THE GLORY OF THE LORD SHALL BE REVEALED
Isaiah xl. 5
I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.—St. John xiv. 3.
This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.—Acts i. 11.
We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming (Greek, presence) of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thess. iv. 13-18 (R.V.).
But let us wait and look for the Lord's Coming upon the clouds from heaven. Then shall the angelic trumpets sound; the dead in Christ shall rise first, and then we which remain shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. . . .
The archangel shall shout aloud and say, Rise to meet the Lord. . . . The same Lord shall come from heaven in the clouds Who ascended in the clouds. He Himself hath said, 'They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.'
Who then is that blessed man who shall be found the friend of Christ? That King, so great and glorious, attended by trains of angels, the Fellow of the Father's Throne, will not despise His own servants. For lest His elect be confused with His foes, 'He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds.' He despised not one; how then shall He despise many righteous? 'Come, ye blessed of My Father,' will He say to them who shall then be collected by angels. He honours not the learned before the simple, nor the rich before the needy. Though thou be in the field, the angels shall take thee; though thou be a slave, though thou be poor, be not any whit distressed; He Who took the form of a servant despises not servants. Though thou be sick upon thy bed, yet thou shalt be taken (St. Luke xvii. 34). Though thou of necessity be put to grind and sit beside the mill, yet He Who by His might bringeth out them that are bound, overlooks thee not. He Who brought forth Joseph out of ward and bondage to a kingdom redeems thee also from thy afflictions into the kingdom of heaven.
Abide in the faith lest, like the foolish virgins, tarrying to buy oil, thou be shut out. Be not confident because thou merely possessest the lamp, but constantly keep it burning. Let (Christ) thy Light shine before men. Wear thou the garment of incorruption. That which thou hast received from God dispense as a steward profitably. Hast thou been entrusted with the word of teaching? Be a good steward thereof. Canst thou bring to the Church the souls of thy hearers? Do this diligently. So may we with boldness meet Christ the everlasting King Who reigns for ever.
And may the God of all keep you all, as ye bear in mind the signs of the end and remain unsubdued by antichrist. Thou hast received the tokens of that deceiver who is to come;1 thou hast received the proofs of the true Christ, Who shall openly come down from heaven. Fly therefore the false one, and look for the Other, the True. That thou mayest inherit the Kingdom of heaven, guard that which is committed to thee concerning Christ, through Whom and with Whom be glory to God with the Holy Ghost for ever and ever.— St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
1. Antichrist cometh, but upon him cometh also Christ.— St. Cyprian.
THE GLORY OF THE LORD SHALL BE REVEALED
Isaiah xl. 5
It is helpful and encouraging, in our work for the revival in the Church of the ministry of Christ's healing, to look back sometimes and mark the progress that has been made. I have been asked to speak this morning of my own experience. If I do this for the purpose of showing the progress of the revival, I ask you to forgive my speaking of myself, as it seems unavoidable in giving this account of the work.
It was in 1900, during the South African War, thirty-three years ago, that the Call came to me to devote my whole life and my whole time to this ministry. For eighteen years before that I had been using and developing the spiritual gift which God has entrusted to me for helping sufferers. This groundwork gave me confidence in the Presence of our Lord with us to-day as the healing Saviour. I knew that He not only had the same power as of old to heal, but that He had the love and the will to use His power to comfort and heal the sick and afflicted. I had this confidence; I knew that our Lord is with us. I knew He would heal the sick in answer to prayer and the laying on of hands. So, when the Call came, I had the experience of these eighteen years to give me assurance. Our Lord gave us His promise: 'These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.'1 Now the Call had come to give my whole life to this ministry.
The work was not easy, as you will understand, for I had to face opposition which came, in those early days, not only from the medical profession but also from the clergy. In a sense one is touching the work of both, and it has always been a delicate problem not to antagonize either, but at the same time to be faithful to Christ, the Great Physician Who had
1. St. Mark xvi. 17, 18. 381
called me to this service. The healing of Christ supplements and transcends the healing that God gives through the surgeons and the doctors and medical means. It is His commission to His Church to heal the sick. I do not administer holy anointing, for that is the work of the priest, and I am a layman. I use the laying on of hands with prayer, for this is the ministry to which I have been called. There have been several occasions when I have been asked to co-operate with Bishops and priests; they administered holy unction and I ministered to the sick person with the laying on of hands. We want to realize that it is the Lord Who is working through the means used, and that what He is asking of us is to pray the prayer of faith as we use the means He has Himself ordained. The essential thing to-day as of old is to have a living touch with the Living Christ by faith. When you use the laying on of hands you must pray the prayer of faith: you are depending, wholly and entirely, upon the Lord's Presence and His will to heal. You must be sure in your heart of this, and know that He is present to heal.
