The Last Gift…

Written by Stephen Higginson Tyng (1800 –1885)

 

Early in my ministry, I was once called to visit a dying lady…

 

13b Joshua Johnson (American artist, 1763–1824) Sarah Ogden GustinIt was in the city of Philadelphia, of an English family. She and her husband were in a boarding house there. I spent much time with her, knelt often in prayer with her, and with great delight.

Her husband was an Atheist, an English Atheist a cold-hearted English Atheist There is no such being beside him on the face of the globe. That was her husband. On the day in which that sweet Christian woman died she put her hand under the pillow and pulled out a little beautiful well-worn English Bible. She brought out that sweet little Bible, worn and thumbed and moistened with tears.

She called her husband, and he came; and she said, “Do you know this little book?” and he answered, “It is your Bible.” Replied she, “It is my Bible; it has been everything to me. It has converted, strengthened, cheered, and saved me. Now I am going to Him that gave it to me, and I shall want it no more; open your hands” –and she put it in between his hands and pressed his two hands together.

“My dear husband, do you know what I am doing?”  “Yes, dear; you are giving me your Bible.”  “No, darling, I am giving you your Bible, and God has sent me to give you this sweet book before I die. I put it in your hands; now put it in your bosom –will you keep it there? Will you read it for me?” “I will, my dear.”

I placed this dear lady, dead, in the tomb behind my church. But it was not perhaps more than three weeks afterward that big Englishman came to my study weeping profusely.  “0h, my friend,” said he, “my friend, I have found what she meant ” I have found what she meant!” “It is my Bible!  Oh, it is my Bible; every word in it was written for me. I read it over day by day; I read it over night by night; I bless God it is my Bible.  Will you take me into your church where she was?”  “With all my heart” -and that proud, worldly, hostile man, hating this blessed Bible, came, with no arguments, with no objection, with no difficulties suggested, with no questions to unravel, but binding it upon his heart of memory and love. It was God’s message of direct salvation to his soul. It was as if there were not another Bible in Philadelphia, and an angel from heaven had brought to him this very Bible.”

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Stephen Higginson Tyng (March 1, 1800 – September 3, 1885), was an Episcopal Church evangelical preacher in New York City. He recognized that a new urban ministry was needed in parts of the city with growing numbers of immigrants. He instituted social service programs as well as altering church interiors to make people feel more welcome.

Born March 1, 1800, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Harvard University in 1817, Tyng had a strong conversion experience that led him to leave business to pursue the ministry. With Bishop Griswold as his advisor, Tyng studied theology, and ultimately, married the Bishop’s daughter, Anne. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by Jefferson College in 1832, and by Harvard in 1851.

Tyng was considered to be one of the most notable preachers of the time, and leader in the evangelical wing of the Episcopal Church. Tyng was the rector at Church of the Epiphany, Philadelphia, before relocating to New York City in 1845. He was pastor of St. George’s Episcopal Church for 33 years from 1845 through 1878. Initially St. George’s was affiliated with Trinity Church and located in Lower Manhattan at Beekman and Cliff Streets, near Wall Street. Tyng converted J.P. Morgan to the faith who in turn helped build a new church on East 16th Street and Rutherford Place, facing Stuyvesant Square in New York. Under Tyng, the new St. George served the rich and the poor together, with 2,000 children in its Sunday School, and funds raised and sent to four churches in Africa and a school in Moravi.

[ A NOTE TO MY READERS AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THESE STORIES:  Recently, I have written about Christians who before us have suffered great persecution and/or died in the cause of Christ.

I do not do this because I have less regard for theology than I once had, or that I now scorn the importance of those doctrines which were once given unto the saints.  Nor, do I wish to lessen those scriptures which are they that do testify of Christ. And even more importantly, I do not wish to glorify man; so there is no need to sensationalize or even to make significant the facts of their deaths or of their persecution. For in one sense, that is truly not what is important.   

Rather, I wish to make alive their faith, to make alive their living faith which was their living testimony unto Christ Jesus.  They were not all great Christians.  Many of those that I read and write about had significant flaws, some morally and some theologically… But all had found “The Christ.”  And they each had witnessed to, and testified of that living Christ which takes away the sins of the world.

