thirteenth he attended a love feast at Daniel Arnold's nearby, and reports a very joyful meeting with the Brethren whom he had not seen for a time.
MONDAY, September 14, he took leave of the Brethren in Hampshire County, and directed his course through Maryland into Pennsylvania; and on Friday, September 18, he crossed the Ohio river, two and one-half miles below Acreton. He was ferried across in a flatboat.
SUNDAY, September 20, he arrived at Brother George Hoke's. He says: "I have been exposed to some bad weather, and have passed over some bad roads; but to meet such a dear and kind brother as George Hoke, and be received in such a pleasant way as I have been by the dear brother and family, is more than a compensation for all the exposure and toil it has cost."
As nearly as I can, I will now give the substance and manner of a conversation which took place the same evening between Brother Kline and Brother Hoke. The Diary is silent upon it, but Brother Kline related it to me himself in the year 1862. Brother Jacob Miller, of Greenmount, Virginia, told me afterwards that Brother Kline had related the same to him. The weather being a little cool and damp, the two brethren sat by the fire. I will name the parties in the order of the conversation.
KLINE.—Why do not we ordain deacons in the same way the seven were ordained at Jerusalem?
HOKE.—Do you think the seven were deacons?
K.—Yes, I have always thought so.
H.—I do not think they were.
K.—Well, here is a difference of opinion between brethren.
H.—Let us try to get together on this point.
K.—I desire, above all things, to know the truth, and to see eye to eye with all the Brethren on every point of Holy Writ.
H.—So do I. Now let us see. I do not think the seven were deacons, because they are nowhere called deacons. Have we a just right to call them deacons when the Word does not call them so? Again: I must think the church at Jerusalem was fully organized before any demand was found for the appointment of the seven. Did it not have deacons at the start? Who attended to gathering up food and hunting shelter, and making general provisions for the comfortable entertainment of thousands of brethren and sisters, and their children besides? I rather think that the deacons already in office attended to these things. But the number of the brethren increased so rapidly that the deacons needed help in the way of general oversight, and the most natural thing in the world would be for them to apply to the apostles for advice in regard to the matter. But the apostles replied, "It is not reason that we should LEAVE the Word of God and serve tables." This proves that they had not done so before, and that it would not be right for them to do so now. Hence the importance of getting men of real executive ability to serve the present necessity. Such ability and fitness they found in the seven whom they set apart to that work. But they must not only possess business tact; they must be "men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, and men of honest report," whose record in life proved their HONESTY. This, Brother John, is my opinion as to the reason why the apostles were so particular on this point. These seven men would certainly have a great deal entrusted to their general keeping; and unless they were honest, they might take advantage and make personal gain out of it. They soon got things so arranged in the hands of the deacons, that Stephen, one of the seven, could leave and give all of his time, or most of it, to preaching; for we are directly informed that the opposing Jews "were not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit in which he spake." Right on the strength of this began the terrific persecution which soon resulted in the martyrdom of Stephen, and eventuated in the dispersion from Jerusalem of all the leaders and most of the influential and well-known members of the body. Philip only, of all the seven except Stephen, is mentioned in the New Testament after this. It seems that after he had preached for some time he married and settled down at Caesarea, where, years after, Paul found him, and spoke of him as one of the seven—not deacons—although it would have been very easy for Paul to call him such, had he been a deacon. Paul here calls him Philip the evangelist. Acts 21:8.
K.—I must admit, Brother George, that your argument is fair and pointed, and I will reconsider the whole subject. I never before saw the office and appointment of the seven in the light in which you have presented it to me this evening.
H.—I believe there are points in addition to those already given, but you may find them yourself.
MONDAY, September 21, Brother Kline attended a love feast at Brother Snider's.
WEDNESDAY, September 23, he attended another at Brother Samuel Mishler's. He spoke beautifully on 1 John 3:2: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him."
A SHORT DISCOURSE.
In my view, there is no passage in the Bible which requires a stronger faith to believe it fully than the one just quoted. No passage that I know of sets forth in such lofty terms of description the exaltation and glory of the redeemed. Often have I heard persons express their wonder that Jesus did not tell us more about heaven and the future state. This text itself tells us infinitely more about this than we are capable of comprehending. Let us think a little.
