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The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa
Chapter XX. Andrew Murray as a Spiritual Force

It is useful to have spiritual teachers; and if they be wise, it is wise to learn reverently from them ; but their lessons have not been successful until the learner has gained an eye for seeing the truth, and believes no longer because of his teacher’s word, but because he has an anointing from the Holy One, and knoweth all things.—F. W. Newman.

TO estimate the spiritual influence which Andrew Murray exercised upon his day and generation is not only a difficult but an impossible task. The influences which radiate from us, attracting some and repelling others, but always moulding their characters and shaping their destinies, are so subtle and mysterious as to defy our analysis. This is supremely true of spiritual influences, which proceed from that Divine Spirit of whom it was spoken: “The Spirit breatheth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” There are no human scales in which the character and work of Andrew Murray can be weighed and estimated.: they are in their nature imponderable. He was not a voice alone, but a force ; he created not merely an influence, but an atmosphere. In the land of his birth he impressed himself upon all who had intercourse with him, and there were but few who did not at some time or other either meet him or hear him preach. Upon his colleagues in the ministry his personality made the deepest possible impression. Young ministers and students of divinity found in his evangelistic labours, in which they were frequently permitted to share, a training in practical and pastoral theology which no college professor could bestow. In all religious gatherings he was the acknowledged leader. His advice was sought, his wishes respected, and his opinions deferred to1 by men of all ages and of every degree of social standing. The secret of his influence lay in his lofty Christian character and in the irresistible power which revealed itself in all he said and did. For he was, above everything, the man of prayer. He held constant communion with the Unseen. His spiritual life was fed and nourished from the springs which are invisible and eternal.

The ninth decade of last century was the most prolific in evangelistic toil of Mr. Murray’s whole career. Dining the twelve years from 1879 to 1891, he engaged in no less than seven evangelistic campaigns in all parts of South Africa. ‘Some of these lasted but a few weeks, but many extended over several successive months. The consistory and congregation of Wellington, recognizing the urgent need of the Church and the special gifts of their beloved pastor, readily granted him leave of absence for these revival services. The arrangements for the meetings were the subject of careful thought. Mr. Murray was accustomed to insist strongly on the previous preparation of the soil. He instructed the minister of the congregation he was about to visit how best to kindle large expectations, and so to provide an audience that was both psychologically and spiritually ripe for the reception of Divine Truth. Christians were urged to continuous and believing prayer for an individual and a general blessing. The Church at large was invited to join in fervent supplication that it might please God to grant a rich harvest of souls. Nor were the prosaic details of travel, the stages of the journey, the number and the length of the meetings, beneath his notice. He had much of the saneness and tact, combined with a thorough grasp of detail, which characterized the late Mr. D. L. Moody.

Wherever he journeyed there were prejudices to be removed, difficulties to be smoothed away, ignorance to be dispelled, and coldness and diffidence to be overcome. He had to do frequently with ministers who were not averse to "special services,” but feared that the “after-meetings" formed an undesirable feature. "I tell them," wrote Mr. Murray, "that it would be breaking off the point of the arrow. Imagine a Salvation Army meeting without a penitent form! ” In spite, however, of superficial differences, his fellow-ministers, in almost every case, received him gladly and accorded him the heartiest sympathy and co-operation ; while the audiences, if sometimes unenlightened, listened always with the most respectful and earnest attention.

In a previous chapter1 some account has been given of Mr. Murray’s earliest evangelistic tour. The following extracts from letters to his wife, written during one of his later campaigns, will convey to the reader a clear impression of the nature of his journeyings, the thoughts and prayers which engrossed his attention, the measure of success which attended his efforts, and the alert mind which he maintained towards the thousand and one interests centring in himself :—

From Somerset East during the Ministers’ Conference {April, 1891)

I thank God for your time at the seaside with Mary, and trust it will be a real blessing to her. And what you long for for yourself He will give and is giving. I think you will find the last part of The Quiet in the Land very helpful. It has a very great attraction for me. I can read Tersteegen over and over again. It is as if it was just what was needed as the application of the Epistle to the Hebrews—the Holy Place to which we have access, the place in which we are already, is the innermost sanctuary of the Presence and the Heart and the Love of God.

Our Conference began well—twenty-two ministers, some very earnest. This morning we had the second chapter [of Hebrews] : He calls us brethren. The place and weather are very beautiful. I have not much time to write to-day.

Now as to business: 1. In the second shelf from above of my bookcase, right-hand side, there is a German book bound in black linen, Oetinger, Hebrder-brief. Please send it to me by post addressed to Cradock. 2. Say to Kitty it is all right about the cheque deposited, but the second halves of the bills for Europe must be kept and not sent on. 3. The letter from Mr. Howell was about my ticket and must be sent on here. 4. Send on the British Weekly to me every week by post. 5. I am afraid there was something wrong about the post at Tarkastad, so I asked Kitty if she addressed any letters there. Was there nothing from England? 6. Send to Mr. R. L. Webb, Somerset East, 20 Zijtmij genadig, 20 Waarom gelooft gij niet? 20 Blijf in Jezus,1 in one strong parcel, care of Mitchell’s postcart, Cookhouse Station. ,

My love to the children. Kind remembrances to all. The blessed presence of our God, opened to us in Jesus Christ, be your and my portion.

Written during tour in the Eastern Districts (May, 1891).

Dordrecht, 2nd May.—We left Cradock on Thursday morning, and were here on Friday at 5 p.m., after a rattling drive of twenty hours. Our first meeting last night was very good, and both P.D.R.'s and I feel a great difference between Tarkastad and this. The shaking there has been very real, but at first we felt like speaking against a dead wall. Here there appears much more openness. We are expecting large blessing.

