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قراءة كتاب The Deacon of Dobbinsville A Story Based on Actual Happenings

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‏اللغة: English
The Deacon of Dobbinsville
A Story Based on Actual Happenings

The Deacon of Dobbinsville A Story Based on Actual Happenings

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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no more superstition by that rustic people. There was nothing whatsoever extraordinary in the physical appearance of Evangelist Blank. He was a man of average height and scant weight. His rather pallid face was covered with a scanty well-trimmed beard. His deep-set blue eyes sparkled with a pleasant earnestness. Any lack of physical attractiveness was amply atoned for by the splendid qualities of the man's soul. He was a mighty man of God. He had an unusual grip on the upper world. He had large capacities for moving God on his throne. A heavenly atmosphere pervaded the realm of his personality.

When this man stepped onto the platform of the large brush arbor that summer evening, and took his seat and faced that audience, there was a stillness that was painful. The awful stillness was broken when the Evangelist arose and said, "Praise God for his matchless salvation." He made a few preliminary remarks and the corp of singers began to sing. And such music seldom issues from human lips. It was not overwhelming in point of its artistic qualities. The compositions were of the simplest sort. But the singers sang from out of the abundance of redeemed souls, and there was a heavenly inspiration accompanying the songs that simply overwhelmed the hearts of sinners and overjoyed the hearts of saints. One song that especially gripped the audience ran thus:

"Do you triumph, O my brother, over all this world of sin?
In each storm of tribulation, does your Jesus reign within?"

  CHORUS:

"I am reigning, sweetly reigning, far above this world of strife;
In my blessed, loving Savior, I am reigning in this life."

When this and several other hymns equally inspiring had been sung, Evangelist Blank arose and said, "Let us pray." At this the audience began to make arrangements to stand, for it was the custom in Mount Olivet Church in those days to stand while the preacher "made" his prayer, as Deacon Gramps expressed it. But the Evangelist had the notion that when the heart is humbled before God the body should be in a like position, so he reverently and unpretentiously knelt beside the rough board pulpit. The four singers on the platform knelt simultaneously with the Evangelist. This placed the members of Mount Olivet in a rather embarrassing position. They disliked the idea of being so unreligious as to sit erect during prayer, and they could not bear the humiliation of kneeling at a holiness meeting. A few of them under the press of the circumstance did kneel. A few stood up. Most of them sat with bowed heads. "Spooky" Crane easily adjusted himself to the situation and promptly knelt in the straw, and with his face in his hands peeped between his fingers at the Evangelist. Jim Peabody, the infidel, sat arrogantly erect with an impish snarl on his lip. To him the whole business of praying was a huge piece of foolishness--except, of course, when under the wagon-box. Aunt Sally Perkins knelt beside the front bench and clapped her hands hysterically during the prayer. And Deacon Gramps had slipped under the outer edge of the arbor, where he sat on a low bench with his elbows on his knees and chewed his tobacco most vigorously.

Evangelist Blank, himself, led in prayer. His prayer, like himself, was simple, but mighty. It ran something like this:

"O Lord of heaven and earth, we thank thee for this hour. We have come here in thy name; we plead no worthiness and no efficiency of our own. Thy blood and thy grace is all our plea. We would not thrust ourselves into thy holy presence on any human merits. But in thy name and through the blood of Christ our Saviour we come boldly before thee. We praise thee, Lord, for thy great salvation, by which thou dost save us and sanctify us. O Lord, make thyself mighty in the salvation of this people among whom we have come to labor. Let thy matchless power be manifested and thy righteous name be exalted. Be thou lifted up before the people. Lord, we rededicate ourselves at this hour to be used of thee in the salvation of men. Come into these temples of clay afresh at this hour, O Lord, and let the fire of thy holy presence consume all the dross that may be in us. Anoint our feeble lips to speak the unsearchable riches of Christ ... Hear us, Lord, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen."

This prayer made a profound impression on the audience. When it was finished, a few other songs were sung, and then Evangelist Blank arose to address the audience. There was something about the preaching and personality of this man that made him a unique figure in the field of preacherdom. In the first place, he was masterful in his knowledge and use of the Holy Scriptures. He knew God's Book. By patient study and long practice he had brought himself to the place where he could readily bring to his defence an impregnable line of Scriptural proof to sustain the propositions that he held. He was not only proficient in the Scriptures, but he had a thorough training covering the whole range of ministerial and theological thought. He had the happy and unusual combination of those qualities of mind that make for forceful oratory and clearness in theological thought. And last, and far from least, he walked with God. He had a yearning for the lost of earth's millions.

On that evening when he faced for the first time his brush-arbor audience, it was plainly to be seen that he did not lack for something to say. He did not let his sermon get in the way of his message. He went right to the heart of his subject, which he announced as Salvation. He took for his text Titus 2:11, 12: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."

His sermon ran partly thus: "My friends and brethren, we are here this evening to conduct this service in the fear of God. Almost a year ago I received a letter from Brother Benton urging me to come to his place to hold a revival. Owing to my many calls, I was unable to come until the present time, and now at last we are here in the name of God. We expect him to give us a gracious out-pouring of his Holy Spirit. The text that I have read in your hearing introduces my subject, the subject of Salvation. I feel the burden of this message pressing upon my heart. Since Jesus saved me from a life of sin I have had a consuming desire to get others to press their way into this grand experience. I shall not promise to keep within the bounds of homiletical order tonight, but I do promise to keep within the bounds of God's Holy Word and the leadings of his Spirit." These introductory remarks were stated with a simple earnestness born of a desire to see men saved.

The Evangelist first proceeded to show what salvation is. He said it is a divine work of grace in the heart, wrought by the blood of Jesus Christ. He explained that it means deliverance from sin. He said that if the Bible teaches anything at all, it teaches that the individual must have a vital connection with Jesus Christ.

Next the Evangelist set forth the conditions of salvation. "First," he said, "a man must be sorry for his sins; secondly, he must repent of his sins; and, thirdly, he must forsake his sins."

He dwelt at great length on the effects of salvation in the heart. He said that if a man's religion did not have any effect on him, it was worthless. A man's religion must make him a new creature, he argued. He declared that salvation makes a man love even his enemies. He said salvation cleanses a man from inward and outward filth.

By the time Evangelist Blank had illustrated and amplified all his points he had consumed the major portion of an hour and a half of time. During this time the entire audience was held spellbound by his simple and earnest eloquence.

All this was strange theology to the members of Mount Olivet Church. It was a stinging rebuke to their crooked and hypocritical lives.

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