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THE SUNDAY SERVICES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2433, 19 May 1890
THE SUNDAY SERVICES.
There Was an early celebjationtofi* the Sacrament at 8.30, at which'afair number communicated, - the Biahop • being celebrant. . . , ' V At the usual morning service* at 11' o'clock, there was &■ large congregation' the church being quite fufi, and the choir mustering in great, force. .« -All the choir stalls were occupied—we wish this were always the case r -and Mr Twentynup^junr. presided at the organ. There was an unmistakeable accession of the service, the responses being -" taken up more heartily than usual, and the hymns selected for the occasion (147, 304, and 165) being joined in' by the congregation and going with a swing which^jras very, noticeable. Prayers were read by the Rev *he Incumbent (Revß..A. l Sc(#X tno Bishop taking the; second lesson. The sermon was preached by: His;' Lordship, who took for his text Ez. jcxxvjjf-rß,vlo— the vision of the valley of .dry bones. The prophet Bzekiel, said the preacher, lived in the , days when the • Hebrews were exiles from their" own land; and; were scattered almost as they^areto^dayig^nong' other nations and peoples, in daya^when to the ordinary observer, it would appear certain that Israel should be =no- more a nation. It was under such circumstances ■ that to the Prophet was sent in a vision a message of comfort. \ It was the vision of an old battlefield, a valley of boneai that, dry and bleached white by the hot suns of the East, lay strewn upotf the; ground, nor only strewn upon the ground but scattered so that in no one.place perhaps,; were all the remnants of the frame or a complete man to /be. found together. Apparently, this was an altogether 'hopeless sight, and thie prophet could scarcely ..have represented, the condition) ofrlsrael by a more apposite figure.', ,Yet hopeless asit seemed there ioab hope for Israel, for as the vision proceeded bone came to his bone,.and muscle and flesh grew upon them; until where there had been but dry scattered bones there were perfect organisms, wanting only life. And then canjb the command "to the winds " Come ;from the four winds) 0 breath, and breathe. Upon, these slain that they may live, and.-.. ) . . they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Thus they had;in the Vision of Ezekiel (1) Movement,!.' (2) Organisation, (3) Life. Turning then to the condition of theworldat the^jtijtte of the Advent of Our Lord, the preacher said that despite the jnigbt of Borne, the culture of Greece, and thg. /philosophy of the Hebrews/,,it; 1;was;";a dead world to which Christ, came. With Christ came the beginnings of a movement among the 4ry -bones of the dead' world-jof/ which Some knew nothing, and Greece knew nothing, and. even the; Pharisees and Scribes knew> nothings and with Christ came also - organisation—for His Church was organised by the r Lord, jumself. At first the organisation was not extensive, but there was organisation, and by-»nd-bye came the life. Yet was there" life from the . very beginning. Life organisation; for organisation camejjjom life and not life from; organisation ;'T>ut, as upon thatrery day, the risen Christ sent do wn to His Apostles the; fulness of Pentecostal blessing, the fulness of Spiritual life", inj the. Btrength of which they went forth with new power, and the little.Church which he had organised became a. mighty force, ever' laying jtkslA of something in the dead world about it, until the.dry bones of that world had become an army—mighty and victorious. It had, been said that it was no, wqnder that Christianity made such triufnA^nb progress in the second and, third centuries in view of the perfection of its organisation, and of the fact that the philosophies of the day,jto .wjxichit Vas opposed had no such organisation ; but this was not the real' reason, 1' it'^fas the life of-Christ within the Church "which was the cause of its organisation^ the secret of its spread/ and; of its power.' .P^rweeding next to speak ;-6f the Church-of'Christ in our own time, the Bishop said the circumstances'of the Colonial, churches such' as-to-''need' a-somewhat s different organisation fromlthat Which had suited the needs of more settled and older communities in" the Old, Lan d; and there; had been many mistakes on the part of those whbj in tne?r love fpr Home mstitu-> tions, thought they could transplant them complete and entire te hew countries. For example, he instanced .the, .fcasia jof a missionary brother who could, -Jti6i lihderstand that a serviced hoursl long was wholly unsuited,to In^ia, but thought that service there must be conducted just as he had .conducted it, at. Home, no matter, how:hot it inightbei'!But|?rhen mistakes such as this were made by churchmen'v he ' (the preacher) did not find it' difficult to • understand iwhy 1 the Hindoo took more readily to the'methods of the Salvation Army; 'Deprecating 1 the tendency"' of some to cling fto much that was comparatively to neglect that.which, was 1 vital* in religious'matters, .the preacher next, dwelt upon the tendency ' disj^te^nftioj\ which was one o| th« characteristics bf tb.^ age. This tendency-was ; in, .itael^ an evidence of want of -life^' an : iriaicatAoti of sqmophiug wrong.'- Not that there was H-- A!iv!i"-<y-.od in individualism. Certainly 111« r■ ■ v.i-'good in individualism of the right sort, but not that individualism which nude a mail regard hixawAi 4ty
independent of the age, and of the though of the. age, and independent of the truth There was health in individualism of th< right sort, but it was not that mdi vidualism which fashioned its own creec and its own facts. One man told you thai he did not believe in this, another that he did not believe-in that, and yet ho* - many took no pains at all to learn whal were the claims of this or that doctrine tc : be believed, or even what it was that thej were asked to believe. For example c gentleman once told him (the Bishop, that there was one part of the Creed that he never could and never would accept, and being asked what it was" said ''the statement that Christ descended into : >' Hell." Being asked "Why?" he replied "Because I never will believe that Christ was three days in a place of punishment;" When told . > "the Church never asked you to believe it—what is meant being simply that Christ went into the place of departed ": spirits" he answered " Why was I;not told that before ?" In reply (said the Bishop) I asked him how long it,was since he had attended Church, and he said " I