|Yesterday I was called to see a patient, a young
woman who had been suffering terribly for three
days. It was the saddest case I ever saw in my
life. . . . I had to leave her to die. . . . The
experience was such a terrible one that, old and
accustomed surgeon as I am, I have been quite
upset by it ever since. As long as I live the
memory of that scene will cling to me.|A Chinese Missionary.
|If we refuse to be corns of wheat falling into
the ground and dying; if we will neither sacrifice
prospects nor risk character and property and
health, nor, when we are called, relinquish home
and break family ties, for Christ's sake and His
Gospel, then we shall abide alone.|
Thomas Gajetan Ragland, India.
|Not mere pity for dead souls, but a passion for
the Glory of God, is what we need to hold us on to
Miss Lilias Trotter, Africa.
WE are all familiar with the facts and figures which stand for so much more than we realise. We can repeat glibly enough that there are nearly one thousand, five hundred million people in the world, and that of these nearly one thousand million are heathen or Mohammedan. Perhaps we can divide this unthinkable mass into comprehensible figures. We can tell everyone who is interested in hearing it, that of this one thousand million, two hundred million are Mohammedans; two hundred million more are Hindus; four hundred and thirty million are Buddhists and Confucianists; and more than one hundred and fifty million are Pagans.
But have we ever stopped and let the awfulness of these statements bear down upon us? Do we take in, that we are talking about immortal souls?
We quote someone's computation that every day ninety-six thousand people die without Christ. Have we ever for one hour sat and thought about it? Have we thought of it for half an hour, for a quarter of an hour, for five unbroken minutes? I go further, and I ask you, have you ever sat still for one whole minute and counted by the ticking of your watch, while soul after soul passes out alone into eternity?
. . . I have done it. It is awful. At the lowest computation, sixty-six for whom Christ died have died since I wrote |eternity.|
|Oh my God! my God! Men are perishing, and I take no heed!| . . .
Sixty-six more have gone. Oh, how can one keep so calm? Death seems racing with the minute hand of my watch. I feel like stopping that terrible run of the minute hand. Round and round it goes, and every time it goes round, sixty-six people die.
I have just heard of the dying of one of the sixty-six. We knew her well. She was a widow; she had no protectors, and an unprotected widow in India stands in a dangerous place. We knew it, and tried to persuade her to take refuge in Jesus. She listened, almost decided, then drew back; afterwards we found out why. You have seen the picture of a man sucked under sea by an octopus; it was like that. You have imagined the death-struggle; it was like that. But it all went on under the surface of the water, there was nothing seen above, till perhaps a bubble rose slowly and broke; it was like that. One day, in the broad noontide, a woman suddenly fell in the street. Someone carried her into a house, but she was dead, and those who saw that body saw the marks of the struggle upon it. The village life flowed on as before; only a few who knew her knew she had murdered her body to cover the murder of her soul. We had come too late for her.
Last week I stood in a house where another of those sixty-six had passed. Crouching on the floor, with her knees drawn up and her head on her knees, a woman began to tell me about it. |She was my younger sister. My mother gave us to two brothers| -- and she stopped. I knew who the brothers were. I had seen them yesterday -- two handsome high-caste Hindus. We had visited their wives, little knowing. The woman said no more; she could not. She just shuddered and hid her face in her hands. A neighbour finished the story. Something went wrong with the girl. They called in the barber's wife -- the only woman's doctor known in these parts. She did her business ignorantly. The girl died in fearful pain. Hindu women are inured to sickening sights, but this girl's death was so terrible that the elder sister has never recovered from the shock of seeing it. There she sits, they tell me, all day long, crouching on the floor, mute.
All do not pass like that; some pass very quietly, there are no bands in their death; and some are innocent children -- thank God for the comfort of that! But it must never be forgotten that the heathen sin against the light they have; their lives witness against them. They know they sin, and they fear death. An Indian Christian doctor, practising in one of our Hindu towns, told me that he could not speak of what he had seen and heard at the deathbeds of some of his patients.
A girl came in a moment ago, and I told her what I was doing. Then I showed her the diagram of the Wedge; the great black disc for heathendom, and the narrow white slit for the converts won. She looked at it amazed. Then she slowly traced her finger round the disc, and she pointed to the narrow slit, and her tears came dropping down on it. |Oh, what must Jesus feel!| she said. |Oh, what must Jesus feel!| She is only a common village girl, she has been a Christian only a year; but it touched her to the quick to see that great black blot.