The climate here is delicious, reminding me of the Free State. I was wrong : it was not Oetinger but Steinhofer on Hebrews in German that I want—a small octavo volume in black cloth cover, in the second shelf from the top of the right-hand side of my large bookcase.

I pray the Lord to give you the healing you need for the body, and further, grace to help in every time of need. Oh! that we may know our great High Priest aright—His tenderness, His heavenly presence with us, and the power of the endless life in which He ministers.

My love to all, Kitty and Annie, John and Charles. We purpose leaving this on Tuesday morning, and going through in one day to Barkly East. May our God supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Dordrecht, 4th May.—Please send to Rev. W. Alheit, Dordrecht, 20 Zijt mij genadig, 20 Waarom gelooft gij niet ? Immediately on receipt of this, please, so as to reach here on Friday, in time for his nachtmaal on the 17th. Post early on Monday, well done up.

10 p.m.—Your note of 27th April just received. I enclose Mr. Hazenberg’s post order signed. I am glad about the ministers recalling their letter. God bless Mr. Walton. I had meant to write to Mr. Roux, but have had no time. Gerard is well and bright. My kind regards to him and all friends. Thank du Plessis for his note: an elder of his was here. There is some chance of our going down to Elliot for services on Tuesday next. '

Our services here are over. Deep feeling with many, and open confession with some. We praise God. At the Conference at Somerset East I had hard work, doing most of the talking, but the change here has so set me up that I hardly feel tired. He gives strength. Your extract from Tersteegen is very beautiful. There is in his words and in those of the Friends of God a wonderful depth and power. I feel one needs time to get more of God into our life and work. The Lord teach us.

We are off to-morrow for Barkly, where we hope to be in the evening. It is raining, and this may detain us. Much love to the children and yourself.

Barkly East, 13th May.—Give the enclosed note to Miss Ferguson, and see if she has a teacher for Mrs. van Schalkwijk. Send to Rev. H. Muller, Barkly East, xo Zijt mij genadig, 10 Waarorn gelooft gij niet? and to Kerkeraad, Venterstad, 20 Zijt mij genadig and 20 Waarom gelooft gij niet?

Lady Grey, 15th May.—Came on here yesterday. But such roads— truly like the Transvaal! This morning, on awakening, I for the first time felt tired. But it is all right now. What a sad sight, the home here! The father left with ten children, ten motherless children, the youngest only three. The eldest daughter is now better, but still weak in health. The second daughter is the only mother, caring for all. Miss Piton, our graduate, is in the home, and acts as auntie—a great comfort to them.

Services began this afternoon in pouring rain. I am humbly asking the Father to command it to cease. That letter from America is interesting, but very solemn to myself. I am trusting for the full revelation of Christ in the heart, in a peace and rest never for a moment disturbed. The high-priesthood of Hebrews and the power of an endless life are very precious. I have begun writing a Dutch book on Hebrews, which I look to God to bless very much.

Maraisburg, 28th May.—Our Monday morning meeting [at Molteno] was something very beautiful. Testimonies in abundance, and very clear, of blessing received by people who had long feared the Lord, but had not known what salvation by faith was. And some twenty confessions of conversion.

Monday afternoon to Sterkstroom, for that evening and Tuesday. Had some clear cases of entrance into light and joy. Returned to Molteno yesterday : a number of people came up again. Mrs. Marais very warm—a young girls’ prayer-meeting started, a boys’ prayer-meeting too. A parting service at 6 p.m. in the church, and at 7.30 a large English service in the Wesleyan chapel.

Danie Marchand came yesterday to accompany me here. Along the road, much proof of God’s blessing on the services, and so many testimonies to the effect: “I thought I must be, or get, or do something, and now I see it was all wrong. I now trust the living Jesus.” The joy is great in many hearts. I meet many who are the fruit of former special services. To-day three. First, a man: “Oh! I saw you at Colesberg, where I got the light.” Then a woman: “Do you remember speaking to my daughter in the vestry at Cradock, and giving her the text I am with you alway? She died so brightly three years afterwards.” Then a young woman: “Do you remember at Steynsburg asking the people in a prayer to give themselves wholly to God? I was a child, and did it.” So the Lord proves the work is not in vain. To His name be the praise.

Mr. Murray’s broad Christian charity revealed itself in many ways, and was especially noticeable in the generous welcome which he extended to other evangelists who from time to time visited these shores. One of the earliest of these visitors from overseas was Henry Varley, who in 1886 conducted a series of remarkable meetings in the chief towns of South Africa. Upon Mr. Varley followed at short intervals a number of missioners, among whom may be mentioned George C. Grubb, Spencer Walton, John McNeill, Mark Guy Pearse, Gelson Gregson, Charles Inwood, Gipsy Smith, Donald Fraser, John R. Mott, and F. B. Meyer. When these men landed in Table Bay, Mr. Murray was among the first to bid them welcome, and to lend the weight of his influence and authority to their undertaking. Many of them might have found the doors of the Dutch Reformed Churches closed against them— for the South African Dutch as a people and as a Church are averse from nieuwigheden (novelties)—were it not that the Moderator had given them his countenance and benediction. In the case of all these devoted men there can be no doubt that the sympathy, the constant interest, and the fervent prayers of Mr. Murray formed, under God, a large element in any success which may have attended their mission. Dr. F. B. Meyer, one of the most recent of these visitors, makes the following acknowledgment in A Winter in South Africa (1908) :—

From the first the ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church showed me much Christian courtesy. . . . All were prepared to accept the lead given by the venerable Dr. Andrew Murray, who came from Wellington on purpose to attend the meetings [in Cape Town], and took part in prayer and benediction. I can never forget or repay his kindness. On a future page I hope to allude at length to the influence of this saintly man upon his Church. It is enough to say here that, notwithstanding his eighty years, his intellect is as bright and his natural force almost as vigorous as when he visited England fifteen yeats ago. He is honoured and loved throughout the Church of which he is the recognized father and leader, and beyond. It was of untold help, therefore, that my earliest meetings should receive his endorsement and his blessing.