Having done all, these Christians stood, and their stories still stand today, demonstrating to us and pointing to us their Lord, both with their teachings, but more importantly, with their lives. And therein lies the power… They were totally committed. 

As you look around yourself, do you see that type of commitment?  As you look deep within yourself, do you see yourself standing in their shoes?  Can you say, with grace, “If called, there go I?”  As you look around your church, can you sense, as a member, an increasing importance of who we are in Christ Jesus, or do you see an increasing importance of who we are in the world?  From your vantage point, which seems to be most important?

Never before has the Christian Church been assaulted on so many fronts.  Never before, has it faced so many enemies from without and enemies from within.  One shudders at the sound of all the axes being laid to the roots of our Christian heritage, and we ask ourselves, “When Christ comes will he find faith on the earth?”  To this question, I am deeply stirred with a sense of urgency.

Today, I call to you wherever you are, find your commitment, find your passion, find who you really are –in Christ!  Resolve in yourself right now, to make Him and his cause, the purpose for your highest commitment, and the reason for your deepest passion.  I can tell you, that you will never be sorry.

As apostates and apostasy continues in the church, I seek new ways of pointing others to Jesus. In this new project, to which at this time I am now committed, I will strive mightily to point to our blessed Savior through the fingers and lives of those Christians who have once lived and died for Christ, and whose voices and anthems, I believe, now blend with the others from the church triumphant, and with the angels and cherubim as they circle around the throne of the Living God; “To whom be glory forever.  Amen.”  –MWP]

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Present to you… The Bible

by Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832 – 1902)

I will undertake to say that every great book, that has been published since the first printing press was lifted, has directly or indirectly derived much of its power from the sacred oracles. -TALMAGE.

THE BIBLE.

“Thy word is truth,'” John 17:17.  “The word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8.
 
“Within this ample volume lies
The mystery of mysteries.
Happiest they of human race,
To whom their God has given Grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, to force the way;
And better had they ne’er been born.
That read to doubt, or read to scorn.”

                                                                                   -“SIR WALTER SCOTT.

WORTHY OF STUDY.

lady_macbeth_by_ayamesakura61-d3a62e0I know that young doctors, young lawyers, young accountants, young mechanics, young merchants, have but little time for general reading. If so, then spend more of that time at the fountain of divine truth from which nearly all the books have been dipped that are worth anything. I will undertake to say that every great book, that has been published since the first printing press was lifted, has directly or indirectly derived much of its power from the sacred oracles.

Goethe, the admired of all skeptics, had the wall of his home at Weimar covered with religious maps and pictures. Milton’s “Paradise Lost” is part of the Bible in blank verse. Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered” is borrowed from the Bible. Spencer’s writings are imitations of the parables. John Bunyan saw in a dream only what John had seen before in apocalyptic vision. Macaulay crowns his most gigantic sentences with Scripture quotations.

Through Addison’s “Spectator” there glances in and out the stream that broke from beneath the throne of God, clear as crystal. Walter Scott’s characters are Bible men and women under different names: Meg Merrihes, the witch of Endor.  Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth was Jezebel. Hobbes stole from this “Castle of Truth” the weapons with which he afterward assaulted it. Lord Byron caught the ruggedness and majesty of his style from the prophecies. The writings of Pope are saturated with Isaiah, and he finds his most successful theme in the Messiah. The poets Thompson and Johnson, dipped their pens in the style of the inspired Orientals. Thomas Carlyle is only a splendid distortion of Ezekiel; and wandering through the lanes and parks of this imperial domain of Bible truth, I find all the great American, English, German, Spanish, Italian poets, painters, orators, and rhetoricians

Now if this be so, and the young man has but little time to read, why not go to the great fountain of all truth and inspiration, from which these other books dip their life.” 

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Taken from, “Gems of Truth and Beauty: THE SERMONS AND ADDRESSES, TALMAGE, BEECHER, MOODY, SPURGEON, GUTHRIE AND PARKER.”   By REV. CHARLES C. ALBERT SON, Published 1889

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Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (7 January 1832 – 12 April 1902) was a preacherclergyman and divine in the United States who held pastorates in the Reformed Church in America and Presbyterian Church. He was one of the most prominent religious leaders in the United States during the mid- to late-19th century, equaled as a pulpit orator perhaps only by Henry Ward Beecher. He also preached to crowds in England. During the 1860s and 70s, Talmage was a well-known reformer in New York City and was often involved in crusades against vice and crime.