There were difficulties in those early days, thirty-three years ago. It was very hard then for the doctors to believe that healing of the body could come through any other way than through material remedies and medical skill. It was difficult, too, for the clergy. They had not received any instruction, so far as I know, about spiritual healing in their theological colleges in those days. Some among them were sceptical, and looked upon the subject with suspicion. Consequently one had to face opposition and obstruction from both sides, with few exceptions. There is far less opposition to-day, and one is greatly encouraged by the difference now. Surely the eyes of very many have been opened, and as we read the Gospels to-day, and follow our Lord about as He heals the sick, we know and are sure that He is the Healer: 'Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and to-day, yea and for ever.'1
I must confess that there were times, in those early days, when there was so much opposition and obstruction, when I felt discouraged, and had it not been for the faith which I
1. Heb. xiii. 8 (R.V.).
met in the poor and afflicted ones, and the fact that many were being healed, I might easily have given up the task in despair. But, thank God, these shadows were never allowed to overwhelm me, and when I was most disheartened, some definite healing would come to give me fresh heart to go on. There were a few faithful friends in those early days who had the Vision of the Healing Saviour, and they stood by me. The late Lord Radstock was one, and the late Mrs. Trotter another. There was always some one, like these, who understood and believed. Among the poor I found such simple faith. They had received very little teaching or education, but they knew Christ, and in that they were rich. They had a simple trust and confidence in Him which the more intellectual people lacked: sometimes that intellectual knowledge was shutting Christ out. Faith in God is not an intellectual thing. Faith is of the heart, and it is found more in the hearts of little children and the poor than among the highly educated. This experience showed me why our Lord chose those fishermen for His first disciples; they were men of warm, sympathetic hearts whom He could trust and train. I sometimes wonder if our Lord would choose out the same sort of men to-day? Do we give Him the simple faith and love of our hearts, as we should, and remember His words, 'Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven'?1
It was at a time when I needed encouragement that God gave it very definitely in the healing of two little children. An urgent message came, asking if I could possibly go to Norfolk. A meeting had been arranged for that afternoon, but as I prayed for guidance, I believed God was calling me to go, and a priest kindly came to take the meeting. When I reached the home in Norfolk, I found the little child very, very ill. We prayed that Jesus would heal that little one, and our prayer was answered: relief was immediate. Then the father of the little boy remembered that his keeper's baby was dying of pneumonia, and he said, 'We have been thinking only of ourselves. Will you come and pray for that child too?' We went and found the baby so ill that the
1. St. Matt, xviii. 3.
doctor had felt he could do no more, and said he would return to give the death certificate. As we prayed for that baby, I was very conscious of our Lord's Presence. His healing Life went straight through me to that little one. As we watched, the baby began to breathe better; then he opened his eyes and looked round. Our Lord 'Manifested forth His Glory' in the healing of those two children. They are grown men now, and are married. Their mothers have told them that our Lord healed them in their infancy. God gave me such encouragement through this healing that I felt I ought never to let anything discourage or depress me. 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'1
There came a time, later on, when the difficulties were very great, and it was a very dark hour. It was then that God gave me the greatest help and encouragement of all. If I speak of it to you, dear Friends, I want you to know that I am giving you a great confidence. It is very, very sacred to me, and I could not speak of it for many years. There were so few who understood then, but people are more spiritually minded now.
It was five o'clock in the morning and, in my great need and trouble, I got up and went into my sanctum to cast my burden upon the Lord. As I prayed, my spiritual eyes were opened.
The Lord was there. I saw Him so plainly. There were seven beautiful steps of crystal, and on that seventh step, the Lord was standing. He was full of love and compassion. He revealed Himself as 'The Lord of all Power and Might'. There are no words to convey that wonderful sense of His power: for Him to move mountains would be like flicking away a speck of dust. Then He spoke to me, and I heard and understood in my soul. His word was this:
'Go forward and be faithful: I am with you.'
This was given to me. Dear Friends, do we realize what it is to be a Christian—to have Christ with us? If the Lord is with us, then we can go forward. 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'2
1. Rom. viii. 31.
2. Phil. iv. 13.
Christ has given to His Church the commission and the power to minister His healing to the sick. We pray that all whom He calls to this blessed work may exercise their ministry in entire dependence upon Him, under His sanction and for His glory.
One of my friends in those early days was Bishop Mylne, sometime Bishop of Bombay and Suffragan Bishop of Worcester. He told me that some of the clergy had asked him what right I had to minister to the sick. His answer to them was this, 'If God gives the gift of healing, you are responsible to Him for its use.' He told me that he considered that as I had been given the gift to heal, it was a sufficient authority for its use.
Here are the sick and the suffering, all round us. The Lord wants to heal them. If He has entrusted to you the Holy Spirit's gift of healing, you find that there is something in you which vibrates to the Lord. You can be a receiver and transmitter of His Divine power. You consecrate yourself and your gift to the Lord that He may heal the sick through your ministry.
