The Heart-Cry of Jesus
BY BYRON J. REES,
Author of "Christlikeness," "Hulda, the Pentecostal Prophetess," and "Hallelujahs from Portsmouth, Nos. 2 and 3."
TO MY MASTER, EVEN CHRIST.
THE NEED OF THE DAY.
The saying, "Necessity is the mother of Invention," finds nowhere a more vivid illustration of its truth than in the publishing enterprises of the modern Holiness movement. The onward movement of the Holy Ghost along Pentecostal lines, convicting of depravity, creating a clean-reading public, and endueing with power both pulpit and pew, has resulted in a constant and growing demand for full-salvation literature. Tens of thousands of pulpits do an active business on both the wholesale and retail plan, with science and philosophy as stock in trade. Famishing congregations are proffered the bugs of biology, the rocks of geology, and the stars of astronomy until their souls revolt, and they demand bread and meat.
THE NEED BEING SUPPLIED.
The great soul-cry is being met and answered by the publication and distribution of soul-feeding, spirit-inspiring, health-giving Holiness books and papers. God is raising up writers and editors from whose pens pour melted truths, to the edification and blessing of thousands.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK.
In this little book we have a production in which the author has made little attempt at the elucidation of doctrine or the waging of controversy, but in great simplicity and directness he has presented the truth with a view to helpfulness, desiring to introduce really hungry souls into the Canaan life, and provide a well-loaded table of rich provisions for those who are already "in the Land."
READERS WILL BE REFRESHED.
We believe that there is a warmth, fervor and glow about the pages of this volume which will be most refreshing to many, many readers. May the Holy Spirit put His seal upon it and give it an extensive circulation.
SETH C. REES.
PROVIDENCE, R. I., NOVEMBER 15, 1898.
WHAT IS SANCTIFICATION?
No one who accustoms himself to the observation of spiritual tides, winds and currents can be ignorant of the fact that the devout men and women of the present are earnestly inquiring, "What is sanctification? What does holiness mean?" They are demanding of the pulpit and of the church editor something more than the time-worn and moth-eaten excuses for not teaching a deeper work of grace. The "seven thousand" who have not "bowed the knee" to the modern Baals are insisting that, if God's Word teaches entire sanctification for the disciple of Christ obtainable by faith now, they must possess themselves of this heavenly grace.
THE AUTHOR'S DESIRE.
It is with the purpose and hope that some seeking heart may be helped that these pages are penned. The author has purposely avoided all controversial matter. We would not assume the role of the doctrinaire even were we capable of it. "Not controversy, not theology, but to save souls," as Lyman Beecher said when dying.
THE NEED OF SPEED.
This book has been written in the midst of laborious and unceasing revival work. For this reason there has been no time to polish sentences nor improve style. The object has been to get the truth to the people in plain language, and to do it with despatch, for the time is short, and men are being saved or damned with electric speed.
THE BUZZARD AND VULTURE.
The buzzard and the vulture will find food if they look for it, but with them we are not concerned. We are, however, terribly in earnest to help hungry souls to a place of blessing and power.
May God take these leaves and make them "leaves of healing," if not for "nations," at least for individuals.
BYRON J. REES.
NOVEMBER 14, 1898.
DEDICATION INTRODUCTION PREFACE CHRIST'S PRAYER CHAPTER I. A Word in the Prayer CHAPTER II. Some Errors CHAPTER III. Those for Whom Christ Prayed CHAPTER IV. Christ's Prayer Answered CHAPTER V. Christian Unity CHAPTER VI. Fearlessness CHAPTER VII. Responsiveness to Christ CHAPTER VIII. Soul-Rest CHAPTER IX. Prayerfulness CHAPTER X. Success CHAPTER XI. Growth in Christliness of Life EXPERIENCE
"SANCTIFY THEM THROUGH THE TRUTH; THY WORD IS TRUTH."
A WORD IN THE PRAYER.
All who really love Christ love His words. They may not always fully understand their meaning, but they never reject any of them. The very fact that any word has been on the lips of Christ and received His sanction, gives it a sound of music to all who are truly disciples of the Nazarene.
The words that your mother used frequently—are there any words quite the same to you? She may be resting under the solemn pines of a silent cemetery, but, to this hour, if anyone uses one of her favorite words, instantly the heart leaps in answer, and the mind flies back to her, and the fancy paints her as you knew her in the garden or at the fireside or by the window. It lies in the power of a single word to make the eyes fill and the throat ache because of its association with the voice of a queenly mother.
A MAN'S TESTIMONY.
Thus it is with Christ and HIS words. It matters not where we meet the word, if it is Christ's we are touched and made tender. An aged man stands in a prayer-meeting in a bare and cheerless hall, and says in broken and faltering voice, "The dear Lord has blessedly SANCTIFIED my heart," and like a flash the room lightens, and the whole place seems changed and made cheery. The heart cries, "That is my Master's word," and the entire being is attentive and interested.
JESUS' LIFE DEAR.
Yes, to the really regenerated soul everything connected with Jesus is dear. The place of His birth, the land of His ministry, the garden of His agony, the mount of His crucifixion, the Olivet of His ascension, all these are illumined with a peculiar and special light. The mind dwells lovingly on His parables, ponders deeply His sayings, lingers tenderly over His words.
WE WELCOME THE WORD.
We will NOT therefore shrink from the Word of our Lord: "Sanctify." It may have been stained by the slime of some unworthy life, or soiled by the lips of men who prated about sanctification, but knew nothing of its nature; yet, for all that, since the word is Christ's we hail its enunciation with gladness.
The high-priestly prayer of Christ was distinctively for the disciples. Indeed, He SAYS: "I pray not for the world." That is to say, the disciples need a peculiar and special work of grace, one which must follow, not precede, conversion, and therefore not to be received by the world. In this prayer the loving Master revealed to His immediate disciples, and to those of all ages and climes, the burning desire of His heart concerning His followers. The petition ascends from His immaculate heart like incense from a golden censer, and it has for its tone and soul, "Sanctify them through thy truth." His soul longed for this work to be completed quickly. During the last days of His ministry He talked frequently of the coming Comforter. He admonished them to "tarry" until an enduement came to them. He knew that unless they were energized with a power, to which they were as yet strangers, their work would be worse than futile.
HE PRAYED FOR SANCTIFICATION.
It is for the SANCTIFICATION of the disciples that Christ prayed. He did not ask that they might fill positions of honor and trust; He knew that there is no nobility but that of goodness. It was more important that the early preachers should be holy men than that they should be respected and honored. He did not pray for riches for them; He knew too well the worthlessness of money in itself. He did not desire for them thrones, nor culture, nor refinement, nor name.
"'Tis only noble to be good. True hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood."
So Jesus prayed that these men who had for three years been His daily and constant companions should receive an experience which should make them INTENSELY GOOD; not "goody-goody," which is very different, but heartily and wholly spiritual and godly.
THE MEN WE LOVE.
The men whose names are brightening as the ages fly, were not men who were always free from prejudices and blunders. They were not men, as a rule, from university quadrangles nor college cloisters. They were not the wise, nor the erudite, nor the cultivated, nor the rich. They were the good men. Brilliant men tire us; wits soon bore us with their gilt-edged nothings, but men with clean, holy hearts, fixed convictions, bold antipathies to sin, sympathetic natures and tender consciences never weary us, and they bear the intimate and familiar acquaintance which so often causes the downfall of the so-called "great" in one's estimation.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH.
We may forget an eloquent sermon pilfered from Massillon, but we will never forget a warm handclasp and a sympathetic word from an humble servant in God's house. Jesus never went for the crowds—he hunted the individual. He sat up a whole night with a questioning Rabbi; talked an afternoon with a harlot who wanted salvation; sought out and found the man whom they cast out of the synagogue, and saved a dying robber on an adjacent cross. We do not reach men in great audiences generally. We reach them by interesting ourselves in them individually; by lending our interest to their needs; by giving them a lift when they need it.
Jesus with divine sagacity knew that if these untutored fishermen were to light up Europe and Asia with the torch of the gospel they must have an experience themselves which would transform them from self-seeking, cowardly men to giants and heroes.
THE CARNAL MIND.
While the true Christian loves Christ and His words, while his higher and more spiritual nature says "Amen" to the Lord's teaching, yet it must not be forgotten that the "carnal mind" which remains, "even in the heart of the regenerate," is "enmity against God." There is a dark SOMEWHAT in the soul that fairly hates the word "sanctification." Theologians call it "inbred sin" or "original depravity"; the Bible terms it the "old man," "the old leaven," "the root of bitterness," etc. Whatever its name it abhors holiness and purity, and though the regenerate man loves Christ and His words, he does so over the vehement protest of a baser principle chained and manacled in the basement dungeon of his heart.
The devout of all churches recognize the existence of an inner enemy who bars the gate to rapid spiritual progress. George Fox, the pious founder of the Friends' Society, said in relation to an experience which came to him: "I knew Jesus, and He was very precious to my soul, but I found something within me which would not always keep patient and kind. I did what I could to keep it down, but it was there. I besought Jesus that He would do something for me, and when I gave Him my will He came into me and cast out all that would not be patient, and all that would not be sweet, and that would not be kind, and then He shut the door."
"SIN IN BELIEVERS."
John Wesley preached a sermon on "Sin in Believers" which is extant and widely read. All churches recognize it in their creeds, and all have provision in their dogmas for its expulsion before entrance into heaven. The Catholics provide a convenient Purgatory; other denominations glorify Death and ascribe to it a power which they deny to Christ; while still others rely on growth to cleanse from all sin and get us ready for the glory-world. The Bible, however, with that sublime indifference to all human opinions and theories becoming in divine authority, reveals a SALVATION FROM ALL SIN HERE AND NOW.
The word sanctify means simply "to make holy" (L., sanctificare = sanctus, holy, + ficare, to make). The work of sanctification removes all the roots of bitterness and destroys the remains of sin in the heart.
