We find no difficulty in distinguishing between the works of God and the works of man. God's works are absolutely perfect; man's are only relatively so. The most perfect needle may be perfect for the work to which it is adapted; but make it a microscopic object, and the smooth hole appears ragged, and the needle becomes a honeycombed poker. Take, on the contrary, a hair from the leg of a fly, or the dust from a butterfly's wing. Magnify these, and they are seen to be absolutely perfect. Now, there is no more difficulty in recognizing the Word of God from the word of man than there is in recognizing the work of God from the work of man. You need the minute examination and the anointed eye that can perceive its beauties-which don't lie on the surface. In this way God's Word contains the best evidence of its own inspiration. It could not have been forged or manufactured.
"Spiritual laws are not less definite and certain than natural laws: and an experience of many years in God's work has more and more convinced me that cause and effect are as certain in spiritual things as in natural things."
The subject of Consecration has been suggested to me, and though as a missionary the work I have been so long engaged in, and the field in which I am so deeply interested, are most prominent in my own mind, I feel the appropriateness of speaking on Consecration, because apart from it there may be much work done with comparatively little result. Spiritual laws are not less definite and certain than natural laws: and an experience of many years in God's work has more and more convinced me that cause and effect are as certain in spiritual things as in natural things. A given number of atoms, say of sulphuric acid, combined with a given number of atoms, say of carbonate of soda, will produce a definite number of atoms of sulphate of soda. In like manner a given amount of spiritual power operating according to spiritual laws will always produce like and definite results. There is no change since Apostolic times in this respect. Spiritual cause and effect operate exactly now as they did then, for God is unchanging. These spiritual laws may be discovered by the prayerful study of the Word of God, in dependence on His Spirit as a true interpreter. And here I would urge on my young friends the importance of Bible study. We all desire to be truly prosperous men. God desires that we should prosper-not in some of our undertakings merely, but in them all. In the first two verses of the first Psalm we have the path that leads to unerring prosperity: “Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” While the first verse points out the negative side -the avoiding of the evils that would hinder-the second verse gives us the all-important positive side: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” It is very easy to ascertain in what a man takes delight. Those who are fond of athletics will be talking about them when not engaged in them. Those who are fond of science have their hearts full of it, and are always glad to speak of their favorite pursuit as well as to engage in it. Do our friends discover that our delight, our hope, is in the law of the Lord? If they do, we shall not fail of prosperity. In pursuits, literary or commercial, in the home life, in things great and small, we shall prosper in whatsoever we set our hand to, if we carry out this great law of God.
"It is very easy to ascertain in what a man takes delight. Those who are fond of athletics will be talking about them when not engaged in them. Those who are fond of science have their hearts full of it, and are always glad to speak of their favorite pursuit as well as to engage in it. Do our friends discover that our delight, our hope, is in the law of the Lord? If they do, we shall not fail of prosperity."
Introducing the Love Offerings of Numbers 6 and 7.
I propose this morning to draw your attention to the two chapters of Numbers, 6 and 7, and to their connection with each other. First, allow me to make a remark upon the 7th chapter. It is the longest chapter in the Bible. For a long time it was one of the most uninteresting to me, because it was so full of repetitions. One used to think all that was important in that chapter might have been condensed in a very few verses. No doubt the condensation might have been very easily made, but at the expense of condensing out of the chapter that which is its peculiar revelation; the delight of God as a Father in the loving offerings of His willing people. The twelve princes brought their offerings for dedication to the altar, and presented them before the tabernacle. They expected that the whole thing would be over-and it might have been over-in a few minutes. But God would not have it so. He designed to spread it over twelve days; and in the record He has given us in this wonderful Bible, He has given the longest chapter to record the offerings of each prince on each day. As many words are used to describe the offerings of the last of the princes as of the first. And we are reminded of what we sometimes see at the marriage of distinguished personages, where the wedding presents are spread out in the most effective way so that all the friends of the bride and bridegroom may see and rejoice in the love-gifts they have received on this occasion. The fact that several friends have presented a similar article is no reason why it shouldn't be well displayed. Thus we see in the chapter in question the delight and satisfaction of God in the offerings of His people, and especially in the offerer who had the heart to give the gift. For the description of each prince's offering is commenced with his name and pedigree, and after the gift objects have been named, we have again, “This is the offering of so-and-so, prince of such a tribe.” Nor was all this detail sufficient to satisfy the heart of our Father. Toward the close of this long chapter we get the sum total of all the offerings brought out; and the total amount of the gold and the silver, and the total number of the sacrifices for burnt-offerings, and sin-offerings, and peace-offerings, are given us, as well as each detail which the earlier part of the chapter records.
