Willie Brown - Rivers - Permanagh, Australia - July 1948

I will read a little portion from Genesis 2:10, "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison, that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold, and the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia, and the name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria, and the fourth river is Euphrates." I will just refer to three Psalms. Psalms 46:4, "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High." Psalms 65:9, "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it; Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water, Thou preparest them corn, when Thou hast so provided for it."

 

Lately as I have studied the work of God, I have been very deeply impressed by the wonderful promises of God towards His people, and the wonderful provision that God has made for those who are His children.

 

We often speak about the Convention as a time of feasting. I remember once hearing about a man, whose wife was an excellent cook. One day he came home from his work, and he never saw the table better spread before - everything that human heart would desire was on the table. When he sat down, he looked at his wife and do you know what he said? He said, "All this and heaven, too!"

 

Many times we feel, as the children of God, that all that God has given us on earth in Christ Jesus, it is worth it a thousand times over, apart from the hope of eternity. Where are there friends like the friends of Jesus? Where is there kindness like the kindness amongst the children of God? Where is there sacrifice, love and consideration like amongst those that have been born again of the Spirit of God? Nowhere on this earth!

 

What is the explanation, friend? The Kingdom of God is, as we heard this morning, built upon sacrifice. If ever that goes out of our lives, we are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. When Napoleon was in exile, he gathered his officers around one day, and said, "Who is this Jesus of Nazareth, who was He?" The officers could not tell him. Napoleon spoke from a heart of disappointment, and said, "I think I know who He was." He said, "Alexander the Great tried to conquer the world, but he failed, and as we have often heard, he died in a drunken brawl. Caesar tried to conquer the world and failed. Jesus conquered, not by force, but by love." And he said, "After many centuries, thousands would be willing to give their lives for Jesus of Nazareth." I want to speak to you this afternoon about some of the rivers in the Bible.

 

One of our fellow workers in the United States handed me a postcard. On it there were two pictures. There was the source of the Mississippi River. It only took a very small portion of that card, but on the other part - about three-quarters of the post-card - there was that beautiful long Mississippi River. Do you know, friend, there is a source of evil and a source of good. "Every good and every perfect gift cometh from above." I would to God that in this meeting today, if there are those who are out of Christ and without a Saviour, in whose hearts that living spring that comes through the Gospel has not yet started to flow, that it will be a day when that will take place in your life.

 

We are living in an age when we hear a lot about atomic power. Ah, friend, there is something in the first chapter of Genesis that puts it all in the shade. There are 31 verses and 32 times God is mentioned.

 

1-1/2 verses are taken up with the Creation, and 29-1/2 verses are taken up with the re-Creation. Let me ask you a question, friend. What are you exercised about today? Is it only the Creation? Is it only what you are in Adam - disappointed man or woman forever?

 

The Spirit of God is a wonderful force. If we could leave these meetings and the Spirit of God resting upon us, we have nothing to fear. Think of what was and what became, because of the outcome of the Spirit of God working. The earth was submerged by water, and the earth came out of the water, because this power was working and moving. A little part of that earth became garden - not all of it was a garden. And not all of the earth today is a garden for God.

 

There is only the little piece of consecrated ground all over the world today. What is it? Your heart and mine, if they have become a dwelling place for God, that is God's garden. What did God do when He made the garden? God caused a river to flow. What does God do when He starts a work in our lives? There is a source  there is something that begins to flow in that life. What use is a garden without the sun?

 

There is provision with God. "Eden" means delight. Oh! How many times the Psalmist said, "I delight." The river of Eden - the river of delight - was flowing from the life of the Psalmist, and therefore, he could say, "I delight." I am very sorry for any person in this meeting, and you are, who is only half and half. God said, "I would you were either cold or hot." People, whose heart, mind and affections are not all centred on the service of God, they are the most miserable people in the world. If that river of delight has started in your life, then God wants it to keep flowing.

 

The river of Eden did not stop there. It divided and became four heads and watered the whole earth. What would have happened if it had stopped? Stagnation would have taken place. Is there anything that appeals more to one than the thought of a river flowing? Is there anything you would like to pass by more than a stagnant pool where there is green scum, etc? You would not feel like putting your pitcher down to drink it.

 

Our brother Joe spoke about going back forty years or more and perhaps digging into some thing in the past days, which is precious to us all, but I am often reminded, "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." Ah, friend, is it possible that the river of God - that little source that started bubbling up in your life has stopped flowing? It has become like a stagnant pool. You have lost that freshness, that something that would cause you to be a stimulant to others.

 

It flowed out. Pison was the first river, which means, "flowing." Do you know where it went to? "It compassed the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold, and the gold of that land was good, there is bdellium and the onyx stone." Always when the river of God flows, it compasseth the whole land. God wants to enlarge our coast and our hearts, so that our interest and affections will go beyond our own little vicinity, and go right to the very ends of the earth. I dont think I ever enjoyed a Convention better in my life than the one here in 1946. You remember the hymn we sang, "Now I have found my souls beloved."