I know there are those who care at home, but do all who care, care deeply enough? Do they feel as Jesus feels? And if they do, are they giving their own? They are helping to send out others, perhaps; but are they giving their own?
Oh, are they truly giving themselves? There must be more giving of ourselves if that wedge is to be widened in the disc. Some who care are young, and life is all before them, and the question that presses now is this: Where is that life to be spent? Some are too old to come, but they have those whom they might send, if only they would strip themselves for Jesus' sake.
Mothers and fathers, have you sympathy with Jesus? Are you willing to be lonely for a few brief years, that all through eternal ages He may have more over whom to rejoice, and you with Him? He may be coming very soon, and the little interval that remains, holds our last chance certainly to suffer for His sake, and possibly our last to win jewels for His crown. Oh, the unworked jewel-mines of heathendom! Oh, the joy His own are missing if they lose this one last chance!
Sometimes we think that if the need were more clearly seen, something more would be done. Means would be devised; two or three like-minded would live together, so as to save expenses, and set a child free who must otherwise stay for the sake of one of the three. Workers abroad can live together, sinking self and its likes and dislikes for the sake of the Cause that stands first. But if such an innovation is impossible at home, something else will be planned, by which more will be spared, when those who love our God love Him well enough to put His interests first. |Worthy is the Lamb to receive!| Oh, we say it, and we pray it! Do we act as if we meant it? Fathers and mothers, is He not worthy? Givers, who have given your All, have you not found Him worthy?
|Bare figures overwhelmed me,| said one, as he told how he had been led to come out; |I was fairly staggered as I read that twenty-eight thousand a day in India alone, go to their death without Christ. And I questioned, Do we believe it? Do we really believe it? What narcotic has Satan injected into our systems that this awful, woeful, tremendous fact does not startle us out of our lethargy, our frightful neglect of human souls?|
There is a river flowing through this District. It rises in the Western Ghauts, and flows for the greater part of the year a placid, shallow stream. But when the monsoon rains overflow the watersheds, it fills with a sudden, magnificent rush; you can hear it a mile away.
Out in the sandy river bed a number of high stone platforms are built, which are used by travellers as resting-places when the river is low. Some years ago a party of labourers, being belated, decided to sleep on one of these platforms; for though the rainy season was due, the river was very low. But in the night the river rose. It swept them on their hold on the stone. It whirled them down in the dark to the sea.
Suppose that, knowing, as they did not, that the rain had begun to fall on the hills, and the river was sure to fill, you had chanced to pass when those labourers were settling down for the night, would you, could you, have passed on content without an effort to tell them so? Would you, could you have gone to bed and slept in perfect tranquillity while those men and women whom you had seen were out in the river bed?
If you had, the thunder of the river would have wakened you, and for ever your very heart would have been cold with a chill chiller than river water, cold at the thought of those you dared to leave to drown!
You cannot see them, you say. You can. God has given eyes to the mind. Think, and you will see. Then listen. It is God Who speaks. |If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, 'Behold we knew it not,' doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it, and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?|
Oh, by the thought of the many who are drawn unto death, and the many that are ready to be slain, by the thought of the sorrow of Jesus Who loves them, consider these things!
But all are not called to come! We know it. We do not forget it. But is it a fact so forgotten at home that a missionary need press it? What is forgotten surely is that the field is the world.
You would not denude England! Would England be denuded? Would a single seat on the Bishop's bench, or a single parish or mission hall, be left permanently empty, if the man who fills it now moved out to the place which no one fills -- that gap on the precipice edge?
But suppose it were left empty, would it be so dreadful after all? Would there not be one true Christian left to point the way to Christ? And if the worst came to the worst, would there not still be the Bible, and ability to read? Need anyone die unsaved, unless set upon self-destruction? If only Christians in England knew how to draw supplies direct from God, if only those who cannot come would take up the responsibility of the unconverted around them, why should not a parish here and there be left empty for awhile? Surely we should not deliberately leave so very many to starve to death, because those who have the Bread of Life have a strong desire for sweets. Oh, the spiritual confectionery consumed every year in England! God open our eyes to see if we are doing what He meant, and what He means should continue! But some men are too valuable to be thrown away on the mission field; they are such successful workers, pastors, evangelists, leaders of thought. They could not possibly be spared. Think of the waste of burying brain in unproductive sand! Apparently it is so, but is it really so? Does God view it like that? Where should we have been to-day if He had thought Jesus too valuable to be thrown away upon us? Was not each hour of those thirty-three years worth more than a lifetime of ours?
