By Charles H. Stalker
Message Delivered at Perth, Sunday Night, March 2nd, 1919
"God has departed from me, and answereth me no more ... what shall I do?"
This is the language of a lost soul -- no mercy, no Bible, no blood, no prayers, no tears, no Holy Ghost, no heaven, but hell. He was doomed and damned by his own action and decision and his own sin. This man had a wonderful opportunity. He had life and God, he had answers to prayer, he had faith and he had the sanction of God. God had talked to him and he had talked with God. But now this is his language," God has departed from me and answereth me no more."
I feel with regard to our meetings of the past week that God has spoken to many hearts, but there has been continuous resistance. The responsibility is upon all who have heard the messages. Tragedy will follow. A great many people make light of God's coming to the human heart, but it is a great event. People know when He comes as well as they know their names -- and better. They know it as well as they know they are in this room. When conscience speaks, it is as clear and as radical and as real and as, supernatural as God' taking possession of a man. All your customary signing and joining, wandering and doubting is damning. It may increase the membership and satisfy a clergyman, but it will damn souls unless there is a revelation of God in the human heart. When such a work takes place it is a great event; and when a person tells me he does not know if he is saved, I know. When people say they are not sure about it, their very statement makes certain the absence of a real change.
A voice was never more clear than when God, for Christ's sake, unburdened my soul, and when the Holy Ghost came in. All this uncertainty and carnality, all this doubting and unbelief I cannot understand. He that believeth is saved, and he that doubteth is damned. God's word to all is that "everyone that asketh receiveth." God hears and answers prayer.
In the case of this character which we have before us tonight, he knew God, was acquainted with God and God had talked to him, and he knew it. I want to say that of all the tragical things, the worst is the tragedy of a person who has sinned against light. It is an awful thing to reject light. You may think we speak plainly and definitely about it, but I could give testimonies in proof of what I say by the hundreds. I have said it is a great event when God comes to a soul, and it is just as great an event when God leaves one. That is sad indeed; the results are always serious. God can come to a soul and He can also leave a soul; and what keeps God away from a soul in the first place will also cause Him to depart. Sin keeps men from God, and God from men. When the Holy Ghost comes into a man's heart his sin leaves.
Now this event in the text is something that has taken place. It is not a new inception, there is no doubt about it; there is no uncertainty about the thing, there is no expression in it which would admit of a single doubt. Oh! the awful hour when God leaves humanity, whereby humanity is eternally damned. You would be astonished if you knew the number of people in this and other countries whom God has left, irrespective of intellectual belief and tradition. When He leaves, these things do not count, they are only destructive and withering and damning. "God has departed from me." He was the same living, conscious man, but God had left and taken from him every drop of the saving blood, every joy, every tear, every answer to prayer. You talk about real things! That was reality, you do not find any expression of uncertainty about it. I am surprised that more people are not more determined to keep the blessing and maintain their communion with God, and have a burden for the lost. You think you have not the burden I speak of? I know it. I have been speaking to people this week who have no vision -- people who act and live differently from what they are commanded to do. If you had the vision of lost humanity, the vision of Calvary, how differently you would act. I cannot give you the vision; but the Holy Ghost can do it. It will not be done for #100 or #1,000.
I want you to notice that in cases of those who have had light, God can leave them if they are disobedient. He can leave them doomed and damned, even if they remain on the earth. The text is a clear proof of that fact. A few sermons or a few attendances at church will not keep your heart right with God. Here, tonight, we have the language of a lost soul, the cry of a man who knew he was damned while he was alive, and he had a conscience that will live through all eternity. That is not all. The sin that damned him and separated him from God will live with him for time and eternity. This is a sad message because of its cost. Everything has its cost. Everything is valued according to its cost; and this is a valuable message because of its cost. It is not all paid yet. It is being paid even while you are sleeping tonight, and tomorrow, and while the cycles of time go on. Tonight, that man is paying the cost of his sin paying the penalty for the broken law of God, the law broken by the action of his own life.
A great many get the idea that what God says is a joke. They jeer at His word. They also get the idea that there is no hell, that the hereafter is just nothing. They say: "Let us get through this life, and we will risk the hereafter." They have even looked into my face and said: "Well, if I go to hell, I will have lots of company." Company, when locked up in hell, as if it were in Perthshire How deceived a man is, how possessed of the devil a man is, how near to being damned a man is, when he will say a common thing like that. A man in that condition is so far gone, that, possibly, he will never hear God's voice again. Others talk about what it costs to be saved, and to live a holy life. They know little about the cost. What is the cheap laugh of the unbeliever when you have your pure, joyful life and the fulfillment of God's word as your reward. What inducement has the worldly man to offer you, to follow in his worldly, sinful way? Better for these agents of hell, with their inducements, their salaried positions and their sugary things, were a millstone tied round their necks and that they were thrown into the sea. God help them. What is the instigation of these messengers of Satan? It is that abominable carnality. That serpent of hell is the same in the church as in the Market Place; it is as black as hell and it is tearing at the heart-strings of humanity. As we have been praying, God has been talking and He has given me a vision of lost souls.