What sound sense can there be in antagonizing a blessing which is nothing more or less than cleanness—mental, moral and physical cleanness. The kind of character that would wittingly fight holiness would object to a change of linen.
A CHURCH IN JERSEY.
The eagerness with which truly devout people welcome the preaching of full salvation is refreshing. It was the writer's privilege to hold an eight-day meeting with a church in Central New Jersey. The church was in excellent condition, for the pastor, a godly and earnest man, had faithfully proclaimed justification and its appropriate fruits. Nearly all the members were praying, conscientious and zealous Christians. When, at the first meeting, which was the regular Sunday morning service, the experience of sanctification was presented, over one hundred persons arose, thus signifying their desire for the precious grace!
OPEN THE ALTAR!
The language of the child of God is, "Does God want me sanctified? Then open the altar for I am coming." He does not tarry; he does not higgle and hesitate; he makes for the "straw pile" if in a New England camp; the "saw-dust" if down South; the "altar rail" if in a spiritual church; to his knees at any rate, for God's will he desires and must have. Thank God he can have it!
Satan is very busily engaged in destroying and misrepresenting God's best experiences. He slanders the work of God in order that His children may not come into their inheritance. The "bear-skin" frightens the would-be seeker and keeps him out of the Canaan land.
Darkness hates light. The Prince of Darkness dreads truth and light, for he knows that if God's children ever see sanctification as it is, there will be a general stampede for consecration. If the public really believed that Rosenthal would play the piano in Infantry Hall on a certain evening, and that there would be no charge for admittance, South Main street would be black with people hours before the doors were opened. If the church really believed that God would let them into an experience where sonatas and minuets and bridal marches and "Mondnacht" and the "Etude in C sharp minor" would be heard all the time, and free of charge, all the bishops and the big preachers and little evangelists and exhorters and ministers would be besieged by a grand eager throng of people, crying with one accord, "What must I do to be sanctified?" Lord, hasten the day!
THE DEVIL STIRRED.
When a man is awakened and says, "What is sanctification anyway?" then the devil bestirs himself to silence the soul's questionings. Blessed is the man who will not be satisfied with anything short of "Thus saith the Lord." Hound the lies of hell to their covert; run down the false reports, and determine the truth.
One of the lies which Satan is fond of circulating is that sanctification is a life free from temptation. When this is announced among those who are awakened on the subject, immediately there is a great cry, "I don't want to hear any more about sanctification." One would think by the excitement aroused that people are actually afraid lest they should by some manner of means be deprived of the privilege of being tempted. Let all such allay their fears. Jesus was tempted even on the pinnacle of the temple, and we will never be above our Lord, and may well expect temptation until we pass from this world-stage to the other land. No responsible Christian student teaches any such chimera as a life without temptation obtainable now.
Personally, we have never heard anyone make such a claim. What we do teach, and, better still, far better, WHAT GOD PROMISES, is an experience where we need not YIELD to temptation. There is a difference, vast and important, between being tempted and yielding to temptation.
A TEMPTED PREACHER.
A man is en route from New York to the West via the Pennsylvania Railroad. The express stops at a junction in the mountains. He leaves the car and walks up and down on the platform enjoying the view. Near the station is a park. Beautiful flowering shrubbery, shell walks, ivy-clad piles of rocks, splashing fountains, majestic shade trees and well-kept turf make the place attractive. Beyond the pretty village a wooded mountain rises toward the bluest of skies, enticing to a stroll amid the beauties of a forest. The preacher is strongly tempted to stop over a day and enjoy a brief rest. Then he thinks of his word, given in good faith, to be in a certain place at an appointed hour; he remembers the souls which God might save through the sermon which he is expected to preach the next evening. He is tired and jaded and worn. Would he not be justified in telegraphing that he would not come until a day or so later than expected? It is a stout temptation; but when the black-faced porter shouts, "All aboard," and the bell rings he walks into the hot and dirty car and continues his tiresome journey. Does not the reader see that a temptation to rest is very different from stopping and breaking an engagement and disappointing an audience?
A CHARMING COMPANION.
On life's express we are all liable to temptation. We are solicited to tarry, but we are so intent on our destination, and especially are we so charmed with our travelling Companion, that we bid farewell to fountain, and gravelled walks, and towering mountains and push on to that city.
WHO TEACHES FANATICISM?
Another misrepresentation, the circulation of which Satan delights to further, is that sanctification is an experience in which we can not sin, and when through this idea men lift their hands in horror and desist from seeking this precious grace, all hell chuckles with real satisfaction. But who teaches such fanaticism? Life is always a probation. The will is free. The Bible teaches this truth, and we believe it. The holiest saint on earth may, IF HE CHOOSE, sin and go to hell. Everything hangs upon the choice. Thank God we NEED not fall. Falling is possible, but not necessary.
NOT A DAY-DREAM.
A third evil report is that sanctification is an impracticable day-dream, unfit for everyday life and the common round of duties. "It is," so it is said, "all very well for ministers, and class leaders, and superintendents of Sunday-schools, and people who are not very busy in life to get sanctification, but it will not stand the strain and tension to which it would be subjected in some lives." But "God is no respecter of persons," and what He will do for one of His children He will do for all. And then, if we only knew it, sanctification is just suited to the life of trial and perplexity.
"BILLY" BRAY AND CARVOSSO.
If there is a man to be found who has to labor hard all day and has a life full of care, sanctification is just the experience he needs. Read the life of Mrs. Fletcher, and see how sanctification can help a woman with multitudinous domestic cares. Study the lives of "Billy" Bray and William Carvosso, and remember that it was sanctification which helped these men in their difficulties. If there is a soul anywhere filled with unspeakable sorrow, shivering alone in the dark, the brightest light that can come to that stricken soul is full salvation. No matter how sharp the thorn, nor how galling the fetter, sanctification turns the thorn into oil, and the fetter into a chain of plaited flowers.
It is said by some that sanctification makes people "clannish." Clannish is a word with a rather offensive taste on the tongue, and is altogether too harsh a word to apply to that congregative instinct that makes pure-minded persons crave the fellowship of kindred spirits. There is nothing intentionally exclusive about the holiness movement. If a man is shut out it is because he shuts himself out; if he does not feel at home in a full salvation service it is because he has not yet obtained full salvation.
Men who share great truths and principles in common find in each other's presence and fellowship great help. Admirers of Browning form "Browning Clubs"; foot-ball men gather themselves into "associations"; ministers meet in "Monday meetings"; Christians organize "churches"; is it to be thought strange if people who are sanctified wholly delight to meet for conference and mutual help?
THE SPLITTING OF THE CHURCH
A few uninformed persons say that "holiness splits the church." But this is false. When men love God with all their heart and their neighbors as themselves, nothing can separate them. If, however, people of different sorts and kinds, some saved and some unsaved, are in one organization, it will not require anything much to make them differ in opinion. The real ecclesia, the genuine church, is not so easily split. One of our most brilliant and spiritual holiness writers has remarked in pleasantry that the anxiety of some in regard to the splitting of the church would lead one to think that there was something inside which they were afraid would be seen in case of a cleavage.
KEEP TO THE BIBLE.
Keep to the Bible idea of sanctification. Let not the adversary dupe you and frighten you from its quest and obtainment. Begin now; seek, search, pray, consecrate, believe, and soon the blessing will fall upon your waiting soul.
THOSE FOR WHOM CHRIST PRAYED—"SANCTIFY THEM."
The men for whom Christ prayed were converted men, and were living in justified relation to God. In proof of this statement, let the reader study the context carefully.
A CLOUDLESS SKY.
In the sixteenth chapter of St. John, the one immediately preceding the sacerdotal prayer, the conversation which is recorded would be impossible were the disciples conscious of guilt. One can not read those sublime verses without the irresistible conviction that the disciples' sky of soul-consciousness was blue and cloudless. There is no hint in Christ's discourse that these men are "of the world," but rather it is taken for granted that they are children of God and heirs of the kingdom.
A SPECIFIC STATEMENT.
It is the sheerest folly for one to maintain that the conversion of the disciples did not occur prior to Pentecost. If words mean anything, Jesus made a specific statement to the contrary. "Rejoice," says He, "that your names are written in heaven." In His prayer He says to His Father: "They have kept Thy word"; "they are Thine"; "I pray for them, I pray not for the world." Notice the distinction which He makes between "them" and "the world." These men are picked men. They are very different from the great unpardoned, sinful throng outside the kingdom—they are CHRISTIANS.
THE CHAMBER OF BLESSING.
A very good evidence of the genuineness of the conversion of the disciples was their painstaking care to follow out minutely the directions of their ascended Lord. He had prayed for their sanctification; they desired it. He had spoken of a coming Comforter, and they eagerly awaited His advent. He had said, "Tarry in Jerusalem until" His arrival, and they conscientiously met in an "upper room" for a ten-day prayer-meeting. "Farewell! friends; farewell! memory-haunted synagogues; farewell! sacred temple; farewell! long-bearded priests; farewell all! we must go to prayer: our Lord said that we should be sanctified." And thus in long line the one hundred and twenty file up the stairs to the Chamber of Blessing. There is no lightness, no jesting, no quibbling, no bickering; all are serious, terribly in earnest, intent on "the promise of the Father." There is Peter, impulsive and eager, whole-hearted and enthusiastic; there is the meek and quiet Mary, who sat at Jesus' feet at the old home in Bethany; there is the child-like saint, the devout and spiritual John; there is the repentant woman of Magdala; and there are many others who betake themselves to that sacred place—"the upper room." One all-engrossing thought fills their minds. "The promise of the Father which ye have heard of me. The promise of the Father! The promise of the Father! O, when will He come? We would know more about our departed Lord. He is gone from us. Our hearts are torn and bleeding and lonely. Jesus said, 'He shall testify of me.' Would that He would come now!"
WHY ONLY THE FEW?
