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Carrying the Keswick Message to Other Lands
Carrying the Keswick Message to Other Lands
(A) By the Rev. F. B. Meyer, B.A.
(B) By the Rev. C. Inwood
Now the Lord our souls has fed,
With Himself, the Living Bread;
Fed us, sitting at His feet,
With the finest of the wheat.
. We have endless treasure found;
We have all things and abound ;
Rich abundance and to spare;
Shall we not the blessing share?
. For, while we are feasting here,
Starving millions, far and near,
Call us with the bitter cry:
Come and help us, or we die!
. In this day of full increase,
Shall we, can we, hold our peace?
Staying here we do not well;
Now then, let us go and tell
. Tell how He hath set us free,
How He leads triumphantly;
How He satisfies our need;
How His rest is rest indeed.
. Speak, for we, Thy servants, hear;
Thou hast taught us not to fear;
And whate er Thy word shall be,
We can do it, Lord, in Thee.
- Annie W. Marston
CARRYING THE KESWICK MESSAGE TO OTHER LANDS
IT was my happy privilege to attend the now historical meetings at Oxford in 1874, at Broadlands, and at Brighton ; and my life has never lost, and I trust will never lose, the impulse it received from those memorable gatherings, in which the soul learnt to accept Christ as the absolute Master of the yielded will, to abide in Him as the Keeper and Sanctifier. You can never repeat the exquisite beauty of the morning, the dew on the grass, the fragrance of the flowers, the song of the bird, but the light of the dawn grows continually to the perfect day.
The results of that great movement were much wider than most people realise. When Mrs. Booth was dying, she remarked that it had been one of the principal means of establishing the Salvation Army; because of the completed consecration and full faith into which many rich and influential people were brought. On the continent the results were very wide-spreading. Indeed, a German theological professor is said to have affirmed that Sanctification by Faith had become largely accepted as a doctrine of their foremost theologians. Throughout the world the Oxford-Brighton meetings gave a great impulse to missionary enterprise. This awakened interest made it as imperative as it was congenial to carry afield to other lands the blessed tidings of full salvation through the risen Lord.
By Divine guiding I was led to be among the first, if not the first, to carry the message of Keswick to the United States. Mr. Moody, when still comparatively unknown in Great Britain, had held his earliest mission in 1872, at my church in York. We had come to know one another intimately how could it be otherwise when he, Mr. Sankey, and I had waited together in my little vestry for hours of intercessory prayer for his great campaign? When, therefore, with the proceeds of the hymn-book and the help of friends, he began to erect that remarkable block of buildings at Northfield, and when the idea of the now famous Conferences came to his mind and heart, he bethought himself of me, and asked me to come over and help him; and there, in that sweet new England village, I unfolded the blessed message of deliverance from the power of known sin.
Before that time there had been a large amount of uneasiness among earnest Christians about any teaching that savoured of sinless perfection. I remember being cautioned, before my first visit to the States, not to use the word Holiness, if I desired to commend myself to the Christian Church, as the word stood for those who, whilst professing high doctrine, fell notoriously beneath it in their practice. Several rather terrible cases had occurred which gave urgency and point to that nervous dread of anything, which savoured of salvation from sin as distinguished from salvation from punishment. I cannot forget the antagonism on the one hand of the Perfectionists of the old school and the welcome by believers on the other, as I showed that it was possible to be kept from known sin; that, in the best and holiest, there must, by reason of their ignorance, be many things in which they came short of the glory of God, and therefore needed the daily cleansing of John xiii., yet, as they continued in abiding fellowship, they were delivered from the fear of known sin, and walked with Him in Holiness and Righteousness all the days of their life.
In all this, Dr. Gordon, of Boston, one of the most child-like and massive men that I have ever known, was my faithful friend and ally. He had drunk deeply into the literature of our movement, and was a most able exponent of its secrets. We had long and profound talks on these themes, and it was delightful to have access to the treasures of his richly-furnished intellect. Thus the system of truth, for which Keswick stands, became introduced to an ever-widening circle of ministers and others, who not only received it for themselves, but became its exponents to their congregations. Year after year I have returned to visit the greater centres of population, on tours arranged by Mr. Moody, and, since his death, by his son.
Two of the most memorable of these meetings occur to me as I write, the one of a great crowd of ministers gathered in a large auditorium one Monday morning, when the Spirit of God descended upon us, whilst I was speaking of the Power and Anointing of the Holy Ghost. The other was in a glade of an old Indian forest in the Far West, where 150 Presbyterian ministers, after satisfying themselves as to the orthodoxy of our main position, yielded themselves for God to work through them as He willed. But I must forbear, or I could fill these pages with accounts of wonderful scenes which I have witnessed, among other places, in Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, and New York. The point in each case being that into a yielded life there comes not only the keeping power of the exalted Saviour, but the mighty energy of the Holy Spirit, who works in us and through us for the glory of Christ and the salvation of men.
