CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. Pages Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 1: What It Is and What It Does Chapter 2: The Necessity and Possibility of the Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 3: How the Baptism With The Holy Spirit is Obtained Chapter 4: Fresh Baptisms With The Holy Spirit OR The Refilling With The Holy Spirit Chapter 5: How Spiritual Power Is Lost 21 April Baptism With The Holy Spirit By Reuben Archer Torrey Holy Spirit, Baptism 0 Comment The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Introduction It was a great turning point in my ministry, when, after much thought and study and meditation, I became satisfied that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit was an experience for to-day and for me, and set myself about obtaining it. Such blessing came to me personally, that I began giving Bible readings on the subject, and with increasing frequency as the years have passed. God in His wondrous grace has so greatly blessed these readings, and so many have asked for them in printed form, convenient for circulation among their friends, that I have decided to write them out in full for publication. It is an occasion of great joy that so many and such excellent books on the person and work of the Holy Spirit have appeared of late. I wish to call especial attention to two of these: “Through the Eternal Spirit,” by James Elder Cumming and “The Spirit of Christ,” by Andrew Murray. In the following pages I speak uniformly of the Holy Spirit, but in the quotations from the Bible retain the less desirable phraseology there used—“The Holy Ghost”—except in those instances where the translators themselves varied their usage. Probably most of the readers of this book already know that “the Holy Spirit” and “the Holy Ghost” are simply two different translations of precisely the same Greek words. It seems very unfortunate, and almost unaccountable, that the English revisers did not follow the suggestion of the American Committee, and, for “Holy Ghost”, adopt uniformly the rendering “Holy Spirit.” Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 9–24). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Introduction It was a great turning point in my ministry, when, after much thought and study and meditation, I became satisfied that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit was an experience for to-day and for me, and set myself about obtaining it. Such blessing came to me personally, that I began giving Bible readings on the subject, and with increasing frequency as the years have passed. God in His wondrous grace has so greatly blessed these readings, and so many have asked for them in printed form, convenient for circulation among their friends, that I have decided to write them out in full for publication. It is an occasion of great joy that so many and such excellent books on the person and work of the Holy Spirit have appeared of late. I wish to call especial attention to two of these: “Through the Eternal Spirit,” by James Elder Cumming and “The Spirit of Christ,” by Andrew Murray. In the following pages I speak uniformly of the Holy Spirit, but in the quotations from the Bible retain the less desirable phraseology there used—“The Holy Ghost”—except in those instances where the translators themselves varied their usage. Probably most of the readers of this book already know that “the Holy Spirit” and “the Holy Ghost” are simply two different translations of precisely the same Greek words. It seems very unfortunate, and almost unaccountable, that the English revisers did not follow the suggestion of the American Committee, and, for “Holy Ghost”, adopt uniformly the rendering “Holy Spirit.” Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 9–24). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) Chapter 1: What It Is and What It Does The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 1 What It Is and What It Does While a great deal is said in these days concerning the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, it is to be feared that there are many who talk about it and pray for it, who have no clear and definite idea of what it is. But the Bible, if carefully studied, will give us a view of this wondrous blessing that is perfectly clear and remarkably definite. 1. We find first of all, that there are a number of designations in the Bible for this one experience. In Acts 1:5, Jesus said, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” In Acts 2:4, when this promise was fulfilled, we read, “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” In Acts 1:4, the same experience is spoken of as “the promise of the Father” and in Luke 24:49 as “the promise of my Father,” and “endued power from on high.” By a comparison of Acts 10:44, 45, 47 with Acts 11:15, 16, we find that the expressions “the Holy Spirit fell on them” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost,” and “received the Holy Ghost” are all equivalent to “baptized with the Holy Ghost.” 2. We find in the next place, that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may know whether he has received it or not. This is evident from our Savior’s command to the Apostles: “Tarry ye in the city, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49.) Unless this enduement with power, or Baptism with the Holy Ghost, is an experience so definite that one can know whether he has received it or not, how could they tell when those commanded days of tarrying were at an end? The same thing is clear from Paul’s very definite question to the disciples at Ephesus. “Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?” (Acts 19:2, R. V.) Paul evidently expected a definite “yes,” or a definite “no” for an answer. Unless the experience is definite, and of such a character that one can know whether he has received it or not, how could these disciples answer Paul’s question? In point of fact, they knew they had not “received,” or been “baptized with,” the Holy Ghost, and a short time afterward they knew they had “received,” or been “baptized with,” the Holy Ghost. (Acts 19:6.) Ask many a man to-day, who prays that he may be baptized with the Holy Ghost: “Well, my brother, did you get what you asked? Were you baptized with the Holy Ghost?” and he would be dumbfounded. He did not expect anything so definite that he could answer positively to a question like that, “yes” or “no.” But we find in the Bible none of that vagueness and indefiniteness regarding this subject which we find in much of our modern prayer and speech. The Bible is a very definite book. It is very definite about salvation: so definite that a man who knows his Bible can say positively “yes” or “no” to the question “are you saved.” It is equally definite about “the Baptism with the Holy Ghost:” so definite that a man who knows his Bible can say positively, “yes,” or “no,” to the question, “have you been baptized with the Holy Ghost.” There may be those who are saved who do not know it, because they do not understand their Bibles, but it is their privilege to know it. So there may be those who have been Baptized with the Holy Ghost, who do not know the Bible name for what has come to them, but it is their privilege to know. 3. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a work of the Holy Spirit separate and distinct from His regenerating work. To be regenerated by the Holy Spirit is one thing, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is something different, something additional. This is evident from Acts 1:5. There Jesus said: “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” They where not then as yet “baptized with the Holy Ghost.” But they were already regenerated. Jesus Himself had already pronounced them so. In John 15:3, He had said to the same men, “Now are ye clean through the Word.” (Comp. Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23) and in Jno. 13:10: “Ye are clean, but not all,” excepting, by the “but not all,” the one unregenerate man in the Apostolic company, Judas Iscariot, from the statement “Ye are clean.” (See Jno. 13:11.) The Apostles, excepting Judas Iscariot, were then already regenerate men, but they were not yet “baptized with the Holy Ghost.” From this it is evident that regeneration is one thing, and that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is something different, something additional. One may be regenerated and still not yet be baptized with the Holy Ghost. The same thing is evident from Acts 8:12–16. Here we find a company of believers who had been baptized. Surely in this company of baptized believers there were some regenerate men. But the record informs us that when Peter and John came down they “prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet He was fallen upon none of them).” It is clear then that one may be a believer, may be a regenerate man, and yet not have the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is something distinct from and beyond His regenerating work. Not every regenerate man has the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, though as we shall see later, every regenerate man may have this Baptism. If a man has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit he is a saved man, but he is not fitted for service until in addition to this he has received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. But while the baptism with the Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit separate and distinct from His regenerating work it may and often does occur simultaneously with it. A man may be baptized with the Spirit the moment he is regenerated. It was so in the case of the household of Cornelius. It is so in the case of many today. It would be so in every case in a perfectly normal condition of the Church. The apostles expected that when men were converted and regenerated they should also be baptized with the Holy Spirit at once and fitted for immediate service. (Eph. 1:13; R. V. Acts 2:38, 1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 8:15, 16; 9:17; 19:2: R. V.) In some cases, as at Ephesus, (Acts 19:1–6) and Samaria, (Acts 8:12–16), because of inadequate instruction, or other reasons, this was not the case. The Ephesus or Samaria condition of affairs seems to be the prevailing condition today and we need to go about asking as Paul did at Ephesus “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed” (Acts 19:2.), and insisting that regeneration is not enough but, that believers must also be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 4. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected with testimony and service. Look carefully at every passage in which the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is mentioned, and you will see that it is connected with, and is for the purpose of, testimony and service. (For example, Acts 1:5, 8; 2:4; 4:31, 33.) This will come out very clearly when we come to consider what the Baptism with the Holy Spirit does. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, is not an experience that God grants to us merely to make us happy. It will indeed bring into our lives a joy such as we never knew before. But that is not its main purpose. The Baptism with the Spirit is not intended to make us happy but to make us effective. We should not look and long for ecstatic experiences, but for power and efficiency for God. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not even primarily for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the purpose of empowering for service. There is a line of teaching, put forward by a very earnest but mistaken body of people, that has brought the whole doctrine of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit into disrepute. It runs this way: First proposition: there is a further experience (or second blessing) after regeneration, namely, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. This proposition is true and can be easily proven from the Bible. Second proposition: this Baptism with the Holy Spirit can be instantaneously received. This proposition is also true and can be easily proven from the Bible. Third proposition: this Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the eradication of the sinful nature. This proposition is untrue. Not a line of Scripture can be adduced to show that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the eradication of the sinful nature. The conclusion, viz., “the sinful nature can be instantaneously eradicated,” drawn from these three propositions, two true and one false, is necessarily false. The the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not primarily for purpose of empowering for service. It is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit to cleanse from sin. Further than this there is a work of the Holy Spirit where the believer is strengthened with might in the inner man: that Christ may dwell in his heart by faith … that he might be filled unto all the fulness of God. (Eph. 3:16–19 R. V.) There is a work of the Holy Spirit of such a character that the believer is “made free from the law of sin and death,” (Rom. 8:2) and through the Spirit does “mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body.” (Rom. 8:13.) It is our privilege to so walk, daily and hourly, in the power of the Spirit, that the carnal nature is kept in the place of death. But this is not the Baptism with the Spirit, neither is it the eradication of the sinful nature. It is not something done once for all, it is something that must be momentarily maintained. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16.) While insisting that the Baptism with the Spirit is primarily, for the purpose of empowering for service, it should be added that the Baptism is accompanied by a great moral uplift. It ought to mean and usually does means a transformed life as well as a transformed ministry. (See Acts 2:44–46; 4:31–35.) This is necessarily so, from the steps one must take to obtain this blessing. Further than this we cannot forget that one of the promises on this subject reads: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11.) When we notice that here fire seems to be contrasted with water in the earlier part of the verse, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the cleansing power of fire is partly in mind. If this be so, then the Baptism with the Holy Spirit which is primarily an energizing process, is also a revealing, refining, consuming, illuminating process, and one by which we are made to glow with love to God, and love to man, and love to souls. 5. We will get a still clearer and fuller view of what the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is, if we will notice what this Baptism does. This is stated concisely in Acts 1:8. “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses,” etc. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit imparts “power” power for service. This power will not manifest itself in precisely the same way in each individual. This is brought out very clearly in 1 Cor. 12:4–13, R.V.: “Now there are diversities of gifts but the same spirit. For to one is given, through the Spirit, the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same spirit; to another faith, in the same spirit; and to another gifts of healing, in the one spirit; to another diverse kinds of tongues; but all these worketh the one and the same spirit, dividing to each one severally even as He will.” In my early study of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, I noticed that in many instances those who were so baptized “spoke with tongues,” and the question came often into my mind: if one is baptized with the Holy Spirit will he not speak with tongues? But I saw no one so speaking, and I often wondered, is there any one today who actually is baptized with the Holy Spirit. This twelfth chapter of 1st Corinthians cleared me up on that, especially when I found Paul asking of those who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit: “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Cor. 12:30.) But I fell into another error, namely, that any one who received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit would receive power as an evangelist, or as a preacher of the Word. This is equally contrary to the teaching of the chapter, that “there are diversities of gifts, but the one Spirit.” There are three evils arising from the mistake just mentioned. First, disappointment. Many will seek the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, expecting power as an evangelist, but God has not called them to that work, and the power that comes from the Baptism with the Holy Spirit manifests itself in another way in them. Many cases of bitter disappointment and almost despair have arisen from this cause. The second evil is graver than the first: presumption. A man whom God has not called to the work of an evangelist, or minister, rushes into it because he has received, or thinks he has received, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Many a man has said: “All a man needs to succeed as a preacher is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.” This is not true. He needs a call to that specific work, and he needs the study of the Word of God that will prepare him for the work. The third evil is still greater: indifference. There are many who know they are not called to the work of preaching. For example, a mother with a large family of children knows this. If then, they think that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit simply imparts power to preach, it is a matter of no personal concern to them; but when we come to see the truth that, while the Baptism with the Spirit imparts power, the way in which that power will be manifested, depends upon the work to which God has called us, and that no efficient work can be done without it, then the mother will see that she equally with the preacher needs this Baptism—needs for that most important and hallowed of all work, to bring up her children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” I have recently met a very happy mother. A few months ago she heard of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit sought it and received it. “Oh,” she joyfully exclaimed as she told me the story, “Since I received it, I have been able to get into the hearts of my children which I was never able to do before.” It is the Holy Spirit Himself who decides how the power will manifest itself in any given case “the spirit; dividing to each one severally even as He will.” (1 Cor. 12:11 R. V.) We have a right “to desire earnestly the greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31.), but the Holy Spirit is sovereign, and He not we, must determine in the final issue. It is not for us then to select some gift, and then look to the Holy Spirit to impart the self-chosen gift; it is not for us to select some field of service and then look to the Holy Spirit to impart to us power in that field which we, and not He, have chosen. It is rather for us to recognize the Divinity and sovereignty of the Spirit, and put ourselves unreservedly at His disposal; for Him to select the gift that “He will” and impart to us that gift; for Him to select for us the field that “He will” and impart to us the power that will qualify us for the field He has chosen. I once knew a child of God, who, hearing of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and the power that resulted from it, gave up at a great sacrifice, the secular work in which he was engaged, and entered upon the work of an evangelist. But the expected power in that line did not follow. The man fell into great doubt and darkness, until he was led to see that the Holy Spirit divideth “to each one severally, even, as He will.” Then giving up selecting his own field and gifts, he put himself at the Holy Spirit’s disposal for Him to choose. In the final outcome the Holy Spirit did impart to this man power as an evangelist and a preacher of the Word. We must then surrender ourselves absolutely to the Holy Spirit to work as He will. But, while the power that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit brings, manifests itself in different ways in different individuals, there will always be power. Just as surely as a man is baptized with the Holy Spirit there will be new power, a power not his own, “the power of the Highest!” Religious biography abounds in instances of men, who have worked along as best they could, until one day they were led to see there was such an experience as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and to seek it and obtain it. From that hour there came into their service a new power that utterly transformed its character. Finney, Brainerd and Moody are a few of the many cases in point. Cases of this character are not confined to a few exceptional men, they are becoming common. The writer has personally met and corresponded with hundreds during the past twelve months, who could testify definitely to the new power that God had granted them through the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. These hundreds of men and women were in all branches of Christian service. Many of them were ministers of the gospel, others mission workers, others Y. M. C. A. secretaries, others Sunday school teachers, others personal workers, others fathers and mothers. Nothing could exceed the clearness, confidence and joyfulness of many of these testimonies. What we have in promise in the words of Christ many have, and all may have, in glad experience: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” 6. There is another but closely related result of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:31. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.” The Baptism with the Holy Spirit imparts to those who receive it new liberty and fearlessness in testimony for Christ. The same Peter, who before his baptism with the Holy Spirit, cowered at the maid’s charge that he was one of Jesus’ disciples (Jno. 18:17) after his baptism with the Holy Spirit, faces the very council that put Jesus to death and says: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged upon a tree.” (Acts 5:30) The natural timidity and constraint of many a man to-day, vanishes when he is filled with the Holy Spirit, and with great boldness and liberty and fearlessness he gives his testimony for Christ. 7. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit causes the one who receives it to be occupied with God and Christ and spiritual things. On the day of Pentecost it was “the mighty works of God,” (Acts 2:11) of which the Spirit filled men and women spoke. Peter’s sermon on that day is all about Christ, and especially about His resurrection. (Acts 2:22–36, compare also Acts 4:8–10, 31, 33). When Saul of Tarsus had been filled with the Holy Spirit, “straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus.” (Acts 9:17, 20). When Cornelius and his household were baptised with the Holy Spirit they began at once to “magnify God” (Acts 10:44–46). Men who are baptized with the Holy Ghost do not talk much about self, but very much of God, and especially about Christ. This is naturally so, as it is the Spirit’s office to “bear witness of” and “glorify” Christ. (Jno. 15:26, R. V. 16:14.) Paul says that the result of being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is that men speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with their hearts to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:18, 19.) Worldly songs loose their charm to one who is baptized with the Holy Spirit; he is occupied with Christ. To sum up the contents of this chapter: The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon the believer, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not naturally his own, but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him. Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 9–24). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) Chapter 2: The Necessity and Possibility of the Baptism With The Holy Spirit The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 2 The Necessity and Possibility of the Baptism With The Holy Spirit Shortly before Christ was received up into heaven, having committed the preaching of the gospel to His disciples, He laid upon them this very solemn charge concerning the beginning of the great work He had committed to their hands: “Behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, R. V.) There is no doubt as to what Jesus meant by the “promise of my Father” for which they were to wait before beginning the ministry which He had entrusted to them; for in Acts 1:4, 5, we read that Jesus “charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” which, said he, “Ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” “The promise of the Father,” through which the enduement of power was to come, was the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. (Comp. Acts 1:8). Christ then strictly charged His disciples not to presume to undertake the work to which He had called them until they had received as the necessary and all-essential preparation for that work, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The men to whom Jesus said this, seemed to have already received very thorough preparation for the work in hand. They had been to school to Christ Himself for more than three years. They had heard from His own lips the great truths that they were to proclaim to the world. They had been eye witnesses of His miracles, of His death and of His resurrection and were about to be eye witnesses of His ascension. The work before them was simply to go forth to proclaim what their own eyes had seen and what their own ears had heard from the lips of Christ Himself. Were they not fully prepared for this work? It would seem so to us. But Christ said: “No. You are so utterly unprepared you must not stir a step yet. There is a further preparation, so all essential to effective service, that you must abide at Jerusalem until you receive it. This further preparation is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. When you receive that—and not until then—you will be prepared to begin the work to which I have called you.” If Christ did not permit these men, who had received so rare and unparalleled a schooling for the work to which He had so definitely and clearly called them, to undertake this without receiving in addition to that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, what is it for us to undertake the work to which He has called us until we have received, in addition to any amount of schooling we may have had for the work, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? Is it not most daring presumption? But this is not all. In Acts 10:38, we read “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.” When we look into the gospels for an explanation of these words, we find it in Luke 3:21, 22; 4:1, 14, 15, 18, 21. We find that at the Baptism of Jesus at Jordan as He prayed, the Holy Spirit came upon Him. Then, “full of the Holy Ghost,” He has the temptation experience. Then, “in the power of Spirit,” He begins His ministry, and proclaims himself “anointed to preach” because “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him.” In other words, Jesus the Christ, never entered upon the ministry for which He came into this world until He was baptized with the Holy Spirit. If Jesus Christ, who had been supernaturally conceived through the Holy Spirit’s power, who was the only begotten Son of God, who was divine, very God of very God, and yet truly man; if such an one, “leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps,” did not venture upon the ministry for which the Father had sent Him until thus baptized with the Holy Ghost, what is it for us to dare to do it? If, in the light of these recorded facts, we dare to do it, it seems like an offence going beyond presumption. Doubtless it has been done in ignorance by many, but can we plead ignorance any longer? The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an absolutely necessary preparation for effective service for Christ along every line of service. We may have a very clear call to service, as clear it may be as the Apostles had, but the charge is laid upon us, as upon them, that before we begin that service we must “tarry until ye be clothed with power from on high.” This enduement with power is through the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. There are certainly few greater mistakes that we are making today, than that of setting men to teach Sunday school classes, and do personal work, and even to preach the gospel, simply because they have been converted and received a certain amount of education—perhaps including a college and seminary course—but have not as yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Any man who is in Christian work, who has not received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, ought to stop his work right where he is, and not go on with it until he has been “clothed with power from on high.” But what will our work do while we are waiting? What did the world do those ten days while the early disciples were waiting? They alone knew the saving truth, yet, in obedience to the Lord’s command, they were silent. The world was no loser, When the power came they accomplished more in one day than they would have accomplished in years, if they had gone on in presumptuous disobedience to Christ’s charge; so will we after we have received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit accomplish more in one day than we ever would in years without His power. Days spent in waiting, if it were necessary, would be well spent, but we shall see further on that there is no need that we spend days in waiting. It may be said that the Apostles had gone out on missionary tours during Christ’s lifetime before they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is true, but that was before the Holy Ghost was given, and before the charge, “tarry until ye be clothed with power from on high” was given. After that it would have been disobedience and presumption to have gone forth without this enduement, and we are living today after the Holy Ghost has been given and after the charge to “tarry until clothed” has been given. We come now to the question of the Possibility of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit for us? This is a question that has a most plain and explicit answer in the Word of God. In Acts 2:39, R. V., we read: “For to you is the promise, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him.” What is “the promise” of this passage? Turning back to the fourth and fifth verses of the preceding chapter we read: “Wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Again in the thirty third verse of the second chapter we read: “Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost.” It would seem to be perfectly clear that “the promise” of the thirty ninth verse must be the same as “the promise” of the thirty third verse and “the promise” of the fourth and fifth verses of the preceding chapter; i.e., the promise of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. This conclusion is rendered absolutely certain by the context: “Repent and be baptized every one you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise,” etc. The promise then of this verse is the promise of the gift or Baptism with the Holy Ghost. (Comp. Acts 10:45 with Acts 11:15, 16, to prove that “the gift of the Holy Ghost” is the same as “the Baptism with the Holy Ghost.”) Who is this gift for? “To you,” says Peter to the Jews whom he was immediately addressing. Then looking over their heads to the next generation, “And to your children.” Then looking down all the coming ages of the Church’s history to Gentile as well as Jew: “And to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him.” The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is for every child of God in every age of the Church’s history. If it is not ours in experimental possession, it is because we have not taken (the exact force of the word translated “receive” in verse 38 is take) what God has provided for us in our exalted Savior. (Acts 2:33; Jno. 7:38, 39.) A minister of the gospel once came to me after a lecture on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and said: “The church to which I belong, teaches that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit was for the Apostolic age alone.” “It matters not,” was replied, “what the church to which you belong, or the church to which I belong, teaches. What says the Word of God?” Acts 2:39 was read: “To you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him.” “Has He called you?” I asked. “Yes He certainly has.” “Is the promise for you?” “Yes, it is.” And it was. And it is for every child of God who reads these pages. What a thrilling thought it is that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, the enduement with power from on high is for us, is FOR ME individually! But that unspeakably joyous thought has its solemn side. If I may be baptized with the Holy Spirit I must be. If I am baptized with the Holy Spirit, then will souls be saved through my instrumentality who are not so saved if I am not so baptized. If then I am not willing to pay the price of this Baptism, and therefore am not so baptized, I am responsible before God for all the souls that might have been saved, but were not saved, through me, because I was not baptized with the Holy Spirit. I oftentimes tremble for my brethren in Christian work and myself. Not because we are teaching deadly error to men; some are guilty of even that, but I do not refer to that now. Not that we are not teaching the full truth as it is in Jesus. It must be confessed that there are many, who do not teach positive error, who do not preach a full gospel, but I do not refer to that. I tremble for those who are preaching the truth, the truth as it is in Jesus, the gospel in its simplicity, in its purity, in its fullness, but preaching it “in persuasive words of wisdom” and not “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4, R. V.), preaching it in the energy of the flesh and not in the power of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more deadly than the gospel without the Spirit’s power. “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” It is awfully solemn business preaching the gospel either from the pulpit or in more quiet ways. It means death or life to those who hear, and whether it means death or life depends very largely on whether we preach it without or with the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. We must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Note 1. It is sometimes argued that “the Baptism with the Holy Spirit” was for the purpose of imparting miracle-working power, and for the Apostolic age alone. In favor of this position it is asserted that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit was followed quite uniformly by miracles. The untenableness of this position is seen: (1) By the fact, that Christ Himself asserted that the purpose of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit was to impart power for witnessing—not especially power to work miracles, (Acts 1:5, 8; Luke 24:48, 49.) (2) By the fact, that Paul distinctly taught that there were diversities of gift, and that “workings of miracles” was only one of the manifold manifestations of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. 12:4, 8–10.) (3) By the fact, that Peter distinctly asserts that “the gift of the Holy Ghost,” “the promise,” is for all believers in all generations (Acts 2:38, 39), and it is evident from a comparison of Acts 2:39 with Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 5; 2:33, and of Acts 2:38 with Acts 10:45 and Acts 11:15, 16, that each of these two expressions, “the promise,” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost,” refers to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. If we take miracles in the broad sense of all results wrought by supernatural power, then it is true that each one baptized with the Holy Spirit does receive miracle-working power; for each one so baptized does receive a power not naturally his own; supernatural power, God’s own power. The result of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that was most noticeable and essential was convincing, convicting and converting power. (Acts 2:4, 37, 41. Acts 4:8–13. Acts 4:31, 33. Acts 9:17, 20–22.) There seem to have been no displays of miracle-working power immediately following Paul’s Baptism with the Holy Spirit, even though he became so singularly gifted in this direction at a later day—it was power to witness for Jesus as the Son of God that he received in immediate connection with the Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17, 20–22.) Note 2. It is taught by some, that the Baptism with the Spirit is for the church as a whole and not for the individual believer, and that the whole church was baptized at Pentecost, and that therefore it is unwarrantable for individual believers today to pray or seek for a baptism with the Spirit. But the scriptures very clearly disprove this position. The record of Pentecost is that “it sat upon each one of them. (Acts 2:3, R. V.) Not on the Church collectively, but upon each believer individually. This position is further shown to be untenable by the fact that the Apostles inquired of individual churches and believers whether they had received the Holy Spirit, (Acts 8:15, 16; 19:2,) and found, in some instances at least, that they had not, whatever the church as a whole may have received. Note 3. An eminent Bible teacher has these strange comments to make on Acts 8: “If the Samaritan can believe and rejoice in that belief for some time without the gift of the Holy Spirit in his outward manifestations, if He cannot be so given except by the imposition of an apostle’s hands, is it not plain that the time has begun when He will no longer be present in His extraordinary displays? The twelve could not go the world over to lay hands on millions.” We answer, no it is not plain at all. Indeed it contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture. Acts 19:1–6, came long after (perhaps 17 years) Acts 8:12–16. Furthermore, though the Samaritans did “believe and rejoice in that belief for some time without the gift of the Holy Spirit,” it was so important that they have it that this was the first and principal thing the apostles attended to upon their arrival. Further still the question itself contains a statement that is contrary to fact, viz: “He cannot be so given except by the imposition of an apostle’s hands.” In the case of Saul of Tarsus it was “a certain disciple” who imposed his hands (Acts 9:10, 17). In the case of the household of Cornelius there was no imposition of hands at all (Acts 10:44). It may be said “these instances are exceptional.” With some people everything that does not fit a preconceived theory is exceptional. Further still this position contradicts flatly Peter’s statement in Acts 2:39. The above writer continues: “There is no hint that the Romans had this particular gift. The same is true of other churches.” Let anyone who fancies this to be so read Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Cor. 12:7–13, 28–31; Gal. 3:2. (Here Paul refers to a definite, conscious experience of the receiving of the Holy Spirit as a proof of God’s pleasure with “the hearing of faith”); Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:7, 11. So far from its being evident that “the gift was not intended to be universal or permanent,” it is evident that it was intended to be universal and permanent, and that men do not enter into it simply because of their unbelief. It is amazing the number of theories that have been proposed to relieve the consciences of those who are troubled at the wide gulf between their experience and the plain teaching of the Acts of the Apostles. A better way to relieve the conscience would be to find out the conditions and make one’s own this blessed experience. There is abundant present day experience confirming the teaching of the Word along these lines. While many have been trying to work out some “subtle” exegetical method of “explaining away” the seeming meaning of the Bible; others have simply believed it, and know by the indisputable proof of experience that a child of God may to-day “be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” and that he does “receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon” him. God grant that the present reader of this book may claim this glorious “birthright” of the children of God for himself. The refining verities of believing experience immeasurably transcend the refined subtleties of unbelieving exegesis. Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 25–36). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) Chapter 3: How the Baptism With The Holy Spirit is Obtained The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 3 How the Baptism With The Holy Spirit is Obtained We have now come to a place where there is a deep sense that we must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The practical question confronts us: how can we obtain this baptism with the Holy Spirit which we so sorely need? This question also the Word of God answers very plainly and very explicitly. There is pointed out in the Bible a path, consisting of seven simple steps, which any one who will can take, and whoever takes these seven steps will, with absolute certainty, enter into this blessing. This statement may seem very positive, but the Word of God is equally positive regarding the outcome of taking these steps which it points out. All seven steps are stated or implied in Acts 2:38: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The first three steps are brought out with especial definiteness and distinctness in this verse. The others, which are clearly implied in the verse, are brought out more explicitly by other passages to which we shall refer later. 1. The first two steps are found in the word “repent.” What does “repent” mean? Change your mind; change your mind about what? About God, about Christ, about sin. As to what the change of mind is about in any given case must be determined by the context. Here the first and most prominent thought is a change of mind about Christ. Peter has just brought against his hearers the awful charge that they had crucified Him whom God had made both Lord and Christ. “Pricked in their heart” by this charge, carried home by the power of the Holy Spirit, his hearers had cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” “Repent,” Peter answered. Change your mind about Christ. Change from a Christ-hating and Christ-crucifying attitude of mind to a Christ-accepting attitude of mind, Accept Jesus as Savior, Christ and Lord. This then is the first step toward the Baptism with the Holy Spirit: Accept Jesus as Savior, Christ and Lord. Have you taken this step? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Are you relying wholly upon His atoning work for pardon? Relying solely upon the fact that He bore your sins, for acceptance before God? (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21.) There are many professed Christians who are not doing this, many who are trying to add some works of their own to the finished work of Christ, as a ground of acceptance with God. But Paul says that we receive the Spirit not “by the works of the law,” but by “the hearing of faith.” (Gal. 3:2.) If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, have you also accepted Him as your Christ and Lord? That is, have you surrendered the absolute control of your life to Him? We will hear more of this further on in the fourth step. 2. The second step is also found in the word “repent.” While the change of mind about Jesus is the first and prominent thought, there must also be a change of mind about sin. A change of mind from a sin-loving or sin-indulging attitude of mind to a sin-hating and sin-renouncing attitude of mind. This is the second step: renounce sin, all sin, every sin. Here we come upon one of the commonest obstacles to receiving the Holy Spirit—Sin. Something is held on to that in our inmost hearts we more or less definitely feel to be not pleasing to God. If we are to receive the Holy Spirit, there must be very honest and very thorough heart searching. We cannot do satisfactory heart searching ourselves, God must do it. If we wish to receive the Holy Spirit, we should go alone with God and ask Him to search us thoroughly and bring to light anything that displeases Him. (Ps. 139:23, 24.) Then we should wait for Him to do it. When the displeasing thing is revealed, it should be put away at once. If, after patient and honest waiting, nothing is brought to light, we may conclude there is nothing of this kind in the way, and proceed to the further steps. But we should not conclude this too hurriedly. It is not time lost to wait long before God as He sends the searching light of His Spirit and Word into the innermost recesses of our heart and life. It is a painful but salutary process. The sin that hinders the blessing may be something that appears very small and insignificant in itself. Mr. Finney tells of a young woman who was in deep concern regarding the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Night after night she agonized in prayer, but the desired blessing did not come. One night as she was in prayer there came up before her some matter of head adornment that had often troubled her before; putting her hand to her head, she took the pins out and threw them away, and immediately the blessing came. This was a small matter in itself, a matter that would not have appeared to many as sin, but yet a matter of controversy between this woman and God, and when this was settled the blessing came. It may be something that you regard as very, very insignificant that is shutting you out of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Surely it is not insignificant if it is doing that. Whatever the controversy you have with God, have done with it. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23), and it matters not how little the thing may be, if there are questions regarding it, it must be put away, if we are to have the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. How many have agonized and prayed for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit without any result, until the obstructing sin was removed and then the blessing came. The second step then toward the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is to put away every sin. 3. The third step is found in this same verse: “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” It was immediately after His baptism that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, (Luke 3:21, 22.) In His baptism, Jesus though Himself sinless, humbled Himself to take the sinner’s place, and then God highly exalted Him by the giving of the Holy Spirit and by the audible testimony; “Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased.” So we must humble ourselves to make open confession of our sin and renunciation of it and acceptance of Jesus Christ, in God’s appointed way, by baptism. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not for the one who secretly takes his place as a sinner and believer in Christ, but for the one who does so openly. Of course, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit may precede water baptism; as in the case, of the household of Cornelius. (Acts 10:47.) But this was evidently an exceptional case, and water baptism immediately followed. I have little doubt that there have been those, among Christians who did not believe in or practice water baptism—as, for example, “the Friends” or “Quakers”—who have had and given evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, but the passage before us certainly presents the normal order. 4. The fourth step is clearly implied in the verse we have been studying, (Acts 2:38) but it is brought out more explicitly in Acts 5:32: “The Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” The fourth step is obedience. What does obedience mean? It does not mean merely doing some of the things, or many of the things, or most of the things, that God bids us do. It means total surrender to the will of God. Obedience is an attitude of the will lying back of specific acts of obedience. It means that I come to God and say: “Heavenly Father, here I am and all I have. Thou hast bought me with a price and I acknowledge Thine absolute ownership. Take me and all I have, and do with me whatsoever Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt, use me as Thou wilt. I surrender myself and all I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever, to Thy control and use.” It was when the burnt offering, whole, no part held back, was laid upon the alter that “there came forth fire from before the Lord” and accepted the gift (Lev. 9:24); and it is when we bring ourselves a whole burnt offering to the Lord, and lay ourselves thus upon the altar, that the fire comes and God thus accepts the gift. Here we touch upon the hindrance to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in many lives: there is not total surrender, the will is not laid down, the heart does not cry: “Lord, where Thou wilt, what Thou wilt, as Thou wilt.” One man desires the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that he may preach or work with power in Boston, when God wishes him in Bombay. Another, that he may preach to popular audiences, when God wishes him to plod among the poor. A young woman at a convention expressed a strong desire that some one would speak on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The address went home with power to her heart. She had been for some time in deep travail of soul when I asked her what it was that she desired. “Oh,” she cried, “I cannot go back to Baltimore until I am baptized with the Holy Spirit.” “Is your will laid down?” “I don’t know.” “You wish to go back to Baltimore to be a Christian worker?” “Yes.” “Are you willing to go back to Baltimore and be a servant girl if that is where God wishes you?” “No I am not.” “Well, you will never get the Baptism with the Holy Spirit until you are. Will you lay your will down?” “I can’t.” “Are you willing God should lay it down for you?” “Yes.” “Well, then, ask Him to do it.” The head was bowed in brief but earnest prayer. “Did God hear that prayer?” “He must have, it was according to His will; He did.” “Now ask Him for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.” Again the head was bowed and the brief, earnest prayer ascended to God. There was a brief silence, and the agony was over, the blessing had come—when the will was surrendered. There are many who hold back from this total surrender because they fear God’s will. They are afraid God’s will may be something dreadful. Remember who God is. He is our Father. Never an earthly father had so loving and tender a will regarding his children as He has toward us. “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11). “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” There is nothing to be feared in God’s will. God’s will will always prove in the final outcome the best and sweetest thing in all God’s universe. 5. The fifth step is found in Jno. 7:37–39: “Jesus stood, and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” There is also a very suggestive passage in Isaiah, the forty fourth chapter and third verse: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty … I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed.” Matt. 5:6. is also closely related to these two passages: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” What does it mean to thirst? When one thirsts there is but one cry: “Water! water! water!” Every pore in the body seems to have a voice and cry out “water.” So when our hearts have one cry: “the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit,” then it is that God pours floods upon the dry ground, pours His Spirit upon us. This then is the fifth step—intense desire for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. To what a pitch of longing the early disciples had been brought by the tenth day of their eager waiting! and their thirsty souls were filled that day when “Pentecost was fully come.” As long as one thinks he can get along somehow without the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, as long as he casts about for something in the way of education, or cunningly concocted methods of work, to take its place, he is not going to receive it. There are many ministers who are missing the fullness of power God has for them, simply because they are not willing to admit the lack there has been all these years in their ministry. It is indeed a humiliating thing to confess, but that humiliating confession would be the precursor of a marvelous blessing. But there are not a few, who, in their unwillingness to make this wholesome confession, are casting about for some ingenious device of exegesis to get around the plain and simple meaning of God’s Word, and thus they are cheating themselves of that fullness of the Spirit’s power which God is so eager to bestow upon them; and furthermore, they are imperiling the eternal interests of the souls that are dependent upon their ministrations, that might be won for Christ, if they had the power of the Holy Spirit which they might have. But there are others whom God in His grace brought to see that there was a something their ministry lacked, and this something nothing less than that all essential Baptism with the Holy Spirit, without which one is utterly unqualified for acceptable and effective service. They have humbly and frankly confessed their lack. Sometimes they have been led to the God taught resolution that they would not go on in their work until this lack was supplied. They have waited in eager longing upon God the Father for the fulfillment of His promise, and the result has been a transformed ministry for which many have risen to bless God. It is not enough that the desire for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit be intense; it must also be pure. There is a desire for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that is entirely selfish. Many a one has an intense desire for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, simply that he may be a great preacher, or great personal worker, or renowned in some way as a Christian. It is simply his own gain or glory that he is seeking. After all it is not the Holy Spirit that he seeks, but his own honor, and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit simply as a means to that end. One of the subtlest and most dangerous snares into which Satan leads us, is that where we are seeking the Holy Spirit, this most solemn of all gifts, for our own ends. The desire for the Holy Spirit must not be in order to make that sublime and divine Person the servant of our low ends, but for the glory of God. It must arise from a recognition that God and Christ are being dishonored by my powerless ministry and by the sin of the people about me, against which I now have no power, and that He will be honored, if I have the Baptism with the Spirit of God. One of the most solemn passages in the New Testament bears upon this point. (Acts 8:18–24, R. V.) “When Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying: Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” Here was a strong desire on Simon’s part, but it was entirely unhallowed and selfish, and Peter’s terrific answer is worthy of note and meditation. Is there not many a one today who, with equally unhallowed and selfish purpose desires the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? Each one who is desiring and seeking the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, would do well to ask himself why he desires it. If you find that it is merely for your own gratification or glory, then ask God to forgive you the thought of your heart, and to enable you to see how you need it for His glory, and to desire it to that end. 6. The sixth step is shown in Luke 11:13: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.” The sixth step is to ask. Definite asking for a definite blessing. When Christ has been accepted as Savior and Master, and confessed as such; when sin has been put away; when there has been the definite, total surrender of the will; when there is real and holy desire; then comes the simple act of asking God for this definite blessing. It is given in answer to earnest, definite, specific, believing prayer. It has been earnestly contended by some that we should not pray for the Holy Spirit. They reason this out in this way: “The Holy Spirit was given to the Church at Pentecost as an abiding gift.” This is true, and what was given to the Church each believer must appropriate for himself. It has been well said on this point, that God has already given Christ to the world (Jno. 3:16), but that each individual must appropriate Him by a personal act to get the personal advantage of the gift, and so must each individual personally appropriate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to get the personal advantage of it. But it is argued still further that each believer has the Holy Spirit. This is also true in a sense. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. (Rom. 8:9.) But as we have already seen, it is quite possible to have something, yes much, of the Spirit’s presence and work in the heart, and yet come short of that special fullness and work known in the Bible as the Baptism or Filling with the Holy Spirit. In answer to all specious reasonings on this subject we put the simple statement of Christ: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.” At a convention at which the author was announced to speak on this subject, a brother said to him: “I see you are to speak on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.” “Yes.” “It is the most important subject on the program; now be sure and tell them not to pray for the Holy Spirit.” “I shall certainly not tell them that; for Jesus said: ‘How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.’ ” “Oh, but that was before Pentecost.” “How about Acts 4:31? Was that before Pentecost or after?” “After it, of course.” “Well, read it.” It was read: “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” “How about the eighth chapter of Acts? Was that before Pentecost or after?” “After, of course?” “Well, read the fourteenth to the seventeenth verses.” The verses were read: “Peter and John, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet He was fallen upon none of them, … and they received the Holy Ghost.” Against all inferences is this clear teaching of the Word by precept and example, that the Holy Spirit is given in answer to prayer. It was so at Pentecost; it has been so since. Those whom I have met who give most evidence of the Spirit’s presence and power in their life and work believe in praying for the Holy Spirit. It has been the author’s unspeakable privilege to pray with many ministers and Christian workers for this great blessing, and afterward to learn from them or from others of the new power that has come into their service, none other than the power of the Holy Spirit. 7. The seventh and last step is found in Mark 11:24. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” God’s most positive and unqualified promises must be appropriated by faith. In Jas. 1:5, we read: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Now, that is certainly positive and unqualified enough, but listen to what the writer says next: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” There must then be faith in order to make our own the most positive and unqualified promises of God, such as that in Luke 11:13, and Acts 2:38, 39. Here then we discover the cause of failure, in many cases, to enter into the blessing of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The failure is because the last step is not taken—the simple step of faith. They do not believe, they do not confidently expect, and we have another instance of how men “Entered not in because of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:6.) There are many, very many, who are kept out of this land of milk and honey just by this unbelief. It should be added that there is a faith that goes beyond expectation, a faith that just puts out its hand and takes what it asks. This is brought out very clearly by the R. V. of Mark 11:24. “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them and ye shall have them.” I remember how greatly I was perplexed by this rendering of the R. V. when I first noticed it. On examining the Greek of the passage I saw that the R. V. was correct, but what did it mean? It seemed like a singular confusion of the tenses. “Believe that ye have (already) received them, and ye shall have them.” This seeming enigma was solved long after, while studying the First Epistle of John. I read in the fifth chapter, fourteenth and fifteenth verses: “This is the boldness which we have toward Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of Him.” (R. V.) When I ask anything of God the first thing to find out is: is this petition according to His will? When that is settled, when I find it is according to His will, when, for example, the thing asked is definitely promised in His Word—then I know the prayer is heard, and I know further, “I have the petition which I have asked of Him.” “I know it because He plainly says so, and what I have thus appropriated on simple, childlike faith in His naked Word “I shall have” in actual experience. When one who has a clear title to a piece of property deeds it to me, it is mine as soon as the deed is properly executed and recorded, though it may be some time before I enter into the experimental enjoyment of it. I have it in the one sense as soon as the deed is recorded. I shall have it in the other sense later. In like manner, as soon as we, having met the conditions of prevailing prayer, put up to God a petition for “anything according to His will,” it is our privilege to know that the prayer is heard, and that the thing which we have asked of Him is ours. Now apply this to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I have met the conditions of obtaining this blessing already mentioned. I simply, definitely, ask God, the Father, for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Then I stop and say: was that prayer “according to His will?” Yes, Luke 11:13 says so. “If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Acts 2:38, 39 says: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him.” (R. V.) It is clear that the prayer for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is “according to His will,” for it is definitely and plainly promised. I know then that the prayer is heard, and that I have the petition which I have asked of him. (1 Jno. 5:14, 15, R. V.) That is, I have the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I have then the right to arise from my knees and say, on the all-sufficient authority of God’s Word: “I have the Baptism with the Holy Spirit,” and afterwards I shall have in experimental enjoyment what I have appropriated by simple faith; for God has said, and He cannot lie, “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.” Any reader of this book may at this point lay it down, and, if Christ has been accepted as Savior and Lord, and openly confessed as such in God’s way, and if sin has been searched out and put away, and if there has been total surrender of the will and of self to God, and if there is a true desire, for God’s glory, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit—if these conditions have been met, you may get down just now before God, and ask him to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and you can then say, when the prayer has gone up: “That prayer was heard, I have what I have asked, I have the baptism with the Holy Spirit,” and you have a right to get up and go out to your work, assured that in that work you will have the Holy Spirit’s power. But some one will ask: “Must I not know that I have the Baptism with the Holy Spirit before I begin the work?” Certainly, but how shall we know? I know of no better way of knowing anything than by God’s Word. I would believe God’s Word before my feelings any day. How do we deal with an inquirer who has accepted Christ, but who lacks assurance that he has eternal life? We do not ask him to look at his feelings, but we take him to some such passage as Jno. 3:36. We tell him to read it and he reads: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” “Who says that?” we ask. “God says it.” “Is it true?” “Oh, certainly it is true; God says it.” “Who does God say has everlasting life?” “He that believeth on the Son.” “Do you believe on the Son?” “Yes,” “What have you then?” “O, I don’t know, I don’t feel yet that I have eternal life.” “But what does God say?” “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” “Are you going to believe God or your feelings?” We hold the inquirer right there until on the simple, naked Word of God, feeling or no feeling, he says: “I know I have eternal life because God says so,” and afterwards the feeling comes. Deal with yourself in this matter of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit just as you deal with an inquirer in the matter of assurance. Be sure you have met the conditions, and then simply ask, claim, act. But some one will say: “Will it be just as it was before; will there not be some manifestation?” Most assuredly there will be some manifestation. “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal.” (1 Cor. 12:7, R. V.) But what will the character of the manifestation be and where shall we see it? It is at this point that many make a mistake. They have, perhaps, read the life of Mr. Finney or of Jonathan Edwards, and recall how great waves of electric emotion swept over these men until they were obliged to ask God to withdraw His hand lest they die from the ecstasy. Or they have gone to some meeting, and heard testimonies to similar experiences, and they expect something like this. Now I do not deny the reality of such experiences. I cannot. The testimony of such men as Finney and Edwards is to be believed. There is a stronger reason why I cannot deny them. But while admitting the reality of these experiences, I would ask, where is there a single line of the New Testament that describes any such experience in connection with the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? Every manifestation of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament was in new power in service. Look, for example, at 1 Cor. 12, where this subject is treated in the most thorough way, look also at Acts 2:4; 4:31; 4:33; 9:17, 22 and note the character of the manifestations mentioned. It is quite probable that the Apostles had similar experiences to those of Finney and Edwards and others, but, if they had, the Holy Spirit kept them from recording them. It is well He did; for, if they had told of such things, we would have looked for these things rather than the more important manifestation of power in service. But another question will be asked: “Did not the Apostles wait ten days, and may we not have to wait?” The Apostles were kept waiting ten days, but the reason is given in Acts 2:1: “When the Day of Pentecost was now come” (literally was being fulfilled, R. V. Marg.) In the eternal purposes and plans of God, and in the Old Testament types, the Day of Pentecost was set as the time for the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit could not be given until the Day of Pentecost was fully come, but we read of no waiting after Pentecost. In Acts 4:31 there was no waiting. “When they had prayed the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” In Acts 8 there was no waiting. When Peter and John came down to Samaria, and found that none of the young converts had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, they “prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost,” and they did then and there. (Acts 8:15, 17). Paul of Tarsus was not obliged to wait, in the ninth chapter of the Acts. Ananias came in and told him of this wondrous gift, and baptized him, and laid his hands upon him, and “straightway in the synagogue he proclaimed Jesus, that He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:17, 20). There was no waiting in Acts 10. Before Peter had fairly gotten through his sermon the Baptism with the Holy Spirit came. (Acts 10:44–46; Comp. Chap. 11:15, 16.) In the nineteenth chapter of the Acts there was no waiting. As soon as Paul had declared to the Ephesian disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the conditions were met, the blessing followed. (Acts 19:1–6.) Men have to wait only when they do not meet the conditions, when Christ is not fully accepted, or sin is not put away, or there is not total surrender, or true desire, or definite prayer, or simple faith, just taking upon the naked Word. The absence of some of these things keeps many waiting for more than ten days sometimes. But there is no need that any reader of this book wait ten hours. You can have the Baptism with the Holy Spirit just now, if you will. A young man once came to me in great earnestness about this matter. “I heard of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit,” he said, “some time ago, and have been seeking it, but have not received it.” “Is your will laid down?” “I am afraid that is the trouble.” “Will you lay it down?” “I am afraid I cannot.” “Are you willing God should lay it down for you?” “Yes.” “Ask Him to.” We knelt in prayer, and he asked God to lay down his will for him. “Did God hear that prayer?” “He must have; it was according to His will.” “Is your will laid down?” “It must be.” “Then ask God for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.” He did this. “Was that prayer according to His will?” “Yes.” “Was it heard?” “It must have been.” “Have you the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?” “I don’t feel it.” “That is not what I asked you; read those verses again.” The Bible lay open before him at 1 Jno. 5:14, 15, and he read: “This is the confidence we have in Him that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.” “Wait a moment; was that prayer according to His will?” “It certainly was.” “Was it heard?” “It was.” “Read on.” “And if we know that He hears us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” “Know what?” “That we have the petitions we desired of Him.” “What was the petition?” “The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.” Have you it?” “I don’t feel it, but God says so, and I must have.” A few days later I met him again, and asked if he really had received what he took on simple faith. With a happy look in his face he answered, “Yes.” I lost sight of him for perhaps two years, and then found him preparing for the ministry and already preaching, and God was honoring his preaching with souls saved, and a little later used him with others as a means of great blessing to the theological seminary where he was studying. He had also decided to serve Christ in the foreign field. What he claimed on simple faith and received, any reader of this book can claim and receive in the same way. I would not say a word to dissuade men from spending much time in waiting upon God in prayer. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31.) There are few of us indeed in these days who spend as many hours as we should in waiting upon God. The writer can bear joyful testimony to the manifest outpourings of the Spirit that have come, time and again, as he has waited upon God though the hours of the night with believing brethren. But there are, I am persuaded, many waiting for feeling that ought to be claiming by faith. Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 25–36). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) Chapter 4: Fresh Baptisms With The Holy Spirit OR The Refilling With The Holy Spirit The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 4 Fresh Baptisms With The Holy Spirit OR The Refilling With The Holy Spirit In the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, fourth verse, we read: “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak,’ etc. This was the fulfillment of Acts 1:5. “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” One of those mentioned by name as being “filled with the Holy Ghost,’ (Acts 2:4,) or “baptized with the Holy Ghost’ (Acts 1:5), at this time was Peter. Turning over to the fourth chapter, the eight verse, we read: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them,” etc. Here Peter experienced a new filling with the Holy Spirit. Again, in the thirty-first verse of the same chapter, we read: “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Peter is named as one of this company (verses 19 and 23), so we see that Peter here experienced a third filling with the Holy Spirit. It is evident that it is not sufficient that one be once “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” As new emergencies of service arise, there must be new fillings with the Spirit. The failure to realize this has led to most sad and serious results in many a man’s service. He has been baptized at some period in his life with the Holy Spirit, and strives to get though his whole future life in the power of this past experience. It is largely for this reason, that we see so many men who once unquestionably worked in the Holy Spirit’s power, who give little evidence of the possession of that power to-day. For each new service that is to be conducted, for each new soul that is to be dealt with, for each new service for Christ that is to be performed, for each new day and each new emergency of Christian life and service, we should definitely seek a new filling with the Holy Spirit. I do not deny that there is an “anointing that abideth,” (1 Jno. 2:27), nor the permanency of the gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows; I simply assert with clear and abundant Scripture proof, to say nothing of proof from experience and observation, that this gift must not be “neglected,” (1 Tim. 4:14) but rather “kindled anew” or “stirred into flame” (2 Tim. 1:6, R. V. Marg.); and that repeated fillings with the Holy Spirit are necessary to continuance and increase of power. Now arises the question, ought these new fillings with the Holy Spirit to be called “fresh Baptisms with the Holy Spirit?” While, on the one hand, it must be admitted that in Acts 2:4, the expression, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” is used to describe the experience promised in Acts 1:5, in the words: “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost,” and that therefore the two expressions are to this extent synonymous; on the other hand, it should be noticed, that the expression, “Baptized with the Holy Spirit,” is nowhere used in the Bible of any experience but the first, and that, furthermore, the word “baptized” of itself suggests an initial or initiatory experience. While, therefore, we stand for the truth that those who speak of “fresh baptisms with the Holy Spirit” are aiming at, it would seem wisest to follow the uniform Bible usage, and speak of the experiences that succeed the first, as being “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and not as being “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 25–36). