Middletown, N. Y., Jan. 19, 1899.
Dear Brethren: – For some time I have been trying to write a few lines for the Signs, but have not been able to take up my pen to do so until now. I realize my inability to write such as would be of comfort or instruction to the Lord’s dear people. Yet I have been requested to write by many of my brethren and friends, and to comply with their wish, and also to speak of a few thoughts which seem to be in my mind, I will make the attempt, looking to him who is able to support the weak. It has been some time since I wrote directly for the Signs. It is filled with such good matter, I have not felt able to add to its columns. When I had accepted the call to serve the church here, and at New Vernon, many of my brethren and friends, of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, requested that I write of my welfare, as they were interested in me. We were warmly received when we arrived here, and since our coming everything has been done that we could wish, for our comfort and happiness. The churches are in a prosperous condition; the Lord adding to them such as shall be saved. Since the death of their former pastor, our dear and fondly remembered brother, Elder Benton Jenkins, there has been eleven added to the two churches, Elder Chick having baptized three, Elder Francis two, Elder Vail one, and it has been my privilege to baptize five. Yet there is room, and several among us, who have been brought from darkness to light, and we hope before long the Lord will give them strength to come, and boldly confess him, and ask for a place which the Lord prepared for them in his kingdom. In the eleven additions, the Elders spoken of, and also myself, are given to feel the fullness of the words of Jesus, when he said to his disciples, “And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.” – John iv. 37, 38. We indeed feel that he who finished his course, and crossed the Jordan, faithfully labored here, and these eleven, and many others, were brought out under his ministry. May I fill my place here, and everywhere, as faithfully as did he. Only in the Spirit and power of God, can I do this. May his blessing rest upon the weak.
In my mind is a few thoughts upon the subject of charity. Paul said, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” Jesus taught humility. We are told to esteem others better than ourself. There was a time when the Pharisees took to Jesus a poor woman, who was a great sinner, and accused her to him. She did not make any claim, when accused by them. She did not so much as open her mouth, when brought to him and accused, that we have any record of. Those who accused her did not realize their own sin, and said to Jesus, Moses said such should he stoned, but what sayest thou! The Savior knowing their condition, their evil heart, their wicked acts, said to then), “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” They being “Convicted by their own conscience, went out, one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst.” The Pharisees were given to know that it was not their right to accuse or condemn. Did the Savior condemn her? No, but he said, “Go and sin no more.” How merciful he came not to condemn, but to save and justify the sinner, and as the poor woman, we each stand “alone” before Jesus, to answer for our own sin, and not the sin of another. O that we could have charity, and bear with one another. But we often find the spirit of the Pharisees in us; not looking at our own sinful heart, our own short-comings, our failings, our weakness, not seeing in ourself every fault that our brother has. We are all alike, and what have we to boast except in Jesus, our Savior! When we complain of a brother or a sister, is it not a pharisaical spirit? Should not we, who hope we have the Spirit of Christ, manifest that spirit by charity toward each other, and forgive rather than condemn! Sometimes some one will speak favorably of a brother to us, and often we answer, Yes, he is a good brother, but, so and so. Before answering in this manner, should not we examine our own heart, and see if we have not every “so and so,” which we condemn or brother for having! We would speak very differently, sometimes, if we would think before we speak. I have thought that this is sometimes jealousy. We all like to be well spoken of ourselves, but when others are spoken well of it does not suit us so well. We often say hard and unnecessary things of gospel ministers. If we, who speak such things, could know the trials, sufferings, afflictions and sorrows, of the poor servants who go bowed down all their lives, surely we would never say anything, or do anything, to wound their feelings. Sometimes some one will say to us, Such an Elder is a good preacher. We answer, Yes, but he only preaches experience, and it matters not what text he takes. This gives the idea that he preaches the same sermon at all times. Or we will say, He is no preacher to me. Is this the Spirit of Christ, or charity? The preacher is not to be blamed, the church which ordained him is responsible, they being the judge of his gift. If one of God’s sheep or lambs have ever been fed by him, he is a preacher, and who are we to find fault with the work of God? It has pleased the Lord to give different gifts. Some ministers are expounders of the Word; this gift does not suit every one, but because we cannot enjoy such preaching, is it our right to decide the matter! Some enjoy such preaching; they are prepared to receive it, and the gift is given for them. The pathway of a gospel minister is not so pleasant as many suppose; he has to have many trials and sufferings, to prepare him to comfort the people of God. There is a duty duo every servant of God, from his brethren, this is to stand by him, hold up his hands, and thus encourage him; giving him to feel that he is not only respected, but esteemed for the work’s sake.
Jesus said, “Love one another.” Evil speaking, backbiting, devouring each other, accusing, fault-finding and so on, does not proceed from that fountain. This is not charity. If we do not manifest our love one toward another, how are all men to know we are his disciples! He said, By this love, one to another, all should know we are his disciples. (John xiii. 35.) When tempted to say aught against our brother or sister, let us consider ourself, and may we have grace to bridle our tongue, and our religion not be vain. May we ever forgive others, as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us. Let us as children of God manifest the fruits of charity.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thiuketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.” – 1 Cor. xiii. 4-8.
Yours in hope of life eternal,
H. C. KER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 67, No. 3.
FEBRUARY 1, 1899.