It was also my happy lot to be invited by my beloved friend, Fraulein von Welling, to be the first Englishman to visit the Blankenburg Convention, held in a lovely village among the pine-covered hills of Thuringia, Germany. Those who crowd the beautiful new hall on the slope of the hill can hardly imagine the simplicity of the early beginnings, when the meetings were held in the school-house, just beneath the level of the Terrace. The dear lady herself was my interpreter, and it was a perfect luxury to address the pious German folk through her lips; indeed, with her beside me, translation rather added to the force of the message, for in the mouth of two witnesses every word was established. These addresses were subsequently published and widely circulated, carrying far and wide the message of Full Salvation, and led afterwards to my holding a series of Conferences in German cities, culminating in some glorious meetings in Berlin, arranged by our friend Count Bernstorff, now with God.
In many of these I have had the fellowship of my beloved friend, Pastor Stockmayer, who was one of the German Pastors at the early meetings in England. Few can speak more forcibly about that crucifixion with Christ, which is the very heart and essence of our teaching; and it seems to me that of all men living, he most perfectly exemplifies the strength and nobility of a life hidden with Christ in God.
* * *
One of the most memorable expeditions of my life was to Jamaica, at the invitation of the leaders of the Holiness Convention, held annually in that Island. Shall I ever forget those meetings? My wife, grandson, and I were welcomed on arrival by the Archbishop to his palace. With such a greeting from such a man the way was opened to the Rev. H. B. Macartney and myself through the whole island, and godly clergymen allowed us both to speak in their churches. Mr. Macartney was able to ascend the pulpits, but I spoke from the lecterns, and everything was done to assure us of the welcome of all branches of the one church. The outstanding feature of that Mission was the remarkable series of men s meetings, which I addressed in each place. Crowds came to them from all parts, and were profoundly impressed, because they were not merely reminded of the shame and selfishness of immorality, but were shown the true method of salvation from the love and power of sin through faith in Christ.
There are no occasions when the teaching associated with Keswick is so opportune and welcome as those where large meetings of men are swept by a storm of remorse, and revived by the tidings that in the Risen Saviour there is not only forgiveness but power unto salvation. Let me not forget the Convention at Mandeville, i.e., in the Episcopal Church there one of the sweetest of my experience. They say that the fragrance lingers still.
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Through the northern countries of Europe, Denmark, Russia, Norway, and Sweden, I have been also honoured to carry the same good tidings of great joy. In Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, and Christiania, and Helsingfors, to say nothing of smaller towns, I have seen marvellous effects accrue. For instance, one Sunday morning, as I was preaching in a crowded church, in a country district in Norway, I felt that my translator was making but a poor reproduction of the message, and threw my whole weight on the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, when suddenly there was poured out on the people such a spirit of uncontrollable emotion that I could not proceed, and had to conclude by a season of silent prayer, in which I quoted Scripture passages on the Forgiving Grace and Sanctifying Power of God. It was on one of these visits that I was honoured by an interview with her Majesty the Queen of Sweden, who is a devout student of the books which are current among the attendants at our Conventions.
* * *
At the invitation of the Student Volunteers I spent several months in India travelling from Bombay, through the Punjab, Benares, Cawnpore, Lucknow, and Calcutta to Burmah, thence through Madras and Tinnevelly to Ceylon. The leading feature in that journey was the welcome given to this teaching by the more educated native Christians. Apparently very few of them had heard, at that time at least, of the subjective aspects of Christianity, and they were amazed when they heard of the reckoning ourselves dead unto sin. They used to compare this with the teachings of Hinduism, which insist on, I think, seven different aspects of death to sin; but the fatal lack of their system, as I repeatedly pointed out to them, was in the absence of power. They needed to recognise the Power of the Holy Spirit.
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Thus I have tried this teaching under different skies, and to different types of men. I have never found the word of the Cross fail; and in the eagerness with which it has been received, I have received fresh proof that in the subject-matter of this teaching we are using the wisdom and the power of God.
F. B. MEYER.
FIFTEEN years ago I was returning from England. In the train God drew near and flung over my soul a spell which isolated me as completely as if there were no other person near. Waves of grace broke over me and thrilled me with holy joy. Then came a stillness in which a secret was whispered in my ear. It was that God meant me to proclaim full salvation to the ends of the earth. It was all so clear and calm and real that doubt was impossible. From a human point of view nothing was less likely. I had never been to Keswick, but I knew that He who called would open the door at the right time and in the right way. What was prophecy then is history now.
