Images de page
PDF
ePub

filled with the warm glow of first “The book " involves itself in anChristian love, gladly welcomed these other inextricable difficulty. It presdelegates from her younger sister ently proceeds to say (foot-note on church at Antioch ; and the whole Presbytery), “ The church of Jerusachurch, filled with a lively interest in lem consisted of more than one (query, the cause of Christ, gathered together one what ?), as is manifest both beto hear the question brought forward, fore and after the dispersion, from discussed, and to help in the settlement Acts vi. 1, 26 ; ix. 31 ; xxi. 20 ; ii. 41, of it. The apostles and elders hold 46, 47, and iv. 4. These congregations the main part in the discussion, be- were under one presbyterial governcause they had the most knowledge ment, proved from Acts xv. 4 ; ix. and wisdom. No thought of Episco- 22, 30; xxi. 17, 18; and vi.” It pacy or Presbyterianism or Indepen- would be useless to quote any or all dency or any kind of thing like modern of these passages ; fo no shadow of denominationalism appears in the whole Presbyterianism can be discovered in transaction. It was the action of plain, any one of them. They chiefly go to sensible, earnest men, seeking the so- show that there was a large number lution of a difficult problem in the of believers in Jerusalem. But the most sensible way. So far as there difficulty is here : “ The book” speciwas any corporate action, as distinct fies Jerusalem as the bounds of the from individual action, it was plainly presbytery, yet Antioch church, hunthe action of local churches. The dreds of miles away in the province of church of Antioch sent the delegates, Syria, thrusts its troubles right into and the church of Jerusalem received the Jerusalem presbytery. How such them. In the conclusion arrived at, an irregularity is to be explained does the apostles and elders as individuals not appear. Rather may we not say seem to have assented to it, and the that the attempt to draw out of the whole church as a body. But where is Bible what is not in it is sure to inthe faintest semblance to Presbyteri- volve us in difficulty ? anism in all this transaction ?

IS IT EXPEDIENT TO EMPLOY EVANGELISTS IN OUR CHURCHES ?

BY REV. JOSHUA M. CHAMBERLIN, GRINNELL, IOWA.

This is a question which earnest pas- them, such is the effect upon all, if the tors and laymen, who would neither re- efforts do not succeed, the effect upon ject nor neglect any wise means of the church, the converts, the awakened, bringing sinners to Christ, or increas- and the careless, when the special ing the efficiency of the united body of labors cease ; the change in manner believers, are still asking most anxious- and method, in relative prominence of ly. They would welcome, cheer, and doctrines and duties, the infrequency join with the evangelist, if convinced of meetings, the lack of those peculiarthat it was for the welfare of the ities of style which have attracted atchurch. But the testimony of those tention ; so many such points press who have employed them is so con- upon them, that most are still in doubt. flicting as to be of little value in the Nor has the largest experience predecision. So many points press upon vented the diversity or the doubt, so that we can hardly expect a satisfac- faith of experience, is strengthened by tory answer from testimony. It is subsequent results, increasing the dewiser, perhaps, to examine the case sire to speak to others, because he exupon its own merits, ascertaining what pects to see the truth effectual in bringthey are, and then draw our own con- ing them to the cross. clusions respecting the expediency of Others see and solicit his labors in employing evangelists. If it is well the hope of good to their congregaadapted to the end sought, then we tions, and they are not disappointed. must search out and correct the errors Thus, by success, their faith is obin applying this method of labor. tained, and by it they prevail, and, un

That unusual power attends, or that awares, they are evangelists, because unusual results follow, the labors of they are unusually successful in winevangelists, no one will question. The ning souls. They are drawn and imreason of this fact is what we seek. pelled to extend their labors beyond Where is the secret of their power ? their own flocks, and finally abandon And is it wise to employ it? We them in hope of greater good, in the shall answer the first directly, and the wider field of the churches. second indirectly. Their unusual pow- Few anticipate it, perhaps, and few er is found,