Now, all this is very instructive; and the record here carries us forward to a coming day in which God will bring to light every little hidden service of His children, and will let assembled worlds see the delight He has had in that which has met no eye, but which has gladdened the heart of our Father in Heaven. For He is a Father indeed; and it is delightful to realize that all that fatherhood ever has been or has produced-all that motherhood has ever brought to our notice-all indeed that is noble and pure and tender and true, is but an outcome of the great, loving heart of our Heavenly Father. There is more light in the glorious sun than in any of the thousands of reflections in the little dewdrops of a spring morning. So there is more love and complacency and gratification in His children in the heart of our Heavenly Father, than all the gratification that earthly parents and earthly friends have ever felt in the objects of their affection. May we not here remark that it is an important consideration that God does not take up natural objects and natural relationships as more or less appropriate illustrations of Divine things, but the Divine thought being pre-existing, natural relationships and natural objects were made to exemplify them. We find in Scripture the word “true” used with regard to a number of objects: the true bread, the true wine, the true manna, the true tabernacle; and what is this intended to teach us? God could have made man to need no sleep-to need no food-as we have reason to suppose the angels were made; but had this been the case, we should have known nothing of rest, as we now know it, nor could we have learned the spiritual truths revealed to us through the illustration of food and nourishment. So that the bread we eat is not true bread; but Christ is the true bread, of which it is merely a type. And the earthly relationship of parent and child is only a type and dim reflection of the pre-existing relationship in the Divine mind; and all that the bridegroom and bride bring before us of trust and of love are only intended to teach us the true relationship of the Church to Christ, and of Christ to His Church. Hence we are not making a mistake in feeling that those joys and pleasures which affection brings with it, existed in the heart of our glorious Father and of the great Bridegroom; that we only rightly know Him when we realize the privilege we have of making glad the heart of God; that to please God is to give God pleasure, as earthly parents receive pleasure when their children please them.
Let me illustrate this by a little incident that, not important in itself, will perhaps throw light on this important truth. After a long absence from home I returned to England many years ago; and on my birthday, my little daughter-a wee girlie of about four years of age-came to me with a curious little thing in her hand, saying: “Papa, I thought you would rather have something I made myself than anything I could buy for you; so I haven't bought you a birthday present, but have made you one.” How glad my heart was that my dear child should recognize this fact, that even her little work would bring more pleasure to her father than anything that could be bought. But I looked at the little gift with some perplexity, not wishing to grieve the child by letting her see I didn't know what it was intended to be, and yet not knowing what to make of it. There was a little piece of wood, perhaps three inches by an inch and a half. The dear child had bored a hole in the middle of it with a scissors, and put a peg into the hole, on which she hung half a cockleshell. After some little puzzling, I was obliged to say to her: “I am so glad, darling, you have made me a pretty present, but what is it?” She looked at me with some surprise, and said: “Why, papa, don't you know? It is a ship to take you to China. I thought nothing would please you so much as a ship to take you to China.” How glad my heart was that even my little girlie understood my love for China and the Chinese, and that she had so far sympathized with it as to make me a little object which she thought would please me because of its connection, in her mind, with China. I have that rude toy now, carefully stored up among my treasures, and the thought of it has been a joy to me during many years of separation from her. But before I left her a year and a half ago in China, where she is now working as a missionary, she introduced me to two Chinamen whom she had been the means of winning to Christ, and my heart was still more glad. I reminded her of the long-forgotten gift she had made me so many years before. I told her that my heart was more glad now in seeing the fruit of her work for Christ than it had been then; but the love of the little girlie was not the less precious to memory on that account. Now, our service to God may be absolutely valueless as that little toy was to me; but if my finite heart took so much pleasure in the loving wish to please my little child, how much joy must the great heart of God be capable of when it sees the fruit of heart and life devoted to His service?
