Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish
Roots in Heaven – Planted in the House of the Lord
It is a simple question for every heart in this room….You say you are clear about Christ’s death and resurrection. Are you? Do you mean to tell me you are in the liberty of His life, when your heart is indifferent as to where He is…? I could not believe it while you are engrossed with the things of this life.
Hence the argument of the apostle is, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,” Col. 3:1. I put a plain question to every one of you, how much of the things above have you sought today? You belong to another sphere altogether. You have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Be like a tree that has its roots in heaven, and its branches down here. You say, that is a miracle. Very likely; nevertheless, in reality your roots are in heaven, and your branches down here. No doubt they are fretted and nipped by the atmosphere here, but nothing can touch the roots up there. “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God”,” Psalm 92: 13. Planted inside, they flourish outside.
(J B Stoney, NS vol.1 p300. Suggested by an English subscriber.)
James Butler Stoney was born in Portland, County Tipperary, on May 13, 1814, and when only 15, he entered Trinity College Dublin to study for the Bar. In 1831 during an outbreak of cholera, he was taken ill, and his first thought was “How can I meet a holy God?” Alone, he threw himself on his face and cried to the God he had heard of as a boy, who alone could receive the chief of sinners because the “Crucified One” was at His right hand. A long sleep restored him but he had been “born again.” “No more law for me,” he said, “I’ll be a witness to grace”—the grace that could only be revealed from glory for sinners. He joined the Divinity Class at the same College and completed his studies but was not ordained. During this period he spent time studying the Scriptures.
He married Mary Frances Elwood in Dublin in 1838. She was a daughter of Robert Elwood of Knockadoo County Roscommon in the West of Ireland. They spent their early married life in County Tipperary and County Mayo in Ireland and at Gooding Lodge, Pembrey (near Llanelli) Carmarthenshire. They had one daughter and four or five sons. The daughter, Anna, was the eldest child (1839 – 1932). By 1871 they had settled in London living at 23 Lonsdale Square, Islington. In 1901 they were at 106 Falsgrave Road, Scarborough.
Mr Stoney did not go abroad to serve God, as far as is known, as did J N Darby and others, such service being limited to Great Britain and Ireland, but for almost 60 years he served God actively and faithfully. Besides his oral ministry, he “contributed to a number of Christian periodicals”. For many years he edited and contributed to one called ‘A Voice to the Faithful.’
He served in a series of bible readings in Edinburgh in October 1895, and following these meetings he had a fall. He was indisposed until his death on 1st May 1897. His daughter wrote a diary of his closing days which is entitled “From Glory to Glory”. It covers the period of his life from his return from Edinburgh until his death. At one point she read to him the notes of the Bible reading at Edinburgh on the Priesthood of Christ, then contained in ‘A Voice to the Faithful’ (see JBS vol 6 p. 315.) and she was deeply touched to see how his own words, almost his last words in public, are being made true to himself now. He said at the end of the same reading “It is the time you spend with the Lord that is everything to you” (vol. 6.] p. 324.)
Mr Stoney continued to serve the Lord and his people even while indisposed. There is a section in Volume 3 of his letters giving details of his communications whether written, dictated or spoken during this period. He did so until two days before the day of his death. Details of his burial are not available except that he was buried in Manor Road Cemetery, Scarborough. His widow and Anna continued to live at Falsgrave Road until Mrs Stoney died on 30th April 1902.
In reading his ministry you feel that he had a distinct impression of the Lord’s greatness and that he was in the gain of what he ministered. On one occasion his daughter said to him that persons were saying servants have a special line or impression given by God. She asked him “What is yours?” he replied “Oh, I think Glory is my impression”.
Mr. Stoney said “I did not know Mr. Darby until after he was in Plymouth in 1833. After leaving the University, I went to stay with him at a brother’s house at Cork, where I was his constant companion; and just to give an idea of the truth that came out, I mention an attempt of mine to compose a hymn, entirely a new idea to me, as a divinity student, raw from the University, and before I was twenty. You may see from this how very clearly was brought out the fact that our place is heaven, and that Christ is our Head there.” The verse is quoted below so that those who read this may share the impress which prompted him to compose it.
HARK! happy saints! loud lift your voice,
Tell to the world how we rejoice –
Yon heaven is our home.
There lives our Head with glory crowned;
And we as for His kingdom bound,
All cry – Lord Jesus, come!
J.B. Stoney (1814-1897)
In 1865 he composed a poem entitled ‘REST’ . . . which shows how near he was to God.