During the great revival of i860, which has been described in a former chapter, an earnest-minded minister of the D. R. Church, the Rev. van der Lingen of Paarl, proposed that in future the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost should be observed in the same manner as the first disciples did, namely by “continuing steadfastly in prayer” for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The suggestion was readily adopted, and the number of congregations and prayer-circles taking part in the movement grew slowly greater. In 1867, Mr. Murray published in the Kerkbode a series of ten brief meditations for the Whitsuntide gatherings. This was the precursor of many similar subject-outlines, which were prepared annually, and of which several were expanded into devotional manuals and issued in the Dutch and English languages. The custom, which Mr. Murray thus encouraged and aided, of holding meetings for prayer from Ascension Day to Whit-Sunday, has been of inestimable blessing to the D. R. Church. Year after year reports appear in the columns of the denominational paper, from ministers and congregations in all parts of South Africa, describing the blessing which has attended the observance of the ten days of prayer in the quickening of believers and the regeneration of the unconverted. It is surely not the least of the spiritual benefits which Andrew Murray conferred upon his Church, that he assisted her in establishing and continuing a usage to which she owes so much of her religious vitality and missionary fervour.

Beyond South Africa Mr. Murray’s influence has been, probably, greater than that of any other contemporary devotional writer. Of his first essay in English authorship we have already spoken,1 while fuller reference to the many books which flowed from his pen is reserved for a future chapter.2 Abide in Christ, his first English venture, appeared in 1882, and in 1888 were published Holy in Christ and The Spirit of Christ, which (together with The Holiest of All) represent the high-water mark of his literary and theological achievements. Between the above-mentioned dates he had found his audience, for when The Spirit of Christ was issued his first work had already reached its fifty-third thousand. His readers, counted by tens of thousands, were scattered all over the globe. Evangelical circles in England and America recognized in him a Christian teacher who spoke with authority, and not as one of the common scribes. His growing spiritual influence led to his being invited, in 1895, to visit. v England for the purpose of delivering addresses at the Reswick and other conventions. Mr. Murray was suitably introduced to the Christian public of Great Britain in a paper by the Rev. H. V. Taylor, which appeared, together with a portrait, in the British Weekly of 6th December, 1894, and from which we take over the following paragraphs :—

Andrew Murray, if any man, may justly claim the title of catholic, for his sympathies are unfailingly given to each one who loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity and truth. “We are Christians first and Dutch Reformed afterwards,” he said with vehemence when addressing the delegates from other Churches who came to the opening of the recent Synod. And this saying gives the note of his life. He desires to be known as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus simply, and he seems to examine every one he meets for the Christian element in him. That is the impression left on the mind when one is in conversation with him. His keen, yearning look appears to scan the face of his interlocutor for the witness of the Christ-life there, and to plead above all things for loyalty to the one Master. You cannot help saying to yourself, “ This man wants me to belong to Jesus Christ.” No one who has talked with him, even on casual themes, can forget that wistful glance.

He is, I suppose, well known to most readers of religious literature by his devotional books, notably Abide in Christ. His nature is profoundly devotional; he carries with him the atmosphere of prayer. He seems always wrapped about with a mantle of adoration. When preaching or conducting a service, his whole being is thrown into the task, and he glows with a fervency of spirit which it seems impossible for human flesh to sustain. At times he startles and overwhelms the listeners. Earnestness and power of the electric sort stream from him, and affect alike the large audience or the quiet circle gathered round him. In his slight, spent frame, of middle height, he carries in repose a volcanic energy which, when he is roused, bursts its barriers and sweeps all before it. Then his form quivers and dilates, the lips tremble, the features work, the eyes spasmodically open and close, as from the white-hot furnace of his spirit he pours the molten torrent of his unstudied eloquence. The thin face and almost emaciated body are transfigured and illumined. The staid, venerable minister of the nineteenth century, with the sober, clerical garb and stiff white tie, which is de rigueur among the Dutch clergy, disappears, and an old Hebrew prophet stands before us—another Isaiah with his glowing imagery, a second Hosea with his plaintive, yearning appeals. Audiences bend before the sweeping rain of his words like willows before a gale. The heart within the hearer is bowed, and the intellect awed. Andrew Murray’s oratory is of that kind for which men willingly go into captivity.

His disposition is mystical, with, as in the best of mystics, the religious thought clothing a strong and fearless nature. No man can study his face without being struck by the inwardness of the deep-set grey eyes. Even when one gets to hand-grips with him in closeness of intercourse, one is conscious of the great part that remains unexpressed, the spiritual Hinterland which extends far beyond the visible shore. There is ever and anon the suggestion of great strength held in reserve. A student of character cannot help the conviction that if the old days of persecution were to return, Andrew Murray would go to the stake as cheerfully as he steps up to the Moderator’s chair.