I. It tells us that we are now the SONS OF GOD. To be the son of a rich man is esteemed a great boon; to be the son of a king is an honor and fortune enjoyed by few. But what are favors like these compared with being a son of God! No wonder John says in another place: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" Take the words of my text all to yourself, my brother, my sister: believe it; love it; and ever rejoice in the light of it. You desire to know how you attained to this high distinction. I will tell you. Jesus came to you in his blessed Word with the assurance that "as many as receive him, to them gives he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which are born, not of blood; nor of the will of the flesh; nor of the will of man; but of God."
"This promise ever shall endure, Till suns shall rise and set no more."
You received the Lord by believing on his name. This is faith. You believed with your heart; that is, your faith was full of love, and your love was attended and followed by obedience, and this made your faith complete. It is yours now to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
II. But you can hardly believe that you are to be just like Christ. On the mount you saw him glorified. "His face did shine as the sun, and his outward form was white as the light." Now Paul says: "He shall change our vile bodies that they may be fashioned like unto the body of his glory." "Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
O brethren, let us look at the bright side of the Christian's life, for it has a bright side, and that is the side next to heaven, on which the light of heaven forever falls. I am not unmindful of the fact that, figuratively speaking, one side is turned to earth, and the earth in many respects is a very dark place. On the earth-side "clouds and darkness are the habitation of his throne;" but on the heaven-side "the city hath no need of the sun to shine in it, for the Lord God and the Lamb are the light thereof; and there shall be no night there." "We are fellow-citizens with the saints [in glory], and of the household of God." Oh, brethren, let us walk worthy of our high calling. "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God concerning you."
FRIDAY, September 25. Brother Kline passed through Jerome, Petersburg and Mansfield and got to Brother John Hoover's.
MONDAY, September 28. "This evening," says he, "I am at Judge Watts's. Having been unavoidably delayed by having to get my horse shod, darkness overtook me five miles away from here, and nothing but a continuation of thick woods appeared in every direction. More than this, the wolves set up a howling in a very threatening manner. Had I been compelled to pass the night in the woods, I would have been in danger of being devoured by them. Whilst alone in the darkness I thought, How quickly would these ravenous creatures fall upon and devour an unprotected sheep! And how surely would the wolves from Satan's den fall upon us and make a prey of our souls if Jesus, the Good Shepherd, did not guard and protect us through the spiritual darkness of this world! Several verses of one of Watts' old 'cradle hymns' came to my mind whilst thinking over these things. They run thus:
"'Once, as oppressed with sleep I lay, With pining hunger bold, A prowling enemy came by, And robbed my little fold. But Thou, Great Shepherd, dost not sleep Nor slumber oft like me; So that no foe can steal a sheep Eternally from Thee.'"
TUESDAY, September 29. "This evening I am at Brother Abraham Miller's in Allen County, Ohio. From Judge Watts's to this place is only five miles. But how different my feelings this evening from what they were last evening! Then I was alone in the woods, in hearing of wolves in several directions, with darkness on every side; now I am here with my beloved brother and his pleasant family. Oh, what will it be, what the ineffable joy to find ourselves, some day, in heaven, eternally safe from all danger and harm!"
Brother Kline spent the time between this and the next Sunday in traveling and visiting.
SUNDAY, October 4, he attended a love feast at which he made some very beautiful and appropriate remarks on Luke 4. "There is," said he, "much of human nature set forth in this chapter. So long as Jesus spoke of the things that pleased the assembled Jews they 'all wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.' They applied these gracious words to themselves, and flattered themselves into the belief that they were 'God's favorites' on account of their inherent virtues. But when the Lord indirectly spoke of them as starving widows in God's sight, and filthy lepers, 'all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.' When flowers are thrown upon the surface of a calm lake—so the poets say—the lake is made to smile with dimples of delight; but when heavy storms of truth are thrown in, the mud at the bottom is stirred up, and the lake boils with filth. Brethren, let us try to 'cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord;' and then we will not get angry when the truth is presented."
I would like very much to give the name of every family with which Brother Kline passed a night throughout this entire journey, and also the name of every brother and sister and family called on, but want of space absolutely forbids.
October 5 and 6 were spent at a council meeting near Brother Butterbaugh's. He does not say, but I guess this was in Montgomery County, Ohio. The names—Samuel Fouse, David Miller, Abraham Erbaugh, Samuel Kline, John Brower, Abraham Flory—all occur in close connection as having been visited by him.
