In speaking with young converts, I have very frequently longed for a suitable book in which the most important truths concerning the new life were presented briefly and simply. I could not find anything that entirely corresponded to what I desired. During the services in which I have been permitted to take part, I felt this need even more keenly. There I spoke with so many who professed to have found the Lord yet were still very weak in knowledge and faith. In the course of my journey, I have felt myself pressed to take my pen in hand.
Under a vivid impression of the infirmities and the distorted thoughts concerning the new life, with which almost all young Christians have to wrestle, I wished to offer them words of instruction and encouragement. I wanted to let them see what a glorious life of power and joy is prepared for them in their Lord Jesus, and how simple the way is to enjoy all this blessing.
I have confined myself in these reflections to some of the most important topics. The first is the Word of God as the glorious and sure guide, even for the simplest souls who will surrender themselves to it. Then, as the chief element in the Word, there is the Son, the gift of the Father, to do all for us. Then follows what the Scriptures teach concerning sin as the only thing that we have to bring to Jesus, as that which we must give to Him, and from which He will set us free. Further, there is faith, the great word in which our inability to bring or to do anything is expressed, and that teaches us that all our salvation must be received every day of our lives as a gift from above. The young Christian must also make acquaintance with the Holy Spirit as the Person through whom the Word and Jesus--With all His work and faith in Him--can become power and truth. Then there is the holy life of obedience and fruitfulness, in which the Spirit teaches us to walk.
It is to these six leading thoughts of the new life that I have confined myself. In ceaseless prayer, I have asked that God use what I have written to make His young children understand what a glorious and mighty life they have received from their Father. It was often very unwillingly that I took leave of the young converts who had to go back to lonely places, where they could have little counsel or help, and seldom mingle in the preaching of the Word. It is my sure and confident expectation that what the Lord has given me to write will prove a blessing to many of these young confessors.
While writing this book, I have had a second wish abiding with me. I have wondered what I could possibly do to insure that my book would not draw attention away from the Word of God, but rather, help to make the Word more precious. I resolved to furnish the work with footnotes, so that, on every point that was referred to, the reader might be stirred up still to listen to the Word itself, to God Himself.
I am hopeful that this arrangement will yield a double benefit. Many a one does not know, and has nobody to teach him, how to examine the Scriptures properly. This book may help him in his loneliness. If he will only meditate on one point or another and then look up the texts that are quoted, he will get
into the habit of consulting God's Word itself on whatever topic he wishes to understand. But, this book may just as readily be of service in prayer meetings or social gatherings for the study of the Word. Let each person read the chosen chapter at home and review the scripture verses that seem to be the most important to him. Let the leader of the meeting read the chapter aloud once. He should then invite each person who desires to, to share the verse or point which has meant the most to him.
We have found in my congregation that the benefit of such meetings for bringing and reading aloud verses on a point previously announced is very great. This practice leads to the searching of God's Word as even preaching does not. It stirs up the members of the congregation, especially the young people, to independent dealing with the Word. It leads to a more living fellowship among the members of Christ's body and also helps their upbuilding in love. It prepares the way for a social recognition of the Word as the living communication of the thoughts of God which, with divine power, will work in us what is pleasing to God.
I am persuaded that there are many believing men and women who ask what they can accomplish for the Lord-- who along this path could become the channel of great blessing. Let them once a week bring together some of their neighbors and friends to read aloud the texts for which they have been previously searching. The Lord will certainly give His blessing there.
With respect to the use of this book in private, I would like to request one more thing. I hope that no one will think it strange. Let every portion be read
over at least three times. The great poison of our conversation with divine things is superficiality. When we read anything and understand it somewhat, we think that this is enough. No, we must give it time so that it may make an impression and exercise its influence on us.
Read every portion the first time with consideration, to understand the good that is in it, and then see if you receive benefit from the thoughts that are expressed there.
Read it the second time to see if it is really in accordance with God's Word. Take some, if not all, of the texts that are cited on each point and ponder them in order to come under the full force of what God has said on the point. Let your God, through His Word, teach you what you must think and believe concerning Him and His will.
Read it the third time to find out the corresponding place, not in the Bible, but in your own life, in order to know if your life has been in harmony with the new life, and to direct your life in the future entirely according to God's Word. I am fully persuaded that the time and effort spent on such personal contact with the Word of God under the teaching of this or some other book that helps you in dealing with it, will be rewarded tenfold.
I conclude with a cordial, brotherly greeting to all with whom I have been permitted to mingle during the past year, in speaking about the precious Savior and His glorious salvation. Greetings also to all in other congregations, who in this last season have learned to know the beloved Lord Jesus as their Redeemer. With a heart full of peace and love, I think of all of you, and I pray that the Lord may confirm His work in you. I have not become weary of crying out to you: the blessedness and the power of the new life that is in you are greater than you know--are wonderfully great. Only, learn to trust in Jesus, the gift of God, and to know aright the Scriptures, the Word of God. Only give Him time to hold communion with you and to work in you, and your heart will overflow with the blessedness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly more than we can ask or think, to Him be glory in the Church to all eternity.
Wellington, August 12, 1885
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