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) Chapter 5: How Spiritual Power Is Lost The Baptism With The Holy Spirit Chapter 5 How Spiritual Power Is Lost Any discussion of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the power which results from it, would be incomplete, if attention were not called to the fact that spiritual power may be lost. One of the strangest and saddest stories of the Old Testament history, is that of Samson. It is also one of the most instructive. He was by far the most remarkable man of his day. The grandest opportunities were open to him, but after striking temporary victories, his life ended in tragic failure, all through his own inexcusable folly. Time and again it is said of him that “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him,” and in the power of that Spirit he wrought to the astonishment of his people and the discomfiture of the enemies of the Lord; but in Judges 16:19, 20, we see him deserted of the Lord, though unconscious of it, his strength gone from him, and he about to be taken into wretched captivity, the sport of the godless, and to die with the enemies of the Lord a violent and dishonored death. Unfortunately Samson is not the only man in Christian history, who, having once known the power of the Holy Spirit, has afterward been shorn of this power and laid aside. There have been many Samsons, and I presume there will be many more—men whom God has once used mightily and has afterward been forced to lay aside. One of the saddest sights on earth is such a man. Let us consider when it is that the Lord departs from a man or withdraws His power from him, or in other words, “How power is lost.” 1. First of all God withdraws His power from men when they go back upon their separation to Him. This was the precise case with Samson himself. (Judges 16:19, Comp. Num. 6:2, 5.) His uncut hair was the outward sign of his Nazarite vow by which “he separated himself unto the Lord.” The shearing of his hair was the surrender of his separation. His separation given up he was shorn of his power. It is at this same point that many a man to-day is shorn of his power. There was a day when he separated himself unto God. He turned his back utterly upon the world and its ambitions, its spirit, its purposes; he set himself apart to God as holy unto Him, to be His, for God to take him and use him and do with him what He would. God has honored his separation, He has anointed him with the Holy Ghost and power. He has been used of God. But Delilah has come to him. The world has captured his heart again. He has listened to the world’s siren voice, and allowed her to shear him of the sign of separation. He is no longer a man separated, or wholly consecrated, to the Lord, and the Lord leaves him. Are there not such persons among those who read this? Men and women the Lord once used, but He does not use you now. You may still be outwardly in Christian work, but there is not the old time liberty and power in it, and this is the reason—you have been untrue to your separation, to your consecration to God; you are listening to Delilah, to the voice of the harlot, to the world and its allurements. Would you get the old power back again? There is but one thing to do. Let your hair grow again as Samson did. Renew your consecration to God. 2. Power is lost through the incoming of sin. It was so with Saul, the son of Kish. The Spirit of God came upon Saul and he wrought a great victory for God. (1 Samuel 11:6, ff.) He brought the people of God forward to a place of triumph over their enemies, who had held them under for years. But Saul disobeyed God in two distinct instances (1 Samuel 13:13, 14; 15:3, 9–11, 23), and the Lord withdrew His favor and His power, and Saul’s life ended in utter defeat and ruin. This is the history of many men whom God has once used. Sin has crept in. They have done that which God has told them not to do, or they have refused to do that which God bade them do, and the power of God has been withdrawn. The one who has known God’s power in service, and would continue to know it, must walk very softly before Him. He must be listening constantly to hear what God bids him do or not do. He must respond promptly to the slightest whisper of God. It would seem as if any one who had once known God’s power would rather die than lose it. But it is lost through the incoming of sin. Are there those among the readers of this book who are passing through this dreadful experience of the loss of God’s power? Ask yourself if this be the reason; has sin crept in somewhere? Are you doing something, some little thing, perhaps, that God tells you not to do? Are you leaving undone something God bids you do? Set this matter right with God and the old power will come back. David was guilty of an awful sin, but when that sin was confessed and put away, he came to know again the power of the Spirit. (Ps. 32:1–5; 51:11–13.) If we would continuously know the power of God we should go often alone with Him, at the close of each day at least, and ask Him to show us if any sin, anything displeasing in His sight, has crept in that day, and if He shows us that there has, we should confess it and put it away then and there. 3. Power is lost again through self-indulgence. The one who would have God’s power must lead a life of self-denial. There are many things which are not sinful in the ordinary understanding of the word sin, but which hinder spirituality and rob men of power. I do not believe that any man can lead a luxurious life, over-indulge his natural appetites, indulge extensively in dainties, and enjoy the fullness of God’s power. The gratification of the flesh and the fullness of the Spirit, do not go hand in hand. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these two are contrary the one to the other.” (Gal 5:17.) Paul wrote, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” (1 Cor. 9:27, see R. V, Greek. Note also Eph. 5:18.) We live in a day when the temptation to the indulgence of the flesh is very great. Luxuries are common. Piety and prosperity not seldom go hand in hand, and, in many a case, the prosperity that piety and power have brought has been the ruin of the man to whom it has come. Not a few ministers of power have become popular and in demand. With the increasing popularity has come an increase of pay and of the comforts of life. Luxurious living has come in, and the power of the Spirit has gone out. It would not be difficult to cite specific instances of this sad truth. If we would know the continuance of the Spirit’s power, we need to be on guard to lead lives of simplicity, free from indulgence and surfeiting, ever ready to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim. 2:3.) I frankly confess I am afraid of luxury;—not as afraid of it as I am of sin but it comes next as an object of dread. It is very subtle but a very potent enemy of power. There are devils to-day that “go not out but by prayer and fasting.” 4. Power is lost through greed for money. It was through this that a member of the original Apostolic company, the twelve whom Jesus Himself chose to be with Him, fell. The love of money, the love of accumulation, got into the heart of Judas Iscariot, and proved his ruin. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” (1 Tim. 6:10, R. V.) but one of the greatest evils of which it is the root is that of the loss of spiritual power. How many a man there is to-day who once knew what spiritual power was, but money began to come. He soon felt its strange fascination. The love for accumulation, covetousness, the love for more, little by little took possession of him. He has accumulated his money honestly; but it has absorbed him, and the Spirit of God is shut out and His power has departed. Men who would have power, need to have the words of Christ. “Take heed and beware of covetousness,” writ large and graved deep upon their hearts. One does not need to be rich to be covetous. A very poor man may be very much absorbed in the desire for wealth—just as much so as any greedy millionaire. 5. Power is lost through pride. This is the subtlest and most dangerous of all the enemies of power. I am not sure but that more men lose their power at this point, than at any of those mentioned thus far. There is many a man who has not consciously gone back upon his consecration, he has not let sin, in the sense of conscious doing of that which God forbade or conscious refusal to do that which God commanded, creep into his life, he has not given way to self-indulgence; he has utterly, persistently and consistently refused the allurements of money accumulation, but still he has failed; pride has come in. He has become puffed up because of the very fact that God has given him power and used him; puffed up, it may be, over the consistency and simplicity and devotion of his life; and God has been forced to set him aside. God cannot use a proud man. (1 Pet. 5:5.) “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.” The man who is puffed up with pride, self-esteem, cannot be filled up with the Holy Spirit. Paul saw this danger for himself. God saw it for him, and “lest he be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to (him) a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet (him), lest (he) should be exalted above measure.” (2 Cor. 12:7.) How many men have failed here! They have sought God’s power, sought it in God’s way, it has come. Men have testified of the blessing received through their word, and pride has entered and been indulged, and all is lost. Moses was the meekest of men, and yet he failed at this very point. “Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” he cried, and then and there God laid him aside. (Num. 20:10–12.) If God is using us at all, let us get down very low before Him. The more he uses us the lower let us get. May God keep His own Words ringing in our ears: “Be clothed with humility, for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5.) 6. Power is lost through neglect of prayer. It is in prayer especially that we are charged with the energy of God. It is the man who is much in prayer into whom God’s power flows mightily. John Livingston spent a night with some Christians in conference and prayer. The next day June 21st, 1630, he so preached at the Kirk of Shotts, that the Spirit fell upon his hearers in such a way that five hundred could either date their conversion or some remarkable confirmation from that day forward. This is but one instance among thousands to show how power is given in prayer. Virtue or power is constantly going from us, as from Christ (Mark 5:30), in service and blessing; and if power would be maintained, it must be constantly renewed in prayer. When electricity is given off from a charged body it must be recharged. So must we be recharged with the Divine energy, and this is effected by coming into contact with God in prayer. Many a man whom God has used has become lax in his habits of prayer, and the Lord departs from him and his power is gone. Are there not some of us who have not to-day the power we once had, and simply because we do not spend the time on our faces before God that we once did? 7. Power is lost through neglect of the Word. God’s power comes through prayer, it comes also through the Word (Ps. 1:2, 3; Josh. 1:8.) Many have known the power that comes through the regular, thoughtful, prayerful, protracted meditation upon the Word, but business and perhaps Christian duties have multiplied, other studies have come in, the Word has been in a measure crowded out, and power has gone. We must meditate daily, prayerfully, profoundly upon the Word if we are to maintain power. Many a man has run dry through its neglect. I think the seven points mentioned give the principal ways in which spiritual power is lost. I think of no others. If there is one dread that comes to me more frequently than any other, it is that of losing the power of God. Oh, the agony of having known God’s power, of having been used of Him, and then of having that power withdrawn, to be laid aside as far as any real usefulness is concerned. Men may still praise you, but God can’t use you. To see a perishing world around you and to know there is no power in your words to save. Would not to die be better than that? I have little fear of losing eternal life. Every believer in Christ has that already. I am in the hand of Jesus Christ, and in the hand of God the Father, and no one can pluck me out of Their hand, (John 10:28, 29), but I see so many men from whom God has departed, men once eminently used of God, I walk with fear and trembling, and cry unto Him daily to keep me from the things that would make the withdrawal of His power necessary. But what those things are I think He has made plain to me, and I have tried in the words here written to make them plain to both you and myself. To sum them up they are these: the surrender of our separation, sin, self-indulgence, greed for money, pride, the neglect of prayer, and the neglect of the Word. Shall we not, by God’s grace, from this time be on our guard against these things, and thus make sure of the continuance of God’s power in our life and service until that glad day comes when we can say with Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day,” (2 Tim. 4:7, 8), or better yet with Jesus, “I have glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given me to do.” (Jno. 17:4, R. V.) Torrey, R. A. (1895). The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (pp. 25–36). New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. (Public Domain) Related Walking with GOD Walking with God Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. VARIOUS are the pleas and arguments, which men of corrupt minds frequently urge against yielding obedience to the just and holy commands of God. But, perhaps, one of the most common objections that they make is this, that our Lord’s commands are not practicable, because contrary to flesh and blood; and consequently, that he is "an hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed." These we find were the sentiments entertained by that wicked and slothful servant mentioned in the xxvth of St. Matthew; and are undoubtedly the same with many which are maintained in the present wicked and adulterous generation. The Holy Ghost foreseeing this, hath taken care to inspire holy men of old, to record the examples of many holy men and women; who, even under the Old Testament dispensation, were enabled chearfully to take Christ’s yoke upon them, and counted his service perfect freedom. The large catalogue of saints, confessors, and martyrs, drawn up in the xith chapter to the Hebrews, abundantly evidences the truth of this observation. What a great cloud of witnesses have we there presented to our view? All eminent for their faith, but some shining with a greater degree of lustre than do others. The proto-martyr Abel, leads the van. And next to him, we find Enoch mentioned, not only because he was next in order of time, but also on account of his exalted piety. He is spoken of in the words of the text in a very extraordinary manner. We have here a short but very full and glorious account, both of his behaviour in this world, and the triumphant manner of his entering into the next. The former is contained in these words, "And Enoch walked with God." The latter in these, "and he was not: for God took him." He was not; i. e. He was not found, he was not taken away in the common manner, he did not see death; for Heb. 11:5. God had translated him. Who this Enoch was, does not appear so plainly. To me, he seems to have been a person of public character. I suppose, like Noah, a preacher of righteousness. And, if we may credit the Apostle Jude, he was a flaming preacher. For he quotes one of his prophecies, wherein he faith, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." But whether a public or private person, he has a noble testimony given him in the lively oracles. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews saith, that before his translation he had this testimony, "that he pleased God;" and his being translated, was a proof of it beyond all doubt. And I would observe, that it was wonderful wisdom in God to translate Enoch and Elijah under the Old Testament dispensation, that hereafter when it should be asserted, that the Lord Jesus was carried into heaven, it might not seem a thing altogether incredible to the Jews; since they themselves confessed, that two of their own prophets had been translated several hundred years before. But it is not my design to detain you any longer, by enlarging, or making observations on Enoch’s short, but comprehensive character. The thing I have in view, being to give a discourse, as the Lord shall enable, upon a weighty and a very important subject; I mean, walking with God. "And Enoch walked with God." If so much as this can be truly said of you and me after our decease, we shall not have any reason to complain, that we have lived in vain. In handling my intended subject, I shall, First, Endeavour to shew, what is implied in these words, walked with God. Secondly, I shall prescribe some means, upon the due observance of which, believers may keep up and maintain their walk with God. And, Thirdly, Offer some motives to stir us up, if we never walked with God before, to come and walk with God now. The whole shall be closed with a word or two of application. First, I am to shew what is implied in these words, "walked with God;" or in other words, what we are to understand by walking with God. And First, Walking with God, implies, that the prevailing power of the enmity of a person’s heart, be taken away by the blessed Spirit of God. Perhaps it may seem a hard saying to some, but our own experience daily proves, what the scripture in many places assert, that the carnal mind, the mind of the unconverted, natural man, nay, the mind of the regenerate, so far as any part of him remains unrenewed, is enmity, not only an enemy, but "enmity itself against God; so that it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be." Indeed one may well wonder that any creature, especially that lovely creature man, made after his Maker’s own image, should ever have any enmity, much less a prevailing enmity against that very God in whom he lives, and moves, and hath his being. But alas! so it is. Our first parents contracted it when they fell from God by eating the forbidden fruit, and the bitter and malignant contagion of it, hath descended to, and quite overspread their whole posterity. This enmity discovered itself, in Adam‘s endeavouring to hide himself in the trees of the garden. When he heard the voice of the Lord God, instead of running with an open heart, saying, Here am I; alas! he now wanted no communion with God; and still more discovered his lately contracted enmity, by the excuse he made to the Most High. "The woman, or this woman, thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." By saying thus, he in effect lays all the fault upon God; as though he had said, if thou hadst not given me this woman, I had not sinned against thee, so thou mayst thank thyself for my transgression. In the same manner this enmity works in the hearts of Adam‘s children. They now and again find something rising against God, and saying even unto God, what doest thou? "It scorns any meaner competitor (says the learned Doctor Owen in his excellent treatise on indwelling sin) than God himself." Its command is like that of the Assyrians in respect to Ahab, Shoot only at the King. And it strikes against every thing that has the appearance of real piety, as the Assyrians shot at Jehosaphat in Ahab’s cloathes. But the opposition ceases when it finds that it is only an appearance, as the Assyyrians left off shooting at Jehosaphat, when they perceived it was not Ahab they were shooting at. This enmity discovered itself in accursed Cain; he hated and slew his brother Abel, because Abel loved, and was peculiarly favoured by his God. And this same enmity rules and prevails in every man that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam. Hence that averseness to prayer and holy duties, which we find in children, and very often in grown persons, who have notwithstanding been blessed with a religious education. And all that open sin and wickedness, which like a deluge has overflowed the world, are only so many streams running from this dreadful, contagious fountain; I mean the enmity of man’s desperately wicked and deceitful heart. He that cannot set his seal to this, knows nothing yet, in a saving manner, of the holy scriptures, or of the power of God. And all that do know this, will readily acknowledge, that before a person can be said to walk with God, the prevailing power of this heart-enmity must be destroyed. For persons do not use to walk and keep company together, who entertain an irreconcilable enmity and hatred against one another. Observe me, I say, the prevailing power of this enmity must be taken away. For the inbeing of it will never be totally removed, till we bow down our heads and give up the ghost. The apostle Paul, no doubt, speaks of himself, and that too not when he was a pharisee, but a real christian; when he complains, "that when he would do good, evil was present with him;" not having dominion over him, but opposing and resisting his good intentions and actions, "so that he could not do the things which he would," in that perfection which the new man desired. This is what he calls sin dwelling in him. "And this is that, Φρὸνημας αρκος, which, "(to use the words of the ninth article of our church,) some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affectation, some the desire of the flesh, which doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated." But as for its prevailing power, it is destroyed in every soul that is truly born of God, and gradually more and more weakened as the believer grows in grace, and the spirit of God gains a greater and greater ascendancy in the heart. But Secondly, Walking with God not only implies, that the prevailing power of the enmity of a man’s heart be taken away, but also that a person is actually reconciled to God the Father, in and through the all-sufficient righteousness and atonement of his dear Son. "Can two walk together, (says Solomon), unless they are agreed?" Jesus is our peace, as well as our peace-maker. When we are justified by faith in Christ, then, but not till then, we have peace with God; and consequently cannot be said till then, to walk with him. Walking with a person, being a sign and token that we are friends to that person, or at least, though we have been at variance, yet that now we are reconciled and become friends again. This is the great errand that gospel ministers are sent out upon. To us is committed the ministry of reconciliation: As ambassadors for God, we are to beseech sinners, in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled unto God; and when they comply with the gracious invitation, and are actually by faith brought into a state of reconciliation with God, then, and not till then, may they be said so much as to begin to walk with God. Further, Thirdly, Walking with God implies, a settled, abiding communion and fellowship with God, or what in scripture is called, "The Holy Ghost dwelling in us." This is what our Lord promised when he told his disciples, that "the Holy Spirit should be in, and with them;" not to be like a wayfaring-man, to stay only for a night, but to reside and make his abode in their hearts. This I am apt to believe is what the Apostle John would have us understand, when he talks of a person abiding in him, in Christ, "and walking as he himself also walked." And this is what is particularly meant in the words of our text. "And Enoch walked with God." i. e. He kept up and maintained a holy, settled, habitual, though undoubtedly not altogether uninterrupted communion and fellowship with God, in and through Christ Jesus. So that to sum up what has been said on this part of the first general head, walking with God consists especially in the fixed habitual bent of the will for God, in an habitual dependance upon his power and promise, in an habitual voluntary dedication of our all to his glory, in an habitual eying of his precept in all we do, and in an habitual complacence in his pleasure in all we suffer. Fourthly Walking with God implies, our making progress or advances in the divine life. Walking, in the very first idea of the word, seems to suppose a progressive motion. A person that walks, though he move slowly, yet he goes forwards and does not continue in one place. And so it is with those that walk with God. They go on, as the psalmist says, from strength to strength;" or, in the language of the Apostle Paul, "they pass from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord." Indeed in one sense, the divine life admits of neither increase nor decrease. When a soul is born of God, to all intents and purposes he is a child of God, and, though he should live to the age of Methuselah, yet he would then be only a child of God, after all. But in another sense, the divine life admits of decays and additions. Hence it is, that we find the people of God charged with backslidings, and losing their first love. And hence it is, that we hear of babes, young men and fathers in Christ; and upon this account it is that the Apostle exhorts Timothy, "to let his progress be made known to all men." And what is here required of Timothy in particular; by St. Peter, is enjoined all christians in general, "But grow in grace, (says he) and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." For the new creature increases in spiritual stature; and though a person can but be a new creature, yet there are some that are more conformed to the divine image than others, and will, after death, be admitted to a greater degree of blessedness. For want of observing this distinction, even some gracious souls that have better hearts than heads, (as well as men of corrupt minds, reprobates concerning the faith) have unawares run into downright Antinomian principles, denying all growth of grace in a believer, or any marks of grace to be laid down in the scriptures of truth. From such principles, and more especially from practices naturally consequent on such principles, may the Lord of all Lord’s deliver us! From what then has been said, we may now know what is implied in the words, "walked with God," viz. Our having the prevailing enmity of our hearts taken away by the power of the Spirit of God; our being actually reconciled and united to him by faith in Jesus Christ; our having and keeping up a settled communion and fellowship with him; and our making a daily progress in this fellowship, so as to be conformed to the divine image more and more. How this is done, or, in other words, by what means believers keep up and maintain their walk with God, comes to be considered under our second general head. And, First, Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God, by reading of his holy word. "Search the scriptures," says our blessed Lord, "for these are they that testify of me." And the royal psalmist tells us, "that God’s word was a light unto his feet, and a lanthorn unto his paths;" and be makes it one property of a good man, "that his delight is in the law of the Lord, and that he exercises himself therein day and night." "Give thyself to reading," (says Paul to Timothy); "And this book of the law, (says God to Joshua) shall not go out of thy mouth." For whatsoever was written in afore time, was written for our learning. And the word of God is profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, and every way sufficient to make every true child of God thoroughly furnished to every good work. If we once get above our Bibles, and cease making the written word of God our sole rule, both as to faith and practice, we shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion, and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Our blessed Lord, though he had the Spirit of God without measure, yet always was governed by, and fought the devil with, "It is written." This the Apostle calls the "Sword of the Spirit." We may say of it as David said of Goliah’s sword, "None like this." The scriptures are called the lively oracles of God: not only because they are generally made use of to beget in us a new life, but also to keep up and increase it in the soul. The Apostle Peter, in his 2d epistle, prefers it even to seeing Christ transfigured upon the mount. For after he had said, chap. 1:18. "That the voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount;" he adds, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts:" i. e. Till we shake off these bodies, and see Jesus face to face. Till then, we must see and converse with him through the glass of his word. We must make his testimonies our counsellors, and daily, with Mary, sit at Jesus feet, by faith hearing his word. We shall then by happy experience find, that they are spirit and life, meat indeed, and drink indeed to our souls. Secondly, Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by secret prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of supplication. It is the very breath of the new-creature, the fan of the divine life, whereby the spark of holy fire kindled in the soul by God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame. A neglect of secret prayer has been frequently an inlet to many spiritual diseases, and has been attended with satal consequences. Origen observed, "That the day he offered incense to an idol, he went out of his closet without making use of secret prayer." It is one of the most noble parts of the believer’s spiritual armour. "Praying always, says the Apostle, with all manner of supplication." "Watch and pray, says our Lord, that ye enter not into temptation." And he spake a parable, that his disciples should pray, and not saint. Not that our Lord would have us always upon our knees, or in our closets, to the neglect of our other relative duties. But he means, that our souls should be kept in a praying-frame, so that we might be able to say, as a good man in Scotland once said to his friends on his death-bed, "Could these curtains, or could these walls speak, they would tell you what sweet communion I have had with my God here." O prayer, prayer! It brings and keeps God and man together. It raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. If you would therefore, O believers, keep up your walk with God; pray, pray without ceasing. Be much in secret, set prayer. And when you are about the common business of life, be much in ejaculatory prayer, and send, from time to time, short letters post to heaven upon the wings of faith. They will reach the very heart of God, and, return to you again loaded with spiritual blessing. Thirdly, Holy and frequent meditation is another blessed means of keeping up a believer’s walk with God. "Prayer, reading, temptation, and, meditation," says Luther, "make a minister." And they also make, and perfect a christian. Meditation to the soul, is the same as digestion to the body. Holy David found it so, and therefore he was frequently employed in meditation, even in the night season. We read also of Isaac’s going out into the fields to meditate in the evening; or, as it is in the margin, to pray. For meditation is a kind of silent prayer, whereby the soul is frequently, as it were, carried out of itself to God, and in a degree made like unto those blessed Spirits, who by a kind of immediate intuition always behold the face of our heavenly Father. None but those happy souls that have been accustomed to this divine employ, can tell what a blessed promoter of the divine life, meditation is. "Whilst I was musing, says David, the fire kindled." And whilst the believer is musing on the works and word of God; especially that work of works, that wonder of wonders, that mystery of godliness, "God manifest in the flesh," the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world: he frequently feels the fire of divine love kindle, so that he is obliged to speak with his tongue, and tell of the loving-kindness of the Lord to his soul. Be frequent therefore in meditation, all ye that desire to keep up and maintain a close and uniform walk with the most-high God. Fourthly, Believers keep up their walk with God, by watching and noting his providential dealings with them. If we believe the scriptures, we must believe what our Lord hath declared therein, "That the very hairs of his disciples heads are all numbered; and that a sparrow does not fall to the ground, (either to pick up a grain of corn, or when shot by a fowler) without the knowledge of our heavenly Father." Every cross has a call in it, and every particular dispensation of divine providence, has some particular end to answer in those to whom it is sent. If it be of an afflictive nature, God does thereby say, "My son, keep thyself from idols:" if prosperous, he does it as it were by a small, still voice, say, "My son, give me thy heart." If believers, therefore, would keep up their walk with God, they must from time to time hear what the Lord has to say concerning them in the voice of his providence. Thus We find Abraham’s servant, when he went to fetch a wife for his master Isaac, eyed and watched the providence of God, and by that means found out the person that was designed for his master’s wife. "For a little hint from Providence," says pious Bishop Hall, "is enough for faith to seed upon." And as I believe it will be one part of our happiness in heaven, to take a view of, and look back upon, the various links of the golden chain which drew us there; so those that enjoy most of heaven below, I believe, will be most minute in remarking God’s various dealings with them, in respect to his providential dispensations here on earth. Fifthly, In order to walk closely with God, his children must not only watch the motions of God’s providence without them, but the motions also of his blessed Spirit in their hearts. "As many as are the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God," and give up themselves to be guided by the Holy Ghost, as a little child gives its hand to be led by a nurse or parent. It is no doubt in this sense, that we are to be converted, and become like little children. And though it is the quintessence of enthusiasm, to pretend to be guided by the Spirit without the written word; yet it is every christian’s bounden duty to be guided by the Spirit in conjunction with the written word of God. Watch, therefore, I pray you, O believers, the motions of God’s blessed Spirit in your souls, and always try the suggestions or impressions that you may at any time feel, by the unerring rule of God’s most holy word: and if they are not found to be agreeable to that, reject them as diabolical and delusive. By observing this caution, you will steer a middle course between the two dangerous extremes many of this generation are in danger of running into; I mean, enthusiasm, on the one hand, and deism, and downright infidelity, on the other. Sixthly, They that would maintain a holy walk with God, must walk with him in ordinances as well as providences, &c. It is, therefore, recorded of Zachary and Elizabeth, that "They walked in all God’s ordinances as well as commandments, blameless." And all rightly informed Christians, will look upon ordinances, not as beggarly elements, but as so many conduit-pipes, whereby the infinitely condescending Jehovah conveys his grace to their souls. They will look upon them as childrens bread, and as their highest privileges. Consequently they will be glad when they hear others say, "Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord." They will delight to visit the place where God’s honour dwelleth, and be very eager to embrace all opportunities to shew forth the Lord Christ’s death till he come. Seventhly and lastly, If you would walk with God, you will associate and keep company with those that do walk with him. "My delight, says holy David, is in them that do excel" in virtue. They were in his sight, the excellent ones of the earth. And the primitive christians, no doubt, kept up their vigour and first love, by continuing in fellowship one with another. The Apostle Paul knew this full well, and therefore exhorts the christians to see to it, that they did not forsake the assembling of themselves together. For how can one be warm alone? And has not the wisest of men told us, that, "as iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the countenance of a man his friend?" If we look, therefore, into church history, or make a just observation of our own times, I believe we shall find, that as the power of God prevails, christian societies, and fellowship meetings prevail proportionably. And as one decays, the other has insensibly decayed and dwindled away at the same time. So necessary is it for those that would walk with God, and keep up the life of religion, to meet together as they have opportunity, in order to provoke one another to love and good works. Proceed we now to the Third general thing proposed, To offer some motives to excite all to come and walk with God. And First, Walking with God, is a very honourable thing. This generally is a prevailing motive to persons of all ranks, to stir them up to any important undertaking. O that it may have its due weight and influence with you, in respect to the matter now before us! I suppose you would all think it a very high honour to be admitted into an earthly prince’s privy-council, to be trusted with his secrets, and to have his ear at all times, and at all seasons. It seems Haman thought it so, when he boasted, Esth. 5:11, that besides his being "advanced above the princes and servants of the king; yea, moreover, Esther the Queen did let no man come in with the King unto the banquet that she had prepared, but myself; and to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the King." And when afterwards a question was put to this same Haman, chap. 6:6. "What shall be done unto the man whom the King delighteth to honour?" he answered, ver. 8. "Let the royal apparel be brought which the king used to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head; and let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the King delights to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the King delighteth to honour." This was all then, it seems, that an ambitious Haman could ask, and the most valuable thing that he thought Ahasuerus, the greatest monarch upon earth, could give. But alas, what is this honour in comparison of that which the meanest of those enjoy, that walk with God! Think ye it a small thing, Sirs, to have the secret of the Lord of Lords with you, and to be called the friends of God? and such honour have all God’s saints. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him:" and "Henceforth, says the blessed Jesus, call I you no longer servants, but friends; for the servant knoweth not the will of his master." Whatever you may think of it, holy David was so sensible of the honour attending a walk with God, that he declares, "He had rather be a door-keeper in his house, than to dwell even in the tents of ungodliness." O that all were like-minded with him! But, Secondly, As it is an honourable, so it is a pleasing thing to walk with God. The wisest of men has told us, that "Wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace." And I remember pious Mr. Henry, when he was just about to expire, said to a friend, You have heard many mens dying words, and these are mine; A life spent in communion with God, is the pleasantest life "in the world." I am sure I can set to my seal that this is true. Indeed, I have been listed under Jesus’s banner only for a few years; but I have enjoyed more solid pleasure in one moment’s communion with my God, than I should or could have enjoyed in the ways of sin, though I had continued to have went on in them for thousands of years. And may I not appeal to all you that fear and walk with God, for the truth of this? Has not one day in the Lord’s courts, been to you better than a thousand? In keeping God’s commandments, have you not found a present and very great reward? Has not his word been sweeter to you than the honey, or the honey-comb? O what have you felt, when, Jacob-like, you have been wrestling with your God? Has not Jesus often met you when meditating in the fields, and been made known to you over and over again in breaking of bread? Has not the Holy Ghost frequently shed the divine love abroad in your hearts abundantly, and filled you with joy unspeakable, even joy that is full of glory? I know you will answer all these questions in the affirmative, and freely acknowledge the yoke of Christ to be easy, and his burden light; or (to use the words of one of our collects) "That his service is perfect freedom." And what need we then any further motive to excite us to walk with God? But methinks I hear some among you say, "How can these things be? For, if walking with God, as you say, is such an honourable and pleasant thing, whence is it, that the name of the people of this way is cast out as evil, and every where spoken against? How comes it to pass that they are frequently afflicted, tempted, destitute, and tormented? Is this the honour, this the pleasure that you speak of?" I answer, Yes. Stop a while; be not over-hasty. Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment, and all will be well. It is true, we acknowledge the "people of this way," as you, and Paul before you, when a persecutor, called them, have their names cast out as evil, and are a sect every where spoken against. But by whom? Even by the enemies of the most high God. And do you think it a disgrace to be spoken evil of by them? Blessed be God, we have not so learnt Christ. Our royal Master has pronounced those "blessed, who are persecuted, and have all manner of evil spoken against them falsly." He has commanded them "to rejoice and be exceeding glad." For it is the prilege of their discipleship, and that their reward will be great in heaven. He himself was thus treated. And can there be a greater honour put upon a creature, than to be conformed to the ever-blessed Son of God? And further, if is equally true, that the people of this way are frequently afflicted, tempted, destitute, and tormented. But what of all this? Does this destroy the pleasure of walking with God? No, in no wise; for those that walk with God, are enabled, through Christ strengthening them, to joy even in tribulation, and to rejoice when they fall into divers temptations. And I believe I may appeal to the experience of all true and close walkers with God, Whether or not their suffering times, have not frequently been their sweetest times, and that they enjoyed most of God, when most cast out and despised by men? This we find was the case of Christ’s primitive servants, when threatened by the Jewish sanhedrim, and commanded to preach no more in the name of Jesus; they rejoiced, that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Jesus. Paul and Silas sang praises even in a dungeon; and the face of Stephen, that glorious proto-martyr of the christian church, shone like the face of an angel. And Jesus is the same now, as he was then, and takes care so to sweeten sufferings and afflictions with his love, that his disciples find, by happy experience, that as afflictions abound, consolations do much more abound. And therefore these objections, instead of destroying, do only more enforce the motives before urged to excite you to walk with God. But supposing the objections were just, and walkers with God were as despicable and unhappy as you would represent them to be; yet I have a third motive to offer, which, if weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, will over-weigh all objections, viz. That there is a heaven at the end of this walk. For, to use the words of pious Bishop Beveridge, "Though the way be narrow, yet it is not long; and though the gate be straight, yet it opens into everlasting life." Enoch found it so. He walked with God on earth, and God took him to fit down with him for ever in the kingdom of heaven. Not that we are to expect to be taken away as he was: no; I suppose we shall all die the common death of all men. But after death, the spirits of those who have walked with God, shall return to God that gave them; and at the morning of the resurrection, soul and body shall be for ever with the Lord. Their bodies shall be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, and their souls filled with all the fulness of God. They shall sit on thrones; they shall judge angels. They shall be enabled to sustain an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, even that glory which Jesus Christ enjoyed with the Father before the world began. O gloriam quantam et qualem, says the learned and pious Arndt, just before he bowed down his head, and gave up the ghost. The very thought of it is enough to make us "with to leap our seventy years," as good Dr. Watts expresses himself, and to make us break out into the earnest language of the royal Psalmist, "My soul is athirst for God, yea for the living God. When shall I come to appear in the immediate presence of my God?" I wonder not that a sense of this, when under a more than ordinary irradiation and influx of divine life and love, causes some persons even to saint away, and for a time lose the power of their senses. A less sight than this, even a sight of Solomon’s glory, made sheba’s queen astonished; and a still lesser sight than that, even a sight of Joseph’s waggons, made holy Jacob to faint, and for a while, as it were, die away. Daniel, when admitted to a distant view of this excellent glory, fell down at the feet of the angel as one dead. And if a distant view of this glory be so excellent, what must the actual possession of it be? If the first fruits are so glorious, how infinitely must the harvest exceed in glory? And now what shall I, or indeed what can I well say more, to excite you, even you that are yet strangers to Christ, to come and walk with God? If you love honour, pleasure, and a crown of glory, come, seek it where alone it can be found. Come, put ye on the Lord Jesus. Come, haste ye away and walk with God, and make no longer provision for the flesh to fulfil the lust thereof. Stop, stop, O sinner! turn ye, turn ye, O ye unconverted men! for the end of that way you are now walking in, however right it may seem in your blinded eyes, will be death, even eternal destruction both of body and soul. Make no long tarrying, I say: at your peril, I charge you, step not one step further on in your present walk. For how knowest thou, O man, but the next step thou takest may be into hell? Death may, seize thee, judgment find thee, and then the great gulph will be fixed between thee and endless glory, for ever and ever. O think of these things, all ye that are unwilling to come and walk with God. Lay them to heart. Shew yourselves men, and in the strength of Jesus say, Farewel lust of the flesh, I will no more walk with thee! Farewel lust of the eye, and pride of life! Farewel carnal acquaintance, and enemies of the cross, I will no more walk and be intimate with you! Welcome Jesus, welcome thy word, welcome thy ordinances, welcome thy Spirit, welcome thy people, I will henceforth walk with you. O that there may be in you such a mind! God will set his almighty fiat to it, and seal it with the broad seal of heaven, even the signet of his Holy Spirit. Yes, he will, though you have been walking with, and following after, the devices and desires of your desperately wicked hearts, ever since you have been born. "I the high and lofty one," says the great Jehovah, "that inhabiteth eternity, will dwell with the humble and contrite heart, even with the man that trembleth at my word." The blood, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, if you come to the Father in and through him, shall cleanse you from all sin. But the text leads me to speak to you that are saints, as well as to you that are open or unconverted sinners. I need not tell you that walking with God is not only honourable, but pleasant and profitable also: for ye know it by happy experience, and will find it more and more so every day. Only give me leave to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, and to beseech you by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus, to take heed to yourselves, and walk closer with your God, than you have in days past: for the nearer you walk with God, the more you will enjoy of Him whose presence is life, and be the better prepared for being placed at his right-hand, where are pleasures for evermore. O do not follow Jesus afar off! O be not so formal, so dead and stupid in your attendance on holy ordinances! Do not so shamefully forsake the assembling yourselves together, or be so niggardly, and so indifferent about the things of God. Remember member what Jesus says of the church of Laodicea, "Because thou art neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Think of the love of Jesus, and let that love constrain you to keep near unto him; and though you die for him, do not deny him, do not keep at a distance from him in any wise. One word to my brethren in the ministry that are here present, and I have done. You see, my brethren, my heart is full; I could almost say it is too big to speak, and yet too big to be silent, without dropping a word to you. For does not the text speak in a particular manner to those who have the honour of being stiled the ambassadors of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God? I observed at the beginning of this discourse, that Enoch in all probability was a public person, and a flaming preacher. Though he be dead, does he not yet speak to us, to quicken our zeal, and make us more active in the service of our glorious and ever-blessed Master? How did Enoch preach? How did Enoch walk with God, though he lived in a wicked and adulterous generation? Let us then follow him, as he followed Jesus Christ, and ere long, where he is, there shall we be also. He is now entered into his rest: yet a little while, and we shall enter into ours, and that too much sooner than he did. He sojourned here below three hundred years; but blessed be God, the days of man are now shortened, and in a few days our work will be over. The Judge is before the door: he that cometh will come, and will not tarry: his reward is with him. And we shall all (if we are zealous for the Lord of Hosts) ere long shine as the stars in the firmament, in the kingdom of our heavenly Father, for ever and ever. To Him, the blessed Jesus, and eternal Spirit, be all honour and glory, now, and all eternity. Amen, and Amen. Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain) CHRIST the Believer’s Husband Christ the Believer’s Husband Isaiah 54:5 For thy Maker is thy Husband. ALTHOUGH believers by nature, are far from God, and children of wrath, even as others, yet it is amazing to think how nigh they are brought to him again by the blood of Jesus Christ. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of any man living, fully to conceive, the nearness and dearness of that relation, in which they stand to their common head. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Behold, says the blessed Jesus in the days of his flesh, "my mother and my brethren." And again after his resurrection, "go tell my brethren." Nay sometimes he is pleased to term believers his friends. "Henceforth call I you no longer servants, but friends." "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." And what is a friend? Why there is a friend that is nearer than a brother, nay, as near as one’s own soul. And "thy friend, (says God in the book of Deuteronomy) which is as thy own soul." Kind and endearing appellations these, that undoubtedly bespeak a very near and ineffably intimate union between the Lord Jesus and the true living members of his mystical body! But, methinks, the words of our text point out to us a relation, which not only comprehends, but in respect to nearness and dearness, exceeds all other relations whatsoever. I mean that of a Husband. "For thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called." These words were originally spoken to the people of the Jews, considered collectively as a peculiar people, whom our Lord had betrothed and married to himself; and they seem to be spoken, when religion was on the decline among their churches; when they had, in a great measure, lost that life and power, which they once experienced; and their enemies began to insult them with a "where is now your God?" Such a state of things must undoubtedly be very afflicting to the true mourners in Zion; and put them upon crying unto the Lord, in this their deep distress. He hears their prayer, his bowels yearn towards them; and in the preceding verse, he assures them, that though the enemy had broken in upon them like a flood, yet their extremity should be his opportunity to lift up a standard against him. "Fear not, (says the great Head and King of his church) for thou shalt not be ashamed (finally or totally); neither be thou confounded, (dissipated or dejected, giving up all for gone, as though thou never shouldst see better days, or another revival of religion) for thou shalt not (entirely) be put to shame;" though for a while, for thy humiliation, and the greater confusion of thy adversaries, I suffer them to triumph over thee: "For thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widow-hood any more;" i. e. I will vouchsase you such another glorious gale of my blessed Spirit, that you shall quite forget your former troubled widow-state, and give your enemies no more occasion to insult you, on account of your infant-condition, but rather to envy you, and gnash their teeth, and melt away at the sight of your unthought-of glory and prosperity. And why will the infinitely great and condescending Jesus deal thus with his people? Because the church is his spouse; "For, (as in the words just now read to you) thy Maker is thy husband; thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel;" and therefore he loves thee too well, to let thy enemies always trample thee under foot, "The Lord of Hosts is his name, the God of the whole earth shall he be called;" and therefore he is armed with sufficient power to relieve his oppressed people, and overcome and avenge himself of all their haughty and insulting foes. This seems to be the prime and genuine interpretation of the text and context, especially if we add, that they may have a further view to the latter-day glory, and that blessed state of the church, which the people of God have been looking for in all ages, and the speedy approach of which, we undoubtedly pray for, when we put up that petition of our Lord’s, "thy kingdom come." But, though the words were originally spoken to the Jews, yet they are undoubtedly applicable to all believers in all ages, and, when inlarged on in a proper manner, will afford us suitable matter of discourse both for sinners and for saints; for such as know God, as well as for such who know him not; and likewise for those, who once walked in the light of his blessed countenance, but are now backslidden from him, have their harps hung upon the willows, and are afraid that their beloved is gone, and will return to their souls no more. Accordingly, without prefacing this discourse any farther, as I suppose that a mixed multitude of saints, unconverted sinners, and backsliders, are present here this day, I shall endeavour so to speak from the words of the text, that each may have a proper portion, and none be sent empty away. In prosecuting this design, I will, I. Endeavour to shew, what must pass between Jesus Christ and our souls before we can say, "that our Maker is our husband." II. The duties of love which they owe to our Lord, who stand in so near a relation to him. III. The miserable condition of such as cannot yet say, "their Maker is their husband." And IV. I shall conclude with a general exhortation to all such unhappy souls, to come and match with the dear Lord Jesus. And O! may that God who blessed Abraham’s servant, when he went out to seek a wife for his son Isaac, bless me, even me also, now I am come, I trust, relying on divine strength, to invite poor sinners, and recal backsliders, to my Master Jesus! And First, I am to shew, what must pass between Jesus Christ and our souls before we can say, "Our Maker is our husband." But before I proceed to this, it may not be improper to observe, that if any of you, amongst whom I am now preaching the kingdom of God, are enemies to inward religion, and explode the doctrine of inward feelings, as enthusiasm, cant and nonsense, I shall not be surprized, if your hearts rise against me whilst I am preaching; for I am about to discourse on true, vital, internal piety; and an inspired apostle hath told us, "that the natural man discerneth not the things of the spirit, because they are spiritually discerned." But, however, be noble as the Bereans were; search the Scriptures as they did; lay aside prejudice; hear like Nathaniel, with a true Israelitish ear; be willing to do the will of God; and then you shall, according to the promise of our dearest Lord, "know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." I would further observe, that if any here do expect fine preaching from me this day, they will, in all probability, go away disappointed. For I came not here to shoot over people’s heads; but, if the Lord shall be pleased to bless me, to reach their hearts. Accordingly, I shall endeavour to cloath my ideas in such plain language, that the meanest negro or servant, if God is pleased to give a hearing ear, may understand me; for I am certain, if the poor and unlearned can comprehend, the learned and rich must. This being premised, proceed we to shew what must pass between Jesus Christ and our souls, before we can say, "our Maker is our husband." Now, that we may discourse more pertinently and intelligibly upon this point, it may not be amiss to consider, what is necessary to be done, before a marriage between two parties amongst ourselves, can be said to be valid in the sight of God and man. And that will lead us in a familiar way, to shew what must be done, or what must pass between us and Jesus Christ, before we can say, "our Maker is our husband." And First, In all lawful marriages, it is absolutely necessary, that the parties to be joined together in that holy and honourable estate, are actually and legally freed from all pre-engagements whatsoever. "A woman is bound to her husband, (faith the apostle) so long as her husband liveth." The same law holds good in respect to the man. And so likewise, if either party be betrothed and promised, though not actually married to another, the marriage is not lawful, till that pre-engagement and promise be fairly and mutually dissolved. Now, it is just thus between us and the Lord Jesus. For, we are all by nature born under, and wedded to the law, as a covenant of works. Hence it is that we are so fond of, and artfully go about, in order to establish a righteousness of our own. It is as natural for us to do this, as it is to breathe. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, even after the covenant of grace was revealed to them in that promise, "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head," reached out their hands, and would again have taken hold of the tree of life, which they had forfeited, had not God drove them out of paradise, and compelled them, as it were, to be saved by grace. And thus all their descendants naturally run to, and want to be saved, partly at least, if not wholly, by their works. And even gracious souls, who are inwardly renewed, so far as the old man abides in them, find a strong propensity this way. Hence it is, that natural men are generally so fond of Arminian principles. "Do and live," is the native language of a proud, self-righteous heart. But before we can say, "our Maker is our husband," we must be divorced from our old husband the law; we must renounce our own righteousness, our own doings and performances, in point of dependence, whether in whole or part, as dung and dross, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. For thus speaks the apostle Paul to the Romans, chap. 7:4. "Ye also are become dead to the law (as a covenant of works) by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him, who is raised from the dead." As he also speaketh in another place, "I have espoused you, as a chaste virgin to Jesus Christ." This was the apostle’s own case. Whilst he depended on his being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and thought himself secure, because, as to the outward observation of the law, he was blameless; he was an entire stranger to the divine life: but when he began to experience the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, we find him, in his epistle to the Philippians, absolutely renouncing all his external privileges, and all his pharisaical righteousness; "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, nay but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Jesus Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." And thus it must be with us, ere we can say, "our Maker is our husband." Though we may not be wrought upon in that extraordinary way in which the apostle was, yet we must be dead to the law, we must be espoused as chaste virgins to Jesus Christ, and count all external privileges, and our most splendid performances (as was before observed) only "as dung and dross, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord." But further; before a marriage among us can stand good in law, both parties must not only be freed from all pre-engagements, but there must be a mutual consent on both sides. We are not used to marry people against their wills. This is what the Jews called betrothing, or espousing, a thing previous to the solemnity of marriage. Thus we find, the Virgin Mary is said to be espoused to Joseph, before they actually came together, Mat. 1:18. And thus it is among us. Both parties are previously agreed, and, as it were, espoused to each other, before we publish, what we call the banns of marriage concerning them. And so it will be in the spiritual marriage, between Jesus Christ and our souls. Before we are actually married or united to him by faith; or, to keep to the terms of the text, before we assuredly can say, that "our Maker is our husband," we must be made willing people in the day of God’s power, we must be sweetly and effectually persuaded by the Holy Spirit of God, that the glorious Emmanuel is willing to accept of us, just as we are, and also that we are willing to accept of him upon his own terms, yea, upon any terms. And when once it comes to this, the spiritual marriage goes on apace, and there is but one thing lacking to make it compleat. And what is that? An actual union. This is absolutely necessary in every lawful marriage among men. There must be a joining of hands before witnesses, ere they can be deemed lawfully joined together. Some men in deed of corrupt minds, are apt to look upon this as a needless ceremony, and think it sufficient to be married, as they term it, in the fight of God. But whence men get such divinity, I know not. I am positive, not from the Bible; for we there read that even at the first marriage in paradise, there was something of outward solemnity; God himself (if I may so speak) being there the priest. For we are told, Gen. 2:22. that, after God had made the woman, "he brought her unto the man." And indeed, to lay aside all manner of outward ceremony in marriage, would be to turn the world into a den of brute beasts. Men would then take, or forsake as many wives as they pleased, and we should soon sink into as bad and brutal a state, as those nations are, amongst whom such practices are allowed of, and who are utterly destitute of the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Whoever has experienced the power of his resurrection, I am persuaded will never plead for such a licentious practice. For the terms made use of in Scripture, to represent the mystical union between Christ and his church, such as, our being "joined to the Lord," and "married to Jesus Christ," are all metaphorical expressions, taken from some analogous practices amongst men. And as persons when married, though before twain, are now one flesh; so those that are joined to the Lord, and can truly say, "our Maker is our husband," are in the apostle’s language, one spirit. This was typified in the original marriage of our first parents. When God brought Eve to Adam, he received her with joy at his hands, and said, "this is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." They had there, primarily, but one name. For thus speaks the sacred Historian, Gen. 5:1, 2. "In the day that God created man, he blessed them, and called their name Adam." and why? because they were one flesh, and were to have but one heart. The self-same terms are made use of in Scripture, to express the believer’s union with Jesus Christ. We are called Christians, after Christ’s name, because made partakers of Christ’s nature. Out of his fulness, believers receive grace for grace. And therefore, the marriage state, especially by the apostle Paul, is frequently made use of, to figure out to us the real, vital union, between Jesus Christ and regenerate souls. This is termed by the apostle, Eph. 5:32. "A great mystery." But great as it is, we must all experience it, before we can say assuredly, that "our Maker is our husband." For what says our Lord, in that prayer he put up to his Father before his bitter passion? "Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me, shall be where I am, that they may be one with thee; even as thou, O Father, and I are one, I in them, and they in me, that we all may be made perfect in one." O infinite condescension! O ineffable union! Hence it is, that believers are said to be members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Hence it is, that the apostle speaking of himself, says, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." What an expression is that? How much does it comprehend? And, that we might not think this was something peculiar to himself, he puts this close question to the Corinthians; "Know ye not, that Christ is in you, unless you be reprobates?" Agreeable to what he says in his epistle to the Colossians, "Christ in you, the hope of glory," And hence it is, that our church, in the communion-office, directs the minister to acquaint all those who receive the sacrament worthily, that they are one with Christ, and Christ with them; that they dwell in Christ, and Christ in them. Words that deserve to be written in letters of gold, and which evidently shew, what our reformers believed all persons must experience, before they could truly and assuredly say, that "their Maker is their husband." From what has been delivered, may not the poorest and most illiterate person here present easily know whether or not he is really married to Jesus Christ. Some indeed, I am afraid, are so presumptuous as to affirm, at least to insinuate, that there is no such thing as knowing, or being fully assured, whilst here below, whether we are in Christ or not. Or at least, if there be such a thing, it is very rare, or was only the privilege of the primitive believers. Part of this is true, and part of this absolutely false. That this glorious privilege of a full assurance is very rare, is too, too true. And so it is equally too true, that real christians, comparatively speaking, are very rare also. But that there is no such thing, or that this was only the privilege of the first followers of our blessed Lord, is directly opposite to the word of God. "We know (says St. John, speaking of believers in general) that we are his, by the spirit which he hath given us;" and, "He that believeth hath the witness in himself;" "because you are sons (saith St. Paul) God hath sent forth his Spirit into your hearts, even the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Not that I dare affirm, that there is no real christian, but what has this full assurance of faith, and clearly knows, that his Maker is his husband. In speaking thus, I should undoubtedly condemn some of the generation of God’s dear children, who through the prevalence of unbelief, indwelling sin, spiritual sloth, or it may be, for want of being informed of the privileges of believers, may walk in darkness, and see no light: therefore, though I dare not affirm, that a full assurance of faith is absolutely necessary for the very being, yet I dare assert, that it is absolutely necessary, for the well being of a christian. And for my own part, I cannot conceive, how any persons, that pretend to christianity, can rest satisfied or contented without it. This is stopping short, on this side Jordan, with a witness. And gives others too much reason to suspect, that such persons, however high their profession may be, have, as yet, on true saving grace at all. Men, whose hearts are set on this world’s goods, or, to use our Lord’s language, "the children of this world," act not so. I suppose there is scarce a single merchant in this great congregation, especially in these troublous times, that will venture out either his ship or cargo, without first insuring, both against the violence of an enemy, or a storm. And I suppose there is scarce a single house, of any considerable value, in any populous town of city, but the owner has taken out a policy from the fire-office, to insure it, in case of fire. And can I be so irrational as to think, that there is such a thing as securing my goods, and my house, and that there is no such thing as insuring, what is infinitely more valuable, my precious and immortal soul? Or if there be such a thing, as undoubtedly there is, what foolishness of folly must it needs be in men, that pretend to be men of parts, of good sense, and solid reasoning, to be so anxious to secure their ships against a storm, and their houses against a fire, and at the same time, not to be unspeakably more solicitous, to take a policy out of the assurance-office of heaven; even the seal and witness of the blessed Spirit of God, to insure their souls against that storm of divine wrath, and that vengeance of eternal fire, which will at the last decisive day come upon all those, who know not God, and have not obeyed his gracious gospel? To affirm therefore, that there is no such thing as knowing, that "our Maker is our husband;" or that it was privilege peculiar to the first christians, to speak in the mildest terms, is both irrational and unscriptural. Not that all who can say, their Maker is their husband, can give the same clear and distinct account of the time, manner and means of their being spiritually united and married by faith, to the blessed bridegroom of the church. Some there may be now, as well as formerly, sanctified from the womb. And others in their insancy and non-age, as it were silently converted. Such perhaps may say, with a little Scotch maiden, now with God, when I asked her, whether Jesus Christ had taken away her old heart, and given her a new one? "Sir, it may be, (said she,) I cannot directly tell you the time and place, but this I know, it is done." And indeed it is not so very material, though no doubt it is very satisfactory, if we cannot relate all the minute and particular circumstances, that attended our conversion; if so be we are truly converted now, and can say, the work is done, and that, "our Maker is our husband." And I question, whether there is one single adult believer, now on earth, who lived before conversion, either in a course of secret or open sin, but can, in a good degree, give an account of the beginning and progress of the work of grace in his heart. What think ye? Need I tell any married persons in this congregation, that they must go to the university, and learn the languages, before they can tell whether they are married or not? Or, if their marriage was to be doubted, could they not, think you, bring their certificates, to certify the time and place of their marriage; and the minister that joined them together in that holy state? And if you are adult, and are indeed married to Jesus Christ, though you may be unlearned, and what the world terms illiterate men, cannot you tell me the rise and progress, and consummation of the spiritual marriage, between Jesus Christ and your souls? Know you not the time, when you were first under the drawings of the Father, and Jesus began to woo you for himself? Tell me, O man, tell me, O woman, knowest thou not the time, or at least, knowest thou not, that there was a time, when the blessed Spirit of God stripped thee of the fig-leaves of thy own righteousness, hunted thee out of the trees of the garden of thy performances, forced thee from the embraces of thy old husband the law, and made thee to abhor thy own righteousness, as so many filthy rags? Canst thou not remember, when, after a long struggle with unbelief, Jesus appeared to thee, as altogether lovely, mighty and willing to save? And canst thou not reflect upon a season, when thy own stubborn heart was made to bend; and thou wast made willing to embrace him, as freely offered to thee in the everlasting gospel? And canst thou not, with pleasure unspeakable, reflect on some happy period, some certain point of time, in which a sacred something (perhaps thou couldst not then well tell what) did captivate, and fill thy heart, so that thou could say, in a rapture of holy surprize, and extacy of divine love, "My Lord and my God! my beloved is mine, and I am his; I know that my Redeemer liveth;" or, to keep to the words of our text, "My Maker is my husband." Surely, amidst this great and solemn assembly, there are many that can answer these questions in the affirmative. For these are transactions, not easily to be forgotten; and the day of our espousals is, generally, a very remarkable day; a day to be had in everlasting remembrance. And can any of you indeed, upon good grounds say, that your Maker is your husband? May I not then (as it is customary to wish persons joy who are just entered into the marriage state) congratulate you upon your happy change, and with you joy, with all my heart? Sure am I that there was joy in heaven on the day of your espousals: and why should not the blessed news occasion joy on earth? May I not address you in the language of our Lord to the women that came to visit his sepulchre, "All hail!" for ye are highly favoured. Blessed are ye among men, blessed are ye among women! All generations shall call you blessed. What! "is your Maker your husband? the holy one of Israel your Redeemer?" Sing, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth! What an amazing stoop is this! What a new thing has God created on the earth! Do not your hearts, O believers, burn within you, when meditating on this unspeakable condescension of the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity? Whilst you are musing, does not the sacred fire of divine love kindle in your souls? And, out of the abundance of your hearts, do you not often speak with your tongues, and call upon all that is within you, to laud and magnify your Redeemer’s holy name? Is not that God exalting, self-abasing expression frequently in your mouths, "Why me, Lord, why me?" And are you not often constrained to break out into that devout exclamation of Solomon, when the glory of the Lord filled the temple, "And will God indeed dwell with man?" ungrateful, rebellious, ill, and hell-deserving man! O, my brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you! Tears, while I am speaking, are ready to gush out. But they are tears of love and joy. How shall I give it vent? How shall I set forth thy happiness, O believer, thou bride of God! And is thy Maker thy husband? Is his name "The Lord of hosts?" Whom then shouldst thou fear? And is thy Redeemer the holy one of Israel? the God of the whole earth should he be called! of whom then shouldst thou be afraid? He that toucheth thee, toucheth the very apple of God’s eye. "The very hairs of thy head are all numbered;" and "it is better that a man should have a milstone tied round his neck, and be drowned in the sea, than that he should justly offend thee." All hail, (I must again repeat it) thou Lamb’s bride! For thou art all glorious within, and comely, through the comeliness thy heavenly bridegroom hath put upon thee. Thy garment is indeed of wrought gold; and, ere long, the King shall bring thee forth with a raiment of needle-work, and present thee blameless before his Father, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. In the mean while, well shall it be with you, and happy shall you be, who are married to Jesus Christ: for all that Christ has, is yours. "He is made of God to you, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and eternal redemption". "Whether Paul, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours." All his attributes are engaged for your preservation, and all things shall work together for your good, who love God, and, by being thus married to the Lord Jesus, give an evident proof that you are called according to his purpose. What say you? When you meditate on these things, are you not frequently ready to cry out, What shall we render unto the Lord for all these mercies, which, of his free unmerited grace, he hath been pleased to bestow upon us? For, though you are dead to the law, as a covenant of works, yet you are alive to the law as a rule of life, and are in, or under the law (for either expression seems to denote the same thing) to your glorious husband, Jesus Christ. Pass we on therefore to the Second general head, under which I was to shew, what duties of love they owe to Jesus Christ, who are so happy as to be able to say, "My Maker is my husband." I say, duties of love. For being now married to Jesus Christ, you work not for life, but from life. The love of God constrains you, so that, if there was no written law, or supposing Jesus would set you at liberty from his yoke, so far as grace prevails in your hearts, you would say, we love our blessed bridegroom, and will not go from him. And what does the Lord require of you? That we may speak on this head as plainly as may be, we shall pursue the method we begun with; and, by carrying on the allegory, and examining what is required of truly christian wives, under the gospel, infer what our Lord may justly demand of those who are united to him by faith, and can therefore say, "our Maker is our husband." And here let us go to the law and to the testimony. What says the scripture? "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband." It is, no doubt, the duty of married women to think highly of their husbands. From whom may husbands justly command respect, if not from their wives? The apostle’s expression is emphatical. "Let the wife see that the reverence her husband;" thereby implying, that women, some of them at least, are too prone to disrespect their husbands; as Michal, Saul’s daughter, despised David in her heart, when she tauntingly said, 2 Sam. 6:20. "How glorious was the king of Israel to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamlesly uncovereth himself." This is a source and fountain, from whence many domestic evils frequently flow. Women should remember the character that husbands sustain in scripture. They are to them, what Christ is to the church. And it is mentioned to the honour of Sarah, that she called Abraham "Lord." "Shall I have a child who am old, my Lord being old also?" It is remarkable, there are but two good words in that whole sentence, "my Lord," (for all the others are the language of unbelief) and yet those two words the Holy Ghost mentions to her eternal honour, and buries, as it were, the rest in oblivion. "Even as Sarah (says St. Peter) obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord." An evident proof how pleasing it is in the sight of God, for women in the married state to reverence and respect their husbands. Not that husbands therefore should Lord it over their wives, or require too much respect at their hands. This would be unchristian, as well as ungenerous, indeed. They ought rather, as God has taken such care to keep up their authority, commanding their wives to reverence and respect them; they ought, I say, to be doubly careful, that they live so holy and unblameable, as to lay their wives under no temptation to despise them. But to return from this digression. Does the apostle say, "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband?" May I not pertinently apply this caution to you who are married to Jesus Christ? See so it that you reverence and respect your husband. I say, see to it. For the devil will be often suggesting to you hard and mean thoughts against your husband. It was thus he beset our mother Eve, even in a state of innocence. He would fain persuade her to entertain hard thoughts of her glorious benefactor. "What, has God said, ye shall not eat of the trees of the garden?" Has he been so cruel to put you here in a beautiful garden only to vex and seize you? This he made use of as an inlet to all his succeeding insinuations. And this trade he is still pursuing, and will be pursuing to the very end of time. Besides, in the eyes of the world, Jesus Christ has no form or comeliness that they should desire him; and therefore, unless you "watch and pray," you will be led into temptation, and not keep up such high thoughts of your blessed Jesus as he justly deserves. In this you can never exceed. Women, perhaps, may sometimes think too highly of, and, through excess of love, idolize their earthly comforts. But it is impossible for you to think too highly of your heavenly husband, Jesus Christ. Farther, what says the apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians? Speaking of the marriage state, he says, "The wife is the glory of her husband:" as though he had said, a christian wife should so behave, and so walk, as to be a credit to her husband. As Abigail was an honour to Nabal, and by her sweet deportment made up in some degree, for her husband’s churlishness. This is to be a help-meet indeed. Such a woman will be praised in the gate; and her husband get glory, and meet with respect on her account. And ought a woman to be the glory of her husband? How much more ought you, that are the Lamb’s bride, so to live, and so to walk, as to bring glory, and gain respect, to the cause and interest of your husband Jesus? This is what the apostle every where supposes, when he would draw a parallel between a temporal and spiritual marriage. "The woman, is the glory of her husband, even as the church is the glory of Christ." Agreeable to this, he tells the Corinthians, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God;" and as he also speaks to the Thessalonians, 1 Thess. 