SUNDAY, October 11. Brother Kline attended a meeting at which he reports Jacob Rife, John Garber, James Smith and George Miller, all from Virginia, as being present with their families. They have come to find homes in Ohio. They had arrived there on Friday before, which was October 9. It may be very gratifying to the children and grandchildren of these parents to find out the exact day on which their fathers and mothers arrived in the county and State where they settled.
MONDAY, October 12. Meeting at Brother Hoffert's. Brother Kline spoke to-day on Matthew 25. I can give only a slight touch of his discourse: "This chapter," said he, "is full of wonders. The parable of the talents; the parable of the ten virgins; and a description of the general judgment. Both parables are intimately connected with the judgment, and indicate the broad basis on which it will be conducted. I believe that the virgins in the parable represent professors of Christianity. They all had lamps. They all slumbered and slept. In these two respects they were all alike.
"But the great difference between them at once appears, when the announcement is suddenly made, 'Behold, the bridegroom cometh! go ye out to meet him.' Then the folly of the foolish, and the wisdom of the wise is first disclosed. The foolish had provided no oil for the replenishing of their lamps. I fear they were like too many now, who, in the heat of excitement, under the influence of misguided instructors, blindly fall into the ranks of those who take the name of Christ in one hand and the fashions and pleasures of the world in the other, and thus move on through life. Alas! such have lamps that may answer for this life, and oil enough and of a kind to keep their lamps aglow while living in this world; but when the day of trial shall come their lamps will prove useless for want of the right kind of oil. The only oil that will burn in the presence of Jesus, and whose light he will own, is the oil of heavenly love proved by a life of self-denial and obedience to his Word. Lord, help us, that we all may love thee more, and through obedient faith in thee find the door of heaven open to our ransomed spirits."
WEDNESDAY, October 14. Our beloved brother now takes leave of the brethren and sisters in Ohio and starts on his way to Tennessee. On the fifteenth he is ferried across the river from Cincinnati to Covington in a flatboat, and from this point he pushes on to Lexington, Ky., which he reaches on the seventeenth, having traveled from home to that point, 788 miles. Think of it! The toil of this journey, on horseback; over rough or bad roads; through thinly settled sections of country, and dark forests; in sight of Indians, and in hearing of wolves; more than sixty years ago; and all for Christ and a burning love for his people. Well could he say what he publicly expressed at a love feast at the Linville's Creek meetinghouse some years after this: "I have a house that will accommodate fifty: and a heart to accommodate a hundred if they could find room in my house."
He pushed on, scaled the Cumberland mountains; got across the Cumberland and Clinch rivers as best he could, as both were high from the recent rains, and arrived
FRIDAY, October 23, at Christian Shank's, in East Tennessee. On the day before he stood by the tree that marks the spot where the States of Virginia and Kentucky corner on the line of Tennessee. He says: "I could not help thinking while there, What a glorious country we have in prospect, and what a goodly land it may come to be, if the people can be induced to turn to the Lord and become faithful followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. What a work we have to do! How much wickedness have I witnessed on my way since I left home! In our way of looking at it, enough to sink a world. By turning once around I can look over a part of three States; but how few of the followers of the Lord are found in each, compared with the number who know him not, and who ask not for him."
He reports delightful weather. After spending some days among the Bowmans, Zimmermans, Crouses, Garbers, Basehores, and others, attending love feasts, councils and appointments for preaching, he reports a night meeting at Hase's schoolhouse. This was on the night of
THURSDAY, October 29. The people were somewhat Calvinistic in their views, and his discourse was so pointed in that direction that I will give a few thoughts presented in it.
Sermon by Elder John Kline.
Preached at Hase's Schoolhouse, Tennessee.
TEXT.—Enter ye in at the strait gate.—Matt. 7:13.
I tried to impress upon all present the danger of continuing in the broad road of sin. This includes every lust of the flesh, everything the heart desires through the eyes, and all the pride and vanity of life. I said to this audience: I learn that there is quite a Calvinistic or predestinarian sentiment in this community; and from the expression of the countenances of some of you I fancy I hear some of you saying to yourselves: "How can a dead man hear, except the Lord first give him life; or a blind man see, except the Lord first open his eyes?" I will answer your questions in order.