What is God's definition of that golden word |success|? He looks at Roman Catholic Europe, and Roman and heathen South America, and Mohammedan and heathen Africa and Asia, and many a forgotten place in many a great land. And then He looks at us, and I wonder what He thinks. Ragland, Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, after years of brain-burying waste, wrote that He was teaching him that |of all plans for securing success the most certain is Christ's own, becoming a corn of wheat, falling into the ground and dying.| If coming abroad means that for anyone, is it too much to ask? It was what our dear Lord did.
This brings us to another plea. I find it in the verse that carves out with two strokes the whole result of two lives. |If any man's work abide. . . . If any man's work shall be burned.| The net result of one man's work is gold, silver, precious stones; the net result of another man's work is wood, hay, stubble. Which is worth the spending of a life?
An earnest worker in her special line of work is looking back at it from the place where things show truest, and she says, |God help us all! What is the good done by any such work as mine? 'If any man build upon this foundation . . . wood, hay, stubble. . . . If any man's work shall be burned he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire!' An infinitude of pains and labour, and all to disappear like the stubble and the hay.|
Success -- what is it worth?
|I was flushed with praise,
But pausing just a moment to draw breath,
I could not choose but murmur to myself,
'Is this all? All that's done? and all that's gained? If this, then, be success, 'tis dismaller
Than any failure.'|
So transparent a thing is the glamour of success to clear-seeing poet-eyes, and should it dazzle the Christian to whom nothing is of any worth but the thing that endures? Should arguments based upon comparisons between the apparent success of work at home as distinguished from work abroad influence us in any way? Is it not very solemn, this calm, clear setting forth of a truth which touches each of us? |Every man's work shall be made manifest, for the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.| And as we realise the perishableness of all work, however apparently successful, except the one work done in the one way God means, oh, does it not stir us up to seek with an intensity of purpose which will not be denied, to find out what that one work is? The same thought comes out in the verse which tells us that the very things we are to do are prepared before, and we are |created in Christ Jesus| to do them. If this is so, then will the doing of anything else seem worth while, when we look back and see life as God sees it?
It may be that the things prepared are lying close at our hand at home, but it may be they are abroad. If they are at home there will be settled peace in the doing of them there; but if they are abroad, and we will not come and do them? -- Oh, then our very prayers will fall as fall the withered leaves, when the wind that stirred them falls, yea more so, for the withered leaves have a work to do, but the prayers which are stirred up by some passing breeze of emotion do nothing, nothing for eternity. God will not hear our prayers for the heathen if He means us to be out among them instead of at home praying for them, or if He means us to give up some son or daughter, and we prefer to pray.
Lord save us from hypocrisy and sham! |Shrivel the falsehood| from us if we say we love Thee but obey Thee not! Are we staying at home, and praying for missions when Thou hast said to us |Go|? Are we holding back something of which Thou hast said, |Loose it, and let it go|? Lord, are we utterly through and through true? Lord God of truthfulness, save us from sham! Make us perfectly true!
I turn to you, brothers and sisters at home! Do you know that if God is calling you, and you refuse to obey you will hardly know how to bear what will happen afterwards? Sooner or later you will know, yea burn through every part of your being, with the knowledge that you disobeyed, and lost your chance, lost it for ever. For that is the awful part. It is rarely given to one to go back and pick up the chance he knowingly dropped. The express of one's life has shot past the points, and one cannot go back; the lines diverge.
|Some of us almost shudder now to think how nearly we stayed at home,| a missionary writes. |Do not, I beseech you, let this great matter drift. Do not walk in uncertainty. Do not be turned aside. You will be eternally the poorer if you do.|
It may be you are not clear as to what is God's will for you. You are in doubt, you are honest, but a thousand questions perplex you. Will you go to God about it, and get the answer direct?
