A WORD TO YOUNG FOLK
By D. M. PANTON
We assume that every young converted reader has found his work. It is as when a man sojourning in another country left to each one his work (Mark 13: 34). The work is allotted; the work is waiting; the work is known only to God: therefore we assume that each of us has found his work from God, and is doing it.
Our first counsel is not to underestimate the difficulties of our task. Souls will not at once be converted because we pray; people win not necessarily believe because we tell them the Gospel; our own body is not necessarily mastered because we have prayed to be filled with the Spirit: if we do not realize the enormousness of the task, we may faint, be discouraged, stumble, and backslide.
Our second counsel is - never do less than your best. Napoleon said,- Nothing is done, if anything is left undone; and it is this thoroughness which won him his battles. In moments of weariness and depression tears may fill our eyes because of the poverty of our work for Christ: remember, God never asks us to do more than our best: no burning Seraph beneath the Throne can surpass his best. Therefore as God is watching, as opportunities are flying, as night is coming, whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with your might. It will be a joy for all eternity if we can say,- I did my best. When Robert Chapman, the friend of George Muller, was asked, - Would you not advise young Christians to do something for the Lord? No, was the reply, I should advise them to do everything for the Lord.
Nor, again, need we fear if we lose our reputation. As Mr. Hoote once said:- No work of God is done easily, and no work is done without real sacrifice, real suffering, real loss, and real shame and contempt in the doing of it. Dr. R. S. Beal says:- A college girl said to me recently,- I never realised it would mean such persecution to stand boldly by the Bible in the classrooms of a great university. Your own home folk may tell you that self-sacrifice and faith and spiritual heroisms were beautiful in the Scriptures thousands of years ago, but are quixotic and absurd today. You may discover that a mans deadliest spiritual foes can be they of his own household. This may drive you from God. After a recent 40,000 mile journey abroad Canon M. A. C. Warren says:- There is a grievous resentment against the Church among the young. Communism is making a widespread and genuine appeal to the idealism of youth.
Another counsel is - keep on the alert. Opportunities slip past us that can never be
recovered. God may purposely bring us in
touch with an unsaved soul, and we must be on the alert. Mr. Hogben, founder of the One By
One Band, tells of a naval officer from
Again, we need be warned of anything which exposes us to risks of moral contamination. There is still too much evil in us to allow us to carry lighted matches into cellars of gunpowder. As Dr. James Culross says:- There are amusements - I speak from what I have heard from the lips of some who could not die till they had made confession - there are amusements whose very attraction depends on their connection in thought or suggestion with sin. And there are young men who are found fluttering in the neighbourhood of the danger, like moths round the flame of a candle, to whom it is necessary to give plain warning. If men were moths, that were bad enough; but winged souls - how terrible! No character will ever go far which cannot say No; and if we do not say No, the day comes when we cannot say No. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought UNDER THE POWER of any. It is terrible to waste years of our priceless little life in learning, by bitter experience, lessons which could have been learnt at once without sorrow and without guilt.
Again, anything is inexpedient which involves others - not ourselves - in peril. Could any man number the souls that have been lost on the stage? Mr. Clement Scott, the dramatic critic, after thirty-seven years of close experience of the stage, said:- A woman who endeavours to keep her purity is almost of necessity foredoomed to failure in her career. I marvel at any mother who allows her daughter to take up the theatrical career, and still more am I astonished that any man should calmly endure that his wife should become an actress, unaccompanied by himself. He must be either a fool or a knave. I say that there is no school on earth so bad for the formation of character, or that so readily, so quickly, and so inevitably draws out all that is worst in man or woman as the stage. Doubtless there are theatres which are exceptions to the rule, but such an indictment from a professional of thirty-seven years standing makes the theatre for the Christian impossible. The force of this is enormously multiplied when we learn that this was equally the testimony of Christians eighteen centuries ago. Tertullian, 160 A.D. to 240 A.D., says:- The theatre is especially the shrine of Venus. The theatre of Venus is also the house of Bacchus. Christian, thou must hate these things! On such sweets let the worlds guests be fattened; the places, and the times, and the inviter to the feast are their own. Our feasts, our marriage, is not yet. We cannot sit down with the world, nor they with us. Things go by turns; now they are glad, and we are sorrowful.
The Company We Keep
Again, anything is inexpedient which mars our influence, or degrades our Church. As Theodore Howard has said:- One of the darkest signs of today is to see the Christian workers and the clergy or ministers of the churches catering for the amusement of their congregations, instead of going in for their salvation. I repeat it is one of the darkest signs of the apostasy spreading in our churches today, when the ministers take the lead in the amusements of the churches, and not in giving themselves to the Word of God and prayer. We have no wish to see our young folk as prigs, or plaster saints, or Pharisees; we love to see them natural as well as spiritual: but the cinema, the race-course, the dancing hall - are the company and atmosphere into which these introduce us uplifting, Christian, safe? With what sort of people does the dance bring you into association so intimate and magnetic as to be overwhelming? As Dr. Culross says:- My observation is to this effect, that young people are oftener snared and injured by the company into which their recreations lead them than by any other single thing.
Again, our activities, perfectly lawful in themselves, may be
outside Gods plan for us. Our
activities are to be within our church, active participation in the life and work of our
church, and not like nearly all youth movements today - external,
self-organised, and self-sufficient. Every
re-born soul is part of the
Again, it is extremely important to realize what will absorb humanity immediately before the crash comes. As it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage - concentrating on food and sexual attraction, exactly as we see it done today - until the flood came, and destroyed them all (Luke 17: 26). Our enjoyment of food is a design of God - Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6: 17); and marriage is honourable in all (Heb. 13: 4): but what will follow devotion to good food, and constant sexual attraction? The final crash of judgment. Flee youthful lusts, and follow after righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2: 22).
Finally, do we realize the day in which we are living, and the
facts which the younger among us are almost certain to meet? The former American Commissioner of Indian Affairs, says:-
Our nation in four years has produced and stored enough atomic bombs to
annihilate every large city in