JOHN WESLEY, JR.’S BRINGING UP
Those words of Phil Khamis at Morning Watch kept popping into J.W.’s head in the days following the Institute—“Everything I have to-day has come to me by the goodness of Christian people.”
“I know that must be true,” he would say to himself, “but it’s worth tracing back.”
The preacher was coming over to supper one night, as he loved to do; and J.W. made up his mind to bring Phil’s idea into the table talk. He was on even better terms with the preacher than he used to be.
J.W.’s mother hadn’t said much about the Institute, though she had listened eagerly to all his talk of the crowded week, and she was vaguely ill at ease. She had hoped for something, she did not know just what, from the Institute, and she was not yet sure whether she ought to feel disappointed.
But she provided a fine supper, to which the menfolk paid the most practical and sincere of all compliments. And since nobody had anything else on for the evening, there was plenty of time for talk.
The mother had a moment aside with the minister, and there was a touch of anxiety in her question: “Do you think the Institute helped my boy?”
And the pastor had just time to whisper back, “It helped him much, but he gave even more help than he got You have reason to be proud of him. I am. He’s growing.”
It was not very definite, but it brought no small comfort to the mother’s heart.
“This Institute idea seems to be everywhere,” said J.W., Sr., to the pastor, “but how did it get started? I used to be in the Epworth League, but we had nothing like it then.”
“That’s not so very much of a story,” said the pastor. “We have the Institute idea because we had to have it. And so the League gave it form and substance.”
“Well,” J.W., Jr., chimed in, “I think it’s about time more people knew about it. I’ve wanted to ask you to explain it ever since we came back from the Institute.”
The pastor nodded. “I know; but remember even you were not really interested until you had been at an Institute. Do you think our Institute just happened, J.W.?”
“I know it didn’t,” J.W. replied. “Somebody did a lot of planning and scheming.”
“Yes,” returned the pastor, “but did you notice that a large part of its work touched subjects familiar to you, the local League activities, for instance—the devotional meeting, and Mission Study, and stewardship, and the scope of the business meeting which not so long ago elected you to membership?”
“Yes, you’re right, though I don’t see anything remarkable in that. It was a League Institute, wasn’t it?”
“Certainly. But still, if there had not been any local Chapter, there could have been no Institute, don’t you see? What I mean is that the Institute came because your Chapter needed it, and you needed it; not because the Institute needed you. It’s merely a matter of tracing things back.”