JAMES BUTLER STONEY was born at Portland, Co. Tipperary, on 13th May, 1814. His father was a strict Puritan and his mother (nee Butler) equally strict from a different point of view. Her four sons remarkably answered to her culture in mind, in address, and in manner of life. They had private tutors, and lived in a country home, with only country pursuits and pleasures
J.B.S. entered Trinity College, Dublin, at fifteen, taking his place at 70 out of 92. At nineteen he was Senior Freshman and well up in Classics and Law. His first religious impression was as a boy, when the Rev. Baker Stoney, Rector of Castlebar, the friend and fellow-worker with Mr. Nagle of Achill, came to Portland. At family prayers he read Acts 9, and dwelt on the fact that God’s salvation was so great that He could send a “light out of Heaven” to arrest one soul, and in that light was seen a Saviour in the glory of God for a man on earth who was stamping out His Name from the earth. He saw that just One and heard the voice of His mouth (Acts 22 and 26).
The youthful mind is “wax to receive and marble to retain, ” and he never lost the sense of the revelation in Christ of the “kindness and love to man (philanthropy) of our Saviour God” (Titus 3. 4). But the ambitions and joys of youth left little room for serious thought. He was eagerly following his studies for the Bar; all his prospects in life depended on his success at the Bar.
In 1831 men were dying of cholera all around in Dublin. He was suddenly taken ill, and his first thought was, “How can I meet a holy God ?” The agony of his soul was worse than that of the body. He rang for his servant to go for the doctor. “Thomas, I am afraid I am dying. ” “Surely you are, sir, ” said Thomas. Alone he threw himself on his face, and cried to the God he had heard of as a boy, who could receive the chief of sinners because the “Crucified One” was at His right hand. When the doctor came he was exhausted and appeared dying, but quite calm he said: “Jesus will have me. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
A long sleep restored him, and he was soon able to return to his studies. But he had been “born again,” born for a new world, new hopes, new life. “No more law for me,” he said. “I’ll be a witness to grace, ” the grace that could only be revealed from glory for sinners.
He joined the Divinity Class at Trinity College, Dublin, where there were really good men at that time, but he had to wait nearly four years. He could not be ordained until he was twenty-four years of age. His family were very angry; his uncle would have nothing more to do with him; as his fine talents and opportunities were being thrown away for a curate’s pay.
But during those four years he was studying the Scriptures with all the earnestness of a soul that had learned that unseen things are for eternity, the seen things of this life passing away. As he studied the Epistles he found that the “gifts” for ministry in the Church of God were given directly from the Ascended Man to each one, so that by Christ’s own appointment one became an evangelist or a teacher, etc. (Eph. 4). *He would not wait for a curacy; he would go out at once into the highways and hedges and invite sinners to come to God’s great salvation: “Come, for all things are ready. “
He wrote a little book called “Discipline in the School of God,” dealing with the Old Testament characters, and contributed to several periodicals. He spoke somewhere every day and travelled much. A fervent, impressive speaker, he anxiously avoided anything like eloquence, feeling that the Spirit of God was the only power for holy things.
J.B.S. died on 1st May, 1897, just before his eighty-second birthday. God was his exceeding joy to the end—while telling of Him he gently fell asleep. He rejoiced to say:
“‘Tis the treasure I found in His love
That has made me a pilgrim below.”
“When I look at this place, He is not here; and when I look at myself naturally I am not fit for Him. How happy then to know that I belong to the place where He is; and that through grace I have been made suited to Him in that new position; so that I set my mind and affection there, as the place where my deepest joys are realised.”– J.B. Stoney
God finds, Thou Spotless One, in Thee
Where all perfections dwell,
All that His heart could wish for me,
More than my tongue could tell.
He finds me ransomed, righteous, fair,
Where all His joys transcendent are –
He finds me perfect for His praise,
His glory through eternal days.
Oh, strange that I should ever leave
Such place of rest in Thee;
That I should e’er Thy Spirit grieve,
Or from Thy presence flee.
To turn to creature joys for rest
Is but to wander from Thy breast;
Yielding to sin’s enticing snare
But robs my sweet abiding there.
Oh, keep me then, most blessed Lord,
Abiding in Thee still,
In deep communion, through Thy Word,
Thy life in me fulfil.
Dark shadows here are all around;
I’m only safe as in Thee found;
Soon, and for ever on Thy breast,
Shall be my sweet, eternal rest.