"Under the new covenant God would have us all to recognize all through our Christian life that we are not our own, that we are bought with a price, and that He has a rightful claim to all we have and to all we are."
To revert: So far for this long chapter, the 7th of Numbers; but it is the second of the two to which I wish to draw your attention. And I would specially emphasize not merely the subject-matter of the two chapters, but their relation to each other. The shorter 6th chapter is a prelude to the longer 7th, and in that shorter 6th chapter we have two distinct thoughts brought before us. The first is consecration, the second is the blessing of God; and then comes that long 7th chapter-the outcome of that blessing in practical loving gift and service. Let us, however, look a little in detail at the 6th chapter. We find under the old covenant many blessings given to the people of God as temporary gifts which are intended to be enjoyed under the new covenant as permanent blessings. For instance, in the matter of consecration, God said to an Israelite: “Now, if you wish to fully consecrate your life to Me, to separate yourself unto the Lord, you are at liberty to do so for any period that you desire.” The vow of a Nazarite might be taken for a year, or for five or seven years-for a half or a whole lifetime. God seemed to say: “You may just go in for as much consecration and blessing as you have the heart to.” But under the new covenant God would have us all to recognize all through our Christian life that we are not our own, that we are bought with a price, and that He has a rightful claim to all we have and to all we are. In like manner under the old covenant the Holy Spirit was given for special service on special occasions, but it was needful for the receiver to pray: “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” The Spirit was given to Saul, but was taken away; and we might find other illustrations of the same truth. But to the believer under the new covenant, the Spirit is given as a seal upon a document, never to be removed-as an earnest not to be recalled until the redemption of the purchased possession. We may grieve the Spirit, and lose the benefit of His guidance; but the Spirit does not leave the believer. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” What we want is to have the open ear, always ready to hear and to obey the precious One who has taken His abode within us.
With this thought in view-that consecration in the believer should be permanent and constant, let us look at a few of the particulars that are brought before us by this chapter. When either man or woman separated himself by the vow of a Nazarite, he was not henceforward to be guided by his own thoughts and desires, but by the will of God so far as it was revealed to him. Sometimes in the present day we find the children of God brought into perplexity by this question: “Can you show me the sin of this or that-or the wrong of this or that?” These are scarcely the questions for the loving child of God to raise. The question rather should be: “Can you show me how I shall give pleasure to God, and satisfaction to Him, by this or that?”
"As servants of Christ must we not follow Him who emptied Himself-not of that which is evil, for there was nothing of evil in Him to be emptied, but of that which was good in itself, yet unsuited to the special service which He undertook for our salvation?"
In the third verse of the sixth chapter the Nazarite was directed to separate himself from wine and strong drink. If this had been all, we might have said there was a reason for it: wine and strong drink are so often abused, and are injurious. But the verse continues that vinegar, and any liquor of grapes, or moist grapes, or dried, were equally to be avoided. “All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine-tree, from the kernel even to the husk.” Now, there is no fruit that is more wholesome or more enjoyable than the fruit of the vine. But just as God claimed His place in the Garden of Eden by prohibiting the fruit of one tree, so does He reclaim His place to the Nazarite by prohibiting the fruit of this tree, good and excellent as it is in itself. To avoid it was made the test of obedience. Will not this principle oftentimes help us in Christian life? As servants of Christ must we not follow Him who emptied Himself-not of that which is evil, for there was nothing of evil in Him to be emptied, but of that which was good in itself, yet unsuited to the special service which He undertook for our salvation?
