Do we realize the extraordinary dynamic of the printed page? Dr. Goodell, of the American board of missions, passing through Nicodemia in 1832, having no time to stop, left with a stranger a copy of a gospel paper. Seventeen years later he visited Nicodemia, and found a Christian community of more than 200 members. Dr. Griffith John tells of eight churches in China reared by tracts alone. Dr Bartle Frere, traveling in India, was amazed to find a small town in which the idol shrines and temples were empty, but the townsfolk professed the Christian faith. It transpired that some years earlier one of them had been given an old garment, in a pocket of which, forgotten, lay a Gospel portion with eight or nine tracts. The life is not in the sower, but in the seed.
For in scattering divine literature we liberate thistledown, laden with precious seed, which blown by the winds of the Spirit, floats over the world. The printed page never flinches, never shows cowardice. It is never tempted to compromise, it never tires and never grows disheartened. It travels cheaply, requires no stage, and works while we sleep. It never loses its temper and it works long after we have passed on. The printed page is a visitor which gets inside the home and stays there. It always catches a person in the right mood, for it speaks only when it is being read, it always sticks to what it has said, and never answers back.
The printed page is deathless: you can destroy one, but the press will produce millions more. Its very mutilation can be its sowing. When Leigh Richmond was once traveling by train, passengers got out at a stop and he began to give a tract to every wayfarer he met. One of his fellow-travelers smiled derisively as he saw a tract treated contemptuously by the receiver, torn in two and thrown down on the edge of the road. A puff of wind carried it over a hedge into a hayfield, where a number of haymakers were seated; and soon they were listening to the tract, read by one of their number who had found it. He was observed carefully joining together the two parts which had been torn asunder, but were held together by a thread. The reader was led to reflection and prayer, and subsequently became an earnest Christian and tract distributor himself; and of the rest, within twelve months three became active Christian workers.
Let us not forget the enormous power prayer can put behind the tract. It enters doors locked to the evangelist. It can be enclosed in every letter, its economy places it within the reach of all. It preaches in the factory, in the streets, in trains, buses, and planes. It visits the prison, hospital, and nursing home. It whispers in the ear of the dying. For prayer—and God Himself—is behind it.
Regarding our tract distribution:
(1) We should as much as possible ask God's blessing.
(2) We should confidently expect God's blessing upon it.
(3) We should labor on in this service, prayerfully and believingly labor on, even though for a long time we should see little or no fruit.
Yea, we should labor on as if everything depended on our labors, whilst, in reality, we ought not to put the least confidence in our exertions, but alone in God's ability and willingness to bless, by His Holy Spirit, our efforts for the sake of the Lord Jesus.
And above all don't forget that God is glorified by every tract you give out, for it remains a fact, whether the offer is accepted or rejected, God in His sovereign grace did offer by means of that tract full and eternal salvation to that one to whom it was given.