By Samuel Logan Brengle
Someone has said that 'The Acts of the Apostles' should have been called 'The Acts of the Holy Ghost,' because it is here that His personality, who is the 'other Comforter,' whom Jesus promised, and His work and leadership are made manifest and shown large. And to show that He still works and leads, and makes men triumphant and glad as in those far-away days of the Apostles, as in the days of Wesley, and the early days of The Army, I want to pass on portions of two letters I have recently received, one from an Officer and one from a young Soldier, one from the Pacific Coast and the other from the Atlantic seaboard:
'My DEAR COLONEL, --
I feel I must write and tell you, knowing you will be interested, that on May 3rd of this year God wonderfully sanctified me. Though for many years I had claimed the Blessing, through the preaching of a wonderful man of God, I was shown that there were still carnal propensities dwelling in my heart. I have felt for some time that there was something wrong with my experience. I was not making the progress along spiritual lines I wanted to make, nor was I seeing the success I wanted to see.
That night I saw it all, and though it took me nearly a week to pray through, on the 3rd of May the work was really accomplished in my heart.
What a wonderful peace filled my soul! I never experienced anything like it before. I really received the Holy Ghost that afternoon. He still abides.
As I see my experience now it is like this: About fourteen years ago I claimed the experience and have gone on ever since thinking I had the Blessing, but the Devil simply duped me. Though God came to my help when I taught the experience, I was just duped, for I had never really died to sin, and really never knew "the old man" to be crucified until the above date. 'But now, thank God there is something more than thinking, than work is done.'
When a man faces his unsatisfactory experience courageously, willing to know the worst about himself, and sets himself to pray before the Lord and to 'pray through,' the Holy Ghost will surely come, and having come will abide. Hallelujah! But before He can come in to abide, 'the old man' must be crucified and put off. In closing his letter this brother writes
'I presume you will remember me as a Lieutenant at A_____ when you visited that place thirteen years ago. I remember this incident that occurred at that time. You gave me some letters to put in the post office, and stood at the door while I mailed them. I remember distinctly looking at them to see to whom they were addressed. While it was not a sin against God, it was a sin against you and a very great breach of good manners. I want to apologize and ask your pardon.'
I do not admit that the brother sinned against me, but rather against his own conscience; and this is a fine illustration of the delicacy and tenderness of conscience the Holy Spirit begets, and how courteous and considerate of each other He would make us! And it is because of failure to obey the Spirit in such minor matters that many people are so spiritually coarse and unlovely, or so lean and barren in soul. 'The little foxes spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes.'
The other comrade writes:
My DEAR COLONEL, --
I have been praying for you. As for me, I have entered into a new experience with Jesus. He has lifted me on to a higher plane and showed me things that I never saw before; more light, more love, more peace, more joy, and a better victory.
I have discovered many things about the Devil. It was God's will that I should go through such dark experiences as I wrote you about before. The Lord did not leave me, but He showed me the reality of the Devil and his tricks. (Ephesians vi. 11.) That certainly was "The Slough of Despond," but I came out more than conqueror, Hallelujah!
The Devil surprises me by his perseverance. He is never discouraged. If he can't get the big things, he will try for the small ones. He is putting up a hard fight, but what can he do? The more I fight the stronger I become and the more I love Jesus. I can't describe to you my experience with Jesus. It is glorious, Hallelujah! He pays me special visits, sometimes in shouting and jumping and the overflowing of the spirit; and sometimes in calmness with a shower of tears. But, Oh, how sweet those tears are! He does not leave me alone, although sometimes I think He does, but I find Him hiding behind that trouble, which He turns into a Blessing later.
My heart is flooded with light, love, peace, and joy, and sometimes it is so overflowing that I can't bear it and do not know what to do with myself. Oh, what a change! It began about the time of our correspondence, when you were in C______ , and it is still going higher. The best is yet to come. Hallelujah!
I do not know that I ever saw any one who had greater darkness and difficulties than this second writer. When I first met him about a year and a half ago, he was full of doubts and questionings and trouble and seemed almost hopelessly in the dark. Again and again he seemed about ready to give up entirely, but with help and encouragement he kept on praying, reading, seeking, and now he has found and his joy is almost too big for utterance. If people who are not satisfied in their experience would take time to 'pray through,' they would find their dark tunnels leading out into a large place and into broad day. Jesus still lives and keeps 'watch above His own' who hunger to be right, and He pours out the Holy Spirit upon every one who obeys Him and seeks Him with all the heart. But before we can be filled we must be emptied. Before we can have the 'life more abundant,' we must die to sin. The 'old man ' must be crucified and put off before Jesus can abide in our hearts and satisfy the hunger of our souls.
Are you satisfied, my comrades? If not, begin right now and stir up yourself to seek until you have found. Rouse yourself. Find a secret place and pray, and pray again, and yet again, and you shall 'pray through ' and be satisfied. I know, for I have prayed through. I know, for Jesus has said:
Ask, and it shall be given you;
Seek, and ye shall find:
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you,'
and what Jesus has said is true. And what the Lord has done for these two writers, He waits and longs to do for you. He is no respecter of persons, and 'now is the accepted time.' Say to Him as did Charles Wesley:
In vain Thou strugglest to get free, I never will unloose my hold;
Art Thou the Man who died for me? The secret of Thy love unfold
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.
Yield to me now, for I am weak, But confident in self-despair
Speak to my heart, in blessing speak; Be conquered by my instant prayer:
Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move, And tell me if Thy name is Love.
And you will soon be crying out as did Wesley:
'Tis Love! 'tis Love! Thou diedst for me; I hear Thy whisper in my heart
The morning breaks, the shadows flee, Pure universal Love Thou art:
To me, to all Thy mercies move, Thy nature and Thy name is Love.