Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rev George William Cross (Part 2)

Once Cross and I attended a public entertainment of hypnotism in the Grahamstown Town Hall. About half-a-dozen young men, employed for the purpose, were hypnotised. To the amusement of the audience they drank with much gusto a vile mixture of paraffin, vinegar and something else, and went on to behave ridiculously in obedience to the entertainer’s whims. Cross was serious when we came out. “Poor fellow!” he remarked. What he felt was the degradation of their submission to the will of another to play the fool for wages. Probably one or two only shared his sentiment. Yet Cross was practical. For his friends in Bowden he erected a building. One of his deacons reported that he had seen him on his back under a railway engine trying to find out what was wrong. In his later years he made excellent furniture for one of his sons. For a score of years he prepared the handbook for our S.A. Baptist Union, a labour done with the efficiency of a born secretary and the good taste of an artist. One day he visited me at Port Alfred with the late J.T. Lloyd, a very brilliant preacher and lecturer on Dante. We agreed to go by boat up the beautiful Kowie River. When we landed for refreshments it was Cross who was the most practical of our party. In that same river, on another occasion, he successfully swam to rescue a young man from drowning. The news of this exploit, however, came from other lips.
As a preacher Cross saw sermons not only in trees, but also in clouds, the restless seas, the everlasting hills. In delivery he was deliberate, his sentences concise and clear as crystal, with words here and there that pleased ears attuned to their fitness to convey the sense. While a poet-preacher, he longed for conversions and was often cheered by decisions for Christ. His loveable personality held his congregation well together.
Hymns reveal, and Cross wrote hymns occasionally for his congregation to sing – I have four. I quote the first verse of one written in Pretoria. It is entitled Conquering Love and is set to the tune Prospect:
Jesus, Thy wondrous love to me-
To all men – is Divine.
The loves of men and angels are
But cold compared to Thine.

Love brought Thee down from heaven to share
Our mortal pain and woe:
Thy holiness, amid our sin,
Felt grief we cannot know.
Written by: Kevin Roy

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