The GOSPEL TRUTH
A Series of addresses on the requirements of Jesus Christ's Service
By the General of the Salvation Army
TABLE OF CONTENTS:PREFACE:
1. TO THE RESCUE
2. DAVID: A TRUE TYPE AND FORERUNNER OF THE SALVATION ARMY CADET
3. OUR NEW NAME: THE SALVATIONIST
4. NATHAN; or STRAIGHT TRUTH!
5. THE SALVATION ARMY.
6. GETTING RID OF THE FILTH
7. JEREMIAH; OR PUTTING DOWN THE SALVATIONISTS
8. A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST
9. MIRIAM: A FORERUNNER OF THE PROPHETESSES OF THE SALVATION ARMY
10. HOW TO COMMAND A CORPS OF THE SALVATION ARMY
11. ISAIAH; OR, THE UNSEALING OF THE LIPS
12. THE CHILD JESUS
14. THE TRIAL AND TRIUMPH OF ABRAHAM
15. A MERRY CHRISTMAS
16. THE CQNQUEROR
17. MOSES: AN OLD SALVATIONIST VIEWING THE LAND
18. THE BAPTISM OF FIRE
19. DIE AT YOUR POST
SINCE I have neither time nor inclination for book-writing in the presence of the fearful necessities of the millions perishing around us, and am yet bound to make known in the clearest possible way to those who look to me for guidance what I believe to be the Lord's will, I have thought proper to put into a permanent form such reports of addresses and other brief records of my views as could be readily got together,
Of such papers as are to be found here I may, then, say that I mean every word of them, but that they cannot be taken as a complete expression of all I mean, Those who wish to feel and act within their several spheres as soldiers of the Salvation Army feel and act in theirs, will doubtless be pleased to read reports, imperfect though they may be, of what I have said, and will, I trust, be profited, in so doing. Officers and soldiers of the Army will, I know, "read' with the same attention and sympathy with which they have listened, and will, I trust, make a far better record, of our thoughts and sayings in their lives.
Those who wish to hurt our reputation should be most strongly recommended to examine this book, which, from its incompleteness, will afford them abundant opportunity, even without misquotation, to misrepresent out principles; and they can safely count upon our not replying to their misrepresentations, for we are content to have God for our Defence,
1. TO THE RESCUE.
THE little town of Whitby was startled on Wednesday morning by a telegram, that in a very few minutes was agitating nearly every individual in the place. The howling waves and roaring seas had kept the town pretty well awake all through the early hours of that stormy day; but this intelligence woke it up altogether. Six miles along the South Coast, just off Robin Hood's Bay, a ship had been blown on to the rocks, and her crew of six men had been compelled to take refuge in the long-boat. To reach the shore in that sea was impossible, so they had thrown out the anchor, and, with the seas breaking over them, all benumbed with cold and ready "to perish, they waited for either deliverance or death. In this condition they were spied by some watchers on the shore, who, being unable to render help themselves, telegraphed the calamity to the men at Whitby, in the vague hope that they might be able to do something for their rescue.
This was the telegram that the men of Whitby were considering, and, to their great credit, were turning over in their hearts as well as in their heads, and hence, as we shall hereafter see, there was something satisfactory came of it. But, before we enquire what that was, we want to say that very similar telegrams to this-telegrams of a similarly heart-stirring, agitating character, and telegrams that would be productive of far more important consequences than this, if we could but get them equally credited and considered, are being handed in to us all, to the writer and readers of this paper, handed in at all hours of the day and the night, whether we live on the coast or inland. Telegrams that tell of wrecks and of perishing crews--of fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters, and children and friends, striking on the rocks of pride, or drink, or fashion, or mammon, or vice, or conceit, or superstition. Telegrams which tell of men and women created and intended to live in Heaven, striking and going down straight to hell; and, telegrams which tell of men and women who do not go straight down, but who float about anchored in the dangerous seas close to the breakers, to whom going down is but a question of time--unless rescued --whose being swallowed up-devoured by the greedy deeps of iniquity in which they will abide, and be damned for ever--is as certain as the power and justice of Jehovah, unless they are reached and rescued. Thank God, they can be helped; but oh, they must be helped at once. Already they are benumbed, frozen, all but past feeling. A little longer, and they will be gone! Oh, wire--telegraph, somebody! Will no one rush in? Is there no lifeboat for these perishing souls? Is there no eye to pity, no arm to save? Heaven and earth telegraph and entreat you to help this rescue.
Now what did those Whitby men do with this telegram?
Did they leave it all unnoticed? Did they read it over and meditate on it for their own special benefit, and stroke themselves and have a prayer-meeting specially to thank God that they were not left to perish like those poor men? Did they harden their hearts with those various considerations, which are never far to reach, to justify lazy, selfish men? Oh, no! they were men with hearts of flesh, and the vision of those six half-drowned men out there, with the cold salt spray breaking over them, brought their hearts into their mouths, and the question quick as lightning, was on every lip, What can be done? Nay, What can we do? That was the proper question for the hour. Nobody felt like making a sermon on the matter of shipwrecks and dangerous rocks in general, with ever so many particulars. If he had, no one would have been found to listen to it. What was wanted was to know now TO GET THESE SIX DEAR FELLOWS OUT OF A BOILING SEA.
But how? Only a lifeboat could reach them, and there was no such thing at Robin Hood's Bay. There was one there with them at Whitby; but that was six miles away from the drowning men, and to take it by sea in that gale was impossible. What, then, is there nothing to be done? And the vision of the perishing six came up again, and somebody proposed, and it was carried right off, to send a wire back to Robin Hood's Bay: "We cannot bring our boat by sea, but we will bring her by land; we will not be beaten, and the men shall be saved." That's the sort of grit. Hurrah for the men of Whitby, and all other men of the same stuff. If you cannot go to the rescue one way, go another.
To move a ponderous boat under favourable circumstances would not be a very easy task; but here was ice and snow everywhere, and in some places six feet deep. But at it they went. Picks and shovels, and horses, and ropes, and sailors, and fishermen, and farmers, and all sorts of men lent a hand, and the Robin Hood's Bay men met the Whitby men, and the road was cleared, and the ponderous boat was dragged up the hills and down the hills, until the bay was reached; and out there through the drifting sleet the object of their toil was seen, and now another pull, and with a ringing cheer they rushed their boat into the boiling surf, and bent themselves to the oars to reach the object of this wild enthusiastic toil.
Now, my comrades of The Salvation Army, and all other servants whose business it is to rescue shipwrecked souls, can you not learn a lesson from the children of this generation? Do you see how these men, ay, and women as well--for although the newspaper is silent as to any female help in the undertaking, we have little doubt that sympathetic and unselfish women had a hand in it--now, do you see, then, how these men and women went into this rescue business? What mad haste; what fiery zeal; what determination; what an expenditure of strength and money; what a risk of precious life! Why, the whole country side seemed to have stopped their business and concernments, and to have turned out to rescue these six men from a watery grave.
All this was very good, exactly as it should have been, and if more effort, and more money, and more strength, and more risk had been required, the men of that country side would have been equal to the requirement. They made up their mind that those six men should be saved, and they were fully prepared to pay the price.
Just so, my comrades, when we, the soldiers and servants whom God has set to the business of saving men, are prepared to pay the price, we shall see the Divine result, and never till then.
That is the way and the only way. The perishing and shipwrecked souls are before your eyes. But they can't be reached and rescued without trouble, and risk, and labour, and travail, and expense. Will you pay the price?
People die and go to hell because nobody will be at the trouble and expense to save them. Let the country side turn out. Cut a way through. Know no impossibilities. If you cannot reach the perishing souls one way, try another. Try every way, and then try them all over again. Never be beaten. You must succeed. Make your mind up to it, and it shall be done.
But what came of it all? The boat launched, the difficulties of the undertaking were still far from overcome. "After pulling for an hour the steer oar and other oars were broken, and she had to return to shore for a fresh supply. A double crew then manned the craft, and with a cheer she was again launched through terrific seas. After struggling for an hour and a half the shipwrecked crew of six men were reached, and safely landed at four o'clock. The poor fellows were thoroughly exhausted and benumbed, and it was only with great difficulty that they were brought back to consciousness. The lifeboat crew also suffered severely; one of them being unable to return home."
Even so, my comrades, pull away. The oars will break.
Those by whom you pull, your very right-hand man, perhaps the very man on whom you most depend, your steer-oar may go to the bad. But never heed; get a fresh supply, and go on again. It will be a struggle--of course it will; those seas with which these lion-hearted Whitby sailors fought were nothing like so terrific as the seas through which you have to pull to reach the dying souls of men. Cheer up! God is with you. Calvary's Royal Prince is your example, and angels look on from Heaven's overhanging shores with wonder and admiration. Now, another pull, there, let her go. Now ease her; now let her have it. There you are; take hold of that backslider--pull him in. There, help that infidel on board. Hold, now for that poor drunkard. Have you got him? Now, thank God, that wretched harlot is on board. Here give a hand to that despairing prodigal just going down. Have you got him safe? Now, another and another. Hallelujah. Full, are you? Back then to the shore, and the shouting, and the welcome; and the nursing back to life and strength and usefulness; and then for another boat load. Oh, it is hard work and exhausting work, is this rescuing of men and women from the yawning waves of temporal and eternal destruction, and the landing of them in safety at the Redeemer's feet; but it is, nevertheless, the most glorious and Divine employment that can engage the powers of any of the inhabitants of God's universe. ON THEN TO THE RESCUE!
A TRUE TYPE AND FORERUNNER OF THE SALVATION ARMY CADET.
CADETS WANTED--Male and Female. We must have Cadets. Have we not got room for them at the New Training Home? and are we not enlarging the other? Is not Australia clamouring at our doors, and deluging us with imploring epistles, full of all manner of unanswerable arguments, to go over and help them? Is not Ireland entreating for more officers, and, all over our own land, are not the cities and towns, large and small, to say nothing of the villages, clamouring for officers to lead them in the fight? Therefore Cadets are wanted, very much wanted indeed.
What then? Send them along. But who, what sort? Anybody who have the notion they ought to be officers, would like to be officers? Anybody who don't like their present job, their present home, who don't like what they have to do, or don't like having anything to do at all?
No, A THOUSAND TIMES NO! Let us have the quality, any amount of the quality. But if you please, Colonels, and Majors, and Captains, and Lieutenants, and Sergeants, and Privates, and Brothers and Sisters beloved, if you cannot send us what you, in your innermost souls, do believe to be the quality, don't send us any at all. For verily the few whom you have sent us, or, more unfortunate still, whom we have sent ourselves, who have been helpless and strengthless, or, worse by far, conscienceless and godless, have been the greatest grief of our lives, and the greatest hindering and undoing of the work of God. But whom shall we send? Here is a model for you. Look at the picture. Read the story of that day. Take him as he stands, and you will have an idea of the sort of "blood and fire" wanted. What he was that morning is what we want, what the world wants, what The Salvation Army wants, what Jehovah wants, and wants to-day.
Here, young men and young women, you are thinking about this Cadet business, and I am not surprised at it either. What is trade, and shop-keeping, and emigration, and marriage, and money-making, and--and anything else compared with this business of war? Talk about one giant--here in our day and our land are any number bigger and higher than Goliath, stalking about, defying the armies of Israel, defying the Government and the Bench of Bishops, and both Houses of Convocation, and the Conventions, and Conferences, and Colleges, and defying all the Clergy, both Church and Dissent, and defying, in short, all and everybody who are on the side of God and goodness.
Now then is the opportunity for the Davids--for the Cadets; but oh, let us have Davids!
Let me pick out a few points that strike us in the bearing, and talking, and doing of this youth. I may help some of you to a correct idea of what God and The Salvation Army expect from their Cadets, and thereby save yourself some ignominy, and other people, it may be the blessed Lord Himself, some disappointment.
I. HE WAS A VOLUNTEER. He was none of your hirelings who go to the fight because it can't be helped, or because. you must, or for so much a day. Nay, nay, what he was after was the fight. Anybody can have Saul's daughter, and robe, and armour, and money for him; what he wants is to kill the giant, drive the Philistines, arid show heaven, earth, and hell that Jehovah is the King of kings. So with your true Cadet, he wants to get at the giant for the honour of his God, the deliverance of souls, and the defeat of the Devil. What he is after is the war, and not the wages. Souls, souls, souls, let me go. He seeks the kingdom of God--seeks it FIRST: and he will get it, and all other necessary things will be added, and God will throw him a lot of luxuries into the bargain.
II. DAVID WAS ALL UNSKILLED AND UNDRILLED IN THE THEN EXISTING RULES OF WAR. He knew nothing of armour, and sword, and spear, and shield, and all that. He had not tried them, and would not have them. So with your Cadet, he is totally ignorant of the ordinary rules of Christian warfare. In the estimation of many around him who do understand these rules, who have been studying them for a lifetime, he is shamefully ignorant. He is flagrantly ignorant of grammar, logic, philosophy, knows nothing of the prevalent controversies, can hardly read his mother tongue, to say nothing of writing it. Oh, shamefully ignorant. If he must go, give him a book of sermons to read to the people, buy him a volume of Local Preacher's outlines. Get him into your parlour and advise him. Oh, do. But no, he will look at those crutches about as long as David looked at Saul's armour, and then say, "I have not tried these, let me go in my own way." So pray let him go.
DAVID WAS DESPISED, AND CHAFFED, AND SNEERED AT. His own brothers recommended him to go home again, and look after his father's sheep, and not come there making a fool of himself by talking about fighting: Doubtless that was the general opinion respecting him, and it was only Saul being so dreadfully cornered that made him willing to give him a trial. But Saul was not as foolish as some people we have known, who, though confessedly unable to do anything themselves, are, at the same time, unwilling for anyone else to do it. Drowning men catch at straws, and though with a poor heart about the business, Saul let David go to meet the foe.
So The Salvation Army Cadet is one of the best ridiculed characters in the land. He is a fair butt for everybody's chaff. Saints and sinners, publicans and policemen, rich and poor, "men and women, boys and girls, are all alike down upon HIM. Like poor David, he is despised because everybody knows, is sure, quite sure that he won't succeed, and they hate him, at least some of them do, because he does.
DAVID WAS CONFIDENT. He was confident in himself. That was what puzzled all these renowned warriors--these men trained in the use of the sword, and the spear, and the shield --all armed and equipped for war. He told his brothers he could kill the giant, he told the common soldiers he could kill the giant, he told the mighty men of valour he could kill the giant, and he told Saul, the King himself, he could kill the giant. He felt in his heart and in his bones he could kill the boasting infidel, and give his flesh to the fowls of the mountains to feed upon. It was this confidence that went very much to make the difference between him and them; they felt they could not do the business, and he felt he could. So here with The Salvation Army Cadet. He feels he can do something. He has done something, He got his mate converted. Had he not a devilish temper in him, worse than any bear? and is he not now just like a little child? And did he not get that roaring lion of a persecutor subdued and saved? and has he not brought other enemies of the Lord down before Him? And now he cries, "Let me try my sling and my stones on the giant. I shall succeed. I know I shall." "How do you know," ask ministers, and missionaries, and Sunday-School teachers. "How do you know? Is it not presumption? Is it not conceit? Is it not pride?" "Never mind what it is, let me go. I will kill the giant. I will conquer or die." What can you say, but let him go? We shall see.
BUT DAVID WAS CONFIDENT IN HIS LORD. "I come to thee," he said to the proud Philistine, "in the name of the Lord of Hosts. The Lord will deliver thee into my hands." Ah, David, thy secret is out. Now we can believe, Now we are in no way surprised at what happened. Nay, we should have been surprised hadst thou not left the carcase of the proud Philistine in the valley, had he been as big as the mountain at whose foot he fought. It was in the name of the Lord thou didst hurl defiance at him with thy tongue, and in the strength of the Lord the stone was hurled that sunk into his brow.
Even so, Salvation Army Cadet, Colonel, Major, Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant, Private, whoever thou mayest be, this is the way to go to war, the royal way, the conquering way, the invincible way, the old-fashioned way. This is the kind of partnership that succeeds. On the one side David, with his sling and his stones, on the other side Jehovah, with His almighty power. Don't despise David, and don't despise his sling and his stones. The General does not, devils do not; Goliath did, and paid the penalty of his folly. Oh, no, ye Cadets, and ye would-be Cadets, you must be as David; then the Lord will be unto you as Jehovah.
DAVID WAS A SUCCESS. There is nothing succeeds like success. That is the way to answer the cavillers, and sneerers, and doubters, and railers. Success is the answer to the newspapers, and the pulpits, and the platforms, and everybody else that oppose and ridicule and denounce. As the Army saw the monster reel, and stagger, and fall, and David mount his body and seize his sword, and hold up his head, everybody believed in David, and believed in his sling and stone into the bargain.
And, Salvation Army Cadet, if you bring the giants down, and keep on bringing them down, God and men will believe in you; and neither God nor men will believe in you if you don't. Had not David killed Goliath, his sling and stone would only have made him more ridiculous, and he would have been looked upon as the man that made so great a promise with so small a performance. And oh, Cadet, and anyone else whom it may concern, success is a necessity for thee; killing one giant will last some soldiers for a life-time, but a Salvation Army warrior should kill one or more at least every day. Anyhow, he must have victory, more victory, constant victory. And if you are what David was, you cannot be otherwise than a success, and therein a joy and a strength to THE SALVATION ARMV.
3. OUR NEW NAME.
ONLY the name--the same old friend, neither altered in dress nor person, bringing the same message at the same intervals--only a more expressive appellation, and a more descriptive one, for in deed and truth has not our paper always been an exponent, advocate, and record of Salvation?
We are a Salvation people--this is our speciality--getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved, and then getting saved ourselves more and more, until full salvation on earth makes the heaven within, which is finally perfected by the full salvation without, on the other side the river.
We are not the only salvation people in the world. What a pity it would be if we were'! There must be many more, both nigh at hand and far away, people who believe, as we believe, in the damnation of hell and the peril which unsaved men are hourly in of falling into it, and of the opportunity God gives of deliverance; and who, therefore, go about night and day, not necessarily in the way we do, but still they do go about in season and out of season, giving men little rest because they won't flee from the wrath to come, and who, when they do get a poor sinner saved, make great glee and rejoicing over him, and make him a Salvationist like themselves. Oh, yes, there are other fools and madmen in the world besides us, and in this we rejoice, wish them God speed with all our hearts; but we rejoice, also, that we are Salvationists ourselves.
WE BELIEVE IN SALVATION! We believe in the old-fashioned salvation. We have not developed and improved into Universalism, Unitarianism, or Nothingarianism, or any other form of infidelity, and we don't expect to. Ours is just the same salvation taught in the Bible, proclaimed by Prophets and Apostles, and sealed by the blood of martyrs--the very same salvation which was purchased by the sufferings and agony and blood of the Son of God.
We believe the world needs it, and that this and this alone will set it right. We want no other nostrum--nothing new. We are on the track of the old apostles. You don't need to mix up any other ingredients with the heavenly remedy. Wound and kill with the old sword, and pour in the old balsam, and you will see the old result--Salvation. The world needs it. The worst man that ever walked will go to heaven if he obtain it, and the best man that ever lived will go to hell if he misses it. Oh, publish it abroad!
There is a hell. A hell as dark and terrible as is the description given of it by the lips of Jesus Christ, the truthful. And into that hell men are departing hour by hour. While we write men are going away into everlasting punishment. While we eat and drink, and sleep and work, and rest, men are going where the worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched. Can anything be done? Can they be stopped? Can drunkards, harlots, thieves, the outcasts of the Church and of society, be saved? In theory many will answer, "Yes;" but in experience they confess they have no knowledge of such things.
Look again, perhaps the more appalling aspect of mankind is its bondage. How devils and devilish habits rule it, and oh, with what an iron yoke. Ask the drunkards, blasphemers, gamblers, thieves, harlots, money getters, pleasure seekers. Ask them one and all. Ask the question, "Can the power of these habits be broken? Can these fiends be expelled? Can those do good who have been accustomed all their lives to do evil?" Speak up! Press your question--"Can these poor captives be delivered? Saved from sinning, saved into holy living, and triumphant dying? Can they be saved now?" The desponding answer will be "Impossible!" Ask multitudes of professing Christians, and they will fear it is impossible. Ask the Salvationist, and the answer will be, from both theory and experience, that the vilest and worst can be saved to the uttermost, for all things are possible to him that believeth.
What is the use of a doctor who cannot cure, a life-boat that cannot rescue, an overseer who cannot relieve? And what would be the value of a Saviour who was not good and gracious, and strong enough to save the vilest and worst, and to save them as far as they need? But our Redeemer is mighty to save. Hold the standard high. Let us tell the world of the "blood and fire."
II. WE HAVE SALVATION. This paper is the mouthpiece of a people who boldly say so. In this respect with us, the trumpet gives no uncertain sound. Many there are who postpone all the certain, enjoyable, realisable part of religion to the next state--to the coming hereafter. But we believe in salvation here and now; we believe in feeling, knowing, and partaking here on earth of the leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of the nations. Drinking of the river of the water of life which flows from the throne of God. Eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of the Son of God, and being healed, and changed, and blessed, and filled with the glory of God, and the peace and purity and power of salvation. We want it now! And we want to know we have it, while we struggle and suffer, and fight, and sacrifice, and die; we want the comforting, sustaining, girdling, upholding arms of Jehovah consciously around us, bearing us up, and making us feel glad and strong in the strength of the mighty God of Jacob. We need it and we have it.
There are think-so Christians, and there are hope-so Christians, and there are know-so Christians; thank God we belong to the know-so people--we know we are saved. And why not? Enoch had the testimony that he pleased God. Job knew that his Redeemer lived. John knew that he had passed from death unto life. Paul knew that when his earthly house was destroyed he had a building in the heavens. And we know in whom we have believed, and the Spirit answers to our faith, and testifies in our hearts that we are the children of God.
My brethren, if you have salvation you are sure of it. Not because at the corner of the street or from the stage of the theatre you have heard it preached. Not because you have read with your eyes, or heard read by others in that wonderful book, the wonderful story of the love of God to you. Not because you have seen with your eyes transformations of character wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost; changes as marvellous, as miraculous, as Divine, as any that ever took place in Apostolic or any other days.
These things may have led up to it. But these things, wonderful as they may be, have not power to make you sure of your part and lot in the matter of salvation. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but God Himself, by His Spirit, has made this known.
III. OUR WORK IS SALVATION. We believe in salvation, and we have salvation. We are not mere sentimentalists or theory people; we publish what we have heard and seen and handled and experienced of the word of life and the power of God. We aim at salvation. We want this and nothing short of this, and we want this right off. My brethren, my comrades, soul saving is our avocation, the great purpose and business of our lives. Let us seek first the kingdom, of God, let us be SALVATIONISTS indeed.
God being our helper, this paper shall answer to its name; early and late, whether men are pleased or angry, whether they will read and bless, or reject and curse, it shall know no purpose short of the rescue of a dying world, and no meaner message than the announcement of a present, free, and full Salvation.
And, my brethren, my comrades, you too bear a name, an honoured, sacred name, and you must answer in purpose and character to the name of the great Salvationist. You must have the self-sacrificing, soul-seeking spirit of Jesus Christ, or you are none of His. Then you, too, must be a Salvationist.
Look at this. Clear your vision. Halt, stand still as the new year draws nigh, and afresh and more fully apprehend and comprehend your calling. You are to be a worker together with God for the salvation of your fellow-men. Stop a bit. Don't hurry away. What is the business of your life? Not merely to save your soul--win the bread that perisheth not, and make yourself meet for Paradise? If it was so, if this were all; would it not be an ignoble and selfish lot for which to toil, and suffer, and pray, and die, and would it not be as unlike the Master's as could well be conceived of? No, you are to be a redeemer, a saviour, a copy of Jesus Christ Himself. So wake up all the powers of your being, my brothers, and consecrate every awakened power to the great end of saving them. BE A SALVATIONIST.
Rescue the perishing. There they are all around you everywhere, crowds upon crowds, multitudes. Be skilful. Improve yourself. Study your business.
Be self-sacrificing, Remember the Master. What you lose for His sake, and for the sake of the poor souls for whom He died, you shall find again. Stick to it. Having put your hand to the salvation plough, don't look behind you,
Oh for a brave year! We shall have one, and you will fight and drive the foe, and rescue the prey, and we will enter the record of the multitudes rescued and saved and sanctified and safely landed in glory in the pages of the Salvationist.
ALL right, Nathan, you have done your duty, and done it thoroughly. You have succeeded in your errand, but your responsibility would have been at an end all the same, had it been otherwise. There is something here for The Salvation Army to learn. This straight hitting is not common in these degenerate, maudlin days. God Almighty's ambassadors, unfortunately, are not renowned for this outspoken, unmistakable method of message bearing. And yet they ought to be. Who, like them, ought to have brows like brass, and wills like iron, and nerves like steel, and eyes like coals of fire, and words that should be verily, verily, a sharp, two-edged sword, piercing and dividing, and bringing to His feet the enemies of their Royal King. Oh, surely, we are the people that can afford to hold up our heads and. speak the truth, and speak it out, and, God helping us, we will do it. Comrades, listen! Mark the bearing of this Captain Nathan, and note his method of dealing with this Royal backslider, and you shall learn something that shall be of use to you. And from him you may learn to: --
Go STRAIGHT TO YOUR POST. Nathan did. God said, Go and speak; and he went straight away, and spoke as he was commanded. Even so, let there be no excusing yourself about your inability and want of voice, or courage, or time, or something else, which too often means that you are too proud or worldly, or are altogether too ashamed of Jesus Christ and His cause, to be known to be on His side. No running away in some other direction, Jonah-like, and only squaring yourself up to duty after some kind of three days' solitary confinement in the belly of some whale or other. No! No! No! Go off at once. Nathan was evidently a prompt, fearless man, and when the message came, he went up and delivered it then and there. Oh, how God must nauseate the people who, always confessing to divine drawings and callings to duty, have to be coddled, and coaxed, and courted into discharging it. We don't believe in a verse that used to bother us many years ago-"How willing is the man to go,
Whom God hath never sent;
How feeble, impotent, and slow,
The chosen instrument,"
We could not receive this sentiment in those days, although quoted by a great authority. We utterly reject it now. One volunteer is worth half-a-dozen brought in by a press-gang. Commend us to your willing, ready enthusiast before any number of weak-kneed, hesitating people, who have to be dragged into the ranks by force of arguments and persuadings and threatenings. If you have to fill a post, save a town, warn a monarch, or offer salvation to a crossing-sweeper, copy Nathan, and go to your duty straight away.