Again, the Nazarite was wholly separated unto the Lord. He was not merely to recognize this in what he partook of, but for the time being his body was wholly the Lord's. God claimed every hair of his head. All the outcome of his life was holy to the Lord, as well as that life itself. And is it not written, dear friends, of us that the very hairs of our head are all numbered? It is beautiful to see a young mother with fond endearment passing her fingers through the silken hair of her darling child. She loves that hair, for it is the hair of her child. But she never thinks of counting the hairs of the head. With more of thoughtful love, He with whom we have to do counts the very hairs of our head and numbers them, and not one falls to the ground unnoticed or uncared for by Him. In full consecration to God it is a joy to recognize all our members, all our faculties- every fibre of our body, and faculty of mind, and appetite, and propensity-all as His, for His service and glory; and as His children to do all to the glory of God: when we lie down on the pillow at night, to rest the body for Him-when we rise in the morning, to rise for His service and pleasure-to perform the acts of the toilet for Him, that we may be worthy of Him who is our Father; and in each little thing of daily life pleasing Him by recognizing that we are wholly His. Not only was the Nazarite to recognize his hair as the Lord's: he was not to trim it or cut it at his pleasure, but to allow it to grow long. But when his vow of Nazariteship was terminated, he was never to take that hair, which was the Lord's, as though it were his own, and devote it to any common purpose. It must all be shaved off and burned beside the altar, for it is wholly the Lord's. Do we not need to remind ourselves of this great truth? Perhaps we consecrate ourselves to the Lord for some special service; and He puts a bar in the way, and defers and delays our rendering Him this service; and is there not a danger that we may, as time goes on, recall the gift, and take, as it were, the sacrifice from off the altar? We should rather pray: “Bind the sacrifice, O Lord, with cords to the horns of the altar”; that once given it may never be recalled. We had a beautiful illustration of this in the history of our Mission. A young lady, of a wealthy family, at the age of twenty dedicated herself to missionary service. She thought the Lord would soon open her way to the mission field. She had an older sister, who seemed sufficient for home duties, and who felt no such call; and so at the age of twenty she looked forward to the mission field as her sphere of service. God accepted her offer, but deferred the opening of the door. Her elder sister married; her parents became invalids; and years passed on, and this loving daughter never gave them to feel that they were in the way, on the one hand, and yet never recalled the gift she had given to the Lord for missionary service on the other. Five years passed along, and she felt: “If I am delayed much longer, the acquisition of the language will become more difficult.” But we waited God's time. Ten years-twenty years-thirty years passed away ere the Lord set her free. But the vow of twenty was as bright in her mind at fifty as it had been when first offered. Within three weeks of the funeral of her surviving parent she wrote to our Mission-House in London intimating her desire to spend the remainder of her days in missionary service in China, stating that she had private means, and would not need to be a burden on the funds of the Mission, and therefore felt the more free to fulfill her early consecration. I met her in London a short time ago, and she said: “I am home after twelve years' service for my first furlough, and hope to be invigorated, that I may soon be able to return to China again.” I don't know whether she will ever be strong enough to return to China, but I do know that her life there has been an immense blessing.
"We must ever bear in mind that we have in God's will, as revealed in the Scripture, an absolute standard of right and wrong; and no ignorance on our part, or want of opportunity on our part, can make the wrong to be right. If a person does that which is contrary to God's revealed will in ignorance, it may not at the time hinder communion; but as soon as it is revealed to him that the thing done is contrary to God's will, it must be confessed, not as a misfortune, but as a sin, and the atoning blood must be upon it before communion can be fully and satisfactorily re-established."
Turning again to our chapter, we find that God prohibits a separated one from going near to any dead body. If time permitted we might dwell at length on this important prohibition; but we must briefly say here that all dead works, however good or precious they may seem to be in themselves, are not the things for a fully consecrated man to take part in or to have fellowship with. The outcome of spiritual life, and that alone, is that in which one fully consecrated to God must engage. He must be distinctly separated from the dead world, and from all spiritual death.
May I here remark, however, on the important truth taught us in connection with the accidental or unavoidable contact with death? It was not considered undefiling because it was accidental, or even unavoidable. If a man came in contact with death, he could only be cleansed from that contact by sacrifice. There is, perhaps, a danger in some quarters at the present day of the thought being accepted that certain things are right if we don't feel them to be wrong-that certain things are right if we are, so to speak, unavoidably thrown in contact with them. We must ever bear in mind that we have in God's will, as revealed in the Scripture, an absolute standard of right and wrong; and no ignorance on our part, or want of opportunity on our part, can make the wrong to be right. If a person does that which is contrary to God's revealed will in ignorance, it may not at the time hinder communion; but as soon as it is revealed to him that the thing done is contrary to God's will, it must be confessed, not as a misfortune, but as a sin, and the atoning blood must be upon it before communion can be fully and satisfactorily re-established.