But why are there only one hundred and twenty? Was it not into Jerusalem that Christ entered riding over a cloak-carpeted way amid the deafening shouts of "Hosanna"? Did He not teach and instruct and heal hundreds, if not thousands, in and about Jerusalem? Was He not lionized at times by an admiring public? Yea, truly; but one may admire Christ and yet not love Him. There are many who at some "hard saying" refuse to walk with Him. Thousands who have a keen appreciation of "loaves and fishes" shrink from "leaving all" and following Jesus. A great concourse is drawn and held spell-bound by a naive, graceful, eloquent, artless preacher who uses "lilies," and the "grass of the field," and the "sower" of seed, and the "sparrow" in the air to enforce his truth. But one may be interested, and yet not be saved.
THE AESTHETIC ELEMENT.
In some people religion appeals to the aesthetic nature, and to that only. They festoon the cross with flowers, but never think of dying on it. They are charmed by Gothic churches filled with "dim, religious light." The waves of music from the great; sounding organ awe their souls and fill them with a pensiveness which they mistake for repentance. Pointed arches, sculptured capitals, fretted altars, swinging censers, burning candles, white-robed choir-boys, errorless order in church service—these auxiliaries influence them so strongly in their sense of the beautiful that they think, "Surely I love God. Why, of course I love God." But to love God involves something practical. It means something more than mere profession. It means rugged self-denial, Spartan heroism, perhaps the loss of an "arm" or the "plucking out of an eye." Base must have been the soul which was not attracted by One who "spake as never man spake"; low-minded the man who did not see in Him imperishable beauty and refinement of soul; but ah! discipleship means far more than that. Christ had flown up to heaven. Who now will prove his love for Him by obeying His commands? Who will tarry in Jerusalem awaiting the coming Spirit, and then, the Comforter having come, be ready to "Go into all the world, discipling all nations"? Answer: All who are truly children of God. The preaching of sanctification is the touchstone by which the genuineness of conversions can be tested. The truly living "hunger and thirst after righteousness"; the dead do not "bother their heads about a second blessing."
THE STEAMER "PURITAN."
Let us illustrate: It was fifteen minutes until the schedule time for the "Puritan" of the "Fall River Line" to leave her New York pier. The evening was warm, and the usual crowd filled the decks. Many had come on board to see their friends off for Newport, Bar Harbor and "the Pier." Passengers and their friends sat in groups and chatted, talked about the trip, the weather, the situation at Santiago, the flowers they held, the concert by the orchestra. It was impossible for an observer to determine just who were passengers and held tickets, and who were merely bidding farewell to their friends. Suddenly an officer in gold-braided cap and blue uniform appeared, and cried out with an authoritative voice and a look of command, "All ashore who are going ashore! All ashore who are going ashore!" Immediately there were hasty hand-clasps and hasty good-byes, and a large part of the company marched quickly down the stairs and across the gang-plank. Those who were left held tickets and were "going through."
THE STAMPEDE FOR SHORE.
In a revival of religion it is often a matter of considerable difficulty to determine the genuinely converted. In the confusion of large altar services, and the crush of great congregations, who are the saved? No man can tell. Many are moved by sympathy for their friends. Others are charmed by the congregational singing and the music of the organ. Many see that the revival is bound to go, and, like Pliable, they are swept along for a time with it. But there appears in this mixed company a man with the stamp of divine authority upon his brow, the gold braid of full salvation on his helmet, the dialect of Canaan on his tongue and the air of official appointment about his person: "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord! All ashore who are going ashore! All ashore who are going ashore!" Immediately "there is no small stir." Some leave the boat by way of the gang-plank carping at the words of the officer and arguing as they go; some in great haste vault the balustrades and railings and leap for the pier; still others climb out the windows of staterooms and run screaming toward the nearest ladder which will enable them to leave the "good ship Zion." Gradually quiet is restored. The company is smaller, and of whom is it composed? The genuinely converted. What are they doing? They are asking the nearest officer how soon the boat leaves for New England. "When can I be sanctified wholly? O, pray for me! I want the blessing now!" They are "going through."
CHRIST'S PRAYER ANSWERED.
When Christ opens His mouth, God bows down His ear. "I know that thou hearest me always." The disciples did not wait long until they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. Christ's prayer found audience and the answer was not long delayed.
The baptism with the Spirit which was administered to the one hundred and twenty effected their sanctification. The cleansing of their hearts was one of the effects of the out-pouring of the Spirit. Sanctification and the baptism with the Spirit are therefore coetaneous—they take place at the same time.
This is proven by an inspired statement made by Peter. Referring to the Gentiles he says that God "put no difference between them" and us Jews who were sanctified at Pentecost, "purifying their hearts by faith."
THE MANNER OF CLEANSING.
There need be no confusion as to the manner of cleansing. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them THROUGH THY TRUTH." It is by means of the truth preached of and read, that we first hear of a full deliverance from all sin. It is "through the truth" that we learn of God's willingness as well as His power to sanctify. If it had not been for THE BLOOD, Jesus could never have guaranteed the coming of the Comforter; the blood is "the procuring cause" of all the blessings which we receive. Everything comes through the atonement. FAITH is the human condition necessary for the cleansing of the soul; so that, in a very important sense, we are sanctified by faith. THE DIVINE OMNIPOTENT HOLY GHOST is the immediate agency of heart-cleansing. He is the baptizing element administered by Christ the Divine Baptizer: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."
It would be well for us to notice some of the characteristics of the Pentecostal anointing. John the Baptist, minister of the gospel and preacher of genuine regeneration, said of Jesus that "he should baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire," thus using a most powerful symbol to characterize the nature of the work of the Holy Ghost. Everyone is familiar with the action of fire; it burns everything combustible with which it comes in contact.
We submit that no one can tell just how much there is in the heart that needs to be consumed. There are things dormant in the unsanctified heart of which the man never dreams. There are serpents coiled in balls, and vipers spitting poison, and centipedes, and fat blinking toads, and vampires, and lizards, and tarantulas, that we never suspect of being in the soul. But they are there.
THE EMBRYOS OF CRIME.
It is God's mercy that says, "Be ye holy," for He knows that unless we get cleaned out and purified the inner reptiles will poison us to death. Every unsanctified man carries in his bosom the seeds of all possible crimes, the embryos of all black actions. There are times when we half believe that something of the kind is true. Did you ever stand by the cage of a lion and watch his restless pace and feel that you had something in you kindred to him? Many a man has gazed into the green eyes of a wild beast and trembled, feeling a similarity of nature. Every son of Adam feels the beast stir in him at times, until Pentecost eradicates the bestial principle.
The embers from which hell-fire is kindled smoulder in the unsanctified heart. It is dangerous to attempt to build a Christian character over a latent volcano. A once active volcano becomes inactive. The lava cools, the ashes settle, and the smoke drifts away. An enterprising farmer covers a considerable space of the once fiery volcanic field with fresh earth carted from a fertile valley. All goes well for a year or two. The garden prospers, the vegetables are most encouraging, and the produce is abundant. But one morning the farmer notices that smoke is issuing from the crater at the summit of the mountain. The sky blackens and red flames flash amid the clouds of smoke. The land is shaken with earthquakes. Suddenly, right in the middle of his verdant field, a great red-lipped chasm opens and blue flames leap upwards and surge toward the sky. His crops are blasted with the "fierce heat of the flame," and the work of years is wrecked in a moment.
BLUE FLAMES OF GEHENNA
No permanent Christian life can be built upon the foundation of an unsanctified heart. For a time the graces of the Spirit may seem to grow, but in some sad hour the surface will split open and the man will leap back aghast at the blue flames of Gehenna, which singe his brows and blacken his cheeks.
THE PROPHET AND PRINCE.
An old white-haired prophet and a gay young prince are in conversation. The aged man bows his head upon his staff and weeps.
"For what are you weeping, old man?"
"Ah, I am thinking of the black and dastardly crimes you will commit when you have once become king."
"Is thy servant a dog, a ruthless town whelp, that he should do such things?"
But years roll on and the young man is king, and his hands are stained with crime, and the old man's predictions come true. God had given the aged saint a view of the boy's breast, and he saw the embryonic seeds of sin which, if allowed to remain, would sprout and produce a fruitage of evil deeds.
THE BROKEN FLOWER
The secret of the downfall of many a brilliant character is a bosom sinfulness little expected to be in existence. No man saw the black and ugly thing but it was there. A lady had a tall and graceful plant. The flowers were white and beautiful and all the town said, "What a fine flower!" One day a storm swept across the garden. One plant was injured; it was the one which people had admired and praised. Filled with grief, the lady stooped to examine the stem, and found that it had been pierced by a worm-hole. The insect had worked silently and secretly. No one saw him cutting into the heart of the tall and magnificent flower, but in a storm, under a test severe and protracted, the stem snapped and the choice beauty of the garden was a thing of the past.
THE WORM IN THE HEART.
It is the worm in the heart with his relentless and resistless tooth, which weakens the character. Under severe and protracted temptation the will snaps and yields, and the beautiful life is a wreck and fit only for the dump of the Universe.
STUMPS AND ROOTS.
There are many roots, hidden roots, which bury themselves deep in the soil of the heart. They extend far below clear cerebration, twisting and twining themselves in "the fringe of consciousness." It takes the fire of the Holy Ghost to follow them deep into the ground and destroy them. It used to be a pastime of the boys in eastern Ohio to pile great heaps of brush upon huge stumps in newly-cleared land. All the long October day they would toil, raising a stack of dry limbs upon the stump which needed to be removed. In the evening when twilight came and the stars shone out, they would light the brush and watch the flames greedily devour the pile. In the morning when the lads returned to the scene of the fire, no sign of the stump was to be seen. Looking closely they saw great holes as large at the top of the ground as a man's body, and tapering to a small point as they went deep into the earth. The fire had found the huge roots, and had tracked them into their retreats and consumed them.