pastors obtain large success, without 1. First, and chiefly, in their greater in some degree becoming evangelists, faith. How then did they attain that or laborers for stated seasons in other faith? We answer by sight. It is the churches. Hence we say, the strength faith of experience. We will not claim of their faith is born of sight; it is the for them superior faith or piety in the faith of experience, and by it they are beginning, but admit they had the made evangelists. Is not such faith same general faith in God as the hear- a true and scriptural grace ? And er of prayer, in the Spirit as the re- where it exists are not abundant fruits newer of the hearts of men, in the to be expected ? It is a right use of truth as the instrument of regenera- the gracious dealings of God with tion, and the preacher as the servant them, which leads them to be confident of God for its delivery-as others have. of success when they labor. They But, in the preaching of it, faith has have stronger faith than others, and become sight, the Spirit has wrought, the secret of their success is found, in the truth has become the wisdom and part, in that faith. Such ought to be power of God unto salvation, sinners the effect of success, and the evident are born again. A more lively, ex- answer of our prayers. pectant, specific faith results, which 2. The secret of their power is in the is able to appropriate the promises and prominence which they give to human invitations to present desires and la- agencies in the use of the truth. bors, and the fruits of them. It has They proceed, in their efforts, outgrown the sense of possibility with upon the commonly admitted doctrine, God merely, and become a firm expec- that the Spirit is always striving with tation of success, in the use of means, men, by means of the truth which is working therefore with lively hope, before their minds; that He is not more and handling the word with skill and idle or sluggish at one time than at strength, such as no other state of another, nor seeking different results ; mind can command, giving point and but the world and the lusts of the force which are eflectual in other natural heart obscure and bury up hearts.

divine truth, and so close up the Spirit's This faith, obtained by sight, the avenues to their hearts. Hence, relying upon the truth, as an instrument proving the power of prayer and the which the Spirit will never neglect, present personal richness of the promthrough which He will always strive ises. No one, we think, will deny that to save men, the evangelist presses the this is a common experience of those truth upon their attention, by selecting who labor with evangelists, though not themes which are most personal, awak- in every instance. We need more of ening, and immediate in their demands. this personal appropriation of the These he urges upon their reason and promises, to identify God as speaking conscience, to break up their apathy, of our individual possibilities and privand compel their consideration, that ileges, the power and grace which are they may hear the voice of the Spirit, meant for us and may be obtained and which has been drowned before. Re- used by us. We must not detract lying upon the power of truth as God's from, but fill out the promises with all instrument, and upon the Holy Spirit the natural force of the language in as a constant worker, the evangelist which they are given, and then rememexpects success when the human ber that the Holy Spirit had but an imagency is brought up to its proper perfect medium of communication, and standard. He lays out his strength to could convey to us, by it, only a part, bring the human agency up to its an earnest, of the wealth of meaning proper relation and co-working with which is stored up in his mind and the Spirit and truth, in preaching, in purpose. We can not interpret them prayer, and every form of direct effort too richly, though we may not interfor the salvation of men. Who can pret rightly. Especially do we need to doubt that the weakness of the work feel this concerning the promises relatof Christ is just here, or that here is ing to our prayers and labors for souls. where the church needs special help- To this the experiences and successes ers, if at all, or that success will fol- of evangelists do tend, by showing the low the supply of this defect ? For promised fruits of waiting upon God this work, the previous success, –a in faith. It leads to prevalent prayer, report of which precedes him, — the and in so far it is the best of all human specific object of his coming, – as influences, one to be coveted by every known by all, — the shortness of his pastor and every church. While they expected stay, the preparation for it experience it, every soul says, this is by pastor and church, the training of the divine way, it is the divine work, his own labor and experience, and even in the souls of His people, for so it is the curiosity of the world, give the promised. So ought we to be. Here evangelist special facilities. Is it wise, is the secret of power, in expectant then, that pastors and churches should prayer. It is always good for the soul see this lesson of human agency and to be in its presence. power embodied in the labors of evan- 4. The evangelist seeks, first of all, gelists ? Is it, in its nature, adapted to induce unity, a more lively faith, a to do them good ? Is it that more fervent spirit of prayer, a more they should see how ready God is to zealous activity for souls, in the church bless His word and servants by these to which he goes. He seldom fails to living examples ?

secure these. He does not depend 3. This faith of experience, and the upon his own labors alone. He does pressure of this personal responsibility not expect success with sinners, if he in the use of the truth, beget a spirit of not assisted by the united efforts of wrestling, trusting prayer for souls, the many. He does not look for heat, which is seen by others to be effectual, he can not kindle the spark to a flame in the church. Hence he seeks received, for no other is sent of God. much preparation, of special prayer, No man is perfect in wisdom, even and conference, and humiliation, and under the Spirit's influence, and hence consecration of time to such effort, in the need of much carefulness, and anticipation of his coming, that he may searching for the wise and prudent. find all ready to receive the message of 1. The mere fact of successful labor God into good and honest hearts. puts the evangelist in peculiar, and When he comes it is, first of all, to often critical, relations to the pastor heal all differences, to remove all stum- and people. That has been done by bling-blocks from the church, and make their united efforts, which many are in it a bright and shining light, that it danger of ascribing to his individual may entreat men and prevail with efforts, and so he is in danger of being God. By all this they are prepared to too highly esteemed by many, and his believe and trust the fullness of the labors over-estimated to the disparagegrace of Christ, to honor the Spirit in ment of the pastor or the church. their faith, to receive and rightly use There is most danger that young the hoped for blessing. As means to converts will fall into this error, to this end, the promises are much dwelt which all are liable to some degree. upon, their real import and extent The harvest is likely to cause us to sought for and exhibited, and the re- forget the patience of plowing and sults of true faith and faithful labor sowing and growth. If the evangelist are presented, from personal experi- has not the wisdom to appreciate these ence, observation, and history, showing and kindred facts, and carefully guard what God has done for and by His against them, a great evil may result. truth, in cooperation with just such un- His success is not measured by the worthy servants. Thus the power of number of hopeful converts alone, but the church is secured and made avail- also by the spirit which he leaves in able ; its whole tone is elevated ; it is the church, including the pastor and brought into a state which is owned members. and blessed by the Spirit, as the con- 2. Injury may be done by such exdition of its success, and that which it citement and outward demonstration should always retain. What conclu- as must, in the nature of the case, be sion shall we form, then, as we go transient, instead of directing the back from results to their causes ? rising feeling into more useful chanHas the thorn brought forth figs ? nels and work, which are equally de