 

A few months ago, I was in West Australia, and one of the brothers asked if I would like to see the grave of Sam Jones, who has composed more than one hundred hymns in the book. Three of us went and stood by that little mound, with the inscription of something that Sam made. Those words came to my mind that he composed in the hymn that was sung at his grave. "His glorious face, mine eyes shall see, when time has ceased to be. My joy to worship at His feet, forevermore in Him complete, through all eternity."

 

That man's life started out like a little stream, which flowed out and into the lives of many people in Ireland. Then one day that man got into a ship with a number of others and that little river flowed away 8,000 miles to Australia. It did not stop there, it flowed to many little towns and villages, and the sentiments that he expressed through having an experience with God, man, we can sit here and enjoy these good things, because the river did not stay in the garden. We often forget - it is for eternity. When you are discouraged and disappointed, remember, friend, it is for eternity.

 

There was gold in that land. Gold speaks of what is Godly and Divine - that something that covered so much of the wood in the tabernacle and in the temple. The gold of the Kingdom of God will be the portion of our lives as we move out, guided by the Spirit of God.

 

When my Companion and I went up to Lebanon in 1939, I will never forget as we stood at the back of the ship, I remember praying that God might guide our steps. Two or three weeks after we landed, we went up the mountain. After we had fixed up our batch, we went for a walk, and heard some people singing, "Tell me the old old story of Jesus and His love." We went and sang a few hymns with that company. There was one person there - a Mary, to whom we were introduced. Next morning, we went for a walk and we saw that Mary reading her Bible. I remember one day that person asking us to sit down and I don’t think I will ever forget the joy and satisfaction that it brought us there to pour something of the water of life.

 

After a great deal of prayer and labour, that person decided to serve God. We had not heard a word of her for about eight years, because of the War. After that time, she wrote and said, "I have been through a lot. My clothes were taken, my shoes and my case were taken, but thank God, something could never be taken from my life, and that was what God had done in my heart, sitting on the mountain side." After serving God for a number of years, we can say, without fear of contradiction, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables." It has been reality in our lives.

 

Sitting around the platform today - what have we got? Men and women who have not counted their lives dear unto themselves, but have gone away to foreign lands, and the river of God has flowed out to where they found gold - something that was precious to God away in the Islands of the sea, away at the ends of the earth. Why? Because the river of God is not staying in the garden. Don’t misunderstand me. I know there are thirsty people in the British Isles, and I know what God wants in men and women, who will push out - there are so many fields of usefulness.

 

I don’t know if I should tell again the story of the leper. A good many have heard it.

 

I was thinking of how a little stream of water found its way into a leper colony. Four people had decided to serve God away back where my Companion and I were in Western Transvaal in 1928. We had been in that home and taken meals there and we did not know that one there was a leper. When I left and went home to visit my people, I got a letter from my Companion to say that this man was a leper. He had a wife and five children, and the Doctor said, "Unmistakably, you are a leper, and you will have to go." But he did not believe it, his wife did not believe it. But two other Doctors came and said, "You will have to go." My Companion wrote and told me about the Government man who came along with a car.

 

My companion was in the room with that man, and he was on his knees. Do you know what he was reading? "What wait I for, my hope is in Thee." He greeted his wife and five children for the last time and went away. My Companion had special permission to go with him. There were 900 natives and 300 white people in the camp. What did he do? Did he sit down and grumble and say that his lot was hard? Many people grumble and they haven’t anything to grumble about.

 

"Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you, what the Lord has done." That man started to pour out a little stream from his life, and it was not long until another man decided and they had a little meeting. He went to see a man in the hospital  a rough character with one hand off and no legs, and he cursed and swore. The nurses did not know what to do with him. This man said, "Would you not like to serve God?" "No," he said, "I am only waiting until I finish my life." But he left him and went back again and took a little Testament, and said, "Will you accept this gift from me?"

 

Two days after, those two lepers were having their meeting, and this poor man with no legs came hopping along on the ground and the Testament between his teeth. After the little meeting was finished, he said, "I would like to make a start to serve God." That leper wrote to me every month, and the first one wrote to me. Do you know what they are writing about? The wonderful things of God that had become such a reality. One day, I got a letter from the first man. He had gone blind. I was away 12-1/2 years from South Africa, but the way opened up for my Companion and I to visit that camp on a Sunday morning.

 

There were the two lepers  the one with no legs had passed on. I said, "Good morning," and one of those men  his face brightened up, and he said, "Willie, I am awfully glad to hear your voice, but am very sorry I cannot see you." We sat down there. His wife and children were there too, but they did not go too near. I asked him, "What will we sing?"