FIRE OF PENTECOST.
We pile the brush of time and talents and money and name and self upon the altar, and the fire of Pentecost, which God sends as He sent to Mount Carmel of old, will destroy not only the brush, but the roots of sin, one and all.
A COMMON PLATFORM.
One of the results spoken of by Christ in His prayer, and brought about by sanctification, is Christian unity—"that they all may be one." There is but one remedy for sectism and bigotry, and it is found in the answer to Christ's petition. When Pentecost comes to us we are all lifted upon one grand common platform and shake hands and shout and weep and laugh and get so mixed up that a Presbyterian can not be distinguished from a Methodist, nor a Friend from an Episcopalian vestryman.
We have heard much about the organic union of churches. Many great and good men have looked forward with sanguine hopes to the day when we should do away with denominations. In a few cases two churches of different sects have united and worshipped in one congregation. But the causes of such unity are frequently far from gratifying. In D——the Methodists and Primitive Methodists clasp hands and join forces because they can thus make one preacher do the work which two formerly performed. In K——the Baptists and Presbyterians unite because the thirteen members of one church and the seven of the other feel lonely in their great refrigerators and are inclined to make friends and preserve life. The cold is most intense. In the far North the weather is sometimes so severe that wild beasts, ordinarily hostile both toward each other and man, crowd close together near the campfire of the explorer.
With many churches it is "unite or die!" The mallet of the auctioneer threatens the steeple-house, the young folks are off "golfing" or "hiking," and the gray-beards, lonely and terror-stricken as they see church extinction approaching, favor "a union of forces with some other church." In the church magazines of the next month appear sundry articles on "the broad and liberal spirit of the nineteenth century church." "A large catholicity is taking the place of the old fogyism of former days," scribbles the hack-writer.
THE "MILKSOP'S" THEORY.
In a few cases large congregations have united. When we behold it our hopes rise, but they are doomed to early blight by a careful study of the situation. The cause of denominationalism is the tenacious clinging to faith and doctrines. Whether or no we ought to all believe precisely alike about non-essentials, one thing is sure, the man who does not cleave to some faith, heart and head and brain and blood, is worthless in Christ's army. Milksops may be ornamental, they are certainly not militant, and God wants soldiers. The man who does not know what he believes, and the man who says "it does not matter what one believes if one is only sincere," are more despicable than the Yankees who burned witches in Salem. Better that a man be "narrow" than that he be so "broad" as to take in "the devil and all his angels." Out upon our folly when we barter away the truth of God for a flimsy, tissue-paper bond of so-called "fellowship"!
There is a unity, however, and to it Christ referred, which does not consist in uniformity of creed but in oneness of heart. When we are truly sanctified the non-baptizing Quaker, and the trine immersionist, and the High Church Episcopalian, and the foot-washing Tunker, and the Methodist, and the Baptist, and the Congregationalist all unite in one far-reaching melodious chorus,
"HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD!"
Sanctification destroys sticklerism for non-essentials and the lust for fine distinctions in dogmatics. It slays the doctrinaire and makes a red-hot revivalist out of him. The purified soul takes the Bible for his "credo" and loves God's children of whatever name with a generosity that overtops every inadequate consideration. The sanctified are united by a common cause and a common experience. Opinions may differ as to ecclesiastical polity or the mode of baptism, but the white cord of sanctification is "the bond of perfectness" which makes them one bundle. Yale and Cornell are rivals with their "eights" and "shells" on American Hudson, but men from both colleges join forces to beat the Britishers at Henley. Holiness people of every church unite to "push holiness."
THE SPOKES AND THE HUB.
When the glorious grace of full salvation is experienced, love for Christ is increased and intensified. Everyone wants to magnify Him and live close to Him: and as we get close to Him, the Hub, the distance between us, the spokes, is lessened.
THE D.D. AND THE NEGRO.
A D.D. and a negro meet on a Mississippi River boat. They fall into conversation. The doctor speaks of the Lord. The negro's eyes fill and he says, "You know my Savior?" and they shake hands and weep and shout. Why this community of feeling between men of such diverse stations in life? Both possess the blessing of entire sanctification.
The writer has had the privilege of preaching in churches of different denominations in the work of special evangelism, but never has he known the falling of Pentecostal fire to fail to burn up sectarianism. It is no easy matter to find out from the preaching of our holiness preachers under what denominational flag they sail. Full salvation obliterates the fences which separate the people of God and makes them really "one in Christ Jesus."
PETER THE FEARLESS.
There was a man among the one hundred and twenty "upper room believers" in whom Pentecost effected a most apparent and almost spectacular change. It was Peter. We remember him as the man at whom the young girl pointed her finger and laughed. We recall that he was so cowardly that he denied his Lord on the spot, swearing that he did not know Him. Behold this same Peter on the day of Pentecost. He is charging home the murder of Christ. Fear is gone, and gone forever. He faces men and does not flinch an iota. Carnality, the source of cowardice, has been removed, and the weakling is turned into a Lord Nelson for bravery, and a Savonarola for faithfulness to men's souls.
SHALL WE TREMBLE?
Fear of man is one of the most illogical things in the world. Men sell the blood of Jesus and hope of heaven and eternal happiness because of "what people say." Think of it, afraid of a man who will die and be hurried under ground before he rots! Frightened at a thing dressed in a long black coat and a white cravat with a golden-headed cane and a tall hat and a frown; a thing which will stop breathing some fine day and the worms will eat! Shall I tremble when an ecclesiastical Leo utters a roar? Shall I halt and stammer because a top-heavy lad from a theological seminary, hopelessly in love with himself, scowls at the word "sanctification"?
There are some who bolster their courage by saying ostentatiously, "I don't care what folks say," but their very vehemence shows that they DO care a very great deal. We boys all remember how we used to whistle when we passed a graveyard after dark to show we "weren't afraid"; and how hard it was to keep our mouths puckered and how shaky our legs felt!
AFRAID TO BREAK STEP
The folks we are afraid of are afraid of us. What a situation! A great regiment of people marching straight down to hell, everyone afraid to break step for fear the others will laugh! That is precisely the condition of nearly every sinner.
COURAGE OF THERMOPYLAE
Sanctification takes away the shrinking timidity and puts in a courage like that at Thermopylae. There was once a young man who, previous to his sanctification, was so timid that he frequently stayed away from church for no other reason than that he feared God might ask him to testify. He enjoyed meetings and loved to hear preaching, but the very idea of testimony would frighten him almost ill. Now he frequently addresses many hundreds and never feels the slightest embarrassment.
The ministry is sadly in need of a blessing which will give it courage to attack sin of all kinds and degrees. We need men who will rip the mask off the putrid face of corruption and pronounce God's sentence upon it; who will lift up the trap-door of the cess-pools of men's hearts and bid them look within at their own slime and filth; who will "cry aloud and spare not," though the infuriated cohorts of bat-winged demons snarl and shriek.
There will be a day when men will curse us because we have not preached more plainly. You can call a spade "a spade" or you can designate it as "an iron utensil employed for excavating purposes," but if you want folks to understand what you are driving at use the shorter term.
SHOOTING OVER MEN'S HEADS.
There is too little plain Anglo-Saxon preaching. We shoot far over the heads of our congregations and do not even scar the varnish on the gallery banister. We dwell on the points of distinction between Calvinism and Arminianism when the greater part of our people do not know the difference between an Arminian and an Armenian, and some good old sister thinks we are preaching on the cruelty of the Turks. Here I am discussing "The Dangers of Imperialism" and "The Anglo-American Friendship," while men are starving for the Bread of Life! Brethren in the ministry, let us be less anxious about the syllogistic accuracy of our sermons and be more eager to help men live right and quit sin and go to heaven.
THE PULPIT CANNON.
There are many sins which few men have the courage to antagonize in public. Theoretically the pulpit is supposed to cannonade all sin of every variety and species, but, alas, it is usually too cowardly. The Spirit-filled man fears no one from Sandow down to Tom Thumb, from a plug-hat Bishop to a little pusilanimous dude preacher.
It is not that ministers are unawares of the prevalence of black and ghastly crimes, but that they dare not speak openly against them. Too many are contaminated with evil and involved in guilt for the preacher to voice with impunity the truths which burn in his soul. He knows only too well that if he dares assert his manhood and exercises the prerogative of Christ's minister, the retribution will be swift and terrible, viz: ejectment from his pastorate!
How ominous is the silence concerning murder. And yet the land is swarming with crimson-handed murderers and murderesses. Many of them are members of our "best churches" and move in the most select society. Some of them read with animation the responses in church service and repeat the Lord's Prayer with the greatest gusto. A few—not many, we devoutly trust—talk about "sanctification." Poor, deluded, hoodwinked souls! they are blinded by Satan. Their hands are red with blood, and their hearts are black as hell. Were they to ever approach the heaven of which they sanctimoniously prate, they would be met at the gate with the curse of murdered infants who never saw the light.
If there is a pitiable sight in all God's great universe, if there is a scene over which angels shed tears and demons shriek laughter, it is an old cruel-eyed mother, who has seared her conscience and sinned away all noble womanliness and blasted her own soul, whispering into the unsoiled ears of her daughter the way in which to murder her own offspring; and if there is a hot hell, such a mother will make her bed in it.
The duties and cares of maternity are too irksome, and so the women who might be the mothers of John Wesleys and Fenelons and Metchers and Inskips and Cookmans are petting poodle-dogs and rat-terriers.
THE VITRIOL OF WRATH.
How many preachers dare speak in clarion tones what religion and science concur in asserting concerning vice? But know ye by these presents, all of Adam's race, that what depraved humanity pronounces all right and harmless, the Almighty God who whirls the worlds will corrode and scald with the burning vitriol of His wrath, and woe! woe! woe! to the man or woman with whom is found sin.