Eight months later I was asked to visit Canada in company with the Revs. Hubert Brooke and G. H. C. Macgregor. We reached New York in April, and went to Northfield to see Mr. Moody, and at his request addressed the students at Northfield and Mount Hermon. Our first Convention was at Montreal, where much misconception prevailed as to our status and teaching. The first report in the daily papers was headed "Keswick Brethren," and many thought this was a new sect or branch of the Plymouth Brethren. From the first we had large congregations, two of our most sympathetic auditors being Bishop Bond, late Metropolitan of Canada, and blind Dr. Douglas, the most distinguished preacher in the Dominion. Day by day the interest and power grew: hunger for this deeper life was discovered every where, and on the last day many received the Fulness of the Spirit. In Hamilton we had a hard fight. We were quite ignorant of local conditions, but He who knew sent a burning message to the opening meeting. It aroused fierce antagonism but we learned afterwards that God had used it to free the very men who most resented it at first. The Toronto Convention was held in the Y.M.C.A. Hall which seats 2,000 and was crowded each night. The illness of Mr. Brooke was a trial to Macgregor and my self, for we were leaning upon the experience and teaching gift of our colleague, but we cast ourselves upon God who met all our need. The vast congregations were swept by the Spirit into a new zone of life. From this we went to Chicago Bible Institute. Our work was chiefly amongst the students, and they were very responsive. Mr. Alexander, Dr. Torrey’s colleague, was then a student there, and told me recently of the great help he received. I have met other students in foreign lands who spoke of the spiritual uplift received then.
ANOTHER CALL from God came four years later in the quiet of my study in Belfast. There were many difficulties, and my action was much misunderstood, but the call was clear and at all costs to be obeyed. Three years leave of absence was granted. I revisited Canada with Revs. John Sloan and F. S. Webster. Conventions were held in the chief centres and with much blessing: we reaped most where seed had been sown four years before. After my colleagues left I visited other centres in Canada, and then joined Dr. Pierson at Boston and Brooklyn. One incident may be recalled. A letter affecting my plans was overdue, so I went to Ottawa to await its arrival. There I met Moody who was holding a mission. He recognised me in the service and said : "What are you doing here? " I told him, and he said "God has sent that letter astray." After his address he said he must leave next day, and that I would carry on the mission. Protest was useless, so I went forward, and the grace which rested upon us proved that this ordering was of God.
I began to preach through interpretation in Stockholm. How strange that first attempt seemed, the short sentence, the pause, the strange voice and stranger words, the rapid mental action, the seeming folly of hoping to impart connected teaching under such conditions. But life is a continual reversal of preconceived ideas and that method which seemed so useless has been attended by the mightiest displays of the Spirit s power I have known. Oh how the spirit brooded over those gatherings! The hunger created was intense, the stillness at times was almost more than one could bear. Before me as I write are portraits of Prince and Princess Bernadotte with a text and a date which recall one night when they and many more claimed the promised gift. Nor were the meetings in Germany less fruitful.
At the request of the Keswick Council I agreed to visit China in 1898. No other year was so full of needs and tests, and none other was so transfigured with grace. The word "China" wears an aureole of glory ever since. Crossing the Pacific my wife was seized with alarming illness, and one night appeared to be dying. A little before midnight I went up on deck for prayer. The night was dark and the sound of the waves lent an added loneliness to the situation. I told God that I did not believe He had brought us there to slay my loved one. The logic of Manoah’s wife took hold of me, and became mine." If the Lord were pleased to kill us He would not have accepted our burnt offering." Thencame the assurance that she would not die, and from that hour she began to recover.
My first work was in North China. During the service in the native Church in Tungchou the impression was borne in upon me that some of the Christians present would have to lay down their lives for the Lord and I told them so, and dwelt much on the power by which they could glorify God as martyrs. A solemn awe fell upon us. The scene passed from my memory till June, 1900. One morning my paper contained the news of the massacre of the Christians at Tungchou and like a flash of lightning that service came back to me with its message and its awe. In Pekin, meetings for native Christians were held each afternoon, and each night a quiet hour for the missionaries. The afternoon meetings began in the London Mission Church, but the large numbers compelled us to move to the Methodist Episcopal Church which seated 1,600 where a real work of grace was wrought in many hearts. A united Communion service was held on Saturday, and for the first time in Pekin 1,100 native Christians sat down at the Lord s table, and He whom they loved drew very near to all. None of us then knew that many of them would prove the reality of their love by laying down their lives for Him.