 

"Oh, for the peace of a perfect trust, my loving God in Thee; unwavering faith that never doubts, Thy choice is best for me. Best though my health and strength be gone, tho weary days be mine, shut out from much that others have, not my will, Lord, but Thine."

 

I saw my companion weeping. My eyes were filled with tears, and I don’t know how I said anything that morning, but God was gracious. A little stream of water had gone out. If you are tempted to feel that your difficulties are greater than anyone else, remember, there are others who have difficulties, also.

 

One morning, I went to see them. This man was alone, the coloured man had died the night before. I got permission to bury him, and he was carried out by lepers to where there were ten or twelve open graves. About fifty lepers, twenty saints, and six workers were there. I remember this man speaking of this coloured man and the fellowship they had. We walked away together, and he turned and said, "It is wonderful how you can love a person whom you have never seen." "Whom having not seen, we love."

 

Faith is one of the most wonderful things that we could ever meditate or ponder over. The second river was Gihon, which means a stream. In Psalms 46, it speaks of the trouble in the world - the mountains carried into the midst of the sea. That is a big thing, and it seems to speak of everything being upside down. Then it says, "There is a river." We should not be exercised about the things of the world if they are upside down - they always will be, while man is controlling. "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God." This is a river of gladness. You see what we have in Christ. A river of delight - rivers of pleasure and gladness, and not only that, God has enriched and visited His people and He causes them to drink from the river of God, which is full of water.

 

I would like to say a few words to some of you young people. About forty years ago, that is when I went to my first Convention. I was only 12 years of age. I decided when I was 16-1/2. Some of you may be thinking that your fathers and mothers are very hard, because perhaps they don’t allow you scope in this way and that. Maybe when they are in the cold grave, you will shed tears of regret, because you did not appreciate those who were your parents. I am very thankful that in my tender years, I made my peace with God. If I had to shed tears, it would be tears of gratitude for what God has done for me. I had a father, and he had faults, but I can assure you, I saw some pictures in my young life. The eyes of children are like the lens of a camera, taking pictures of their fathers and mothers, of the way they talk to each other, what they do and where they go.

 

I can think of some of the pictures of my mother in the same way. Two or three months ago, I went into my mother’s bedroom for the last time, and I know I shall never greet her on earth again. I felt as I went in, with a heavy heart in some ways, that if I put one million pounds at the end of the bed and said, "Mother, thank you for all you did for me,"  I would still be in her debt. I hope you boys and girls will realize the terrible debt you owe to your fathers and mothers, who have done so much for you.

 

Sometimes I think of the courage of some of those women in the Bible you talk about David’s mighty men, but I like to think of six mighty women, and most were standing around the Cross of Calvary. The best one the world has ever seen, Mary. She must have been about sixty years of age and she had four boys and at least two girls and Jesus, and some of those boys had thrown mud on Jesus. They did not believe in Him at the beginning, but Mary, fighting the battle as a mother in the home, fought on and on. It says, "She stood by the Cross of Calvary." Are you a person that will stand by? She witnessed the crucifixion. She was there at the burial, she did not run away. She was in the upper room with the 120.

 

It is a nice thing to see sons and daughters sitting beside their parents in the meetings when they are small. I will tell you something nicer. Mary saw them small and she had trouble, but in the upper room, do you know who were sitting beside her? The brethren of Jesus. In this meeting today, there are sons and daughters and they are glad a million times over for what God has given them in a father and mother, but don’t let me stop there.

 

I take my hat off more so, to those brothers and sisters who have left a hostile home, and have gone out into a cold world. One brother in the United States, when he told his mother he was going in the work, she said, "I would rather see you go to your grave." But he went out, and he is a very fine man. The river flowed out! And in that land there was not only gold, but also bellium and the onyx stone. How are we going to get the riches of God? How can we get the fragrance of Christ? Do you get a big bottle of ????? and pour it on you? Only when we face the dying pathway.

 

There is another river, the one that divided the Promised Land from the wilderness. It was there on one side that God told them to touch the water, and the river would open. We are told that the feet of the priests stood firm in the midst of the Jordan until all the people passed over. Do you think, friends, that it is an easy thing? Some of the people in the Middle East say, "It is not difficult for you to leave home; you are cold-blooded people" I don’t think my sacrifice is big at all, but I should like to go away from this Convention and put my feet in the river Jordan. I hope God will help me to do that, to face the pathway of suffering and self-denial, and I know if I do that, I will inherit the precious promises of God.

 

The third river was HIDDEKEL and the fourth EUPHRATES which means "sweet waters." 1700 miles long. How long is that river, which is flowing from your life? God wants to enlarge our hearts and influence, so that our hearts would go out today more and more. In the office where you are, you can be a little stream of water. In the factory, too, and so it can go on and on.