Any tyro knows who drowned Morgan, but the clergyman who "opens up" on Masonry is a curiosity. Why, how can the ministers say anything when they are the chaplains of these gilt-edged frauds called "lodges"? It does not take much calculation to show that an institution which spends three dollars in giving away one has no right to exist. Some of the more weak-minded and puerile of the clergy are doubtless in fear lest their "tongues should be torn out by the roots and their hearts buried in the rough sands of the seashore." Brave men are not so easily scared.
Secretism in itself is suspicious. Solon said that he wanted his house so constructed that the people could see him at all hours and thus know him to be a good man. A system which is so built that the public is kept in the dark is entitled to the attention of a Pinkerton. Bologna sausage made in a factory at the door of which is a huge sign, "No Admittance," may be all right, but you can not make people think so.
There are few preachers so foolish and illogical as to believe that the entertainment plan is the best way to raise money for church work, yet scarcely one of them declares his honest straight-forward conviction about it. Now and then a Hale, more daring than the rest, writes a remonstrative article for the Forum, but the great mass keep quiet. A Pentecostal ministry will wheel its guns into position and load and fire into the supper and festival crowd notwithstanding the voices of objectors.
Whatever may be the matter under consideration the sanctified man dares anything right. God is with him, and he feels His presence. Right is right, and by the grace of God he will stand by it though all the world howl and roar.
RESPONSIVENESS TO CHRIST.
A COAL AND A FLAME.
Among the results of the coming of the Comforter is an increase in warm personal love for Jesus. Conversion plants divine love (agape) in the heart, but sanctification quickens and intensifies it. Conversion drops a coal into the breast; the fuller grace fans it into a flame.
There is a place in experience where Christ's voice sets the whole being vibrating. The soul is so in tune with Him that the cadences of His tones fill the soul with a tremor of glee and gladness. If you sing the scale in a room where there is a piano the corresponding strings of the instrument will sound. Thus it is with Jesus and the sanctified soul. When Christ speaks the heart answers spontaneously.
Regeneration does much for us. But there is that even in the heart of the regenerate which is antagonistic to Christ. The whole man does not say instinctively, "Thy will be done"; yet there is something within to which the Lord can appeal. Consult Peter. He tells us of "exceeding great and precious promises by which we become partakers of the Divine nature." We "take a part" (partakers) of the divine Shekinah into our hearts. We are not only "adopted" but born of God, and by a divine heredity we possess His character.
We see this beautifully illustrated in the case of Samuel. Given in covenant to God from his birth, and early taught the word of the Lord, he possessed the changed heart and the attuned ear. When God's voice fell out of the skies that night something in Samuel heard what aged and mitred Eli could not hear. Eli had the theory and reasoned out who the speaker must be, but the heart of Samuel awoke intuitively at the sound of that voice.
THE VOICE FROM THE SKY.
As Jesus taught in the temple God spoke, and many whose ears were dull because their hearts were hard and unchanged said, "It thundered." Others saw that something extraordinary had occurred and admitted that "an angel spoke to Him." But the disciples whose "names were written in heaven," and who had regenerated hearts, knew it was the voice of God.
THE FLINTY WORLD.
But while the child of God is in sympathy with God he must be sanctified wholly to be fully, constantly and completely responsive to Christ. Jesus wants a bride who will live His life with Him and enter into all His plans and sorrows, ambitions and trials, aims and purposes. There are many people who are glad Jesus died for them who know nothing about "suffering with Christ." Yet the Bible is filled with allusions to it. The Heavenly Bridegroom wants a companion who will understand Him. This cold, hard, flinty, wicked world does not. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." He knocked at the door of His own vineyard and the husband-men said, "Come, let us kill the Son." The divine Lord hungers for some one who will not misjudge His purposes nor impute to Him base motives.
We have all seen people who were never appreciated. Those who were near to them by blood and kindred always thought them strange and visionary. What a sad thing if Christ's bride does not appreciate His aims for the world, His sorrow over perishing souls, His heart-ache over dying men! "The fellowship of His sufferings"—what can it mean? It means that we mourn over the sin in the world which makes Christ weep; sob over the evil that makes Him hang His fair head and groan. It means that ever and always we shall look at things from the Christ standpoint.
THE SHEEP AND THE SHEPHERD.
"My sheep know [recognize] my voice," says the Shepherd. He states the principle that "sheep" always hear when He speaks. "Lambs" may be at times mistaken as to the voices that cry in the soul, but Christians whose experience entitles them to the designation, "sheep," do not err as to the speaker. Watch a good shepherd collect his flock at evening. Every sheep knows him. It is getting dark, and the quiet animals are busily feeding in the fragrant clover, but the tender cadences of the voice of their guide and protector pierce their delicate ears and enter their gentle hearts, and the white flock comes bounding toward the shepherd. A sportsman in golf suit and plaid cap and with a fine baritone voice may call earnestly, but "a stranger will they not follow." The shepherd holds the key to their confidence, and no one else can unlock the door to their love.
CHRIST HAS THE KEY.
Christ has the key to our hearts. He stands in the dusk of evening in the falling dew and sends His sweet voice out across the billowing fields of clover, and all His sheep leap toward "the Good Shepherd."
THE COW AND THE SUNSET.
Sanctification brings out the power of appreciation in the soul. What God does for you fills your soul with gratitude, and you can get blessed any time of day or night by simply reflecting on the mercies and lovingkindnesses of the Lord. The natural human heart does not appreciate God, and sees nothing especially lovely in Him. A cow and the man who owns the cow may stand side by side and look at the same sunset. The cow sees a big splotch of crimson and gold; the other sees one of God's sky-paintings, and is inspired to holy living and self-denial and fidelity to the Master. You must have a "sunset nature" to appreciate a sunset, and you must be sanctified wholly to see in Christ a beauty and loveliness which no Murillo and no Raphael and no Del Sarto have yet put on canvas.
THE LOVELY CHRIST.
O the lovely Christ! How the heart aches to go to Him! We get so homesick for Jesus. People are so dull and uninteresting and vapid and stupid—so precisely like ourselves—we get weary of the world and its emptiness, and yearn to fly away to be with the spotless Christ and live in that
"Undiscovered country, from whose bourne No traveller returns"
Some day, thank God! the Bridegroom will step out upon the balcony of heaven and look at us and speak to us in a tone inaudible to all but ourselves, and our souls will bound with rapture and the earthen vessel will crumble and we will spread snowy pinions and wing our flight up to the presence of our soul's King!
One of the beatific effects of the cleansing of the heart from all sin is soul-rest. It always accompanies the glorious experience of entire purity.
This poor tired world of ours needs rest. Study the faces of the people you meet in the streets, in the markets, in the cars, in the churches, and there is one word NOT written on them, and that word is "Rest." You will find many other words written on them. On some faces you see "Selfishness" in crabbed, crooked letters; on others "Lust" in bold-faced type; on others "Gluttony"; on others, "Self-Conceit"; on others, "Craftiness"; and on through a thousand unworthy legends; but the one thing which makes life worth living is not found except among the sanctified.
VAMPIRES AND BATS.
It is wonderful how elusive rest is. You may search for it all your days and grow gray and haggard, and sit down in the evening of life with the vampires circling about you and be forced to confess, "I have not found rest!" You may retire from business and say, "I will spend my declining years in peace," but as the sun goes down the bats come out and flap the black skinny wings of the sins of other days in your affrighted face. If you are a student you may drop your books like Dr. Faust and hurry to the country, but the imp of restlessness will dog your steps and snare your pathway and you will carry home with you a Mephisto who will never leave you.
THE SEEDS OF ANARCHY.
Some Christian people seek rest in changing preachers, but there is nothing in that to bring it. You may leave the minister who thumps the desk and listen to a man with a nasal twang, but you are still restive and unsatisfied. You think the reason your peace of soul is disturbed is that Mrs. Garrulous talked about you, or that the weather is rainy and disagreeable, or that the meetings are dull, or that people are selfish. The real reason is that you have a restlessness in your heart characteristic of inbred sin. You possess the seeds of dissatisfaction, and lawlessness, and anarchy, and nothing but holiness of heart will expel them.
THE OCEAN DEPTHS.
Down in the unfathomed depths of old Ocean there is no movement, no disturbance. Gigantic "Majesties" and "Kaiser Wilhelms" and "Oregons" and "Vizcayas" plow and whiten the surface; tempests rage and Euroclydons roar and currents change and tides ebb and flow, but the great depth knows no ripple. It is said that down there the most fragile of frail and delicate organisms grow in safety. In the depths of the sanctified heart there is no storm and no breaker. Trials may come and leave white scars; billows may beat and surges may roll, and water-spouts and tornadoes may make the upper sea boil with anguish and sorrow and grief, but deep in the heart there is calm. There the delicate graces of the Spirit thrive and luxuriate. Great, soulless, iron-keeled, worldly institutions and sharp-prowed cutters may ride over your sensibilities, but the inner placidity is unbroken.
THE ETERNAL SABBATH.
God's plan is to rest us so we can work for Him with ease and success. He institutes an everlasting Sabbath in the spirit that we may be ceaseless in sanctified activities. If a man is always jaded and tired he can not take hold of his work with much enthusiasm.
There is no mistaking the man or woman who has found the second rest. There is a poise of spirit and a sweet serious balance of soul which can not be counterfeited. The preacher who appreciates spirituality sees no sight more beautiful than the serene, calm faces of auditors from whose souls the tempests have been cast. Life's toils and distractions and disappointments have all been negatived by the power of the all-conquering Christ.
A SCENE AT ALLENTOWN.
These words are being written in the city of Allentown, Pa., where the writer is spending ten days in a series of Pentecostal services. Last evening we saw a symbol of the rest Christ gives. We strolled along the east bank of the Lehigh River about half an hour after sunset. All the western sky was beautiful with an afterglow. The water of the river, silver near the shore and golden toward the west, was as still as the face of a mirror. The trees on the shore leaned over perfect pictures of themselves. The hills, which fell back gracefully from the valley, were covered with cloaks of gold and vermillion and emerald, and not a leaf stirred in the evening air. Far up the river the tiny bell of a canal-mule tinkled drowsily. On the veranda of a little cottage a young mother crooned a lullaby to a slumbering child, and a little bird in a thick grove called, "Peace! Peace!"
