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WE APOSTLES OF THE NEW
NCE more has the orient sun roused and glad
dened a slumbering world, and rolled away the thick folds of darkness in which it lay enveloped. Once more has the East spoken words of peace anıl hope to benighted nations. How dismal the night we have just passed! How bright the morning we now behold! Let us recall to mind the appalling spectacle we witnessed last night, Verily it was Ezekiel's vision over again. We stood in the midst of the Valley of Dry Bones. On all sides, as far as the eye could reach, there were scattered heaps of dry bones. And what were these ? Exhausted systems of theology, lifeless dogmas denuded of flesh and blood, creeds and characters which had once lived and moved but were vow mere dry bones. Alas ! how distressing the sight! It seemed to tell the sad tale of the havoc which sectarianism had perpetrated in the religious world, slaying truth anit love, and filling the valley of the earth with dead and dry bones. And lo, they were very dry, and they said, “ Our bones are dried and our hope is lost” But no, their hope was not lost for ever. For the morning star soon heralded the dawn of day. And anon the great luminary shone forth, and its myriad rays scattered joy and light in all directions. The exhilarating morning breeze-the very breath of the Living God, entered into those bones ; and “behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone, and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army." Scriptures and dispensations, prophets, saints and mar
WE APOSTLES of the NEW DISPENSATION. 345
tyrs of all ages and climes stood revivified, danced in joy, and blessed the light that had made them live again. And thus the valley of death was converted into a new world of life and light. Yes, we have seen the light of a New Dispensation. Asia, mother of many dispensations, has given birth to another child, and its birth-festival shall be celebrated amid great rejoicing. Sweet angel of the East ! Heaven's evangelist ! sent from above with a New Gospel, thou hast come to us clad in the most gorgeous and shining raiment, and decked in the most magnificent jewellery, which the East alone can boast. Thou comest amid the ringing of bells and the sound of the conch shell. Holy light! we hail thee, we kiss thee. Lord of the New Dispensation ! I desire humbly to proclaim to-day among my assembled brethren the glad tidings which Thou hast sent to us from heaven. Touch my lips with the live coal of inspiration, that I may boldly set forth the new light Thou hast revealed unto us. Glory, glory glory be unto Thee, Great Spirit !
But why should I of all others be selected as the spokesman of the New Dispensation? Yet it is not I that speak, but we. Behind the visible. I' there is an invisible • We.' It is my Church that speaks through me. There are others who are working with me in God's vineyard. Behind and around me are brother-apostles, who think and feel and live as I do, united with me in spirit, whose only vocation on earth is to preach the New Dispensation. Yes, there is a Church-a body whereof I am but a limb. Can I alone represent that Church ? I am but a part of it. I can no more constitute the Church of God than can a single soldier compose an entire regiment. Accept me then as one among many. Do you see an in
dividual before you? You are sadly inistaken, Behold a band of apostles entrusted with the New Dispensation. As I speak, their voices speak through me. For we are an undivided and organized Church. Here everything is in its proper place, and all the requisites of apostolical faith and - fellowship are to be found here.
Here you see God's special Providence working out the redemption of the land, through the instrumentality of a complete dispensation, with its full complement of apostles, scriptures and inspiration. Rest assured, my friends, when we are dead and gone, all the events that are transpiring around us in these days shall be written and embodied in history, and shall be unto future generations a new Gospel of God's - saving grace.
The Lord is in our midst, not as a dead deity, but as the Living God of Providence. He has gathered around Him, not a handful of men, but a vast army of believing souls from every corner of India, from Sind and Burmah, from Lahore and Madras. And these are all marching under His guidance to the promised land. In the forefront are the ordained few, the delegates of Heaven, a complete band of apostles, with diverse gifts and talents suited to their respective vocation. Who feeds these men ? The Lord. Who leads them ? The Lord. Know ye not, brethren, that there are a number of souls in India who, under Divine command, have come out of the world, and whom the world disowns, who feed not upon earthly food, but upon the food supplied by heaven? Look at these helpless souls with their families--men, women and children, living from day to day upon mere alms and precarious contributions. They have no certain means of subsistence whereby to support themselves. They have taken the vow.of poverty, which interdicts
money-making and self-support. They take no thought for the morrow, what they shall eat or what they shall put on. The Lord gives to each his daily bread. Each day bringeth the bare necessaries of life. The morrow is entirely dark. Indeed it is a mystery and a marvel how so many mouths are fed daily. And yet for fifteen years we have managed to go on, not stumbling, not starving. He who feedeth the sparrow gives unto this band of apostolic brothers their daily food and raiment. The spirit of Moses leads modern Israel through the wilderness of the world. And when they are hungry the Lord showers manna from above, and when they feel thirsty the barren rocks send forth gushing streams of water. Verily it is the Living Jehovah who feeds us, His poor but trusting apostles, with the bread of life. He sustains the body. ; He inspires the soul. Our strength is He the Lord, and our light too. Neither wealth nor wisdom belongs to us, and in an humble and apostolical spirit we rely solely upon Providence.
Is this new gospel a Dispensation, or is it simply a new system of religion, which human understanding has evolved ? I say it stands upon the same level with the Jewish dispensation, the Christian dispensation, and the Vaishnava dispensation through Chaitanya. It is a divine Dispensation, fully entitled to a place among the various dispensations and revelations of the world. But is it equally divine, equally authoritative ? Christ's Dispensation is said to be divine. I say that this Dispensation is equally divine. Assuredly it is the Lord of Heaven who has sent this new gospel unto the world. The same Living God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath io
these last days vouchsafed unto us this new gospel. But does it not argue conceit and vain-gloriousness thus to extol the New Dispensation ? Surely people would say that in including our new creed in the category of the world's dispensations we are trying to arrogate to ourselves honors which only Moses and Jesus can claim. Is it not the very height of presumption—they would say—that a number of striplings on the banks of the Ganges should venture to stand on the same level with Jesus, and rob him of his pre-eminence? What ! are we to accept these men as Heaven-sent prophets ? Shall we compare the short-lived glory which man gives to man to the eternal glory which the Lord gave to His beloved son Jesus ? But who, I ask, covets prophetic honor and authority ? They say I do. I say I do not. Again and again have I said I seek not the prophet's glory. I contend not for prophetic honors. Yet am I not ashamed of what I have said regarding my exalted office as an apostle of the New Dispensation. In spite of reiterated remonstrances, it has been whispered already that we are trying not to glorify the Dispensation, but to glorify ourselves. If Christ was the centre of his Dispensation, am I not the centre of this ? Ungenerous and untruthful critics have insinuated that as Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews, so am I ambitious of being honored as the king of the Indians,-of the Bengalis, at any rate. It is certainly not fair or kind of our critics to say so. Shall a sinner vie with Christ for honors ? God forbid. Jesus was a born saint, and I a great sinner. Blessed Jesus ! I am thine. I give myself, body and soul, to thee. If India will revile and persecute me, and take my life-blood out of me, drop by drop, still Jesus, thou shalt continue to