GIVE YOUR MESSAGE IN THE STRAIGHTEST POSSIBLE MANNER.
Listen to Nathan. Could anything be more appropriate to the circumstances, or more plainly put, or more directly aimed at David's heart than was that message? Read it again, and go and do likewise. Give it as God would have it given. Let there be no mixing up, nor diluting the strength. Give the precious souls to whom you are sent the precious truth which will either save their souls or send them to a lower hell than would have been the case had they never heard the sound of your voice.
MAKE THEM HEAR YOU; COMPEL THEM TO LISTEN.--Men, all men, from the monarch to the beggar, are preoccupied, taken up with business, or pleasures, or glory, or joy of one kind or other. They will stare at you while you talk, and have you believe they are drinking in all you say, when all the while their thoughts are as, far away as possible, and they are neither listening; nor comprehending, nor caring for a single word.
Shake them up. Startle them with apparitions of death, and judgment, and devils, and hell. What matters taste and propriety to you? the man, the crowd you speak to are GOING TO HELL--they are almost there already. You will hear they are dead and damned in a few days, unless something happens. So do, for their souls' sake, wake them out of sleep, and then you will have a chance: --
OF MAKING THEM UNDERSTAND YOU. Hear Nathan again.
How deftly he gained David's attention, and how admirably he made his message understood. He could not have done it better. So, my comrades, make the people understand you. On this their destiny hangs. As carefully as the barrister, convinced of the innocence of the prisoner, puts his case before the jury, whose verdict is to be life or death, so carefully must you plead. The verdict you want is not from the jury, but from the criminal. You want David to cry guilty, and then you can throw your hat up. When David said. "I am the man," by far the greater part of Nathan's work was done.
Now mind here, do you understand me, you are to make the men to whom God sends you understand that they are rebels at that moment against the Almighty Jehovah, condemned to die; in danger every moment, all the Christmas time, while they eat and drink and sit at the pantomime, and shout, and dance, and play, and at all other times, in danger of being damned, and that God wants them to submit, so that He may save them there and then. Oh, make them understand. Oh, write, in big, unerasable characters, guilt and heaven, and judgment and damnation, and Calvary, upon their memories. Be sure you are plain, Go it over and over and over again, till you can see in their eyes, and tears, and hear in their cries that they understand. Feather your arrows, as Nathan did, with illustrations, and facts, and then send them home, straight home, and as far home as you possibly can.
DON'T BE HELD BACK FROM STRAIGHT DEALING BY ANY CONSIDERATION FOR THEIR FEELINGS. To break them in pieces before the Lord, and bring them humbled in the dust at His footstool, is just what you want. Pricking them in the skin is worse than useless; you want them pricked in the heart. Never mind how they wince and cry out. Go over and over again with the truth that pierces and moves.
A hue and cry will be made about excitement, and emotional religion, and fanaticism, and forcing religion down people's throats, and there may be hysterics, and. fits, and swoons, and prostrations, and persecutions, and hatreds, and all manner of opposition, and imitations, and counterfeits; but these things must not turn you aside. You hold on giving the truth of God out in the straightest manner, and the real Davids will lay their royal robes on one side, and come down from the thrones of their high-mightiness, and get saved at the feet of the King of kings, and rise up to love you for ever for straightforward, honest dealing.
DON'T BE LED OFF OR HINDERED BY ANY NOTION OF THE RESPECTABILITY OF THE PEOPLE GOD SENDS YOU TO WARN. If it had been David's butler instead of the king himself that had gone astray, Nathan could not have dealt straighter or more faithfully with him. Nathan did not preach to his ermine or his royalty, or his throne, he preached to the king himself. David had sinned after the manner of common sinners, and he must have the common truth and do the common repentance, and have the common mercy or be damned in the common hell. So, my comrades, don't prostitute and disgrace the faith of our Lord Jesus by having respect to the clothes, or gold chains, or position, or money of anybody. For, if there comes into your Hall a prosperous shopkeeper, with a gold ring and a black coat and a white waistcoat, and a soul all unsaved, don't put him, on account of his respectability, in a respectable seat and soften your speech, and modify your message to please him; but bring him up to the front, close to the penitent form, where your soldiers are praying and believing all the time; then turn on him your heaviest guns, and do your best to get him saved.
Oh! you must not do as the Gentiles do, and be troubling yourself about a man whom God has sent you to save from hell being better educated than other people, or having money, or being offended or coming no more. Oh, no! pleased or displeased, give his money or keep it, come again or stay away, your work is not to please but to profit, not to comfort but to convict, not to salve but to save! So think about their poor souls, and give them the truth, which only can profit, and convict, and convert, and save, and give it them in the straightest manner possible.
Oh, my comrades of The Salvation Army, if ever there was a time, this is the time, for straight dealing. God has set before you an open door. You have the ear of the million. The people are in multitudes of instances prepared to receive the word at your lips. Surely you are the candle set in a candlestick, you are the city set on a hill--the eyes and ears of the multitude, who are as sheep without a shepherd, turn to you, --they hunger, they famish of hunger; they are dying, and being damned of hunger; will you give them pretty polished stones, flowers, flourishes, amusements, pacifications, or will you give them BREAD--plenty of bread, sufficient bread, the Bread of Heaven? There is bread in your Father's house, and to spare. Hand it out, officers, hand it out, privates, men and women, hand it out seven days a-week--Sundays and week days. Hand it out, that the people He has bought with His blood perish not.
IF YOU HAVE ANY CARE FOR YOURSELF, YOU MUST DEAL STRAIGHT WITH THE PEOPLE; if you do not they will perish, and then you will hear of it again. An account of your stewardship will have to be rendered. Those eyes you look into now will confront you again, and those lips that now are silent while you speak will have an opportunity of speaking to you then. Oh, shall they reproach you with the bitter, never-to-be-forgotten reproach of not having dealt faithfully with them, not having told them the truth, all the truth, and told it them in such an earnest, plain, straight manner that they were made to hear and understand and feel the peril in which they stood, and the open way of escape provided for them?
5. THE SALVATION ARMY
WHAT a strange name! What does it mean? Just what it says--a number of people joined together after the fashion of an army, and therefore it is an army, and an army for the purpose of carrying Salvation through the land. It is neither more nor less than that. If it be wise and lawful and desirable for men to be banded together and organized after the best method possible to liberate an enslaved nation, establish it in liberty, and overcome its foes, then surely it must be wise and lawful and desirable for the people of God to join themselves together after the fashion most effective and forcible to liberate a captive world, and to overcome the enemies of God and man.
When Jehovah finished the work of creation, He turned from the new earth to the new Adam, and gave him the commission to multiply and increase and subdue and govern it, so that it should become a happy home for him and his posterity, and bring honour and glory to its Creator. Adam failed in his mission, and instead of Adam subduing the earth the earth subdued Adam, and he and all his family went off into black and diabolical rebellion. But God still claimed His own, and a second time appeared, this time to redeem by sacrifice the world He had before created; and when He had finished the work, He turned to His disciples the spiritual Adam, and gave Him a commission similar to that given to the first Adam, to go and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19.-- See margin).
Again it is, as at the first, overcome, conquer, subdue, not merely teach, but persuade, compel all nations, that is, all men to become the disciples of the Son of God.
So at least it is understood by the Salvation Army. This is the idea which originated and developed and fashioned it in the past, and which dominates and propels it to-day. The world, this very world, including this very England, which never ceases boasting of its freedom, is sold under sin, held in slavery by Satan, who has usurped the place and power and revenues of Jehovah, and who is indeed its lord and master, and to deliver it and fulfill to the very letter the Master's command, an army of deliverance, of redemption, of emancipation is wanted. In the name of the great Three in One the standard has been raised, and recruits are flowing in. Drilling, skirmishing, fighting, advancing, are going on. Some territory has been won, some captives have been liberated, some shouts of victory have been raised, together with plenty of misfortunes and losses and disasters and mistakes, and all of that which might naturally have been expected in such a war, unless men had suddenly mended of their depravity, and devils had miraculously ceased to be devils; but with it all there has been growth and increase continually. Every day it is becoming more fierce and determined and courageous and confident, and every day more and more a Salvation Army.
Does all this sound strange, my brother--not sacred, not ecclesiastical, not according to the traditions of the elders, and after the pattern of existing things and institutions? Is it something new? It may be so, and yet it may be none the less true and scriptural, and none the less of Divine origin, and made after some heavenly pattern for all that.
Let us look at it. What is this work we have in hand?
To subdue a rebellious world to God. And what is the question to which many anxiously desire an answer? How is it most likely to be accomplished? Now, there are some things on which we may reckon all to be agreed:
I. That if ever the world, or any part of it, is subdued, it will be by the instrumentality of man.
2. By holy men--saved, spiritual, divine men.
3. By men using substantially the same means as were used by the first Apostles, that is, preaching, praying, believing, etc.
4. That all that is effected will be by the co-operation and power of the Holy Ghost, given through and because of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now on these lines how could a number of the Lord's disciples conduct themselves in order the most effectually to succeed in the direction of discipling all nations, subduing the world to God?
Supposing 5,000 godly men and women of varying ages and conditions presented themselves at St. Paul's Cathedral to-morrow, saying, "We are so deeply impressed with the awful spiritual condition and peril of the world that we cannot rest; the word of the Lord is as a fire in our bones, and the love of souls is such a constraining power in our hearts that it will not let us remain idle, we want to join in a holy crusade for the redemption of mankind. Take us and all we have, and use us in the way most likely to accomplish this end." What in such a case could best be done? How could these 5,000 burning hearts be used with the greatest force and likelihood of success? Let us see. It seems to us that substantially something like the following answer must be given:-
I. THE 5,000 MUST WORK IN THE MOST COMPLETE AND PERFECT COMBINATION POSSIBLE. To separate and scatter them, leaving them to work out varying plans, would surely be unwise. No, no. Two working in combination will accomplish more than two in separation. Let them be one and the same force, though acting in various divisions and scattered to the ends of the earth. Mould and weld and keep them together. Let them be one army, and make them feel that they are working out one plan. Shoulder to shoulder. Brethren, sisters, comrades, division is weakness, unity is strength? Why?
1. Combination gives the strength which flows from SYMPATHY.
The knowledge that if one is sore pressed, wounded, a thousand hearts feel with him, that if he falls they will shout victory o'er his grave, follow him in imagination to "the river," and anticipate meeting him again before the throne, will be stimulus unutterable, will make him willing to face enemies, loss, death, and devils.
2. Combination gives CONFIDENCE. There is wonderful power in the consciousness that a multitude are shouldering the same weapons, engaged in the same conflict, marching to the same music, under the same standard, for the destruction of the common foe. Confidence makes men into heroes. Hold together, close together, and there will be giants again even in our own days.
3. Combination gives the strength which comes from MUTUAL HELP. With a system of combination which is a reality, the strong will bear the infirmities of the weak. In a real war, no matter how carefully the forces are distributed, there will be weak places that will need strengthening when the conflict rages all along the line. There will be positions against which the enemy will hurl his most powerful battalions, which positions must be reinforced or all will be lost. How glorious for the fresh troops to come pouring in. What would have become of Lucknow had there been no Havelock, and but for Blucher, England would never have been so proud to tell the story of Waterloo.
We must hold the 5,000 together. We know not how the battle will go, and no wing or detachment must be without its supports, and all must be so arranged that the power and force of the whole can be directed to strengthen and sustain the weakest part
4. Combination gives the power which comes from EXAMPLE.
Man imitates. The deeds of daring and self-denial and sacrifice done here, will be talked about, and printed, and written about and imitated there. Men emulate. In every company there will be spirits more courageous and daring than others, and so all through the 5,000. These will lead and the rest will follow.
II. BUT SUCH COMBINATION or oneness of action will only be POSSIBLE with ONENESS OF DIRECTION. If all are to act together all must act on one plan, and therefore all must act under one head. Twenty different heads, according to the nature and experience and history of heads, will produce twenty different plans with twenty different methods for their accomplishment, clashing and hindering each other more or less. Then what next? Difference of opinion, of feeling, of following, of action. Disagreement, confusion, separation, destruction. I am of Paul and I am of Apollos, soon leads, so far as the actuality of things is concerned, to being of nothing save wrangling and the devil.
Bring in your earthly usages. How do men ordinarily act?
Do you want to tunnel a mountain, bridge a river, manage a railway, or conquer a nation? Is it committeed? Did a committee build the ark, emancipate the Israelites, or ever command, or judge, or govern them after they were emancipated? Is it not an axiom everywhere accepted, in time of war, at least, and we are speaking of times of war, that one bad general is preferable to two good ones? If you will keep the unity of your 5,000, one mind must direct and lead them. Is this direction of one mind all the direction needed? By no means. Subordinate leadership there must be in all manner of directions; all the talent in this direction possessed by the 5,000 must be called into play; but one controlling, directing will must be acknowledged, accepted, and implicitly followed, if you are to keep the unity of the 5,000, and make the most of it for God and man.
III. THEN OF COURSE YOU WILL TRAIN THE 5,000. An army without training, without drill, would be simply a loose, helpless mob, a source of weakness and danger impossible to hold together. And this 5,000 will be little better, though everyone of them may now have hearts full of zeal for God and love to man; so we must train them, and that to the uttermost. We must teach them how to fight, how to fight together, and how to fight in the very best way. Train them in the industrious, practical, and self-sacrificing discharge of their duties. Develop what gifts they possess, and help them to acquire others. They will improve. They are only babes now, they will grow up to be men, some of them to be head and shoulder above their fellows; think what they will become when trained and taught, and developed, and innured to hardship and accustomed to the war. Don't despise the gift that is in any, you will very often find the last to be first, and the first to be last. Let every one have a chance, God is no respecter of persons nor sex, neither must you be. Every gift you need is here, and only wants calling forth and cultivating, and you will be fully provided for the war.
But mind, you must train and teach and develop--and establish your army in actual service. No pipe-clay soldiers will be of any service here. In earthly armies, something may be done in making soldiers with marchings and inspections and drillings in the barrack square, far away from the din and smoke of actual war, but not so here, they must learn as they fight, and fight while they learn. They will train most rapidly in the field, and only in the field, with the flag of victory waving over them, can they be made into veterans and inspired with the conviction that they are the soldiers of the Most High, and therefore invincible, unconquerable, and all conquering,
IV. WHEN YOU HAVE TRAINED YOUR 5,000 YOU WILL SORT THEM. When you have trained, and tried, and developed your force, and found out what they are, and what they can do, then you will put the right man in the right place, and for every place you will have a man. Gifts differ. You will want the head, and the eye, and the ear, and the hand, and the feet, and you will have heads, and eyes, and ears, and hands in abundance. Now for every man in his own order, and according to his several ability. You want infantry, and cavalry, and engineers, and transports, and every other arm needed to make up a mighty force, and you have all, and to all you must assign the place for which they are adapted and needed.
V. THEN OF COURSE THERE MUST BE OBEDIENCE. If the 5,000 are to act together, and to act on one plan, it will be self-evident that it can only be effected by implicit obedience. If it were otherwise--if the officers of this Salvation force can only express their wishes for those composing it to act in some particular manner, which said wishes can be received or rejected as they may appear pleasant, then anything like certain and foreseen action is impossible. But if it is known and assured that the 5,000 will act as directed, then the most important measures can be devised and executed with exactest certainty. If a desired course of action will only be taken on its recommending itself to the judgment, the leadings, the impulses, the feelings of each individual, then you can be sure of nothing except confusion, defeat, and destruction.
Try the latter plan on any of the aforesaid human undertakings, and where will you soon be? Any great commercial enterprise, for instance, and will not the very speedy result be bankruptcy? Or war. Try it in the presence of the enemy. Let every man fight as he is led, or every regiment charge up the hill and storm the redoubt, or do any other deadly, murderous deeds according as they are resolved upon after discussion, and votes and majorities, and where will you be? What sort of telegrams will you send home to an expectant country, and what sort of a welcome back will those of you that are left receive? No! OBEDIENCE is the word. Somebody who knows what they are doing, TO DIRECT, and then simple, unquestioning obedience. Obedience for earthly business and earthly war, and obedience for God's business and God's army.
VI. AND THEN, YOU MUST HAVE DISCIPLINE. Those who keep the Commandments -- and who excel in service must be rewarded, and those who are disobedient must be degraded, punished, expelled.
VII. AND LASTLY, HAVING ORGANIZED AND DEVELOPED AND DISCIPLINED YOUR ARMY, IT MUST BE USED, EMPLOYED, AND THAT TO THE UTTERMOST. Nothing demoralizes salvation soldiers more than inactivity. Idleness is stark ruin, and the devil's own opportunity. Push forward, never heed the number or position of your foes, or the impossibility of overcoming them. YOUR SALVATION ARMY HAS BEEN MADE TO ACCOMPLISH THE IMPOSSIBLE, and conquer that which to human calculations cannot be overcome. FORWARD! If you will only go forward, and go forward on the lines here indicated, you will go forward to fulfill the commission of your Divine Captain, the discipling of all nations, the subjugation and conquest of the world.
6. GETTING RID OF THE FILTH.
BOTH during the late storm and since it has passed away, there has been a great hue-and-cry in the country about the filthy condition of the streets. There has been questioning in Parliament, writing to the newspapers, discussions innumerable in the Corporations and Councils and Committees, as to the getting rid of the filth. And we don't wonder at it either, nor think it out of place that some should raise their voices against an obstruction at once so offensive and disagreeable, and so practically brought home to every door.
Filth of any kind is an unpleasant and disgusting thing. Whether piled up in heaps, or spread abroad ankle deep, or deeper, it is unpleasant to eyes and nostrils, and unpleasant for poor, wet, sodden feet to stand in or wade through, splashing and sprinkling ourselves and everybody about us; and the more completely and speedily it can be got rid of the better. Away with it!
But there is another kind of filth, a kind more objectionable and disgusting still to all rightly adjusted eyes and nostrils, whether they belong to this or to any other world. Moral filth, we mean--the filth that lies about and lodges in men's hearts, and is thence poured forth in ceaseless streams in market-places and streets, and shops, and, we venture to say, almost everywhere else. O God! is it not enough to drive the very pitying angels to despair, as they wing to and fro in this redeemed world, that they find it so generally polluted and cursed, and obstructed by this filth?
LOOK AT THE SELFISH FILTH OF DRUNKENNESS, which devours up the very life-blood of wives and little children for its mean satisfaction. Look at the filth of blasphemy poured forth from the throats of young and old. Walk the streets and hear the dirty, obscene blackguardism which garnishes almost every sentence. Look at the filth of mean, ungrateful infidelity, which revels in the denial of all the natural impulses of goodness and the instinctive yearnings for the Divine and the Eternal. Look at the 30,000 thieves who walk about this one city alone--the thousands of professional harlots: what the number of the non-professional, and the multiplied number of the manufacturers and Supporters of both professional and non-professional are, the Great God only knows. Look at the gambling, and the lying, and the cheating, and the trickery, and the hypocrisy, and the grinding of the faces and the bowels of the poor and the widow, and all the nameless and even unimaginable forms of this abominable filth, which day and night sends up a ceaseless stench into the nostrils of the Almighty. This filth, which He hates, however men may tolerate, and which, however men may bless, He curses, and intends sooner or later to sweep into Hell, to the great satisfaction of all true beings who have the welfare of this great universe at heart.
There it is, you don't see it! Blind, are you? Incapable of discerning good from evil? More the pity, and all the worse for you unless you get those blind eyes speedily opened. Not so loathsome is it as described? Hidden is it? Covered over? Painted and gilded and christened as goodness? And yet, painted and gilded and christened as it may be, its nature is not changed; and it will burst up some day and burst you up with it, unless you wake up. God is not mocked. The mask will be torn away, the loathsomeness made manifest, for you may "BE SURE YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT!"
Now, what is to be done with all this filth? How can it be got rid of? We must do something. There are some puzzling problems that can be left for future deliberation. If you don't exactly see what to do with them, let them drift. They may rectify themselves. The snow obstruction, and the filthy condition of things which came out of it, has done so. The soft wind has helped us. But we cannot leave this filth to the chapter of accidents, and sit down and wait for something to turn up--at least this won't by any means be a safe course to take. Things will get worse of their own action--fermentation has commenced, and lower depths of depravity and devilry will be reached, and, after that, look out for the Deluge.
But on this matter nothing is so appalling as THE GENERAL FEELING OF HELPLESSNESS THAT PREVAILS. The common complaint respecting the heaps of filth that lay about the streets, was that it was nobody's business. But what shall we say here with regard to the responsibilities for moving this filth which, cursing the nation to the core, is hurrying us on to some great climax of ruin and woe? Whose business is it to deal with this open mass of unblushing iniquity and rottenness?
If we go to the GOVERNMENT, neither the Ministry nor the Opposition nor private Members can help us. They can do nothing to stem the rising tide of blasphemy and obsceneness and Atheism and whoredom and harlotry and godlessness. Not their province.
JUDGES AND MAGISTRATES AND POLICE ARE HELPLESS.
They can condemn and punish and confine for a season the doers and abettors thereof, but, alas! alas! this is not getting rid of the filth--it is only a moving of it into another place for a season, to return, with all possible speed, to its own place to be more filthy still.
If we turn to CHURCHES and CHAPELS, and MINISTERS and DEACONS and OFFICERS connected with the same, and say "Here, this is surely your business. Let us go to St. Giles', let us go to the East End, let us go to all the dark dens of infamy--let us move the filth. Let us unite together. This festering condition of things is a disgrace to us, and an evil that day and night cries to God for vengeance with a voice millions of times louder than did the blood of Abel or the loathsome sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Come along" --they will say, "The cares and christenings, and marriages and funerals, and joys and sorrows of their flocks, absorb and employ all their talents and time and substance, and that there must be societies and officers who shall be scavengers by business, who shall find a special employment in dealing with this filth." Oh, disappointment supreme! We thought, ye learned and wealthy and ordained brethren, that it was to this end ye had been taught, and to this end ye had consecrated your goods, and to this end, above all others, ye had been ordained, that ye might follow in the Master's steps, to seek and save that which was lost.
What must be done? Something must be done, and done at once. The filth has been discussed, and lectured, and scolded, and coaxed, and coddled, and prayed about, but there it is--far blacker and more loathsome than ever. Now LET US MOVE IT. Who move it? Anybody; The Salvation Army, and anybody else who has a heart for the task. Come along.
1. YOU MUST GO AND DEAL WITH IT YOURSELF. Off with coat and gloves. Doff your finery. This is not to be done by proxy. You have tried a subscription of half-a-guinea a year to support a sort of isolated sweeper. But this has not done much. Come and sweep yourself. Set up a broom and come along. Set up a broom, did we say? what nonsense we are writing. You must be the broom; put yourself into God's hands, and He will do some sweeping by you. "A dirty job," do you say? granted, and so, I suppose, is digging silver, and gold, and diamonds; but men reckon that it pays. Anyhow, this soul-scavenging trade pays; will pay a hundredfold in this life and a million-fold in the life everlasting.
There is, we say, no other way to move this burden of iniquity but by going to it yourselves. It won't come to you. You may spread yourselves out in church, chapel, hall, or elsewhere, and say--"Come here, O ye poor, burdened, filthy souls, and we will help you. As well, and with quite as much prospect of success, might the Lord Mayor and the Corporation have invited the dirt to depart out of their streets, or come to them at the mouth of the common sewer in order to be swallowed up, and disposed of there. No, that would have failed. There is only this way; you must go to it with your scraper, and broom, and cart, and any other contrivances; and so with this vast accumulation of moral filth, we must go and deal directly with it, if it is to be moved.
II. A GOOD LOT OF PEOPLE MUST GO. We saw a lot of scavengers the other day all in a row, quite a procession of them; and they put broom to broom, and then they marched and swept the tide of black slush, and dirt, and snow before them right away to the grating of the sewer, and there another man brushed it in, and off it went, to be seen no more. We thought, Here is The Salvation Army plan--a lot of Soldiers sweeping the people before them, and drawing them after them into the Hall, and there and then pushing them into the fountain, the glorious grand old fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, where their sins are washed off them, to be seen no more for ever.
Why are only ones and twos saved? Not because of any decree to save ones and twos only, but because only ones and twos go out to save them. A crowd that understands its business, and knows how to take hold of God, and how to deal with men, will catch a crowd. Let us go out in crowds to this scavenging business. Come along!
III. BUT THIS MEANS HARD WORK, SELF-DENIAL, SUFFERING, SACRIFICE. Yes! all that. We know no other way of dealing effectively with the sorrows, and sins, and coming woes of men. Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, "though He was rich yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich." If there is another and an easier way of cleansing the world and saving men taught in the BOOK, and confirmed by experience, send us full particulars for the next issue of The War Cry, and if not, if this is God's plan, and the only plan, and the plan that has never failed, when honestly acted upon, and to the full extent of such action, adopt it. BUT MAKE HASTE.
PUTTING DOWN THE SALVATIONIST.
"Then took they Jeremiah. and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah, the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire." --JER. 38:6.
NOW, then, seize the bold prophet, with his words of ill omen. We hate the message of destruction--seize him, the king consents; at least, he does not dissent. Seize him, bind him--tighter: never mind his flesh. Now then, swing him over the pit. Steady there: hold hard; now let go, -- lower--lower. Let him try his doleful alarms on the crawling things down there; lower, still lower; until his eyes say farewell to the light, and his feet touch and sink in the mire. There, let go now, for good; pull up your ropes, shut down the doors, and leave the old man to both meditation and starvation. He would not hold his peace: he will be quiet enough now, and we shall be done with him--done with him for ever!
Now, whatever was all this about? It was just here. The City of Jerusalem had become such a Sodom of iniquity that God had doomed it to destruction; but willing to save whoever in it would obey Him by leaving it, He sent Jeremiah with a message to this effect. A large number of the leading men of the city neither believed God nor were willing to leave Jerusalem; and because Jeremiah would not cease persuading the people, they tried to shut his mouth by shutting him up in this dungeon.
Alas that a similar necessity for such messages still exists!
But do not all the ungodly live in a doomed Jerusalem? Has not God sentenced to destruction every city of ease and sinful indulgence, and worldly pomp, and fashion, and devilish iniquity in which the millions around us live? Has He not declared that there is no peace, and never shall be; but rather wasting, and mildew, and wrath, and perdition forever, to those who abide there? This is an awful condition of things, but, thank God, with it there comes direct from the mouth of the same Jehovah the message that if men will rise, and depart, and flee out of their Sodom of iniquity, they shall have salvation.