If you are puzzled about things which a straightforward missionary can explain, will you buy a copy of Do Not Say, and read it alone with God? Let me emphasise that word |alone.| |Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.| |There was a Voice . . . when they stood and had let down their wings.|
Oh, by the thought of the Day that is coming, when the fire shall try all we are doing, and only the true shall stand, I plead for an honest facing of the question before it is too late!
But this is not our strongest plea. We could pile them up, plea upon plea, and not exhaust the number which press and urge one to write. We pass them all, and go to the place where the strongest waits: God's Glory is being given to another. This is the most solemn plea, the supreme imperative call. |Not mere pity for dead souls, but a passion for the Glory of God, is what we need to hold us through to victory.|
|I am the Lord, that is My Name, and My Glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.| But the men He made to glorify Him take His Glory from Him, give it to another; that, the sin of it, the shame, calls with a low, deep under-call through all the other calls. God's Glory is being given to another. Do we love Him enough to care? Or do we measure our private cost, if these distant souls are to be won, and, finding it considerable, cease to think or care? |Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see| -- =|They took Jesus and led Him away. And He, bearing His cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull . . . where they crucified Him.| . . . |Herein is love.| . . . |God so loved the world.| . . .= Have we petrified past feeling? Can we stand and measure now? |I know that only the Spirit, Who counted every drop that fell from the torn brow of Christ as dearer than all the jewelled gates of Paradise, can lift the Church out of her appreciation of the world, the world as it appeals to her own selfish lusts, into an appreciation of the world as it appeals to the heart of God.| O Spirit, come and lift us into this love, inspire us by this love. Let us look at the vision of the Glory of our God with eyes that have looked at His love!
We would not base a single plea on anything weaker than solid fact. Sentiment will not stand the strain of the real tug of war; but is it fact, or is it not, that Jesus counted you and me, and the other people in the world, actually worth dying for? If it is true, then do we love Him well enough to care with the whole strength of our being, that to-day, almost all over the world, His Glory is being given to another? If this does not move us, is it because we do not love Him very much, or is it that we have never prayed with honest desire, as Moses prayed, |I beseech Thee, show me Thy Glory|? He only saw a little of it. |Behold there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while My Glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by.| And the Glory of the Lord passed, and Moses was aware of something of it as it passed, but |My face shall not be seen,| And yet that little was enough to mark him out as one who lived for one purpose, shone in the light of it, burned with the fire of it -- he was jealous for the Glory of his God.
And we -- |We beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth|; and we -- we have seen |the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.|
|While My Glory passeth by I will . . . cover thee . . . My face shall not be seen.| |But we all with open face, reflecting, as in a mirror, the Glory of the Lord, are changed| -- Are we? Do we? Do we know anything at all about it? Have we ever apprehended this for which we are apprehended of Christ Jesus? Have we seen the Heavenly Vision that breaks us down, and humbles us to hear the Voice of the Lord ask, |Who will go for Us?| and strengthens us to answer, |Here am I, send me,| and holds us on to obey if we hear Him saying |=Go=|?
|I beseech Thee, show me Thy Glory!| Shall we pray it, meaning it now, to the very uttermost? The uttermost may hold hard things, but, easy or hard, there is no other way to reach the place where our lives can receive an impetus which will make them tell for eternity. The motive power is the love of Christ. Not our love for Him only, but His very love itself. It was the mighty, resistless flow of that glorious love that made the first missionary pour himself forth on the sacrifice and service. And the joy of it rings through triumphantly, |Yea, and if I be poured forth . . . I joy and rejoice with you all!|
Yes, God's Glory is our plea, highest, strongest, most impelling and enduring of all pleas. But oh, by the thought of the myriads who are passing, by the thought of the Coming of the Lord, by the infinite realities of life and death, heaven and hell, by our Saviour's cross and Passion, we plead with all those who love Him, but who have not considered these things yet, consider them now!
Let Him show us the vision of the Glory, and bring us to the very end of self, let Him touch our lips with the live coal, and set us on fire to burn for Him, yea, burn with consuming love for Him, and a purpose none can turn us from, and a passion like a pure white flame, |a passion for the Glory of God!|
Oh, may this passion consume us! burn the self out of us, burn the love into us -- for God's Glory we ask it, Amen.
|Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing . . . Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto Him.|