Lazarus had been dead four days. Jesus called to him with a loud voice to "come forth." How could Jesus expect the dead Lazarus to hear? Why did he call? Why did he not first make him alive; and then after he found out that he was alive, and stirring round in the grave, call to him and tell him to come out of that dark place? This is precisely the way a Calvinist would think he ought to have done. But Calvinism was not known in the Lord's day, and so he took a very different way. He threw his voice into that cave, and it went right into the ear of the dead Lazarus, because his power went with the words, and the very instant they struck the ear of Lazarus the life was in his body and he heard. Thunder and lightning always go together; but Calvinists think the lightning must always be first.
The resurrection of Lazarus is a clear exemplification of our Lord's meaning where he says: "My words are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE." No sooner did the Lord call to Lazarus than his heart began to beat and his lungs began to breathe. The Lord's words to him were life and breath. Spirit [in one sense] means breath; and life means a beating of the heart; for as long as man's heart beats there is life in him. Is any one here to-night willing to charge our Lord with the folly, the madness of commanding one of his creatures to do what he knows he cannot do?
Sinner, if the popular view of election be correct, I have a word of comfort for you right here. In Jer. 13:21 we read this question: "What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee?" I will tell you what to say. When you stand before his judgment seat and hear from his lips, "Depart, thou cursed into everlasting fire," just say to him: "Why do you condemn me? You told me to enter in at the straight gate, it is true; but you did not give me the power to move in that direction. I was blind, too, and you did not open my eyes. I was all leprous with sin; I knew that all the time; but you did not cleanse me, although you cleansed others. I am told that you say in your Word that you are no respecter of persons; how then can you make such a difference in your treatment of men, when you have 'included all under sin?'"
Now I say to you, poor sinner, the Lord never will and he never can send you to hell with such questions in your mouth and in your heart.
There is no need of one sinner under the sound of my voice going to hell, because Jesus is the STRAIT GATE and he is the NARROW WAY OF LIFE; and wherever his Gospel is preached his power goes with it, just as it went with his voice into the grave of Lazarus, or fell upon the bier of the widow's son. The blind man did not see until he went to the pool of Siloam and washed; but did not the power of Christ go with him?
Say not then, O sinner, "I have not the power to believe, repent and obey the Gospel." You have the power. God is giving you now, this very moment, all the power you need to reach hither your hand and take the gift of his grace. He has already opened your eyes to see the light of his truth; and were I to say to you this night that you are too dead to feel your duty; too blind to see the path; and too grossly ignorant to know your right hand from your left hand in spiritual things, you would feel yourself grossly insulted by me. But I do not say so; I do not believe so; and in this connection—and I beg you to think seriously upon it, to read the Bible and pray over it—I must repeat the language of Jeremiah: "What wilt thou SAY, when he shall punish thee?"
SUNDAY, November 1. Meeting and love feast at Bowman's meetinghouse. This was Brother Kline's last meeting with the Tennessee Brethren on this visit among them. I must extend the outlines of his discourse as it was his last among them for some years.
A Short Discourse by Elder John Kline.
TEXT.—He died for all, that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him, who, for their sakes, died and rose again.
This was Christ. Our natural feelings and desires are selfish. Jesus has given us the clearest example of unselfish love the universe has ever witnessed. "For God commendeth his love to us"—that is, he shows the exceeding greatness of it—"in that, when we were enemies, Christ died for us." I do not believe that we ever, in this world, can fully understand the merits of our Savior's life, death and resurrection. Enough for us to know that he has opened a "new and living way" by which we may come back to our heavenly Father and be his children again.
Do you know that Adam was a son of God? Luke calls him so. But he, like Esau after him, sold his birthright, lost the divine image in which God had created him, and fell from his sonship. But now we read: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not, with him also, freely give us all things?" The phrase, "all things," as here used, includes a restoration to our former sonship with God. We, as the children of God, are exhorted to follow in the steps of our blessed Lord. This not only means that we are to shun evils and bear reproach, but it also means that we are not to live unto ourselves and for ourselves alone, but unto him and his people; for "He went about doing good."
