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" — Acts 8:4. O E of the most noteworthy lectures of the past century was that of the eloquent Wendell Phillips on "The Lost Arts." In it he most effectively rebuked the conceit of our modern age in deeming itself the source and repository of the world's useful knowledge. Like Coleridge's German at Frankfort, 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 not only was the art of early times still the despair of the modern world, and its literature of such high quality as to furnish a model to modern orators and writers, but that much of our present science is but an amplifying of the scientific attainments of bygone ages. Glass was commonly known among the ancients; steam was discovered ages ago, though never utilized; while the existence of electricity was discovered in the age of Thales. The amusements by which our youth are entertained had their origin near the dawn of history, and, most cruel of all, Mr. Phillips assures us that our modern stories, which we attribute to the Irish and Hebrew races, were narrated many centuries ago in the streets of Grecian towns and cities. There is one lost art, once practiced diligently in the Church of God, which needs to be revived. In this era of organizations, institutions, societies, committees, the art referred to in our text — that of religious conversation, of private preaching, of personal evangelism — has become well nigh a lost art. Men depend upon church and society organizations to reach the 231
232 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT masses, forgetting that the masses are but aggregations of individuals. This personal evangelism was the favored method of our Lord in disseminating the truth. His first disciples were drawn to him one by one as he sat with them in the house, or talked with them by the way. Calling Simon Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee from their nets and Matthew from his collector's stall, are but typical of his way of enlisting men in his service. He preached sermons to the crowd, and wonderful they were too, but very much of his noblest teaching was in personal conversation. With the woman beside Jacob's well, he talked of the highest themes that concerned holiness, sin and God. In the home of Zaccheus he so eloquently told the story of divine love as to win the heart of that self-satisfied publican to a life of sacrifice and brotherhood. After his resurrection, he revealed himself not to the multitude, but to Mary Magdalene, to Peter and James and the eleven, and the two disciples at Emmaus. He was content to impress the fact of his resurrection upon the hearts of such individuals as might become evangels to the world of the new hope. His disciples were wise enough to follow his example. At the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, Peter gave a discourse scarcely inferior to his noble penteeostal sermon. To Lydia and the little group of women at the riverside at Philippi and to the jailer in his own home within the city walls, Paul and Silas gave as eagerly the gospel message as they ever preached it to the throng. or was this personal evangelism confined to the apostolic messengers. Aquila and Priscilla, hearing the eloquent Apollos at Ephesus, recognized the incompleteness of 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 sweet and 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 233 lower of Christ witnessed for his Master with such effect as to leaven the life of all the nations with the truth of God. This fact furnishes the secret of the gospel's wonderful progress. Every Christian became a vessel to convey the water of life to others ; a channel, through which the stream of life flowed out into every corner of human society. This is God's law for propagating truth. ot even the sending of the Bible for men to read, not even the building of churches to which they may be invited for worship, not even the supporting of ministers to whose sermons they are asked to listen, can bring the world to the feet of Jesus Christ. "The gospel needs a voice — a book will not do ; behind the Bible must be a believer, behind the gospel, a gospeller or herald. .... It is God's plan that believers shall be everywhere scattered in order to provide avenues of spiritual communication. ' ' For the gospel is not epidemic, spreading through the air, lighting in unexpected places without visible cause. It is contagious, and goes from soul to soul — from heart to heart. We catch it from one another by personal spiritual contact. This was the secret of the growth of early Methodism. Wesley's motto was: "Tell the man next to you;" and because his followers were burning with evangelistic zeal, his ministry was duplicated in ten thousand places, through ten thousand consecrated lives. This was also the secret of the early growth of the Disciples of Christ. It was the rule for each disciple to carry in his pocket the ew Testament, and to draw that spiritual weapon for self defense, or for attack upon the stronghold of error. We sadly need to restore this personal evangelism. We need it not only that the world may be converted, but that we may not make a mockery of our own lives. It is a well known prin-
ciple in psychology that any emotion, to be effective in forming character, must be embodied in act, Maudlin pity for the unfortunate without actual ministry to their needs, is worse than useless — it is absolutely hurtful. To shed tears over the imaginary sorrows portrayed upon the stage or in the novel, and shut the eyes to the suffering in the hovel around the corner of
234 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT the street, is to degrade every faculty of sympathy into a means of self-indulgence. From multitudes of hearts, bitter with remorse and overwhelmed with despair, comes the cry: " o man careth for my soul. ' ' The Church of God might make this cry impossible, if every member became a messenger of the Lord. Each lost soul is not only "somebody's child," but is a child of our heavenly Father, and is therefore to us most closely akin. We are but seeking to save our own when we are reaching out the hand of help to any one who is lost. The neglect of this art by the Church has led to a popular contempt for both the Church and its ministry, which finds expression in references to the Church as "a social club" and to the preacher as a "sky pilot," who has to do, like the pilot at the port, with the beginning and the ending of life's journey, but who is made no account of during its long progress. or has the ministry been free from blame in bringing about this condition. An eminent canon of the English church, making an appeal some years ago on Hospital Sunday for the institution of a celibate priesthood in the Church, used these words: "A sick man wants consolation administered to him by a softhanded priest, and not by some callous-fingered mechanic or some one burdened with domestic or mercantile cares." And this within gunshot of White Chapel district, in the very neighborhood where the Salvation Army is doing its Christ-like work for the hopeless and outcast of that great city ! The truth is, that the "soft-handed priest" is often powerless to administer either comfort or the strength required by the unfortunate, when some humble follower of Jesus Christ, unlettered
but not untaught of God, can in simplest words and with truest sympathy prove a brother to him. In fact, the Lord would have the miracle of the incarnation perpetuated in his Church by making every believer a "living epistle known and read of all men. ' ' We have four gospels in the Bible, which we designate "the gospel according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke and according to John. ' ' What is needed to make these gospels most effective in the world, is to embody their message
W. F. RICHARDSO 235 in your life and mine, so that men shall read ' ' the gospel according to John, or Sarah, or Samuel, or Mary" — thus only will the mission of Jesus finally prevail in the world. For such personal evangelism there is daily and hourly opportunity. The preacher can preach only on occasions. The personal witness can testify all the time. And men are needing this testimony constantly. In the words of Henry Ward Beecher: "As ships meet at sea — a moment together, when words of greeting must be spoken, and then away into the deep — so men meet in this world; and I think we should cross no man's path without hailing him, and if he needs, giving him supplies. ' ' Should Christian men in business life practice this personal evangelism, there would be no excuse for the present charge that there is ' ' atheism in business. " " If in all men did, they were doing it in the name of Jesus Christ, their very daily pursuit would be their daily preaching. For Christ is not "The King of Sunday ' ' — all the days are his. It is useless for the business man, who calls himself a Christian, to practice for six days in the week a business with no religion in it, and then expect to charm men on the seventh day by a religion with no business in it.
