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Abiding Results of Keswick
Abiding Results of Keswick
by the Rev. C G. Moore
The Message of the Keswick Convention and others, that Salvation in its fulness means Service as the outcome, and the teaching that a definite step must be taken, a simple and momentary trust exercised, and that He is able to keep, and to enable for whatever He calls us to, has been a blessing to thousands.- F. L. Tottenham, Capt.
The Keswick Convention reminds one of Gideon’s army of 32,000 men, who, feeling strongly the oppression of the enemy and the desire for deliverance, responded gladly to the leader’s appeal. Yet two out of every three went back at the first opportunity. The look backward was a more longing one than the forward look. Many of those who come to Keswick are not willing to go on with God. They are willing to face sin; to see their need but not willing to die to sin and to crucify self. Others go further, as did Gideon’s remaining 10,000. But they follow nature more than grace; they seek comfort more than Christ. And these also miss the joy of victory, perhaps only for a time. The remnant, led by the Holy Spirit, go on to victory. Their light shines out of a broken self; their witness is for their God and Saviour, and with joy they conquer as they stand.- F. W. Ainley,
Some of the Results of Keswick
THE results of Keswick and its teaching, as I have known them, arrange themselves into four groups, viz., those (i) in my own personal Christian experience ; (2) in the speakers at the Conventions ; (3) in the hearers at the Conventions ; and (4) in the Church of God at large.
FIRST. I would briefly speak, with deep gratitude to God, of what I owe personally to Convention teaching. It was my great privilege to attend the " Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness" held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874, which is generally regarded as the beginning of the movement. I was at that time a very young minister in my first charge. My dear father, the late Rev. John Moore, was an intimate friend of President Finney, and my early Christian life had been powerfully influenced by the teaching of the great American preacher. What deep and searching conviction I passed through! How relentlessly the whole claim of Christ was pressed upon my conscience! To those experiences, terrible at the time, I am sure I owe some of the most precious elements of my spiritual life. I cannot remember that my theological training and environment had any special influence upon me. It was my joy to spend myself in Christ’s service, and His blessing was not withheld from my ministry; but how much was lacking!
In the early summer of 1874 the late Mr. Pearsall Smith about whom I then knew almost nothing but that he was an American gentleman was holding some meetings for students at Cambridge. As I was not far away, I determined to go to Cambridge and call upon him, in the hope of getting the most recent news of Mr. Finney. How well I remember him coming into the room where I awaited him ! He was suffering from a prostrating headache which must have made effort of any sort a torture to him. Yet how kind, how gracious, how courteous he was! I knew nothing about his teaching, and I felt no particular interest in his work; and of these facts he soon became aware. So after giving me the information I sought about Mr. Finney, he did not attempt to prolong the interview. But as I was leaving he put into my hand a copy of Mrs. Smith s book, "Frank: The Record of a Happy Life." It would be impossible to report the revolution in my religious thought and life effected by that book. No book I have ever read since has had anything like the same effect. I suspect that to-day I should find nothing in it of special import; but then it spoke with the voice of God to my inmost condition. Moreover, it prepared me to go to the Oxford Meeting a few months later.
Now, in this first contact with Keswick teaching, what was imparted to me? I will mention only three things: (a) A clearer understanding of the New Testament emphasis on faith as the means and instrument of that fellowship with Christ which is the root of Christian living, (b) A new spirit and atmosphere for Christian life. I had never been in meetings where the Holy Spirit had such power and liberty, and where His choice fruits of love, joy, peace, meekness, gentleness were so plentiful, (c) A vision of Christ in close, interested, loving, helpful contact with the whole life of His disciple. The distinction between the religious and the common in Christian living vanished, and has never reappeared.
I returned home from Oxford somewhat dazed by the new glory that had burst upon my view, but exceeding joyful, and fully purposed in God’s strength to persevere in my poor attempts to live my life by the faith of the Son of God. From that hour to this He has been my faithful, ever-present Lord, Saviour and Friend. Of course I began at once to pass on to my people the good things I had learned, and the fruits of that ministry abide to this day.
SECOND. Let us glance at the results of this movement in those who have been the speakers at the Conventions. To these results, we venture to think, the greatest importance attaches. If the speakers have influenced the Conventions, the Conventions have powerfully reacted upon the speakers.
First of all, in this work we have found some of the truest and richest Christian fellowship we have ever known. What holy, happy heart intercourse lives behind a Convention! How many hours filled with heaven’s own joy can we recall! And as each speaker returns to his own special sphere, in his character, his temper, his joy, his influence, he becomes a power for lifting other lives on to the level where he himself has been so enriched.
Again, the Conventions have tended to confirm the speakers in balanced and Scriptural views of the truth. A man who rarely hears any voice but his own is in great peril, for fellowship is the law of both truth and safety. But at the Conventions the year through it is a speaker’s privilege to listen again and again to his brethren each presenting the truth in their own special way. Within the recognised limits there are remarkable differences amongst the speakers in their conception and presentation of truth; and their individuality, it need scarcely be added, has complete liberty of expression. The consequence is that a speaker constantly listening to his brethren finds his thinking checked and supplemented in a way which powerfully tends to give balance and breadth to his own views. He also learns profoundly to appreciate the diversity of the gifts of the one Spirit. He many times sees, and rejoices to see, quite another line of things than his own made effective in the hearts of the hearers. The present writer has had the privilege of listening to hundreds of addresses from fellow speakers, and very few of these have failed in some way to enrich and bless him. Moreover he has learned to listen to an address which brings no message or benefit to himself, and yet to expect to find that it is the very voice of God to some other soul. What an education is found in all this! And just here we get some understanding of how God in His great mercy has preserved Keswick from the extravagances, the eccentricities, and the catastrophies which have so often developed in connection with "holiness teaching." "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal " ; and none can say to another, " I have no need of thee." Such fellowship as Keswick fosters is God’s provision for both sanity and safety.