And, thank God, with this message we have prophets-- Salvation Soldiers-- Jeremiahs --who will deliver it. Few and feeble they may be, in comparison with this grand old man, but we rejoice to know they are growing in boldness, and power, and number every day. Oh, Lord, multiply them on every hand.
Are we to be surprised that the prophets of our time, and of all time, should meet with similar treatment to that which was accorded to Jeremiah? Will not the men and women who hate God now act out their hatred in a similar manner to that in which these God-rejectors acted it out then? Of course they will, and the response will be the same, and Jeremiah, in the year 1881, must, if possible, be silenced. Tie him up with ropes; put him in some dungeon; punish him with ridicule, with misrepresentation, with hootings, and howlings, and blasphemies, and oaths, and mud, and rotten eggs, and brick-bats, and blows, and as much worse as the laws and sympathies, and pity, and civilization of this Christian land will allow.
Now, this system of imprisoning and dungeoning of God Almighty's Jeremiahs seems to us open to serious objections. That it does so, from the standpoint of The War Cry, will not for a moment be called in question, but we think it is open to objection from the standpoint of the adversaries of Jeremiah themselves, and, indeed, from every other standpoint. Let us see:--
1. THIS SYSTEM OF PUNISHING AND PITCHING INTO THE PROPHETS IS OBJECTIONABLE, BECAUSE IT MUST BE A VERY UNPLEASANT OPERATION TO THE PRINCIPAL ACTORS, AND TO ALL WHO TAKE PART IN IT. -- To fasten with ropes and let down into a pit, and shut up in a dark dungeon, this helpless, unresisting old man, must have made these fellows--these gentlemen, noblemen, we suppose they reckoned themselves--feel uncommonly mean. To fight with non-combatants, to shoot down, or otherwise knock about and punish those, women and children included, who don't or won't defend themselves, is usually reckoned the reverse of chivalrous, or noble, or manly. Especially would this be the case where those who were punished were seeking the benefit of those who ill-used them. This sort of thing cannot be very ennobling and exhilarating at the hour; but what sort of feeling will its memory create in after days? And though with hearts of stone, incapable of regret, the actors in it may pass off the stage of earthly activity, their children and their children's children will not, we should think, be very proud of the part their ancestors took in such exploits.
II. THEN, AGAIN, WE SUGGEST THAT, IN THIS SORT OF DEALING WITH THE LORD'S PROPHETS, THERE IS AN AWFUL POSSIBILITY OF RETRIBUTION. --In this respect, we are quite sure the words of our Lord have a terrible meaning, "They that take the sword shall perish by the sword." There is a public-house still pointed out in Staffordshire where, at a drunken frolic, some man, to show his hatred and contempt of Christianity, literally hung a Bible on a spit, and roasted it before the fire, basting it as he would have done a joint of meat, until it fell to pieces. So far, we suppose, it was a good lark, real fun; the story, however, does not end here, but goes on to say that, soon after, the man was smitten with a peculiar disease, his flesh rotting and falling off his bones, and his death being one of awful and terrible despair. History is full of the records of men and women who having, in some form or other, "roasted" the prophets of the Lord, have met with a fearful retributive fate, even in this life. This method of dealing with the Lord's prophets is, therefore, a long way from being a satisfactory one; and we say to those who are tempted in this direction, "Forbear." "Touch not the Lord's anointed, and do His prophets no harm."
III. BUT THE METHOD IS ALSO VERY UNSATISFACTORY, SEEING THAT, IF IT DOES GET RID OF ONE JEREMIAH, IT THEREBY OFTEN CREATES OTHERS. --The blood of the martyrs has been said to be the seed of the Church. It was no uncommon thing, in the days when burning and crucifying and pulling to pieces by wild beasts the soldiers of the Cross was common, for men and women to leave the ranks of the persecutors and take their places alongside the sufferers, convinced and won over by the evident peace and consolation which they possessed. Cruelty creates pity, and pity leads to enquiry, and enquiry leads to salvation. Publicity means success. Whenever men suffer for Christ's sake, not only does God draw near to bless, but men draw near to enquire. It must be so. Therefore, if the putting down of one Jeremiah means the making of several others, is it not the wisest course for those who are opposed to the multiplication of Salvation soldiers or prophets to let them alone?
IV. AFTER ALL, IS IT NOT JEREMIAH'S MESSAGE RATHER THAN JEREMIAH HIMSELF THAT IS OBJECTED TO? --If he had been silent, proper, had behaved himself, not said anything that was unpleasant, or having said it had done so in private, it might have been borne with. But the old man was so stupid --talked about his conscience having a duty to perform for which God held him responsible, would not listen to reason, but would go on in utter disregard of his own safety and the wishes of everybody else. If he would have been quiet no one would have hurt a hair of his head, or if he had prophesied smooth things, such things as the respectables approved and relished, everybody would have been happy, and all would have been well. It was what he said did the mischief. It was not he but this MESSAGE FROM GOD, this truth, this voice, that gave the offence and did the mischief. Now, if they could have got at that and put that in the dungeon, there would have been some sense in the proceeding, but with Jeremiah in the mire there was God Almighty's PROCLAMATION floating about just the same, and if Ebedmelech, that coloured Salvationist, who was one of the king's slaves, had not taken compassion on Jeremiah and got him out to go on repeating and thundering it out, God would have set some one else to work, declaring it. Now, why don't the adversaries set on to this voice of God which speaks through the prophets. Could they not get all the prophecies and records of Calvary, and Judgment, and Heaven, and Hell, and Eternity, and God, shut up somewhere, shut up fast--blotted out--destroyed--so that this unpalatable, hateful message about sin, and judgment, and mercy should never disturb them more--should never be told to their children, or their customers, or influence their people? How could this be done? That would be an effectual method of ending the race of Jeremiahs, and save a great deal of trouble indeed.
V. But after all, are we not still wide of the mark, and is it not the great AUTHOR OF THE VOICE HIMSELF THAT IS WANTED? If He who raised up and sent Jeremiah to say, "Go forth or perish," could have been tied with cords and let down into a dungeon and KEPT THERE, that would be a practical method of dealing with the trouble, and, let us say, the only one. Yes, that is the plan. Oh ye who oppose and agitate and dungeon Salvation Army Prophets, the Jeremiahs of modern times, because they say, and will say over and over again, and will not be stopped saying, that you must repent or perish, leave Sodom or be burnt in Hell, forsake your sins or be damned in them, we are not the authors of the statements, we do not originate the threatenings. The controversy is not between you and The Salvation Army. If you do let us, all of US, officers, and rank and file, down somewhere with cords, into some dungeon, out of sight for ever, GOD WILL REMAIN, and He is the difficulty. Jehovah will still confront you, and until the day of grace is past He will, because He is more pitiful to you than you are to your poor selves, still find some who will deal honestly with you in delivering His message, and failing that, He will still go on sounding in your consciences, in the depths of your souls, TURN OR BURN, REPENT OR DIE!
Therefore, you objectors, whom this truth makes uncomfortable and unsettled, quarrel not with us; turn your attention to the truth itself, and deal with the Author of it. Thank God, there is a very simple way open to you, in which you can most readily bring yourself into harmony with the message and with Jehovah, its Author, and with your own happiness and interests, and with The Salvation Army, and all other faithful prophets, and that is by departing from your sins, obeying God, and accepting the mercy offered through Jesus Christ. Do this, and do it quickly.
Meanwhile we want to insert an advertisement in The War Cry. Here it is--
The real old-fashioned sort. There is a notion abroad that they don't fit this dispensation. That only gentle, tender, loving persuasions and entreaties are in harmony with these New Testament times. It is all a mistake! Never in the world's history were fearless, resolute, whole-souled prophets called for and needed more than now. Come forth, ye men of God, with brows of brass and nerves of iron, and hearts big with the love of Calvary, and the thunders of Jehovah's wrath.
"Wanted veritable Jeremiahs, to tell the truth, the whole truth, please or displease, dungeon or no dungeon, mire or no mire! To tell it in the Monarch's court, and the Nobleman's mansion, and the Poor Man's cottage; but specially are Jeremiahs, MORE JEREMIAHS, and STILL MORE JEREMIAHS wanted in the Halls, and Theatres, and Barracks, and Public Open-air Meeting Places of The Salvation Army, To all whom it may concern,
8. A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST.
WHEN the Devil took our Master up into a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and said unto Him, "All this power will I give Thee and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it, if Thou wilt worship me all shall be thine," it is ordinarily supposed to have been a vain and boastful assertion. And yet, how much there is of the past recorded on the page of history, and how much we see in the present, turn which way we will, to justify the assertion of Satan that he is really and truly in possession of the bodies and souls of men and of the very world they dwell in. Look at the savage nations with their superstitions, and vices, and their bloody wars. Look at the professedly religious nations with their superstitions, and vices, and their bloody wars, all quite as ruinous, or more so, and, any way, more unreasonable and inexcusable, and all alike soul-destroying in the long run, and we have the most striking justification of the assertion, that Satan is really and truly now, as then, in an awfully solemn sense, the God of this world.
Whether to dislodge and drive the usurper out and rescue the whole world from his diabolical grip may, or may not, be in the Divine purpose, we care not now to inquire, but there can be no question that it is of God that those who are on the Lord's side should aim at this great and godlike purpose, and direct and devote all their energies to its accomplishment. But what a formidable task. True. Formidable because it is not one rebel only, although he be so mighty, but because he has incited to rebellion so many millions of other beings, indeed, the whole world is intrenched in dire enmity against God. But though the task be so formidable, thank God, it is possible, for is not even this, the biggest impossibility of which we have any conception, possible to God?
But how? By what means? There is only one way, and that is by fighting. We cannot bow, or notice, or persuade the devil out of this his favourite citadel and stronghold. If polite requests, and eloquent persuasions, and logical arguments addressed to his majesty would have done it, he would have departed long ago. Nay, if indolent or even fervent and believing prayers to the Divine Spirit to drive him out would have effected this purpose, we should have had our Eden back again a long time ago. But, no, there is only one way-a way, alas! most unpalatable to indolent and selfish humanity; and that is to drive him out by actual persevering, self-sacrificing warfare. There is nothing for it but to fight, and to fight to the death. Who is willing for this?
If, then, there is to be fighting, and such fierce and terrible fighting as will overcome this great enemy, there must of necessity be soldiers, and they must be good soldiers, too; and I propose here briefly to describe what appears to me to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
1. A GOOD SOLDIER IS A GOOD MAN OR A GOOD WOMAN.
In this war both men and women are equally eligible, but whether man or woman goodness is indispensable. In other armies this is not a particular desideratum. The recruiting sergeant does not inquire if the recruit has been converted, if he prays without ceasing, or has a clean heart. Very bad men have, I suppose, been reckoned in the killing armies very good soldiers; but in the Army of Salvation--the Army whose object it is to destroy sin, defeat the devil, and deliver souls from going down to hell--we must have good men. God Almighty wants veterans who have been themselves delivered from the power of the foe, and washed in the blood of the Lamb, and who will follow Him whithersoever He leadeth. This is the only metal out of which God can make spiritual "ironsides," "invincibles," "more than conquerors."
II. A GOOD SOLDIER MAKES WAR HIS BUSINESS. He may do something in other lines of duty: he may be a farrier, a tailor, a shoemaker, a servant, or what not, but after all fighting is his trade. He has chosen it, and made secondary to it all the other businesses, connections, relationships, and pleasures of his life. If he shoes horses, keeps a shop, has a family, or anything else that is lawful or desirable, or comfortable or pleasurable to himself or anyone else, all has to give way to the interests of the war. Any way this is conditional and essential to the making of a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
It was true of Paul and Wesley, and a host of other warriors in their day, and it will be true of every conquering soldier of modern times. In time of war all Israel of old was one great camp, and every able-bodied man either went to the fight or stood by the staff. The Christian nation must be a nation of warriors.
III. A GOOD SOLDIER UNDERSTANDS HIS BUSINESS. He is intelligent in all that concerns the war, specially all that concerns the part he has to take in it. For instance, he understands the weapons he has to use.
Just so we want soldiers equally skilled in the use of spiritual weapons, who can use the sharp two-edged sword, and pour just at the right time, and at any range, the heavy shot and shell of Divine truth in upon the foe; who can startle and scatter, and kill, and bring to life again with the truth about God and death, and judgment, and heaven and hell, and Calvary, and a host of other themes. We want soldiers who understand the hearts of men, who are acquainted with the devices of Satan and the delusions and excuses and hiding-places of sinners, and who know how to pour in volley after volley of red-hot truth upon rebels, until they run, or yield, or fall at the feet of the conquering Saviour. No wonder there is so little accomplished, seeing that the professed soldiers of Jesus Christ are so deplorably ignorant of the first principles of war-- THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO FIGHT.
IV. GOOD SOLDIERS UNDERSTAND HOW TO ACT IN COMBINATION. Nothing strikes a spectator more when witnessing a body of troops go through any military exercises than the precision and uniformity with which they act together. Dear me, they all move as one man, like a machine! is a common exclamation. And that is the thing aimed at, and therein lies the secret of their power as an army. Without it they would be but a mob. As it is, one will can direct the whole, and by this means and no other all can act together for any given end. Just so the soldiers of Jesus Christ must learn to act in combination with their brethren.
Individual effort has been extolled, and that not at all too highly. Let every man learn the art of personal attack and self-defence, and God give all our soldiers wisdom and courage to stand up alone, and to stand to the very death; but after all, in spiritual armies, as a great captain said with respect to killing armies, victory is on the side of the big battalions. True! God can and does deliver by the few as well as by the many, and He greatly prefers the true-hearted few to the double-minded many. But how much more He prefers to use the true-hearted multitude, we need not wait to argue--it is self-evident--it is supported by the Holy Scriptures, and by ungainsayable facts. Think of the wonderful results that would follow the united, skilful, persistent attacks of a spiritual force, say only a thousand strong, upon any town, howsoever large that town might be. A thousand men and women who alike knew how to plead with God and man, who had faith to pull down holy fire from heaven, and to set on fire the consciences of sinners with the fear of death, and judgment, and damnation, and who could do this just in such a manner, at such times, and in such different places as should be best adapted to arouse and trouble and harass the enemy into submission to their rightful Sovereign. In other words, think what might be accomplished by a thousand saints familiar with the use of the weapons of their warfare, and able to act singly and in combined force against the common enemy. We say think of the results, of the night and day, and week by week, and year by year attacks and bombardments, and surprises, and all other kinds of unsettlements and miseries which such a force would produce upon the enemies of God in that town. Of course the lives of sinners would become unendurable in the presence of such warriors, who were always, both in season and out of season, bringing them face to face with God and the coming consequence of all their ways, and they would be constrained to remove to some other town, to emigrate, even to wish for death, to get away from this harassing warfare, or--and oh, Hallelujah! --the more probable result would be that the rebels in large numbers would submit and be forgiven, and become in turn themselves followers, and soldiers, in the army of the King.
V. A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST IS ALWAYS A FIGHTING MAN. This assertion may sound strange and unnecessary, but it is not so, In ordinary armies there are, beyond a doubt, hosts who don't mean war--the wages, the shining clothes, the idle life, the music, the promenade, with all the pomp and parade of war, and as much more of the same kind as you will; but no fighting, if you please. Fighting means hardship and labour, and hunger, and wounds, and suffering, and life-sorrow and death. So give us, say your pipe-clay and bandbox soldiers, the form and appearance and profession and pay of soldiery, but no fighting, mind-NO FIGHTING. This, however, cannot be, for is not fighting the very essence of and meaning, and bone and marrow of a good soldiery, and you cannot have it without? And is not fighting, the spirit of war, the liking for it; and the habit of it, the very essence of all true Christian soldiery likewise, and is it not the ungainsayable reason for the most melancholy and undeniable failure of this holy war these last 1,700 years that His warriors have been so much after this professional kind, accustomed, it is true, to any amount of profession and dissertation, but so little actuated and driven by the overcoming spirit of conquest.
What matters it what ELSE SOLDIERS CAN DO IF THEY CANNOT FIGHT? They are hired to fight, paid to fight, reckoned and relied on to fight, and when the hour comes, if they prove not the men for the hour, woe to the nation that has counted on them, and woe to the soldiers too,
Here is a nation with the enemy in possession, entrenching fast for permanent occupation, rifling and ravishing, burning and slaying, inflicting every form of oppression and indignity and wrong; and here is an army of soldiers who have sworn to protect and deliver, and, if there needs be, to die for their country, pleasuring and idling, and buying and selling, and otherwise looking after themselves. What matters it that they mix up some of the drill and talk of war with it all? It is not the drill and talk of war that is wanted, it is war itself; and for want of it, what will the on-looking world and their countrymen and their enemies say? Surely they will cover their drill and their talk and their self-care with loathing, execration, and contempt.
Look at these fourteen hundred millions of our fellow-men, mostly in the arms and power of the foul usurper of hell who has largely his own way with them, making this possible paradise into blackest and most hellish perdition here, and dragging multitudes down to the deeper depths of all possible woe hereafter. What do Jesus and the angels say of this long-standing army of professed soldiers of Jehovah who look on, and sing, and speak, and read, and understand all about the actual condition of things, and are so very contented with the same looking on, and speaking, and reading, and understanding all about the ruin and desolation, and do so little fighting to prevent, and hinder, and deliver? Oh, what can we say of the professed followers of Jesus Christ who don't fight: fight when they are wanted, fight always, fight their way through the darkness and the devils to the salvation of a redeemed world? What can we say? that they are orthodox, learned, theological, ornamental? say anything and everything, but don't call them soldiers, for without excuses and self-consideration of health, or limb, or life; true soldiers fight, live to fight, love to fight, love the thickest of the fight, and die in the midst of it.
VI. ANOTHER MARK OF A GOOD SOLDIER IS THAT HE ENDURES HARDNESS. I suppose the worst possible form of soldiers would be men who, from their appearance and capacity and antecedents, led their officers to rely upon them for the discharge of difficult and important duties, but who in the hour of difficulty gave way, and so brought about disaster and defeat. And so, on the contrary, I suppose the highest form of soldiers or of servants of God or man of any other name, are those of whom it can be said beforehand: They can suffer, they can die, but they cannot flinch; they will not yield.
One of the most despicable terms in our very expressive language, branding whosoever may be so bitterly unfortunate as to deserve it with a nameless, an infinite contempt, is that of "DESERTER;" that is, one who from considerations of care, or pleasure, or gain, or from cowardly fear of suffering, or death, or any or all other considerations, runs away from comrades in the hour of danger, and leaves the war to take its chance. Such cowardly, self-serving people, bent on taking care of their own skin, are not only thus despised, but if their desertion takes place in the presence of the enemy, their doom is, if caught, to be forthwith shot. Oh, Thou great Commander-in-Chief, if all the mean, cowardly runaways, that for one paltry excuse or another have within our small knowledge forsaken their blessed banner and left Thy poor struggling troops bleeding in the breach, had been doomed to summary punishment, what a doleful hurrying into eternity there would have been! No, He delighteth in mercy. Some have returned and been forgiven, and since done valiantly. Others are walking about the earth, and concerning them and the rewards they have reaped, and the haunting memories of the past, we say nothing, but pass on.
Oh, this Queen of Graces, ENDURING GRACE--the scarcest grace of all. I have met during my short pilgrimage with an abounding of all other kinds of grace, any kind that can be named, and many kinds that are nameless, but of this holding on grace, this staying power, this proper kind of final perseverance, this enduring to the end, I must confess that I have not found it very common! And yet it is the true soldier's grace, carrying in its bosom all other graces, or, rather, carrying forward all other graces to perfection and paradise. And what is it but the willingness, the capacity to SUFFER, the acceptance of the agony and the crucifixion as the only road for the true soldier to resurrection and to certain and triumphant entry into heaven? For soldiers of Jesus Christ who know not only how to live and how to fight, but how to die, are invincible.
And THE LAST MARK OF A GOOD SOLDIER THAT WE NOTICE IS THAT HE IS VICTORIOUS.
A FORERUNNER OF THE PROPHETESSES OF THE SALVATION ARMY.
1. THERE WERE PROPHETESSES IN THOSE DAY--GOD called Miriam to this honour and endued her with His Spirit, and Moses recognised that call and gave her the opportunity for its exercise, which is more than we can say for every Moses of our acquaintance who has the privilege of having a Miriam in his congregation. So Miriam was one of the chosen ambassadors who came direct from the Divine presence with the sacred message on her lips, "Thus saith the Lord:" And, thank God, He has not left Himself without ambassadors, apostles, ministers, and prophets, known by whatever name those officers may be, in Our time, and He has prophetesses, Miriams, also, When the prophetesses disappear you may look out and tremble, for the prophets will be in great danger of going as well. But God, by the mouth of His servant the prophet Joel, said, that in this very dispensation, our daughters should prophesy, and Peter confirmed the prophecy by declaring its fulfilment; and, indeed, and of a truth, we are the people whose own eyes have seen, and whose own ears have heard the full verification of the same. We see them with our eyes, hear the word at their lips, and God confirms it as the Word of the Lord with signs and wonders following. We accept the gift, open wide the door for its fullest exercise, and bless the Giver.
II. IN THOSE DAYS THE PROPHETESSES LED THE PEOPLE IN OPEN-AIR PROCESSIONS. Miriam did, and no doubt it was quite a common thing for her to do so. On this occasion the people were evidently in good practice, falling in at the word of command, and all ready for the time, and the tune, and the song. Our prophetesses do the same. Why not? If processions are right, and lawful, and scriptural, and useful--as who in their senses can truthfully deny?--then why not the prophetesses to the front? People have objected, and do object, but, then, what is there that they won't object to, specially in practical godliness of any shape or form? They will let women sell in public, sing in public, dance in public--anything in public, out door or in, save and except, in a straightforward manner, discharge the Divine mission of a prophetess, and carry the message of mercy from the lips of Jehovah to dying men, or lead the Lord's elect to battle and victory.
But hold on, ye Miriams--ye precious, faithful, Heaven-sent women of our Israel. Fear not. God is with you, and we are on your side. If the Gentiles ask, "Is it in good taste?" we will answer, "Excellent! it is just to our liking." We would to God all the Lord's women were prophetesses. If the Gentiles ask, "Is it usage? is it the custom?" we will answer, " Alas, no! so much more the pity." But we will change the usage, and we will make another, a better, a more scriptural fashion. If the Gentiles ask, "Is this religion?" we will answer, "Yes! it is God's religion, the old-fashioned religion --a religion as old as the Battle of the Red Sea --and a religion which all Egypt respected when they learned the story of their own defeat and the triumph of those who, only the other day, had been their slaves.
III. THERE WERE PROPHETESSES THEN WHICH LED THEIR OPEN-AIR PROCESSIONS WITH MUSIC, AND DANCING, AND SONG. --No doubt this was an enthusiastic demonstration. Moses seems to have led one procession; perhaps he had the men, while Miriam had another with the women. Nobody was ashamed of God, or of being thought on His side on this occasion. No one thought it out of place. No Israelite in all the borders of the camp objected. The police did not object, and the Egyptians were all drowned, or they would have done; and the public-house business had not been started then, so they had it all their own way, and, headed by Miriam, they marched about, and played their music, and danced, and sang themselves hoarse, and all the people shouted and went wild in a general sort of way for very joy and gratitude, and praise and worship, to Almighty God for the wonderful things He had done for them.
And why should not our prophetesses lead their people with music and song under the bare heavens in processions of mercy? Why not play their music--if not timbrels, their violins, and cornets, and concertinas, and such other instruments as come to their hands. Do they dance? No, although it is evidently so scriptural, yet, in conformity with the dull leaden usages that prevail, our Miriams have not danced before the Lord, any way not with their feet, although they do lead their people with a heart dancing merry religion. They have led them, and that very often, with eyes filled with tears; and sometimes, as on this occasion, Miriam led her people on the banks of the Red Sea, with their mouths filled with laughter. Lead on!
IV. AND THESE PROPHETESSES LED THEIR PEOPLE IN THE TRIUMPHANT CELEBRATION OF VICTORY. We cannot gather from the narrative what part Miriam played in securing the victory. Doubtless she had her full share, as certainly she took her full share in the celebration of it. And well she might. For the Lord had indeed triumphed gloriously, and instead of allowing the horse and his rider to trample upon her people, He had cast them together into the deep, deep sea. It was a wonderful victory, and Miriam helped to make for it a wonderful triumph.
And have not our Miriams led their people in triumph, nay, have they not led them in the battle, that has made the triumph possible? Have they not led their people, themselves redeemed from bondage only the other day? have they not led these slaves transformed into warriors to victory all over the land, from John O'Groat's to the Land's End in England, through the valleys and over the mountains of South Wales, in the winds and alleys of Glasgow, and other parts of Scotland, all over the North of Ireland? and is not a Miriam leading a noble regiment of uniformed soldiers through the streets of Adelaide, South Australia? Have not some of our Miriams, both English and American, led in the path of gloriously obedient freedom citizens of the nation that we were told would not submit to such authority? And did we not commend to the God of battles, the God of victory, the God of Salvation, a Miriam who has been a prophetess to us all? And having so commended her to Him, did we not send her forth? Has He not sent her to prophesy in Paris, the very heart of beautiful but godless France, and to raise up and drill a living army of saved and sanctified Frenchmen, who shall in their turn go forth on a mission of conquest, a conquest this time, which, while it covers the conquerors with imperishable glory, shall bring freedom, and glory, and everlasting life to those whom they shall conquer?
With what result has this Miriam gone? Let another--a visitor, who says he went prejudiced against the work, speak:-- "I entered and found some hundred and fifty 'Soldats.' How they sang in their own language our well-known hymns! They appear, like the war horse, to smell the battle afar off, and enter the field like prancing steeds, and with a shout in the camp The brightness of the French nature shone out in this meeting with unusual splendour, though a few mothers seemed to be very serious and thoughtful. One bright young Frenchman, about twenty years old, told me he was converted, inside and out, three weeks ago. His was certainly a very good case. Another, who looked as though he would have been all there if there had been even the smell of communism, said one thing he could not forgive himself, standing up in public meetings denying and despising God! The Lord help him and all of them, and save, to the glory of His grace, millions of such characters in all cities and countries, is my earnest prayer."