John says: "We love him because he first loved us." We, who are here assembled in his name, can truthfully repeat this language. But how do we prove to ourselves and the world that we DO love him? It is by letting our light shine. Men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel. A city on a hill cannot be hid. Brethren, I hope we have all made clean "the INSIDE of the cup and the platter;" for this is the only way in which the outside can be kept clean. A pure life flows out of a clean heart, and it can come from no other source. We show our love to the Lord by observing his ordinances: by baptism, by washing one another's feet, by partaking with each other of the Lord's Supper, by communing with him in his broken body and shed blood, symbolized by the bread and wine: next, in "denying ourselves of all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
Think on this last text a little bit. "Soberly" means calmly sincere; not moved by fits of excitement. "Righteously" means doing right; right toward God by obedience, and right toward men in our dealings with them and in our influence upon them. Many a brother has ruined his power for good by not being watchful. He told "jokes." He delighted in frivolous, trifling things. He put on a square face at church, to be sure; but a little disappointment would lengthen it fearfully, and a little fun or glee would broaden it out of all Christian shape.
For the benefit of such and all, I will define the last but not least word in the apostle's category—"godly." Brethren, this means LIKE God; and it includes all the rest, for "God is love." To abide in God is to live in holy, heavenly love. "Abide in me, and I in you." Wonderful, wonderful words! This is heaven on earth.
The apostle says: "We have been made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." A beautiful figure. We sit in the sun, or in sunny places, when the light of the sun falls upon us in that position. We sit in heaven, or in heavenly places, when the light of heaven with its love falls full into our souls. I feel like giving utterance to the emotion of my heart in that sweet old love-song of ours:
"My willing soul would stay In such a place as this; And sit and sing herself away, To everlasting bliss.
"Here the Redeemer's voice Sheds heavenly peace around; And life and everlasting joys Attend the blissful sound."
And now I will close in the words of Paul's valedictory to the saints at Corinth: "Finally, brethren, farewell: Be of good comfort; be of one mind; live in peace. And the God of love and peace shall be with you." Amen!
TUESDAY, November 3. Our beloved brother started on his homeward way down the Valley of Virginia. He passed through Abingdon, Salem, Lexington and Staunton, and on
TUESDAY, November 10, he reached home after an absence of two months to the day. He says: "I have been absent from home just two months to the day; and in this time I have traveled on horseback 1,317 miles. With much thankfulness to our Father in heaven, do I recount my protection and preservation through the dangers and toils of traveling; the strength and support given me in preaching the Word; and the great joy I have had in meeting so many dear brethren and sisters in the Lord. Amen!"
Thus closes one of the most remarkable missionary tours on record. One would feel sad to think that no memorial should be reared in commemoration of it. But the heart finds relief in the thought that this book will perpetuate the memory of it to future generations, as a tale that will never grow old.
Brother Kline spent the remainder of the year about home; in visiting the sick; in attending to his domestic interests; and in preaching at the different appointments in the district. The Brethren at this time had but few houses of worship. They consequently held meetings in the dwelling houses of Brethren; some of which had been constructed with an eye to that end.
BROTHER KLINE'S OPINIONS RELATIVE TO THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE.
The Diary shows that in the course of this year, Brother Kline entered a new field of useful activity. In his desire to do good; in his heart of general beneficence, we are reminded of the philanthropy of Howard and Wilberforce. They, it is true, wrought in a wider sphere, and operated on a grander scale; but it may be seriously questioned whether they had any more of the love of God in their hearts, or any deeper sympathy for suffering humanity in their souls, than was to be found in our truly devoted pattern of genuine benevolence, Elder John Kline. This new field was that of administering medical relief to the afflicted.
FRIDAY, January 1, 1836. He says: "I have long had doubts in regard to the curative efficacy and health-restoring virtue of the regularly established course of medical practice of the present day. Active depletion of the body, by copious blood-letting, blistering, drastic cathartics and starving, is, to my mind, not the best way to eradicate disease and restore the diseased human body to its normal state. I am well aware that every age has had its own way of treating diseases, and every age has thought its own way the best; but fashion and custom have, no doubt, had quite a controling power in this as in other things; and 'the fashion of the world passeth away,' because there is little or nothing of substantial good in it."
"Dr. Samuel Thompson, of Vermont, is introducing a new system of medical practice which I believe to be more in accordance with the laws of life and health than any I know of. His maxim, applied to disease, is: 'REMOVE THE CAUSE, AND THE EFFECT WILL CEASE.'
"Every diseased condition of the body is the effect of some cause. This cause being removed, the disease, either simple or complex, must yield to the restorative forces of nature. But to diminish the activity of these forces, by copious depletion of the body, to be followed by a regimen so severe as to withhold, almost absolutely, the nourishment and support nature demands, is, in my view, to say the least, irrational."