Mr. Murray left for Europe, accompanied by Mrs. Murray, by the steamship Norman on the 8th of May, 1895. Only the chief incidents of this journey, which comprised England, America, Holland, and Scotland, can be chronicled. At Exeter Hall, on his arrival, he was welcomed at a public breakfast, when he seized the occasion to impress upon the friends who had invited him the necessity of expecting all from God alone. In connexion with the Guildford Convention, shortly afterwards, he delivered four addresses and preached twice on the Sunday. At the Mildmay Conference he spoke thrice and administered the Lord’s Supper to a great gathering of fourteen hundred communicants. In the month of July he visited Keswick, where he was one of the principal speakers. Of the memorable and indelible impression which he produced, the Rev. Evan H. Hopkins, editor of the Life of Faith, speaks in these terms :—

The main feature of this [twenty-first] Convention has been the presence of our beloved brother, the Rev. Andrew Murray of South Africa, whose addresses have come home to so many with peculiar power. . . . As message after message was enforced by one who has evidently been the marked minister of God this time, it seemed as if none could escape, as if none could choose but let Christ Himself, in the power of His living Spirit, be the One to live, although the cost was our taking the place of death. ... As this was dwelt on more and more deeply as the days went on, especially at the solemn evening meetings, there came over some of us a memory of Keswick in-1879, when an awe of God fell upon the whole assembly in a way the writer has never seen equalled. . . .

That was in the days when Keswick was looked on askance, and darkly ; when those who gathered had to let their reputation die by daring to attend. Oh, that God may grant that in these days when no such slur attaches to the thought of coming, there may be not less deep work done. Surely we may hope that God means it so, when in the stillness and isolation (as to Christian intercourse such as we have) of a South African sphere, He so prepares and fits a servant of His, that when He calls him to join a group of those who have been living for years in the fullness and richness of constant brotherly communion and intercourse, spiritual and intellectual, they should find not only a oneness of heart and a unity of teaching, but one who can so teach that they willingly and gratefully gather round to listen.

One address stands out beyond all others. It was on The Way to the Higher Life, as shown in the petition of the two sons of Zebedee, “ Grant us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.” What they asked was a good thing, a glorious thing. Their petition summed up three things which are the longing of the heart that craves to be lifted from the lower level of Christian life to a higher, for it asked nearness to Jesus, likeness to Jesus, power for Jesus. There was nothing wrong in the request: what was wrong was the spirit, and what was wanting was the understanding of what it involved. And He met it by asking them: “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” The answer to it means death. Are ye able? And they said, We are able. Will you say it? We are able : we want that higher level—that life which abides in the will of Jesus, which ignores the self-life? And His answer was, Ye shall indeed.

From England Mr. and Mrs. Murray, at the urgent invitation of Mr. D. L. Moody, crossed over to America. The chief overseas visitors at the Northfield Conference on this occasion were the Revs. Webb-Peploe and Andrew Murray. For a full fortnight Mr. Murray conducted the morning sessions, speaking solely on the one subject in which he was then absorbed—the feeble and sickly religious life of the Churches. Not less than four hundred ministers attended this gathering, and large numbers, including Mr. Moody himself, testified to having derived great benefit and blessing from the message delivered. From Northfield his itinerary led him to Chicago, where he spoke twice daily at a five-day convention. The Murrays then recrossed the Atlantic, and in the month of October a remarkable succession of gatherings took place in Holland. We may imagine the feelings with which Mr. Murray addressed a huge concourse of two thousand people in the Cathedral at Utrecht, when he stood on the very pulpit before which, at his confirmation fifty years previously, he had made public profession of his faith in Christ. Not only at Utrecht, but at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, The Hague, Groningen, and other cities, multitudes flocked to his services, and a time of deep earnestness and real spiritual awakening was experienced. Before his departure a pressing request, to which he found it impossible to accede, was laid before him by the missionary authorities, to visit the mission fields of the Dutch Churches in India and the East. After a brief visit to Scotland, and successful gatherings at Aberdeen and elsewhere, Mr. Murray journeyed to London, where the closing meetings of the evangelistic tour were held. Of this last series of meetings, which stood in connexion with the Presbyterian Church of England, we have the following contemporaneous account, drawn from the columns of the British Weekly (28th November, 1895) :—

The Convention “for the promotion and strengthening of spiritual life” which met in Regent Square Church and Exeter Hall on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week, was in every respect a success. The Rev. Andrew Murray was the principal speaker at all the meetings. The Moderator of Synod, the Rev. S. R. Macphail, M.A., of Liverpool, and the Rev. G. H. C. Macgregor, M.A., of Notting Hill, also gave addresses. The opening meeting of the series and the day meetings were held in Regent Square Church. The evening meetings on Thursday and Friday took place in Exeter Hall. Ministers and office-bearers of the Church were present in large numbers on each occasion.

It is no slight undertaking to make seven speeches, each of about an hour in length, within three days. This was Mr. Murray’s task. He has been addressing numerous meetings of the same character within the last few weeks, and everywhere the people liave gathered in crowds to hear him. His discourses are delivered without the use of manuscript or notes. The aim of the Convention was a limited and specific one, and Mr. Murray’s power lies in the proclamation of a specific message— " how sooner and more completely,” to quote the Rev. S. R. Macphail, " we can not only believe in, but have a full realization of our completeness in Christ Jesus.” Perhaps the most striking and profoundly spiritual of Mr. Murray’s addresses was that delivered on Friday morning from the words, “Kept by the power of God through faith.” "The keeping of God,” he said in the course of his sermon, “is an omnipotent keeping. I want to get linked with the Omnipotent One. Why is it that we, the children of Pentecost, know so little of what it is to walk step by step with Almighty God? I can experience the power and goodness of God only so far as I am in fellowship with Him. Omnipotence was needed to create the smallest thing, and Omnipotence is needed to keep the smallest thing. You must learn to know and trust Omnipotence. A godly life is a life full of God. This keeping is continuous and unbroken. All life is an unbroken continuity, and the life of God is His Almighty power working in us. Let us make God’s Omnipotence the measure of our expectation." The words in italics are a prominent and characteristic part of Mr. Murray’s teaching.

