We are impressed with the fact that the present is a most favored time for the saints in every respect. It is favorable for personal growth in grace and knowledge. How the early truth-seekers of this age, the Bereans, etc., would have rejoiced at such student's helps as the Diaglott, Young's Concordance, Dawn, and the monthly Towers furnish; besides which, are the numerous histories, cyclopaedias, dictionaries and other works of reference accessible to all in the public libraries of even moderate sized towns. With such helps more can be learned of God's Word and plan in a day, than it formerly would have been possible to gather in a year. The only obstacle is, that now science, philosophy, politics, pleasure-seeking, and above all money-seeking, are also alive, and so absorbing, that only those well consecrated have grace enough to resist these many claims upon time and strength, and to use the abundantly provided helps, to grow thereby.
And if the opportunities for getting good, discerning the truth, etc., be favorable far beyond every other time, how does the present compare with the past in opportunities for letting the light shine upon others? There never was a time so favorable as the present for Christian effort in the vineyard. While it is true that sectarianism has closed the churches of to-day against the truth more thoroughly four fold than the Jewish synagogues were closed against it in Paul's day,—while he could go into the synagogue and preach Christ among the Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites without hindrance, for a while at least, until he laid the plan before them, and while you have found it impossible to do this, being debarred by the stricter usages, regulations, etc., established not by the Lord or his Apostles, but by a self-constituted "clergy"—yet, for all this our day is far more favorable than Paul's day.
If we would travel from place to place to meet with believers we can do as much traveling in a week, as Paul could do in a month or more, and with much more comfort. If we would preach, though we cannot often do so to large gatherings by voice, we live at a time when every one can read and write, which only the very few could then do, and when the printed gospel is cheap and convenient, and often more effective than oral sermons.
The anxious willing heart can do far more thus, than Acquilla and Priscilla could do in their way and time with the same amount of effort. Nay, our arms are not shortened; for we can preach with both the printed and written page through the agency of the wonderful mail systems of our day, to friends and strangers the world over, and at almost no cost.
Another and not the least of our privileges and advantages over those of the early church, is that the ministry of to-day can be self-supporting. While Brother Paul was compelled to labor at tent-making at times while preaching the gospel, when necessary means failed to come from the brethren, Brother Adamson and others [R958 : page 1] of to-day may most effectively preach the gospel from house to house while the necessary provision for the daily bread falls as noiselessly as did the manna from heaven. Selling DAWN they are able to pay their way and reach far greater numbers and in a much more comfortable manner than was Paul's privilege.
Then, too, our day is favored in that though still there are religious bigots who correspond to those shrine-makers to Diana whom Paul encountered at Ephesus, ready to incite the people against us because their craft is in danger (Acts. 19:23,35-41), yet now even more than then, the civil authorities protect our persons from violence, as the "town clerk" helped them; and those who go about the Master's work now with earnest sobriety, wise as serpents and harmless as doves, will not be either beaten with stripes or stoned.
Seeing what grand opportunities the Lord has given us, should we not bear much fruit? and will he not look for much fruit on every branch of the vine truly united to him? Surely the Master will expect fruit, not only in the beautiful graces of Christian character but also in faithful earnest effort for the spread of the glad tidings to honor him and bless our fellows.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. This is a close test of our spiritual condition always; for if the Lord, the truth, the kingdom, and the service of others is uppermost in our hearts, they will come most freely from our lips and pens, and will find some outlet.