10. HOW TO COMMAND A CORPS OF THE SALVATION ARMY.
BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF AN ADDRESS TO OFFICERS
AT A COUNCIL OF WAR.
IN introducing the subject selected for consideration this evening, the first inquiry which naturally suggests itself is--
"WHAT IS A SALVATION ARMY CORPS?
To this I reply, that it is a Band of people united together to attack and Christianize an entire town or neighbourhood. When an officer receives an appointment from head-quarters, it is not contemplated that he shall deal merely with those who are already 'gathered' within the walls of certain buildings, or with those who are already enrolled in our ranks, or with those who may be induced to come inside them; but it is intended that he shall be an Apostle of the Gospel to all those who live around. When you reach the Station assigned you, if it has not been done already, you should take your stand in that Hall, or Theatre, or Tent, and draw a line around the breadth of population you can hope to reach, and make that your Parish, and aim, with tears and prayers, and the trumpet-blast of truth and the power of the Holy Ghost, to convert and sanctify and enlist and discipline every soul within it,
Before you manage a Corps you must
What a high and holy privilege it is to be a soul-winner! "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars or ever and ever." Who believes this? Earnest, determined. sympathetic men, baptized with the Holy Ghost, may go forth and save multitudes from going down to the pit. Common men--men of quite ordinary ability--can do this. But where are they? How is it we are not besieged with men crying--Here am I, send me? We want a holy ambition for this work --men who see the privilege and desire the honour of bearing the tidings of life and liberty to the ignorant, dying, uncared-for masses going down to hell from our very doors in this boasted Christian land.
Anyone can go into training for this work. There are plenty of street-corners available in any part of this great city and throughout the land, where any Salvationist may find an audience and get a band together, and in this amateur war speedily gather all the education and qualifications necessary. The best qualification for managing a corps must lie to help to make one, and to help to work one. If this qualification be there, this sort of work will soon develop and perfect it.
Now I am not going to give a list of the qualifications for efficiently managing a corps, but simply to state how it can be done. The man who accomplishes it proves thereby--and he can prove satisfactorily in no other way--that he has the necessary ability for the work. You have doubtless heard of the two men who met in prison; one of whom said to the other, "What have they sent you here for?" "Oh, for so and so," was the reply. "But," said the other, "they can't lock you up for that." "Oh, yes, they can." "But I tell you they can't." "Well, but here I am:" Just so; I care not what the preaching abilities or other qualifications of a man or woman may be, if he does not succeed--if he does not get the people saved, and keep them saved--he proves incontestably that he has missed his vocation, and he ought at once to turn over a new leaf and alter his plans, or, inquire for some other walk in life in which he can succeed. But, on the other hand, however inferior and unlikely, humanly considered, the officer's qualifications may appear, he proves incontestably that he has the gifts and the graces which qualify him to manage a corps in the King's army if he can report crowds and converts and increases in spiritual or soldierly activities.
How to Command a Corps.
Our first counsel is-
(I) Magnify your Office.
Get to know definitely what it is you have to do. Think what it is to be an ambassador of Christ--to stand between the living and the dead, and to be the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. Consider what will be the outcome of the faithful discharge of your duty on the one hand, and what will follow the neglect of it on the other. Read the 33rd chapter of Ezekiel, and the Acts of the Apostles, over and over again. Call up the memories of the holy, successful soul-winners who have gone through oceans of difficulties and led thousands to the Cross. Lay aside every weight in the shape of worldly idolatry and self-indulgence, and then lay on the altar every power of body and of soul, consecrating all you have, or ever hope to have, to the successful accomplishment of the greatest undertaking to which God could possibly have called you here.
To successfully command you must
(2) Love your Corps
with a love that never falters, never swerves, never dies. You must have the same burning, unquenchable flame that Jesus had, or you cannot--will not--succeed; and your success will be just according to the measure of your affection for your people and for the perishing around you. This love--this passion for souls--is the mainspring of true religious activity and the principle which governs all real and lasting work for God. Love, rightly directed, makes a good parent, a good husband, a good workman; and nothing short of love, and a great deal of it, will make a good officer. The secret of success is often inquired for; here it is: It is not in natural gifts, or human bearing, or exceptional opportunities, or earthly advantages, but in a heart consumed with the flame of ardent, holy, heavenly love.
Love will make a man think. He wants to save his people; his aim is to bless them, not to amuse them. He wants to lead them on to know God, to imitate Christ, to be meet for heaven. This he sees is to be done through the truth. He has now one absorbing anxiety to persuade them to hear, to think, to feel, to yield, to be saved, to be holy. Here is work for him. He must have arguments that will convince, facts that will confirm, illustrations that will explain, and truths that will both awaken, and interest, and convert. He must range through earth, and heaven, and hell, for matter to make men fly to Christ, save their souls, and bathe in the ocean of redeeming love. He wants to know the mind of God concerning men, and must open his soul to receive inspiration through any medium or direct from the THRONE itself.
Love will make you pray. Love wants all the help it can command; and as it realizes that the great God is in sympathy, and willing to be a co-worker with any and every heart set on this mission of mercy, it will ever be knocking at the door of heaven for countenance and co-operation. The love of souls will lead you into the spirit of ceaseless intercession with Him whose love for them was stronger than death.
Love will make you feel. A stony-hearted preacher makes a stony-hearted people. Perhaps there is no such monstrosity in the universe as a professed representative and resemblance of Jesus Christ, who goes about his business in a cold, emotionless spirit. There is a great cry in some directions for more intellect in the pulpit; it seems to me that there is a far greater necessity for more heart.
If there be one character which above another God must abominate, angels weep over, and devils despise, it must be the automatical preachers who can discourse by the hour about the love of Christ, the worth of souls, the terrors of judgment, and the sorrows of the lost, with a flinty indifference or a ranting fervour which hardly lasts the service over, and which all can see is put on for the occasion. Oh, these ministerial machines! these mechanical preachers! who are quite content if their salaries are paid and a round of meetings gone through, are the curse of Christendom and the wholesale manufacturers of backsliders and infidels. May God deliver us from them! Comrades, whatever other gifts you have, if you are to succeed, you must have hearts, AND HEARTS THAT CAN FEEL.
Love will make you preach. A man cannot help but be an interesting talker on any theme on which his nature is powerfully stirred, and on which he has any measure of information. It is the stolid, indifferent, professional spouters of sermons that can neither get hearers nor souls. Again and again, in his autobiography, Finney, the great Evangelist, says, "I let out my heart on the people;" and they wept and fell under the power of God. Of how many preachers can this be said? How often, alas! is it not just a got-up, got-off piece of intellectual stuff--and not much intellect either--that is let out. The last thing the preacher thinks of or desires is the letting out of his heart, and consequently the heartless performance is met with a heartless response from those who listen; and who, after a few minutes' wonderment, or, as it may be, admiration, forget the whole affair. Oh, if you love, you will pour out your souls before the people, and they will pour out their souls to God in repentance and submission in return.
Love will make you beloved. If you love your people they cannot help but love you. There are exceptions to all rules. There is a November time, perhaps, in every man's history, when everything is gloomy, and nothing seems to bring sunshine to the people's hearts, so twisted and perverted may they have become. Cross-currents will sometimes run so strongly that, try as you will, you cannot reach the desired haven of the people's affections. But as a rule, love will prove an invincible conqueror, and will bring the people to your feet. You can love your way through every difficulty. Hold on, then, even though the more you love the less you are beloved.
To command efficiently,
(3) You must know your Corps.
At the outset you should ascertain what meetings can be held, and as nearly as possible what the capacities of your people are, and lay your plans accordingly. I sometimes hear people say, "After six months' stay our Officer is going away just as he is beginning to know the place." Now it seems to me that it must be a very large place in which you cannot get to know the bulk of the people in a fortnight, both inside and out. If you cannot get known any other way, put your hat in your pocket, and, with a banner in your hand, go through the streets preaching Christ, like Brother R. A man who stands on the stage of a theatre and does the open-air work thoroughly, will not be long getting known by the outside world, and by the inside world too.
One of the first things you should ask on going to a station is, "Where is the register of members' names and addresses?" If there is not one, get one made at once. Get to know where the people live; and who among them can be visited, and at what hour of the day. Find out the by-streets where the poorest and the most afflicted live; arrange so that you can take those living nearest each other, so as to save time; and those you cannot get at personally, reach through brethren and sisters sent by and from you. That is the way to wrap the hearts of the people round you, and to make them love and pray for you. I cannot tell exactly how it is, but I know that no men are so beloved as those who visit; and a call, with a few loving words and an earnest prayer, will be remembered for some time to come.
And then, if your heart is full of sympathy, people will come and introduce themselves to you. They will come and say, "Oh, Captain, I thought our last officer was the only man that loved me, and, when he went away, I thought I should never look up any more; but I see you love me too." Love the people, and let them see that you are interested in all that concerns them, and you will soon make their acquaintance and win their confidence.
There is no difficulty then in the people getting to know you, and there seems to me a way not so very difficult by which you can pretty soon get to know the people. Now you cannot know a man by talking to him: you must have him talk to you. And you will not hear people talk out their hearts anywhere so truthfully and fully as in their own homes, and in the assembly, gathering, and other meetings where there is full liberty for all to speak. Visit, then, your people, and let them have full opportunity to talk freely as soon as you go to a station, and you will make the acquaintance and have a tolerably accurate idea of the measure and weight of the people who constitute the backbone of the Corps.
(4) Teach your Corps.
Teach your people. Teach them sound doctrine; if you do not give them the truth, somebody else will give them falsehood. The best method of keeping the weeds out of your garden is to stock it well with good, useful plants, and I know no better plan to prevent the devil and ignorant, mistaken teachers sowing the seeds of error in the minds of your people than to anticipate them with sound scriptural doctrine. There are three old-fashioned practical truths which you must frequently and emphatically insist upon. They may be regarded as three pillars which mainly carry the entire building of experimental godliness; and if your people are thoroughly grounded in these, they will not easily be moved. They are REPENTANCE, FAITH, AND HOLINESS.
By Repentance, I mean the renunciation of all sin, and the unreserved surrender of the soul to God, which is not only a condition of pardon in the first instance, but of continued salvation all the way through.
By Faith, I mean, in its general sense, the belief of what God has said, and by saving faith, I mean the trust of the soul to and in Christ as the only and all-sufficient Saviour for time and for eternity.
By Holiness I mean the necessity and possibility of believers being not only saved from the guilt and power of sin, but from its very indwelling; sanctified body, soul, and spirit, and preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Instruct your people in these cardinal truths. Illustrate, and enforce, and explain, and support them from the Word of God, until the most ignorant in your congregation understand and grasp them.
But be sure in all your teaching to show what true religion is.
Teach your people what constitutes the very elements of Christianity. Show them that the very essence of religion is love; the love that shows itself in benevolent effort for the salvation of others. I was talking one day to one of the partners in a leading firm in the city, and I said to him, "I understand religion to mean this, that if you have reason to think you can convert more souls in Australia than by stopping at home, and refuse to go, you are a hypocrite;" and he replied, "That is true."
And this statement is endorsed by the Bible, which declares that "God is love," and that if any man have not the Spirit of Him who left heaven, and came to suffer and die on earth to save souls, he is none of His. Now you must teach your people--young converts and old ones, the poor and the rich, if any of the latter should come in amongst you--that they are in all reality and truth to lay themselves and their possessions on the altar without reserve, in order that God may use them to the uttermost for His work; that this is the religion God wants, and the only religion that He will approve and accept; and that those sentiments, and beliefs, and feelings, and opinions, are all in vain that do not tend to this.
To effectually command, you must
(5) Work your Corps.
To do this, you must work yourself. If you do not, there are everywhere some who will very soon begin to look up and say, "That man is paid for this work, and has nothing else to do; yet he takes it very easy. It's awfully cold out to-night: I have been working hard for ten hours to-day, and as he does not see it of sufficient importance to go to the open-air, I think I'll stay at home and rest." But if they see you working, what can they do? They will say, "I'll go. I can't let him go there all by himself. I was feeling very tired, but never mind, get me a good cup of tea, wife, and I'll have a wash and be off." That is the way the thing works. We must lead, and then the people are bound to follow. I have found it so during thirty-five years of this kind of work. Whenever I have gone to lead, I have found somebody, and a good big somebody generally, ready cheerfully to follow me anywhere, and to any kind of work.
Set your people to work. An officer should spend a good deal of time in looking at his people, considering what they can do, setting them to work, and seeing that they keep at it. People say to me sometimes, "They won't give me anything to do. I can work, and am willing, but I go and come from the meetings, and am never asked to do anything." Now such a complaint should be impossible. I am not referring here to the brethren who, having the conceit they can preach, or do some great thing, refuse to do anything else because their gifts are not recognised, like spoilt children who won't play because they can't take what part they like in the game; but to simple, sincere souls, who are willing to undertake any kind of service for Christ, for which their comrades may think they possess the required capacity. Now such ought to be set to work whether they offer their services or not. Indeed, you must not wait for soldiers to find out what they can do, and to offer themselves: you must make the discovery, and hunt them out of their retirement, and bring them to the front, and use them to help you in the great conflict, for which )OU will require every agency on which you can possibly lay your hands.
Get fixed in your mind the ungainsayable truth that every soldier can do something. Find out what that something is, and get him at it as quickly as possible. Don't wait to see if he is "sound," or to ascertain if he "will stand." You cannot afford to wait.
Take them at once with their warm, tender hearts, gushing with sympathy and burning with zeal, and send them with all possible directness against the enemy. I know something can be said against setting new converts to work thus early, and I have carefully weighed that something over, but, all things considered, I am satisfied that this plan is calculated the most effectually to prevent backsliding, to save the greatest number of souls, and to make the best and most pliable kind of soldiers.
They can only learn how to fight by directly engaging in it.
There is no other way. Can a man learn how to be a carpenter by looking on in the workshop? No; he must handle the saw and the plane himself; and just so in every branch of Salvation work. "Drop them in the water," was the old-fashioned direction for teaching children to swim. True, they would in the first instance plunge and splash, and come out trembling and gasping, but on a second trial they would improve, and soon become skilful and daring swimmers. Just so make your people understand that everybody, whether young or old, can and must do something, and send them at once into the eddying ocean in which souls are hourly sinking to rise no more: they will soon learn how not only to save themselves, but those that hear them.
You will find that people have "likings" for different kinds of labour, as well as different capacities. Try as far as you can to meet these different tastes. You will get ever so much more work out of a man if it be in the line for which he feels himself specially adapted, and you have any amount of work that will suit anybody and everybody.
There is that everlasting open-air work that we are always talking about, but which we have never yet half appreciated. Everybody can do something at that. Others can visit from house to house, and so bring some to the indoor meetings that no open-air services will reach. There are some born doorkeepers; others are peculiarly at home visiting the sick; others seem to have a special vocation for showing the people into seats; many are not only willing but quite happy when engaged in getting money, and I fancy that in every society the Officer might get most valuable help in what must necessarily be specially his own work--the visitation of backsliders, and the hunting up of new converts.
Classify your people after this fashion, and to do it effectually make some one sergeant of each department, and put the responsibility of that department on his shoulders. By laying the burden of details upon others, you will be able to get an immense amount of work done without killing yourselves, as many have done by striving to do everything themselves.
To command effectively, you must
(6) Care for your Soldiers.
I don't mean that you should cozen, and comfort, and encourage the do-nothing people, if there are any, who come with their mouths open three times every Sabbath and now and then besides to be fed in idleness. No! TIP UP THEIR CRADLE. Make them question the ground of their religious hopes. Make them understand that true godliness is practical benevolence, and that they must at once become followers of Jesus, and go in for a life of self-sacrifice in order to do good and save souls, or else give up all hope and title to being Christians. Make the people see this, and keep on at it until they do, They will rub their eyes, and wake up, depend upon it, when they do see it; and though some may go off to other places where they can be edified without being constantly faced with their neglected responsibilities, others will go to work with a will, and you will soon see things move. But I was saying that you must care for your soldiers, and there are two classes that seem to me to specially want anxious care.
There are the stragglers. England is full of backsliders.
These should be hunted up, and brought back. It would be well, as I have already hinted, if some people would make it their special business to seek after the restoration of those who have grown cold, or who are growing cold. You must not let people stop away long enough to grow hardened in it. Hunt them up at once if they begin to slacken their pace.
Care for the converts. When I see the large number of anxious inquirers reported, and then observe how small a number of these are accounted for, I must say that I feel like saying, "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon." True, there is undoubtedly a large number of those who answer to the cases mentioned in the parable of the sower. We cannot always sow on good ground, still we very often do so, and we ought to be able to gather and retain a large return for our labour. And we shall do so, if we use the proper means. My experience has taught me that the use of appropriate means is as indispensable to preserve the converts as it is to secure them. Everybody agrees now that if you want to have a revival, and to see sinners converted, you must use methods and employ agencies calculated to secure this result; and it is just as important to employ suitable measures to keep the converts when you have them.
I leave the theology of this question to the doctors of divinity. I simply state the fact. If you fathers and mothers want to rear your children up to strong man and womanhood, you feed and watch over them with all tender, loving care; and if you officers and brethren, and sisters, in charge of God's great family, want to rear up for Him and for humanity the babes with whom you are entrusted, to perfect men and women in Christ Jesus, you must care for them, you must nurse them. If you keep them, and if your returns from time to time show increases, you will prove in the most incontestable manner that you do wisely and lovingly watch over them; but if, on the contrary, you do not--if you bring statements of large numbers of converts, and small increases in membership, you will leave it open for people to infer either that the conversions are not real, or that, being real, they are not properly looked after.
And lastly, to properly command you must
(7) Govern your Corps.
By governing it, I do not mean that you should master it, but manage it. You are not called to be the master, but the servant of all men, and just in proportion as you are so will men be your servants.
Govern your corps. Sit upon the box and hold the reins, grasp them lovingly but firmly. It is never safe to let high-spirited horses feel that you are driving with a slack rein. If they do, they will take liberties with you and your vehicle that may be inconvenient, and, as a rule, it will be best for you to drive with a tight rein. It is safest and best for society, in all its grades and relations, to feel that there is a real authority which must be respected, and real law and discipline which must be obeyed. And I am sure it is the best for our people, and, for the time being, you are, in your station, responsible for the maintenance of this necessary discipline. As some one has aptly said, you may make a very beautiful garden, and stock it with valuable plants and flowers; but if you do not keep the walls thereof strong and entire, the wild boar of the forest will speedily waste and destroy the fruit of all your hard toil. Just so, you may preach, and pray, and labour, and get sinners converted, and form a Corps; but unless you put away those who are immoral, and who refuse to conform to our rules and usages, Satan will soon undo all you have done. Keep our rules yourself, and, as far as in you lies, make others do the same.
Refuse to do or allow anything to be done which is not in accordance with the spirit and which does not square with the aim of the Army. Beware of unscriptural schemes. Resolutely keep out all worldly stratagems for attracting attention or obtaining money. Stick to the old ways of the Army. Keep the principles and object for which it was first originated ever before your eyes, and strive continually to make your branch of it a living exemplification thereof.
Do all in the power and spirit of your Master. Your motives and spirit will soon be read and known by your soldiers. They will quickly discern whether it be with you a mere question of getting a living, a mere professionalism which is satisfied by seeing your Corps well represented in the War Cry, or whether you do the work because your heart is in the right place--that is, for God and for eternity.
If you go in this spirit, in the spirit and power of God, nothing can stand before you. All must yield to the love of Christ, burning in your heart, and poured out through your life. And eternity only will reveal how great a work God will condescend to accomplish through your instrumentality. May He bless you all!
FIVE YEARS' RESULTS OF THESE COUNSELS.
The above address was delivered in 1876, when the organisation now known as The Salvation Army, then a Christian Mission, had but 29 stations, most of them small, and only 546 public speakers. It is interesting to note, on the one hand, that the faithful working out of the ideas here set forth has produced The Salvation Army of to-day; and on the other hand, that the operations of the Army are not wild outbursts of thoughtless zeal, but are the mere development of truths deeply and prayerfully studied out. How common it has been to reproach us with not teaching our people! as if they had been left to the mere temporary excitement of good meetings, and no deep foundation-work done. Why do not our critics open their eyes to the results of our teaching, and judge of it accordingly? Who thinks of testing a school or college by noting the details of its daily programme? The simple question asked is, "How does it show at the examinations?" and that system of teaching is considered best which produces the largest number of distinguished scholars. If the teachings of the Army have been such as to raise the number of its officers in five years from 27 to 540, and of its speakers from 546 to 13,400, and of its services from 380 to 4,300 weekly, the same teaching may be relied upon to produce far greater results still in days to come.
OR, THE UNSEALING OF THE LIPS.
"I CANNOT speak, I have not courage to stand up before a congregation, or in a ring in the open air. I have not nerve to speak to people about their souls, and about God, and judgment, and eternity, either in private or in public. 1 have not ability, 1 don't like, I am not called, have not the necessary gifts, am not good enough. I come and listen, and give (a little), and go out with the procession (I don't walk in the ranks), but 1 cannot stand up and talk. 1 wish 1 could, but I cannot."
Now, it seems to us that Isaiah felt very much after the same fashion. He could not warn the people when God wanted him, but his excuse was the correct one. He had had a vision; had seen God, and seen himself, and the result was, he perceived, and felt, and confessed the secret of his silence, and he rightly named the padlock on his lips. It was not mental or physical, or social, but SPIRITUAL inability. 1 am a man of unclean lips, that is, he had an unclean heart. That was the sore spot. Oh, we do love these straight, honest, Bible confessions, and all other confessions that are straight and honest, too. Out with the truth, if you know it, and, if you don't, may God soon reveal it.
Oh, in what multitudes of instances have we seen just the same sort of experience as that of Isaiah. It was the vision made the difference. Before the vision, all manner of excuses, such as we started with in this paper, and ten thousand more, but after there has been a vision of the Divine purity and the testimony of the Divine messengers, and a revealing of the Divine glory, and a moving of the posts, or of those who have hitherto been as still and as stupid as posts, and a filling of the place with the smoke of the sweet precious incense of praise and glory. Oh, then, they have lain on their faces, and all the mean, and frivolous, and worldly, and selfish, and ease-loving excuses have vanished, and the truth has come out. "Oh, my vileness, my malice, my vanity, my unfaithfulness, my back-sliding. I am a man, I am a woman, of unclean lips. That is the cause, and the only cause, of my padlocked lips. God forgive, and cleanse, and save me."
So the truth comes out. God knew it before, and we suspected it. Now Isaiah, and those likewise afflicted, see it, and God, and angels, and men hear it confessed. Uncleanness is
The Secret of Sealed Lips.
How can this be? Simple enough to those willing to know. Are you willing? Then we will try and show. There are some reasons evident enough.
I. WITH UNCLEANNESS THERE IS A SENSE OF PERPETUAL UNWORTHINESS FOR THE TASK. I am not what I profess. If I talk to the people they may reply, "Physician, heal thyself." My husband, my wife, my child, my neighbours, my workmates know that I don't live up to my profession. If I could look the crowd in the street or in the theatre, or anywhere else, in the face, and say, 'You all know what manner of life I live among you; and which of you can convince me of sin?' then I could stand up and boldly and fearlessly warn them to flee to Christ from the wrath to come."
2. UNCLEANNESS MEANS WEAKNESS. If a man is suffering from any kind of disease, he is unequal to any kind of hard work. Sin is a disease, and until the soul is perfectly cured, neither God nor man will get much hard work out of it. You feel too lazy and ease-loving to sacrifice yourself for Christ and souls. Here is the reason:--
3. UNCLEANNESS MEANS IDOLS. Idols are weights, and weights hinder any man or woman running or racing or doing anything for God. These are the brakes on the wheels--here is the secret why thousands are dumb and silent while a guilty world goes on its way unwarned to hell. I
4. UNCLEANNESS MEANS PERPETUAL CONDEMNATION.
Condemnation is always more or less accompanied by clouds of doubts and fears and gloom which obscure the soul's vision of Divine things. Heaven and Hell, and judgment, and Calvary, and Divine things generally, are only dimly seen, and as the result the soul is influenced and exercised by natural things, and the soul is silent--cannot or will not run and speak for God.
5. AND FURTHER, AND STILL MORE IMPORTANT--UNCLEANNESS SHUTS OUT INSPIRATION. -- God dwells not in an unsanctified heart, and, therefore, speaks not through unsanctified lips. From an unclean heart God, who only can create courage and zeal, and pity and fill with light and love and power, is absent. If you are to have your lips opened and be a messenger for the Most High God, you want a message, otherwise how can you deliver the Word of the Lord?
WHAT IS THE REMEDY? Here it is--a live coal, a red-hot coal, from off the Divine altar, that is from the Divine heart, which, touching you, will make your heart red-hot, A seraphim took one to Isaiah--never mind who brings it to YOU, whether a Seraphim or a Salvationist! You can't get it wrong if you get the right fire. Fire-mind, not ice. FIRE, and PURIFYING FIRE. The moment it touched Isaiah, his iniquity was taken away, and his sin was purged. Oh, for this fire! Blessed seraphim, come again! God is no respecter of persons. He came again at Pentecost--at least the same fire came again whoever brought it. And again and again and again since then. Repeat Thy visits, and touch the lips of every Salvation Soldier in our ranks.
But this means something on the part of Salvation Army Soldiers. What is it? It means TWO PRESENTATIONS.
1st, FOR THE PURIFYING PROCESS. To be clean. Can you do this, my comrades? Have you counted the cost of what is intended on your part by being a saint indeed?
"I can't be peculiar," said a sister the other day, as she rose from the Holiness Penitent-form. "I cannot be singular among all my friends." So she took away with her the trappings of her pride, the signs of her bondage, and went without the fire. She wanted to be useful, and felt she must have as a qualification the live coal: but she would not pay the price.
Count the cost, and honestly pay it. Better, keep your property, O Ananias and Sapphira, than give it the Lord, and then hold part of it back.
Present yourself, with honest purpose, all you have, and are, and hope to have, and be. Wait. Expect. Trust. And now the Mighty Spirit comes with purging fire and quickening flame, and Isaiah exclaims, "My iniquity is taken away and my sin is purged, my uncleanness is gone--heart and lips unclean no longer."
Hold there, Isaiah. What is it you say? Beware of Absolute perfection. Sinlessness, Conceitedness? Beware! What, do you say? All my iniquity is taken away, and all my sin is purged? How do you know? The seraphim said so, and I believe him. It is gone; I have no iniquity now, it is taken away; and I have no sin, it is purged. All glory to God for ever. Hallelujah! I HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!