"We must take God at His word and return to the rapture and fire of the first Apostleship”—this sentence expresses the spirit and quintessence of Mr. Murray’s teaching. He seeks to restore to their original fulness of meaning the precepts and sayings of the early Apostles. “The object of the Convention," he said, "is to ask the question, Are we living up to the privileges of our high calling?” In one of his addresses Mr. Murray said, " God will put no difference between the Church of the first days and us. The power that is working in you is the same power that raised Christ from the dead.”

Dr. Newman Hall, the Rev. F. B. Meyer, and the Rev. Thomas Spurgeon were present, and took some part at the meetings of the Convention. The two great meetings at Exeter Hall, at which more than two thousand people were present, were the most successful of the series. They were announced to begin at seven, but after half-past six it was difficult to get a seat. The interval of waiting was spent in the singing of hymns. The only speakers besides Mr. Murray who addressed these gatherings were, as has been said, the Rev. S. R. Macphail and the Rev. G. H. C. Macgregor. Both were brief, and both made a good impression. Mr. Murray, who has now brought to a close his series of services in this country, will shortly return to Africa.

At Keswick, in response to a request on the part of Christian friends, Mr. Murray gave some account of his spiritual growth, from which we venture to extract the essential portion. In this connexion reference should be made to what has been related as to his experiences in the Transvaal in 1862,1 and the passionate desire and longing, to which he gave utterance, for a life wholly filled and controlled by the Spirit of God. At Keswick he said in substance :—

Some of you have heard how I have pressed upon you the two stages in the Christian life, and the step from the one to the other. The first ten years of my spiritual life were manifestly spent on the lower stage. I was a minister, I may say, as zealous and as earnest and as happy in my work as anyone, as far as love of the work was concerned. Yet, all the time, there was burning in my heart a dissatisfaction and restlessness inexpressible. What was the reason? I had never learnt with all my theology that obedience was possible. My justification was as clear as noonday. I knew the hour in which I received from God the joy of pardon. I remember in my little room at Bloemfontein how I used to sit and think, What is the matter? Here I am, knowing that God has justified me in the blood of Christ, but I have no power for service. My thoughts, my words, my actions, my unfaithfulness—everything troubled me. Though all around thought me one of the most earnest of men, my life was one of deep dissatisfaction. I struggled and prayed as best I could.

One day I was talking with a ifiissionary. I do not think that he knew much of the power of sanctification himself—he would have admitted it. When we were talking and he saw my earnestness he said, “Brother, remember that when God puts a desire into your heart, He will fulfil it.” That helped me; I thought of it a hundred times. I want to say the same to you, who are plunging about and struggling in the quagmire of helplessness and doubt. The desire that God puts into your heart He will fulfil.

I was greatly helped about this time by reading a book called Parables from Nature. One of these parables represents that after the creation of the earth, on a certain day, a number of crickets met. One of them began, saying, “Oh, I feel so happy. For a time I was creeping about looking for a place where to stay, but I could not find the place that suited me. At last I got in behind the bark of an old tree, and it seemed as though the place were just fitted for me, I felt so comfortable there.” Another said, “I was there for a time, but it would not fit me”—that was a grass cricket. “But at last I got on to a high stalk of grass, and as I clung there and swung there, in the wind and the air, I felt that that was the place made for me.” Then a third cricket said, “Well, I have tried the bark of the old tree, and I have tried the grass, but God has made no place for me, and I feel unhappy.” Then the old mother-cricket said, “My child, do not speak that way. Your Creator never made anyone without preparing a place for him. Wait, and you will find it in due time.” Some time after these same crickets met together again and got to talking. The old mother said, "Now, my child, what say you?” The cricket replied, "Yes, what you said is true. You know those strange people who have come here. They built a house, and in their house they had a fire ; and, you know, when I got into the corner of the hearth near the fire I felt so warm, that I knew that was the place God made for me.”

That little parable helped me wonderfully, and I pass it on to you. If any are saying that God has not got a place for them, let them trust God, and wait, and He will help you, and show you what is your place. So the Lord led me till in His great mercy I had been eleven or twelve years in Bloemfontein. Then He brought me to another congregation in Worcester, about the time when God’s Holy Spirit was being poured out in America, Scotland, and Ireland. In i860, when I had been six months in the congregation, God poured out His Spirit there in connexion with my preaching, especially as I was moving about in the country, and a very unspeakable blessing came to me. The first Dutch edition of my book Abide in Christ was written at that time. I would like you to understand that a minister or a Christian author may often be led to say more than he has experienced. I had not then experienced all that I wrote of ; I cannot say that I experience it all perfectly even now.

Well, God helped me, and for seven or eight years I went on, always enquiring and seeking, and always getting. Then came, about 1870, the great Holiness Movement. The letters that appeared in The Revival [now The Christian] touched my heart; and I was in close fellowship with what took place at Oxford and Brighton, and it all helped me. Perhaps if I were to talk of consecration I might tell you of an evening there in my own study in Cape Town. Yet I cannot say that that was my deliverance, for I was still struggling. Later on, my mind became much exercised about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I gave myself to God as perfectly as I could to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Yet there was failure ; God forgive it. It was somehow as if I could not get what I wanted. Through all these stumblings God led me, without any very special experience that I can point to ; but as I look back I do believe now that He was giving me more and more of His blessed Spirit, had I but known it better.

I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life. In the first place,

I have learnt to place myself before God every day, as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His own work in me.

If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is this : that it is God who worketh all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realize this! I was once preaching, and a lady came to talk with me. She was a very pious woman, and I asked her, “How are you going on?” Her answer was, "Oh, just the way it always is, sometimes light and sometimes dark." " My dear sister, where is that in the Bible?” She said, "We have day and night in nature, and just so it is in our souls.” “No, no; in the Bible we read, Your sun shall no more go down." Let me believe that I am God's child, and that the Father in Christ, through the Holy Ghost, has set His love upon me, and that I may abide in His presence, not frequently, but unceasingly.

