By D. M. PANTON, I.
Life is not in the sower
but in the seed
Do we realize the extraordinary dynamic of the printed page? Dr. Goodell, of the American Board of Missions, passing through Nicodemia in 1832, having no time to stop, left with a stranger a copy of The Dairyman's Daughter in the Armenian‑Turkish language. Seventeen years afterwards he visited Nicodemia, and found a church of more than forty members, and a Protestant community of more than two hundred. Dr. Griffith John tells of eight churches in China reared by tracts alone. Sir Bartle Frere, travelling in India, was amazed to find a small town in which the idol shrines and temples were empty. but the townsfolk professed the Christian faith, It transpired that some years earlier, one of the townsfolk had been given an old garment by an English resident, in a pocket of which, forgotten, lay a Gospel portion with eight or nine tracts in the vernacular. The Life is not in the sower, but in the seed. Even if an infidel scattered the Scriptures, he would only be exploding his own battlements.
For in scattering divine literature we liberate thistledown, laden with precious seed, which, blown by the winds of the Spirit, floats over the world. The printed page never flinches, never shows cowardice; it is never tempted to compromise; it never tires, never grows disheartened, it travels cheaply, and requires no hired hall; it works while we sleep; it never loses its temper; and it works long after we are dead. The printed page is a visitor which gets inside the home, and stays there; it always catches a man in the right moods for it speaks to him only when he is reading it; it always sticks to what it has said, and never answers back; and it is bait left permanently in the pool.
Another powerful reason for using literature is that the printed page will reach those otherwise utterly unreached, and may be the only chance they will ever have of eternal life. Someone once gave four copies of H. L. Hasting's lecture on the Inspiration of the Bible to four infidels at different times. All four were converted, and became ministers of the Gospel in four different denominations. Many decades ago, a lady gave some leaflets to two actors. One of the actors, led by this tract to attend church and so becoming converted, was Dr. George Lorimer, pastor of Tremont Temple, Boston. Through his influence, Russell H. Conwell was led into the ministry. Thus the Baptist Temple in Philadelphia, together with the work of the Tremont Temple, and the personal influence of these two notable pulpit speakers, is traceable to one little leaflet in the hands of a woman.
Nor can any limit be put to the extent of Its possible influence. Luther wrote a pamphlet on Galatians which, falling into Bunyan's hands, converted him and the 135th translation (an African) of Pilgrim's Progress has just been Issued. Mote than 150,000,000 copies of 13 Spurgeon's sermons have gone Into circulation. Nor is even its political influence measurable. A young Frenchman who had been wounded at the sedge of Saint Quentin was languishing on a pallet in the hospital when a tract that lay on the coverlet caught his eye. He read it and was converted by it. The monument of that man may be seen before the Church of the Consistory in Paris, standing with a Bible in his handC Admiral Coligny, the leader of the Re formation in France. But the tract had not yet finished its work. It was read by Coligny's nurse, a Sister of Mercy, who penitently placed it in the hands of the Lady Abbess, and she, too, was converted by it. She fled from France to the Palatinate, where she met a young Hollander and became his wife. The influence which she had upon that man re-acted upon the whole continent ut Europe, for he was William of Orange, who became the champion of liberty and Protestantism in the Netherlands.
The printed page is deathless: you can destroy one, but the Press can reproduce millions: as often as it is martyred, It is raised: the ripple started by a given tract can widen down the centuries until it bears upon the Great White Throne. Its very mutilation can be its sowing. When Leigh Richmond was once travellng by coach, passengers got out to walk and he began to give a tract to every wayfarer he met. One of his fellow travellers smiled derisively as he saw a tract treated contemptuously by the receiver, torn in two, and thrown down on the road. A puff of wind carried it over a hedge into a hayfield, where a number of haymakers were seated; and soon they were listening to the tract, read by one of their number who had found it. He was observed carefully joining together the two parts which had been torn asunder, but were held together by a thread. The reader was led to reflection and prayer, and subsequently became an earnest Christian and tract distributor himself; and of the rest, within twelve months three became active Christian workers.
Nor let us forget the enormous electric voltage prayer can put behind the tract. God= thistledown enters doors locked to the evangelist: it can be enclosed in every letter, its economy places it within the reach of all; it preaches in the factory, the railway carriage, the kitchen; it visits the hospital ward and the workhouse, and whispers in the ear of the dying. For prayerCthat is, GodC is behind it. "On every tract or copy of the Holy Scriptures which we give," says George Muller, "(1) we should as much as possible ask God's blessing. (2) We should expect God's blessing upon our labors and confidently expect it; yea, look out for His blessing. (3) We should labor on in this service, prayerfully and believingly labor on, even though for a long time we should see little or no fruit; yea, we should labor on as if everything depended on our labors, whilst, in reality, we ought not to put the least confidence in our exertions but alone in God=s ability‑and ‑willingness to bless, by His Holy Spirit, our efforts for the sake of the Lord Jesus."
The finalCand almost incredibleCincentive is that the opportunity is rapidly passing. It may soon be over for us.
The sunset burns across the sky;
Upon the air its warning cry
The curfew tolls, from tower to tower;
O children, 'tis the last, last hour!
Work that centuries might have done
Must crowd the hour of setting sun.
The Dairyman=s Daughter
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