Is that all your authority? Oh, no; I have authority beyond that. I feel it, I know it. My clean heart testifies to the fact, my iniquity is taken away, and my sin is purged.
Amen, Isaiah. We believe you, and what God has cleansed, Heaven forbid that we should call unclean or common.
What follows next? Why, as a natural consequence of the whole thing, there is another presentation. What is that? Hark! the voice of Jehovah is still sounding in the depths of Isaiah's soul, and what was discord before is grandest and divinest music now. Hear it, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And the purged, cleansed soul of Isaiah rises up and goes down at Jehovah's feet, while every part and particle of his sanctified being responds
"Here am I, send me."
II. THE PRESENTATION FOR SERVICE. Send me. To Jerusalem, to France, to America, to my own town or home, ay, anywhere, to be a prophet, to be an officer, to be a private, anything, only let my cleansed lips be fired more and more, that I may with power and blessing deliver the message of my Lord.
This presentation for service is a very different thing from saying, "Here I am, and I hope here I shall be allowed to remain. But still if I should be wanted, well, I hope--I mean to be ready to go." There is no fire about that. None of the burning eagerness to go and do something worthy of the King and of His message.
Thank God we have seen not a few who with a hearty readiness to do or die, have offered themselves up when the call has been made at many a council of war. In town after town whole companies of men and women, after hearing stories of war and hardship, that could not but show them, plainly enough, to what sorrows and difficulties we are called, have come to me begging to be sent out, and hundreds have left situation, friends, and home, to become officers of the Army.
What, indeed, would be the use to us of a presentation which did not amount to this? Have you made such a presentation of yourself to God, or are you still in the "I should like" region? Oh, if you are, do come out without further delay, and render to God the things that are God's, your spirit, soul, and body--your life, your all, henceforth for evermore.
12. THE CHILD JESUS.
"He gave His only-begotten Son."
GAVE Him? Yes. To whom? The world--all men. "Unto us a Child is born." That means me, you, everybody. What have you done with the gift?
The angels sang about it. Have you? That is, have you made real melody in your heart about it?--been inwardly merry and glad?
The Wise Men of the East travelled a long, long journey to adore Him. If He came again in the same way and the same place, I suppose you would want to do a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to worship Him, and I suppose you would want to take some present with you to lay at His feet. Do you worship Him here in the very town and house where yon live? And what sort of a present are you going to lay at His feet this Christmas time?
Oh, how Mary cherished Him! I suppose no heart can imagine what a joy that Child, that Holy Child, was to her. Whatever He meant to others, Jesus meant to her four things. First, He meant LOVE. She loved Him as He has been seldom loved since. She at least loved Him with all her heart. Is it so with you!
Secondly, He meant also, as He always means, SORROW To her, as to thousands more, He came, not to bring peace, but a sword--a sword that pierced her heart with unutterable anguish. From the stable to the cross she followed, and followed closely in His track of anguish and blood. Are you following Him in the cross-bearing way?
Thirdly, He meant also to Mary service CONSECRATION. She desired nothing higher. Her joy and life and rapture was to wait upon and cherish and serve Him. Are you His servant?
Fourthly, to His mother He brought joy and HONOUR AND GLORY. The sorrow of his lifetime and the agony of His cross were followed by the joy of resurrection and the glory of the baptism of fire. And, oh! brother, sister, comrade, has Christ brought to your heart not only the Bethlehem and Gethsemane and Calvary, but Resurrection and Pentecost and the glory of having a share in the gathering of a world to His feet?O Christ! I used to say,
Help me to come to Thee;
But can I say it now,
When Christ has come to me?
Dear Presence in my soul,
Where Thou dost find Thy rest,
Why seek Thee in the skies
When dwelling in my breast?
His voice is on my lips,
His tear bedews mine eye,
His home is in my Soul,
He cannot be more nigh.
But no! He is not now
A Christ that dwells apart;
But near as life with life
He dwells within my heart.
I WANT to speak to-night as briefly as is consistent with the discharge of my duty in relation to this topic, seeing that I am surrounded by brethren whose varied experiences may really be of more practical service to you than any statement I can make.
It seems to me that there is a large amount of uncertainty abroad amongst us on the subject of holiness. Many of our people appear to live in what may be called an indefinite land; they are all uncertainty and fear. If you ask the questions: "Have you got a clean heart? has the Lord made, and does He keep you holy?" you can get no distinct answer either one way or the other.
Now, this is largely the result of misapprehension. People don't know what is intended by a clean heart, or how it is to be got, or how it is to be kept; hence, on the one hand, it is not sought, or being sought and, as I believe, in many cases obtained, people are in such ignorance of where they are, and how they got there, as to be easily beguiled into unbelief, and so lose it. They have no knowledge of the devices of Satan, and so give him an advantage over them.
Now, to-night I want, if possible, to state plainly what at least our views are on this theme. In doing so, I may premise that I have no new truth to set forth; the doctrine in as old as the Book. May the Holy Spirit enable me to develop and explain it!
Holiness to the Lord is to us a fundamental truth; it stands in the front rank of our doctrines. We inscribe it upon our banners. It is with us in no shape or form an open debatable question as to whether God can sanctify wholly, or whether Jesus does save His people from their sins. In the estimation of The Salvation Army that is settled for ever: and any Officer who did not hold and proclaim the ability of Jesus Christ to save His people to the uttermost from sin and from sinning, I should consider out of place amongst us. But--
WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY HOLINESS?
Here, perhaps, the surest way of making ourselves understood will be to begin with two or three simple statements of truth.
1. THAT ALL UNSAVED MEN ARE TOTALLY UNHOLY. We all hold that, when man reaches the age of accountability, grace finds him with a heart completely and thoroughly depraved--deprived of grace, without God, and under the power and domination of his selfish and sinful appetites. This condition is thorough--entire. In his flesh there dwelleth no good thing. We need not quote Scripture; we know that its testimony, no less than our experience and observation, describes and demonstrates the fact that man in his natural state is totally gone away from God, and that, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, he is all wounds and bruises and putrifying sores.
2. I WANT TO REMARK THAT HOLINESS, IN ITS BROAD SIGNIFICATION, MEANS SEPARATION FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS AND CONSECRATION TO GOD. Nay, it means that the soul is brought in to a state in which it has both the liberty and the ability to serve God as He desires, and that it constantly does so.
3. I REMARK THAT IN THE EARLY STAGES OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE THIS DELIVERANCE IS ONLY PARTIAL That is, although the soul is delivered from the domination and power of sin, and is no longer the slave of sin, still there are the remains of the carnal mind as roots of bitterness left in the heart, which springing up, trouble the soul, often lead it into sin, and which, if not continually fought against and kept under, grow up, attain their old power, and bring the soul again into bondage. Nevertheless in this state the soul when faithful has peace with God, the guidance, energy, and witness of the Holy Spirit, which together create in the soul a blessed certainty of salvation, and a joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. All this is, however, perfectly compatible with the conscious existence of sin in the soul.
THIS DELIVERANCE FROM SIN may be ENTIRE. Not only can Agag be taken captive, but hewn in pieces. Sin can not only be held in bondage but destroyed--the Philistines can be entirely driven out of the land.
There are three broad and well-defined relations in which a man can stand towards sin. He can be, First, UNDER SIN, Secondly, OVER SIN, 3rdly, WITHOUT SIN.
1. HE CAN BE UNDER SIN. Every man we have seen begins here. He is not only guilty and exposed to the PENALTY, which God has in infinite wisdom and benevolence attached to the transgression of that law, which constitutes the great axis on which the universe revolves. but he is under its POWER. Even when enlightened to see its cruel and ruinous character, and yearning for deliverance, he is powerless to free himself from its iron grip. He is a slave to the tyrant. He is under sin. But--
2. HE CAN BE OVER SIN. It may be that the pride, envy, anger, malice, lust, or whatsoever other evils ruled him with a rod of iron before; may be there. Bruised and broken and faint they may be, but still they exist; but the Master has taken them from the throne of the soul and given the saint power over them. He is now no longer under sin, but under grace. They--that is, the old habits and tempers and tendencies and inclinations--can still make their presence felt; they can whisper and suggest and claim and rise up, but they are no longer the masters. The Philistines are still there--the old proprietors of the land, but they are put under harrows and saws and instruments of iron, and held in bondage. The soul in this state has POWER OVER SIN.
But there is another state, and that is--
3. WITHOUT SIN. In which the promise of the Holy Ghost in Ezekiel is fulfilled when He says, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you."
In this experience this engagement is fulfilled, and Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians, and through them for all saints, is answered. The God of peace sanctifies wholly, and the whole body, soul, and spirit is preserved blameless.
Now, 1 am free to confess that about this state there may be difficulties and perplexities. I simply insist that it is described in the Bible, and that the descriptions of the Bible have been verified by the experience of thousands of saints. It means a clean heart, being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit--sanctified wholly, being made perfect in every good work, and God working in the soul all the good pleasure of His will.
It implies --
1. Full deliverance from all known sin.
2. The consecration of every power and possession to God and His work.
3. Constant and uniform obedience to all the requirements of God.
Now don't let us get into confusion by mistaking each other.
We don't say
Without imperfection, both physical and mental. We still suffer as the consequence of the fall from disease, and are liable to mistakes and errors, although I am not going to limit in this respect the power and willingness of the Holy Ghost to guide into truth and keep from error. There are some wonderful promises in the Bible, holding out some mighty possibilities in this direction. Who amongst us will prove the full extent of the Master's engagement to become unto us wisdom? and who will seek and enjoy to the uttermost that anointing of the Holy Ghost, which is to teach us all things?
Not without temptation. If the inside enemies have been cast out there are those without, and they will become in consequence all the more fierce and furious and cunning too, I may say, in their attempts to regain possession.
Nor without the possibility of falling. That is, of falling from this state. The angels of heaven, who kept not their first estate, and Adam, who unquestionably was sinless in Paradise, fell, and this side the celestial city it is a debatable question whether any condition can be reached from which we may not fall.
Nor is it merely without deliberate sin. There seems to me no state of saintship when a man can deliberately sin without losing the favour of God, and having to repent and go back to the fountain to regain it. "He that is born of God doth not commit sin."
No! it is not without temptation, or trouble, or affliction, or error; it is still a condition of conflict, and suffering, and danger, but WITHOUT SIN. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and with a heart full of love to God, and everybody else, the soul has no consciousness of sin.
Now, there is the blessing of holiness, as I understand it, to be taught in the Scriptures; and I now want to ask you what you ought to do with regard to it; and to this question I reply--
1. GET IT. It must strike every Christian as a pearl of great price. In every renewed soul there is an eye that can admire purity, and an appetite that hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and an instinct that unceasingly yearns to be like the King's most admired daughter-all glorious within. You will never rightly understand it till you have it. Like all other problems in religious experience, it must be experienced to be understood.
GET IT; but how? To this question I reply by asking two others, and the first is --
What is it that you want, to be made clean and happy and holy? You answer, your heart and life, your body, soul, and spirit, and all the activities that flow from them. Good and true! Then your first work is to bring all that you want thus sanctified to God: in other words, you must separate yourselves in choice and purpose, and, so far as you have power, from all known sin, or even that which is doubtful, and present all before God for the purpose of being thus sanctified. You can test yourself here. Do you want to be a holy man? Holy in thought, feeling, conversation, business, holy always, Sabbath and week days, holy altogether! Come along then, my brother, bring your brain, your heart, your tongue, your business, your family, your all, to God; It is no use crying to God to cleanse you wholly while keeping something back. For a full salvation you must bring an undivided consecration.
Reservation is one secret of the weakness prevalent among God's children, and the cause of three-fourths of the failures in this higher walk of the Divine life. It is astonishing to find what trumpery, worthless idols are cherished and clung to by those who are really powerfully exercised on this subject. Let us make a clean sweep, and offer all. And then, my brethren, and then, my sisters, the Lord will say of you, "They have brought Me what I desire, what I have asked for, what I gave My Son's life-blood to buy, what I prize more than the sun and the stars and the world, --they have brought me their Hearts! Now make haste, and let us sprinkle them with blood to make them whiter than snow, and let us beautify and adorn and ennoble and dwell in them for ever."
And then, my brother, who is to accomplish this revolution in your soul, and finish the new creation already begun? Who is going to make you holy? Your evangelist, whom, you have been informed, enjoys and preaches the blessing? The holiness-meeting you love to attend? That strong will of yours? That book you are going to read? No, not these things all put together, nor your faith, nor the Book of books into the bargain. Let me ask, who saved you? The living God, and He is going to sanctify you. If ever done, He will do it. He will do it all. What follows? Why, simply this: that when you have brought yourself to God, you have nothing more to do but simply to trust Him. Roll yourself on His promise, plunge in the fountain, honour the blood: but, oh! do it NOW!
Some of you are old and grey-headed, and you have been hearing, and reading, and talking about this blessing a long, long time, but you are little or no forwarder, and, my brethren, you won't be until you trust the living God, and then it will be done at once.
Oh, how hard we are upon poor sinners who won't have pardon, and oh! how hard the angels are upon saints who won't have purity. All that is wanted is the presentation of yourself to God, and the simple trust that He does this moment fully save you. This is easy, and it is hard, my brethren, just because it is so easy. If He had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? Away to Jesus, then, and let Him do the work, and do it now.
To you, my brethren, as leaders of the armies of the God of Israel, I need not say how all important is the realisation and enjoyment of holiness.
I. IT IS A CONDITION OF HAPPINESS. I think we may say, without fear of contradiction, that a man's happiness depends upon his RIGHTNESS. You are in the train, and suddenly it pulls up, far from any station, in the middle of some tunnel. Your wife gets nervous; you put your head out of the window, you can see nothing; but here comes the guard; you ask the reason, and he replies, "All right." You close the window, and recompose yourself for the continuance of your nap. But had there been a doubt as to something being wrong --a breakdown in the engine, or a train on before, or one coming just after, you would have been naturally afraid, and your comfort would have been gone until that fear of something wrong had been removed. No man can be happy while there is a fear in him that something is wrong.
Now here you stand for a few moments on the railroad of existence, with three great interests, each of which infinitely concerns you.
THERE IS THE PAST -- the dark, sinful, imperfect past, with all its memories crowding in upon you. How do you stand with relation to it?
There is THE FUTURE, with its intricate and untrodden maze, its unexplored and unknown sorrows and joys, with the cold river of death, and the great white throne just beyond, and close by that throne there are the open gates of heaven and hell. How do you stand in relation to the future?
Then there is THE PRESENT, clustering with cares and anxieties, and burdens and duties, rising out of personal, family, and worldly relationships. Now, my brethren, you are every one of you face to face with such a past, such a future, and such a present: have you realised such a trust in the living God as brings into your hearts the springing happiness which flows from the sense of rightness and consequent safely in these relations? It is not "Can you say!" but" Do you feel!" that the past is under the blood, that the future is in the hands of a loving Providence who cannot, will not err, and that you really have nothing to do but to live the present moment to and for God? Oh, my brethren, none but holy men and women have reached this state, to be saved from fear and anxiety about past, present, and future, THOUGHTFULLY SAVED; and yet deep and abiding happiness is impossible without this.
2. HOLINESS IS INDISPENSABLE TO YOUR COMPLETEST USEFULNESS.
My comrades, you know the way of life and the blessedness of religion. You can tell something of the love of God and the joys of the redeemed. You can pray, and sing, and lead out to battle the armies of the King. What else is wanting to complete your qualifications for doing the greatest possible amount of good, but that you shall be able to say to your people that which I publish as attainable of personal peace and joy and communion with God--I enjoy myself? I am saved, Saved inside and out! Saved to the uttermost! Saved now and saved every day! Moreover, my brethren, there is something above and beyond the mighty influence which flows from, and must ever accompany, such a testimony as that I have named, and that is the mighty power that accompanies the life itself. A sanctified life means a gentle, tender spirit; it means a fearless, undaunted zeal; it means the accompanying manifestation of the Holy Ghost. It is the prelude and condition and assurance of the enduement of power; and, my brethren, the realisation of the blessing is --
3. THE CONDITION OF THE PERPETUAL INDWELLING OF GOD.
You often sing "Abide with me;" and you want Him not for a transient hour, but as an abiding guest. He is so far already the beloved of your soul that His presence makes your paradise, and where He is, is heaven. My brethren, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we shall have fellowship with Him, and He Himself has said, "if any man will keep My words. My Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make our abode with him." With Him you have all things and abound, all things for present and future, for yourselves and your families and your people; the full equipment and qualification and guarantee of success in the great work of pulling down the kingdom of Satan and establishing and extending the kingdom of God.
Brethren, be ye holy, but be holy now.
14. THE TRIAL AND TRIUMPH OF ABRAHAM.
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him,
Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
"And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,
and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering
upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." --GEN. 22:1,2.
ABRAHAM made a great profession of religion, as every man will who has any to profess. But Abraham was extraordinarily religious, and he used to say as much. He said he loved God with all his heart, that he had the most boundless confidence in the Divine direction, that all he had was on the altar, that wife, family, goods, life were all given up to the service of God. He used to argue that it was just as sensible and reasonable for him to do everything that God told him in that country where he lived, as it would be when he carne to live in Paradise. And he even went so far as to say that no matter what might happen he would be faithful, and that anywhere and everywhere God might reckon on his doing His will as the angels did it in heaven.
This great profession of Abraham's made a great stir. It was talked about in all directions. Some, the open enemies of God, mocked and made sport of it; they said every man had his price, and that somewhere there was a temptation for every man, which if brought face to face with him would be sure to pull him down. In short, they said, Let Abraham only be tried in a tender place, and he will go over, like anyone else.
Others of those who professed to be the friends of God, but who did not believe in extremes, said such faithfulness was impossible; they held that sin--that is, disobedience--was a necessity, No man could reckon on persevering in unswerving loyalty and faithfulness to the end; it was good for people to fall now and then, and it was calculated to deepen their humility to expect it. Moreover, this class specially doubted about Abraham because there were "shadows" on his past life. He had made several ugly slips that had been, might be, nay "they felt certain" would be, again; therefore they reckoned Abraham's confidence as little short of presumption.
Moreover, God Himself seems to have been in some uncertainty concerning Abraham, not whether he was all he professed at the time, this Jehovah knew full well, but He does seem to have felt some doubt whether there might not be some stress of temptation before which Abraham's supreme affection for Him would: give way.
So Jehovah resolved to settle this controversy for ever, Abraham should be tested. He would Himself" tempt "--that is, try him, and that in such a manner that there should be neither room nor reason for further discussion while the world stood. God effected this by giving Abraham the remarkable command quoted at the head of this paper.
How Abraham received the message, rose up, made the necessary preparations for the journey, and went off the nearest way, pausing not until he reached the place appointed for this sacred tragedy, is not only recorded in the Bible, but is known throughout the whole world. It is also known that in doing this Abraham gave to us one of the most wonderful and effective illustrations ·of obedience to God recorded on the pages of history. And from this interesting chapter in Abraham's life I want to gather a few practical lessons.
Now this obedience is only another word for the active side of religion; and a very important side it is, and unless it is well understood, and better still, well practised, all the other sides of religion will soon disappear. So let us consider this wonderful exhibition which Abraham here makes of this holy habit, Now before we go any further, we want to make two preliminary observations; we want to make them in the interest of the reader, and as being helpful to his extracting all the honey possible from this lion-hearted exhibition of thought and character.
I. THAT ABRAHAM WAS A MAN SUBJECT TO AND POSSESSED OF LIKE PASSIONS WITH OURSELVES. That is, that he was a man after the fashion of ordinary men, with the same feelings, as a father, husband, and so forth, and that we are not to regard this noble action as the outcome of some altogether exceptional spirit, some iron will or superhuman power possessed by him; but that, being just such an one as ourselves, we may naturally hope to be able, under similar circumstances, to do the same.
II. THAT GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS IN THE BESTOWMENT OF DIVINE POWER. Therefore that any man may lay claim, and actually receive into himself, as much Divine grace and power as will enable him to acquit himself as manfully before God and man as did Abraham.
Now let us inquire into the statement we have made, that in this incident we have set forth the very essence of Divine obedience. Come along, and we will show how God desires to be obeyed. Perhaps some one may come across these lines who is somewhat concerned about the forms and ceremonies of re1igionabout sacraments, observances, and services--about sacred places and times, and other things. I will show you what is far more important in the estimation of Jehovah, for with Him to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. But enough of the introductory. We remark --
I. THAT IN THIS OBEDIENCE OF ABRAHAM THERE ARE ALL THE QUALITIES OF THAT OBEDIENCE WHICH GOD SEEKS FROM ALL HIS PEOPLE.
I. To begin with, Abraham's obedience was of that kind that stopped at no sacrifices. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a more painful duty than the one which God enjoined on the patriarch when He gave him this command. We think we are safe when we defy anyone to imagine any injunction more calculated to fill the heart with anguish than this. Just look at it.
It was against the whole tide of his fatherly affection. Let any of you, fathers or mothers or anyone else who can form any conception of the deep well of love there is in the heart of a father for his boy, try to imagine how you would feel if a similar commandment came to you. Put yourself in Abraham's place. He must take his boy, the son of his old age whom he had nursed up to the dawn of manhood, whom he had loved as he had loved no other child, --he must take this boy Isaac, and with his own hands put him to death, and offer him for a burnt offering. Now mark that, but further --
For Abraham to obey God in this request was the swallowing up, so far as he could judge, of all the joy and gladness of his household. That boy was the chief treasure of his wife. Abraham probably felt that however she might agree with him so far as her will was concerned, it would probably kill her. He was the light and gladness of his tent. What pleasure would there be for him in his table or his hearth or his flocks or his herds or his fields? What would all be without Isaac? A blank. Take all a thousand times told, and spare him Isaac. Take Isaac, and he cares not what becomes of all besides. But God asks for Isaac. Shall he obey?
The death of Isaac was the destruction of all the earthly schemes of ambition which Abraham had cherished. To found a family, live over again in his son and his son's sons to distant generations, had doubtless engaged the old man's attention and hopes for a long time. Isaac was his heir. He had instructed and trained him to this end. All his long-cherished plans centered in him. And now that all seems ripening for the realization of his purpose, this strange command has come, and Isaac must die. Can he comply?
But more than this -- for Isaac to die was the death of all the hopes Jehovah had Himself caused Abraham to cherish, that he was to be the founder of a great religious denomination, the father of a vast multitude of the saved sons of Jehovah, who in some wonderful manner should be the means of blessing and saving the world. All this had been growing and expanding in Abraham's soul from and before the birth of the boy, and here and now, in the most sudden, unexpected, and unheard-of manner, every hope and calculation is to be annihilated. Isaac is to die and Abraham is to offer him up himself, and so not only kill Isaac, but put to death all the joy and hope of his existence. And yet Abraham did this. He went through with it.
That was the kind of obedience Abraham gave Jehovah. His was none of your cheap, easy, self-considerate kind of service, that cost him little, consisting mostly of form and ceremony and talk, --service which was great in sentiment and profession of what it would do, but which edged off all the commandments and duties which meant hardship and suffering and loss. God said to Abraham, "Do this," and although it seemed like giving up all the light and joy of existence, yet he did it.
Oh, listen to this, all ye people, who talk about all the hard things you have to do for God. Come along, my comrades, with the stories of the sacrifices, and presentations, and mobbings, and fightings, and temptations you have to endure in following Jesus Christ.
Look at this old patriarch. Journey with him. Enter into his feelings. Share his anguish. And then stand prepared for the same path of consecration that he trod. God asks the same spirit from everyone of His servants. There is no other way.
To obey God then, as now, meant often, if not always, to disobey men. To please God meant then, as now, to displease yourself and your neighbours and the devil, and to make things very unpleasant all round in a general sort of way. To keep right with God by doing His will was, as now, to get wrong and keep wrong with kindred and friends and fellow-workmen, and many others with whom it is far more pleasant to keep right. Many people spend a lifetime in trying to harmonize the service of God and man, and to please at the same time God and the devil. But it is impossible, my comrades. There are not two standards of service--one a painful one for Abraham, and the other an easy one for you. To obey God you must follow Abraham, and with an obedience that shrinks from no sacrifice.
2. Abraham's obedience was of the kind that went forward independent of all human encouragement. He does not seem to have had a solitary heart to confide in, or to lean upon. It is very improbable that he should have breathed a word to Sarah. He spared her tender soul. It would have possibly been more than a mother's feelings could have endured. And all alone he received the message, all alone he carried the burden of that grief on his heart. Not a word could he whisper to the servant, not a word, above all, could he breathe to Isaac. What a three days in the wilderness it must have been! What an opportunity for the devil. Seldom equalled. Oh, it must have been a terrible ordeal for the grand old Patriarch!
Oh, man's is a clinging nature, always feeling about for other hearts of kindred mould to lean upon. And sympathy, human sympathy, is a very tower of strength. The hurrahs of the bystanders, the cheers of comrades, have carried men many a time through deeds of daring and suffering and sacrifice, far beyond ordinary human strength and endurance. All this was denied Abraham. Still on he went. He walked the ocean of this agony all alone.
So, more or less, every true man of God has to stand alone.
There are sorrows and questionings, and sometimes very demons in his own breast, and ofttimes outside of it, with which a man has to fight, with no human heart or hand to help him.
3. Abraham exhibited the true spirit of obedience in obeying God straight away. I don't know when he received the message, probably during the night, and the next morning he was away to fulfill the command. Here was no waiting, no begging for time to make preparation. It would have taken some people I know a long, long time to have got ready for such a terrible business. But not so with Abraham; he only needed to know that God wanted his son; and although it was a dreadfully painful trouble to him, he rose early in the morning to obey. Now, my comrades, that is the way to do the will of God; no hanging back, and begging for time, and then being driven up to it with all the reluctance that an ox goes to the slaughter. "Straight away!" is the word, whether you like the business or not. Does God want you to do it? Then hurry up! Make haste to do His will!
4. With Abraham there was no quibbling, and cavilling, about the rightness or wrongness of the command. There is nothing in the narrative to lead us to imagine that he lost any time in arguing the matter over with the Lord. He does not seem to have regarded the matter as being peculiarly mysterious, or waited until Jehovah gave such explanations as satisfied him about the wisdom and profitableness of the course He wished him on this occasion to take. He did not understand the why and wherefore of the matter, of that we may be assured; one thing, and I should think that was the only thing he did understand about the matter, was, that God wanted him to offer Isaac for a burnt offering on Moriah. That was plain enough--sadly too plain, he understood that, and went and did it.