You will ask me. Are you satisfied? Have you got all you want? God forbid. With the deepest feeling of my soul I can say that I am satisfied with Jesus now ; but there is also the consciousness of how much fuller the revelation can be of the exceeding abundance of His grace. Let us never hesitate to say, This is only the beginning. When we are brought into the holiest of all, we are only beginning to take our right position with the Father.

Shortly before his visit to England in 1895, Mr. Murray had fallen under the potent spell of William Law, the famous non-juror and mystic of the eighteenth century. Law was in every sense a remarkable man. He was a powerful controversialist, and in one of his treatises against the Deists he anticipated to a large extent the famous argument elaborated by Bishop Butler in his Analogy of Religion to the Constitution and Course of Nature. He was the author of many books of practical divinity, the most famous of which, A Serious Call to a devout and holy Life (1728), not only exercised a profound and lasting influence on the men of the Evangelical Revival—the Wesleys, Whitefield, Venn, Adam, and others— but by its serious style evoked the enthusiasm of men of such different temperaments as Samuel Johnson and Edward Gibbon. In his later years he became a follower of the German mystic, Jacob Bohme, whom he calls “ that heavenly illuminated and blessed man, Jacob Behmen,” and to the study and exposition of whose works he gave the remaining years of his life. Those years were spent at a little village in Northamptonshire, where he dwelt with two like-minded ladies, devoting all his time to devotion, study, and the exercise of Christian charity. The united incomes of his two companions amounted, it is said, to £3,000 per annum, and almost the whole of this sum was spent in the establishment and upkeep of schools, almshouses, and charitable foundations.

The works written by William Law during the latter portion of this life—especially The Spirit of Prayer, The Spirit of Love, and An affectionate Address to the Clergy—give him an unchallenged place as the chief of the English mystics; and it is the mystical element in his teaching which has proved to be such an irresistible attraction to minds like those of Andrew Murray. To define mysticism is not an easy matter. The English language has but one word mysticism to express two different conceptions, which we find represented in German and Dutch by the words Mystizismus, mysticisme and Mystik, mystiek. The former expression denotes the cult of the hidden and mysterious in religion, and under it we include pursuits like theosophy and spiritualism. The latter is mysticism in the true and Christian sense of the word, and stands for the immediate experience of and intercourse with the Divine. All vital religion is at bottom mysticism, which, as its etymology implies, has to do with that which is mysterious, incomprehensible, and incommunicable. Religion is rooted in personal experience, and man's deepest experiences, like the heart’s hidden grief and joy, are something with which a stranger intermeddleth not. St. John has been called the mystic par excellence of the New Testament, but it is equally true to say that the apostles Paul and Peter, or the Psalmists of the old dispensation, were mystics. Utterances like the following are expressions of the mystical spirit: “I live, and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me, and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"; "Whom not having seen ye love, on whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory”; “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him”; “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee,—whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee; God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Mysticism in its religious and practical, as distinguished from its philosophical and speculative aspect, may be defined as the endeavour of the human spirit to rise to the blessedness of immediate and uninterrupted communion with God.

The history of Christian mysticism has been a strange and chequered one. In its practical form4 it derives from the Middle Ages. It was essentially a reaction from the formal and dogmatical theology of the scholastics. One of the earliest theologians who was also a writer on mysticism was Bernard of Clairvaux—a favourite historical character with Andrew Murray, who called his home at Wellington after the famous abbey which Bernard founded in the plains of Champagne. In common with the mystics of an earlier date, St. Bernard dwells on the three stages through which the soul must pass before it reaches the ecstatic vision of God— purification, illumination, contemplation. In order to attain to this ecstatic vision it is necessary for the seeker to lose himself in God, and merge his own individuality in that of the Eternal One. “As air filled with sunlight is transformed into the same brightness, so that it does not so much appear to be illuminated as to be light itself—so must all feeling towards the Holy One be self-dissolved in unspeakable wise, and wholly transfused into the will of God. For how shall God be all in all if anything of man remains in man ? ” The practical result of the teaching and example of men like Bernard of Clairvaux was to give a mighty stimulus to asceticism. If God was to be found only through the contemplative life and the ecstatic vision, it followed that those who sought after the mystic union with Him must resolutely withdraw from the world, and give themselves to prayer and fasting and rigid austerity.

The mystics of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries have been called the forerunners of the Reformation. And such in a sense they were. They represent a revolt from the worldliness of the Church, and a protest against the licentious and scandalous lives of the mass of the clergy. The chief mystics of that period were Germans. Germany, indeed has always afforded a fertile soil for mystical teaching. The contemplative life, the introspective gaze, the absorption in supra-sensual and eternal things, seem to have exercised at all times a peculiar fascination over the speculative Teutonic intellect. Meister Eckhart of Cologne is a typical German mystic. He reverted to the philosophical mysticism of the early Christian centmees, and sought to give a profounder and more spiritual signification to the doctrines of the Church ; but the issue of his teaching was, in effect, to minimise the historical truths of the Christian revelation, and to substitute speculative for Scriptural doctrine.

A much nobler type of mystic is found in the Friends of God—an association of earnest men who banded themselves together for the promotion of a closer intercourse with God. These men lived truly holy and devoted lives, though they too indulged sometimes in those extravagances which seem to have been inseparable from the religion of that age. Johanp Tauler, a famous Strassburg preacher, instead of delivering on one occasion the expected sermon, broke out in a storm of sighs and prayers while in the pulpit, and had to be debarred from preaching by the brethren of his order. Nicolas of Basle left his bride in tears at the altar, and declared that he could not marry her, since he was already and irrevocably espoused to Christ. Henry Suso and Merswin the wealthy banker enfeebled their bodies and shortened their lives by the severe austerities which they practised. Yet these Friends of God exercised a widespread and most wholesome influence on the religious life of their day. That famous book Theologia Germanica, which together with Tauler’s sermons contributed so powerfully towards Luther’s emancipation from the bondage of scholasticism, proceeded from this circle of Friends.

