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The beloved late G. V. W. was a remarkable gift to the Church of God. His conversion was a striking one. He has written an account of it himself. He says:
" Good instructions as to the contents of the Bible were mine at school, at seventeen, under a John the Baptist ministry; but I never knew the gospel till, at nineteen, I went abroad, full of the animal pleasures of a military life. I and my comrade spent a long and tiring day on the field of Waterloo in June, 1824. Arriving late at night at -, I soon went to my bedroom. It struck me, ' I will say my prayers.' It was the habit of childhood, neglected in youth. I knelt down by my bedside; but I found I had forgotten what to say. I looked up as if trying to remember, when suddenly there came on my soul a something I had never known before. It was as if some One, Infinite and Almighty, knowing everything, full of the deepest, tenderest interest in myself, though utterly and entirely abhorring everything in, and connected with me, made known to me that He pitied and loved myself. My eye saw no one; but I knew assuredly that the One whom I knew not, and never had met, had met me for the first time, and made me to know that we were together. There was a light, no sense or faculty my own human nature ever knew; there was a presence of what seemed infinite in greatness-something altogether of a class that was apart and supreme, and yet at the same time making itself known to me in a way that I as a man could thoroughly feel, and taste, and enjoy. The Light made all light, Himself withal; but it did not destroy, for it was love itself, and I was loved individually by Him. The exquisite tenderness and fullness of that love, the way it appropriated me myself for Him, in whom it all was, while the light from which it was inseparable in Him, discovered to me the contrast I had been to all that was light and love. I wept for a while on my knees, said nothing, then got into bed. The next morning's thought was, ‘Get a Bible.' I got one, and it was thenceforward my handbook. My clergyman companion noticed this, and also my entire change of life and thought.
" We journeyed on together to Geneva, where there was an active persecution of the faithful going on. He went to Italy, and I found my own company-stayed with.those who were suffering for Christ.
" I could quite now, after fifty years' trial, adopt to) myself these few lines, as descriptive of that night's experience:
" Christ, the Father's rest eternal,
Jesus once looked down on me,
Called me by my name external,
And revealed Himself to me.
With His whisper, light, life giving,
Glowed in me, the dark and dead;
Made me live, Himself receiving,
Who once died for me and bled."
His ministry, like his conversion, was of no ordinary kind. Like the precious stones on Aaron's breastplate, it sparkled with the varied beauties and glories of the Person of the living, glorified. Christ-Christ as Son of man and Son of God. The Christ of God was his cue theme. Whatever might be the Scripture preached from, the truth unfolded was always exhibited as some ray of His glory. This was the feature of his earlier, whatever his larger spiritual apprehensions in after years, as well as of his later ministry. It was, on this account, ministry of the highest kind-of the highest kind, because it bore the evident stamp of the Holy Spirit, who (said our blessed Lord) " shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16:1414He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:14).)
Nor can it be forgotten that his life (as those who knew him most intimately testify) equally with his ministry was characterized by the power of the Spirit of God. In one of his addresses he says, " The first impression on my heart when converted was, 'Enoch walked with God.' That was my start. Now then,' I said, I will walk with God.' Beautiful as far as it went; but I very soon found, as Luther said to Melancthon, 'You will find old Melancthon stronger than young Philip.' I came to my wits' end, for I wanted a fund whence to draw so as to live it out." He found that fund; for he goes on to say, " You are unable to live out of resources in yourself-you must not act as though your life is separate; CHRIST must be the fountain." At a meeting, also, in London, he once said, " It is all very well to get the heavenly side of truth; but let me remind you that this alone will not do, for nothing will compensate for lack of walking with God." This indeed, it may be safely averred, was the prominent feature of his spiritual life. And most blessed is it when the testimony of the lip is confirmed by; and finds its counterpart in, the walk and conversation. It is in such a combination that God is most abundantly glorified.
It was but natural therefore that those who had known the life and ministry of this servant of God, and had glorified God in him, should have desired that some written record of his ministry should be preserved, judging that the Lord might still use it for the comfort and strengthening of the souls of His people in this day of confusion and departure from the truth. Abundant materials were found-much in his own hand-writing, and much in faithful, though fragmentary, notes of his lectures and addresses. Not only his representatives, who have undertaken the publication, and those who have been charged with the responsibility of selecting and arranging, but also the whole Church of God, will be the debtors of those who have so readily responded to the request for material.
After much prayerful consideration it has been decided to publish two volumes. The contents of the first (the present) comprise-Notes on Scripture, transcribed from G. V. W. 's own Note Book; Lectures and Gospel Addresses, with a few Letters. The second, to be published shortly, if the Lord permit, will consist wholly of matter written by G. V. W. himself for publication. Some of these papers are critical-written to illustrate the character of the Hebrew moods and tenses. They are, however, made very simple, and exemplified in new translations. C. E. S. has most kindly undertaken the revision of this part of the work. The remaining papers are on ecclesiastical subjects, and were issued in the colonies. They are most valuable, being an exposition of the principles of the Church of God, in its constitution, regulation, and discipline.
It only remains to express the earnest hope and prayer that it may please God to use these volumes for His own glory in the edification of His Church.
E. D.
Sevenoaks, Kent.