2:11, 12. "As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you (as a father doth his children) that you would walk worthy of God who hath called you to his kingdom, and his glory." What an expression is here! "That you would walk worthy of God." O! how ought this, and such like texts, to stir up your pure minds, O believers, so to have your conversation in this world, that you may be what the apostle says some particular persons were, even "the glory of Christ." You are his glory; he rejoices over you with singing; and you should so walk, that all who know and hear of you, may glorify Christ in you. Subjection, is another duty, that is enjoined married women, in the word of God. They are to "be subject to their own husband in every thing," every lawful thing: "For, the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." And knowing how unapt some base minds would be to submit to the husband’s authority, he takes care to enforce this duty of subjection by many cogent and powerful arguments." "For Adam was first made, and not Eve. Neither was the man made for the woman, but the woman for the man." And again, "The man was not first in the transgression, but the woman." Upon which accounts, subjection was imposed on her as part of her punishment. "Thy desire (says God) shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule (though not tyrannize) over thee." So that, to use the words of pious Mr. Henry, those who attempt to usurp authority over their husbands, not only contradict a divine command, but thwart a divine curse. And if women are to be subject to their own husbands in every thing, how much more ought believers, whether men or women, to be subject to Jesus Christ: for he is the head of the church. He has bought her by his blood. Believers therefore are not their own, but are under the highest obligations to glorify and obey Jesus Christ, in their bodies and their souls, which are his. Add to this, that his service, as it is admirably expressed in one of our collects, is perfect freedom. His commandments holy, just, and good. And therefore it is your highest privilege, O believers, to submit to, and obey them. Earthly husbands may be so mean as to impose some things upon their wives, merely to shew their authority; but it is not so with Jesus Christ. He can and does impose nothing, but what immediately conduces to our present, as well as future good. In doing, nay, in suffering for Jesus Christ, there is a present unspeakable reward. And therefore I may say to believers, as the blessed Virgin said to the servants at the marriage in Cana, "Whatsoever he says unto you, do it." "For his yoke is easy, and his burden is light." And I believe it might easily be proved in a few minutes, that all the disorders which are now in the world, whether in church or state, are owing to a want of being universally, unanimously, chearfully, and perseveringly conformed to the laws and example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Again, Faithfulness in the marriage state, is strictly enjoined in the scriptures of truth. "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Nay, adultery is an iniquity to be punished by the earthly judges; it dissolves the marriage relation. "For the man has not power over his own body, but the woman; neither has the woman power over her own body, but the man." The heathens themselves have been taught this by the light of nature; and adultery, among some of them, is punished with immediate death. And ought married persons to be thus careful to keep the marriage-bed undefiled, how carefully then ought believers to keep their souls chaste, pure, and undefiled, now they are espoused to Jesus Christ? For there is such a thing as spiritual adultery; "O ye adulterers and adulteresses," saith St. James. And God frequently complains of his people’s playing the harlot. Hence it is, that St. John, in the most endearing manner, exhorts believers to "keep themselves from idols." For the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and pride of life, are always ready to steal away our hearts from Jesus Christ. And every time we place our affections upon any thing more than Christ, we do undoubtedly commit spiritual adultery. For we admit a creature to rival the Creator, who is God over all, blessed for evermore. "Little children, therefore, keep yourselves from idols." But it is time for me to draw towards the close of this head. Fruitfulness was a blessing promised by God to the first happy pair; "Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth." "Lo, children, and the fruit of the womb, (says the Psalmist) are a gift and heritage, which cometh of the Lord." And so, if we are married to Jesus Christ, we must be fruitful. In what? In every good word and work: for thus speaks the Apostle, in his epistle to the Romans: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead." What follows? "That we should bring forth fruit unto God." Glorious words, and proper to be considered in a peculiar manner, by such who would explode the doctrine of free justification, as an Antinomian doctrine, and as though it destroyed good works. No; it establishes, and lays a solid foundation, whereon to build the superstructure of good works. Titus is therefore commanded to "exhort believers to be careful to maintain good works." And "herein (says our Lord) is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven;" with a multitude of passages to the same purpose. Moreover, it is required of wives, that they not only love and reverence their husbands, but that they also love and respect their husband’s friends. And if we are married to Jesus Christ, we shall not only reverence the bridegroom, but we shall also love and honour the bridegroom’s friends. "By this, shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." "By this we know, (says the beloved disciple) that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." Observe, the brethren, indefinitely, of whatever denomination. And this love must be "without dissimulation, and with a pure heart servently." This was the case of the primitive christians. They were all of one heart, and of one mind. It was said of them (O that it could be said of us!) "See how these christians love one another!" They were of the same spirit as a good woman of Scotland was, who, when she saw a great multitude, as is customary in that country, coming from various parts to receive the blessed sacrament, saluted them with a "Come in, ye blessed of the Lord, I have an house that will hold an hundred of you, and a heart that will hold ten thousand." Let us go and do likewise. Once more. Persons that are married, take one another for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish each other in sickness and in health. And if we are married to Jesus Christ, we shall be willing to bear his cross, as well as to wear his crown. "If any man will come, after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Neither will they be compelled to do this, as Simon of Cyrene was, but they will be volunteers in his service; they will cry out, Crown him, crown him, when others are crying out, "Crucify him, crucify him." They will never leave or forsake him, but willingly follow the Captain of their salvation, though it be through a sea of blood. I might run the parallel still further, and also enlarge upon the hints already given; but I fear I have said enough already to reproach most believers; I am sure I have said more than enough to abash and upbraid myself. For alas! how vilely, treacherously, and ungratefully have we behaved towards our spiritual husband, the dear Lord Jesus, ever since the day of our espousals? Had our friends, or even the wives of our own bosoms, behaved to us as we have behaved to our great and best friend, our glorious husband, we should have broken off our friendship, and sued for a bill of divorcement long ago. Under our first love, what promises did we make to him? But how forwardly have we behaved ourselves in this covenant? How little have we reverenced him? How often has our Beloved been no more to us than another beloved? How little have we lived to his glory? Have we not been a shame and reproach to his gospel? Have we not crucified him afresh, and has he not been sorely wounded in the house of his friends? Nay, has not his holy name been blasphemed through our means? For alas! how little have we obeyed him? How careless and indifferent have we been, whether we pleased him or not? We have often said, indeed, when commanded by him to go work in his vineyard, We go, Lord; but alas! we went not. Or if we did go, with what reluctance has it been? How unwilling to watch with our dear Lord and Master, only one hour? And of his sabbaths, how often have we said, What a weariness is this? As for our adulteries, and spiritual fornications, how frequent, how aggravated have they been? Have not idols of all sorts, been suffered to fill up the room of the ever-blessed Jesus in our hearts? You that love him in sincerity, will not be offended if I tell you, that the xvith chapter of Ezekiel gives, in my opinion, a lively description of our behaviour towards our Lord. We were, like base-born, children, cast out in the field to the loathing of our persons: no eye pitied or had compassion on us. Jesus passed by, saw us polluted in our own blood, and said unto us, "Live," i. e. preserved us, even in our natural state, from death. And when his time of love was come, he spread the skirt of his imputed righteousness over us, and covered the nakedness of our souls, entered into covenant with us, and we became his. He washed us also with water, even in the laver of regeneration, and thoroughly washed us by his precious blood, from the guilt of all our sins. He cloathed us also with broidered work, and decked us with ornaments, even with righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We did eat fine flour and honey at his ordinances, and we fed on Jesus Christ in our hearts by faith, with thanksgiving. In short, we were made exceeding beautiful, and the kingdom of God was erected in our hearts. We were renowned among our neighbours for our love to God, and all that knew us took knowledge of us, that we had been with Jesus. But alas! how have we fallen, who were once sons of the morning! How have we trusted in our own beauty, have grown spiritually proud, and provoked our patient and unspeakably long-suffering Lord to anger? Where is that ardent love we spake of, when we told him, that, though we should die for him, we would not deny him in any wife? How desperately wicked, and deceitful above all things, have we proved our hearts to be, since we have done all these things, even the work of an imperious woman? These are great and numerous charges; but great and numerous as they are, there is not a single believer here present, but, if he knows his own heart, may plead guilty to some, or all of them. But this is a tender point: I see you concerned: your tears, O believers, are a proof of the anguish of your souls. And can any of us give any reason, why Jesus Christ should not give us a bill of divorcement, and put us away? May he not justly speak to us as he did to his adultress Israel, in the forementioned xvith of Ezekiel, "Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord; I will judge thee as women that break wedlock, and shed blood, are judged. I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy, because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things. Behold, therefore, I also will recompence thy way upon thy head. I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath, in breaking the covenant, the marriage contract that was between us." This, I am persuaded, you will confess to be the treatment which we all most justly deserve. But be not overwhelmed with overmuch sorrow: for though the Lord our God is a jealous God, and will certainly vsit our offences with a rod, and our backslidings with a spiritual scourge, yet his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from us, nor suffer his truth to fail. Though we have changed, yet he changeth not: He abideth faithful: his loving-kindness abideth for evermore. Hark! how sweetly he speaks to his backsliding people of old; "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help. I will heal their backsliding, and love them freely." And in the verses immediately following the words of the text, how comfortably does he address his espoused people! "In a little wrath, I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, faith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn, that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn, that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, faith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." O that this goodness may lead us to repentance! O that this unparalleled, infinite, unchangeable love, may constrain us to an universal, uniform, chearful, unanimous, persevering obedience to all the commands of God! Brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you, and I could dwell a long while upon the many great and precious invitations that are made to backsliders, to return to their first love, and do their first works: but it is high time for me, if, as was proposed, III. I give to every one their proper portion; to speak to those poor souls, who know nothing of this blessed Bridegroom of the church, and consequently cannot yet say, "My Maker is my husband." Ah! I pity you from my inmost soul; I could weep over, and for you, though perhaps you will not weep for yourselves. But surely you would weep, and howl too, did you know the miserable condition those are in, who are not married to Jesus Christ. Will you give me leave (I think I speak it in much love) to inform you, that if you are not married to Jesus Christ, you are married to the law, the world, the flesh, and the devil, neither of which can make you happy; but all, on the contrary, concur to make you miserable. Hear ye not, ye that are married to the law, and seek to be Justified in the sight of God, partly, at least, if not wholly, by your own works, what the law faith to those that are under it, as a convenant of works? "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them." Every word breathes threatening and slaughter to poor fallen creatures. Cursed, both here and hereafter, be this man, and every one, naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, without exception, that continueth not, even to the very end of life, in all things; not only in some, or many, but in all things, that are written in the book of the law, to do them, in the utmost perfection: for "he that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all." So that, according to the tenor of the covenant of works, whosoever is guilty of one wicked thought, word, or action, is under the curse of an angry sin-avenging God. "For as many as are under the law, are under the curse." And do you know what it is to be under the curse of God, and to have the wrath of God abide upon you? If you did, I believe you would not be so unwilling to be divorced from the law, and be espoused, as chaste virgins, to Jesus Christ. And why are ye so wedded to the world? Did it ever prove faithful or satisfactory to any of its votaries? Has not Solomon reckoned up the sum total of worldly happiness? And what does it amount to? "Vanity, vanity, faith the preacher, all is vanity," nay he adds, "and vexation of spirit." And has not a greater than Solomon informed us, that a man’s life, the happiness of a man’s life, doth not consist in the things which he possesseth? Besides, "know ye not that the friendship of this world is enmity with God; so that whosoever will be a friend to the world, (to the corrupt customs and vices of it) is an enemy to God?" And what better reasons can you give for being wedded to your lusts? Might not the poor slaves in the gallies, as reasonably be wedded to their chains? For do not your lusts fetter down your souls from God? Do they not lord it, and have they not dominion over you? Do not they say, Come, and ye come; Go, and ye go; Do this, and ye do it? And is not he or she that liveth in pleasure, dead, whilst he liveth? And above all, how can ye bear the thoughts of being wedded to the devil, as every natural man is: for thus speaks the scripture, "He now ruleth in the children of disobedience." And how can ye bear to be ruled by one, who is such a professed open enemy to the most high and holy God? Who will make a drudge of you, whilst you live, and be your companion in endless and extreme torment, after you are dead? For thus will our Lord say to those on the left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." But, IV. Will you permit me, O sinners, that I may draw towards a close of this discourse, to propose a better match to your souls. This is a part of the discourse which I long to come to, it being my heart’s desire, and earnest prayer to God, that your souls may be saved. "And now, O Lord God Almighty, thou Father of mercies, and God of all consolations, thou God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast promised to give thy Son the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, send me good speed this day, O Lord, send me now prosperity. Behold, I stand here without the camp, bearing a little of thy dear Son’s sacred reproach! Hear me, O Lord, hear me, and according to thy word, let thy dear, thine only begotten Son, see of the travel of his soul, and be satisfied! O help me so to speak, that many may believe on, and cleave unto thy blessed, thine holy child Jesus!" But who am I, that I should undertake to recommend the blessed Jesus to others, who am myself altogether unworthy to take his sacred name into my polluted lips? Indeed, my brethren, I do not count myself worthy of such an honour; but since it has pleased him, in whom all fulness dwells, to count me worthy, and put me into the ministry, the very stories would cry out against me, did I not attempt, at least, to lisp out his praise, and earnestly recommend the ever-blessed Jesus to the choice of all. Thus Abraham’s faithful servant behaved, when sent out to fetch a wife for his master Isaac. He spake of the riches and honours, which God had conferred on him; but what infinitely greater honours and riches, has the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, conferred on his only Son, to whom I now Invite every christless sinner! To you, therefore, I call, O ye sons of men, assuring you, there is every thing in Jesus that your hearts can desire, or hunger and thirst after. Do people in disposing of themselves or their children in marriage, generally covet to be matched with persons of great names? Let this consideration serve as a motive to stir you up to match with Jesus. For God the Father has given him a name above every name; he has upon his vesture, and upon his thigh, a name written, "The King of kings, and the Lord of lords;" and here in the text we are told, "The Lord of Hosts is his name." Nor has he an empty title, but power equivalent; for he is a prince, as well as a saviour. "All power is given unto him, both in heaven and on earth:" "The God of the whole earth, (says our text) he shall be called." The government of men, of the church, and of devils, is put upon his shoulders: "Thrones, principalities and powers, are made subject unto him; by him kings reign, and princes decree justice; he setteth up one, and putteth down another: and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Will riches be an inducement unto you to come and match with Jesus? Why then, I can tell you, the riches of Jesus are infinite: for unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach to poor sinners, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. I appeal to you that are his saints, whether you have not found this true, by happy experience; and though some of you, may have been acquainted with him thirty, forty, fifty years ago, do you not find his riches are yet unsearchable, and as much past finding out, as they were the very first moment in which you gave him your hearts! Would you match with a wise husband? Haste then, sinners, come away to Jesus: He is the fountain of wisdom, and makes all that come unto him, wife unto salvation; "He is the wisdom of the Father: the Lord possessed him in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. When he prepared the heavens, he was there; when he appointed the foundations of the earth, then was he with him, as one brought up with him; he was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." As he is wife, so is he holy; and therefore, in the words of our text, he is stiled, "The Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:" and by the angel Gabriel, "That holy Thing." The apostles, addressing God the Father, stile him his "holy child Jesus:" and the spirits of just men made perfect, and the angels in heaven, cease not day or night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy." Nor is his beauty inferior to his wisdom or holiness; the seraphs veil their faces, when they appear before him: "He is the chiefest among ten thousand, nay, he is altogether lovely." And, as he is altogether lovely, so is he altogether loving: his name and his nature is Love. God, God in Christ is love: love in the abstract. And in this has he manifested his love, in that, whilst we were yet sinners, nay open enemies, Jesus, in his own due time, died for the ungodly. He loved us so as to give himself for us. O what manner of love is this! What was Jacob’s love to Rachel, in comparison of the love which Jesus bore to a perishing world! He became a curse for us. For it is written; "Cursed is every man that hangeth upon a tree." What Zipporah said to her husband improperly, Jesus may say properly to his spouse the church, "A bloody wife hast thou been to me, because of the crucifixion." For he has purchased her with his own blood. And having once loved his people, he loves them unto, the end. His love, like himself, is from everlasting to everlasting. He hates putting away: though we change, yet he changeth not: he abideth faithful. When we are married here, there comes in that shocking clause, to use the words of holy Mr. Boston, "Till death us doth part;" but death itself shall not separate a true believer from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus his Lord: for he will never cease loving his Bride, till he has loved her to heaven, and presented her before his Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Nay, his love will, as it were, but be beginning, through the endless ages of eternity. And now, Sirs, what say you? Shall I put that question to you, which Rebecca’s relations, upon a proposal of marriage, put to her? "Will ye go with the man?" With the God-man, this infinitely great, this infinitely powerful, this all-wise, all-holy, altogether lovely, ever-loving Jesus? What objection have you to make against such a gracious offer? One would imagine, you had not a single one; but it is to be feared, through the prevalency of unbelief, and the corruption of your desperately wicked deceitful hearts, you are ready to urge several. Methinks I hear some of you say within yourselves, "We like the proposal, but alas! we are poor." Are you so? If that be all, you may, not withstanding, be welcome to Jesus: "For has not God chosen the poor of this world, to make them rich in faith, and heirs of his everlasting kingdom?" And what says that Saviour, to whom I am now inviting you? "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." And what says his Apostle concerning him? "Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his Poverty might be made rich. But say you, "We are not only poor, but we are in debt; we owe God ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay;" but that need not keep you back: for God the Father, from the Lord Jesus, his dearly beloved Son, has received double for all believers sins: the blood of Jesus cleanseth from them all. But you are blind, and miserable, and naked; to whom then should you fly for succour, but to Jesus, who came to open the eyes of the blind, to seek and save the miserable and lost, and cloath the naked with his perfect and spotless righteousness. And now, what can hinder your espousals with the dear and ever-blessed Lamb of God? I know but of one thing, that dreadful sin of unbelief. But this is my comfort, Jesus died for unbelief, as well as for other sins, and has promised to send down the Holy Spirit to convince the world of this sin in particular: "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go away, I will send the Comforter, and he will convince the world of sin." What sin? of unbelief; "because they believe not on me." O that this promise may be so fulfilled in your hearts, and Jesus may so become the author of divine faith in your souls, that you may be able to send me the same message as a good woman in Scotland, on her dying bed, sent me by a friend: "Tell him, (says she) for his comfort, that at such a time he married me to the Lord Jesus." This would be comfort indeed. Not that we can marry you to Christ: No; the Holy Ghost must tie the marriage knot. But such honour have all God’s ministers; under him they espouse poor sinners to Jesus Christ. "I have espoused you (says St. Paul) as a chaste virgin to Jesus Christ." O that you may say, We will go with the man; then will I bow my head, as Abraham‘s servant did, and go with joy and tell my Master, that he has not left his poor servant destitute this day: then shall I rejoice in your felicity. For I know, my Master will take you into the banqueting-house of his ordinances, and his banner over you shall be love. That this may be the happy case of you all, may the glorious God grant, for the sake of Jesus his dearly beloved Son, the glorious bridegroom of his church; to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and for evermore. Amen, and Amen. Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain) The Cleansing of the Priests True Evangelism: The Cleansing of the Priests THE various conditions on which the answer to prayer depends, as set forth in the New Testament, require an experience in the supplicant of common vision and sympathy with the mind and will of God. "If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you," is a condition which demands a relation to God on the part of the individual, wherein both the present leading of God is realized and His written will is known. To abide in Christ is to keep His commandments (John 15:10), and to be in close fellowship with Him. To have His Word abiding in us is to be instructed in the Scriptures; and to one who has thus been brought into full sympathy with the purpose of God, it can safely be said, "Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." This promise of prayer, then, is not unlimited, as is sometimes supposed, but is qualified by a required adjustment to the will of God of the mind and heart of the one who prays. So, also, the oft-repeated condition, "In My name" admits of only such themes in prayer as can reasonably be coupled with the glory of Christ and the projects of His unfinished work in the world. Another condition of prayer is given in Mark 11:24: "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." This condition does not include every subject of prayer; for it would be impossible to believe that God would grant anything inconsistent with His own purpose or Being. Yet with all this nearness to the mind of God there will be many legitimate objects of prayer, concerning the wisdom of which the believer must ever be in doubt; for all requests in prayer naturally fall into two classes at the point of the known will of God. When there is no revelation, the supplicator can never pass the boundary of the qualifying words, "Thy will, not mine, be done." But when there is a revelation of the will of God, this boundary is done away; and to be uncertain of the will of God, when His will is clearly revealed, is but to doubt the Word through which He has made it manifest. The priestly intercession of the believer, which is a necessary element in true evangelism, falls in the realm of this latter phase of prayer. This prayer is nothing less than the mighty movings of the "power of God unto salvation," since the Spirit indites the intercession. It is a glorious human co-partnership with the Divine Shepherd in His solicitude and effort to seek the lost. Every possible question as to the Divine will in the salvation, sanctification and glorification of men has been wholly answered in the revelation of the heart of God through the sacrifice of the Cross. "His eternal power and Godhead" were revealed in the things created; "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world were clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. 1:20). His soul-saving compassion and desire for helpless men was revealed in the Cross of Christ; as it is written: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). From the foregoing Scriptures it may be seen that there has been a completion of all the grounds of salvation, and a sufficient revelation of the purpose and will of God for the redemption of all men through the Cross of Christ; and since His covenant-promises, relating to prayer, are still in force, it is clear that all hindrances to the movements of God in salvation must be due to some failure on the human side. Either the believers do not meet their high privilege in the holy place, or the unsaved, when convicted, reject the vision that is given unto them. Since there is little evidence of any new vision received, or rejected, on the part of the unregenerate, the solution of the question as to why there is not more saving power among believers to-day must be sought for in the realm of the believer’s ministry of intercession. It has already been pointed out that, while there may be little demand for purification in the exercise of gifts, where the service is only between man and man, there can be no entering into the holy place without the laving or removal of defilement, which God alone may see. This cleansing has been typified by the laver that stood at the entrance to the "Holy of holies" in the tabernacle of old. The necessity of that special cleansing of the priest before he approached the presence of Jehovah "in the tent of meeting" was emphasized by the penalty of death if the cleansing was neglected. The passage in Ex. 30:17–21 is here given: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offerings made by fire unto the Lord: so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and his seed throughout their generations." The restatement of the same truth is found in several passages in the New Testament in which the cleansing and refitting of the believer-priest is set forth. In John 13:3–11, Jesus speaks of the first tense of salvation as the whole bath ("He that is bathed"); and, in contrast to this, He also speaks of His own work in removing the believer’s defilement that may have been received through contact with the world. This cleansing of the believer is typified by the bathing of the feet. This is most suggestive when compared with the one preparatory whole bath of the Aaronic priest which was required when he entered the priestly office (Ex. 29:4), and the necessary repeated laving before each entrance into the holy place in the course of his priestly ministry. John 13:3–11, which teaches the possible cleansing of the believer-priest, is as follows: "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God, He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter said unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean." Upon this passage, Dr. C. I. Scofield gives the following note in the "Scofield Reference Bible": "The underlying imagery is of an oriental returning from the public bath to his home. His feet would contract defilement and require cleansing, but not his body. So the believer is cleansed as before the law from all sin ‘once for all’ (Heb. 10:1–12), but needs ever to bring his daily sins to the Father in confession, that he may abide in unbroken fellowship with the Father and with the Son (1 John 1:1–10). The blood of Christ answers for ever to all the law could say as to the believer’s guilt, but he needs constant cleansing from the defilement of sin. See Eph. 5:25–27; 1 John 5:6. Typically, the order of approach to the presence of God was, first, the brazen altar of sacrifice, and then the laver of cleansing (Ex. 40:6, 7). See, also, the order in Ex. 30:17–21: Christ cannot have communion with a defiled saint, but He can and will cleanse him." Other passages on the cleansing of the New Testament priest should be quoted also: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25–27). "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:6–9). "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:19–21). The Aaronic priest met the penalty of instant death if he attempted to enter the Holy of holies without the laving that was prescribed by the law, and while that penalty is not continued under grace, it is evident that God has safeguarded His holy Presence by closing the door of the believer’s priestly ministry so long as his sin and defilement is not put away. As the priest of the Old Testament failed in his office through unfitness before God, so the priest of the New Testament, from the same cause, may sacrifice much of his privilege in holy service and communion with Christ. His priestly ministry of sacrifice, in which he presents his body, his praise and his benevolence, may go on in their outward forms, he being under grace; yet it cannot be effectual when, because of sin, it is a ministry that is not acceptable to God. So also his priestly ministry of intercession may become of no avail through defilement. Here, as in the ministry of sacrifice, the loss is immeasurable. Not only are all his possible services to God and blessings to men hindered, which might be realized through his ministry in the holiest place, but he is without the joy and peace of fellowship with Christ. It is of great importance for the believer to realize that through his defilement, not only his priestly ministry is hindered, but his own fellowship with Christ is sacrificed as well. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:6, 7). "These things (about abiding in Christ) have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11). "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23, 24). "And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13). "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:3, 4). It may then be concluded that defilement in the believer hinders every phase of his priestly office, makes fellowship with Christ impossible, and robs him of his personal joy and blessing. The limitation that is placed upon the priestly prayer of intercession through undealt-with sin in the believer’s life is the only aspect of this truth that is directly related to the subject of evangelism. The following Scriptures warrant the conclusion that sin directly hinders prevailing prayer: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa. 66:18). "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that He cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1, 2). "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matt. 5:23, 24). "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Tim. 2:8). "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:2, 3). "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7). There is no point more strategic for the subtle attack of Satan against the plan and work of God in saving men than the one where God offers to meet the Christian for cleansing; for, if cleansing can be hindered, very much of human co-operation with God in "seeking the lost" is hindered also. This satanic influence is seen first in the fact that the Christians are almost universally ignorant of the God-provided way by which they may be cleansed from their defilement; and second, this satanic influence is seen in the tendency of the flesh to resist the necessary requirements of God, even when they are understood. The definite offer to the unregenerate person of the forgiveness of his sins is conditioned upon his receiving Christ as his personal Saviour, and there is equally as definite an offer to the Christian for the forgiveness of his sin and defilement. The condition which is imposed upon the believer is that he confess his sins. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The offer of forgiveness to the unsaved and the offer of forgiveness to the saved should never be confused. While both are made possible by the blood of Christ, the sin question with the unsaved is dealt with as a part of the whole first tense of salvation, which cannot be divided, and is likened by Christ to the whole bath: while the sin question with the saved person stands alone, since no other aspect of his glorious salvation is disturbed by his sin. Hence the removal of his defilement is all that is called for; and that is likened by Christ to the bathing of the feet of one who is returning from the whole bath. The Prodigal Son presents an illustration of the way in which a Christian may return to fellowship and blessing. There is no record that the prodigal was any less a son "in the far country" than he was in his own home; nor is it recorded of him that he returned to his father’s house on the basis of sacrifice or atonement: but it is stated that he returned on the basis of confession; for it is said that he arose and came to his father, and said unto him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am not worthy to be called thy son." In this same connection it may be seen that confession is the only requirement that can reasonably be demanded of a sinning saint; for the basis of any true fellowship is a symphonizing of thought and purpose. Hence any defilement in a believer of necessity interrupts his fellowship (though not his salvation) with a holy God. When fellowship with God is broken by sin, it can be re-established only by a frank admission of guilt and failure on the part of the sinning one. To refuse a confession is to contend that right is wrong, and wrong is right, which would be a contradiction of the very nature and character of God. Confession re-opens the way for fellowship with God and of access to God, but it does not in any way atone for sin. Propitiation for sin was perfectly accomplished at the Cross. Since His ascension, Christ has been continually pleading the efficacy of His own sacrificial death for sin in behalf of believers (Rom. 8:33, 34; Heb. 7:25). Therefore, it is said to the Christian: "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The sin of the saved one is not forgiven on the grounds of an immediate act of mercy, but is forgiven on the grounds of the sacrifice made "once for all" at the Cross. So it is said that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, rather than that He is tender and merciful to forgive us our sins. The importance of confession of sin and of self-judgment is mentioned also in 1 Cor. 11:31, 32. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." In considering this important passage, it may be noted: I. This Scripture, like that relating to confession of sin, is addressed only to believers. II. The believer is first given the opportunity to judge himself before God, and if he fails in voluntary self-judgment, God will judge him by chastisement. III. And the chastisement of God is given that His child may not be condemned with the world. In this connection it should be remembered that God is in covenant with His children to the effect that they "shall not be brought into condemnation." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). So again, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). The whole relation between the believer and his God is one of eternal sonship, which cannot be broken; hence all the judgments of God upon His own are for correction, while His judgments of the unsaved are unto condemnation. "He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). The same family relationship of the father to his son is carried through both the Old and the New Testaments. "I will be His father, and He shall be My son. If He commit iniquity, I will chasten Him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from Him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee" (2 Sam. 7:14, 15). "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born of thee shall surely die" (2 Sam. 12:13, 14). "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation, which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Heb. 12:3–15). "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh it away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2). From this extensive body of Scripture it may be seen that the Christian is privileged to "walk in the light, as He is in the light," which does not necessarily mean a sinless life: but it does mean the humble confession of all the fruits of a sinful nature, and an attitude of willingness to meet every demand of God for the putting away of sin. If the confession of sin and the judgment of self is not willingly entered into, there must be a chastisement from God, lest the believer be condemned with the world. The execution of this chastisement, it would seem, is sometimes committed to Satan (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20). If fruit is not borne after chastisement, then God taketh the branch away (John 15:2). This is not a loss of salvation, but is an entire removal from this life and service. There are two practical questions which arise in connection with the confession of sin on the part of the believer. First, How may he know what to confess? and second, To whom should he confess? In answer to the question—How may he know what to confess?—it may be stated that there are at least three ways by which a Christian may come to know his unlikeness to the mind and character of God. These are: I. The written Word of God, the teachings of which he may have neglected or transgressed. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). II. The faithful admonition of the fellow-members of the body of Christ. "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but if he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matt, 18:15–17). "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3, 4). "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1). III. The grieved Spirit who indwells him. The grieving of the Spirit will be to the Christian as an inner consciousness of wrong, which he must carefully and prayerfully heed. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). The child of God will learn to distinguish between the ever-present unlikeness to Christ and the grosser sins that are mentioned in the Bible. "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal. 5:19–21). In this passage it will be seen that the sins of hatred, wrath, envy, variance, emulations and strife are mentioned in the same list with adultery, murder and drunkenness. If a Christian really purposes to get right with God at any cost, he may well pray the prayer recorded in Psa. 139:23, 24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." There is assurance that every unholy thing will be revealed to the one who thus prays. "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you" (Phil. 3:15). In answer to this prayer for light upon the hidden sins in the life, there may be but one sin revealed at a time, and further revelations may be made to depend both upon an honest dealing with the revelation already given and upon a repetition of the same supplication. There is no other way for a Christian to deal with his sin-hindered life. The voice of the unseen enemy must also be detected. He is ever present to dissuade the believer from taking the necessary step that leads him back into fellowship with God, and into the power and blessing of service. Satan’s method is to seek to minimize the hindering sin, to justify the unholy act or position, and to appeal to the personal pride of the Christian, or suggest that a confession of sin would hinder the believer’s influence for his Lord. The answer to the second question: "To whom should a Christian confess?" is more simple: I. Confession of sin should always be to God; for He is wronged by the sin of a Christian more than any mortal. The Scripture examples of confession are clear on this point. "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight" (Psa. 51:4). "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Luke 15:18, 19). II. Confession should be made to the person or persons who have been in any way wronged by the sin. Here, it may be added, confession does not in any way involve the wrong attitude of others, nor does it demand that the responsibility for sin shall be assumed by a person who is in no way at fault. If there has been an enmity between a Christian and some other person, the Christian is asked to consider and confess only his own wrong state of heart or sinful acts. This may not solve the misunderstanding between the two parties, but it will open the way for the cleansing of the Christian who confesses his sins. Again, confession of sin should always be limited to those who have been wronged, whether the sin has been committed against the community, the church or an individual. III. Confession should be made to any who have known of the sin; for they, in a measure, have also been wronged. "And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Heb. 12:13–15). "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way" (Rom. 14:13; see also Luke 17:1, 2; 1 Cor. 8:7–13). The fifty-first Psalm is the record of David’s repentance and return to fellowship with God after his great sin, and is an exact statement of the necessary steps to be taken by a Christian in returning to his place of joy and power in service. The Psalm opens with a complete confession of sin; claims the cleansing that is promised; and ends with the restoration to joy, service, and whole fellowship with God. If there is no fruit borne to the glory of God, no fellowship with God, and no joy in the life of a believer, it is evidence that there is need of adjustment in that life to the mind and will of God. Such adjustments are the common experience of those who know what it is to walk with God; for there is no other way to keep that priceless fellowship and blessing. The secret of abiding in such a walk with God is instant confession of every known sin, rather than a delay in, or an entire neglect of the performance of that duty. Let it be restated that the believer may not realize a state of sinless perfection; but he can and must maintain an attitude of willing and instant confession of every known wrong, if he would walk in fellowship with his Lord and minister in the priestly office. When the heart is searched before God, and all sin is put away, the believer will "walk in the light as He is in the light"; for that is the normal, if not the usual, Christian experience. In this relationship there will be fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, a running over with peace and joy, and unhindered outflow of the love of God through the life. Of this outflow of love it may be stated that, as the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit which is given unto us, the normal experience of every believer should be a Divine sense of the lost condition of unsaved people, which will prompt any necessary sacrifice or effort to win them. The particular person or persons for whom a Christian may be burdened, and the extent of that burden, will be indicated and governed by the sovereign movings of the Spirit of God; while a sense of the burden, made possible through a cleansing of the life, is the one responsibility of the believer. Where the believer-priest is cleansed and is in communion with God, the love of God shed abroad in his heart will create in him a Divine longing for the salvation of the lost and this will be brought about by the Spirit "which is given unto him." He will then, from time to time, be driven to intercession and prayer through his suffering with Christ for the lost. Like Paul he will say: "My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved," and this prayer will be an intercession by the Spirit; "For we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." And since that prayer is indicted by the Spirit, Who knows the mind of God, that prayer will be answered by the going forth of the Spirit in power, wielding His mighty sword to convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Then where this Divinely wrought vision is received and acted upon by a depositing of all hope and trust in the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, there will be, by the same Spirit, a marvellous transformation of the whole estate from the power and darkness of Satan into the light, liberty and blessing of the sons of God. Thus when the believer-priest is cleansed and in a normal relation to God, the Spirit is free to take every necessary step in the "power of God unto salvation," and the believer will be led in perfect co-operation with Christ in His great unfinished work of seeking the lost. The work is all accomplished by the Spirit; for it is the Spirit Who inspires the prayer which is the only relief for the one who is suffering with Christ through the Divinely given burden for the lost; it is the Spirit Who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment in answer to prayer which He inspires; and it is the Spirit Who meets the willing soul with the power of God in salvation. True evangelism begins, then, with a cleansed priest, and while the human instrument may co-operate in much of the subsequent work in seeking the lost, "It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord." True Evangelism: Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1911, Public Domain The Convicting of the Spirit True Evangelism: The Convicting of the Spirit EVERY soul-winner becomes aware, sooner or later, of the fact that the vast company of unsaved people do not realize the seriousness of their lost estate; nor do they become alarmed even when the most direct warning and appeal is given to them. They may be normally intelligent and keen to comprehend any opportunity for personal advancement in material or intellectual things; yet there is over them a spell of indifference and neglect toward the things that would secure for them any right relation to God. All the provisions of grace with the present and future blessedness of the redeemed are listened to by these people without a reasonable response. They are, perhaps, sympathetic, warm-hearted and kind; they are full of tenderness toward all human suffering and need; but their sinfulness before God and their imperative need of a Saviour are strangely neglected. They lie down to sleep without fear and awaken to a life that is free from thought or obligation toward God. The faithful minister soon learns, to his sorrow, that his most careful presentation of truth and earnest appeal produces no effect upon them, and the question naturally arises: "How, then, can these people be reached with the Gospel?" The answer to that question lies in a right understanding of the cause of their indifference, and in an adjustment of methods in work so that there may be co-operation with the Spirit in following the Divine programme in soul-winning. One of the greatest foes to modern evangelism, which has been treated far too lightly, is described in the following passage: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are perishing: in whom the God of this age hath blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them" (2 Cor. 4:3, 4, r.v. with margin). This passage scarcely needs comment beyond a slight reference to the exact meaning of the word "gospel" as that word is here used. That body of truth which Paul received as a special revelation (Gal. 1:12), and afterwards called "my gospel," "the gospel of Christ" and "the gospel of God" (Rom. 2:16; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thes. 2:2), is a far more limited theme than the life story of Jesus, as recorded in the Four Gospels of the New Testament. It is rather the exact grounds of salvation by the Cross of Christ and through the grace of God. It is the whole revelation of the Divine propitiation for sin. While this Gospel had a larger mission than the Jew could anticipate, in that it was to be a new revelation from God, and was to be extended to the Gentiles also, it is the Divine offer of all of God’s provisions for man’s salvation in this age; and by it life and immortality were brought to light (2 Tim. 1:10). It is simply the offer of redemption and the statement of those conditions under grace, by which a soul may "turn from darkness unto light and from the power of Satan unto God" (Acts 26:18); and being the point of deliverance "from the power of Satan unto God," it is veiled by Satan and is opposed by all satanic wisdom and strength. It is clear from Scripture that the Gospel of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ is the only possible ground of salvation and escape from "the power of Satan unto God." It is therefore suggestive that Satan is imposing his blindness upon the unregenerate mind only at this one point. The demons in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry bore faithful testimony to His Deity as the Son of God; just so Satan is now directly witnessing to the value of the only offers of salvation by thus centralizing all his blinding power upon the way of the Cross. In addition to the exercise of his own power in directly blinding the unsaved to the value of the cross, Satan is increasingly active, through his ministers, in attempting to expel this central truth from the Christian faith. To do this he is now, as predicted, forcing great counterfeit religious systems and restatements of doctrine upon the world. It is also suggestive that in all these the only revealed basis of salvation is carefully omitted. The blinding or veiling of the mind, mentioned in 2 Cor. 4:3, 4, is then a universal incapacity to comprehend the way of salvation, and is imposed upon unregenerate man by the arch enemy of God in his attempts to hinder the purpose of God in redemption. It is a condition of mind against which man can have no power. Yet God has provided a means whereby this satanic veil may be lifted, the eyes opened (Acts 26:18), the eyes of the heart enlightened (Eph. 1:18, r.v.), and the soul come into the illumination of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. Then, after this "opening of the eyes" is accomplished, the way of life, which is the Gospel, will seem, to the enlightened person, to be both desirable and of transcendent import. This great work is accomplished by Divine energy, and is one of the mightiest movements of the "power of God unto salvation." It is spoken of in Scripture as the drawing of God and the convicting of the Spirit: "No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). "And when He (the Spirit) is come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). This individual and particular drawing and convicting should be distinguished from the universal drawing and illuminating of all men that is mentioned in other passages: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32), and "That was the true Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (or, "That was the true Light which coming into the world, shineth for every man")—John 1:9. The former passages refer to a special Divine work to be accomplished in each individual, and they present the only sufficient means by which a Satan-ruled soul (Eph. 2:2) may be inclined unto God, and by which, Satan-blinded eyes may receive a new vision of the Gospel of Grace. This Divine unveiling of the individual mind and heart to the Gospel is spoken of at length in Heb. 6:4–9. While this passage is Jewish in its character, it is an important statement of a phase of the truth under present consideration. The passage is as follows: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." It would seem impossible that so much could be accomplished in any person as is here described, and yet that person remain unsaved, were it not for the phase of truth which is under consideration; for the passage states that those described have been "once enlightened," "have tasted of the heavenly gift," and have been made "partakers of the Holy Ghost." They have "tasted the good word of God" and the "powers of the world to come"; yet this is all true of unregenerate persons who have been "drawn" and "convicted" by Divine power in preparation for salvation. When the passage has been interpreted as being a description of regenerate people, it has been used as a proof text to substantiate that unscriptural and God-dishonouring theory that a saved person can "fall away" and find it impossible to renew his repentance. That the passage does not describe a true child of God is evident, for the description is wholly inadequate for a Christian. All that is here said is, in a sense, true of a believer; but very much more is true of him also. The believer has received, not "tasted," the heavenly gift; he has been "sealed by the Holy Spirit," which is more than to have "partaken" of the Spirit in conviction or illumination. The "tasting of the Word of God" is a poor substitute for the believer’s "washing of regeneration by the Word"; and "tasting" of the powers of the world to come is insignificant compared with the power of God in salvation. But again, it is clearly stated in the closing verse of this passage that this is not a description of the "better things" that "accompany salvation." It is therefore a description of the condition into which a soul is brought when Divinely prepared for an intelligent choice of Christ as Saviour. This condition is, to some extent, a sphere of probation (which is never the relation of a true believer to God); for, as the life-giving rain waters the earth and causes it to yield herbs or thorns, so that soul that has been so favoured with the vision of life and salvation in preparation for yielding to the saving power of Christ, may "bear thorns and briars" by continually resisting the vision, and finally "fall away" and find no place for repentance; seeing he crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame. Thus the doom of such a person is said to be final; for he has rejected God’s best gift and his only hope. There remains, therefore, no more "a place of repentance." He must then return to a complete and hopeless satanic blindness. "If therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." A very similar, and equally important statement of the same truth is given in Heb. 10:26–29: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace"? The importance of this truth will warrant a reference to three other brief passages. In each of these this Divine drawing, or calling, may be seen in its true place and order among the other aspects of "the power of God unto salvation." In these passages, this phase of truth is mentioned by the words, "to open their eyes," "called me by His grace," and "called." "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18). "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (Gal. 1:15, 16). "Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). Other passages which emphasize the necessary illumination of the Spirit should also be quoted: "No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me" (John 6:44, 45). "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" (1 Cor. 12:3). "Jesus said unto them: But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 16:15–17). This special aspect of the Divine work, which has been seen in these passages already quoted, is more particularly dwelt upon in John 16:8–11. The whole context of this passage (16:8–15) announces, in addition to the three-fold work of the Spirit for the unsaved, or "world," a special instructive and illuminative work of the Spirit for the saved, here addressed as "you." As these two classes have had to be distinguished in connection with a previously quoted Scripture, their difference should be noted here also. In this connection it will be seen that the saved are to be led into "all truth"; while the unsaved are to be instructed along but one particular line. To the saved the "all things" of Christ and of God are to be shown; while the unsaved are to see only that which first concerns them, which is the way of life in Christ Jesus. This passage referring to the work of the Spirit for the unsaved is as follows: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." In considering this passage it may first be noted that the word "reprove" (r.v. "convict") is not limited, as is usually supposed, to the first word "sin," but applies to the words "righteousness" and "judgment" as well. This suggests a much larger meaning to the word than an acute mental agony for sin, though that may be included. These three words, it will be seen, state three aspects of the work of reproving, and are never separated in the work of the Spirit. A careful study of, in all, about sixteen passages where the original of the word "reprove" is used, will reveal that it is usually descriptive of a condition of mind resulting from the impartation of truth; and so this convicting work of the Spirit for the world is identical with the enlightenment by the Spirit already considered. Much depends at this point upon an adequate understanding of the whole scope of the action of the Spirit as suggested by the three words, "sin," "righteousness" and "judgment." "Of Sin, because they believe not on Me." "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can He know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). It is just this incapacity and blindness of the unregenerate mind which is stated in these passages that demands the illuminating work of the Spirit in "convincing of sin." It is evident from the words "because they believe not on Me" that they do not comprehend the way of life in Christ Jesus, nor has the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ dawned on them. The Gospel demands a special revelation for its understanding; since it announces a perfect freedom to all humanity from the penalty of sin, and also presents the corresponding fact that there can be but one reason for condemnation; and that, the rejection of the Saviour, Who bore the sin. Man’s relation to God on the question of sin, in the light of the Cross, is so unnatural to the unregenerate mind, and is so much the object of satanic blinding that there can be no understanding of this truth apart from a direct and personal illumination by the Spirit. The work of the Spirit, then, is to distinctly reveal the cure of sin as already accomplished, and to warn against the only remaining possible condemnation that must follow the rejection of the Cross. Though the unsaved and "natural man" may be educated, gentle, refined, or gifted, he has no vision of salvation, and thus it is obvious that there can be no adequate conception of the one condemning sin of rejecting Christ as Saviour, until the Christ and His saving work as sin-bearer are made real. This the Spirit accomplishes by convincing of righteousness and judgment; for both the conviction of righteousness and of judgment are but revelations of the Christ and His salvation. "Of Righteousness, because I go to My Father and ye see Me no more." "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses" (Acts 3:14, 15). "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). In the vision of the Righteous One Who died upon the Cross it will be revealed to the unsaved by the Spirit that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself," and that He, the Righteous One, bore the curse of the sinner’s unrighteousness "in His own body on the tree." That it was the Righteous One Who died is for ever assured by His resurrection and present place in glory. This is the all-important vision; for the Righteous One upon the Cross is the sinner’s only point of contact with the saving power of God. So, also, as the ground of salvation is revealed, by the conviction of the Spirit to be the death of the Righteous One, so the enjoyment of all present blessing in fellowship and security must depend upon as direct and personal a revelation, by the Spirit of the present living Christ. Hence, in convincing of righteousness, the vision is created in the unregenerate mind of the Righteous One Who died on the Cross as a personal Saviour, Who is now raised from the dead, and seated in glory with all His atoning work accepted before God, and Who is able to "guard that which is committed unto Him against that day." On the Cross Christ judged all sin and secured a perfect salvation for all who believe. So in heaven He saves those who have believed from every challenge of a broken law. "Of Judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwritings of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:13–15). In convicting of judgment, the Spirit reveals to the unregenerate mind that, through a judgment now past, the power and domination of Satan has been broken for every man; and with this "spoiling of principalities and powers," all the handwritings and ordinances that were against us, that were contrary to us, have been taken out of the way and nailed to the Cross. The claim which Satan held upon man, before the Cross, was the very fact of man’s sin and unlikeness to God. That claim was wholly broken by the Cross, and the curse of sin was lifted for all. Since the Cross it has been Satan’s one advantage to blind those in his power as to the fact of the universal atonement for sin, and to secure an attitude of misunderstanding and rejection of this atonement that will keep man under the last and only condemnation: "that they believe not on Me." Thus all "principalities and powers" were "spoiled" and "triumphed over" in the Divine judgment of sin. Now the way of redemption is open to all who will come by the Cross. But it is this very value of the death of Christ that is the object of Satan’s blinding, and the Spirit alone can unveil the blinded unregenerate mind. This He does by convincing of the judgment of the Cross. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the phase of the Gospel which Satan has veiled from "those that are perishing" is the way of life through the death of Christ, and that it is the same central truth which the Spirit would make real to "those that are perishing," by convincing them "of sin, of righteousness and of judgment." It is not claimed in this connection that an unsaved person must come to know every phase of truth about the atonement of Christ before he is Divinely prepared for salvation; but it is claimed that the Spirit proposes to make the meaning of the Cross sufficiently clear to that person to enable him to abandon all hope of self-works, and to turn to the finished work of Christ alone in intelligent saving faith. The vision of redemptive truth was revealed to Paul directly from God, and there is a very real sense in which that truth must be directly revealed to every individual, that he may himself choose it as the only basis of his hope. The atoning sacrificial death of Christ as a distinct and sufficient foundation for salvation must become a reality before it can become a finality in saving faith. And in convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and of judgment that truth is made real by the Spirit. What human argument or influence can convince Satan-blinded minds that to fail to believe on Jesus Christ is the all-condemning sin? Surely that sin will not be seen in all its magnitude until the mind has been enlightened in regard to the Person of Christ and His atoning work. Thus only by the Spirit can any conception be had of all that is being rejected when they "believe not on Me." It is quite clear, then, that the sin of rejecting Christ is committed, in its most terrible form, by those who have a special vision, or realization, of Christ and His salvation. It is after having seen the Divinely wrought vision that the soul may "draw back unto perdition." No understanding of the illuminating work of the Spirit on the minds of the unsaved will be complete until the important agency or means used by the Spirit in that work is recognized. "The Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit." Another sharp distinction must be made at this point, as in the enlightening and teaching work of the Spirit, between the whole Divine work for the saved and that small part of the same work that may be done for the unsaved as a preparation for salvation. The riches of the work for the saved can only be suggested here. To the saved the Word of God is a cleansing, sanctifying and reflecting power (John 13:10, 11; 15:3; Eph. 5:25, 26; John 17:17; and 2 Cor. 3:18). To the unsaved, the Word of God is the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17). As has been seen, the convicting work of the Spirit involves a radical change in the deepest part of man’s being, where his motives and desires are first formed; so that both an entirely new conception of the God-provided grounds of redemption and a vision of the glorious Person of Christ are created. As both the Person and the work of Christ are presented in the Scriptures, it is only necessary for the Spirit to vitalize His own Word, either upon the printed page, or through the lips of His messenger, to bring a new light and possibility into the hitherto blinded mind. It is, therefore, said of the Word of God: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful (living and active, r.v.), and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). The Word itself is however but the sword, and must be wielded by the Spirit to be effective. The fact that the Word of God, in the hands of the Spirit, is living and operative is the only warrant for any appeal to the unsaved; and is a warning as well that the message, to be effective, must be in accord with the whole truth of God, that it may be used by the Spirit. It is a conspicuous fact that every successful soul-winner has been a fearless defender of every essential doctrine of the Scriptures. The skill of the evangelist or the pastor who would do the work of an evangelist, is seen in the ability to present the limited body of redemptive truth repeatedly, yet with freshness and variety. The evangelist is limited to that evangel which unfolds the cure of sin and the way of life by the substitutionary death of the Cross, since that is the only message which the Spirit can use, as His Sword in unveiling those eyes which are blinded to that particular truth. How helpless, then, in true soul-saving co-operation with God, is that person who has a heart of unbelief toward the blood of the Cross, or whose message has been beguiled away from the way of life by Christ Jesus, to an appeal for morality, or religious ceremonials, which are the result of human energy and expediencies! Jesus has commanded His own that are in the world to preach the Gospel of redemptive truth to every creature: yet their preaching is of no avail, save as it is accompanied with the convincing and illuminating work of the Spirit, and this work of the Spirit is dependent upon a ministry of the believer that is more important than preaching. This is the prayer of intercession. Thus it may be concluded on the question of the use of the Word in true evangelism that it is the work of the Spirit to present the sacrificial judgment of the Cross and the living glorious Person of Christ to the unsaved through the preaching of the Word. And where an individual would evade either the message of the Cross, or the essential Deity of Christ, there has been, and can be, no co-operation of the Spirit in convincing power, though every element of literary merit and human eloquence may be supplied. It is not a mere arbitrary caprice with God that there must be an intelligent appropriation of the work of Christ as the grounds of redemption: "For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). On no other grounds can the mercy and grace of God be exercised in righteousness and justice. It follows, therefore, that the grounds of redemption must be sufficiently clear to each individual to elicit a repose of faith, and a willing deposit of all eternal interests into the saving power of Christ. No human argument or teaching can dispel the satanic darkness that hinders saving faith, or create the new vision that is required. It is quite possible for a blinded soul to be religious, or even to pose as a minister of the Gospel; yet, having never comprehended the way of life, to be "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine," and, though sincere, and possessing every other degree of human knowledge, to be in his blindness no more than the minister of Satan (2 Cor. 11:13–15). The wide difference of appreciation of the Gospel that exists between people of equal mental attainments cannot be explained on the grounds of personal temperament or training, else their various attitudes would be more or less permanent, when in reality the attitude of indifference is often suddenly changed to a glowing fire. It need hardly be pointed out that unsaved men do not weigh the evidence of testimony and fact as accurately in matters relating to salvation as they do in any other sphere of investigation. In matters between men in the world the sworn testimony of two reliable witnesses demands a corresponding conclusion; yet the obvious fact of regeneration and the willing testimony of multitudes, "whereas I was blind, now I see," creates no impression on others who are yet in their blindness. There is a reality in satanic blindness. But, blessed be God, there is a reality in Divine illumination! It should be observed that, apart from Divine power, superficial decisions can easily be secured, and apparently great results accomplished; for some minds are so dependent upon the opinions of others that the earnest dominating appeal of the evangelist, with the obvious value of a religious life, are sufficient to move them to follow almost any plan that is made to appear to be expedient. They may be urged to act on the vision of the way of life which the evangelist possesses, when they have received no sufficient vision for themselves. The experience of thousands of churches has proved that such decisions have not met the conditions of grace in "believing with the heart"; for the multitude of advertised converts have often failed, and these churches have had to face the problem of dealing with a class of disinterested people who possess no new dynamic, nor any of the blessings of the truly regenerate life. It is possible to reverently repeat the most pious phrases and assume devotional attitudes and yet have the inner life in no way correspondingly moved. All such exercise, though producing apparent results, is of no avail in real salvation; for the Spirit has not wrought in such a mind to the end that the utterance of those words become the expression of the greatest crisis of the inner life, and the only adequate relief for that soul’s sense of utter helplessness and burning thirst for the water of life. A few genuine decisions may occur among the many, and these have always justified the wholesale evangelizing method. There is, however, a very grave harm done to those who are thus superficially effected, and this harm may sometimes outweigh the good that is done. In reply to this it is argued that nothing can outweigh the value of one soul that is saved; yet when the harm of a false decision is analysed, it will be seen that the after-state of bewilderment and discouragement which results in an attitude that is almost unapproachable and hopeless, has its unmeasured results as well. The Gospel will always prove, in this age, "a savour of death unto death" as well as of "life unto life"; for some, even upon whom the Spirit has wrought in conviction, will reject the way of life. But there is no expectation in the evangelism of Scripture, that souls are to be hurried into unrealities and be misguided in their blindness. God has faithfully provided the one all-sufficient preparation for a full and intelligent decision in the ministry of the Spirit who came to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The examples of soul-winning in the New Testament present a conspicuous contrast to the usual evangelism of to-day. Then there seemed to be no urging or coaxing, nor was any person dealt with individually who had not first given evidence of a Divinely-wrought sense of need. It is recorded that Peter directed the converts at Pentecost in the way of life after they were "pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" So also there is no record that Paul and Silas made themselves obnoxious to the Philippian jailor by urging him to become a Christian before he had any such desire; but rather, after a great change had taken place in his whole attitude which compelled him to fall tremblingly before them and say: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" did they personally direct him to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Peter does not send for Cornelius: Cornelius reaches out for Peter. And Saul is led into the light almost without human aid or direction. In view of this all-important Divine preparation for salvation, it is clear that all evangelism, be it public ministry or personal work, which does not wait for the movings of the Spirit in the hearts of the unsaved is insomuch removed from true co-operation with God, and is in danger of hindering more souls than it blesses. Such a waiting on God and for God as is necessary for true co-operation with the Spirit, although it may shatter the evangelist’s claim to large numbers of converts, will tend to wean the church away from her dependence upon spasmodic periods of concern for the lost into a true and more constant attitude of fruit-bearing. The Scriptures furnish us with examples of true evangelism, the results of which were reported many centuries ago when it was said: "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). This blessed condition will always result when believers depend upon the Lord to add to the church and they "continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). True Evangelism: Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1911, Public Domain The Folly and Danger of being not righteous enough The Folly and Danger of being not righteous enough Eccles. 