From the days of Abraham until this day, there has always been a church within the church,and in our fallen condition it seems well nigh impossible to be otherwise. As the body enlarges, ithas never failed to have an outside rim of worldlings. These have never failed to be the greatesthindrance to her real prosperity. They add to her numbers, but decrease her power. They arecounted with her, but have never been of her. In proportion as they are strong the church weakens,and when they rule the church goes into captivity.
Today, if ten thousand pastors of the larger Christian bodies, were to open a campaign forthe conversion of sinners and the sanctification of believers: their unsaved members would be thegreatest barrier to their success: greater than all other barriers! The whole fraternity of wickedmen and devils outside, will not equal the barriers, furnished by the dead men within. This isSatan's greatest stronghold, and through the ages, he has insisted on pushing his children into God'senclosure to plot and plan for the overthrow of Christ's kingdom. One hundred of his servantsinside the church, can do more to wither her spirituality, weaken her heart, and hinder her saving work, than ten thousand from the outside. "He that is not for me, is against me, and he that gatherethnot with me, scattereth abroad." One wolf inside the fold, can scatter and destroy more sheep thanone thousand wolves from the outside.
We venture the statement, that not one destructive critic can be found who can truthfullyanswer the following questions in the affirmative: Do you know Jesus Christ as your personalSaviour? Have you an inner consciousness, that your past sins are all forgiven you? Has God'sHoly Spirit witnessed with your spirit, that you are born of God? Christ affirms, that we are thechildren of God, or the children of the devil, and the Book declares we are all made the childrenof God, by faith in Christ Jesus! Have you truly been justified by faith, and have you peace withGod through our Lord Jesus Christ? Rom. 5:1. Have you the joy of the Holy Ghost within? 1 Peter1:1-9. Do you love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself? Matt. 22:34-40. Haveyou conscious fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ? 1 John 1:3-4.
God has made such provision for His real children, that there is not an ignorant child in Hisfamily, of fifteen summers, who may not be able clearly to answer every one of these questionsaffirmatively, with a glad heart and free! But it is simply impossible that any human being shouldhave these answers in the depths of his consciousness, and the knowledge of God, which bringsthat consciousness: should be employed in mutilating the Scriptures, and assaulting the fundamentaldoctrines of the Church. This is made infallibly true when we scrutinize the design of suchcriticisms.
Doctor Eliot, of Harvard, has brought the design of all this destructive criticism fully tolight, and summed it up in his coming new religion of the world, which is to have the supernaturalall eliminated! That is, always has been, and will be, the religion of the world; till the judgmentday! But that is one thing, and the religion of Christ is another thing. That is of the earth, earthy, butthis is of the Lord from heaven! Doctor Eliot is a man of great powers of intellect and worldlyculture, but what can a man know of God who denies His existence?
There is not an ignorant child on the earth, of ten summers, who is truly born of God, whodoes not know God a thousand times better than Doctor Eliot. The differences between the two is,that the one knows Him, and the other does not know Him! Let us go to the word of God: "For thepreaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness: but unto us who are saved, it is the powerof God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing theunderstanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of thisworld? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God,the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save themthat believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christcrucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them whichare called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weakthings of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, andthings which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought thingsthat are: that no flesh should glory in His presence." "For what man knoweth the things of a man,save the spirit of man which is in him? even so, the things of God knoweth NO man, but the Spirit of God." "Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, thatwe might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in thewords which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual thingwith spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they arefoolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he thatis spiritual judgeth all things, yet be himself is judged of no man." See 1st Corinthians, 1st and 2dchapters. These Scriptures open up this whole subject, and solve its difficulties.
Each kingdom has its laws distinct from every other kingdom, as the vegetable, the mineraland the animal kingdoms. How far would a scientist proceed, without confusion, investigating themineral kingdom, by the laws which govern the vegetable kingdom? All intelligence would brandhim as a fool, and insist that it could only be understood by its own laws.
The natural world and the spiritual world, are wholly distinct. These destructive criticsbelong to the natural world, with only an approximate knowledge of its laws, and are fearfullyignorant of the laws of the spiritual kingdom. Being inflated with their supposed knowledge of thelaws of nature, they have set themselves to the adjustment of the whole spiritual realm! What dothey know of the spiritual realm? -- or of God, its Author?
How about a man who has mastered the rules of English grammar, going about the country,lecturing on the higher mathematics, or a learned physician assaying to command the British navy?Why, the greatest scientist the world has ever produced might be utterly incapable of running ablacksmith shop! The most contemptible assumption in history, is a man dictating aboutexperimental religion, who has no knowledge of pardoned sins, and is so ignorant of God, that hedoubts His very existence!
How much knowledge of any person can we have, whose existence we are continuouslydoubting? "This is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christwhom Thou hast sent." Have these persons eternal life, who are giving their time to mutilating theword of God and stealthily undermining the doctrines of His gospel? One of such whom I haveknown for forty years, a minister of a sister church, told me he thought the existence of a living,personal God, was simply impossible. Yet, at that very time, he was posing as a Christianminister! These pretenders mingling with the flock of God, are a menace to Christianity!
The true men of Methodism have given millions and millions, to build our institutions oflearning, that their children might be educated in Methodist schools, and be doctrinally sound; andnow not one of her bright sons can graduate in her higher universities without running againstlearned professors, questioning the inspiration of the Scriptures, caviling at the supernatural birthof Jesus, haggling at the atonement, and striking at the central doctrines of the church which havemade her what she is! That the young men of the church preparing for the ministry, should becompelled to pass such ordeals, cannot but mean calamity. And that these young men should becompelled in their conference course of study, to peruse books, whose design is to substitute forthe central doctrines of Methodism, the most subtle and cowardly forms of skepticism, is enough tobring the ashes of John Wesley from the grave!
There is no possible excuse for the ministers who have brought this condition of thingsabout -- for each one of such has solemn vows upon him to sustain these very doctrines, and knowsthat they cannot be changed, or substituted by others, without a gross violation of the constitution ofthe church, whose minister he is, and at whose hands he receives his bread! Good and great menhave changed their minds consciously, concerning doctrinal truth, and for such, the Methodistchurch has always kept an open door of deliverance, and conceded the right to enjoy anddisseminate doctrines contrary to her established teaching; but not within her fold! That door isstill open, and these brethren, from pulpit or pew, who are at war with her vital centers, and thegreatest barrier to her soul-saving work, will please God and greatly benefit man, by going throughit, to a communion in harmony with their new faith, where they can disseminate their views,without violating their vows, or sailing under false colors. Why [do] not [such leave the MethodistChurch]? Who can tell?