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Past and Present
Bread Cast on the Waters

“Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and ass.”—Isaiah xxxii. 20.

The writer is well acquainted with a Canadian Preacher of a good many years standing who sometimes recited the following reminiscences of his own ministerial labors for the encouragement of himself and others; and which I here record to the honor of that God who has said, “As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but water-eth the earth, and maketh it to bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.’"

(1) “When I was a very young man,” said the preacher, “I was appointed to labour on the C. circuit, which extended some fifty miles along the shores of one of our great North American lakes. My Superintendent was a cheerful, zealous, working preacher, and successful in his ministry. The circuit was pretty much dilapidated, when we went on, by a recent division. But God gave us favor in the eyes of the people, and soon a blessed revival took place, almost in every part. One hundred and forty souls was our net increase for the year. Yet there was one spot, the village of -, where we had a chapel and a small dead society, where I thought neither of us could boast of any fruit-. At the end of the year I left; and for seven long years other fields had my labours and occupied my solicitudes. At the end of that time,-I was re-appointed to G. circuit, then much abridged; but still the place above mentioned was included within its boundaries, and not very much improved. Yet the little soeiety comprehended some gracious souls ; and among the rest, a very exemplary pious young woman, Miss W. by name, who came forward at once on my arrival and claimed me as her “spiritual father” stating that under such a sermon near the close of my year she had been awakened and brought to God. She had immediately identified herself with the church, and had continued a faithful member to the time to which I refer. I had the pleasure of uniting her in marriage to a pious young man who was worthy of her. Their’s was a pious household; and the last I heard of them they were holding on their way. So here was a healthful plant out of a dry soil.”

(2) “In 1831 I rode on horse-back from a circuit to the east of Kingston some one hundred miles, to the capital, where the Conference sat that year. I travelled in all about 300 miles, and returned by the same conveyance. On my way back, my rough-going horse having shaken me very much, I went very slowly and took frequent and long stoppages to rest. In the town of B. my friends detained me several hours, and at their request I gave them a week-night sermon. My subject was, the soul and its loss. I did my best, but was not much inclined to congratulate myself on my performance. I was afraid that it was not of a character to do any good; but I left it with God, ^ind in the morning went on my way. Eighteen years had passed •away, and I had nearly forgotten the week-night sermon in the town of B. I was appointed as the sole deputation to hold the missionary meetings in a large rural circuit. Our previous meetings had been very encouraging, for which I felt very thankful. And my pleasure was still more increased, on arriving at a thriving country hamlet, to renew my acquaintance with religious friends of other days and places. I also made the acquaintance of an intelligent lady, who I found bore an excellent character for active piety, who reminded me of the occasional sermon referred to, and said: “I was then a stranger in B., a backslider; but I was induced to go and hear the traveller —the sermon was instrumental in arousing me from my dangerous slumber, and in bringing me back to that happiness which I have enjoyed ever since/’ How truly did this relation enforce upon my mind that scriptural exhortation, “ Sow thy seed in the morning, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this^or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.”

(3) “ In the winter of 18’—I was stationed in the city of K. Special services were being held in a neighboring village on another circuit. At the request of the preachers on that circuit I went out one evening to help them. It was near the time of Easter, and I gave them a Good Friday sermon—on the sufferings of Christ. But I was almost inclined to pronounce it unsuitable and useless. And the house was so small and crowded that it was impossible to find out much about the penitents.

A young Englishman, however, caught my eye as one who seemed in deep earnest; and as it afterwards appeared, by what we are about to relate, found peace with God that night. Five years after that, I was the ‘ travelling Chairman’ of an extensive district, and was conducting the love-feast service in the town of G. Several spoke of the dealings of God to their souls. Among the rest a person arose in a remote- part of the house, whom I did not remember to have seen before, and spoke with ability and animation. Said he, u Five years ago I went a giddy young man to a protracted meeting in the village of W., a stranger came and preached, from ‘ Christ once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God;’ my heart was broken, I was led to a crucified Saviour, and found joy and peace in believing. Since then I have held on my way. I often wished to see that evening’s preacher; but I was denied my wish—I knew not his name. But, blessed be God! he has given me my desire at last. There he is in the pulpit now’ I need not say, this was a season of mutual rejoicing. And I was glad to learn he had been for some time the useful leader of a little class. May we meet in heaven!”

(4) “Not far from that I met with a singular source of encouragement the same year. In one of my quarterly rounds I took an appointment for the stationed minister of the city of K. —at one of his outposts. It was a little village with a few stores. One of these was kept by a gentleman, who, with his amiable wife, were exemplary members of the Wesleyan Church. I called at his house by arrangement, to wait till the hour of service arrived. The time was spent in profitable religious conversation. Among other things he told me his own religious experience. From the relation of which I found that he had been brought up a Romanist—had early misgivings of the truth of that system—had been for several years converted intellectually, but not converted to God. Several years before he had joined the Methodist Church, as a seeker; but lived without an evidence of personal acceptance, till about two years and a half before, under the occasional sermon of a passing stranger in the neighboring city, on the * Throne of Grace/ he had found peace with God through believing; and that 'stranger’ was the grateful listener to his words, I then remembered to have preached on that subject, on my way from my station to the Conference, on a Sunday evening; and how I had chid myself after I had done for taking so plain and oommon a subject in such a place and on such an occasion, I now viewed it in another light; for had I taken any other there, this inquirer might not have been em^ boldened to come to a ‘throne of grace.’ ”

(5) “When stationed in the town of B—lie for the second time—both periods of sojourn are made grateful to my mind by the rememberance of seasons of gracious revival-?—I say, during the period of my second sojourn in that place, a camp-meeting took place within twenty miles of the town. And I had a strong desire to go, but dare not leave my pulpit till after the Sabbath, and the meeting was to close on Tuesday. But when Monday came I was in want of a conveyance. About noon, however, I mounted a farmer’s hay waggon and rode some dozen miles to his house, where I refreshed myself with a meal; and borrowing one of his horses I rode on to the meeting in time to preach that evening—the last sermon but one. I took a favorite subject, and was much blessed in my own soul; but could not claim that I had been the instrument of any particular good. The meeting closed with a love-feast and farewell procession, and I returned home. Years passed on, and I went a long distance to assist at the missionary anniversaries in that same town of B—lie. Just before leaving I received a note from a person whose name I did not remember to have heard, accosting me as ‘ spiritual father,’ and requesting me to come and see him—he was indisposed, I had to leave and could not comply; but the stationed minister informed me that he was a worthy pious man, who claimed to have been converted at that meeting under my sermon—-that he had been a useful member of another Methodist body, there being no Wesleyan s in his own neighborhood—but that having of late come into the town to reside he had attached himself to those by whose instrumentality he had been first brought to a knowledge of the truth.”

(6) One more is mentioned. “ Lately, on my way to a circuit to which I had been appointed, I spent a Sabbath in a very large city; and in the evening made my first attempt to preach in its largest chapel. I took the word of the soul again. I felt awfully solemn myself. And I heard of one other person, who felt solemn also: a young man, who frequented another place ' of worship. He came there that evening as if by accident— expressed himself as much impressed. The next day he was seized with the Asiatic Cholera; and after a few hours struggle, he died, it is hoped in peace. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” .

The narrator of the above does not mention these cases as peculiar to himself. They have often occurred to his brethren; but they serve to encourage those who mourn the want of visible fruit, to hope that that fruit may appear at a time when, they least expect. Since the above was written, several other cases have come to his knowledge, but he leaves them untold. May we therefore learn

“To labour on at God’s command,
And offer all our works to him!”

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