Had Brother Kline penned these words fifty years later in the century, they could not be more in harmony with the popular theory of medical science as it is taught in the schools of the present day. They are almost prophetic. He goes on: "I am therefore determined to try the new way of treating disease, and see what I can do with it. I feel sure it will do no harm, even if it does but little or no good."
His subsequent success as a physician for many years proves that he was not mistaken in the conclusions at which he arrived preparatory to his entering the field of medical practice.
He procured his remedies in their virgin purity from the mountains, meadows and woods, either in person, with hoe in hand, or through agents whom he employed for the work. Lobelia, Boneset, Pleurisy-Root, Black-Cohosh, Blue-Cohosh, Lady's-slipper, Red Raspberry, Ginseng, Spignet, Black-Root, Seneca-Snake-Root, Gentian, May-Apple, Golden-Rod, and many other roots and herbs were quite familiar to him, not only as they were seen growing in their native mountains, fields and forests, but also as to their medical properties and uses.
No recreation could be more delightful to the true lover of nature than to get on a good horse and go with him to see the Brethren, as he called it. This may sound a little odd; but the reader must know that Brother Kline rarely went on an errand with a single aim. His object seemed to be to crowd into his life all the service for both God and man that it was possible for him to do. In this desire to do good he would sometimes humorously repeat the old saying: "Kill as many birds with one stone as you can."
When the season approached for gathering "roots and herbs" he would sometimes write to the Brethren among the mountains of West Virginia, that they might expect him to be with them at a given time. This announcement always sent a thrill of joy through their hearts. The news of his coming spread rapidly; and he was sure of large congregations for that sparsely settled country.
One Sunday, toward the close of his life, he said to me: "Brother B——, would it suit you to go with me over to Pendleton and Hardy? I have a line of meetings in view; and if it would suit you to go with me I will be very glad of your company. I want to gather some medicines by the way, and as you are fond of rambling among the mountains you may enjoy the trip and make yourself useful at the same time."
I agreed to go. So on Thursday morning about the latter part of July, very early, we mounted our horses. "Old Nell"—as he called his favorite riding mare, that had up to that time, as his Diary will show, carried him on her back over thirty thousand miles—seemed to understand where we were starting for, and how fast she ought to go. In the early part of the day she walked very moderately; but as the hours went by she quickened her gait, and really walked with a livelier step in the evening than she had in the fore part of the day. Soon after our arrival the people began to come together for night meeting at the house where we staid.
After a most refreshing supper and a little rest we were ready to engage in the sacred duties of worship. Brother Kline very kindly took the lead in the services, and in a very plain way delivered one of the best discourses I have ever heard on Col. 1:12. This is the TEXT: "Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
He showed, in a very impressive way, that if an heir to an estate is not qualified to appreciate that estate, to enjoy it by making a right use of it, it can do him but little good. From this thought his mind ascended heavenward; and he said that heaven, with all its glory and bliss, can never be a desirable inheritance to any but to those who are qualified or prepared for it. Those who are thus qualified are described in the text as "the saints in light." He then drew a most lively picture of the difference between a saint in light and a sinner in darkness. It almost chilled my blood to see how low in the scale of intelligent beings the one stands contrasted with the lofty elevation of the other.
The next day we repaired to the Shenandoah mountain to procure medical herbs. We went up into a very deep and rich hollow, where it looked as if the rays of the sun could hardly penetrate, and soon I saw his face light up with something that evidently pleased him. "Ah! here it is," said he. "What is here?" I asked. "Don't you see this patch of Ginseng?" he replied. "Is this Ginseng? It is my first sight of it."
As I was much younger than he I insisted upon using the hoe; but no! He was so pleased that he seemed to want to do all the digging himself. When a supply of Ginseng was obtained we went to the top of the ridge, where we found a considerable quantity of Seneca-Snake-Root, an article very much in demand at the present day.
The next thing sought for was the Red Raspberry. We hunted and hunted, and were on the point of giving up the quest, when, at the extreme head of a very rough mountain hollow, we discovered a "patch" of the bushes. They were full of berries of a bright scarlet, resembling somewhat in form the common raspberry, but in some other respects they were quite different. They were very beautiful. If the plant would bear domestication it would be highly ornamental. Having filled a "poke" with the raspberry leaves, we set out to return to the place where we had left our horses. I doubt exceedingly whether I could have found the spot; but his familiarity with the mountains generally, and his acute perception of topographical relations in particular, enabled him to find the place without difficulty.