suppose about twenty-five years," and then I replied "surely then it is your 11J'.'own fault that you have not heard, and ! not the fault of your minister 1 And the ' evils of an exaggerated or misdirected ; individualism were only too apparent in the Church itself, and had led to the ';. lamentable divisions of Christendom which - gave so great occasion for •.' triumph on the part of the enemies -'■ ;of Christianity. To this was due 1 the fact that in every -little township ■■'■ of say 200 people there were perhaps as many as six Christian Churches,, all in a row, each tinkling" its own little bell, with half-a-dozen half-starved clergymen, while only the most microscopic differences were to be distinguished between them, a state of things which •,-■: naturally, led; unbelievers to say "until you Christians are agreed; as to .what Christianity is, we had better keep outside." . Instead of humbly accepting the truth, yet with a free spirit, there were many whose individualism took the form of hostility to the truth, and many in whom it was displayed in the devising of excuses for keeping away from church and the ordinances of religion. One man never goes to church because they sing too much, another because they don't sing, another because . the services are too long, another because the sermon is not of the kind he approves. There were thousands of such in the church and in the world, thousands who were as the dry bones of the prophet's vision. The church needed better organisation, and they perhaps hoped great things of their new bishop, but what they heeded was more enthusiasm, more life, and he prayed God to give them that life abundantly. If God gave them that life they would soon get the organisation, and religion and the love of God would spread throughout the land, working obedience and righteousness and truth, while the church would become vigorous and healthy, and would be able to carry on her work without recourse to fancy 'bazaars, rag doll fairs, bun fairs, and other ' such miserable devices. There Were some people who seemed to think that the church could not drag along without getting a lift from the Devil now and then, but it must be a poor church , indeed that needed such helps, as he had referred to. What they wanted was the life of God, thepouring out of His Spirit upon them. Then would their religion become indeed a living thing, their church ■ instinct with life, working the work to which God had called through all the ages. The children's service in Sfc Stephen's Church in the afternoon was very successful. The building was crowded to the doors by the young people, their teachers and friends. Prayers and lessons were read by the Rev the Incumbent, and appropriate hymns were sung. Bishop Julius gave an address from the text "The children gathered the wood." He explained that the text was part of a description of a Jewish festival held ■, at a time when that nation allowed idolatry to some extent, the festival being held in honor of an idol .in the temple at Jerusalem. In graphic words he described how the families went to the country for the day, and the cakes made by the mothers were baked in fires for which the sticks were gathered by the children.^So in our daily life now, the children could help in many ways, and "gather wood" both at home, at school, aft play, and in other spheres of life, by helping all those they came in contact with, and if they did all for Jesus sake, they would be helping on the great cause of Christianity. The Bishop then addressed himself particularly to the boys present, giving them some striking instances in his own life and career, showing how boys could help one another and "gather the wood." The girls were then specially addressed in a similar manner, His Lordship engaging the attention of all very closely, and the children behaving in a most orderly manner all through the service. A collection in aid of the Sunday School Building Fund was taken up, and after another hymn, the Benediction by the Bishop closed a very interesting and enjoyable service. At the evening service the church was literally packed with people, the aisles, the space in front of the altar rails, those around the organ and font, the lobby at the west entrance, the vestry, and even the windowsills, being all occupied, and a large number being unable to find stand-ing-room, or even admittance. The Rev. the incumbent again officiated, the Bishop . preaching the sermon. The subject chosen was " the hidden treasure," Matt. xni. 44, the preacher commencing by a reference to the custom in the East, in times of danger and war, of burying treasure in the house or the field. It not infrequently happened that the owner never returned, being perhaps slain oh the battle-field, the hidden treasure remaining undiscovered, it might be for many years. One of the greatest dangers and difficulties which modern explorers had to encounter —as for inBtance at the sites of Nineveh, Babylon and Petra, was the fear of the Arabs that such hidden treasure would be discovered by the Englishmen, who, they fancied, had some special aptitude in the finding of buried valuables. This well-known practice, of hiding treasure in time of danger had been taken by Jesus as the foundation of the parable of the text. Paraphrasing the story as told in St Matthew, the Bishop graphically picture a neglected field containing unknown to the owner a hidden treasure, part perhaps of aproperty the rest of which was carefully cultivated, as exemplj^fying the case of thousands who while paying due regard to the devolopment of their physical frame their social qualities and their mental faculties yet neglected wholly the spiritual side of their nature. Proceeding then to show how great was the value of that which they thus despised, the preacher with an eloquence and power, and a loving earnestness which touched every heart, pourtrayed the experience of Christians in all ages who had found and possessed that treasure, and who like the Apostle Paul accounted honors and fame, and even life itself as but dross in comparison therewith. That treasure was the Christ, Whom to know, Whom to possess, and in Whom to Hyp was the highest bliss, the only true happiness. Pur^ng the servica hymns X 76, 222, 148, 80ft an# 266 were sung, the service throughout being of a thoroughly congre- " gational, and invigorating nature, and the Sunday of the Bishop's 'first visit being ndeed a memorable one.
THE SUNDAY SERVICES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2433, 19 May 1890
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