Page images
[ocr errors]

secular work well. 'It never came into his head,' says George Macdonald of a certain artist, 'that God cared for his pictures, or had the slightest interest whether he painted them well or ill.' Then I would not paint; for what is not worth God's while to care about, is not worth man's while to do. While, moreover, I believe that I am doing what He has set me to do, I will pray about it most particularly. Says the Norman proverb, ‘Better be a good rope-maker than a bad priest;' and if it be my clear calling not to make sermons but to make ropes, I will pray in the morning that I may make them well, and then, all day long, I will look up. I will direct my prayer for efficiency in Gospel service where I now live, for well I know that if I am not an evangelist here, I should not be changed into one by the magic of a changed residence eighteen thousand miles away; so after definite prayer about it, I will look up for signals as they flash, and chances as they rise, and will direct my prayer for certain specified servants of God. Sometimes a Christian offers such a prayer and then forgets it; he begins, for instance, on a farewell day, to pray for this or that beloved missionary, and then makes no enquiry as to what has become of his arrow. In the Chronicle of the London Missionary Society there is a letter from China, in which the writer pathetically says: The missionary trusts strongly that the special success of his first year's labour is due under God to the special remembrance of him and his work in the prayers of friends at home. There has not been time for friends at home to forget us, and so long as their prayers ascend to God on our behalf, we prevail; but just as surely as the Church ceases to pray, so surely does Amalek prevail, and the missionary is left to fight the battle alone.' So I hereby make this resolve, that after I have lodged my intercession, I will make enquiry after the effect it has taken, and look up. I will direct my prayer for the great rain of the Spirit on the seeds long sown in the mission-fields. Once there had been no rain in Israel for three years, and on a certain morning a man named Elijah resolved to direct his prayer for rain, and look up. This he did by the aid of another man-it was one act though two men did it. The prophet flung himself down on the ground, and so, in silent agony, directed his prayer. Before doing so, he said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea.' He went up to the crest of the cliff, looked out, and what a dazzle! The sky was one deep, illimitable arch of brightness; the sea flamed and lightened like a sea of blue glory, a sea in a dream ; but from the line where the waters whitened on the strand up to the utmost rim of distance, and up, up above that, there was one burning glare, without one speck of cloud or shadow. Look now,' said the praying prophet; 'look; what do you see?' 'Nothing!' 'Look again,' was the order; and 'Look, look, look, look, look, look,' was the order given six times. Six times it was obeyed, yet there was no rain, and no sign of it; but, at the seventh time, the man said, 'Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand.' That was the answer at last. In a moment or two, down came the great rain, as if angrily hurling its watery


load to the earth, hissing, foaming, spattering, thundering, smoking along in cataracts, and after that came a burst of fertility! By God's ordination, it was the prayer that brought the rain down, but the look was a part of the prayer. This was a parable as well as a miracle, meant not for the men of the prophet's day only, but for the men of our own. Let God's servants direct their prayer and look up, and at the mystic seventh time of the experiment, the Spirit will be 'poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.' Then the myriad seeds of Gospel truth sown in India, seeds that seem to have been lost, will suddenly germinate; and there will be a marvellous burst of truth into lifelife, not perhaps taking European forms, but Indian forms-life like the life of the native leaves and mosses and flowers of flame-life, like all other life, asleep for a time in seeds, will, according to its own soil, and its own air, break out when the showers come, into its own beauty, work its own way, weave its own formations, and pay its own expenses.