Our second tour was to the extreme west of China, 1,600 miles up the Yangtse. En route we held meetings at Hankou where we met the veteran Griffith John. The native Christians showed intense interest and came long distances to the meetings. Each Church was crowded, and the spirit in which the Word was received touched us deeply. In a meeting of native pastors and workers the Spirit wrought mightily, and the prayers which followed trembled with broken-hearted confession and longing for holier service. The Ichang steamer leaves Hankou every ten days. When we applied for tickets we learned that Lord Charles Beresford had chartered the steamer for himself and suite. We were bound for the Conference in Chungking and could not reach in time by a later steamer, so we had special prayer. The steamer was to leave on Monday afternoon. That morning a note came to say that Lord Charles had changed his plan and would not go farther west and that the cabins were at our disposal. The steamer had been painted and decorated and beautifully polished for him, but, as my wife told the Captain, the Lord meant it for us. From Ichang we travelled in a Chinese junk in company with Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Taylor. The distance is only four hundred miles, but we were five weeks on the way. We passed through gorges, where the mountains rise sheer up from the river 1,000 feet, then through rapids where more than once our boat was in great peril. Upwards of seventy missionaries met in Chungking including Bishop Cassels. The Yu Mantze rebellion was raging. Fleming, the first missionary to the Miao had just been murdered. Thirty missionaries were absent through the disturbed condition of the West. One who came was attacked on his way home and narrowly escaped death. We often heard the ominous cry: " Kill the foreigner." But in the conference there was no bitterness, no fear, nothing but faith, hope, and love, and a resolute purpose to do and dare that the heathen might know the Saviour. "Great grace rested on us." Then two months were given to South China. Here we found the same desire to know the truth. A native pastor in Swatow took copious notes of the addresses, and issued them in a booklet which was widely circulated. In Foochow we had a daily attendance of 1,000 Chinese, including the teachers and students from a heathen college. These meetings were swept with the tides of the spirit. The native Christians accompanied us to the boat, and as we sailed, sang in Chinese, " God be with you till we meet again." The closing Mission was in Shanghai. The largest native Churches were crowded, and many were wondrously blessed. At the last English service the veteran, Dr.Muirhead arose, and with tears streaming down his face thanked God for what he had seen. He said he had wronged the native Christians in supposing they were not ready for these deeper truths.
In November of the same year I sailed to India, My itinerary formed a triangle with Bombay and Calcutta as its base and Amritsar as its apex. In three months, Missions were held in thirteeen centres. The conditions of life in India differ widely from China. The climate, the centuries of oppression, the system of caste and the heathen religions have robbed the natives of that imperial strength of character which marks the Chinese. Then the missionary belongs to the governing race, and is looked upon as a representative of the ruling power. All this helps to make India the hardest mission field in the world. I did not find as keen hunger here. There were hungry souls in every place. There were hungry congregations in some places and "there the Lord commanded the blessing." It was also a joy to help the over worked missionaries who are toiling under such onerous conditions. These conditions weigh heavily upon them and strengthen their claim upon our prayers.
A few weeks were given to Egypt on my way home. I saw in Assiout a Missionary College with seven hundred students, and a native church capable of holding 1,500 persons. I can hardly say which moved me most the eager students with all that their future might mean much for the regeneration of Egypt and the Sudan, or the eager crowds of native Christians who gathered day by day to hear of their inheritance of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. H. B. Macartney and I went in 1904 to what is rightly called the "Neglected Continent." Nominally Christian, its degradation equals that of any heathen land. Much of our work lay amongst the English speaking churches, but in each place some meetings were held for the native Christians. Outside the missionaries few Europeans were eager for personal holiness. The pursuit of pleasure and gain is so keen that all higher things are persistently pushed aside. This was not true of the native Churches. Here we found real appreciation, and a devout receptiveness to the truth.
My colleagues were Revs. Harrington Lees and E. L. Hamilton and J. S. Holden, whose health broke down, and compelled him to return home. We did not touch native work, nor much that was exclusively Dutch. Life in South Africa is very strenuous. Racial prejudice is strong, economic conditions are perplexing, the late war has left much human wreckage, and spiritual religion has to struggle for existence in many Churches. But the truth we preached found an entrance into many hearts, and today there are men and women following transfigured ideals as the result of the Spirit’s work in our midst. From many we heard this testimony: "The thirst of years has been satisfied at last."
The Keswick message both in spirit and form appeals to the devout in all churches and all lands. That message, uttered in love, and the sympathy which love creates, is the supreme need everywhere, and in every land the best hail it. Race, language, backward civilisations are no barriers to the Spirit. May God send a world-wide Pentecost.