There is nothing in the universe so subtle as the carnal mind, for it is the direct outflow ofSatanic subtlety. No quality of this depraved essence within equals its subtlety unless it be itsenmity toward God and holiness. The power given to diffuse itself, into every part of the life, as atempting agency to its possessor, though otherwise a good man, is amazing. The most religiousutterances of a brother in whose being it dwells may be so mixed with dissimulation, without hisknowing it. Its presence in innocent childhood is often a fearful characteristic, and infallibly, inone form or other, it threads the life of God's real children, till they are wholly sanctified.
If this be true of our fallen humanity where grace reigns, how much more where grace isabsent and the carnal nature has control of the soul? The truth of the above statements may beclearly seen in the following illustrations: 1. Think of a million unsaved church members taking the vows of Christian baptism, at thealtars of God's church. The candidates in groups are standing before God and His people, when thefollowing questions are asked and answers given: "Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world,with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt notfollow or be led by them?"
Answer: "I renounce them all." Question: "Wilt thou then obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk inthe same all the days of thy life?" Answer: "I will endeavor so to do, God being my helper." We would gladly account for these answers without the charge of intentional insincerity,and hope that most, if not all, were given without absolute hypocrisy. Yet mere resolves withunsaved men, if not persistently followed by acts of yielding to God, and much prayer for help,ordinarily will be as a rope of sand. The vows of baptism, however, are much more serious thanmere resolutions; but unsaved men are every one of them under carnal control, and the rule ofSatan. Such control cannot but stupefy the conscience and greatly bewilder mentality as to thethings of God. Yet the reckless breach of these vows and utter failure, in at least nine cases out often, to keep them, is appalling.
2. This truth is further illustrated from the vows taken by ministers of the Methodist Church.There is no ground for questioning the integrity of thousands of them, who have been true to Godand man in this great evangelistic field of Methodism, and such we are far from criticizing. Wehave been referring to unsaved church members, and now refer to unsaved ministers. The contrastbetween a self-appointed or church-appointed minister, who has not been born of God, and aminister born of the Holy Spirit, and called of God to this holy office, is as darkness is to light.
A backslidden minister, who has lost his sonship, may now be much more dangerous to thecause of God than though he had never had the life of God within him. We cannot think of the workand plans and plotting, to avoid holy vows, to pervert the central doctrines of the Gospel, toundermine the truth, to break the authority of the Bible, and drive the church into the devil's corral,as coming from regenerated men, or ministers; this would be impossible. But the time has comewhen those who have the life of God within, both in pulpit and pew, cannot be silent without bloodguiltiness, or passive spectators without complicity in the ruin of the church. She has been made agreat power in the salvation of millions, and is yet the greatest evangelistic power in Christendom;and her spiritual downfall would be an incalculable damage to the cause of God.
There is no deliverance from the obligation of her saved ministers and people to rise upand confront her foes within her fold who are feeling for her life, seeking stealthily to eliminate hercentral doctrines, to quench her furnace fires, and transmute the "old thundering legion" into aUnitarian Brotherhood! These agencies have been at work for more than forty years to underminethe spirituality of the church, and were set in motion by their author, to counteract and destroy theholiness movement. There is a mighty unseen agency who never fails to be alert when Christ isbeing exalted. Back of the National Association [for the Promotion of Holiness], when Doctor andMrs. Palmer and Caughey were waking the church of the Wesleys, on both sides of the sea, to thesubject of holiness, special antagonisms were aroused which have never slumbered till this day.
Where holiness advanced, these agencies were increasingly active, and worldly appliancesmultiplied. In its strongest centers Methodist preachers got together and counseled to put it down,and wrote books directly in opposition to the established teaching of the church on the subject. Asholiness books increased, more of these were written and published by our own book concern,with approval from high Methodist authorities.
The doctrine of holiness was the key to the arch, and as it began to crumble, by beingignored, slighted, opposed, other basal doctrines began to be ignored, in order to abandonment,and preparatory to a new system of doctrine, relating to depravity, sin, repentance, the new birth, the miraculous birth of Christ, His sacrificial death, His character as a Saviour, His two distinctnatures, etc., etc., with more to follow!
All this has been carried forward without the counsel or consent of a million trulyconverted laymen, or the cooperation of ten thousands of her more spiritual ministers.
All this, we may add, is the result of crowding our church records with names which havenever been written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and sending shrewd, educated worldlings into theministry, who have never been born of God; or through ministers, who have had eternal life andlost it, by rejecting God's call to holiness! See 1 Thess. 4:7, 8, and Heb. 6:1, 8.
Such characters have always been office seekers in the church, and in proportion as herspiritual power weakens, they get the ascendency, and in proportion as they rule spiritualitydisappears. It has never been otherwise, in any generation; that in proportion as the internal gloryof our Divine religion recedes, comes the cry for worldly appliances to fill the vacuum; and thespiritual tone of the church can be correctly judged of, by the width and strength of that cry!
Think of the Church of Pentecost, with her "tongue of fire, and heart of flame," panting forworldly amusements! Who now represents her? Popes, Cardinals and Bishops declare withoutblushing, that the church of Rome is her only true representative! What is there left in the RomanChurch which reminds you of the church of Christ in the first century of her glorious life? Yet inthese centuries of spiritual decline, of corruption in doctrine and practice; of worldly pomp,endless ceremonies, and idolatrous worship; her ecclesiastics teach and believe, she is the onlytrue HOLY Catholic Church; and have never conceded it to be otherwise! She is the greatestecclesiastical body on the earth; greater than all of Christian Protestantism put together; and if atruly spiritual body, as the church of Peter and John, and the church of John Wesley, could save theworld in a single year!
