Whatever else may be affirmed or denied, one thing is certain: That there was a time when the jewelry question was settled in the Holiness Movement. There was no question as to our stand on the subject, not even the wedding ring was excepted. The wedding band was just classed with all other kinds of jewelry, and considered the property of formal churches and of the world. Of course this time was before our preachers learned to shield certain people and shun certain portions of the Scripture. This was in the times when holiness was synonymous with revival power and glory. This was when holiness was hated and spurned the world and worldly churches. This was the time when the old time preacher valued the human soul above his own reputation, salary, place or power. "In those day came" the old time preachers, full of faith, holy courage and power, guided by a supernatural wisdom. Every man looked alike to them because they represented God, and souls.
But you say, "Yes, but the times have changed"" Have they? or have men changed? Has holiness changed or has sin changed? Has the pride and vanity of the human heart changed? Why are many of our so-called modern holiness churches so formal, dead, worldly, fashionable and earthy? How many real revivals have you seen or heard of in these modern times? How many ministers or laymen impress you as men and women of prayer and power? How many are more interested in earthly topics, possessions, friends, and ease, than they are in God, souls, revivals and heaven? How many holiness people impress you as persons of piety and power?
Not long since two keen young men, recent students of a certain holiness school, but members of the "popular churches" said to the writer: "We have traveled as members of a quartet in many holiness camp meetings, and the thing that surprised, shocked and grieved us more than all else, has been the utter lack of any devotional life or spirit among modern holiness camps and people." Yes, times have changed. At another camp two intelligent ladies widely acquainted said, "It is so difficult to find preachers for our camps and revivals who have an unction in their message and a burden in their souls for the souls of others. They have a set of sermons they get off with plenty of wit and humor, (in and out of the pulpit), but that is about all." Another old line preacher, when asked how a certain conference of a holiness church was progressing, replied, with a sad countenance, "Well, about the most impressive thing about the ... Conference is, that every one vies with the other to see who can tell the best joke and get the biggest laugh." What more could have been said of any organization of the world? The writer is no recluse or long-faced pessimist, but he does know that there is more to holiness than volleys of folly; and that in a ruined world there is something to be seriously concerned about -- part of the time.
Yes, times have changed, but for the worse. Before we go further, let us have a little class meeting with ourselves. Have I changed? Have you changed? Does Christ mean to you and me what he once meant, -- the source of all our peace and hopes? Do we live in the sacred holy fellowship with him as in other years? Did you and I ever have convictions which have now been surrendered? Have we surrendered them because we are more or less devout, prayerful, and heavenly minded? Have we left the "narrow way?" Do we rejoice more in suffering for Christ and holy principles, than we do for the praise and endorsement of this old world, shallow Church members and compromisers? Do we still feel tender? or do we resent the old time truth, and find it hard to love those who "dare to preach the truth," -- as we once experienced it? Have you or I been "disobedient to the heavenly vision?"
Yes times have changed, but who has changed them? The principles of holiness are as immutable and as unchangeable as the Character of God who is the source of all holy principles. The law of gravity still holds the planets in their courses. Men may change their courses, friends, habits and character, but the moral principles upon which holy characters are builded are as unchangeable and as inviolate as the character of God himself. Let us not fool ourselves: "God is not mocked; this vanity, pride and love for the fashions of the world have no place or endorsement before a holy God or a holy people. Holy hearts are not clamoring for special license which leads to looseness and laxness. Holiness of character tends to a more careful walk with God, and a more complete separation from every questionable thing. This is the kind of a change that the holiness movement is needing more than any other thing. "Shun the very appearance of evil."
What has caused this change in sentiment and emphasis on the jewelry question? Why must our sisters and mothers who have been the backbone and examples of our holy living and simple adornment, be allowed and encouraged to lead the way back to vanity and pride for our younger generation? At least ninety-five percent of our married women do not wear the wedding band because they have convictions against it. Why break down their conscience by laxness in the interpretation of our disciplinary rules against jewelry? Those who have changed their minds about the jewelry question, have also changed about many or all other questions of Christian separation. If our devout mothers are allowed this special privilege (?), why not allow it to our fathers, sons and daughters? Is it our holy women, or our compromisers who are demanding this change? Is it our most spiritual preachers who want more laxity? If the preachers demand the change, they should set the example by wearing the ring so that all women everywhere will know that they are safely married. God have mercy on such shallow thinking, -- and thinkers.