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Published by glennpease
By W. F. Richardson

Text. — "They that were scattered abroad went about preaching
the word." — Acts 8:4.
By W. F. Richardson

Text. — "They that were scattered abroad went about preaching
the word." — Acts 8:4.

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Published by: glennpease on Oct 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A LOST ARTBy W. F. RichardsonText. — "They that were scattered abroad went about preachingthe word." — Acts 8:4.OE of the most noteworthy lectures of the past centurywas that of the eloquent Wendell Phillips on "The LostArts." In it he most effectively rebuked the conceit of ourmodern age in deeming itself the source and repository of theworld's useful knowledge. Like Coleridge's German at Frank-fort, who always took off his hat when he spoke of himself,our age holds itself in such esteem as to deserve this criticism.Mr. Phillips showed by a reference to ancient history that notonly was the art of early times still the despair of the modernworld, and its literature of such high quality as to furnish amodel to modern orators and writers, but that much of ourpresent science is but an amplifying of the scientific attain-ments of bygone ages. Glass was commonly known among theancients; steam was discovered ages ago, though never uti-lized; while the existence of electricity was discovered in theage of Thales. The amusements by which our youth are en-tertained had their origin near the dawn of history, and, mostcruel of all, Mr. Phillips assures us that our modern stories,which we attribute to the Irish and Hebrew races, were nar-rated many centuries ago in the streets of Grecian towns andcities.There is one lost art, once practiced diligently in the Churchof God, which needs to be revived. In this era of organizations,institutions, societies, committees, the art referred to in ourtext — that of religious conversation, of private preaching, of personal evangelism — has become well nigh a lost art. Mendepend upon church and society organizations to reach the231
232 THE EW LIVIG PULPITmasses, forgetting that the masses are but aggregations of individuals.This personal evangelism was the favored method of ourLord in disseminating the truth. His first disciples were drawnto him one by one as he sat with them in the house, or talkedwith them by the way. Calling Simon Peter and Andrew andthe sons of Zebedee from their nets and Matthew from his col-lector's stall, are but typical of his way of enlisting men in hisservice. He preached sermons to the crowd, and wonderfulthey were too, but very much of his noblest teaching was inpersonal conversation. With the woman beside Jacob's well,he talked of the highest themes that concerned holiness, sinand God. In the home of Zaccheus he so eloquently told thestory of divine love as to win the heart of that self-satisfiedpublican to a life of sacrifice and brotherhood.After his resurrection, he revealed himself not to the multi-tude, but to Mary Magdalene, to Peter and James and theeleven, and the two disciples at Emmaus. He was content toimpress the fact of his resurrection upon the hearts of such in-dividuals as might become evangels to the world of the newhope. His disciples were wise enough to follow his example.At the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, Peter gave a discoursescarcely inferior to his noble penteeostal sermon. To Lydiaand the little group of women at the riverside at Philippi andto the jailer in his own home within the city walls, Paul andSilas gave as eagerly the gospel message as they ever preachedit to the throng. or was this personal evangelism confined tothe apostolic messengers. Aquila and Priscilla, hearing theeloquent Apollos at Ephesus, recognized the incompletenessof his message, and sitting down with him in private converse" showed him the way of the Lord more perfectly."In the early Church, every disciple became himself a teacher.Everyone was saved to serve. The story that had proven sweetand satisfying to his heart he could not keep to himself. Hence,the scattering of the Church throughout the Roman empire
meant not the destruction, but the disseminating of the gospel.Whether by word or deed, whether by life or death, each fol-W. F. RICHARDSO 233lower of Christ witnessed for his Master with such effect as toleaven the life of all the nations with the truth of God. Thisfact furnishes the secret of the gospel's wonderful progress.Every Christian became a vessel to convey the water of life toothers ; a channel, through which the stream of life flowed outinto every corner of human society.This is God's law for propagating truth. ot even the send-ing of the Bible for men to read, not even the building of churches to which they may be invited for worship, not eventhe supporting of ministers to whose sermons they are askedto listen, can bring the world to the feet of Jesus Christ. "Thegospel needs a voice — a book will not do ; behind the Biblemust be a believer, behind the gospel, a gospeller or herald..... It is God's plan that believers shall be everywhere scat-tered in order to provide avenues of spiritual communication. ' 'For the gospel is not epidemic, spreading through the air, light-ing in unexpected places without visible cause. It is conta-gious, and goes from soul to soul — from heart to heart. Wecatch it from one another by personal spiritual contact. Thiswas the secret of the growth of early Methodism. Wesley'smotto was: "Tell the man next to you;" and because his fol-lowers were burning with evangelistic zeal, his ministry wasduplicated in ten thousand places, through ten thousand con-secrated lives.This was also the secret of the early growth of the Disciplesof Christ. It was the rule for each disciple to carry in hispocket the ew Testament, and to draw that spiritual weaponfor self defense, or for attack upon the stronghold of error.We sadly need to restore this personal evangelism. We needit not only that the world may be converted, but that we maynot make a mockery of our own lives. It is a well known prin-

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