"When we walk in the light, as He is in the light, and are having unbroken fellowship with God, and God with us, it is because the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is cleansing us from all sin. No holy service is a ground of acceptance with God. Christ alone is that ground. On the other hand, the fact that our holiest things need to be accepted through Christ is no reason why we should neglect to be holy."
And may I in this connection refer to the further truth that when the vow of the Nazarite was fulfilled, and when nothing had been ritually neglected, the Nazarite was not to think he could stand without sacrifice in the presence of God in the merit of his sacrifice? There was the sin of his holy things that needed atonement. We are sinful creatures, and our holiest service can only be accepted through Jesus Christ our Lord. When we walk in the light, as He is in the light, and are having unbroken fellowship with God, and God with us, it is because the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is cleansing us from all sin. No holy service is a ground of acceptance with God. Christ alone is that ground. On the other hand, the fact that our holiest things need to be accepted through Christ is no reason why we should neglect to be holy. Though sinful creatures, we must not be sinning creatures-a very different thing indeed. The Nazarite was to fulfil his vow, and then offer the requisite sacrifices; and he and his service were accepted of God.
And now we come to the beautiful three-fold blessing, in which we, as believers in the light of the present dispensation, recognize distinctly the blessing of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Before considering that more fully, however, let us inquire what is the root-idea of blessing. God blesses His people with peace, with plenty, and with other rich gifts; but the peace and the plenty are not the gifts. We bless God with thanksgiving and praise, but the thanksgiving and praise are not the blessing. The blessing is that deep going out of heart toward the object of our affections which leads on the one hand to gift and on the other hand to grateful thanks and praise. We may illustrate this from a frequent earthly happening. A mother opens the door of her house, and at once her little child turns toward her with a bright and glad face, and two little feet begin to run across the room, and two little arms are stretched out to meet and welcome the returning mother. But is that all? Are not two stronger feet hastening with wider steps to meet the little one?-are not two stronger arms stretched out to welcome the little one?-and soon both are clasped in one loving embrace, the mother's arms holding up the child, and clasping her to her bosom, the little one's arms around the mother's neck in fond affection. And both hearts are equally full. The little one's heart is just as glad as it is capable of being glad, and the mother's heart is just as full as her heart can be filled. But whose heart is the larger? The mother has the larger share of gladness, because she is capable of more gladness than her child. The mother is blessing her child, and the child is blessing the mother. So when a child of God blesses God, the heart of the child is filled with joy, and the heart of the Father is also filled with joy; and His great infinite heart is capable of more gladness than ours. This is true in the case of the Saviour, the Bridegroom of His people; and it is a joy to feel that day by day we may make the Man of Sorrows the Man of Joys, by loving sympathy and holy service in accordance with His will.
"Some of us have tried to keep ourselves; but we have found by experience that the self-kept child is a badly-kept child- that the self-kept life is a badly-kept life, is an unsatisfactory life. But it is not so with regard to heart or life committed to the fatherly keeping of Him who is prepared to accept and to care for that which we commit to His care."
