I love biographies and this is one of the best.
I don't know if it's because Mr. St. John was such a wonderful person or because his daughter did such a fine job of portraying him.
I found myself wishing I could spend REAL time with him.
Here are some of my favorite passages:
'Yet there is no doubt that at this time he underwent some experience too sacred to speak about, that lifted him into a radiance and freedom that he had never known before. The rather solemn, self-conscious holiness gave way to a sort of uncalculating joy, as though he no longer had to watch his step in the heavenlies; he was at home there, self-forgetful, absorbed in Christ.'
I wish I could talk to him about that experience. There are some Christians that have such a confidence in their Savior. They never waver, in the dark or the light to delight in the Lord. I want to know God like that. From reading about how he lived his youth and early adult years, I believe God blessed his constant seeking and obedience with a revelation of Himself.
I was encouraged, to never stop seeking.
Like Paul, to say "For me to live is Christ..."
In one chapter Mr. St. John is writing home about some of the people he served in Argentina.
I love his perspective on one man.
'One of the Christians we met was a certain Don Enrika; he had been a publican with a good business, but when the grace of God conquered him he gave up his calling and when I met him he was earning a very few shillings a week, working in winter up to his knees in mud, cutting down rushes for basket makers. As may be supposed, he and his large family were radiantly happy in their deep poverty.
Christ has many shining jewels in this land, who shame me with their self denial and their realization of the demand and the appeal of the Cross as motives for self-consecration. With them, an elementary sense of justice will not allow them to offer less than all to the Son of God.'
Do I offer all I have to Jesus?
I like how he called this Christian a 'shining jewel.' The world wouldn't say that.
I was especially delighted in how his children were influenced by his relationship with God. It wasn't what I expected.
'His influence over his children must have been largely unconscious, for he very seldom actually taught them anything at that age. Although he could speak delightfully to Sunday Schools on occasions, he did not consider himself gifted with children, and he left all the simplification of spiritual matters to his wife, of whose patient, thorough Bible teaching much could be written.
She could come down to the level of the smallest, but he would retain his own level, only sometimes opening a door and allowing a little child to catch a glimpse of mystical glory far beyond it, and yet the more beautiful for being only vaguely understood, as when he lifted a seven-year-old daughter on to his knee and almost shyly, in a voice that sometimes trembled with emotion, read aloud all nineteen verses of Mrs. Cousin's hymn based on Samuel Rutherford's last sayings, "The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks."
...'To Mr. St. John's children, the knowledge of God was essentially an adult destination, beautiful as a golden sunset, where Father had arrived, and to which they might attain if diligent in the means of grace and lines of conduct which Mother had stayed behind to map out for them.'
What a contrast to everything I have seen or been taught. It is so easy to fall into the trap of giving out do's and don'ts to our children (or to anyone) rather than sharing the wonder and hope of knowing Jesus Christ personally.
A couple more to whet your appetite:
"It's for every man to settle that question first - is it to be heaven or hell? - but when you've settled that question, the second one steps on the threshold and you cannot push it away. Not 'Is it heaven or hell?' any longer; 'Is it heaven or earth?' Are you going to live for time, and give your poverty to Jesus at the end, or will you say with simplicity and trust, 'Lord Jesus, I died with Thee, and I seek the things that are above; I set my heart on these things'? And if you do, you will find that all your life will be nourished by heavenly springs; Christ, your life, will be closer to you than breathing, nearer than hands or feet."
And I love this about him..."In his mind people did not go to an idle heaven, but passed on into a life of unbroken service. 'Faithful over few things...enter thou into the joy ...I will make thee ruler.'"
"Abraham, the friend of God," he once said, "and if God esteems His friends, has He given us any? If so, how have we treated them? Have we held them, or carelessly allowed them to be lost? If so, what answer will you give on the day of accountability? If He gives you what He himself esteems, treasure it."
If you are a Christian or just want to spend some time with a True and Gracious person, I highly recommend this book.
"Many preachers knew their Bibles, but Mr. St. John knew his Lord."