The young men who are here understand that this appeal on the subject of secret prayer is a special appeal to them, and in the special interest of the Missionary Society. When Lord Beaconsfield was a young man he said, 'All the greatest things done in this world have been done by young men.' I like that! It is glorious to have a young soul in a young body; to feel the young mettle of twenty; young pith, young bone, young burning, bounding blood; to have the young sense of power to solve all the problems in the universe, power of ready, rapid language; power, if necessary, to tackle 'a lion in a pit on a snowy day,' and to feel inspired with a young fury of usefulness that shall carry all before it; I say this with no sarcasm, but with loving, glowing sympathy. Young life, with its own special working faculty has a grand work to do, and I want to enlist it on the Lord's side this day. Who, then, is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord? You are young just now, but this life holds its perfection but a little moment. While we speak about springautumn, with reddening flakes and 'flying flowers,' and a wind that moans like a sorrow-autumn is here; while we speak about youth, old age is here; and in pressing you into God's work, I am afraid of not being in time, for I want your youth! Yet, let there be no misunderstanding. Although I say that young life furnishes the appropriate instrumentality for the kind of spring, activity and endurance wanted in this work, you must not think that you can carry everything before you because you are young. It is not for you to say, 'Now, stand out of the way, all ye elders of the people, and see us do it!' Youth gives you peculiar instrumental fitness for the work, but let me tell you a young man is no more able than an old one to walk right through a great mountain-the prophetic symbol of heathenism. Be sure, every one of you, that you do this day make a total, final surrender to Christ. Cry to Him, 'O, Christ, life of my life, heart of my heart, thought of my thought, be in me as my

victorious Zerubbabel!' Then, through this submergence of self in Him, making His Spirit and yours flame in one commingling blaze, you may say to the most stupendous aggregate of opposing power, Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain!' On this account, to this end and from this hallowed moment, let every young man say daily, 'My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.'



JOHN HENRY ANDERSON had a godly ancestry. His grandfather, the Rev. Henry Anderson, entered the ministry in the year in which the Rev. John Wesley died, and for fifty-two years rendered faithful service to the Church of his choice. His father, the Rev. John Anderson, commenced to travel in 1836, and is still actively engaged in Circuit work. John Henry was born at Oakham, Rutlandshire, July the 4th, 1841. For nine years he remained under the care of his parents, and chiefly through a mother's wise and patient instruction had his mind well stored with Scripture truth. In 1850 he was sent to Kingswood school, where he distinguished himself by attention to his studies. On leaving, the exhibition to Taunton College was offered him, but declined, as he wished to enter at once upon business life. Owing to a tendency to inordinate bashfulness, which proved the great bane of his life, school-life had no charms for him, and he shrank from the ordeal of making acquaintance with another set of schoolfellows.

In September, 1856, he was apprenticed to Mr. Haines, chemist and druggist, Bromsgrove, and forthwith commenced to learn the art and mystery of that honourable profession. In the following year, his father was appointed to Bromsgrove, and thus a most beneficial home influence was exerted upon him at a critical period of his life. But his heart was not in his work. He conscientiously performed his allotted duties, but took very little interest in them. All this time he was under the impression that some day he would be called to the work of the ministry, and he sometimes gave expression to this belief. He had much pleasure in hearing eloquent sermons. But the powerful appeals in his father's sermons deeply affected him, and he was often on the verge of decision for God. Sometimes he almost dreaded the coming of the Sundays, because he knew how uncomfortable he would feel in listening to those faithful exhortations and warnings. At length in 1859, Mr. Barnett, a friend of his father's, and a zealous and successful Local Preacher from Marlborough, Wilts, paid a visit to Bromsgrove, and preached one Sunday. At the Prayer-meeting after the evening service, my brother went forward to the Communion rail