With this deeper thought of blessing in our minds, let us look at the three-fold blessing of verses 24 to 26. “Jehovah, the Father, bless thee, and keep thee.” What is more natural-what is more proper than that that great fatherly heart yearning in love over his child should be the keeper of that child? Some of us have tried to keep ourselves; but we have found by experience that the self-kept child is a badly-kept child- that the self-kept life is a badly-kept life, is an unsatisfactory life. But it is not so with regard to heart or life committed to the fatherly keeping of Him who is prepared to accept and to care for that which we commit to His care. Have we not, beloved friends, failed to enter into the deep spirit of this first of blessings: “Jehovah, the Father, bless thee, and keep thee”? Oh, how much of care and worry, how much of failure, how much of sin, has been the outcome of this forgetfulness! Imagine a beloved child resting on her mother's lap, and as the mother looks fondly down upon her darling, instead of seeing the reflection of her love in the happiness of her child, she sees the child distressed, and the eyes filling with tears, and the large drops beginning to flow. The mother says: “What is troubling my darling child?” The little one replies: “O mamma; I am growing so fast. I can't help it, and I don't know what to do. I have been trying to save up my pennies. I haven't bought any sweets or a doll or anything for a long time; but I am growing so fast I shan't be able to wear this little frock much longer, and I shan't have enough to buy another.” How foolish and unnecessary would be the troubles of such a child! Would it please the mother that the child didn't trust her to provide the new frock when it was needed? And when the new frock was needed, would it be bought in whole or in part by the saved pennies? All the care and all the worry were unnecessary and unhelpful, for the mother cares for her child. And can we know our privilege of “casting all our care upon Him, for He careth for us,” and continue to be careful and worried about many things? Surely if we do, it shows our failure to enter into this first of blessings: “Jehovah, the Father, bless thee, and keep thee.”
And not less precious is the second blessing: “Jehovah, the Son-the Bridegroom of His people-make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” If He, the great Bridegroom of the soul, has His right place in the heart, His presence is love. The light of His countenance is sufficient to satisfy our deepest longings-to meet and supply our every need. And there need be no hiding of His countenance from us. The blessing is: “Jehovah, the Son, make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” What do we not possess in the love of this Bridegroom! Unlike the earthly relationship, which circumstances may interfere with or interrupt, we have His word: “I will never leave thee-will never fail thee-will never forsake thee.” And while ever present with His aid, it is not so much His aid as His gracious presence-His smile-His benediction-that is the joy of Christian life and the strength of Christian service. But I must pass on.
The third blessing is equally precious: “Jehovah, the Spirit, lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Do we always sufficiently realize the personality of the Holy Ghost? Do we recognize Him as being as distinctly personal as the Father and the Son, and rejoice in His love as well as His presence? And do we accept His great gift: the gift of peace-peace that flows like a river, widening and deepening as it flows-peace that the world cannot give or take away-peace that circumstances can never mar, or break, or interrupt-peace that passeth all understanding; not merely enjoyed, but garrisoning the heart and keeping all surges of care and worry and unrest clean outside the battlements? Oh, beloved friends, what a gift is this! How little have we accepted it! How little have we enjoyed it! Instead of tell-tale faces telling the world what a full salvation we have had, how often a long face has suggested to the world that they had better take their fill of happiness first before they leave it behind by becoming Christians. May God make us more faithful witnesses for Him, and give us so to live winning lives that others will be allured to desire the same blessings we enjoy!
And now we have briefly considered the question of consecration, and its necessary following of blessing. But this blessing is only the prelude to the longest chapter in the Bible; and God's blessing is just the prelude to a service of love and the service of eternity. We at once see the outcome of the blessing in the offerings of the people of God. Will it not be helpful to us if we realize more of the privilege we have as the children of God, if engaged in His service? There is never any lack of resources for the work of God.
"When we need men or means for God's service, it is well to remember that they are not promised to us, but they are [promised] to our royal Master; and we should go to Him with confidence for those things which are needful for the department of service into which He calls us to enter. We are called “children” of a rich Father. His resources are infinite; and all we have to do is to keep on the right side of our Father to get from Him whatever is needed."
There was promised to Solomon for the building of the earthly sanctuary a beautiful combination: willing, skilful men for every department of service. Some men are willing enough, but far from skilful in their work. Others, again, who have the skill do not always possess the will. But to Solomon there was promised every skilful man for every department of service; and he was further told that the princes and all the people would be wholly at his commandment. When we need men or means for God's service, it is well to remember that they are not promised to us, but they are [promised] to our royal Master; and we should go to Him with confidence for those things which are needful for the department of service into which He calls us to enter. We are called “children” of a rich Father. His resources are infinite; and all we have to do is to keep on the right side of our Father to get from Him whatever is needed. I am delighted but not surprised at what I see here at Northfield. That our dear friend, Mr. Moody, has been supplied by God with all that has been needful for the erection of these beautiful buildings, and the maintenance of these institutions, is not at all surprising. Only let us take the Divine path of consecration and blessing, and we shall find no lack of resources for carrying on God's work.