We now come to our THIRD head the results of the Conventions in the hearers who attend them. And the first thing to be said is this, that more conversions take place in the meetings than many people imagine. We have known of extraordinary cases ; and our own feeling is that there are many men and women who are more likely to turn to God in a Convention than in any other place on earth. It was our privilege to be associated with our dear friend the late J. Hudson Taylor, as the first Keswick deputation to the Blankenburg Conference in Germany. We took it for granted, in view of the special character of that Convention, that all who attended were Christians, and all the addresses we gave were for believers. But we were told afterwards that a number of unconverted persons had been present, and that every one of these had yielded to Christ! The gracious influence of the Spirit, the heavenly atmosphere, the joy and peace manifest in those assembled, all tend to create a powerful motive in any heart at all open towards God.
The next point is this, that the Conventions have given multitudes an example and an experience of Christian unity which have been most potent for good. Denominational and sectional matters are for the time being dismissed, and the great central themes dear to all spiritual believers are alone in view. Yet we have never once heard of a person being unsettled in their ecclesiastical relations through attending a Convention. As a rule, the larger fellowship invigorates and inspires, and sends a worker back to his own post to be more efficient in his own special duties and loyalties. We may be mistaken, but we have long been of the conviction that in our Conventions there is a realization of "All one in Christ Jesus" as personal experience such as is to be gained almost nowhere else. Then, who shall estimate the happy issues of the Christian friendships between members of different churches formed and fostered year by year at Keswick, and in a lesser degree at other Conventions ? "The fellowship of the Holy Ghost" - the Holy Spirit ever works towards fellowship ; and in our Conventions does He not find some of His choicest opportunities? As a matter of fact there is today a reality and largeness of sympathy amongst spiritual Christians of all nations and churches of extraordinary value and significance; and that this is a result due in measure to God s blessing upon the Keswick movement there is ample evidence.
But to pass on. The Conventions have benefited very many by showing them how to use the Bible for spiritual purposes. Keswick does honour the Word of God, and in that fact is found a chief secret of its influence. It is almost impossible to imagine a speaker standing up without a Bible in his hand. To many hearers this unceasing appeal to the Scriptures is a new experience: and the effect upon both their life and service is most momentous. We have a friend who is one of the most powerful preachers of the Word of God to the multitude in all Britain; and he gladly confesses that it was at Keswick especially from the ministry of Mr. Hubert Brooke that he learned how to use his Bible. That the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God one can scarcely fail to realize experimentally in any Convention. The one weapon relied upon is the Word spoken in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Not, happily, that there are not many present who in their own church or chapel are familiar with the might and ministry of the quickened Word; but there are always those who, alas! are not. The supreme glory of the Scriptures is just this, that they are the means and instrument, through the Spirit, of a present, conscious, intelligent fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, which is the essence of the eternal life; and the Conventions render a vast service by their special revelation of this fact.
Last of all, we come to the results wrought by the teaching imparted to those who attend the Conventions. The actual truth is that God has at a thousand points met and blessed His people through the teaching. In many cases the great truths concerning the offices of the Holy Spirit, the all-sufficiency of Christ, and the function of faith in the Christian life, have brought about a great and critical new departure, which has had momentous consequences. Take an illustration. There recently died a gentleman it was our privilege to know who was one of the most honoured and beloved laymen in the great denomination to which he belonged. Up till nearly sixty years of age he lived a Christian life which had no unusual influence or ministry. Then he went to a Keswick Convention, and God met him there in a way which verily transformed him. He had a lovely home, equipped with all that could minister lawful pleasure. One day, after the great change, having taken us through the grounds and the billiard room, and so on, in speech
utterly sincere and happy, he assured us that it was all nothing to him now, and that God had given him far sweeter joys. He was deeply interested in mission work amongst the masses of our large towns. To this he liberally devoted his strength and his wealth; and his example and influence right on through the years to the end were a benediction to the whole of the great church to which he belonged. Yes, in God s mercy, attendance at a convention has been the gateway for very many into a life filled with the presence and power of God.
But life is more than its great crises, and Divine grace and light are as necessary for the long, patient journey as at the dividing of the ways. It is impossible to give any adequate idea of the manner in which God s help has come to His people in all phases and vicissitudes of need through the ministry of Keswick. Much intercourse with individuals, and a large correspondence enable us to speak here with assurance. To put it briefly, Keswick and its teaching have been permitted a very real share in the work of building up the New Testament Christianity of our time.
FOURTH. A few words only about the results of the Convention movement in the Church of God generally.
Keswick stands for absolute loyalty to the Bible as the Word of God, for the great experiences of spiritual religion, for large fellowship amongst all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and for unreserved devotion to the Kingdom of God. Naturally, it has found sympathetic friends in all lands and churches; and these, in their turn, have extended its influence, and propagated its teaching. Without any design or intention on the part of its leaders, but in the providence and favour of God, Keswick has become a factor in the life of the universal Church. By its literature and its deputations, as well as through those who have come directly under its influence, it is permitted a world-wide ministry. God grant that the movement may be kept so lowly, so sincere, so dependent, so trustful, so loyal that it may continue to be made to multitudes a channel of living water!
C, G, MOORE