Here is one danger in our modern evangelistic methods. We are so zealous in counting members, so eager to save a multitude, that we are in danger of touching the surface of the spiritual life of the multitude without penetrating to the very heart of the individual. "I am the light of the world," said the Master. "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." But light must have objects to reflect it or it cannot illumine. Even the light of the sun, we are assured, could not illumine the eyes of men, were it not for the atmosphere through which it passes, laden with its invisible substances, which are but myriads of tiny mirrors reflecting the glory of the god of day. So the Master has taught us that we are the light of the world, and that our light is so to shine that it may bring others to desire and seek the face of God. ow
236 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT light is not to be looked at, but to be lived by. The traveler does not gaze at the sun, but he walks safely in its light, The miner carries his lamp upon his forehead, where it throws light upon his dark task. The light of God 's grace and truth should be carried in our faces so effectively that while we ourselves may be unconscious of its shining, others shall be able to walk in its light. And the brighter our light shines, the less disposed will men be to look at us, and the more certain and gladly will they follow in the path we brighten. What joy comes to the heart through the faithful pursuit of this lost art of personal evangelism! To know that one has saved a soul from death and covered a multitude of sins ; to be conscious that one has enlisted another soul for the kingdom of God; to be assured that the song of redemption is echoing through another soul who has learned its strains from us — this is to have the supreme joy that can visit the human heart. The joy of Christ came from his successful ministry in saving men. "He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied "
said the ancient prophet. We share in "the joy of the Lord," when we share in his saving ministry. or need the least of the Master's followers despise his own gifts in this direction. o soul is so weak, no life so small that it cannot serve God's purpose of grace if dedicated to his service. A little lad was waiting on a great artist, watching day by day his marvelous designs wrought in mosaics, and wishing that he too might make some beautiful picture or some graceful design, but the artist would not trust the precious material to his untrained hands. One day the little lad found a pile of rubbish lying outside the door, in which were embodied many tiny bits of glass thrown aside by the master in his work. Picking these out and carefully cleaning them, the little fellow carried them to his garret room, and between the hours of labor wrought patiently with them until he had designed a tiny window, and timidly brought it to the great artist. The little window revealed to the master mind the real artistic soul that was in the little lad, and from that day, he encouraged and guided him until he in turn became a master of his art.
W. P. RICHARDSO 237 So God can take the tiny bits of wisdom, skill and knowledge that are ours, and help us to work them up into little windows through which something of the light of God may shine into other hearts. For "He who unites grains of sand for making planets, and rays of light for glorious suns, and blades of grass for the solid splendor of field and pasture, and drops of water for the ocean that blesses every continent with its dew and rain, teaches us also that great principles will organize the little words, little prayers, little aspirations and little services in the full-orbed splendor of an enduring character and an immortal fame." Bring then thy gift to the Lord, and use it for the souls about you, with faith and fervor ; for He who could use the acacia rod in Moses' hand to deliver Israel from Egypt and open the passage through the Red Sea; who could use the sling in the hand of the shepherd lad to fell the giant Goliath
upon the earth ; who could multiply the loaves and fishes from the little boy's basket till He fed the hungry multitude; who could give to the world an inspiring message of generosity through the two mites that fell from the widow's hand into the treasure box at the Temple door; who could pronounce such blessing upon the broken vase of fragrant ointment as to make its perfume felt down the ages, and make sweet a myriad of lives of like self-sacrifice; who could so glorify the needle of Dorcas, as she made the garments for the poor, as to set in motion ten thousand times ten thousand Christian women's hands in ministries of like mercy to the needy ; can use what little gifts we possess and make them gloriously effective. Take then thy message to the needy world; delay not thy steps in carrying the gospel to thy neighbor, thy friend, or the stranger whom thou meetest on the highway. God has given to you this precious gift. Use it loyally and eagerly, and he will recompense thee and make thy labors abundant in fruit. As the little child digs his tiny well in the sea shore's sand, and the tides of the great ocean come creeping in through the sands to fill it, so let us dig our little wells of loving service, of eager testimony, and God 's great ocean of love and grace will flow in and fill them with that sweet water of life from which a dying world shall freelv drink.
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