« VorigeDoorgaan »
thus arises what has been called [perhaps not very accurately], a second witness', to ratify and confirm to us the first.
Comparing many texts of Holy Scripture which are addressed to those who are “in Christ,' and of which the burden is, to urge each to cleanse’ themselves from ali filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,'--the Methodists infer that in this life the Christian man may be sanctified wholly ;' and that his whole spirit and soul and body' may “be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.'”
“Beautiful doctrine !” exclaimed Israel, as he read the foregoing substance of the Methodist belief; "I will search for the evidences of its truth, and if found, it shall be the creed of my heart and the practice of my
life!” He then spent the greater part of weeks and months in exploring the best works of the standard writers of Methodism, occasionally availing himself of conversations with such of the most learned and pious persons of that persuasion as he could meet. Especially was his soul moved and confirmed in this “way of salvation,” when he read such books of devout and faithful zeal as the lives of the Wesleys, of Fletcher and his not less saintly wife, of Carvosso, Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, and others of that procession of true followers of the apostolical faith and practice, who went about doing good everywhere as they had opportunity, asking not, nor expecting reward in this life.
All this was not without its effect upon his own purposes of life. He had caught the holy fire, and his heart burned within him to engage himself in this glorious work of winning perishing souls to Christ, whom he now loved as never before. It seemed to him that all other Christian denominations were asleep, or half stultified with their own errors, compared to this people, who ran joyfully the new and living way, which had been consecrated by the footsteps of the Divine One.
Especially did the humility, the self-sacrifice, and the strict obedience to the commands of the New Testament inculcated in these and kindred Methodist books, fill his soul with profound admiration. The previous experiences of his life in his academical and collegiate career had been in some of the most eminent arenas of the land. He thought he had seen much of pride and vain show. He believed he had suffered somewhat for conscience's sake. Thrice welcome were these teachings, so pure, so humble, so Christ-like! Thrice welcome the people whose God was the Lord, and not the ungodliness of the world!
THE FOLD OF FLOCKS.
ABOUT this time, Israel attended a camp-meeting.
It was late on an afternoon of the latter part of the week of this “feast of Tabernacles,” that he took the opportunity to visit the camp ground. As he left the railroad station and walked up the avenue which led to the place, he met uncounted crowds moving slowly on the way to return. They were laughing, chatting, - these gaily-dressed and worldly looking people, as though they had been to a picnic or a horse race, and were speculating upon the merits of the different objects of interest. A group of young people of about his own age met one young lady who walked in the inward-bound mass of which Israel was one, and accosted her in loud tones with “Hullo! say! Have you come here to get religion to-night?”
The other made no direct answer, but said in an equally buoyant tone, “I suppose you are all right now, after being to camp-meeting so long!”
“ O yes, of course we are! All right!” And the moving crowd swept them on.
These things grated harshly upon the ear of Israel, and he repented at this moment that he had come; but the sounds of the sweet singers in the clear, open air beneath the trees of the forest, newly kindled his interest. He heard the words :
“O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free;
So freely spilt for me.
" A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
A copy, Lord, of thine."
Then he came in full view of the scene.
He paused a moment to study what he saw.
It had rained heavily during the previous night, so that all the abundant foliage of the giant trees of the old wood, with the gravel paths which led about the grounds, and the white canvas roofs, had been washed, refreshed, and endued as with a smile from the heavens. A gradually rising hill, which formed a kind of natural amphitheatre, was bounded to the extent of a semicircle by the different tents, on each of which was the name of the place of the society which composed its occupants. These, tents were very similar in construction and furnishing, except some smaller ones in the rear of the semicircle, which had been put up by private individuals for the use of one family or small sets of persons. Each tent was thickly carpeted with straw; seats extended around the walls, and articles of various kinds, like chests and trunks, were packed away in remote corners. To the rear of each was a cooking-stove, and benches which served for tables and other domestic uses. These composed the kitchens and family rooms of the establishments. The lower base of this amphitheatre was occupied by a roofed house, before which was à stand for the preachers, and from which extended, up to within a short walk from the tents, rows of substantial seats capable of accommodating many hundreds of persons.
Although the sermon for that afternoon was over, they were now partially filled by people who were engaged in a meeting of a more social nature. Hence the singing which he heard on his approach.
Aged men and women, middle-aged persons, children, and even babes, were here to be seen or heard. Hardly a color or a people was not represented in some form.
The words of the divine prophecy — “And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks,” came to the memory of Israel, as he stood before the door of the first tent he reached and gazed about him.
Not long did he linger there, for he was attracted by the strong musical tones of a well-known voice in the most violent exhortation to that audience on the seats. It came from among the people and not from the preachers' stand ; yet no minister full of years and weighty with the sheaves of precious souls could have spoken with greater authority and earnestness.
Israel moved forward, exchanged a nod with the sheriff in attendance, and took his place among the hearers of that powerful, hortatory address.
“O Cyprian!” he said to himself, “are you never weary in your Master's work? Somewhere about you must be concealed the patent of indefatigable perseverance.” All else looked worn with the long