Blind obedience do you call it? Well, perhaps so. It was obedience, and that was what God wanted, and that is all we care for. Let us have obedience, whether sightless or seeing. There is plenty of obedience blind enough to human laws and regulations. Earthly lords, and commanders, and masters exact it with all rigour and strictness, and but for it, in soldiers, and sailors, and workers, and children, in short, in men generally, this world would soon come to a standstill. And yet, in dealing with God, there are multitudes whose attitude seems to say, "I want to know what I shall gain in this, or why should I inconvenience myself by doing that? Until I can understand the atonement and the resurrection and the judgment, I decline to trouble myself to do as God wants me," and, quibbling and waiting for the Almighty to enable them to comprehend the infinite, they stand out against the Divine requirements, and perish.
5. And yet this obedience of Abraham was rendered with the greatest deliberation. It was no mere spasm--a resolution formed overnight, under the pressure of some great excitement, only to be broken on the morrow. There is every evidence that, however exciting might be the feelings and circumstances under which the resolution was formed, it was made with the greatest determination, and adhered to in the coolest manner. Abraham carefully enquired whether this message was from God. Satisfied of that--quite sure--to his practical mind, what was there left for him to do but to set about the work?
So with truly obedient souls. Satisfied as to the course enjoined by God and duty, and the happiness of those about them, what do they want to know further? Their very next business is to obey. If, my comrades, you are not satisfied as to the call of Jehovah--not sure what He wants you to do in the matter--go and deliberate, consider, enquire, pray, but, when the light has come, and you see clearly the Divine will and the guiding hand, cease enquiring--the time for asking questions has gone by, and the hour of action has arrived. Away to your post. If you are bid to Moriah, go there, by the nearest path, and God help you, as He will help you, all the way, and, when you arrive, there may be for you what there was for Abraham, an equally agreeable surprise.
6. The obedience that Abraham manifested here was thorough.
Having put his hand to this plough--painful, and bloody, and agonising as it was, and bid fair to continue to be--he looked not behind him. Having begun the business, he went through with it, step by step, day by day. The nearer he came to Moriah, the firmer his resolution became. At last, the mount was reached, and the hour came, and the terrible act had to be performed, and now every feeling in his nature rises up against his compliance.
Some people imagine, or seem to imagine, that, by some sort of conjuring or spiritual magic, all that was painful was extracted from the sacrifices and losses these old worthies endured in obeying God, that, although the fire burnt sharp, it did not hurt. It is all a mistake--a foolish mistake. It was just as sorrowful and painful for Abraham to do this, that we have been describing, as it would have been for any father who reads this, and just as difficult. But God had said it must be done, and now that the moment has come, we may well enquire, will he flinch? Will he go through with it? Oh, yes! his heart is strong as ever, and he holds not back his sword from blood. Isaac is offered! God saw it, stayed the descending arm and the gleaming knife, and accepted the will for the deed. Isaac was offered, and yet Isaac was saved.
Oh! my comrades, come and meditate here. Do you see here the image of your own character? Is this your method of consecration and service? Is this the kind of obedience you make manifest in your daily lives? Do you go through with this Isaac-killing business after this fashion? Is this the way you offer up your love of ease, and society, and gain, and pleasure, things allowable, and things forbidden? and having been once convinced as to what the Lord requires, in spite of the pleadings of nature and family, and respectability, and friendship, and everything else, do you go through with it? Or are you among those of whom there are so many within the range of our own acquaintance, who are always coming to Moriah, who seem to spend the larger part of their lifetime in taking Isaac there, and bringing him again. They receive the command, feel its importance with tears and groans, and earnestness, resolve to obey--go through the inward agony of condemning the boy to die, pack up, travel off with him, reach the Mount, rear the altar, and even bind the lad, and then their hearts fail them; it is too much--they can't--they dare not--shed blood. Anyhow, not then, and Isaac is unbound, and they go back again to the place from whence they came -- the place of doubt, and fear, and uncertainty, and we are afraid often of godlessness, for does not God depart from such people?
Not so Abraham! Not so his true followers--his believing children. We are amongst those who not only believe, but obey; and, having begun, we go through with it, knowing that that man must be cursed in himself, and in the eyes of his fellows, and in the eyes of Jehovah, who, having begun to build, is not able to finish on account of his conferring with flesh and blood, and, verily, God has said-- "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
II. WE WANT NOW TO CONSIDER THE SECRET OF ABRAHAM'S ABILITY TO OBEY. How came it about, this blood and iron kind of service--this unflinching and unswerving discharge of duty? It is much admired everywhere. Oh, we do love the faithful spirit--the "die-at-your-post men and women"--but, alas! how scarce they are, and what a pity they are so, seeing they are so much wanted. People who have no courage for the hour of danger, no backbone, no capacity for standing alone, who dare not suffer, are of little or no use in this world. Soldiers who yield and run when the balls are flying, and their comrades are wounded, are no good; sailors who tremble and hide when the hurricane sweeps, and the masts snap, and the vessel leaks, are no good; and saints who have no courage for the hour of danger, who fly when the enemy comes in sight, are no good either. We want people who can go through with things, no matter who, or what, comes in the way, who can LITERALLY offer up the love of father and mother, and houses, and land, and ease, ay! and life itself, who can put all on the altar, and stay and see it burn to ashes, if it comes between them and duty. Well may we inquire, where is the secret of it all? What is it makes these Abrahamic people? Let us see!
First, ABRAHAM BELIEVED IN GOD. God was a reality to him, not a name, or a principle, or a good influence somewhere, but a living, almighty person, who spoke, and acted, and lived all about him, and had real power, and real love, and real hatred, a positive actual God. Abraham said so, thought so, was sure of it. That God was his Creator, Proprietor, Redeemer, and Judge, and if God really was the Maker of Isaac, if he owned and sustained him; then, surely, He had a right to his own, and when God told him to take him to Moriah, he took him there. What a hypocrite he would have been to have been pretending all this, professing, and singing, and praying about being a fully consecrated man, two or three times a week or more, and not really believing it all the time; or what a rebel he would have been if, believing it all, he had refused to obey, just because it was an unpleasant and painful duty on which God set him.
But he believed in God--all He said--all the time. God had realized Himself in Abraham's soul, and given His own Spirit to dwell there, making Abraham sure of the fact; and once assured of God, and such a God, this obedience became easy and natural. People are awfully down on men who say they are Atheists with their lips, while any number can be practical Atheists, anywhere and everywhere, without rebuke, so that they don't make any talk about it. Go and get sure about God, and then you will have no difficulty in obeying Him--while you are in doubt concerning such a being, no wonder that you are too weak to run in the way of His commandments. Talk about being frightened into obedience by punishments, by the fear of Hell; only get a proper idea of God, and you will be frightened enough of disobeying so great, and powerful, and holy a Being.
2. THE SECOND PART OF THE SECRET OF ABRAHAM'S OBEDIENCE IS FOUND IN THE FACT THAT HE LOVED GOD. The revelation Abraham had was a very imperfect one in many respects; very imperfect compared with ours; that is, so far as books go. He knew but little of the history of God's dealings with other souls, compared with what we do; but God had so sufficiently and directly revealed Himself to Abraham, as to create in his soul a very passion of affection for Him. He had shown Himself so good, and wise, and loving a being, that all Abraham's heart went out after Him--he loved God.
Do you want to gauge Abraham's love? Come along! bring your measuring line. Now, then, measure his love for Isaac, and Sarah, and home, and earthly greatness. Measure all, and when you have taken it all in, then remember that Abraham offered, without hesitation, all this to please Jehovah. Oh! how he loved Him! What will not love do? It was painful but easy for Abraham to give all up. He loved God so much, that he gave Him all his other loves, only loving them in Him. He had offered his Isaac, and all else, before to Jehovah, and so it was easy to offer him now.
3· ANOTHER SECRET OF THIS ACTION OF ABRAHAM'S WAS THAT HE KNEW THAT HE WAS OBEYING GOD. He had the command direct from Him. He heard His voice, it was not a thing done in any haphazard speculative sort of way--all in the darkness of spiritual uncertainty, sometimes thinking he was acting in obedience to the voice of man, and sometimes his own voice. He knew God had spoken, and this made it comparatively easy for him to obey.
How, when, and where he heard this voice, I don't know; perhaps it was an angel brought the message, or it might have been some hieroglyphic written communication, or it might have been a vision--God appearing, as was His wont in those days, in some earthly form, and speaking to him as a man does to his friends. Or it might have been in the depths of his inmost soul, that God made him feel the command. Anyhow, Abraham thought, and felt, and knew, indeed he was certain, that it was a message from God--God, the great God, whom he loved, who could not err, whose bidding might be beyond his comprehension, but who could not possibly tell him to do what was wrong. God bade him do this, and is it to be wondered at that he went and did it?
Now, my brethren, do you hear the voice of God in some form or other? Does He speak to you, so that you know it is He calling you forward in the path of duty and sacrifice, consecration and service? That it is a Divine commission you have. If you are in any doubt, as to whether God positively is directing, and leading, and guiding you, no wonder you are so much at sea, with regard to the things you try to do for Him. If ALL the authority you have in your soul for obedience is man-made, or is drawn from what you know other souls have rendered to Him, or from the lips of those who speak to you in His name, or even from that Holy Book itself, no wonder your sense of responsibility should be weak, and the driving wheel of your will should drag heavily in the direction of service and sacrifice. You will never go beyond the merely human, unless you have the supernatural in command. Your soul must hear, and know it hears, the voice of God Himself continually saying, "Thus saith the Lord;" and then your soul shall shake itself free from all the fears, fashions, and doubts which have possessed it, and, in the face of all possible difficulties and devils, offer a service as mighty as that which Abraham offered. Men--were they priests or anything else--might have thundered in his ears till doomsday, "Offer up Isaac!" They might have assured him till they were blue in the face, that they had a message from God that it was to be done, but they would have urged and exhorted in vain. God Himself must speak in Abraham's soul, and then Abraham rises up in a hurry to obey.
But there are some further elements in this secret of Abraham's obedience.
4. IN ABRAHAM'S SOUL THERE WAS DIVINE POWER. It was not enough for God to express His wishes to Abraham, but he must actually and positively, by His own Spirit, impart to Abraham's soul the power to trample on the human within him, and to obey this command. There was a putting forth in Abraham of the natural, human resolution. He wanted to obey God. He said he would obey God. He rose up and actually went forth to obey God, and with the putting forth of this resolution, and the acting as if he had the power to obey --that is reckoning and relying on God to give him power--there came forth from God that gracious ability, that supernatural strength, that enabled him to render this act of obedience, which will make him the pattern of the faithful down to the end of time.
5. ONE MORE ELEMENT IN THIS OBEDIENCE WAS, THAT HE OBEYED SHARP--that is, he went straight off and did it. That was, in all human probability, his only chance. If he had tarried, and argued, and postponed, and conferred with flesh and blood, the probability is he would have been worsted and defeated --some excuses would have been found, and Isaac would never have been offered. But no! He went off promptly to obey.
He did not wait for pleasant feelings, as many do; he just went off with his heart torn and bleeding as it was, to do as he was told.
He did not wait to consult any wise, religious people, any one specially advanced and experienced. We have no reason to suppose that he mentioned the matter to a soul. The probability is that, had he done so, he would have been persuaded of it. Had he felt led to lay the matter before some body of elders, or before a committee of management; or had he sought the advice and blessing of some church meeting, he would have had such a revelation of the difficulties connected with the course proposed that he would never have gone to Moriah at all, No! he knew the mind of God on the matter, and that was enough for him.
Just so with you, my comrades, and every one else, as far as that goes; if you want to do right, on pleasant or unpleasant lines, go straight at it; get satisfied as to what you ought to do, and then give up deliberating. Cease weighing the matter over, getting the advice of good, timid people, and at once commit yourself, in the most emphatic and public manner possible, to the doing of the thing. This is your only chance, and if you don't act in this way ten to one if you act in the right way at all.
Oh! what hosts of people there are who are continually coming up to sacrifice, and consecration, and service, and they know what the great God wants from them, and they don't get any further. They believe it is very good. They believe in God. They love Him very much. They want His blessing so that they may be the means of life and salvation to multitudes. They would like that, they would like it very much, but there is some duty--some Isaac to be offered--some work to be done. They get the message from God concerning this duty. They know it is from God; they see they ought to obey--they want to obey--they make up their minds to obey, cost them what it may, BUT THEY WON'T DO IT JUST THEN. The subject must be attended to--thought upon, but they don't want to act hastily. The devil says, Don't act hastily, the matter will keep a day or two; and so it does, and when the day or two is past, they see less reason for haste; and less reason for the sacrifice, and less and less until the whole thing is indefinitely postponed. In other words, God tells them to offer Isaac. They perceive that they ought to offer him. Heaven, and earth, and hell say, Offer him; but they refuse obedience; it is right to make the offering, and they intend fully to make it, but there are many satisfactory reasons why it cannot be done just NOW. What does Jehovah care about their reasons? What He wants is not reasons, but obedience. If you feel you ought to do a thing, don't reason, don't wait, but do it, and DO IT SHARP.
Oh, my comrades, again I say what I have said before--when you see your duty, that is the moment for action. Don't let that moment slip, and so miss the power of it, for, perchance, you will never be as strong again. It is high water in your soul. Float off on the flood for action. While you hear God saying, "Take now thy son," take him NOW, and God will assuredly go with you; but if you say, "I will take him some other time," it is ten to one that you will never take him at all. Now then, --
III. WHAT CAME OF THIS OBEDIENCE OF ABRAHAM? What were the results? Were there any that justified the message and the deed? We think there were.
And, first, ABRAHAM HEREBY PROVED THAT HIS RELIGION WAS A REALITY. He was no make-believe servant, who would not serve, but a loyal out-and-out man of God, good and sound to the core, regenerated--indeed, made anew--made good, and, therefore, capable of doing good. If anyone says he was not, I take my stand alongside him on Mount Moriah, with knife in hand and eyes lifted up to heaven, and Isaac bound helpless on the altar, and say, "If this scene does not prove that Abraham was loyal, through and through, neither to be bought nor affrighted, then nothing can be proved."
He satisfied himself. I don't know how far he had been confident before this occasion about the loyalty of his own soul to God, come what might. He might have been saved from doubts before this, but, one thing I do know, he believed in himself after Moriah, not in his own merit or his own strength, but he believed in the integrity of his own renewed, regenerated heart. Satan never tempted him any more about his being a hypocrite. This settled even the devil on that score.
He satisfied his neighbors. If there were any who used to mutter, and grumble, and sneak about, whispering in anyone's ears, who would listen, that Abraham's religion was all a form, or done because it paid, or for any other worldly, fleshly consideration, this incident, when it got out, shut them up once and for ever; their backbiting business came to a stand, so far as Abraham was concerned. Their lying slanders came to an end, because no one could be found to listen to them. Whatever opinions were formed as to Abraham's religion, there was only one as to his reality. They might fall back upon doubts as to his sanity; but there could be none as to his sincerity. He might be a fanatic, or a fool, or something else, but he had proved once and for ever that he was all he professed, and ever so much more.
Abraham satisfied posterity. I am satisfied anyhow, and I have hard work to believe in the sincerity of any man who reads this narrative, who is not satisfied also, that Abraham was a grand, majestic saint, whose love and service did honour to the Lord whom he served.
Abraham satisfied Jehovah. In whatever form God had doubted Abraham, as He watched him build the altar, prepare the wood, bind the lad, and lay him thereon, and then lift up the knife to strike the fatal blow, He doubted him no more. Then He spoke and said, -- "I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thy only son, from Me." God was satisfied of Abraham's loyalty, and told him so. What a blessed assurance that was to Abraham, and, to the music of that declaration, Abraham marched back home again.
And as that was a pleasant declaration to Abraham, it is no less agreeable to other hearts to have the testimony that they please God. For a man to be able to say of himself and to himself, with his own voice, in all sincerity and truth before the Lord, "I know in Whom I believe, I am all I profess, I fight a good fight, I keep the faith, I love and fear God," is very precious indeed. For a man to hear his family, and neighbours, and friends, unitedly testify to his uprightness, and honour, and sincerity, is very agreeable, but for a man to hear the voice of Jehovah sounding in the depths of his heart, "I KNOW that thou fearest Me," must be, nay is, the most blessed bliss-creating music to be heard in the earth beneath, or in the heavens above. Abraham had this music--Jehovah purified him and purged him as gold and silver, and he offered unto the Lord then, and ever after, the offering of a life of righteousness. And he knew it. My comrades, God told him it was so. And you may have the same holy, consecrated life, and have the same Divine Witnesser to the fact.
2. WE ARE HERE FURNISHED WITH EVIDENCE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF DOING ALL GOD REQUIRES FROM US. Abraham had a hard task. We have seen that it was difficult to imagine a more difficult one, one more impossible to flesh and blood. But he did it. Went through it victoriously, to the declared satisfaction of the Lawgiver.
On the one hand we stand amazed, verily staggered at the length and breadth of the requirement God made on the patriarch when He said, "Give me Isaac." On the other hand, we are equally amazed and staggered at the power exhibited in Abraham when he rose up to the full level of the Divine requirement, and said, "My Lord, here he is." Would you exalt the law, my brother, would you magnify it? Would you set forth to the utmost what it claims? Very good. Excellent, indeed! But allow me, at the same time, to exalt the Gospel, and to do something, at least, towards setting forth the length and breadth of that uttermost sufficient supply of spiritual ability purchased by Jesus Christ and placed at the service of every faithful servant of God.
Some people seem to delight in the failures, and weaknesses, and shortcomings of the saints. They read their Bibles and hunt through their Christian circles for breakdowns, and backsliders, and then set them up as the true standard of religious attainment, and argue that because these have failed, therefore everybody else must do the same. I reject this method, and glory in Abraham. He was properly saved, and sanctified, and consecrated, and filled with the Spirit of power which made him the master of the world, the flesh, and the devil. And, if for Abraham there was this victorious grace, why not for you, dear reader? Is God no respecter of persons, again we ask? verily, then, with every command you receive from the Master, there is also sufficient ability to enable you to obey!
Talk no longer of the hard things God asks you to give up or to do. If He asks impossibilities at your hands, only be sure He asks them, and then rise up--rise up early--and you shall have strength to obey, for "all things are possible to him that believeth." Abraham had this grace, and proved it all-conquering, more than sufficient, for it made him more than conqueror; and, my comrades, notwithstanding all that men or devils may hint or say, there is the same conquering, overcoming, fulfilling, devil-mastering, God-satisfying grace for every believing child of Abraham. If you have not got it, seek it, have it, use it, and you will be like Abraham, an encouragement to all about you, a credit to your profession, a blessing to mankind, and an honour to God!
3· ANOTHER RESULT WE SEE FLOWING FROM THIS OBEDIENCE OF ABRAHAM WAS THAT GOD GAVE HIM BACK THE VERY ISAAC THAT HE OFFERED. That was a moment of intense interest, when the period arrived for the actual performance of this terribly painful act. Now angels and devils came nearer, and God Himself came nearest of all. Would Abraham flinch when the agonising moment arrived? See him, he has reached the foot of the mountain; with slow but firm and steady steps he ascends. Deliberately he builds the altar, lays the wood, and binds the unresisting boy, who seems to share the courage and devotion of his father. And now he lifts the lad! oh, precious burden! imprints a fond, farewell kiss upon his brow, and with an inward groan of anguish, that almost breaks his heart, lays him on the wood; and, lifting up eyes and knife to heaven, he prepares to consummate the sacrifice. In his own soul it is already done. There, the sacrifice is complete. Jehovah saw it so, and, from the overhanging heavens, he made, therefore, the most agreeable surprise that perhaps ever came to the heart of living man. He bade him stay his hand, and take the boy, all warm and living, to his heart, and home again. The name Isaac signifies laughter. The Patriarch had given the laughter, the joy and gladness of his life to God. God saw it, accepted the gift, and then gave the treasure back again. ABRAHAM PLEASED GOD, AND HAD ISAAC AS WELL.
Even so, my brethren, there is with every faithful consecrating soul an exact proportion between what YOU give to God, and what God gives to you--not only in measure, but in kind. The Master's words give no uncertain sound on this subject-- "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life " (Mark 10:29, 30).
Abraham gave all his earthly joy, and much as he gave, he received a hundredfold of laughter and gladness as the result of the offering. I don't know how he got home and told the story to Sarah. I don't know how many fatted calves they killed, or how much music and dancing there was, or how long the revels lasted, but I do know that Isaac was as one raised from the dead to father and mother ever afterwards. Abraham emptied house and heart of laughter for the Lord, and Jehovah filled house and heart up again, and that pressed down, and running over.
But is it always thus? Does God uniformly give back the same Isaac we present? If we give father or mother, husband or wife, houses or land, will father or mother, husband or wife, houses or land be returned back again? No! not always. Although this very thing will happen far oftener than most are prepared to believe, or expect. But if the very Isaac, the very things given to God, are not given back, the God of all faithfulness will nevertheless give back into the hearts of faithful consecrating souls, the laughter and gladness, the peace and satisfaction, the human earthly joy, which without Him neither father nor mother, husband nor wife, houses nor land, nor aught else, can possibly bring. So come along, comrades and friends, and make the offering.
4. ABRAHAM ON MOUNT MORIAH SET FORTH TO HIMSELF AND HIS AGE AND TO POSTERITY THE SACRIFICE OFFERED ON CALVARY JUST 2,000 YEARS AFTERWARDS. This act of Abraham was a type of that. As Abraham gave Isaac to please God, so God gave His Son, His only and well-beloved Son Jesus Christ, to save and please the world. All unconsciously Abraham did this, but, nevertheless, it was so. But we, my comrades, are invited to the conscious imitation of God, we have the privilege and the command to be followers of God as dear children. We can imitate God, in not only giving up those dear to us for the sake of the souls, the precious souls of the people; but we can give up ourselves as Jesus did Himself to save a world from endless woe. Oh! like Abraham let us be willing.
5. THE LAST RESULT WE NOTICE IS, THAT THIS ACT OF SUPREME OBEDIENCE TO GOD ENSURED THE DIVINE BLESSING IN ALL ITS FULNESS, AND THE MULTIPLICATION OF POWER FOR USEFULNESS.
"And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy SON, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Gen. 22:15-18).
God blessed him all over, heart, family, and home. He made his joy and gladness abound, and his peace flow like a river. He made him a "real old hallelujah man." "In blessing I will bless thee." When a Queen says to one of her subjects, "I will bless thee," it means something; when a father promises to bless his son, it means something; when a mother clasps her babe to her bosom and says to her darling, "I will bless thee," according to the ability of that mother the declaration means something; and when God the Almighty, All-loving Jehovah says to Abraham, or anyone else, "He will bless," that means a great deal. If He blesses, who can curse? Oh, my comrades! those who follow Abraham in consecration; share to the uttermost the blessing which follows, Jehovah guides them, with His eye supplies all their need, makes all their enemies at peace with them, never leaves nor forsakes them. He gives them a crown of life, and is their portion for ever. Blessing He blesses them.
But God also renewed His promise to Abraham of the multiplication of his seed; and the formation of his posterity into a mighty kingdom. This promise had been given before, but it seems as though it had been conditional then on the full consecration which Abraham made on this occasion. The probability being, that had Abraham failed in this trial, the privilege would have passed over to some one else. But Abraham was faithful to the opportunity, and God was faithful too. He multiplied his seed, gave him children, more children, more children still. He gave him grandchildren, more and more grandchildren, He gave him great grandchildren, and more and more great grandchildren, and still more and more and more until his posterity were as the stars in the firmament, and the sand on the sea-shore for multitude. This promise did not merely refer to his fleshly offspring, but to his spiritual seed--for are not all who are adopted by faith into the family of God the children of Abraham? Most decidedly they are! Think of this! What a multitude! I am one. All you real SALVATION ARMY SOLDIERS are his sons and daughters. What a mighty multitude there is increasing every day on earth and in heaven.
So, my comrades, Moriah and consecration--such consecration as Abraham made there leads to the enduement of spiritual power and to the multiplication of spiritual children.
Go to Moriah then, and you shall have a Pentecost, a holy baptism of blessing, and then shall follow fruitfulness, thousands born for God and heaven. Children, more and more, and yet more children. Grandchildren, and more and more grandchildren, multitudes--KINGDOMS, NATIONS. Come to Moriah, come as Abraham came, as sacrificingly, as promptly, as thoroughly, and as confidingly, and you shall have the same acceptance and assurance and gladness. You shall have the same fulness of personal blessing, and the same increase of divine power to multiply the children of the Lord. BLESSING, HE WILL BLESS YOU, He will make you the fathers and mothers of nations, and kingdoms, peoples, and tongues, and if there come a multitude of you to Moriah, then shall there be a multitude of Abrahams, and from this multitude of Abrahams shall there come forth a redeemed and regenerated world.
A PARENT'S SACRIFICE.
Fathers and mothers, are you willing to let your children go for God's glory and the salvation of souls? How often when my eyes fall upon some noble lad, some charming girl, who might be made a blessing to thousands, and I ask the question, "Who is that?" does the answer come back, "Oh, a true-blooded soldier, but his or her father or mother is not willing to let him or her go--so we must wait," that is, God must wait--poor sinners must wait, must perish till the time of parental control is ended, till parents have lost the glorious opportunity to do their share in making the surrender.
And yet these very fathers and mothers will profess all the time to be true to God and to be most anxious for the welfare of the children whose service they hold back from their rightful Lord. If it were any question of "a good match," or a good position in life, they would be willing enough to let their children go. But for Him who gave up His only Son for them, oh no! they do not see that they are really called upon to go so far as that.
15. A MERRY CHRISTMAS
"Is any Merry? Let him sing."
THIS is reckoned a merry time. It is considered in this country the correct thing to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, and to get one yourself if you can. We pity those who have anything which makes them sad just now, and so it has become an annual custom to be merry, and to help to make other people as merry as you possibly can.
Now, we have no objection to this at all; indeed we like the idea of special periods of rejoicing if you have anything to rejoice over, and it suits The Salvation Army, which believes in being merry all the year round in general, and at special times in particular.