If God can make so beautiful a scene in the physical world, what can He not make in the spiritual? Thank God! He can excel anything the natural eye ever beheld. He can hang the soul with paintings and turn the "River of Life clear as crystal" through it, and fill the chambers of the heart with lullabies and the song of birds crying, "Peace!" If there are times when we are awed and charmed by
"All the beauty of the world"
let us remember that what we see is only a type of the grandeur and glory and splendor He will put in our spirit-nature if we but permit Him to sanctify us and cast out the storms and tempests.
THE PAIN OF SYMPATHY.
While we may possess and enjoy "the second rest" here and now, we need not forget that another is promised to us. We get weary physically sometimes here. The days frequently seem long and trying. There are hours and hours of labor, and nights and nights of toil, but, thank God! we can say at each sunset, "I am one day nearer rest." For while a sanctified man is always at rest spiritually, he can not rest physically to much satisfaction. In his dreams he can see the white, drawn faces of the doomed, and hear the wild uncouth shriek of the tormented. He remembers with horror that one hundred thousand souls are rolled off into Eternity while the earth makes one revolution! He thinks of cheerless homes, and torn and bleeding hearts, and wives waiting for the sound of unsteady steps, and children friendless and hungry, and figures leaping from bridges, and shaking hands holding poison, and maniacs behind the bars glaring with wild eye-balls through dishevelled hair! And he leaps from the couch with the cry, "O the pity of it all!" And he can not be still, he can not be idle, but is constrained to do his utmost by word and pen to save a sinking, gurgling, drowning humanity.
WHEN IT IS ALL OVER.
But one day it will all be over. Soon we shall all have preached our last sermon and prayed our last prayer and spoken our last word. Our lives will soon have passed into history. That blessed hour will soon be here in which we shall "lay down the silver trumpet of ministry and take up the golden harp of praise." Hallelujah, it is coming! it is coming! Praise the Lord!
DELIGHT IN PRAYER.
The precious grace of entire sanctification brings to the heart a prayerful spirit. Prayer becomes the normal occupation of the soul. One is surprised to discover that while it was formerly difficult, if not irksome, to pray at times, now one prays because it is delightful and easy.
Many of us have been surprised to read in the biographies of pious men and women that they frequently spent hours in prayer. But the sanctified man understands all that now. He can readily believe that De Renty heard not the voice of his servant, so intent was he gazing into the Father's face. He does not doubt that Whitefield in his college room was "prostrate upon the floor many days, praying for the baptism with the Holy Ghost."
The writer remembers of reading when just a child the thrilling life of John Wesley Redfield. There was nothing which struck the boy-reader with greater force than the prayerfulness of the man. It awed him, and made him long to enjoy such an experience as would make prayer so delightful. In the golden experience of sanctification he found that prayer was delightsome and blessed. Such is the uniform testimony of all who have been cleansed from depravity and anointed with the Holy Ghost.
PRAYER HAS ITS ANSWER.
God means true prayer to have audience. We can not understand how God can vouchsafe to us such tremendous effects as He asserts shall follow prayer. We can not defend prayer philosophically; but either "he that asketh receiveth," or the Bible is misleading and untrustworthy.
But what is "true prayer"? In the first place, it is prayer which says, "Thy will be done." If we pray selfishly, "asking amiss," we can hope for no answer. We will get no hearing. We must ask with the thought, "What is the Father's will? What does He consider best?"
True prayer must be earnest. It was the IMPORTUNATE widow that was heard, and it is the importunate seeker that never fails of an answer. If when sinners, backsliders, or believers come to the altar they would pray with earnestness and desperation, there would be a far larger PER CENT. of them who would go away fully satisfied. God never gives great blessings to indifferent people. When He sees a man in an agony of desire and longing, then He hastens to gladden his heart with an answer.
Prayer must be full of faith. James makes this clear to us. "Let him ask in faith nothing wavering." God cannot bestow a blessing upon us if we doubt Him. If a neighbor doubts your character, how much of your heart do you let him see? If a fellow-preacher imputes selfish motives to your acts, how often do you go to him and pour your heart out to him? But those who believe in us—how frequently we run to them, unlock our hearts and tell them all! It is thus with God. If we believe His word, if we are sure of the veracity of His promise, and are confidently expecting an answer, He will not, can not disappoint us.
THE FORGIVING SPIRIT.
There must be in us a forgiving spirit if our prayers are to be heard. Forgiveness of our enemies precedes blessing for ourselves. "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive your trespasses." If I am bitter in my heart toward any creature, God can not but be deaf to all my cries. If I nourish hatred, or meditate revenge, or plot the downfall of any man, my prayers are vain; yea, all my hope in Christ is futile!
O that God may send us all the prayerful blessing! It is better that we pray than that we discuss politics or talk "shop," or gossip or jest. If we preachers and evangelists at camps and conventions would pray more instead of getting in groups and talking about a world of nothings, our sermons would mean full as much to those whom we address.
Sanctification makes it possible for us to "pray without ceasing." The indwelling Paraclete keeps the heart in a constant spirit of prayer, so that at all hours and in all places prayers ascend. Communication is kept up between the heart and the throne of Grod. No snows break the wires. No floods wash away the poles. From the pulpit, from the sidewalk, from the counter, from the railway coach, from the sick bed, an ever-steady stream of prayer is kept up. They may befoul our names, but they can not stop our praying. They may "cast us out as evil," and may deny us pulpit privileges, and take away our salaries, but prayer and praise they can not stifle nor hinder.
INCENSE AND THUNDER.
The prayers of God's people are sweet to Him. "With much incense" burning in a golden censer (Rev. viii. 3) they float to His throne. But notice the effect of the prayers of saints. Not only is there a silence of an half-hour but "voices and thunderings and lightnings and an earthquake" are observed in the earth. The children of God, if they but pray and believe, can pull spiritual fire and earthquakes down upon earth and effect great things for God and His Church.
Nothing is clearer in the Acts of the Apostles than that the disciples after Pentecost had success in gospel service. Everywhere they went God rained fire upon their Word and sanctioned the truth which they preached by tremendous moral and spiritual upheavals.
B. T. ROBERTS.
Bishop Roberts has put the matter of success very succinctly: "If the lawyer must win his case and the doctor cure his patient in order to be successful, the minister and worker must save souls if they in their calling are to be said to be successful." But alas, saving souls is precisely what we are not doing. Thank God! there is here and there a man who stands out as a soul-saver. But the average minister is not distinguished for revivalism so much as proficiency in making a church social a "blooming success."
We all want to seem to succeed. We shun and dread the appearance of failure. When a church begins to rot instead of grow it is natural for us to do our utmost to find out some way of excusing the retrogression without admitting our failure to reach men with the gospel. There are evangelists, who in the palmy days of their power had wonderful, heaven-gladdening revivals, who have ceased to wield "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon," and, in order to cover their spiritual nakedness, are forced to resort to finger-raising, card-signing methods for stuffing and expanding "the big revival." There is no more sobbing, no more desperate praying, no more shouting; all is "decent and in order," as well it may be, for all is dead.
QUESTION OF EVANGELISM.
Honor to soul-saving! Show us the man who wins men to our Master, that we may clasp his hand and look into his face. Right here hangs all the discussion about evangelism. If the evangelist gets men soundly and scripturally converted and sanctified, let us bid him Godspeed! If he only amuses them and deals in paltry three-cent sensationalism, away with more of the same sort of stuff which we already have in so many pastors!
THE DIVINE RECIPE.
One thing is certain: God intends success and only success for His people. If, as His children, we fail, it must be because we have not followed the divine recipe for power and accomplishment. It was because the one hundred and twenty obeyed Christ and tarried at Jerusalem that God used the early Church to whip the Roman Empire.
"HOW TO SUCCEED"
"How to Succeed," used as the title for a book, will make any book sell, though it be as dry as a patent-office report. People want to know how to succeed in the world. How strange then that ministers and churches who are brilliant and conspicuous failures should shun the preaching of Pentecost—the one cure for failure and the sole guarantee of success.
How many times some of us have sighed over our inefficiency! How frequently, in default of apparent results, we have been forced to console ourselves with the thought that we are "sowing seed" and that there will be an abundant harvest at no distant date! Thank God! there is success for us all. Pentecost will give it to us.
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
We do not mean by success financial opulence. A man may be a success and yet as poor as John the Baptist lunching on dried locusts and honey-comb. One may be as wealthy as Croesus and yet be an awful failure. A church may be rich and increased with goods and incur the Laodicean curse.
Neither does success mean a great and highly-trumpeted statistical report to lug to conference. Some of our most inspiring "successes" are all right on paper, but in reality they are stuffed and padded scandalously. No, success in Christian work is to "turn many to righteousness," save souls, and secure the sanctification of believers. If we do not see such results following our labor, we have either missed God's plan as to our selection of a field or we are not living in the present enjoyment of the Pentecostal Baptism.
THE EPOCHAL EXPERIENCE.
The preachers and evangelists who have won great successes in the calling of sinners to repentance have almost without exception testified to having received an "enduement" or "anointing" subsequent to their conversion. The Caugheys, the Moodys, the Whitefields, the Wesleys, the Foxes, the Earles, though in some instances they have not believed in holiness according to the Wesleyan view, have all had an epochal event after which their work and works were effective and startling.
THE EFFECT OF PENTECOST.
Pentecost coming to a mission-worker will fill his heart with enthusiasm and energy, and give him a host of jewels washed from the mire and shining like meteors. The same experience coming to a mechanic will fire him with a love for Jesus and a solicitude for souls that will make him pray and fast and weep and work for his fellow-laborers, for his neighbors, and for his friends. The Spirit coming to a gifted singer will cause her to consecrate her voice, like Rachel Winslow in Sheldon's "In His Steps," so that with holy melody she will reach hearts hitherto hard and untouched.