Among Protestant mystics the greatest beyond all doubt is Jacob Bfihme. He was wholly unlearned in the theology of the schools, a shoemaker by trade, a thinker and a genius by nature. Most unfortunately Bohme imbibed in large draughts the astrological and theosophical speculations of Paracelsus—alchemist, physician, philosopher, charlatan— and consequently the terminology in which he presents his thoughts is obscure and even repellent. Such expressions as “solution, purification and re-fixation,” “ens of the Fire-source and ens of the Light-source,” “bi-une being and magical propagation,” may have all the attraction of obscurity for some minds, but fill the reader who is in search of edification with despair. Stated in briefest possible compass, Bohme’s system is the following : the invisible and eternal universe, which lies behind the temporal and visible is composed of two root-principles, darkness and light. God is the light-principle, and Lucifer, the Fallen Spirit, is the principle of darkness. These two principles are present in every man, and his destiny is determined by his choice of principle. The light-principle, or love principle, has its fullest revelation in the incarnation and death of Christ. Salvation is not the adhesion to any creed, nor the performance of any good works or heavy penances. Nor does it consist in membership in any visible Church, but only in the inward heart-union with the eternal love-principle, God. Salvation is the life of God brought to a personal, conscious expression in the individual men. And through the power of this new and divine life we can—to use Bohme’s terminology—put the self-will into the hiddenness [i.e. the subconscious self], and live in the meekness in which Christ habitually lived.

Enough has been said to show the general trend and teaching of mysticism. So long as it remains an attitude of mind and heart—the silent waiting upon God—it cannot be too highly esteemed as the greatest desideratum and the best corrective of our feverish age. But as systematized and expounded by its foremost representatives, Bohme and Law, mysticism lies open to the gravest objections. These objections may be summed up under the following counts: mysticism depreciates the value of Scripture, denies the imputation theory of the atonement, minimizes the worth of the Church as a visible divine institution, rejects the doctrine of the Divine Sovereignty in election and predestination, and reveals a marked pantheistic tendency.

As to its doctrine of Scripture we need only refer to the emphasis which George Fox and the Quakers generally attach to the "inner light,” which is placed on an equality with, if not actually exalted above, the Word of God. And even Law, the most scriptural of the mystics, maintains that “the Scriptures can go no further than to be a true history; they cannot give to the reader of them the possession, the sensibility and enjoyment of that which they relate.” Furthermore, Law repudiates the ordinary doctrine of the atonement, what he calls the "debtor and creditor scheme,” and teaches that atonement consists in the restoration within us of a harmony that has been disturbed, and not in the imputation to us of the merit of Another. No less decided is his repudiation of current ecclesiological doctrine: "Away with the tedious volumes on Church unity, Church power and Church salvation. Ask neither a Council of Trent, nor a Synod of Dort, nor an Assembly of Divines, for a definition of the Church. The true Church is nowhere but in the new creature, that henceforth sinneth not, nor is any longer a servant to sin.” So too Law rejects the doctrine of God’s predestinating Sovereignty. There is, indeed, no room in the mystical creed for conceptions such as election and reprobation. “ Consider the Deity to be'the greatest love, the greatest meekness, the greatest sweetness, the eternal unchanging will to be a good and a blessing to every creature ; and that all the misery, darkness and death of fallen angels and fallen men consist in their having lost their likeness to this divine nature.” Finally,—the pantheistic trend of mystical thought is far more definite in Bohme than in Law : indeed, the former is known as " the Christian pantheist,” and his speculations form the basis, to some extent, of the systems of modern pantheistic philosophers like Schelling and Hegel. Law is less speculative than Bohme, and adheres more closely to Scripture, but his denial of an objective salvation, grounded solely in God’s eternal counsel and sovereign will, leads him to statements like the following: “Therefore the righteous and holy law, that is so because it never changes its goodwill and work towards man, can truly say of itself these two contrary things, I create good and I create evil, without the least contradiction. In the like truth, and from the same ground, it must be said that happiness and misery, tenderness and hardness of heart, life and death, are from God, or because God is that which He is, in and to the birth and the life of man.”

It need hardly be said that Andrew Murray, while laying stress on the supreme message of mysticism—the necessity for union with the Divine—avoided the errors to which it is prone. His training in evangelical and reformed theology was so thorough, and his study of Scripture was so close and continuous, as to prevent him from being led astray into the byways of mystical speculation. The most that can be laid to his charge is that he occasionally imitates Law in what Professor James Denney called “a pragmatical positiveness of arguing, in matters in which the reader is indifferent to logic, because he disputes the author’s premises.” Sane and balanced as were all Andrew Murray’s judgments in the affairs of practical life, he was frequently betrayed, owing to the clearness with which he saw and the intensity with which he felt things spiritual, into the use of language which, as Bishop Moule so courteously expressed it in another connexion, "invites the recollection of other sides of truth.”

That he was well aware of and dissociated himself from Law s unorthodoxy, is clear from the prefaces to his volumes of extracts, Wholly for God and The Power of the Spirit. In his Introduction to the latter, he says:—

In publishing a new volume of Law’s works, I owe a word of explanation to the Christian public, and all the more because some with whom I feel closely united have expressed their doubt of the wisdom of giving greater currency to the writings of an author who differs markedly in some points from what we hold to be fundamental doctrines of the evangelical faith. ... It is because I believe his teaching to supply what many are looking for, that I venture to recommend it. I do so in the confidence that no one will think that I have done so because I consider the truths he denies matters of minor importance, or have any sympathy with his views.