May I draw your attention to the fact that so soon as the tabernacle, as mentioned in verse 1, had been anointed and sanctified, “with all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof,” then the princes of Israel at once freely and spontaneously offered their offerings. Do not be so concerned about getting the means to carry on the work, as about being sure that the work is after the Lord's pattern, and that the work and workers are sanctified and anointed ones. Given this preparation, and the means will not be lacking.
To look farther back, remember that when the tabernacle itself had to be made, Moses was brought into difficulty-not from the lack of material, but from its superabundance; and in his perplexity he had to send a proclamation through the camp to the people forbidding them to bring any more-a condition that we don't hear very much of in ordinary church work and church life to-day.
"A colored leaf was inserted into each one, stating that the money required had already been received in answer to prayer; that no further gifts for this object should be sent; but that if any wished to assist in the permanent support of the work, a friend who lived thirty-eight miles from London, and two or three from the nearest village post office, was willing to receive any contributions through the post, and once a month to remit the aggregate sum to us in China."
At the commencement of the China Inland Mission we had the nearest approach that we have had to this difficulty in the matter of funds for the outfit and support of the first large party we sent out. A party of seventeen or eighteen fully consecrated men and women had been selected and tested. That they were soul-winners had been proved in the East End of London. They were prepared to go out with no other guarantee of support than that which they carried within the covers of their own pocket Bibles-for they believed the Word of God. And now came the question: “How are the means to be provided for their going forth?” It was estimated that £1,500-possibly £1,800 or £2,000-might be needed; for we didn't know what we should have to pay for passage-money. The journey to China was then a long one-of some months' duration, around the Cape of Good Hope. I had already sent out five or six to China, and was in receipt of small sums of money for their support as free-will offerings through the post. From the 1st of January to the 6th of February, 1866, I received about £171; but of course a much larger sum was needed if this large party was to go out. I therefore wrote a little pamphlet, intending to circulate it among my friends, stating that this party was prepared to go, that such sums of money would be required, and that free-will offerings sent spontaneously through the post would be thankfully accepted. On the day after I sent my manuscript to the printer I called a daily prayer-meeting, and from 12 to 1 o'clock every day we met to ask from God this money. Through a fire in the press the bringing out of the pamphlet was delayed, and the printed pamphlets reached me on the I2th of March. On that day I added up my Mission cash-book to tell my friends what God had done in answer to prayer alone. Before our prayer-meeting a month and six days had brought in £171 or thereabouts. The second month and six days-from February 6th to March 12th-I had received through the post £1,774 15s. 11d. My friend, Mr. Grattan Guinness, in Ireland, had received £200; making a total of £1,974 i5s. 11d., before the pamphlets were ready for circulation. Now, what was one to do? I didn't want to waste the pamphlets; yet money kept coming in, and we soon had more than was needful according to our own estimate, and I couldn't send out the pamphlets stating that money was needed which was already in hand. A colored leaf was inserted into each one, stating that the money required had already been received in answer to prayer; that no further gifts for this object should be sent; but that if any wished to assist in the permanent support of the work, a friend who lived thirty-eight miles from London, and two or three from the nearest village post office, was willing to receive any contributions through the post, and once a month to remit the aggregate sum to us in China. This was the simple organization of the Mission when commenced twenty-two years ago. God has not disappointed the trust which was placed in Him. There are now over two hundred and ninety workers, besides over a hundred native helpers; and still it remains as true as ever that there is no want to those who fear Him.
Just a word in conclusion on the first offering of the princes: six covered wagons and twelve oxen. Those of us who have been in India or in China, and have ridden in those rude bullock wagons, know very well what they were. In riding over the rough roads of China in such a cart I have more than once bound a feather pillow around my head; for the jolting and the knocking about as one wheel falls into a rut of a foot or more deep, to be followed by the other wheel in a few moments getting into a similar rut, and throwing you to the opposite side of the wagon, required it. Yet, rude as these wagons were, the Word of God was: “Take it of them, and use those wagons for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” God accepts what His people are able and willing to give, and puts to high and holy uses that which we put in His hands for His service.
From a talk given at Northfield.