THE PASSION FOR SOULS.
One of the conditions of success in soul-saving is a passion for the salvation of immortal men and women. Full salvation always brings this, and as long as a worker lives in its plentitude and enjoyment he is consumed with a burning, longing, panting thirst for souls.
THE GIGANTIC LANDSLIDE.
The ministers of early Methodism and early Quakerism were not of the sort who congregate in groups and discuss the relative desirability of various appointments. They did not spend their leisure in jesting, punning and guffawing, but in praying, studying, and working, for even their vacations were turned into days of toil. They spent their all in one endeavor—to save men from a yawning Pit and a lurid Hell. Nowadays we live in perpetual relaxation and recreation. Smooth, insipid preachers talk to shallow, giddy audiences, and the whole thing is on a gigantic landslide. Lord, save! or death and damnation are sure.
THE UNCERTAIN FAITH.
There can be no successful denial of the assertion that real soul-absorbing earnestness in religion is dying out. We sometimes mock at the Herculean labors of men like Owen, and Baxter, and Calvin, and Edwards. But though these men were perhaps more or less legalistic and at times a little narrow, yet one thing is sure, they made religion the business of life, and went at it with zest, enthusiasm, and determination. Your modern "Christian" has "certain intellectual difficulties"; is "not fixed in belief concerning Socinianism"; does "not like the old idea of the Atonement"; in fact, is in a state of fusion so far as his belief and faith are concerned. Men do not give their life's blood for matters in which they have only a half-faith. But when one is convinced that men are dying in the dark and that their salvation depends in a measure on one's activity and fidelity, then one is hot with zeal and fire from hat to heel and set to working for God and eternal souls.
WEEPING OVER CHORAZIN.
This is the explanation of the zeal of men who are "burning for Jesus." This is the reason men so frequently wear out in short order after they are sanctified. They are dipped in fellowship with Christ's sorrow, and beholding Him weeping over modern Capernaums and Chorazins their hearts are melted at the sight, and they speed away to preach the gospel of the lovely Son of God.
No wonder success comes to the sanctified man. Indwelt by the Shekinah, filled with the Holy Ghost, his whole being energized with power and force, "whatsoever he doeth prospers."
VISITS OF ANGELS.
The ninety-first Psalm is a painstaking description of the blessings and benefits bestowed upon the man that "dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High." Without doubt the entire chapter should be taken as a photograph of the sanctified man. Among other things, this fortunate and favored person is told that he is to have angelic guards and ministers who will protect him and keep him "in all his ways."
The sanctified are in a peculiar sense God's own, and all the resources of heaven are pledged to their protection. All the fire companies of the firmament will turn out to extinguish a fire if it kindle on God's saints. If need be, Jehovah will empty His balm jars but the wounds of warriors shall be healed. Angels are detailed for our protection: heavenly visitants hover near us lest the fires of affliction destroy us.
The moment the soul is sanctified, it begins to understand Christ in a new and delightful sense. It is given unto it to not only sit at His feet in the temple, but to groan with Him in Grethsemane. It understands Him, and, in suffering, is "as He is in this world."
A DARK HOUR.
It was a dark, dark hour for the Master. He had been praying a long while, perhaps for several hours. The place was one familiar to Him. Many a night after a long, wearisome day of teaching in the temple, He had labored painfully up the slope of the Mount of Olives in search of the quiet of "the Garden." Here the Savior had His oratory. Sometimes the disciples were with Him; at other times He was alone.
A NIGHT OF CRISIS.
But this night was a night of crisis. The old olive trees, in all their centuries of life, had never witnessed so intense a struggle as that which took place on the night of His passion. Alive to all the pathos of the hour, awake to all the gravity of the situation, sensitive to the slightest breath, He prays to "the Father" with that desperation in which the flight of time and the doings of the world are all forgotten.
There was much about the hour which made it a painful one. There was, first of all, an uncertainty concerning the will of "the Father." With a great cry the lonely Christ fell to the ground: "If it be thy will let this cup pass, nevertheless" let thy will, whatsoever it is, "be done." Evidently He was not at that time really sure what the plan of "the Father" was in regard to Him.
A BITTER CUP.
Uncertainty is a fearful test, when it comes to the soul of a man of great and energetic purpose. So long as there is no doubt about the course to be taken, so long as the plan is plainly revealed, it is easy for a courageous man to advance. But to such a one uncertainty is like a shock to the body, palsying the form and changing a strong arm into a nerveless, useless stick of bone and tissue. A cup may be very bitter, salt with the brine of tears and hot with the fire of vitriol, and yet, if all the ingredients in that cup are known to him who drinks it, grief has not reached its superlative. Socrates' duty was plain to him. Hemlock was in the cup, and he knew it. But the liquor with which God fills the tumblers of His people is brewed from a thousand elements.
To trust in the dark, to believe in a rayless midnight, to cling to a thread well-nigh invisible, to say "Amen" to God when one has no idea of the greatness of the meaning of "His will," that is the supremest test of loyalty.
THE NIGHT PICKET.
The night picket stationed far out from the camp has need of much greater courage than the soldier in battle ranks rushing on toward the enemy. The man at the lonely picket post, cloaked in darkness, is guarding against uncertainty. He can not tell at once whether a dark object is a dangerous spy or a browsing Brindle. Sounds must be noted and sorted lest the enemy steal up to the slumbering army and destroy it. The snapping of twigs, the low whistle of a bird, the groan of the wind, the murmur of a waterfall must all be listened to with care.
It is suspense and a nameless dread and fear that sap many a mind and heart. Moments of breathless expectancy of evil tidings are like years in the life, bringing ashes to the hair, lines to the cheek and listlessness to the eye.
THE PALLED FACE.
"Be sure you are right, then go ahead," said Tennesseean Crockett; but supposing that one can not "be sure" of anything except the love of God, supposing that one looks out through the tangled limbs of the olive trees of a Gethsemane to a sky studded with pitiless stars, supposing that the future is obscure and the present black as Styx, supposing that even the face of the Father Himself is palled and curtained—then must one be content to trust and only trust.
There was another cause for pain in "the Garden." The three disciples, whom He had chosen to accompany Him in His dark and lonely vigil, slept as He prayed. We can bring ourselves to overlook the negligence and apathy of Nicodemus and Lazarus and Simon the leper and Zaccheus and the crowds who had merely heard Him preach. We are willing perhaps to excuse eight of the twelve for their drowsiness—perchance they did not apprehend the full meaning of the hour to the Master. But there were three disciples to whom Christ had ever laid bare His heart. With Him they stood in the death chamber in the house of Jairus. To them it was given to behold "the vision splendid" on the mount of transfiguration, and these alone Jesus chose to enter into the fellowship of his Garden sufferings.
These men did not nod and sleep ignorant of Christ's need of them. With that tender confidence with which a truly great and colossal man sometimes honors his friends, He had said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." He had warned them with the words, "Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation," and yet they slept!
"OUR OWN AFFAIRS."
It must have been a keen disappointment to Jesus to find His most trusted friends so indifferent to His needs. Is there anything in life sadder than the discovery that our own affairs are really only our own affairs? We had thought that they were our friends', as well as our own. We had supposed that our griefs were theirs also, but when Grethsemane comes into our lives, and we writhe and twist among the gnarled and knotted roots, when we turn with blanched, tear-sprinkled faces to our chosen James and trusted Peter and beloved John to gasp in their ears the story of our agony, we hear only the heavy breathing of sound sleepers.
COLD, HARSH FACT.
If there is a sharper pang than this, man's heart has not found it. We are by nature social beings. We crave fellowship and love and sympathy, and it is so hard for us to realize that our choicest friends are really "asleep" to our heart cries and heart interests. The cold, harsh fact can be believed but slowly. Even the Lord seemed to find it hard to convince His own heart that the John who had leaned at supper upon His breast, was resting while his Master was sweating blood. He prayed awhile and then, as if to see whether it was indeed true that no one watched to help Him, "He came and found them sleeping." Sad, cruel disappointment, and yet is it so rare that any one of us has not felt its sadness and cruelty?
But while men forgot the Nazarene and His troubles, Grod did not forget. The Father was not negligent nor careless. "There appeared an angel unto him from heaven strengthening him." The night was not too dark for the angel to find Jesus, and the night of our troubles is never too thick and black for the angels to find us. The paths of "the Garden" may be grown up in weeds, the rough, scabeous limbs of the trees may hang close to the ground, the driving clouds may hide the moon and stars, but some celestial messenger will search us out and find us.
IN MANY FORMS.
God has many angels, and they come in many forms. Sometimes the solitary sufferer sees only a tiny flower, but love is in the flower, and he knows he is not utterly forgotten. It may be only an hand clasp, but warmth and sympathy are in it, and behold it is straightway "an angel strengthening him." Perchance it is a letter with a foreign postmark, but in it is nectar and ambrosia for a drooping spirit. Or the angel may come enveloped in a text of Scripture or flying on the wings of the music of some old hymn, such as:
"Fear not! I am with thee. Oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God! I will still give thee aid."
In whatever role the angel may come, God sent him, and his mission is one of blessing and encouragement.
We can well afford to suffer in the darkness, alone and uncomforted, if angels will but visit us. John Bunyan can well be content in Bedford gaol, if God but puts a dream in his head and heart that will last in the memories and characters of men, when the sun is a burned-out cinder and the stars are dying ash heaps. We can well be satisfied to have sorrows unutterable and griefs inexpressible, if heavenly visitants will but come to us.
GROWTH IN CHRISTLINESS OF LIFE.
MAKING A BOTCH.