The other day someone said Perth was a hard place. That is one of the saddest things that could be said of a place where so much light has been given, where so many tears have been shed and where so many prayers have been offered. A sadder thing could not be said, This has been a heavy week, the burden has been heavy, although when someone receives the Holy Ghost that lifts the burden. When you have the destinies of souls resting upon you, I tell you it means something. I do not like preaching funeral sermons while people are alive.
"God has departed." He had left and that man had the consciousness of it. God used to talk to that man. It is one of the most tragical things that could come to anybody's mind. Pray. I am not to speak much longer. The silence of God always means the presence of sin, and the presence of sin the silence of God.
Another thing to notice in this subject: God never came back to that man, who was alive and not dead when He departed from him. You have it for your own consideration and you can read it in your Bible. God scarcely ever comes back after He leaves the human heart when there has been willful disobedience. The unfaithful are nearly always damned, and it is rare that one ever gets back to God, if one leaves Him. I do not say they cannot. Do not go from this meeting and say I preach that everyone goes to hell who does not do so and so. I say that God never came back to this man after He left him.
Jesus, I notice, never went a second time to a single person or place that rejected Him, which should show that you have no more right to a ray of light in Perth, after rejecting what you have. He will go to some other spot, and, believe me, if there is not a radical change, you are to have darkness in Perth. Darkness always follows rejected light, and you have no right to another ray. Think of it. There are in this world, thousands who have never heard the name of Jesus, and thousands want the light of Holiness; they not only want it, but they are going to have it. These thousands are to have, shall I say, what you do not want, or, at least, reject.. I say there must be a radical change, and a supernatural change very soon. There is no time to waste. In this momentous matter there is no consideration for personalities, individualities, means, clothes, and the like. "God has departed." And where did the man go? To a watchnight meeting in a church which cannot afford to preach the word? As if an atmosphere of devilish carnality and compromise could help anyone in such a plight. No; it was to hell he went. That is the only place for souls when God has left them. There, of course, you may have the unbeliever's comfort. Company, any company suits a lost soul. In that direction there are no restrictions or convictions; creeds change right away, and you have the freedom of "any" company.
When the Holy Ghost has left a man his first and consuming desire is to drag others with him to degradation. What a dangerous cry is that of "Drag in the crowds!" Then God is gone, He has left, He has left. What decision would you give tonight if God would never speak to you again? I think you would pray and turn from all your sins. Otherwise your life is not worth living.
This man to whom God had spoken ended his own life. Tragedy always follows the rejection of light. But God has every right to go from such a man, and He went from him, never to return.
I want to emphasize that this man committed suicide and went to hell. That was his destination, and that is the destination of everyone who sins and rejects Holiness. Remember you are not rejecting me, it is not my message at all. You have your Bibles. Read. I have never preached anything but the Bible. I have always been right with it and am right with it tonight. And I have told you what one man did. He rejected the light. Now watch this. But for that fact his soul might have been in heaven tonight, but by his own action and decision he went straight down to a devil's hell. The Holy Ghost is faithful.
I was in a meeting; the pastor asked if I would go with him to a certain home, and I said I would. We went, and as we entered the house we were met by a weak, pale-faced man. He asked us to pray for him, and we said we would. "But," he said, "Before you pray I want to tell you something." He knew what he had done, and he went on: "I was a Christian and I was brought up to the light of Holiness. God wanted me to preach, and I knew if I received the Holy Ghost I should have to preach. I told God I would not do it. I argued with God, and told Him I would make money and provide for others to preach." That, friends, was very frank and very plain. Then he said, "I went on for a few years in the enjoyment of a good home and a happy family. Then my neck began to hurt me, and I was scared. I went to a doctor and he said there would be no trouble, I must bathe it and it would soon be better. But that did not avail; my neck got worse. I went to another doctor, and he said there would have to be an operation at once. That was not the only one, there was a second, and a third. Then the doctors admitted they could do no more. The trouble was a deadly, eating cancer. Other expedients were tried, but all to no purpose, and I am getting worse. My life is nearly gone." As I looked at that man, the Holy Ghost told me I was looking at a lost soul. He was worked up and prayer was long and earnest. He wanted to hear God speak to him again. He asked if he might go to a meeting, and we consented. Special arrangements were made with regard to ventilation, etc., and he came. It is very, very sad to see a man like that waiting to hear God speak. But God did not speak, nor did he speak the second night. Then he begged his friends to sit up with him and read the Bible. He hoped God would speak to him through His word, but God did not speak. The next night he asked to be left alone. "Possibly God will speak to me in the silence," he said. But God did not speak. In the morning, just as the sun was shining forth he moaned and said: "I am going to hell, I am dying and God is still silent. He has not spoken to me since I was a young man." I felt after that, I would warn people as I had never done before. What a warning is this. You who are here needing God, may be in the same condition. You may silence Him during the next two or three minutes, that He may never speak to you again.
It is clear God does not come to people who wait until they are on their death-bed before they seek Him, and it would not be at all unusual if someone here now were to be so placed tonight.
Would you silence God for ever? You may be determined to have salvation, yet wait until it is too late. God help you to decide -- now.