So through all these years the work has continued and progressed, and God has prospered it. More and more came, seeking our Lord's healing through this ministry, and many among the clergy and the laity received the faith to look to Christ for the healing of the sick, and to pray for their recovery. I believe that a great deal of work is going on quietly now, and that much is being done for the healing of the sick. The clergy find that their sick-visiting has become a new thing. One of the Bishops in America said to me, 'Before the mission of healing I used to visit the sick because it was my duty, but now I go to them in the Name of Jesus Christ.'
We then formed prayer circles in connexion with our work, and the members undertook to pray daily for the sick whose names were given to them. The spirit of prayer is reviving wonderfully in these days; we see this on all sides, and we are learning to 'Pray one for another, that ye may be healed'.1 Prayer is the way in which all can help in this
1. St. James v. 16. 25
work: all can bring the sick to Christ in prayer. Our work has been that of revival, and we long to see in every parish, as a normal part of the ministry of the Church, a band of faithful people who will intercede daily for the sick, and faithful parish priests who will minister Christ's healing. We want to realize more fully all that our Lord meant the Blessed Sacrament to be to us. He said, 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.'1 Our Church has faithfully kept the full truth before us in the Service of Holy Communion, for we pray that, 'Our sinful bodies may be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood.' Then, when we receive, the words are spoken to each one, 'The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.' 'The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.'
We want to pray more, and to learn how to pray in union with the Spirit of Christ. This is the prayer of expectancy. Then we can go on to believe that we have already received that for which we have prayed. 'This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.'2 But how often people pray the prayer of doubt and of hesitancy when it should be the prayer of faith and of expectancy!
In 1917 the call came to me to take the message of the healing Christ round the world, and in 1919, after two years of preparation and prayer for guidance, the way opened for me to begin this mission of healing, first in the United States and Canada, and then in India, China, Japan, and the Philippine Islands, in Egypt and Palestine, and then in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.3 To-day, thank God, this ministry has taken root and the work is spreading and deepening.
Dear Friends, I want you to realize that this revival of
1. St. John vi. 53.
2. 1 St. John v. 14, 15.
3. Heal the Sick, by J. M. Hickson.
faith in our Lord's Presence and His healing love and power is a preparation for His Coming to this troubled and afflicted world. It was prophesied of His first Coming that He should open the blind eyes and unstop the deaf ears, and you remember He literally fulfilled the prophecy and He gave this sure evidence to the disciples of His forerunner, John the Baptist. 'Go and shew John again,' He said, 'those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.'1 It is prophesied of His second Coming that He shall come 'With healing in his wings'.2 How near our Lord must be to us now, that He is manifesting forth His glory in this our day in the healing of the sick.
What a wonderful privilege it is to be called to take part in this great work of preparing the way for the Coming of Christ, our Redeemer. The healing of the sick which we are witnessing to-day is one of the signs of His Coming. He comes to us as the healing Saviour, full of love and compassion, forgiving all our sins and healing all our diseases, saving our lives from destruction and crowning us with loving kindness and tender mercies.3
I pray that the Church to-day may have the Vision and the faith to recognize that the Lord is at hand. May He prepare us for that hour which He has Himself foretold:
'AND AT MIDNIGHT THERE WAS A CRY MADE,
BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH;
GO YE OUT TO MEET HIM.'4
1. St. Matt. xi. 4-6.
2. Mai. iv. 2.
3. Psalm ciii. 3, 4.
4. St. Matt. xxv. 6. 'He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom: but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's Voice; this my joy therefore is fulfilled.' Christ, the blessed Baptist saith, is the Bridegroom. I have as my chiefest joy to be enrolled among His friends and to hear the Voice of Him that feasteth. I have therefore even now that which I long for, and my dearest wish is fulfilled. For not only did I preach that Christ would come, but Him already present have I seen, and His very Voice do I lay up in my ears.— St. Cyril op Alexandria.
I feel that the time is coming when I must withdraw from this ministry. Many younger ones are coming on, chosen by God for this blessed work. Not long ago a priest spoke to me on the telephone, asking me to come and minister to a sick person in his parish. I knew I must say to him, 'You have to go.' It was a venture of faith to him, like stepping out from the boat and walking on the water to go to Jesus. That priest went, in fear and trembling, to the sick person, and God healed him. After that he came right out, and is being greatly used in ministering to the sick. It is hard, perhaps, to make a beginning, but God rewards the venture of faith.
There is still much to be done, and our Lord calls His faithful followers to His service in this great work of redemption, for the principalities and powers and the rulers of this world-darkness must first be overthrown before His kingdom can come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. How wonderful it will be when Christ our King reigns in His kingdom here upon earth, and His will is done down here as it is in heaven! Then there will be no more of these terrible diseases, no more crying and pain, for He is our Healer and our Redeemer. Christ is working to free man from sin and sickness, and we must keep His ideal always before us in this ministry here on earth. Do not let us be afraid. 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'1 Christ and His holy angels are with us to guide, protect, and uphold us. So let us take courage and go forward, remembering His faithful word,
'Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age.'2