Perhaps it may be well that I state the point of view from which I regard the matter. In all our thoughts of God we look at Him in a twofold light: either as dwelling above us and without us, Creator, Lawgiver, and Judge, or as dwelling and working within us by His Spirit. In redemption the two aspects find their expression in the two great doctrines of justification and regeneration. In the former, God is regarded as Judge, as separate from us, as much against us in law and occupying very much the same relation as any judge on earth towards the accused he sentences. In justification, grace forgives and accepts. In regeneration, the work of redemption is regarded from an entirely different point of view. Sin is death, the loss of the divine life ; grace is seen as the new life implanted by the Holy Spirit, and by Him maintained in the soul.

It is seldom given to any human mind to hold two sides of truth with equal clearness ; and it has often happened that where one side of truth has laid powerful hold, another aspect has been neglected or denied. This was very markedly the case with William Law. The truth of God’s inworking in regeneration, not only as the act of grace by which the divine life is imparted, but in the unceasing maintenance of that life by the working of the indwelling Spirit, so filled his whole soul, that for other truths which did not appear to harmonize with this he had no eye or heart.

Law's obsession with the mystical aspect of the Divine redemption was the ground of the dispute which, in 1738 arose between him and Wesley. The difference between them was largely one of temperament. Law was the studious philosopher, Wesley the practical divine ; Law was the recluse, Wesley the man of tireless activity; Law was naturally pessimistic, Wesley was “never in low spirits for a quarter of an hour.” Law was a quietist, who daily “prostrated himself body and soul, in abysmal silence, before the interior central throne of the divine revelation.” Wesley, on the other hand, was “the most elastic, wiry and invulnerable of men,” and to his sunny and active disposition mysticism seemed simple folly. But though he rejected Law’s mysticism, Wesley was keenly responsive to his moral teaching.

There was much in Law’s earlier writings that stamped itself indelibly upon Wesley’s mind and life, so that, towards the end of his life, he speaks of the Serious Call as "a treatise which will hardly be excelled, if it be equalled, in the English tongue, either for beauty of expression or for justice and depth of thought.”

Wesley had been an earnest preacher of the Gospel for thirteen years before he passed through that memorable experience at the Aldersgate Street meeting, whem his heart was "strangely warmed,” and he was led to trust in Christ, and Christ alone, for full salvation. A few days before this momentous event he wrote a severe letter to Law, reproaching him for never having set before him the way of salvation in all its simplicity. “Under the heavy yoke of the law,” he says, "I might have groaned till death, had not a holy man, to whom God lately directed me, upon my complaining thereof, answered at once, Believe, and thou shalt be saved. Now sir, suffer me to ask, How will you answer it to our common Lord that you never gave me this advice? Why did I scarce ever hear you name the Name of Christ ? never so as to ground anything upon faith in His blood ? Who is this who is laying another foundation ? ” There is no doubt that Wesley was right, and that Law does not give us, and from the nature of his system cannot give us, a dear objective presentation of the atonement wrought by Christ, such as is expressed in the words :—

Bearing shame and scoffing rude In my place condemned He stood, Sealed my pardon with His blood : Hallelujah !

Had Andrew Murray lived in the first half of the eighteenth century instead of the second half of the nineteenth, he might have reconciled Wesley and Law. For he partook of the temperament of both. He resembled Wesley in his practical bent, unwearied activity and ceaseless evangelistic journey-ings. Like Wesley he delighted in preaching, like him he preached the simple Gospel of repentance and faith, and like him he believed in a present, immediate salvation. The fact that he had to do, like Wesley, with simple folk, furnished with very little book learning, to whom the way of salvation must be made exceedingly plain, kept Andrew Murray in close contact with the fundamental truths of the Christian redemption. And, on the other hand, he was a spirit akin to Law. Without possessing or claiming the intellectual range and moral force which are so strikingly manifest in all that Law writes, he reveals the same spiritual intensity, the same ability to pass beyond outward appearances and grapple with the invisible reality, the same concentrated gaze upon the things that lie behind the veil, and a far more burning desire to have others share in the beatific vision of the Unseen One, and in the glorious experience of union with Him in His eternal love and goodness. “Happy man!” cries Dr. Alexander Whyte in a letter to Andrew Murray, "happy man! you have been chosen and ordained of God to go to the heart of things.”

The mention of Dr. Whyte’s name recalls the fact that he was intensely anxious that Mr. Murray should give to the world an autobiography of his spiritual experiences, and especially of his experiences as a man of prayer. It was the one piece of literature, so Dr. Whyte said, that he wished to read before he passed away. In such a volume all the influence of Mr. Murray's writings could be gathered up, and many persons who had not yet been introduced to his works on prayer would by it be attracted to this great subject, while those who already knew and loved his works would turn to them with fresh delight and inspiration after reading the story of his inner life. Dr. Whyte reverted to this matter again and again, and even sent his publisher a characteristic suggestion for a suitable announcement of the hoped-for book, as follows :—


In Preparation

The question of writing an autobiography was more than once broached to Mr. Murray, but he always declined to listen to the suggestion, on the plea that his spiritual experiences were not sufficiently clear-cut. On one occasion his daughter returned to the subject while he was selecting quotations from Law for his booklet The Secret of Inspiration. “Well,” he said, “if I could pass through Law’s experiences, I might be persuaded to set down something, but not otherwise.” When it was suggested to him that his experiences may have been equally deep and vivid, though not along the same lines as Law’s, he shook his head and said, "No, my child, God has been very gracious to me; but in this matter I must have something more to go upon before I can venture to write.” In this attitude of humble self-depreciation he persevered to the end.

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