The 49th annual Bible School was held at Stanton Lees Chapel, Derbyshire, over August bank holiday weekend. Fine weather prevailed, encouraging many to explore the nearby moorland between meetings.
Eric Alldritt from Keswick spoke four times on the life of Elijah, drawing parallels between the godlessness of his day and ours. The living God was renounced for the degrading religion of Baal.
The impotence of Baal and the power of Jehovah were graphically demonstrated at Carmel, but little was changed in society. Likewise, today minds are closed against God and his gospel. Only the sovereign God can change that. Nevertheless, the history of Elijah shows that God’s cause is never a lost cause. That should prompt us to earnest prayer.
Malcolm Peters took the Sunday afternoon service, speaking on, ‘I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse’ (Song of Solomon 5:1). The church is a garden protected by Christ. It belongs to him and he is a constant visitor there.
He comes as our nearest kinsman, joined to us in closest relationship. He has fellowship with his people and will at length transplant them to the permanent courts of God in heaven.
A historical lecture, also given by Mr Peters, described the fact-finding mission to Palestine and Eastern Europe undertaken in 1839 by Robert Murray M’Cheyne and three others from the Church of Scotland, with a view to evangelism amongst the Jews.
Far from a mere travelogue, this lecture focused on the remarkable outcomes of the journey. A series of misfortunes forced two of the group to return separately. This led to the establishment of a mission to the large Jewish community in Pest, earlier dismissed as impossible owing to official hostility.
Meanwhile, M’Cheyne had fallen seriously ill. Reaching Boudja, near Smyrna, he felt that he was dying and gave himself to heartfelt prayer for his congregation back in Dundee. Coinciding with his illness and prayer, the church in Dundee experienced heaven-sent revival under the ministry of 24-year-old William Chalmers Burns.
Finally, Hugh Collier of Great Ellingham gave two sermons focusing on the central blessings of the gospel; first, from Romans 3, on righteousness, justification and propitiation; then, from Romans 5, on peace, grace and hope. These were splendid gospel messages, straightforward, warm and appealing.
The fellowship was delightful, the food ample and the hymn singing reached a fitting crescendo on Monday afternoon with ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’, to the tune Lyngham.