One may have a clean, pure heart and yet be far from possessing a matured Christian character. A man may love God with all his heart, and yet not be wise in his selection of the things that will always please God. Frequently the preacher may come down from the pulpit having made a horrible botch of his attempt to serve God in the ministry. He may feel the fact keenly, and be even more conscious of it than any of his hearers. And yet that preacher may have a heart as white as Gabriel's wing and a soul full of love to God and man. But as time goes on, and he lingers repeatedly at the feet of Christ in prayer, God will show him how he can serve Him more effectively and without the objectionable features.
The fact that purity is not maturity has given rise to misapprehension on the part of many people. Indeed, many of God's dear children have been misjudged and condemned because they did not have in addition to pure hearts sound and solid judgment. As soon as a man professes the blessing of perfect love, the sharp-eyed critics of the neighborhood look out for "perfect sense," and "perfect manners," and "perfect life," and when the subject of observation fails to meet the expectation of the aforesaid critics, there is a great hue and cry that "Sister A. or Brother B. has not got what is professed," when God knows they HAVE got JUST what they profess—namely, perfect love, full salvation. The Lord has never guaranteed a perfect head to any man that breathes. We will make mistakes as long as we hang around this old world, and it is injustice to exalted spirits who have this precious grace, and an insult to the God who gave the grace, to condemn sanctification because those who profess it are not angels, but simply men and women cleansed and filled with the Spirit.
But while God makes allowance for our weakness and our frailty, we ought not to expect Him to indulge us in avoidable and needless errors. We made a mistake. Very well. We knew no better than to make it. But now that we do know better, we have no business repeating it. And right along here comes a great expanse of territory which holiness people need to cover. Here there is infinite room for advancement and progress.
"THE IMITATION OF CHRIST"
Thomas A'Kempis wrote a wonderful book on "The Imitation of Christ." The failure in so many quarters in becoming Christlike is due to the false method pursued. First, get a Christlike heart, and then let that heart govern your life and actions. "Work OUT your own salvation," said Paul, "for it is God that worketh IN you." Precisely! God puts a holy heart into a man's breast, and his business from thence on is to bring his life into line with the heart. The old life-habits may cling to him for a time, but it is the business of the sanctified soul to free itself from all that Jesus would not do were He on earth. Imitation of Christ comes after sanctification, and not before. You simply can not imitate Jesus if you have a reptile heart in you. If you have a filthy mind you will talk "smut" and think "smut" in spite of yourself. You may hide your bad self from the world, but your wife, or your husband, or your family, those who are acquainted with you intimately, know that you are base and coarse.
A glutton may stand and look at the thin, austere, ascetic face of Dante and say within himself, "I will be a Dante," but all the world knows that in a few hours he will be gourmandizing as swinishly as before. And men look at the beautiful Jesus held up in Unitarian pulpits and resolve to act like Him, and go right on being selfish, and proud, and deceitful, and devilish. There must be a moral miracle, there must be a spiritual upsetting and overturning, before a carnal heart can begin to imitate the pure and spotless Son of God.
After we are sanctified, we ought to imitate Christ in kindness. How kind He was! Where did He abuse anyone? He preached the truth, but He never maligned any of His auditors.
THE "LITTLE THINGS"
It is the "little things" that make up the mosaic of life. Our friends know us, not by the speeches we deliver, nor the sermons we preach, nor the books we write, but by the tones of our voices, and the letters we pen, and the words we use in daily life. Introduce kindness into a discordant family and how Eden-like the home becomes! Why are we not as considerate and polite to those who are all the world to us as we are to strangers and neighbors? Christlike kindness would fill our hearts with thoughtfulness for those about us. It would bid us carry a torch to many a darkened life, and incite us to share the burden pressing upon many an aching shoulder.
Christ had great charity for the faults of those with whom He was associated. How He bore with the dull and almost stupid disciples! How He bears with us in our worse and more inexcusable blockheadedness! And, if He is so charitable and patient with our faults, how ought we to be with others? There comes a time in our lives when we are simply astonished that people pay any attention to us at all. We are so conscious of our short-comings, and so keenly aware of our mistakes, that it seems to us that surely no one is quite so blundering and fallible as we are. How easy it is then to bear with one another!
We ought to work humility out into our lives. Jesus lived an humble life—a life of the truest and deepest humility. Not a humility conscious of itself and ever gazing at itself through the fancied eyes of others, but a humility that was real and unaffected.
A CHRISTLIKE MAN.
The writer has in mind a man of deep and earnest piety, a scholar, a successful preacher and author. With all his learning and scholarship he is as humble as a child, and one can not look at him without feeling, "There is a Christ-man." Often as the pen flies quickly across the page, or as the lips are moving in the delivery of a sermon, or as an altar service is in progress, the slight, thin figure of that man flashes to the brain, and the eye grows dim and the heart-prayer rises, "Lord, make me an humble man." There are so many great men, eloquent men, learned men, dignified men, but so few humble men. God, increase their number in the land!
Another thing in Jesus' life which sanctified people ought to learn to imitate was His activity. His days, and even His nights, frequently, were filled with service. After long days of teaching and preaching, He would seek out some quiet nook and spend the still and lonely hours of night in prayer to the Father.
THE INDIVIDUAL VISION.
Men who come into close touch and communion with Christ are impelled irresistibly to earnest and ceaseless service. They see needs which no one else seems to see. They hear the plaintive voices of dying men, and the tearful cries of despondent women, and the helpless moans of unloved children. They have visions which others never understand, and dream of things with which their dearest friends can not sympathize. They have given their all that they may know Christ, and He has rewarded them by disclosing His heart to them. They know why His face is tearful, and His voice is filled with sadness. They know why He is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." They are baptized into a baptism of love for souls, and compassion for the sorrowing, similar to that in which He is plunged. It is for this reason that men hear the voice of God calling them away from the hearth-stone out into the desolate earth.
St. Telemachus heard the voice of God, and straightway "followed the sphere of westward wheeling stars," and journeyed on to Rome muttering, "The call of God! The call of God!" Not on a foolish errand did he go, for, after his visit to the Eternal City, gladiatorial combats ceased.
"HE THAT WARRETH"
Brethren, be true to Christ. Let not even those who love you best draw you from a steadfast purpose to spend your life and all for the Galilean. Flee ease and luxury and comfort, and impose hard tasks upon yourselves. Your friends may seek to hinder you with cries of, "Rest! Tarry!" but like Christian in Bunyan's dream stop your ears and go quickly on your journey.
THE HOME COMING.
Some day your little service will be complete. Your sun will set. The west will be filled with beauty, and the birds will twitter softly in the trees as you trudge the last mile into the City; and as the shades deepen, and the air grows chill, the Master Himself will meet you, take you to His heart, wipe the tear from your cheek, the dust of the road from your brow, and the sorrow from your heart, and lead you to the court, where with those whom you love, and those who love you, Eternity will be spent in the light of His pure and shining face.
THE VALUE OF TESTIMONY.
It has pleased God to place in our hands two weapons by which we are to overcome Satan—"the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony." It was the narrated experiences of the people of God, and the modest declarations of the saving power of Christ, which convicted me of my need and led me to seek the grace of God. Very briefly, therefore, I will sketch God's dealings with my own soul.
I was born September 30th, 1877, at Westfield, Indiana. My parents were both ministers in the Society of Friends, and I can not remember When I first began to pray, for my mother taught me to go to God with everything, even when a very small child. When I was five and a half years of age we moved to Walnut Ridge, Indiana, where there was a Friends' meeting of more than ordinary size and activity. It was here that my conversion took place. I remember the event as distinctly as if it were yesterday.
I always prayed at the family altar, and that was an institution which was never neglected for anything in our home, and I had never omitted my evening devotions; but one summer day while playing by myself under the trees in the front yard, a great fear came upon me lest I had never had a change of heart. Though less than six years old, I had sat in the "gallery" behind my father as he preached too often to be ignorant of the necessity of the new birth. It was a perfect day, but conviction settled upon me more and more deeply, and a dark shadow seemed to take the brightness from everything. Unable to endure the heartache any longer, I ran into the house and sat down with my father and mother, waiting in silence for some time. Finally I asked them if I had "ever been converted," told them I "wanted to be," and immediately we knelt in prayer. How I did weep, and how badly I felt! I can see the back of that little sewing-rocker now swimming in my tears. (I wonder where that rocking-chair is now! The last I knew it was in California, having left us at an auction—an occasion not unfamiliar to most of preacher-families.) They told me to pray, and I prayed with all my heart. If ever there was a little boy who felt that he was a great sinner, I was the boy. I remembered all the things I ever did that I knew were wrong. My boyish wickednesses, things that seem a rather absurd lot now in the light of the sins of the average lad of six that I know to-day, caused me great pain. Soon peace came, and what happiness! When I went out doors again the very birds twittered with increased gladness, and the sky seemed a far deeper blue, and the grass and flowers rejoiced with me in my new-found experience.
Would God I had retained my simple faith in Jesus! But it was not long before I wandered away from Christ, and the life of prayerfulness and obedience. For years my religious experience was most unsatisfactory. I was under frequent convictions, and knew that the Spirit was striving with me persistently, but I hardened my heart and would not yield completely to God. As I look back at those years of restlessness and rebellion, I recall with gratitude the forbearance and long-suffering of a now sainted mother. How she carried her proud, stubborn boy on her heart, and how she held onto God's skirt and tugged away until He answered.
THE STRIVING OF THE SPIRIT.
During the winter of 1891-1892 I became almost wretched on account of conviction. The Holy Ghost fairly dogged my steps and whispered in my ear at every turn. There were many things which He used to convict me of—my unfaithfulness and aridity of soul and life. My junior year at Oak Grove Seminary is distinctly remembered as a time of continuous conviction and unrest. Now and then I would find peace and comfort for a time, but they remained only for a time. I kept up secret devotions very carefully. I never missed my daily prayers, but my life was inconsistent and God-dishonoring. The lives of real Christians rebuked me, and the mockery of my empty profession haunted me like a spectre.