To his own grievous dissorrow, while around him Still he had so far identified

as a seeker for mercy, but did not then find it. appointment and that of others, he remained in penitents were rejoicing in newly-found peace. himself with the Lord's people that succeeding steps were not so difficult to He no longer resented conversation about religion as an impertinence, and continued to pray for pardon in private, not without hope. For nearly two months he remained unhappy. At the beginning of June I returned from Kingswood, my soul filled with the joy of full salvation. Every day for the greater part of a week we conversed about religion, and much prayer was offered for the gift of faith. On Sunday, 5th June, the word preached by our father was with great power, and at a Lovefeast held after the evening service, my brother was quite broken down. We went home and together pleaded for mercy. The next day we were both at the public Prayer meeting. A young man, a backslider, who the day before had been 'Deep wounded by the Spirit's sword,' was in great anguish about his soul. When the meeting was over, I and a friend directed the troubled sinner to the Saviour, my brother being present. After a time the penitent backslider laid hold of Christ, and his joy at recovered peace was as great as his previous grief. Even my brother could not forbear to say, 'Praise God.' In a few minutes the recovered backslider said to him, 'Now, it's your turn,' and began to urge him to believe. We walked some little distance from the town. The great obstacle to my brother's faith was his not being conscious of his reception of pardon. We laboured to show him that his duty was to take Christ as his Saviour, and to trust himself, body, soul and spirit, for time and eternity, to His keeping, and that peace with God would follow faith. We enlarged, too, on the sin and danger of unbelief, until, after a few moments' silent thought and prayer, the words were uttered, 'I will trust,' and from that resolution my brother never retreated. He went home clinging by naked faith to Christ, but feeling no joy. The Adversary had tried to hinder him from trusting, but in vain; and during the next day there stole into his mind the sweet consciousness of acceptance, but so gradually that the stages of the dawning of the heavenly light could hardly be distinguished. But of the fact that he had now 'passed from death unto life,' there was no doubt in his mind. He wondered that he felt so little joy. He was astonished at the calmness of his feelings, especially when contrasting his case with that of the recovered backslider, whom recently he had seen filled with such exultation. But he saw it to be a part of the spiritual discipline through which the Spirit was testing his faith, and he never wavered. Joy did come after a time: the 'fountains of the great deep' of his soul were broken up, and with streaming eyes and full heart he could say:

'My God is reconciled,

His pardoning voice I hear.'

It was at once evident that he had experienced the great spiritual change. His abruptness of manner, which had given just occasion for complaint,

passed away. Love to God brought love to man, which found continual expression in his daily life.

He at once began to work for God. He spoke to his young friends about the importance of religion, and had the joy of leading some to Christ. Within a month of his conversion he began to preach, his first public effort being an address during a Sunday evening service at Wildmoor Chapel, the manly simplicity and earnestness of which I shall never forget. He was soon at work nearly every Sabbath, and rapidly attained considerable popularity, his sermons being even then marked by much of that descriptive power in which afterwards he so greatly excelled. After he had been a Local Preacher about a year, a young friend comparing his style with that of some others on the plan, summed up in this sentence, 'John Henry deals in the vivid,' a criticism the correctness of which those who have been privileged to sit under his ministry will be ready to admit.

His apprenticeship ending in 1860, he gladly repaired to his father's house at Evesham, and gave himself up to study and preaching, in preparation for the work to which he had determined to devote his life. His services were highly appreciated, and in 1861 he was unanimously recommended as a candidate for the ministry. He was accepted by the Conference, and placed upon the President's List of Reserve. He continued to serve the Evesham Circuit, being in request for special work, until February, 1862, when he was sent to supply the place of the Rev. James Laycock, of the Stockport (Hillgate) Circuit.

It is a critical time when a young Minister enters upon the duties of his office. He is often followed by the young, and sometimes injudiciously flattered by those whose lengthened experience of life should have taught them better. If he have any tinge of vanity, his head may be turned by indiscriminate applause. If he have the gift of fluency of speech, he may come to depend upon that for success, and form habits of laziness as to preparation for the pulpit. He may become a clerical drone or a clerical dandy. From these dangers my brother was mercifully preserved. He entered upon his work with a strong sense of its importance and responsibility. He usually wrote his sermons out fully and committed them to memory, but did not confine himself slavishly to the manuscript, but generally contented himself with an outline for week evening sermons, both for practice in extemporaneous speaking, and for the saving of time for reading which it secured. To this system he adhered more or less throughout his ministry. He was preserved from being a mere reciter of Sermons, feeling free to enlarge on any topic.

After he had been in Stockport a few weeks, his conscience was stirred on the subject of pastoral visitation. Only those who knew his innate bashfulness, and his sensitive repugnance to meeting with strangers, can form any idea of what a heavy cross he had to take up to discharge this duty. His first attempt was a signal failure, but his discouragement was speedily overcome, and practice emboldened him.

« PreviousContinue »