Ending our inquiries here, we might sirable at all times. Wisdom will keep say all this is very good, just what the it in mind, and seek to avoid that great church seeks for and needs. But we gulf of emotion, beyond which there must inquire, are there no counteract- is a fatal spiritual ennui.

A gusty ing evils, leaving the question doubtful cloud, which leaves no refreshing, is still ? The very doubts and anxious not a blessing. It is deliberate, wellinquiries, of which we spoke in the be- reasoned faith which we are to seek ginning of our discussion, answer that, for, that it may continue to grow. in the judgment of many earnest Yet it should be said, that the large Christians, there are such evils. We experience of the wise evangelist will examine some of them briefly. ought to render him the best judge in

In what has been said we have spok- this matter, and he may be held reen of the spirit and methods of the sponsible, and that justly, for the retrue evangelist, full of Christ, and sults of his own measures. If unwise, zealous for souls. No other should be they may turn his good to evil.

3. A good man, by much success, faith and love and zeal of the whole may be led to think of himself more church, it is the great study and wishighly than he ought to think, to as- dom of the pastor to secure that resume the air of authority, as if he sult from every awakening, by seeing alone were to be pleased, instead of that every member is made a sharer in being a pleasant counselor with him it, and, if possible, led to take an adwhose assistant he is for the time vance step in Christian labor or testibeing, and gaining what he wishes, by mony. He must retain the pastor's showing that it is best for him, if not place, going before and leading them ; for another. Such a spirit is hardly through all their special interest, retaincompatible with real success. But we ing their full sympathy, and increasneed not proceed, for we designed only ing it every day that he may guide to show, that, in everything, the evan- them still, when he is left to labor gelist has need of great wisdom and alone. It must be secured while the prudence, which he must ever study, work is going on. This relation of the under the Spirit's guidance. He must pastor to the work is all-important, judge of his success from a comprehen- that it may be saved from that fatal sive view, of pastor, and church, and collapse which so often follows the hopeful converts, and as well the pro- labor of evangelists. Just bere the spective as the present state of each highest skill, the best ingenuity, the and all with whom he labors, or his hardest labor, the greatest efficiency of good may be evil spoken of.

the pastor, are required, that the whole On the other hand, if a pastor or of that which has been gained or done church invite an evangelist in the spirit may be embodied in the life of the of selfishness, to do their work, to be a church. Happiest of all, and most substitute instead of a co-laborer, then successful, is that pastor who treassinners may be saved by another's ures up his own and others' labors in faithfulness, but no blessing awaits the higher life of his church, as all the those who invite him, except through work of the Spirit will help him to do. repentance.

To this end, we believe that some Success may be expected to unsettle are to be evangelists, and some passuch a pastor, and real converts may tors, and some teachers, adapted for be expected to disturb the peace of harmonious coöperation, in securing such churches. They will suffer loss. the best results, when all shall seek to

If a pastor gives himself up to petty save souls, and build them, as lively criticism of doctrine, or philosophy, or stones, into a church which partakes interpretation, or manner, in matters more and more of the life of Christ. not essential, he will suffer loss in the We have presented these suggesesteem of his flock, in so far as success tions, to help, if possible, the perfect adattends the evangelist's labor. And justment of the several agencies which this success he seriously jeopardizes. It the Master would employ for harmois better not to receive, than to receive nious, and so the most successful, workwithout confidence ; better not to re- ing. The times, a world in sin, a ceive, than to receive as a substitute, church torpid and weak, call for the and then stand aloof to see what he best efforts of all, and that they join can do. A little error is a great evil, hands to help each other, that the day then.

of Christ may be ushered in the more While the evangelist must seek to speedily. secure a permanent elevation of the

« PrécédentContinuer »