During the last years of his life, Dr. Talmage ceased preaching and devoted himself to editing, writing, and lecturing. At different periods he was editor of the Christian at Work(1873–76), New York; the Advance (1877–79), Chicago; Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine (1879–89), New York; and the Christian Herald (1890–1902), New York. For years his sermons were published regularly in more than 3,000 journals, through which he was said to reach 25,000,000 readers.

“One Sunday morning when the time came for him to deliver his sermon, he walked to the extreme edge on one side of his fifty-foot platform, faced about, then suddenly started as fast as he could jump for the opposite side. Just as everybody in the congregation, breathless, expected to see him pitch headlong from the further side of the platform he leaped suddenly in the air and came down with a crash, shouting, “Young man, you are rushing towards a precipice”. And then he delivered a moving sermon upon the temptations and sins of youth in a big city.”

A Promise to Mother

1-2-1DB-25-ExplorePAHistory-a0a7r8-a_349At the age of sixteen Robert Moffat, the African Missionary, had to leave home to fill a responsible situation in Cheshire as a gardener. When the day arrived when he should bid farewell to his parents and brothers and sisters, his mother proposed to accompany him to the boat which was to convey him across the Firth of Forth. When they came within sight of the spot where they were to part, perhaps never again to meet in this world, she said—

“Now, my Robert, let us stand here for a few minutes, for I wish to ask one favour of you before we part, and I know you will not refuse to do what your mother asks.”

“What is it, mother?” Robert inquired.

“Do promise me, first, that you will do what I am now going to ask, and I shall tell you,” said the mother.

“No, mother,” said the lad, “I cannot till you tell me what your wish is.”

“Oh, Robert,” exclaimed Mrs. Moffat, “can you think for a moment that I shall ask you, my son, to do anything that is not right ? Do not I love you?”

“Yes, mother, I know that you do,” responded Robert, “but I do not like to make promises which I may not be able to fulfil.”

The young man kept his eyes fixed on the ground. He was silent and endeavoured to resist the rising emotion of his heart. She sighed deeply as if grieved. When Robert Moffat lifted his eyes to look at his mother he saw the big tears rolling down her cheeks, and as soon as he could recover his speech he said—

“0, mother, ask what you will, and I will do it.”

“I only ask you,” said Mrs. Moffat calmly, “whether you will read a chapter in the Bible every morning and another every evening?”

“Mother,” interrupted the lad, “you know I read my Bible.”

“I know you do, but you do not read it regularly, or as a duty you owe to God, its Author; and,” she added, “now I shall return home with a happy heart, inasmuch as you have promised to read the Scriptures daily. 0, Robert, my son, read much in the New Testament, read much in the Gospels, the blessed Gospels. Then you cannot go astray. If you pray, the Lord Himself will teach you.”

In after days, when a noted missionary, Moffat, said his heart was changed by the Spirit of God through reading the Bible, and the Bible only.

Meet the author:  Robert Moffat  (21 December 1795 – 9 August 1883) was a Scottish Congregationalist missionary to Africa, and father-in-law of David Livingstone.  Moffat was born of humble parentage in Ormiston, East Lothian. To find employment, he moved south to Cheshire in England as a gardener. In 1814, whilst employed at West Hall High Legh in Cheshire he experienced difficulties with his employer due to his Methodist sympathies. For a short period, after having applied successfully to the London Missionary Society (LMS) to become an overseas missionary, he took an interim post as a farmer, at Plantation Farm in Dukinfield (where he first met his future wife). In September 1816, he was formally commissioned at Surrey Chapel in London as a missionary of LMS (on the same day as John Williams) and was sent out to South Africa. His fiancée Mary Smith (1795–1870) was able to join him three years later, after he returned to Cape Town from Namaqualand (where he converted the chief Afrikaner to Christianity) and she actively assisted further missionary work.600PX-~1

 

 

 

 

Robert Moffat sitting under an almond tree at Kuruman with his wife and eldest daughter Mary. (National Portrait Gallery, London)