We like the word merry, and we will have it in religion if you please. Many people think it altogether out of place there. They will let the children be merry when home for the holidays, having an extra allowance of games and cake. They will let the merchant be merry when his balance sheet has come out on the right side; they will let the sailor be merry when he has got into port, after long tossing on the ocean; they will let the politician be merry when, by fair means or foul, he has carried his candidate; but we who are always overcoming sin and driving devils or rescuing captives or gaining victories over the King's enemies, we soldiers of the Cross must be always solemn, and melancholy, and awful, and have our hearts in our shoes, and our words must be few, antiquated, and learnt out of a book; and our songs all of the Old Hundred pattern.
No, we say, and say it thankfully, that we have not been taught religion after this fashion. If, when slaves find freedom, and tradesmen make fortunes, and kindred, or friends, or neighbours are delivered from some threatened calamity, it is allowable to go mad with joy, and to express it by hiring music, and beating drums, and letting off fireworks, and shouting till hoarse, and everybody says that is all right, then by the same rule, if you please, and whether you please or no, we are the slaves who have now our freedom, the people who have made our fortune; we are the men who have seen our kindred and friends and neighbours saved from damnation; and therefore we have a right to be merry. We ought to be merry, we should be hypocrites if we were not merry, but we are merry, and it is only natural and divine that we should express it; so bring out the music, new music, the merriest music; there's a time for everything, and this is the merry time. Now for the song; everybody sing--husbands, wives, children; neighbours, strangers, everybody sing--Praise the Lord.
"Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp.
"Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with string instruments and organs.
"Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high-sounding cymbals."
And let the very trees of the field join in the chorus by clapping their hands.
What is the good of it all? Oh, it not only expresses the joy we possess, but it helps us along--not the words and sentiments only, but the music has a divine effect upon divinely influenced and directed souls. Music is to the soul what the wind is to the ship, blowing her onward in the direction in which she is steered. Now, sailor, look to your helm, here is a fair wind, and a stiff one too, right behind you. On you go, faster and faster. But mind you are going right. Captain; see to your compass, and consult the stars, and examine your chart; be sure, oh, be doubly sure that you are right, for, if you are steering wrong, the wind will soon carry you on to the rocks of destruction. All right! do you say? Then blow away, ye winds, this mariner has a tight ship and a good cargo, and he is steering her straight for port. Blow away, and blow him home.
Just so, my comrades, the course of our souls was once straight towards the Niagara of damnation; the music and merriment of the world was blowing us faster and faster towards it, but the Almighty fired the alarm guns, and we heard the signal, turned the ship round, and now we are sailing straight towards the port of glory. Do you want to go faster and faster, to rouse desire and stir up prayer, and strengthen faith? Then bring in the music, raise the song. Sing of other heroes and their doings. Sing of the Victor of the cross. Sing of the blood and the fire, and the death shout, and the glory gates, and sing of everything that you have read about in your Bibles, or had revealed to you by the Holy Ghost, that has happened, or is going to happen, on the road to glory, or in the glory land when you get there,
Oh, if you are merry, sing, and sing on till you are merrier still, and every poor, trembling, doubting, weak-kneed soul about you loses his doubts and tremblings and is merry too.
We are not allowed to sing that tune or this tune, do you say 7 Indeed! Secular music, do you say, belongs to the Devil? Does it? Well, if it did I would plunder him of it, for he has no right to a single note of the whole seven. But we deny it. He's the thief; it is he that has stolen it, and in appropriating it we only get our own again. Every note, and every strain, and every harmony is divine, and belongs to us. By and bye, sin, and devils, and lost souls will only have the discords left; all the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth will be theirs; and all the songs, and hallelujahs, and harmonies will be ours.
So consecrate your voices and your instruments. Bring out your cornets, and harps, and organs, and flutes, and violins, and pianos, and drums, and everything else that can make melody. Offer them to God, and use them to make all the hearts about you merry before the Lord.
Only let us, as far as possible, have harmony! Now harmony of soul must have much to do with harmony of voice, if it has not to do with harmony of instruments. It must be, that a man whose heart is in beautiful union and harmony with the will and purposes of God, and, consequently, full of heavenly merriment, must be far better conditioned for making merry and heavenly sounds. There must be, at least, something pleasing to God and men and the soul of the musician in such correspondence. So, this Christmas, let us all get into tune, and let there be this heavenly correspondence between the inside "heart" instrument and the outside voice, or whatever other instrument the merry sounds may be produced upon.
There is a stale, old argument used by the Gentile world about forgiving your enemies and rubbing off grudges, and all that sort of thing, as being a peculiarly gracious duty to be practised at Christmas time. That docs not apply to our ranks, surely? Your Salvation Army people don't burden themselves with the memory of grudges and enmities. They forgive as they go along. But before the Lord there are some who, on trying their hearts by the great inspired tuning fork, the Word of God, wilt find they are too high--too sharp! To these we say, come down, This is the very time of the year to get low--not only into the village of Bethlehem, but to the stable--that is the penitent form, where you will be sure to meet your Saviour. Come down! If low and flat, then come up, my comrades! Here is the pitch. No apologies, excuses, or talk about impossibilities. "All things are possible to him that believeth." If the gate is strait you must go through it, however painful the squeeze. If the violinist's strings could cry out for mercy, he would not heed their cries. He must reach the required pitch, or he not only makes a discord himself, but spoils the harmony of the choir. So, my comrades, screw up--higher still! Never mind the pain--the doubtful must go, the duty must be done, the consecration must be made, the faith must be exercised; the crowd pressed through --the hem of His sacred garment touched, and then the harmony will be reached and the glory realised. And, now, strike off, with hearts and instruments in harmony, and do your best, and earth, and hell, and heaven will gather to listen, and your music shall be welcome and gladdening to the ears and heart of the King of kings,
16. THE CONQUEROR.
AN ADDRESS AT EXETER HALL
ON SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1881.
THIS morning's meeting is set apart for the consideration and attainment of Holiness. There are many people here who have been considering this subject for a long time, but they have not gone any further than the consideration. I met a young man, one day, in the north, who said to me, "I have been thinking and talking about the blessing of Holiness for a long time, and have been going to consecrate myself fully to the Lord, but, yesterday afternoon, at three o'clock, 1 went upstairs AND DID IT." There are doubtless many here who have been considering the subject of this entire Consecration for a long time; I hope this morning you have come to Exeter Hall TO DO IT. If you do nothing more than consider and hear, you will go away very little, if any, forwarder than when you came. I am going to read a few verses out of the first chapter of Luke, commencing at the sixth verse. I like to fall back upon this book--I like to show that we have not made the "Salvation Army," as the little children say, sometimes, "out of our own heads," but that it is in this old book, which everybody here and everybody everywhere else, who profess to have any hope of Heaven, regard, as the charter and foundation of their faith.
I want to see, this morning, if there is not something said in the Bible about Holiness of heart as definitely as we Salvationists say it, although in somewhat different phraseology. The prophecy I am going to read was descriptive of the work our Lord Jesus Christ was to accomplish in the hearts and lives of His own people. It not only referred to HIM, describing HIM, but it specially referred to and described what He should do for those who received Him--what He should do for and in them, not in the glory land up yonder, but down HERE ON THE EARTH.
Now, let us go down and speak in supplication to our hearts, and beg of them to receive all the blessedness which Jesus Christ died to procure for us, for which He is now interceding with the Father, and for the accomplishment of which He has sent the Holy Ghost, this very morning, to persuade us to accept. It seems to me that our position should not be so much that of knocking at the door of Heaven to ask God to come and do something for us, as that of knocking at the door of our own hearts to beseech them to put away all their stupid prejudices and all their obstinate unbelief--to put away that unbelief which when beaten away from one hiding-place does not give in and give up the controversy and own itself defeated, but goes and hides behind another bush, and when it is dislodged from that, it is only to seek another shelter--carrying on a sort of guerilla warfare which is always dodging and always being beaten, but never giving in. Oh! I say let us beg of ourselves to put all this away, and to determinately say, "Oh, my Lord, Thou art true, and Thou art almighty, and Thou art able to deliver me, and Thou shalt do for me and in me, let the consequences be what they may, ALL THE GOOD PLEASURE OF THY WILL--THY WILL BE DONE." They have been altering the Lord's Prayer without consulting me, but I am glad they have not altered that glorious verse, "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven,"
Before I read these verses, I want to make a remark on the character of Zacharias, the speaker. One of the first questions I always ask about a candidate, or about anybody who wants to be an officer in this Army, is, "Is he a good man?" I should think that question always comes into everybody's mind when they sit down to listen to any man who offers to speak to them about religion. For if people think the speaker is no better than they are, they will regard his preaching as so much talk, which they can notice or not just as it suits their inclinations. Now, Zacharias was a good man; we read that "he was righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blamelessly." Consequently, let us carefully listen to what he has to say: --
"And His father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed," etc.
You know that in those times when the conquering generals returned from their victorious campaigns to the cities or countries that sent them forth, they had triumphal entries, and it was customary to gird or fix upon the conquering hero a sort of horn, making him into a sort of human unicorn; signifying, I suppose, that he had been tossing his enemies, and that he had come back a CONQUEROR! Now, God hath raised up for us a great tossing Conqueror! a great conquering Saviour. He hath raised up for us a HORN OF SALVATION in the house of His servant David.
"As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our forefathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us; that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life."
We are the children of Abraham because we are believing children. In order that we may more clearly see the meaning of this prophecy, and its bearing on our own experience, let me put it into the first person, --
"As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That I should be saved from my enemies, and from the hands of all that hate me."
God grant that may be your experience. Amen!
It is a charge brought against us by some that we make a hobby of the subject of Holiness, that, like Paganini with his violin, we are always fiddling on one string. If it were so--I don't know, --but if they brought that charge against him, I suppose he could have replied, or somebody could have replied for him, that he was able to bring more music out of his one string than his rivals could bring out of their four; and if it is true that we are too frequently engaged on this one topic, I think there are a good many people here this morning who can bear witness that there has been brought out of it some music wonderfully beautiful, wonderfully enthralling, which music has been made a wonderful blessing to them, and to many who are round about them. But I take exception to the correctness of this charge. I say, varying the figure, we are running our "Hallelujah Pullman Express" to Heaven, not on one line, but on three.
The first line of these rails we call pardon, and I am sure we very often talk about that.
The second we term purity--a clean heart, with a clean life; and
The third we term SACRIFICE, or the giving up of all that we possess to the service of our great Lord and Sovereign.
That is, first, saved from hell, and having the consciousness of it, with our feet consciously on the rock of Salvation.
Secondly, saved from inward, as well as outward sin; and
Thirdly, having been saved from the penalty and power of sin; being enabled by grace to devote all we possess to the great work of being the saviours of those who are round about us. We are compelled to go over somewhat the same ground as on former occasions, and to give line upon line; and in the passage I read over to you there seems to me to be these three definite things. There is, first, deliverance from sin; secondly, the Deliverer, Jesus Christ; and, thirdly, the service we owe to this Deliverer and Saviour, "that we may serve Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives." It is this deliverance from sin, in which so many hearts here are interested, and about which there is such a growing inquiry throughout the land -- DELIVERANCE FROM SIN.
We read that Jesus Christ came that He might deliver us out of the hands of our enemies. Our iniquities are the enemies referred to here. I suppose even the most rigid literalists will not want to make this out to refer to the deliverance of the Jews from the Roman yoke. If they do, we all know that it never took place, and we all know also that the whole teaching of the Bible can be brought to show that spiritual deliverance is the work which Jesus Christ undertook, and which He wants to accomplish for us. Hence, Peter, in speaking to the Jews of the purpose of God in the resurrection, says that God, having raised up His Son Jesus, hath sent Him to bless them. But how was this to be done. How did God propose to make these Jews blessed? By freeing them from the Roman yoke, by sending them good trade, by sending them easy circumstances, or by giving them healthy bodies? No, on none of these lines; the Father had sent Him to bless them, to make them truly blessed, by turning everyone from them -- away from his iniquities.
Even so, Jesus Christ has come to you and to me, to deliver us from SIN. No one would want to localise this purpose, or contract it, by saying He was intended to save a man from getting drunk, from telling lies, or swearing, or thieving--that is, to take the outworks, while the very citadel, the heart, is left infected with pride, selfishness, envy, hatred, revenge, bad temper, and everything that is bad, rotten, devilish, and unlike God. Surely, to DELIVER him, He must not only break the neck of the open and outward foes who have domineered over him, but He must destroy those inward enemies, and save us out of the hands of all that is devilish in our own secret passions, tempers, and dispositions.
Now, I think I hear you say, "How far can I be saved in this direction? Is there such a thing as an uttermost salvation? I am wonderfully saved already. I do now enjoy a wonderful salvation. A wonderful change has been wrought within me. I am not what I used to be by any comparison, but still I am conscious that there is sin within me--sin of which I alone am conscious," for every man has, so to speak, two characters. He has a character with which the outer world is conversant, and an inward character which is only known to him and his Maker. Of this inner character many may say, there are in it blots and blurrs, much that is selfish, much that is devilish, much of which they would be ashamed to have the record transcribed on paper and read out before their fellow-men, but there they are, evils springing up, roots of bitterness continually grieving them, pricking them and bringing them into bondage; and the cry often goes up to Heaven from such hearts, "Can I be saved from these inward sins?" I answer, in the words of this man, who spake full of the Holy Ghost, "He came to save you out of the hand of your enemies," that is, out of their grip--make you free from their power--so deliver you that they shall have no hold upon you, in order that you may serve God in holiness and righteousness all the days of your life.
Now, mark the duration of this deliverance. Not merely for a few minutes just before you die, nor for an hour or two in a Holiness Convention, --for some of you know you have been in Heaven sometimes in such meetings as we are holding to-day. There have been seasons and days in your memory, that is, they have been to you as the days of Heaven on the earth, and you said, "Oh if they could but have lasted!" Thank God! you can have them over again, and they may last. There is a deliverance--a deliverance from all sin--that can last all the days of your life, if you live to be as old as Methusaleh; and if you get properly saved, I shall be very sorry for you to die at all. May the Lord save you properly, and then people will be sorry when they hear about your funeral.
People say this is applicable to Heaven; they believe in Holiness in Heaven; they would all be sad if I were to come and announce, "Mary Jones, I have had information from Paradise that you will go into a bad temper when you get up there." "Then," I think Mary Jones would say, "1 don't want to go there." There are very few of you who would care to go to Heaven if you expected you were going to carry in with you the peevishnesses, and devilishnesses, and selfishnesses which mar and spoil your peace on earth. "Oh," you would say, "if Heaven is not going to be a holy place, all the joy, and glitter, and spangle about it has gone for me. I want to go where I shall be holy; to go away from my evil self." There is only one place where you can get away from your evil self, and that is in the fountain of Christ's blood. There is no other place. If you went to Heaven as you are from Exeter Hall this morning, you would wake up in Heaven much as you are in Exeter Hall, or as you were in your home yesterday. But, oh! if this morning you, my comrades, my brethren, my friends, if we all could help one another, if the Holy Ghost would help us to get our hearts into the river of Christ's blood; there, and there only, we should get away from our heart plagues, for that blood, we should find, cleanses from all sin.
That blood avails for you, and can and will avail to-day for you if you will. It is for you all the days of your life. Oh! I do like that. I call it Salvation on earth. It is down here in this dying, doomed world--this world that people say is getting worse every day. This world wants holy men, and holy women, who are saved out of the hand of their enemies; and, when they are saved, they will rush into the fire and the flood to save other people out of the hands of their enemies.
BUT HOW IS THIS GOING TO BE DONE? Here is the answer.
It is by this horn of Salvation, my comrades, which God has raised up for us. Thank God He has. I am not afraid of being damned, (Triumphant responses.) Some of these people behind me used to be afraid of it, but they are saved from fear now, for the Lord has raised up a Conqueror, and His name is called Jesus, because He should save His people, not only from the consequences of their sins, but from the sins themselves. I wish people were as anxious to be saved from sin as they are to be saved from the penalty. What should we think of the man who said, "I don't care so much about a bit of thieving. I don't see any particular harm in it, but the evil I see is being caught and put in prison. That is what I object to"? There are some people who say there is no harm in doing wrong except you are found out. Now, what should we say of people who talked in that fashion?
Oh, hell is a calamity, looked at in one sense, in the same way as our prisons are; but our prisons are a necessity, and hell is a necessity, and if men will sin, then men must suffer. If men will be thieves, we must have a prison for them, and if men will sin, then God must have a prison to put sinners in.
I thank God, He came to save me from its burning, and my wife, and children, and this great multitude of people; and by His grace, I am going to do what I can, as long as He lets me live, to get other people saved. I have laid myself, and my family, my goods, and my hours, on the altar, and I will try and get others to do the same.
But the Conqueror, this Unicorn, came not only that He might save us from the punishment of sin, but from the sin itself. You never need sin any more, Here is a Saviour for you. Do you hear? YOU NEVER NEED SIN ANY MORE. Here's the Conqueror. He is coming this way. He can toss His enemies. He can toss them out of your heart; but some people's notions of this tossing very much resemble the predicament in which many of our unfortunate farmers are found this season with their crops--they cannot get the blessed sunshine long enough to gather them in, and so they are always tossing them about, and when they get them pretty well dried there comes another shower, and then they have to toss them again. Now this is just the notion many have, or seem to have, of the Saviour's work. They think He just comes and tosses their sins from one corner into another, turns them over every now and then, and lets them have an airing at Holiness Councils, Revival Meetings, and the like, but leaves them, in the main, very much the same, all the time, as He found them. I tell you this is all a mistake. This Unicorn, if you will let Him, will do something more effectual than that. He has strength enough to toss the pride, and temper, and selfishness not only from one corner into another, but out of your hearts entirely, He is not the sort of conqueror to do after the fashion they are doing just now in the Transvaal, --as to the rightness of which I am advancing no opinion. He does not want to deal with you as the British Government is dealing there, that is, to go and ride about and show their flags, and then go away and leave a sort of resident magistrate or adviser behind to say, "You had better not do this, or you had better not do that." No! No!! NO!!! He will conquer, and He will not only conquer, but He will annex your heart, and make it His own territory, over which He will reign absolutely. Thank God! He is Almighty to save and Almighty to keep.
Does anyone here say, "How is it this has not been done in me?" I will read you just one verse of the same chapter, which will explain this to you. Referring to Mary, the blessed Mother of our Lord, the Holy Ghost says, in the 45th verse, "And blessed is she that believed, for there shall be a performance of these things which were told her from the Lord." Now, remember the passage I am always quoting, "God is no respecter of persons." So far as your own salvation is concerned, you are on a level with the blessed Mother. Oh! have there not been some wonderful things told you? You have heard that you can have victory over sin, that you can have peace flowing like a river--you have been told that your joy may be full, indescribable, unspeakable, and full of glory --you have heard what you may be made--you have heard that you can be turned into a saviour of men--that your days can be like the days of Heaven on earth; and I know not what other wonderful things you have not heard, and if hearing would have made you blessed there are few in Exeter Hall would be more blessed than you; but there is something more than hearing necessary to complete your blessedness, it is the performance you want.
I remember hearing of a man who was always going about hearing lectures, and he met a friend one day in the street who said, "Where have you been?" "Oh," he said, "I have been to hear the most wonderful lecture on the training of children; it was so clever. Where have you been?" The other replied, "I have been at home DOING IT." It is the doing that is lacking. You have heard, and heard, and heard again, until you have almost got weary of the theme. Now it has been a new book, then a new preacher--now a new friend, and then you have been off to new meetings, Conferences or Councils or the like, but you have got no forwarder. Oh! may God let there be a PERFORMANCE. But how can the performance be? Here it is. "Blessed is she that believeth, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her," --that is, to the women that believed, for there is nothing promised to any one else; and, thank God, this is for the men as well as for the women; and to everyone of us, whether man or woman, if we will but believe, there shall be a performance of the things which have been told us from the Lord.
"He that believeth, shall be saved." It is not to him that hears, to him that desires, to him that feels, to him that agonizes, to him that consecrates, But it is promised and assured and given to him that believes.
Now what do you say? Are you prepared to follow in the blessed Virgin's track? Will you accept the divine message that this full and holy salvation is for you, bought for you, promised to you, given to you, that it is yours--YOURS NOW, JUST NOW, that Jesus according to His word saves you now? Then there shall be a performance of all the things that have been told you from the Lord--not one jot or tittle shall fall to the ground. All shall come to pass. You shall receive the Christ, the living sanctifying victorious Christ. And with Him, the great tossing Conqueror, you shall be victorious over all your enemies, you shall be holy, you shall be blessed among men and blessed for evermore. The Lord grant it may be so. Amen.
AN OLD SALVATIONIST VIEWING THE LAND.
YES, Moses, look, and look again. There it is at last. Long heard about, and imagined, and longed for; now your eyes see it. But look; what is that? It comes nearer! Surely the land moves--is it coming over the river to me, as God has said I cannot go unto it? No, Moses. Jehovah is only strengthening your vision, and, in panoramic fashion, enabling you to see it more clearly. What a landscape! Did ever eyes see such beauty? Whichever way you turn--to the north, or to the south, or to the west, it is, alike, entrancing. Mountains, and hills, and valleys, and rivers, and woods, and pastures, and vineyards, and gardens covered with herbs, and flocks, and grapes, and olives, and pomegranates, and figs. Surely here is corn, and wine, and oil, and milk, and honey, and every temporal blessing God can lavish or the heart of man can desire.
But look again, Moses; on those hill-sides and in those lovely valleys there are cities with walls reaching up to Heaven; cities inhabited by men of tall stature, and fierce countenances, and dark devilish deeds, the enemies of your God, whom Jehovah has appointed to be destroyed on account of their wickedness, and to conquer whom He has appointed your nation. Here, then, is the honour of being the Lord's Soldiers, who shall cover Him, and through Him cover themselves, with the glory of conquest and victory. Oh, Moses, what a sight those undimmed eyes of yours are looking upon just before they close on all earthly sights for ever.
Now, my comrades of The War Cry, let us ascend our Nebo, and climb our Pisgah, and together view our Promised Land--the Canaan--the "higher up religion" to which God calls us. Let us enquire, and consider the inheritance of which God wants us to come into possession in this life.
Come along, brother. Your eye is not dim, nor, thank God, is your physical force abated. You will be of some use in the open air, and the coming crash of the battle, which will be far more taxing to flesh and blood than anything we have seen as yet. "Able-bodied men," ay, and women too, are wanted in this war as in others. Bone and muscle has its value, and if your eye is dimmed, and your physical strength is abated, come along also. Come along!
Let us look at the land. You have been a long time in the wilderness. Thank God you are out of Egypt. You have done with the garlic; still, you are sometimes in a quandary as to whether you were not quite as happy then as you are now. Is there not something better than this? Do you ask? Of course there is. God never intended you to knock about in the wilderness all these years, and if you don't mind your bones will bleach there. Come along, THERE IS A CANAAN FOR You. Let us have a look at it. There are in it three distinct features, THE FIRST OF WHICH IS--
I. VICTORY OVER ALL YOUR ENEMIES. These poor Israelites had already had any amount of fighting of one sort or another. But it had been in self-defence. To keep themselves in existence had been about all they had dared to hope or contend for. But in the Canaan at which Moses looked the lighting was to be of the kind that is enjoyable; it was to be a war of conquest, and it was to be always victorious. And so, look here, my comrades, at your Canaan. Instead of being mastered, you are to be the master. Your doubts, and fears, and tempers, and lusts, and idols shall all not only be subdued, but driven out or destroyed. Death is the sentence passed upon them; they are the enemies of God and man; they must and shall be annihilated. Your bodily appetites shall be subdued, kept under the rule of enlightened conscience and reason, and made the servants of righteousness in the soul and the ministers to your happiness.
Oh, here is a Canaan; here is victory. Look, listen to the announcement of victory over the three-fold enemy.
(The World -- This is the victory which overcometh the world, even your faith).
(The Flesh. -- If ye walk in the Spirit, ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh).
(The Devil. -- The shield of faith shall quench all the fiery darts of the wicked).
II. The SECOND gnat feature of this Canaan is PLENTY. Away with your famine-stricken notions of the salvation provided for God's children on earth. Who authorised you to make out God's Son as a sort of Lazarus lying at His Father's gate, and getting a crumb or two of comfort now and then from His table, and having to fall back upon the Gentile dogs to lick His sores, consoling Himself with a perpetual moaning wail about His being a miserable wretch with an unclean heart under a deadly necessity to sin and grumble all the days of His pilgrimage? Come along, and sit down alongside Moses, and we will show you something better. Listen! The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice." My God shall supply all your need." No more famine. No more living on manna. No MORE TASTELESS RELIGION. Going to meetings, public and private, because it is your duty, without any sense of comfort, or power, or joy, or God in them. Going to church and chapel and closet from a sense of oughtness, just to keep body and soul together. No! NO!! NO!!! Peace, joy, power. Hallelujah."The men of grace have found
Glory begun below,
Celestial fruit on earthly ground
From faith and hope do grow,"
Grapes, pomegranates, honey--all manner of heavenly luxuries down here on earth. Do you want to enjoy yourself--to find your happiness, your heaven, your all in religion? Then oh, do come, and not only look at, but enter into this Canaan.
III. A THIRD feature in this Canaan is THE PRESENCE OF JEHOVAH. God promised to live in Canaan with these Israelites. It was His presence that was going to protect and provide for and make them conquerors. This was to be the joy of the joys, and the gladdening of the gladness, and the heaven of the heaven on which Moses looked. So here,"Thy gifts. alas! cannot suffice,
Unless Thyself be given;
Thy presence makes my paradise,
And where Thou art is heaven."
Now then for Pisgah. Here is the telescope of faith; get it the right way on. Have a good long look, and then you will be ready to look again. To know any good thing is to desire it. To see this Canaan is to want to go into it, and if you will only keep on looking, you will want to go without longer delay.
Some people won't look. They have heard a bad report of the land, and they will not be at the trouble to climb Pisgah. They say, "There is no such condition of victory and plenty and blessedness. You must ever be in bondage in some little degree, at least. Satan and the Philistines must for ever occupy and plague the heart. Or, if there is such a Canaan, and if God were indeed to bring them into the possession thereof, they could not retain it, so they had better abide as they are."
Oh, these lies of the enemy--these faint-hearted spies, who bring an evil report of the land, why trust them?
Come up to Pisgah yourself-- the prospect will help you.