But Christian Protestantism is sending her missionaries into every land, to bring RomanCatholics to Christ, and get them saved. Today there are few peoples in the whole earth who aremore needy of real salvation than her millions in the Philippines and Central and South America;as her Sunday bullfights and manifold corruptions testify.
What is plainer in her case, than the substitution of church ritual for the gospel, churchorder for the Scriptures, self-crucifixions for the atonement, church loyalty for loyalty to God, thespectacular for Pentecostal glory, and worldly amusements for the joy of salvation? Spiritualdecline leading to apostasy, has always been characterized by substituting outward pomp for theinner glory, and the spectacular for the meekness and simplicity of Jesus.
The wide determination in the high places of Methodism, to rid the church utterly of theWesleyan teaching on holiness, could hardly be more manifest. The opposition to it, as we haveseen, crystallized with the beginning of the great holiness movement, when leading ministers of thechurch, met [the] startling conviction of their need of it. As impenitent men are quiet andinoffensive, when conviction of their need of pardon is absent, but their opposition is fearfullyaroused when conviction comes; so the tiger was aroused in these brethren when through the directpreaching on the need of holiness as a second experience, brought out their true condition.
Preaching, preceding this period, on holiness, with the fewest exceptions, had consisted ingeneralities, and holiness, whatever it might be, was a privilege, but largely [the preaching wason] repentance, and the new birth, with great directness, as the demand of the gospel, hence sinnerswere brought under fearful conviction, and were led to Christ for pardoned sin.
The holiness movement brought out holiness as a definite experience, not only providedand promised to all the sons and daughters of God, but absolutely required of every child in thefamily, and a condition of eternal life. Its heralds declared that God's law and character demandedit, that His gospel and Holy Spirit demanded it, and that much more was written in the Scriptures,concerning it than there was on repentance and pardon, and proved it, by the Word of God! Thisbrought conviction, real Divine conviction, and more sinners were thus deeply awakened, broughtto thorough repentance, and soundly converted to God, in this country during those years, than inthe four great churches of Protestantism!
But this was not all, nor the chief part of it. Tens of thousands of God's real children wereso convicted of their heart depravity and need of being wholly sanctified, they could not retaintheir justification without yielding to these convictions, and seeking a holy heart. These, each ofthem who met the conditions, without one exception, were sanctified, just as God had previouslyjustified them, when they met the conditions of justification! Why not, who can tell? God haspromised the one and has promised the other, with equal clearness. If His promise to justifypenitent and believing sinners is infallible, why should His promise to sanctify His consecratedand believing child, be a failure?
But while tens of thousands of God's children were convicted of their depravity and God'swill to sanctify them, yielded to these convictions and were sanctified, more than a thousandthousand, were in like manner convicted, who did not yield to their convictions; and that explainsthe present condition of the church! When God offers wealth to a poor man, and he rejects it, itcompels him to do two things: 1. To get rid of his convictions, and 2. To persistently seek forsubstitutes for the riches he has forfeited. God only knows what it has cost a million souls to throwoff their convictions for holiness, and the subterfuges resorted to, to enable them to cling to inwardsin; or the wailings which it must produce at the judgment seat of Christ!
One result of this process is the reduction of its once beautifully saved subject, in hisfeelings, sympathies and soul trends, to the level of a worldling with greater thirst for sin andworldly appliances. It is this class of souls, who have largely officered the army of unconvertedchurch members and ministers and are leading in the crusade against the Scriptures, and thefundamental doctrines of Methodism, as has been so clearly proven by Doctor William HenryBurns, of Chicago, who is an able minister and member of the Rock River Conference, that itcannot be truthfully denied.
A close following of their effort to mutilate God's Holy Book brings out the subtle designto eliminate the supernatural from both testaments, which would destroy its Divine authority, andfurnish a jubilee for guilty consciences. One of this class, said to me defiantly the other day: "Ihave found that old book to be a fable, and I Am A Free Man!" Free from what? To take in all ofsin's pleasures without fear of being punished! A brother of his, in St. Louis, said: "We will notonly have to destroy the Book, but we will have to go farther, and dethrone the prime Monarch of the skies before we can have perfect freedom!" -- freedom from the demands of infiniterighteousness -- freedom from the necessity of being holy -- freedom from Divine conviction,haunting the soul who refused to obey it -- freedom to take in sin, to give loose reign to fallen anddepraved passions -- freedom to teach like Mrs. Eddy, that there is no such thing as sin, thoughtheft and robbery, lying and blasphemy, murder and adultery, are daily occurrences in every nationunder heaven! Such processes, ever so subtle, and apparently innocent in their beginnings, by theirgreat author, are intended ultimately to take down God's partition between virtue and vice, and letin the flood-tide of damnation on the human race!
The same subtle, far-reaching design which is in the effort to mutilate the Scriptures, isstrikingly apparent, in the stealthy agencies at work to undermine the fundamental doctrines of thechurch. The doctrines of the Bible as systematized by Wesley and his helpers, largely modified theteachings of the Protestant world in a single century. No system of doctrine ever equaled it, in itssimplicity, in its complete harmony with the Scriptures, and with itself. Other systems of theologycontained much of truth and fundamental teachings which never can be overthrown, but with thesewere interwoven principles and teaching which never could be harmonized. The fundamentaldoctrines of Methodism were so absolutely coined from the word of God, that they must stand orfall with the sacred oracles. Hence to do away with their authority, these self-appointed critics hadfirst to discount the authority of God's Holy Book, by practically denying its Divine authority,ignoring all that is supernatural and rejecting the truth in the Book, from which these doctrineswere coined! This, after all, is the old battle between sin and holiness, light and darkness, truth anderror, infidelity and Jesus Christ!
Brother, with which of these two parties are you going to line up? With which would youlike to be numbered in the Judgment Day?