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I wondered at myself and at the song-I found my heart softening-I knew that tears were in my eyes-I felt them running down my cheeks-I was away back with Jesus on the cross-I heard his cry, "My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me?" and in that same moment the Holy Ghost gave me fellowship with my Saviour, and I knew that cry from him was not for himself alone, but for I sang on through the hymn with still melting heart, with returning faith, hope and confidence, until in a perfect ecstacy of peace I reached the lines,
"Oh, 'tis not in griefs to harm me,
Oh! 'twere not in joy to charm me,
And then, like a comforted child, I fairly laid my weary heart against His dear loving heart, knowing in my soul that He loved me, that He died and rose again for me, that He lived for me and that as never before we were united to each other. Thus that precious hymn was God's hand reached out to save me when I was sinking; thus He was pleased to manifest
Himself to me in a sweeter, surer, and stronger way than I had yet known him. He had chosen to do this by and in a hymn, rather than by prayer, or meditation, or promise. As the cake baked on the coals and the cruse of water at his head were to Elijah, so was that hymn to me; at least it was the hand of the angel that touched me and pointed me to the "true bread" and the "living water' in the strength of which, having eaten and drank, I went many days, yea, and am still even now walking.
SONG AS A HELP TO CONSECRATION.
Years after when I was passing through consecration into deeper fellowship with the Lord, it pleased him to use that same hymn again ; this time not so much for immediate comfort as for searching. By inward teaching the Spirit was making me to know something of the meaning of the Master when he said, "If any man will come after me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me." Whilst I was learning somewhat painfully this lesson, I was one day suddenly
checked in the singing of this, one of my favorite hymns, with the distinct question, can you truly sing,
'Jesus, I my cross have taken,
I say I found myself checked in the singing of it for a long time; until, in my deepest heart and purpose, I had truly denied myself into his hands, to be "armed with the same mind." But now, "thanks be unto God who always giveth us the victory," after having been searched by it, as I was never searched before, I can joyfully and honestly sing that doubly dear old hymn "in the Spirit and with the understanding also." The Lord always makes it a great comfort and power to my soul. And as a response to that hymn, now, always come those lines of Charles Wesley's great psalm,
I might magnify the grace of God ministered to me, by reference to many more hymns, but as the above may serve for illustrations of the use God has made of hymns in deal
ing with my own soul, I pass to record, in a similar manner, the power of song as I have witnessed it in others, coming under my own pastoral care.
SONG AS A MEANS OF CONVERSION.
I said above that I have known a hymn to be used of God for the conversion of a soul where every other means had failed to bring light into the darkened and troubled heart. Once I was detained after prayermeeting with a few others, to converse and pray with a young woman who was who was under deep conviction, and who refused to go away from the place of prayer until she had found Jesus. It seemed to be all in vain that I talked with her, explaining the atonement, quoting the simplest and strongest promises of the gospel, and urging her to an immediate and simple faith; it was all in vain that I prayed with and for her. At last, because as it seemed-I could do nothing else, I began to sing that little hymn, the last verse of which goes,
"Oh! bear my longing heart to Him
Whose blood now cleanses from all sin,
We had sung the whole hymn through, and were hushed into silence by the Spirit. During the singing of the last stanza, our friend had lifted her weeping face toward mine, and was looking intently and eagerly at me, as though she would fain drink in the words and power of the song. And now in the hush that was upon us, reaching out both her hands to me, she said, in a plaintive kind of whisper,
"Please sing that last verse again.
And again we sang, softly and tenderly,
'Oh! bear my longing soul to Him
Who bled and died for me;
Whose blood now cleanses from all sin,
And gives me victory."
As the words and melody died away, the expression of her face changed; the darkness was overpast, and the light and gladness of His peace had come in the place of it; and with a cry of joy she turned and flung herself into the arms of her sister, who was standing near, exclaiming, "I am saved! I am saved!! Oh! blessed Jesus," &c.