Look through the length and breadth of the land. How do you like the thought of being more than a conqueror, through Him that loved you, over the world, the flesh, and the devil? Of peace flowing as a river in your souls, and righteousness abounding as the waves of the sea in your life? Of overcoming the Philistines of temper and lust, and covetousness and doubt, and fear and unbelief, and capturing their cities and spoiling their goods, instead of them overcoming and capturing and spoiling you? Have another look! here is the land of plenty --plenty of pardon, plenty of assurance--plenty of peace, plenty of purity--plenty of joy, plenty of the presence and power and glory of God, making continued victory, and, consequently, a continued heaven.
VIEW THE LAND! View it carefully. View it often. View it until to remain outside of it is impossible. View it, until you rise up and say, "Let us go up and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it."
And having viewed the land, what are YOU to do? Like Moses, die where you are? Go to the still more glorious Canaan in the whirl of the enthusiasm created by looking at this? No, we hope not! if you are likely to cross over and be of any use in this; otherwise, we don't care how soon you go. And if the angels bury yon, it will save trouble and expense to those you leave behind.
But what are you to do? Look and admire, and long and desire, and then refuse to cross, and so go back into the wilderness of weakness and doubt and fear? No, ten thousand times no! What then? Go down at once into the valley of decision. Sanctify yourself by the completest separation possible from all that is forbidden by Jehovah in your heart and life, consecrating all you are and have for the accomplishment of His purposes; and then by faith cross the Jordan of the cleansing blood, and enter the Canaan of conquest, abundance, and power, there to magnify the grace and goodness of your great Joshua by following Him to still further victory.
18. THE BAPTISM OF FIRE.
THE SUBSTANCE OF AN ADDRESS AT THE
I WANT to say something this morning that shall help you in the personal conflicts of your daily experience, and in the great warfare you are waging with the principles and principalities and devilries around you, and in attaining that success which I believe you all honestly and earnestly desire.
And firstly let me say--to you who are soldiers in The Salvation Army--you are embarked in this war--to you it is the great question of life, the responsibility for success or failure is upon you. However interested the civilian may be in any conflict that happens to be going on, either at home or abroad, he feels that the great responsibility of it is upon the shoulders of the soldiers. It is they who have to run the risks, and gain the victories, and wear the medals, and it is they who have to bear the odium of defeat; just so here, you are the soldiers of salvation, and the responsibilities of the war are all upon your heads.
Now there is in English law a curious fiction by which no man who once becomes a clergyman can ever cease to be one. If he goes into the greengrocery line he is still a clergyman, if he goes to prison he is still a clergyman, if he goes to the gallows he is still a clergyman; and, I suppose, nay, I am sure, when he goes up to the judgment bar he will be dealt with in the light of all the solemn responsibilities implied in such a position. Now, although you may by cowardice, or unfaithfulness, or disobedience, or other infamous action, be deemed unworthy of your position, and drummed out of God Almighty's Army--covered with disgrace and infamy--still the memory of your position, and the responsibilities of what you might have accomplished in it, will cleave to you, and grow upon you, and haunt you, and harrow you for ever more. How important then for you to be faithful.
The most solemn vows ever uttered by any of the inhabitants of God's universe have been on your lips; you have boasted of what you will be, and what you will do, with boastings so loud that God and angels and devils have heard them; and I don't condemn you for so doing. Some people are dreadfully afraid of any boasting, in religion, but I say if your boasting be the outcome of true hearts, if it be the outleaping of a holy fire which must have an outlet or consume the very bones, if it is in the Lord, then let it come "housetop" fashion if you will. Go and tell Goliath that you are going to cut off his head and to give his carcase to feed the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and come what may you are going to shout victory over him. That is if you feel true, and are going to keep on feeling true; but if not, then so much greater the pity and the infamy, and the sorrow of God and men, and above all for your own poor self; but oh, we cannot go back, we cannot shunt, we must not, will not, dare not, fear. No! we must go on, on, on, till the last great crash shall end the war.
We are met this morning to get a baptism of fire to fit us for all this, to qualify us for the accomplishment of the great business before us. We have a great work to do, and a powerful foe to overcome. This one has tried his hand at it, and that one and many a one, and all say with one accord, the enemy is too strong for us; the work cannot be done. All are unanimous in saying that the work is not only difficult, but impossible, and it is this impossible work we have to do.
But the things, my comrades, which are impossible with men are possible with God. It is as easy for a rich man to go to heaven as a poor man if he is willing to come down and consecrate his all to God. The hindrance lies in his not being willing to lay his baggage aside. Come down and walk in the footsteps of Christ. In reality, lay all on the altar. Herein is the whole question of doing the impossibilities.
I went to a big fellow in our Warehouse at Blackburn one evening who was looking at the penitent form with such anguish depicted in his face as I shall not soon forget, and yet refusing to go down there and have salvation. I pressed him as to the reason for keeping back, whilst, evidently, so deeply wrought upon. At length he said, or rather hissed through his teeth, with indescribable bitterness, "If I go there they will call me a Shaker." That he should face that, to him the lowest depth of the ignominies, in the mill on the morrow morning, seemed impossible; but when he gave in, and went down, he not only found salvation, but gloried in the shame of it. And just so, my brethren, it is easy for any man to do the will of God when he is willing to go all lengths.
Doubtless the devil often tells you your work is impossible.
He sets upon you first thing in the morning when you wake, feeling all sore after a hard night's struggle, seeing little or no success, and tells you that victory, at least to such feeble instruments as you, is impossible, and advising retreat. This cannot be, we must go forward, and forward to victory.
If we are to conquer we must fight, and the more fighting we get the better, and, so far as that goes, the more profitable it will be, and the more we shall enjoy it if we are sure our fighting will bring victory.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF FIRE: THERE IS A FALSE FIRE. No one knows this better than we do, but we are not such fools as to refuse good bank notes because there are false ones in circulation; and although we see here and there manifestations of what appears to us to be nothing more than the mere animal, fanatical, human, blazing forth of a mere earthly fire, we none the less prize, and value, and seek for the genuine fire which comes from the altar of the Lord, and produces Divine effects in the souls where it burns, and which through them burns up the false, and the devilish, and the hellish around them.
THERE IS A DEVILISH FIRE. Of this we have ample evidence --none more so. We see it burning in the homes of the people, in the public houses, in the mobs, that, but for the restraining hand of the Lord, would destroy us as they destroyed our Master. We see it in our meetings, in meetings in which we approach the nearest to the throne, to the very steps of the altar, mocking men, infidel men, men who, actuated by this fire, scoff and turn into levity the most Divine and tender efforts that God and man can make for their salvation. Oh it is this fire from Hell that is burning, burning fiercer and fiercer day by day in its hatred of all that is good and holy in the vain attempt to burn up and destroy the very traces of the Divine and holy out of the earth.
THERE IS AN INTELLECTUAL FIRE. The fire of genius, which has its beginning and its ending in the intellect of man, which manifests itself in written thoughts or burning words. But however lofty its aspirations and aims, it is nevertheless a mere human thing; human and nothing more.
THERE IS A SORT OF SENTIMENTAL FIRE. A morbid emotional sort of thing which feeds upon the real or imaginary, which can be aroused by the material sufferings, or by the material joys connected with religion, just as readily as by the stories of any other sufferings, or any other joys. I could work upon your hearts this morning, and make you feel unutterable things, by telling you stories of the sufferings of poor humanity in Siberia, or elsewhere. You would probably feel, and weep, and perhaps shout also, and even be ready to do something as well, but yet the fire that aroused you would be an earthly thing, and just so men may feel about the sufferings of Christ, about the pains of hell, and about the joys of heaven, and there would be little or nothing beyond this human fire in it after all.
All this is very different from the DIVINE FIRE.
Do you want to know how you can distinguish the human fire from the Divine? I answer, by the effects; you can judge it by its fruits. Observe them.
Now THE BAPTISM OF FIRE GIVES ASSURANCE; MAKES PEOPLE SURE IN DIVINE THINGS. I take it that all of you feel settled and certain--as certain as men and women can be down here --of your own personal salvation. You say, I feel I'm saved; saved all over. Now, it is the Holy Ghost's testimony that brings this assurance. The memory of the time and place where God met and saved you is very good, but not sufficient for the certainty of to-day; it is good, though, and useful.
I remember a story that they told me in the north of England of one Christer, a rather remarkable miner of those days, who, in the early time of his experience, was very much plagued by the devil as to the reality of his conversion. To circumvent Satan, he hit at last upon the following device. He was a poor scholar, but he sought out somebody who could write, and made him describe on paper all the particulars of his conversion, the date, the place, the hour, what a devilish fellow he had been, how joyful God had made him, and what a wonderful change had been wrought in his life. When it was all written, he folded it up, put it in his pocket, and the next time the devil came to try him on this point, he pulled out the paper, and spreading it forth, said, "There, devil, if thou canst read writin', there's the whole account of it." After this, Christer says he was troubled no more on the subject.
Now I am supposing that everyone of you carries about not on paper, but in your memory, in a never destroyable writing, the record of that transaction by which you passed from death unto life, and very useful that record doubtless is. Still, that alone is not sufficient; only the direct continuous testimony of the Holy Ghost can create the certainty which gives so much power in this struggle.
THE FIRE OF THE HOLY GHOST MAKES CLEAN THE HEART OF THE MAN WHO RECEIVES IT. Fire is a great purging medium. Those to whom the Saviour spoke knew well its effects in separating the impurities and the dross from the precious metals; they purified their gold and their silver in the fire, and the promise of the Saviour to them of the Holy Ghost they knew was neither more nor less than the promise of a living flame, that should take out of their hearts all that which was dross, and tin, and impurity, and selfishness in the eye of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of the Holy Ghost means PURITY.
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST MEANS ENTHUSIASM.
Fire means warmth, burning, heat, kindling the body to a glow, nerving every muscle and faculty for the utmost exertion; so the fire of the Holy Ghost creates earnestness, spiritual heat, makes hot saints.
The baptism of the Holy Ghost means enthusiasm, the right kind of enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of angels, the enthusiasm of Jesus Christ Himself. Enthusiasm that suffers, works, sacrifices, that no opposition can daunt and no enemies destroy.
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST MEANS POWER. Fire is a great motive power. This was but dimly understood by the ancients. Its discovery is an accomplishment of modern science; but the Master saw it, and the mighty force which whirls this whirling world along makes fire a tenfold more expressive illustration of the meaning and value of the baptism of fire. Without fire and water we should suddenly come to a standstill, but with these forces we move on faster and faster --Luggage-train speed--Parliamentary train speed, --Express train speed, --Electricity-speed, and I know not what other speed. Just so, in the spiritual world, the Holy Ghost was to be not only purity and zeal, but the actual propelling force which was to carry with ever-increasing velocity the people of God forward in conquest and victory, until the whole world was subdued to God. We want in mightier measure than ever this morning this baptism. We want a people cleansed as with FIRE.
I often think of the prodigious work accomplished by the early disciples, and I often think of the striking similarity there is between us and those very people that met in that upper room. If we could have had a photograph of that remarkable group in that room, I fancy there would have been a striking similarity, even physically, between them and us here in this room this morning. They were doubtless about the same height, and the same age, and the same figure--some as little, and some as tall. Perhaps they had one as big as the doctor here. And then I have no doubt they were very similar mentally. I am not willing to admit that they were in any way superior in this respect, and while they were not superior as men, they were certainly at a disadvantage to us in the way of circumstances, They had no railways, nor penny postage, nor electric telegraph, to help them, as we have. Oh that we were all as ready as they were to wait upon the Lord and believe in Him.
God is no respecter of persons, and given the same kind of men, and circumstances, and Divine co-operation, you will have the same kind of results. So there will be here a Peter, with his reckless daring and vehement thunders; a Barnabas, with his faith and enthusiasm; and others of varying character, making together a company of men and women who will go forth to suffer to the shedding of the last drop of their hearts' blood; while there may be also, although I pray not, a Judas Iscariot, who will be false and traitorous, and if there should be, I could almost hope that he would hang himself right off, as Judas Iscariot did, and so save us a lot of trouble.
There are many people who seem to be ever reckoning how much they can get out of God for as little as possible in return. If you are the weakest here, and yet bring to Him a simple, honest heart, with an intense earnest purpose to do your utmost for Him, He will do His mightiest for you, both within you and by you. Come to His feet, determined to be and to do all that He can make you be and do, and He will take you up, the very weakest of you, and fulfill in you and by you the grandest promises of this Book.
Alas! what a mixed state of feeling and experience, and realization do we find in professors of religion. Christ in one eye and the world in the other. No wonder there should be such a mixture in what comes out of them, and what is done by them, a mixture that puzzles both men and angels to discern whether it be from the manufactories of heaven or hell.
With us, my comrades, let there be no mixture; no more linen and woollen. Let web and woof be alike, the same, all the same, through, and through, and through.
Saints or devils! I want OUT-AND-OUT SAINTS. We shall all have to come to this to get into heaven, and the sooner we come to it the better for The Salvation Army, and the better for this poor perishing world of ours. Let us come to a full faith, a full service, and a full reliance upon Jehovah.
I have read somewhere of a beggar who, amidst the direst poverty, was so happy and joyous as to be a perfect wonderment to all about him. When asked the secret of this, whence he derived this joy and gladness, seeing he was in such abject circumstances, the beggar replied that his inward gladness proceeded from the enjoyment of the Creator. And when asked, further, where he found it, he replied that he found it just where he ceased from depending upon the creature.
When the rays of the sun come streaming into the window in the early dawn, the weary watcher blows out the candle, or turns off the gas; he is independent of these glimmering lights now; and when we are really and fully relying on God, and consciously have God to rely upon, we are no longer dependent on the creature, and God is not only our chief good, but we know it and feel it, and this knowledge makes us truly independent and happy.
As I stood by a quay side the other day, I noticed that many of the barges and ships were fastened to each other, and so when one rocked the other rocked, and if one went adrift they would all float away together; but I saw other vessels fastened to the quay, and they were all firm and immovable, as the quay itself. No matter how the others rocked, these were secure. If you are dependent for happiness and gladness on earthly things, earthly things are always rocking, and consequently your happiness and gladness will be always rocking too; and if you are moored in part to earthly things you will be rocking and changing just to that extent. People get into a mixed state, partly dependent on God, partly on a husband, or a wife, or children, or a shop; husbands, and wives, and shops, are prone to get adrift, and then their peace gets adrift too.
1f a man walks on two planks, one sound and the other rotten, it is tolerably certain the rotten one will sooner or later give way, and over he must go, and he may thank a kind Providence if he gets up again. Put both feet on the sound plank, and go on your journey shouting. Depend altogether on the Lord, and your peace shall flow like a river--all the changes of earth and all the malice of hell to the contrary notwithstanding. O my God, take us off from the creature to the CREATOR.
God only knows what He would do with a few men who cared only for Him. He would save thousands and astonish the universe. O God, make us all alike--all for Thee. I was hurrying to catch an express train to London the other day, and was reckoning upon the train upon which I was travelling meeting it, but it was too late, --not very late, but just late enough to let the other go and leave me behind, with a wounded leg, hurt through scrambling to catch it. I shall never reckon on that train again. God wants men and women that He can reckon upon, who will be there at the very time He wants them, and do the very work He wants doing, whatever may stand in the way.
My brethren, God is in full sympathy with you. He is a great deal more human than we have taken Him to be. We too often think and talk of Him as though He were a great Being sitting on the circle of the universe a long way off, in some sort of dense fog; too far away to see or hear anything very distinctly; and only communicated with by a sort of imperfect telegraphy, -- a hard-hearted, unsympathetic, stolid, immovable Being.
All this is opposed to the most direct teachings of the Bible.
There, God is represented, by every conceivable form of statement and illustration, as a Being of most impressible sensibilities, loving, hating, repenting, rejoicing, sorrowing, troubled on defeat, and triumphant on victory. When I go to bed at night after a hard fight, in which to all appearance I have been badly beaten, I think of Him as feeling much as I do; and He comes to me and says, Never mind; we'll have another turn at them to-morrow, and we shall be too many for them in the long run. There is no mistake about it, and there is no advantage in denying the fact, that the devil has got the world in his power at present. But it shall not always be so, and God is only waiting for a people by whom He can conquer. For still, as of old, "His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth that He may show Himself strong on behalf of those whose HEARTS ARE PERFECT TOWARDS HIM." And we can only be made such by the Holy Ghost.
Always acknowledge what God does by and for you. I think we do ourselves harm, and greatly grieve the Holy Spirit, by not acknowledging what He DOES for us. We forget, if we don't actually deny, His co-operation, and then we get downcast and grumble. I don't say, because I don't for a moment think, that there is any danger of our not acknowledging what we do. The devil is always ready to prompt us to say, "I did this", and I did that, and I did it well," and others are always ready to speak of what we do. But we do err, I am sure, by not sufficiently acknowledging and glorifying the co-operating work of the Holy Ghost. Why not say, "The Holy Ghost was at work this afternoon. We have had a hard night, but the Holy Spirit has done His work. Blessed Spirit, I thank Thee"?
Before we go to our knees to receive the Baptism of Fire, let me beg of you to see to it that your souls are in harmony with the will and purpose of the Holy Spirit whom you seek. See to it that the channel of communication by which the baptism must be received is open.
I heard of some people the other day who could not get any water. They turned the tap repeatedly, but no water came. They sent to the office of the company, who sent a man to examine the connections and fittings, but all was right; plenty of water in the reservoir; pipes, taps, connections, all right, but no water. At last they pulled up the pipe, and found a mouse in it.
It is no use turning the tap, praying, singing: or even believing, if there is something you are holding back or refusing to do--some idol, something about which you feel condemned, but which you refuse to give up, something in the pipe. Perhaps some trumpery, contemptible thing. Out with it; give it no rest; drown it; give it up. Destroy your idols and hindrances and stoppages with an everlasting destruction. Let there be free communication between your souls and God. Let all go, and you shall be flooded before you rise from your knees; the world shall feel the power of it, and God shall have all the glory.
19. DIE AT YOUR POST.
SOME of us have been singing during the Christmas festivals, with a good deal of spirit and repetition, a song with the chorus about "Dying at our post." It has been, and bids fair to be, rather popular, and we are not sorry for it. Sing away at the sentiment, only be sure and live it out in daily life.
Men and women who will die at their post are the very sort in demand just now in The Salvation Army and elsewhere. They are what the world needs; what we are praying for, and what God wants. We remember that during the great French revolution, some of the more decided party, who thought the Moderates were not going fast enough, wrote to Marseilles, to know if 600 men could be found, and sent on to Paris, who were not afraid to die. They were speedily found, and equipped, and marched; and many of them did die for the cause for which they did march. But they did not die until they had moulded and coloured the fortunes and probably the destiny of their country. Much can be done in any cause, how much more in ours, by men who are willing to die. Wesley said he could have done a great deal with six. We don't ask for six, nor for 600, but for 600,000; and we send the enquiry into every city and village, and home, where we have the opportunity of being heard, for men and women ready and willing to take up a position for God, and the rescue of the world; and ready and willing also at the required moment to die at their post.
We present our readers with an engraving which embodies an idea of this sentiment carried out to its natural consequences. These men did what the song says and what a multitude who will read this paper have vowed before God to do, --they died at their post.
When they are right before you, don't turn your eyes away.
Unpleasant to look upon, is the picture? Gives a shock to your sensitive nerves, and makes you shudder at the bare thought of the suffering endured, does it? Never mind, have a long look at it. It may do you good, and help you to some rather more practical ideas of Christianity than those which have hitherto obtained with you. Anyhow, it will, perhaps, modify your estimate of the depth and extent of the great sacrifices and sufferings you profess to have made, and of which you make more than a little to-do. Anyhow, then, look at these men standing in this fire, and you will find in them A PICTURE OF A REAL AND WHOLE HEARTED CONSECRATION. There was nothing held back here. They laid all on the altar, and no mistake.
We are constantly being told that we make the Service of God and the obtaining and retaining of His favour too important and serious a thing. That we demand too much when we say that there must be no compromise, no holding anything back, no denying Him in little matters--that His disciples are to come out and be separate, and neither touch, taste, nor handle whatever God Almighty is against. When, in the name of our Master and the Bible, and the very nature of things, we make these demands, men reply to us with weeping and wailing, how can these things be so? The price is too high, the sacrifice is too great. They say plainly that husband and wife, and father and mother, and brother and sister, and houses and lands, and friendly circles, and business, and money, and politics, and health, and big idols and little idols, bar the way, and they cannot suffer what it would cost them to come and stand forth before the heavens, having dared to leave and offer all up for the sake of Him who left and offered all for the sake of them.
Oh, friends, what about these heroic spirits? What about those faces that look at you to-day through that blinding smoke and those devouring flames? Are there, then, two standards of service, one high and Christ-like for them, and one much lower, made to meet the case of little, lean and cowardly souls? Nay, are there three ways for the feet of those who travel towards eternity? One wide and broad for the wicked, another straight and narrow for martyrs and martyr spirits, and the other a middle middling, sort of silver slipper path, for those who would have the pearl without the price, the crown without the cross.
No! No! No! Look again at those martyr-men. They stood up there before heaven and earth, and said in the loudest language that can be spoken in this or in any other world, that they gladly gave up, not only friends and kindred, and lands, and money, and every other earthly treasure, but life itself, which to them, as to everybody else, is far dearer than all else put together, for the truth, and love, and cause of Jesus Christ. That is the royal road for you, my brother. Come along! No more reckoning up of what an out-and-out life for Jehovah down here among men will cost. Here is the Altar, put all on. All has not gone on yet, and you know it. And here is the secret why both the early and the latter rain have been withheld. Now let go, and look out for the deluge. Have another look at these men, comrades.
THEY WENT THROUGH WITH THE FIGHT. It was a terrible ordeal, and we don't wonder at the horror with which this faint resemblance of that agony inspires our readers, for it must be borne in mind that they were men of like passions with ourselves. They, and those who suffered with them, were men and women as we are; and husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters, and children and friends, were just as precious to them as they are to us. Life was just as sweet, and agony as painful, and death as hard, as it would be to anybody else, but they were made up to be true to God and His truth, and as that meant dying, they went through with it, and died just there, and made but little to-do about it either. Now, you cannot help but admire that. We cannot, and don't disguise the fact that we admire it immensely. Had it been otherwise--had they dodged, or compromised, or given in at the last moment, and gone back when the matter had seemed like coming to a serious issue that might mean loss, or suffering, or death, or anything of that sort--rather than have admired them and made a picture of them, men would have despised them and forgotten them. And so would you. But they went through with it, and the nearer the devil and his tools went doing their worst, the bolder was the front they showed, and the louder the defiance they hurled in his teeth.
Oh hallelujah! for ever, for such examples. But reader, consider where are you? Are there not some whose experience in this crucifying business is just the reverse of this? Always beginning to build, but alas! never able to finish. We know some who are always coming up with hammer and nails to some particular cross, and saying with a flourish-- "Here nail me up--I am ready to be offered. Kill this lust, this disposition, this tendency, this idolatrous affection, --crucify me; let me die with Him." But, alas! this crucifying business is not a pleasant one to flesh and blood, and with the first pang they utter indescribable groans, and as the fire grows hotter with this martyrdom they grow weary of dying, and cry out to be taken down. And the next time you see them at a consecration meeting it is on the skirts of the crowd, and they are just where they were before, or a little further off from the victory they desire.
Oh, how men will sing about the Cross, amuse and ornament themselves with the Cross, weep oceans of tears about the Cross, which means painful and ignominious death, not only to the Master who hung upon it, but to the loves and lusts He died to destroy; but as to making it the tree on which they are crucified, on which they die to the power, and charm, and fascination of a vain, fashionable, frivolous, God-hating world, that is quite another thing; and yet surely the Cross was intended to be to us what it was to Paul, who said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
We know some who are always beginning to live for Him, but who, at the first shot from the enemy, the first sneer, or jeer, or ridicule, or loss that Christ-life brings, grow craven and flinch, and turn their backs and run. These are not the stuff martyrs are made of. The spirit that carried these men into the midst of that blazing pile would have made them heroes in the East End, or the West End, or any other end of any place God set them to live in. That is the spirit we want--the spirit that goes through with God's business, whether it involves that you either live or die at your post. But as you look at these men you feel that THEY MUST HAVE BEEN WONDERFULLY SUPPORTED. They must have had consolation amounting almost to DIVINE POSSESSION. However else could it be? That crowd--that fire--that agony, and yet so bold--so calm--so heavenly. Already ceasing from the human, and surrounded by so much demoniacal, assuming before their time the Heavenly, the Divine. Oh, verily, verily, they must have had God about them, God in them, or how could it have been thus?
Oh, dear reader, so it was, and this is what you forget. The more ferocious their foes, and the fiercer the fire, the nearer the Comforter came, and the mightier were His consolations. This is His custom still, to faithful soldiers. It would not have been like Him to have deserted such heroic sufferers for His sake. If we admire and glory in them, how much more must He have done so. Oh let us follow in this track. We are safe as to the ability. He will see to that. Out then on to the pathway of duty, though it lead us to the trackless ocean without a plank, or the martyr's fires without a friend. Anywhere with Jesus we are safe."When our sorrows most increase,
Then His strongest joys are given,
Jesus comes with our distress,
And agony is Heaven."
We remember a story of one called to die for Christ, who, when he came to the cell and the short hours that preceded his death, appeared to be deserted by all those rich and striking manifestations of the Master's presence to which he had been accustomed. This seemed strange to him--passing strange. He had thought that in this hour of hours, when called to die for Him, there would have been more than ordinary comfort and additional tokens of His pleasure and approval. He had one friend who, early and late, was his companion, and they fasted, prayed, and sought that God would come again with the light and joy more than ever needed now. But the last night--the night that preceded the execution--came, and the darkness continued. They embraced with the last embrace, and parted to meet no more until they met before the Throne. At parting, they agreed that, should the Master come with His joyful presence during the night, the martyr should lift up his hand on the morrow as a sign to his friend, who would be in the crowd. The morning came, and the mournful procession, and in that mournful procession, the observed of all, walking with a firm step, came the martyr, who, as his eye fell upon his faithful friend, with a countenance beaming with heavenly glory, threw up his hands, exclaiming, "He is come!--He is come!" and then went on and died in the strength of that visitation. He came!--came at the right moment. He always comes to faithful martyr souls. Is yours one? If so, He has come to you, and will come and stay yet more and more--coming in mightier power and force in every hour of special need, and finally coming and taking you to your reward in Heaven, if, like a hero, you are faithful to Him, and die at your post.
Hazell, Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury.
Back to BOOTH INDEX Page