7:16 Be not righteous overmuch, neither make thyself over-wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself? NOTHING is more frequent, than while people are living in a course of sin, and after the fashion and manner of the world, there is no notice taken of them; neither are their ways displeasing to their companions and carnal relations: but if they set their faces Zion-ward, and begin to feel the power of God on their hearts; then they are surrounded with temptations from their friends, who thus act the devil’s part. The enemies, the greatest enemies a young convert meets with, my dear brethren, are those of his own house. They that will be godly, must suffer persecution; so it was in Christ’s time, and so it was in the Apostles time too; for our Lord came not to send peace, but a sword. Our relations would not have us sit in the scorner’s chair; they would not have us be prodigals, consuming our substance upon harlots; neither would they have us rakes or libertines, but they would have us be contented with an almost christianity. To keep up our reputation by going to church, and adhering to the outward forms of religion, saying our prayers, reading the word of God, and taking the sacraments; this, they imagine, is all that is necessary for to be christians indeed; and when we go one step farther than this, their mouths are open against us, as Peter’s was to Christ: "Spare thyself, do thyself no harm." And of this nature are the words of the text. They are not the words of Solomon himself, but the words of an infidel speaking to him, whom he introduces in several parts of this book; for Solomon had been shewing the misfortunes which attended the truly good, as in the verse before our text. Upon this the infidel says, "Be not righteous over-much, neither be thou over-wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" i. e. Why shouldst thou bring these misfortunes upon thyself, by being over-strict? Be not righteous over-much; eat, drink, and be merry, live as the world lives, and then you will avoid those misfortunes which may attend you, by being righteous over-much. This text has another meaning; but take it which way you will, my brethren, it was spoken by an unbeliever; therefore it was no credit for the person who lately preached upon this text, to take it for granted, that these were the words of Solomon: the words of an infidel was not a proper text to a christian congregation. But as David came out against Goliah, not armed as the champion was, with sword and spear, but with a sling and stone, and then cut off his head with his own sword; so I come out against these letter learned men, in the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, my dear brethren, I trust he will direct me to use my sling, so that our enemies may not gainsay us; and by the sword of God’s word, cut off the heads of our Redeemer’s enemies. But though they are not the words of Solomon, yet we will take them in the same manner the late writer did; and, from the words, shall, First, Shew you what it is, not to be righteous over-much, that we may not destroy ourselves. Secondly, I shall let you see what it is to be righteous over-much. And then, Thirdly, Conclude with an exhortation to all of you, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. First, The first thing proposed, is shew you what it is not to be righteous over-much, And here, It is by no means to be righteous over-much, to affirm we must have the same Spirit of God as the first Apostles had, and must feel that Spirit upon our hearts. By receiving the Spirit of God, is not to be understood, that we are to be inspired to shew outward signs and wonders, to raise dead bodies, to cure leprous persons, or to give sight to the blind: these miracles were only of use in the first ages of the church; and therefore christians (nominal christians, for we have little else but the name) may have all the gifts of the Spirit, and yet none of the graces of it: Thou, O man, mayest be enabled by faith to remove mountains; thou, by the power of God, mayest cast out devils; thou, by that power, mayest speak with the tongues of men and angels; yea, thou mayest, by that power, hold up thy finger and stop the fun in the firmament; and if all these are unsanctified by the Spirit of God, they would be of no service to thee, but would hurry thee to hell with the greater solemnity. Saul received the spirit of prophesying, and had another heart, yet Saul was probably a cast-away. We must receive the Spirit of God in its sanctifying graces upon our souls; for Christ says, "Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." We are all by nature born in sin, and at as great a distance from God, as the devils themselves. I have told you often, and now tell you again, that you are by nature a motley mixture of the beast and devil, and we cannot recover ourselves from the state wherein we have fallen, therefore must be renewed by the Holy Ghost. By the Holy Ghost, I mean, the third Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, co-equal, co-essential, co-eternal, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son; and therefore, when we are baptized, it is into the nature of the Father, into the nature of the Son, and into the nature of the Holy Ghost: and we are not true christians, till we are sanctified by the Spirit of God. Though our modern preachers do not actually deny the Spirit of God, yet they say, "Christians must not feel him;" which is in effect to deny him. When Nicodemus came to Christ, and the Lord Jesus was instructing him, concerning the new birth, says he to our Lord, "How can these things be?" Nicodemus, though a master of Israel, acts just as our learned Rabbi’s do now. The answer that Christ gave him should stop the mouths of our letter-learned pharisees: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth." Now till the Spirit of God is felt on our souls as the wind on our bodies, indeed, my dear brethren, you have no interest in him: religion consists not in external performance, it must be in the heart, or else it is only a name, which cannot profit us, a name to live whilst we are dead. A late preacher upon this text, seems to laugh at us, for talking of the Spirit in a sensible manner, and talks to us as the Jews did to Christ: They said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So he asks, "What sign or proof do we give of it?" We do not imagine, that God must appear to us, and give it us: no; but there may be, and is, a frequent receiving, when no seeing of it; and it is as plainly felt in the soul, as any impression is, or can be, upon the body. To what a damnable condition should we bring poor sinners, if they could not be sensible of the Spirit of God; namely, a reprobate mind and past feeling? "What proof do they give?" says the writer. What sign would they have? Do they expect us to raise the dead, to give sight to the blind, to cure lepers, to make the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear? If these are what they expect, I speak with humility, God, by us, hath done greater things than these: many, who were dead in sin, are railed to scripture-life: those, who were leprous by nature, are cleansed by the Spirit of God; those, who were lame in duty, now run in God’s commands; those, who were deaf, their ears are unstopped to hear his discipline, and hearken to his advice; and the poor have the gospel preached to them. No wonder people talk at this rate, when they can tell us, "That the Spirit of God, is a good conscience, consequent thereupon." My dear brethren, Seneca, Cicero, Plato, or any of the heathen philosophers, would have given as good a definition as this: It means no more, than reflecting that we have done well. This, this is only Deism refined: Deists laugh at us, when we pretend to be against their notions, and yet these men use no other reason for our differing from them, than what is agreeable to Deifts principle. This writer tells us, "It is against common-sense to talk of the feeling of the Spirit of God." Common-sense, my brethren, was never allowed to be a judge; yea, it is above its comprehension, neither are, nor can the ways of God be known by common-sense. We should never have known the things of God at all by our common senses: no; it is the revelation of God which is to be our judge; it is that we appeal to, and not to our weak and shallow conceptions of things. Thus we may see, it is by no means to be righteous over-much, to affirm we must have the Spirit of God as the Apostles had. Nor, Secondly, Is it to be righteous over-much to frequent religious assemblies. The preacher, upon this text, aims at putting aside all the religious societies that are in the kingdom: Indeed, he says, "You may go to church as often as opportunity serves, and on Sundays; say your prayers, read the word of God; and, in his opinion, every thing else had better be let alone: and as for the Spirit of God upon your souls, you are to look upon it as useless and unnecessary." If this, my brethren, is the doctrine we have now preached, christianity is at a low ebb indeed: but God forbid you should thus learn Jesus Christ. Do you not forbear the frequenting of religious assemblies; for as nothing helps to build up the devil’s kingdom more than the societies of wicked men, nothing would be more for pulling of it down, than the people of God meeting to strengthen each others hands; and as the devil has so many friends, will none of you be friends to the blessed Jesus? Yes, I hope many of you will be of the Lord’s side, and build each other up in christian love and fellowship. This is what the primitive christians delighted in; and shall not we follow so excellent an example? My brethren, till christian conversation is more agreeable to us, we cannot expect to see the gospel of Christ run and be glorified. Thus it is by no means to be righteous over-much, to frequent religious assemblies. Nor, Thirdly, Is it to be righteous over-much, to abstain from the diversions and entertainments of the age. We are commanded to "abstain from the appearance of evil," and that "whatsoever we do, whether we eat or drink, we shall do all to the glory of God." The writer upon this text tells us, "That it will be accounted unlawful to smell to a rose:" no, my dear brethren, you may smell to a pink and rose too if you please, but take care to avoid the appearance of sin. They talk of innocent diversions and recreations; for my part, I know of no diversion, but that of doing good: if you can find any diversion which is not contrary to your baptismal vow, of renouncing the pomps and vanities of this wicked world; if you can find any diversion which tends to the glory of God; if you can find any diversion, which you would be willing to be found at by the Lord Jesus Christ, I give you free licence to go to them and welcome; but if, on the contrary, they are found to keep sinners from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ; if they are a means to harden the heart, and such as you would not willingly be found in when you come to die, then, my dear brethren, keep from them: for, indeed, the diversions of this age are contrary to christianity. Many of you may think I have gone too far, but I shall go a great deal farther yet: I will attack the devil in his strongest holds, and bear my testimony against our fashionable and polite entertainments. What satisfaction can it be, what pleasure is there in spending several hours at cards? Strange! that even people who are grown old, can spend whole nights in this diversion: perhaps many of you will cry out, "What harm is there in it?" My dear brethren, whatsoever is not of faith, or for the glory of God, is a sin: Now does cards tend to promote this? Is it not mispending your precious time, which should be employed in working out your salvation with fear and trembling? Do play-houses, horse-racing, balls and assemblies, tend to promote the glory of God? Would you be willing to have your soul demanded of you, while you are at one of those places? Many of these are, (I must speak, I cannot forbear to speak against these entertainments; come what will, I will declare against them) many, I say, of these are kept up by public authority: the play-houses are supported by a public fund, and our newspapers are full of horse-races all through the kingdom: these things are sinful; indeed they are exceeding sinful. What good can come from a horse-race; from abusing God Almighty’s creatures, and putting them to that use he never designed for them: the play-houses, are they not nurseries of debauchery in the age? and the supporters and patrons of them, are encouragers and promoters of all the evil that is done by them; they are the bane of the age, and will be the destruction of those who frequent them. Is it not high time for the true ministers of Jesus Christ, who have been partakers of the heavenly gift, to lift up their voices as a trumpet, and cry aloud against these diversions of the age? Are they not earthly, sensual, devilish? If you have tasted of the love of God, and have felt his power upon your souls, you would no more go to a play, than you would run your head into a furnace. And what occasions these places to be so much frequented, is the clergy’s making no scruple to be at these polite places: they frequent play-houses, they go to horse races, they go to balls and assemblies, they frequent taverns, and follow all the entertainments that the age affords; and yet these are the persons who should advise their hearers to refrain from them; but instead thereof, they encourage them by their example. Persons are too apt to rely upon, and believe their pastors, rather than the scriptures; they think that there is no crime in going to plays or horse-races, to balls and assemblies; for if there were, they think those persons, who are their ministers, would not frequent them: but, my dear brethren, observe they always go disguised, the ministers are afraid of being seen in their gowns and cassocks; the reason thereof is plain, their consciences inform them, that it is not an example fit for the ministers of the gospel to set; thus, they are the means of giving that offence to the people of God, which I would not for ten thousand worlds: they lay a stumbling-block in the way of their weak brethren, which they will not remove, though it is a stumbling-block of offence. "Woe unto the world because of offences, but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh." The polite gentlemen of the age, spend their time in following these diversions, because the love of God is not in their hearts; they are void of Christ, and destitute of the Spirit of God; and not being acquainted with the delight there is in God and his ways, being strangers to these things, they run to the devil for diversions, and are pleased and delighted with the silly ones he shews them. My dear brethren, I speak of these things, these innocent diversions, as the polite part of the world calls them, by experience; perhaps none, for my age, hath read or seen more plays than I have: I took delight in, and was pleased with them. It is true, I went to church frequently, received the sacrament, and was diligent in the use of the forms of religion, but I was all this while ignorant of the power of God on my heart, and unacquainted with the work of grace; but when God was pleased to shine with power upon my soul, I could no longer be contented to feed on husks, or what the swine did eat: the Bible then was my food; there, and there only I took delight: and till you feel this same power, you will not abstain from the earthly delights of this age, you will take no comfort in God’s ways, nor receive any comfort from him; for you are void of the love of God, having only the form of godliness, while you are denying the power of it; you are nominal christians, when you have not the power of christianity. The polite gentlemen say, "Are we to be always upon our knees? Would you have us be always at prayer, and? reading or hearing the word of God?" My dear brethren, the fashionable ones, who take delight in hunting, are not tired of being continually on horseback after their hounds; and when once you are renewed by the Spirit of God, it will be a continual pleasure to be walking with, and talking of God, and telling what great things Jesus Christ hath done for your souls; and till you can find as much pleasure in conversing with God, as these men, do of their hounds, you have no share in him; but when you have tasted how good the Lord is, you will shew forth his praise; out of the abundance of your heart your mouth will speak. This brings me to the second thing proposed, which is an extream that very seldom happens: Secondly, To shew what it is to be righteous over-much. And here, First, When we confine the Spirit of God to this or that particular church; and are not willing to converse with any but those of the same communion; this is to be righteous over-much with a witness: and so it is, to consine our communion within church-walls, and to think that Jesus could not preach in a field as well as on consecrated-ground; this is judaism, this is bigotry: this is like Peter, who would not go to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, till he had a vision from God: and when his conduct was blamed by the disciples, he could not satisfy them till he had acquainted them with the vision he had seen. And, therefore, we may justly infer, the Spirit of God is the center of unity; and wherever I see the image of my Master, I never enquire of them their opinions; I ask them not what they are, so they love Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, but embrace them as my brother, my sister, and my spouse: and this is the spirit of christianity. Many persons, who are bigots to this or that opinion, when one of a different way of thinking hath come where they were, have left the room or place on the account: this is the spirit of the devil; and if it was possible that these persons could be admitted into heaven with such tempers, that very place would be hell to them. Christianity will never flourish, till we are all of one heart and of one mind; and this would be the only means of seeing the gospel of Jesus to flourish, more than ever it will by persecuting those who differ from us. This may be esteemed as enthusiasm and madness, and as a design to undermine the established church: No; God is my judge, I should rejoice to see all the world adhere to her articles; I should rejoice to see the ministers of the Church of England, preach up those very articles they have subscribed to; but those ministers who do preach up the articles, are esteemed as madmen, enthusiasts, schismatics, and underminers of the established church: and though they say these things of me, blessed be God, they are without foundation. My dear brethren, I am a friend to her articles, I am a friend to her homilies, I am a friend to her liturgy; and, if they did not thrust me out of their churches, I would read them every day; but I do not consine the Spirit of God there; for I say it again, I love all that love the Lord Jesus Christ, and esteem him my brother, my friend, my spouse; aye, my very soul is knit to that person. The spirit of persecution will never, indeed it will never make any to love Jesus Christ. The pharisees make this to be madness, so much as to mention persecution in a christian country; but there is as much the spirit of persecution now in the world, as ever there was; their will is as great, but blessed be God, they want the, power; otherwise, how soon would they send me to prison, make my feet fast in the stocks, yea, would think they did God service in killing me, and would rejoice to take away my life. This is not the Spirit of Christ, my dear brethren; I had not come to have thus preached; I had not come into the highways and hedges; I had not exposed myself to the ill treatment of these letter-learned men, but for the sake of your souls: indeed, I had no other reason, but your salvation; and for that (I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not) I would be content to go to prison; yea, I would rejoice to die for you, so I could but be a means to bring some of you to Jesus: I could not bear to see so many in the highway to destruction, and not shew them their danger: I could not bear, my brethren, to see you more willing to learn, than the teachers are to instruct you: and if any of them were to come and preach, to you, I should not envy them, I should not call them enthusiasts or madmen; I should rejoice to hear they had ten thousand times more success than I have met with; I would give them the right-hand of fellowship; I would advise them to go on; I would wish them good luck in the name of the Lord, and say as Christ did, when the disciples informed him of some casting out devils in his name, and were for rebuking of them, "Forbid them not, for they that are not against us are for us;" or as St. Paul says, "Some preach Christ of envy, and some of good-will; notwithstanding, so Christ is but preached, I rejoice; yea, and will rejoice." The gospel of Jesus, is a gospel of peace. Thus you may see, that to be righteous over-much, is to be uncharitable, censorious, and to persecute persons for differing from us in religion. Secondly, persons are righteous over-much, when they spend so much time in religious assemblies, as to neglect their families. There is no licence given by the blessed Jesus, for idleness; for in the very infancy of the world, idleness was not allowed of. In paradise, Adam and Eve dressed the garden, Cain was a tiller of the ground, and Abel was a keeper of sheep; and there is a proverb amongst the Jews, "That he who brings his son up without a business, brings him up to be a thief:" and therefore our Saviour was a carpenter; "Is not this the carpenter’s son," said the Jews: and St. Paul, though brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, was a tent-maker. Labour, my brethren, is imposed on all mankind as part of the divine curse; and you are called to be useful in the society to which you belong: take care first for the kingdom of God, and all things necessary shall be added. To labour for the meat that perisheth, is your duty; only take care, that you do not neglect getting the meat for the soul: that is of the greatest consequence, for this plain reason, the things of this life are temporal, but those of the next are eternal. I would have rich men to work as well as poor: it is owing to their idleness, that the devil hurries them to his diversions; they can be in their beds all the morning, and spend the afternoon and evening in dressing, visiting, and at balls, plays, or assemblies, when they should be working out their salvation with fear and trembling. Such a life as this, occasions a spiritual numbness in the soul; and if Jesus Christ was not to stop those who thus spend their time, they would be hurried into eternity, without once thinking of their immortal souls. But Jesus Christ has compassion upon many of them, and while they are in their blood, he bids them "live." And though I preach this doctrine to you, yet I do not bid you be idle; no, they that do not work should not eat. You have two callings, a general one, and a special one: as we are to regard the one in respect of our bodies, so we are to regard the other on account of our souls. Take heed, my brethren, I beseech you, take heed, lest you labour so for the meat that perisheth, as to forget that meat which endureth for ever. Seek the things of God first; look well to obtain oil in your lamps, grace in your hearts. I am not persuading you to take no care about the things of the world, but only not to be encumbered with them, so as to neglect your duty towards God, and a proper concern for your souls. It is meet, it is right, it is your bounden duty, to mind the callings wherein God hath placed you; and you may be said to be righteous over-much not to regard them. This brings me, Thirdly, To give you another sign of being righteous over-much; and that is, when we fast and use corporal austerities, so as to unfit us for the service of God. This, my brethren, you may think there is no occasion at all to caution you against, and indeed there is not a great necessity for it; however, many persons, upon their first being awakened to a sense of their sin, are tempted to use austerities to that excess which is sinful. It is our duty to fast, it is our duty to fast often, and it is what we are directed to by Jesus Christ himself; but then we are to take care to do it in a proper manner: to bring our bodies under for the service of God, is that which we are commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ. The late preacher upon this text, runs into great extremes, and charges us with saying and acting things, of which we never thought; but I do not regard what he said of me: I do not mind his bitter invectives against my ministry; I do not mind his despising my youth, and calling me novice and enthusiast; I forgive him from my very heart: but when he reflects on my Master; when he speaks against my Redeemer; when Jesus Christ is spoken against, I must speaks, (I must speak indeed, or I should burst:) when he gives liberty to persons to take a chearful glass, and alledges Christ for an example, as in the marriage-feast, saying, "Christ turned water into wine, when it is plain there had been more drank than was necessary before;" what is this, but to charge Christ with encouraging drunkenness? It is true, the Governor says, "Every man in the beginning sets forth good wine, and when men have well drank, that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now:" but it does not at all follow, that it was not necessary, or that there had been a sufficient quantity before: I would not speak thus slightingly of one of my Master’s miracles, for the to whole world. And we may observe, that as Christ chiefly visited poor people, they might not have wherewithal to buy a sufficient quantity of wine; or having more guests than were expected, the wine was expended sooner than they thought; then the Mother of Jesus tells him, "They have no wine;" he answers, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? My hour is not yet come." After this he commanded them to fill the water-pots with water, and they filled them to the brim, and this water he turned into wine: now it does not at all follow, that there was more drank than was necessary; neither would the Lord Jesus Christ have continued in the house if there had. But we have an excellent lesson to learn from this miracle: by the water-pots being empty, we may understand, the heart of man being by nature destitute of his grace, his speaking and commanding to fill them, shews, that when Christ speaks, the heart that was empty of grace before, shall be filled; and the water-pots being filled to the brim, shews, that Christ will fill believers hearts brim full of the Holy Ghost: and from the Governor’s observing, that the last wine was the best, learn, that a believer’s best comforts, shall be the last and greatest, for they shall come with the greatest power upon the soul, and continue longest there: this, this my dear brethren, is the lesson we may learn from this miracle. But one great inconsistency I cannot avoid taking notice of in this late learned preacher. In the beginning of his sermon, he charges us with "laying heavy burthens upon people, which they are not able to bear;" in the latter part he charges us with being Antinomians, whose tenets are, "So you say you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you may live the life of devils." Now, he charges us with being too strict, and by and by with being too loose. Which side, my brethren, will you take? Thus you see, when persons my forsake Christ they make strange mistakes; for there can be no greater opposition of sentiments than this letter-learned writer has made: as opposite as light and darkness, good and evil, sweet and bitter. And, on this account, to find out these lettered-learned gentlemens notions of the new-birth, I put a paragraph in my Journal; and, blessed be God, I have obtained my desires, and have plainly perceived, that the persons who have lately written concerning the new-birth, know no more of it than a blind man does of colours, nor can they have any more notion of it, (by all their learning, falsely so called) than the blind man, who was to give an account what the sun was, and, after a considerable time allowed for study, he said, "It was like the sound of a trumpet." And till they are taught of God, they will be unacquainted with the new-birth: therefore, if you have a mind to know what the devil has to say against us, read Dr. Trapp’s sermons. It is with grief I speak these things, and were not the welfare of your souls, and my Redeemer’s honour at stake, I would not now open my mouth, yea I would willingly die (God is my judge) for the person who wrote such bitter things against me, so it would be a means of saving his soul. If he had only spoken against me, I would not have answered him; but, on his making my Redeemer a pattern of vice, if I was not to speak, the very stones would cry out; therefore, the honour of my Redeemer, and love to you, constrains me to speak. It is of necessity that I speak, when the divinity of Jesus Christ is spoken against, it is the duty of ministers to cry aloud, and spare not. I cannot forbear, come what will; for I know not what kind of divinity we have how among us: we must have a righteousness of our own, and do our best endeavours, and then Christ will make up the deficiency; that is, you must be your own Saviour, in part. This is not the doctrine of the gospel; this is not the doctrine of Jesus: no; Christ is all in all; Jesus Christ must be your whole wisdom; Jesus Christ must be your whole righteousness, Jesus Christ must be your whole sanctification; or Jesus Christ will never be your eternal redemption and sanctification. Inward holiness is looked on, by some, as the effect of enthusiasm and madness; and preachers of the necessity of the new-birth, are esteemed as persons fit for Bedlam. Our polite and fashionable doctrine, is, "That there is a fitness in man, and that God, feeing you a good creature, bestows upon you his grace." God forbid, my dear brethren, you should thus learn Jesus Christ! This is not the doctrine I preach to you: I say, salvation is the free gift of God. It is God’s free grace, I preach unto you, not of works, lest any one should boast. Jesus Christ justifies the ungodly; Jesus Christ passed by, and saw you polluted with your blood, and bid you live. It is not of works, it is of faith: we are not justified for our faith, for faith is the instrument, but by your faith, the active as well as the passive obedience of Christ, must be applied to you. Jesus Christ hath fulfilled the law, he hath made it honourable; Jesus Christ hath made satisfaction to his Father’s justice, full satisfaction; and it is as compleat as it is full, and God will not demand it again. Jesus Christ is the way; Jesus Christ is the truth; and Jesus Christ is the life. The righteousness of Jesus Christ, my brethren, must be imputed to you, or you can never have any interest in the blood of Jesus; your own works are but as filthy rags, for you are justified before God, without any respect to your works past, present, or to come. This doctrine is denyed by the learned rabbi’s; but if they deny these truths of the gospel, they must not be offended, though a child dare speak to a doctor; and, in vindication of the cause of Jesus Christ, a child, a boy, by the Spirit of God, can speak to the learned clergy of this age. If I had a voice so great, and could speak so loud, as that the whole world could hear me, I would cry, "Be not righteous over-much," by bringing your righteousness to Christ, and by being righteous in your own eyes. Man must be abased, that God may be exalted. The imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ is a comfortable doctrine to all real christians; and you sinners, who ask what you must do to be saved? how uncomfortable would it be, to tell you by good works, when, perhaps, you have never done one good work in all your life: this would be driving you to despair, indeed: no; "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved;" therefore none of you need go away despairing. Come to the Lord Jesus by faith, and he shall receive you. You have no righteousness of your own to depend on. If you are saved, it is by the righteousness of Christ, through his atonement, his making a sacrifice for sin: his righteousness must be imputed to you, otherwise you cannot be saved. There is no difference between you, by nature, and the greatest malefactor that ever was executed at Tyburn: the difference made, is all owing to the free, the rich, the undeserved grace of God; this has made the difference. It is true, talking at this rate, will offend the pharisees, who do not like this levelling doctrine, (as they call it); but if ever you are brought to Jesus Christ by faith, you will experience the truth of it. Come by faith to Jesus Christ; do not come, pharisee-like, telling God what you have done, how often you have gone to church, how often you have received the sacrament, fasted, prayed, or the like: no; come to Christ as poor, lost, undone, damned sinners; come to him in this manner, and he will accept of you: do not be rich in spirit, proud and exalted, for there is no blessing attends such; but be ye poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God; they shall be made members of his mystical body here, and shall be so of the church triumphant hereafter. Acknowledge yourselves as nothing at all, and when you have done all, say, "You are unprofitable servants." There is no salvation but by Jesus Christ; there is no other name given under heaven amongst men, whereby we may be saved, but that of the Lord Jesus. God, out of Christ, is a consuming fire; therefore strive for an interest in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ; take him on the terms offered to you in the gospel; accept of him in God’s own way, lay hold on him by faith. Do not think you are christians; do not flatter yourselves with being righteous enough, and good enough, because you lead moral decent lives, do no one any harm, go to church, and attend upon the outward means of grace; no, my brethren, you may do this, and a great deal more, and yet be very far from having a saving, experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ. Beg of Christ to strike home upon your hearts, that you may feel the power of religion. Indeed, you must feel the power of God here, or the wrath of God hereafter. These are truths of the utmost consequence; therefore, do not go contradicting, do not go blaspheming away. Blessed be God, you are not such cowards to run away for a little rain. I hope good thing of you; I hope you have felt the power of God; and if God should bring any of you to himself through this foolishness of preaching, you will have no reason to complain it was done by a youth, by a child: no; if I could be made an instrument to bring you to God, they may call me novice, enthusiast, or what they please, I should rejoice; yea, and I would rejoice. O that some sinner might be brought to Jesus Christ! Do not say I preach despair: I despair of no one, when I consider God had mercy on such a wretch as I, who was running in a full career to hell: I was hasting thither, but Jesus Christ passed by and stopped me; Jesus Christ passed by me while I was in my blood, when I was in polluted with filth; he passed by me, and bid me live. Thus I am a monument of God’s free grace; and therefore, my brethren, I despair of none of you, when I consider, I say, what a wretch I was. I am not speaking now out of a false humility, a pretended fanctity, as the pharisees call it: no, the truth in Christ I speak, and therefore, men and devils do your worst; I have a gracious Master will protect me; it is his work I am engaged in, and Jesus Christ will carry me above their rage. Those who are come here this night out of curiosity to hear what the babbler says; those who come to spend an idle hour to find something for an evening-conversation at a coffee-house; or you who have stopped in your coaches as you passed by, remember that you have had Jesus Christ offered to you; I offer Jesus Christ to every one of you: perhaps you may not regard it because it is in a field. But Jesus Christ is wherever his people meet in sincerity and truth to worship him: he is not confined to church walls: he has met us here; many, very many of you know he has; and therefore you may believe on him with greater confidence. Can you bear to think of a bleeding, panting, dying Jesus, offering himself up for sinners, and you will not accept of him? Do not say, you are poor, and therefore are ashamed to go to church, for God has sent the gospel out unto you. Do not harden your hearts: oppose not the will of Jesus. O that I could speak to your hearts, that my words would centre there. My heart is full of love to you. I would speak, till I could speak no more, so I could but bring you to Christ. I may never meet you all, perhaps, any more. The cloud of God’s providence seems to be moving. God calls me by his providence away from you, for a while. God knows whether we shall ever see each other in the flesh. At the day of judgment we shall all meet again. I earnestly desire your prayers. Pray that I may not only begin, Jehu-like, in the spirit, but that I may continue in it. Pray that I may not fall away, that I may not decline suffering for you, if I should be called to it. Be earnest, O be earnest with God in my behalf, that while I am preaching to others, I may not be a cast-away. Put up your prayers for me, I beseech you. Go not to the throne of grace, without carrying me upon your heart for you know not what influence your prayers may have. As for you, my dear brethren, God knows my heart, I continually bear you on my mind, when I go in and out before the Lord; and it is my earnest desire, you may not perish for lack of knowledge, but that he would send out more ministers to water what his own right-hand hath planted. May the Antient of Days come forth upon his white horse, and may all opposition fall to the ground. As we have begun to bruise the serpent’s head, we must expect he will bruise our heel. The devil will not let his kingdom fall without raging horribly. He will not suffer the ministers of Christ to go on, without bringing his power to stop them. But fear not, my dear brethren, David, though a stripling, encountered the great Goliah; and if we pray, God will give us strength against all our spiritual enemies. Shew your faith by your works. Give the world the lye. Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark see before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies. I hope we shall all meet at the right-hand of God. Strive, strive to enter in at the strait gate, that we may be borne to Abraham’s bosom, where sin and sorrow shall cease. No scoffer will be there, but we shall see Jesus, who died for us; and not only see him, but live with him for ever. Which God, of his infinite mercy, &c. Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain) The Potter and the Clay The Potter and the Clay Jer. 18:1–6 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, be wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that be made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter, so be made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? faith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand so are ye in mine bandy O house of Israel. AT sundry times, and in divers manners, God was pleased to speak to our fathers by the prophets, before he spoke to us in these last days by his Son. To Elijah, he revealed himself by a small still voice. To Jacob, by a dream. To Moses, he spake face to face. Sometimes he was pleased to fend a favourite prophet on some especial errand; and whilst he was thus employed, vouchsafed to give him a particular message, which he was ordered to deliver without reserve to all the inhabitants of the land. A very instructive instance of this kind we have recorded in the passage now read to you. The first verse informs us that it was a word, or message, which came immediately from the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah. At what time, or how the prophet was employed when it came, we are not told. Perhaps, whilst he was praying for those who would not pray for themselves: Perhaps, near the morning, when he was slumbering or musing on his bed. For the word came to him, saying, "Arise." And what must he do when risen? He must "go down to the potter’s house" (the prophet knew where to find it) "and there (says the great Jehovah) I will cause thee to hear my words." Jeremiah does not confer with flesh and blood, he does not object that it was dark or cold, or desire that he might have his message given him there, but without the least hesitation is immediately obedient to the heavenly vision. "Then (says he) I went down to the potter’s house, and behold he wrought a work upon the wheels." Just as he was entering into the house or workshop, the potter, it seems, had a vessel upon his wheel. And was there any thing so extraordinary in this, that it should be ushered in with the word Behold? What a dreaming visionary, or superstitious enthusiast, would this Jeremiah be accounted, even by many who read his prophecies with seeming respect, was he alive now? But this was not the first time Jeremiah had heard from heaven in this manner. He therefore willingly obeyed; and had you or I accompanied him to the potter’s house, I believe we should have seen him silently, but intensely waiting upon his great and all-wife Commander, to know wherefore he sent him thither. Methinks I see him all attention. He takes notice, that "the vessel was of clay;" but as he held it in his hand, and turned round the wheel, in order to work it into some particular form, "it was marred in the hands of the potter," and consequently unfit for the use he before intended to put it to. And what becomes of this marred vessel? Being thus marred, I suppose, the potter, without the least imputation of injustice, might have thrown it aside, and taken up another piece of clay in its room. But he did not. "He made it again another vessel." And does the potter call a council of his domestics, to enquire of them what kind of vessel they would advise him to make of it? No, in no wise "He made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." "Then," adds Jeremiah, whilst he was in the way of duty—then—whilst he was mentally crying, Lord what wouldst thou have me to do? "Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? faith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter (marred, and unfit for the first designed purpose) so are ye in O house of Israel." At length, then, Jeremiah hath his sermon given to him: short, but popular. It was to be delivered to the whole house of Israel, princes, priests, and people: short, but pungent, even sharper than a two-edged sword. What! says the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, must I be denied the privilege of a common potter? May I not do what I will with my own? "Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hands, so are ye in mine hands, O house of Israel. I made and formed you into a people, and blessed you above any other nation under heaven: but, O Israel, thou by thy backslidings hast destroyed thyself. As the potter therefore might justly have thrown aside his marred clay, so may I justly unchurch and unpeople you. But what if I should come over the mountains of your guilt, heal your backslidings, revive my work in the midst of the years, and cause your latter end greatly to increase? Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter, lying at his disposal, either to be destroyed or formed into another vessel, so are ye in my hands, O house of Israel: I may either reject, and thereby ruin you, or I may revisit and revive you according to my own sovereign good will and pleasure, and who shall say unto me, what dost thou?" This seems to be the genuine interpretation, and primary intention of this beautiful part of holy writ. But waving all further enquiries about its primary design or meaning, I shall now proceed to shew, that what the glorious Jehovah here says of the house of Israel in general, is applicable to every individual of mankind in particular. And as I presume this may be done, without either wire-drawing scripture on the one hand, or wresting it from its original meaning on the other, not to detain you any longer, I shall, from the passage thus explained and paraphrased, deduce, and endeavour to enlarge on these two general heads. First, I shall undertake to prove, that every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, is in the sight of the all-seeing, heart-searching God, only as a "piece of marred clay." Secondly, That being thus marred, he must necessarily be renewed: and under this head, we shall likewise point out by whose agency this mighty change is to be brought about. These particulars being discussed, way will naturally be made for a short word of application. First, To prove that every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, is in the sight of an all-seeing, heart searching God, only as a piece of marred clay. Be pleased to observe, that we say every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, or every man since the fall: for if we consider man as he first came out of the hands of his Maker, he was far from being in such melancholy circumstances, No: he was originally made upright; or as Moses, that sacred penman, declares, "God made him after his own image." Surely never was so much expressed in so sew words; which hath often made me wonder how that great critic Longinus, who so justly admires the dignity and grandeur of Moses’s account of the creation, and "God said, Let there be light, and there was light;" I say I have often wondered why he did not read a little further, and bestow as just an encomium upon this short, but withal inexpressibly august and comprehensive description of the formation of man, "so God created man in his own image." Struck with a deep sense of such amazing goodness, and that he might impress yet a deeper sense of it upon our minds too, he immediately adds, "in the image of God made he him." A council of the most adorable Trinity was called on this important occasion: God did not say, Let there be a man, and there was a man, but God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." This is the account which the lively oracles of God do give us of man in his first estate: but it is very remarkable, that the transition from the account of his creation to that of his misery, is very quick, and why? For a very good reason, because he soon fell from his primeval dignity; and by that fall, the divine image is so defaced, that he is now to be valued only as antiquarians value an ancient medal, merely for the sake of the image and superscription once stamped upon it; or of a second divine impress, which, through grace, it may yet receive. Let us take a more particular survey of him, and see whether these things are so or not: and first, as to his understanding. As man was created originally "after God in knowledge," as well as righteousness and true holiness, we may rationally infer, that his understanding, in respect to things natural, as well as divine, was of a prodigious extent: for he was made but a little lower than the angels, and consequently being like them, excellent in his understanding, he knew much of God, of himself, and all about him; and in this as well as every other respect, was, as Mr. Collier expresses it in one of his essays, a perfect major: but this is far from being our case now. For in respect to natural things, our understandings are evidently darkened. It is but little that we can know, and even that little knowledge which we can acquire, is with much weariness of the flesh, and we are doomed to gain it as we do our daily bread, I mean by the sweat of our brows. Men of low and narrow minds soon commence wise in their own conceits: and having acquired a little smattering of the learned languages, and made some small proficiency in the dry sciences, are easily tempted to look upon themselves as a head taller than their fellow mortals, and accordingly too, too often put forth great swelling words of vanity. But persons of a more exalted, and extensive reach of thought, dare not boast. No: they know that the greatest scholars are in the dark, in respect to many even of the minutest things in life: and after all their painful researches into the Arcanæ Naturæ, they find such an immense void, such an unmeasurable expense yet to be travelled over, that they are obliged at last to conclude, almost with respect to every thing, "that they know nothing yet as they ought to know." This consideration, no doubt, led Socrates, when he was asked by one of his scholars, why the oracle pronounced him the wisest man on earth, to give him this judicious answer, "Perhaps it is, because I am most sensible of my own ignorance." Would to God, that all who call themselves christians, had learnt so much as this heathen! We should then no longer hear so many learned men, falsely so called, betray their ignorance by boasting of the extent of their shallow understanding, nor by prosessing themselves so wife, prove themselves such arrant pedantic fools. If we view our understandings in respect to spiritual things, we shall find that they are not only darkened, but become darkness itself, even "darkness that may be felt" by all who are not past feeling. And how should it be otherwise, since the infallible word of God assures us, that they are alienated from the light and life of God, and thereby naturally as incapable to judge of divine and spiritual things, comparatively speaking, as a man born blind is incapacitated to distinguish the various colours of the rainbow. "The natural man, (says an inspired apostle) discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God;" so far from it, "they are foolishness unto him;" and why? Because they are only to be "spiritually discerned." Hence it was, that Nicodemus, who was blessed with an outward and divine revelation, who was a ruler of the Jews, nay a master of Israel, when our Lord told him, "he must be born again;" appeared to be quite grappled. "How (says he) can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? how can these things be?" Were three more absurd questions ever proposed by the most ignorant man alive? or can there be a clearer proof of the blindness of man’s understanding, in respect to divine, as well as natural things? Is not man then a piece of marred clay? This will appear yet more evident, if we consider the perverse bent of his will. Being made in the very image of God; undoubtedly before the fall, man had no other will but his Maker’s. God’s will, and Adam’s, were then like unisons in music. There was not the least disunion, or discord between them. But now he hath a will, as directly contrary to the will of God, as light is contrary to darkness, or heaven to hell. We all bring into the world with us a carnal mind, which is not only an enemy to God, but "enmity itself, and which is therefore not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can it be." A great many shew much zeal in talking against the man of sin, and loudly (and indeed very justly) exclaim against the Pope for sitting in the temple, I mean the church of Christ, and "exalting himself above all that is called God." But say not within thyself, who shall go to Rome, to pull down this spiritual antichrist? as though there was no antichrist but what is without us. For know, O man, whoever thou art, an infinitely more dangerous antichrist, because less discerned, even self-will, sits daily in the temple of thy heart, exalting itself above all that is called God, and obliging all its votaries to say of Christ himself, that Prince of peace, "we will not have this man to reign over us." God’s people, whose spiritual senses are exercised about spiritual things, and whose eyes are opened to see the abominations that are in their hearts, frequently feel this to their sorrow. Whether they will or not, this enmity from time to time bubbles up, and in spight of all their watchfulness and care, when they are under the pressure of some sharp affliction, a long desertion, or tedious night of temptation, they often find something within rising in rebellion against the all-wise disposals of divine Providence, and saying unto God their heavenly Father, "what dost thou?" This makes them to cry (and no wonder, since it constrained one of the greatest saints and apostles first to introduce the expression) "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" The spiritual and renewed soul groans thus, being burdened; but as for the natural and unawakened man, it is not so with him; self-will, as well as every other evil, either in a more latent or discernable manner, reigns in his unrenewed soul, and proves him, even to a demonstration to others, whether he knows, or will confess it himself or not, that in respect to the disorders of his will, as well as his understanding, man is only a piece of marred clay. A transient view of fallen man’s affections will yet more firmly corroborate this melancholy truth. These, at his being first placed in the paradise of God, were always kept within proper bounds, fixed upon their proper objects, and, like so many gentle rivers, sweetly, spontaneously and habitually glided into their ocean, God. But now the scene is changed. For we are now naturally full of vile affections, which like a mighty and impetuous torrent carry all before them. We love what we should hate, and hate what we should love; we fear what we should hope for, and hope for what we should fear; nay, to such an ungovernable height do our affections sometimes rise, that though our judgments are convinced to the contrary, yet we will gratify our passions though it be at the expence of our present and eternal welfare. We feel a war of our affections, warring against the law of our minds, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin and death. So that video mcliora proboque, deteriora sequor, I approve of better things but follow worse, it too, too often the practice of us all. I am sensible, that many are offended, when mankind are compared to beasts and devils. And they might have some shadow of reason for being so, if we asserted in a physical sense, that they were really beasts and really devils. For then, as I once heard a very learned prelate, who was objecting against this comparison, observe, "a man being a beast would be incapable, and being a devil, would be under an impossibility of being saved." But when we make use of such shocking comparisons, as he was pleased to term them, we would be understood only in a moral sense; and in so doing, we assert no more than some of the most holy men of God have said of themselves, and others, in the lively oracles many ages ago. Holy David, the man after God’s own heart, speaking of himself, says, "so foolish was I, and as a beast before thee." And holy Job, speaking of man in general, says, that "he is born as a wild ass’s colt," or take away the expletive, which as some think ought to be done, and then he positively asserts, that man is a wild ass’s colt. And what says our Lord, "Ye are of your father the devil;" and "the whole world is said to lie in him, the wicked one, who now rules in the children of disobedience," that is, in all unrenewed souls. Our stupidity, proneness to fix our affections on the things of the earth, and our eagerness to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, evidence us to be earthly and brutal; and our mental passions, anger, hatred, malice, envy, and such like, prove with equal strength, that we are also devilish. Both together conspire to evince, that in respect to his affections, as well as his understanding and will, man deservedly may be termed a piece of marred clay. The present blindness of natural conscience makes this appear in a yet more glaring light; in the soul of the first man Adam, conscience was no doubt the candle of the Lord, and enabled him rightly and instantaneously to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. And, blessed be God! some remains of this are yet left; but alas, how dimly does it burn, and how easily and quickly is it covered, or put out and extinguished. I need not send you to the heathen world, to learn the truth of this; you all know it by experience. Was there no other evidence, your own conscience are instead of a thousand witnesses, that man, as to his natural conscience, as well as understanding, will and affections, is much marred clay. Nor does that great and boasted Diana, I mean unassisted unenlightened reason, less demonstrate the justness of such an assertion. Far be it from me to decry or exclaim against human reason. Christ himself is called the "Logos, the Reason;" and I believe it would not require much learning, or take up much time to prove, that so far and no farther than as we act agreeably to the laws of Christ Jesus, are we any way conformable to the laws of right reason. His service is therefore called "a reasonable service." And however his servants and followers may now be looked upon as fools and madmen; yet these will come a time, when those who despise and set themselves to oppose divine revelation, will find, that what they now call reason is only reason depraved, and as utterly incapable, of itself, to guide us into the way of peace, or shew the way of salvation, as the men of Sodom were to find Lot’s door after they were struck with blindness by the angels, who came to lead him out of the city. The horrid and dreadful mistakes, which the most refined reasoners in the heathen world ran into, both as to the object, as well as manner of divine worship, have sufficiently demonstrated the weakness and depravity of human reason: nor do our modern boasters afford us any better proofs of the greatness of its strength, since the best improvement they generally make of it, is only to reason themselves into downright wilful infidelity, and thereby reason themselves out of eternal salvation. Need we now any further witness, that man, fallen man, is altogether a piece of marred clay? But this is not all, we have yet more evidence to call; for do the blindness of our understandings, the perverseness of our will, the rebellion of our affections, the corruption of our consciences, the depravity of our reason prove this charge; and does not the present disordered frame and constitution of our bodies confirm the same also? Doubtless in this respect, man, in the most literal sense of the word, is a piece of marred clay. For God originally made him of the "dust of the earth." So that notwithstanding our boasting of our high pedigrees, and different descent, we were all originally upon a level, and a little red earth was the common substratum out of which we were all formed. Clay indeed it was, but clay wonderfully modified, even by the immediate hands of the Creator of heaven and earth. One therefore hath observed, that it is said "God built the man;" he did not form him rashly or hastily, but built and finished him according to the plan before laid down in his own eternal mind. And though, as the great God is without body, parts, or passions, we cannot suppose when it is said "God made man after his own image," that it has any reference to his body, yet I cannot help thinking (with Doctor South) that as the eternal Logos was hereafter to appear, God manifest in the flesh, infinite wisdom was undoubtedly exerted in forming a casket into which so invaluable a pearl was in the fulness of time to be deposited. Some of the ancients are said to have asserted, that man at the first, had what we call a glory shining round him; but without attempting to be wise above what is written, we may venture to affirm, that he had a glorious body, which knowing no sin, knew neither sickness nor pain. But now on this, as well as other accounts, he may justly be called Ichabod; for its primitive strength and glory are sadly departed from it, and like the ruins of some ancient and stately fabric, only so much left as to give us some faint idea of what it was when it first appeared in its original and perfect beauty. The apostle Paul, therefore, who knew how to call things by their proper names, as well as any man living, does not scruple to term the human body, though in its original constitution fearfully and wonderfully made, a "vile body;" vile indeed! since it is subject to such vile diseases, put to such vile, yea very vile uses, and at length is to come to so vile an end. "For dust we are, and to dust we must return." This among other considerations, we may well suppose, caused the blessed Jesus to weep at the grave of Lazarus. He wept, not only because his friend Lazarus was dead, but he wept to see human nature, through man’s own default, thus laid in ruins, by being subject unto such a dissolution, made like unto the beasts that perish. Let us here pause a while, and with our sympathizing Lord, see if we cannot shed a few silent tears at least, upon the same sorrowful occasion. Who, who is there amongst us, that upon such a melancholy review of man’s present, real, and most deplorable depravity both in body and soul, can refrain from weeping over such a piece of marred clay? Who, who can help adopting holy David’s lamentation over Saul and Jonathan? "How are the mighty fallen! How are they slain in their high places!" Originally it was not so. No, "God made man after his own image: in the image of God made he man." Never was there so much expressed in so few words. He was created after God in righteousness and true holiness. This is the account, which the sacred volume gives us of this interesting point. This, this is that blessed book, that book of books, from whence, together with an appeal to the experience of our own hearts, and the testimonies of all past ages, we have thought proper to fetch our proofs. For, after all, we must be obliged to divine revelation, to know what we were, what we are, and what we are to be. In these, as in a true glass, we may see our real and proper likeness. And from these only can we trace the source and fountain of all those innumerable evils, which like a deluge have overflowed the natural and moral world. If any should object against the authenticity of this revelation, and consequently against the doctrine this day drawn from thence, they do in my opinion thereby very much confirm it. For unless a man was very much disordered indeed, as to his understanding, will, affections, natural conscience, and his power of reasoning, he could never possibly deny such a revelation, which is founded on a multiplicity of infallible external evidences, hath so many internal evidences of a divine stamp in every page, is so suited to the common exigencies of all mankind, so agreeable to the experience of all men, and which hath been so wonderfully handed and preserved to us, hath been so instrumental to the convicting, converting, and comforting so many millions of souls, and hath stood the test of the most severe scrutinies, and exact criticisms of the most subtle and refined, as well as of the most malicious and persecuting enemies, that ever lived, even from the beginning of time to this very day. Persons of such a turn of mind, I think, are rather to be prayed for, than disputed with, if so be this perverse wickedness of their hearts may be forgiven them: "They are in the very gall of bitterness, and must have "their consciences seared as it were with a red-hot iron," and must have their eyes "blinded by the God of this world," otherwise they could not but see, and feel, and assent to the truth of this doctrine, of man’s being universally depraved; which not only in one or two, but in one or two thousands, in every page, I could almost say, is written, in such legible characters, that he that runs may read. Indeed, revelation itself is founded upon the doctrine of the fall. Had we kept our original integrity, the law of God would have yet been written in our hearts, and thereby the want of a divine revelation, at least such as ours, would have been superseded; but being fallen, instead of rising in rebellion against God, we ought to be filled with unspeakable thankfulness to our all bountiful Creator, who by a few lines in his own books hath discovered more to us, than all the philosophers and most learned men in the world could, or would, have discovered, though they had studied to all eternity. I am well aware, that some who pretend to own the validity of divine revelation, the notwithstanding enemies to the doctrine that hath this day been delivered; and would fain elude the force of the proofs generally urged in defence of it, by saying, they only bespeak the corruption of particular persons, or have reference only to the heathen world: but such persons err, not knowing their own hearts, or the power of Jesus Christ: for by nature there is no difference between Jew or Gentile, Greek or Barbarian, bond or free. We are altogether equally become abominable in God’s sight, all equally fallen short of the glory of God, and consequently all alike so many pieces of marred clay. How God came to suffer man to fall? how long man stood before he fell? and how the corruption contracted by the fall, is propagated to every individual of his species? are questions of such an abstruse and critical nature, that should I undertake to answer them, would be only gratifying a sinful curiosity, and tempting you, as Satan tempted our first parents, to eat forbidden fruit. It will much better answer the design of this present discourse, which is practical, to pass on II. To the next thing proposed, and point out to you the absolute necessity there is of this fallen nature’s being renewed. This I have had all along in my eye, and on account of this, have purposely been so explicit on the first general head: for has Archimedes once said, "Give me a place where I may fix my foot, and I will move the world;" so without the least imputation of arrogance, with which, perhaps, he was justly chargeable, we may venture to say, grant the foregoing doctrine to be true, and then deny the necessity of man’s being renewed who can. I suppose, I may take it for granted, that all of you amongst whom I am now preaching the kingdom of God, hope after death to go to a place which we call Heaven. And my heart’s desire and prayer to God for you is, that you all may have mansions prepared for you there. But give me leave to tell you, was you now to see these heavens opened, and the angel (to use the words of the seraphic Hervey) cloathed with all his heavenly drapery, with one foot upon the earth, and another upon the sea; nay, were you to see and hear the angel of the everlasting covenant, Jesus Christ himself, proclaiming "time shall be no more," and giving you all an invitation immediately to come to heaven; heaven would be no heaven to you, nay it would be a hell to your souls, unless you were first prepared for a proper enjoyment of it here on earth. "For what communion hath light with darkness?" Or what fellowship could unrenewed sons of Belial possibly keep up with the pure and immaculate Jesus? The generality of people form strange ideas of heaven. And because the scriptures, in condescension to the weakness of our capacities, describe it by images taken from earthly delights and human grandeur, therefore they are apt to carry their thoughts no higher, and at the best only form to themselves a kind of Mahometan paradise. But permit me to tell you, and God grant it may sink deep into your hearts! Heaven is rather a state than a place; and consequently, unless you are previously disposed by a suitable stats of mind, you could not be happy even in heaven itself. For what is grace but glory militant? What is glory but grace triumphant? This consideration made a pious author say, that "holiness, happiness, and heaven, were only three different words for one and the self-same thing." And this made the great Preston, when he was about to die, turn to his friends, saying, "I am changing my place, but not my company." He had conversed with God and good men on earth; he was going to keep up the same, and infinitely more refined communion with God, his holy angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, in heaven. To make us meet to be blissful partakers of such heavenly company, this "marred clay," I mean, these depraved natures of ours, must necessarily undergo an universal moral change: our understandings must be enlightened; our wills, reason, and consciences, must be renewed; our affections must be drawn toward, and fixed upon things above; and because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, this corruptible must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality. And thus old things must literally pass away, and behold all things, even the body as well as the faculties of the soul, must become new. This moral change is what some call, repentance, some, conversion, some, regeneration; choose what name you please, I only pray God, that we all may have the thing. The scriptures call it holiness, sanctification, the new creature, and our Lord calls it a "New birth, or being born again, or born from above." These are not barely figurative expressions, or the slights of eastern language, nor do they barely denote a relative change of state conferred on all those who are admitted into Christ’s church by baptism; but they denote a real, moral change of heart and life, a real participation of the divine life in the soul of man. Some indeed content themselves with a figurative interpretation; but unless they are made to experience the power and efficacy thereof, by a solid living experience in their own souls, all their learning, all their laboured criticisms, will not exempt them from a real damnation. Christ hath said it, and Christ will stand, "Unless a man," learned or unlearned, high or low, though he be a master of Israel as Nicodemus was, unless he "be born again, he cannot see, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." If it be enquired, who is to be the potter? and by whoso agency this marred clay is to be formed into another vessel? Or in other words, if it be asked, how this great and mighty change is to be effected? I answer, not by the mere dint and force of moral suasion. This is good in its place. And I am so far from thinking, that christian preachers should not make use of rational arguments and motives in their sermons, that I cannot think they are fit to preach at all, who either cannot, or will not use them. We have the example of the great God himself for such a practice; "Come (says he) and let us reason together." And St. Paul, that prince of preachers, "reasoned of temperance, and righteousness, and a judgment to come." And it is remarkable, "that whilst he was reasoning of these things, Felix trembled." Nor are the most persuasive strains of holy rhetoric less needful for a scribe ready instructed to the kingdom of God. The scriptures both of the Old and New Testament, every where abound with them. And when can they be more properly employed, and brought forth, than when we are acting as ambassadors of heaven, and beseeching poor sinners, as in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled unto God. All this we readily grant. But at the same time, I would as soon go to yonder church-yard, and attempt to raise the dead carcases, with a "come forth," as to preach to dead souls, did I not hope for some superior power to make the word effectual to the designed end. I should only be like a founding brass for any saving purposes, or as a tinkling cymbal. Neither is this change to be wrought by the power of our own free-will. This is an idol every where set up, but we dare not fall down and worship it. "No man (says Christ) can come to me, unless the Father draw him." Our own free-will, if improved, may restrain us from the commission of many evils, and put us in the way of conversion; but, after exerting our utmost efforts (and we are bound in duty to exert them) we shall find the words of our own church article to be true, that "man since the fall hath no power to turn to God." No, we might as soon attempt to stop the ebbing and flowing of the tide, and calm the most tempestuous sea, as to imagine that we can subdue, or bring under proper regulations, our own unruly wills and affections by any strength inherent in ourselves. And therefore, that I may keep you no longer in suspence, I inform you, that this heavenly potter, this blessed agent, is the Almighty Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, the third person in the most adorable Trinity, coessential with the Father and the Son. This is that Spirit, which at the beginning of time moved on the face of the waters, when nature lay in one universal chaos. This was the Spirit that over shadowed the Holy Virgin, before that holy thing was born of her: and this same Spirit must come, and move upon the chaos of our souls, before we can properly be called the sons of God. This is what John the baptist calls "being baptized with the Holy Ghost," without which, his and all other baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. This is that fire, which our Lord came to send into our earthly hearts, and which I pray the Lord of all lords to kindle in every unrenewed one this day. As for the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, such as working of miracles, or speaking with divers kinds of tongues, they are long since ceased. But as for this miracle of miracles, turning the soul to God by the more ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, this abides yet, and will abide till time itself shall be no more. For it is he that sanctifieth us, and all the elect people of God. On this account, true believers are said to be "born from above, to be born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Their second, as well as their first creation, is truly and purely divine. It is, therefore, called "a creation;" but put ye on (says the apostle) the new man which is created—And how? Even as the first man was, "after God in righteousness and true holiness." These, these are the precious truths, which a scoffing world would fain rally or ridicule us out of. To produce this glorious change, this new creation, the glorious Jesus left his Father’s bosom. For this he led a persecuted life; for this he died an ignominious and accursed death; for this he rose again; and for this he now sitteth at the right hand of his Father. All the precepts of his gospel, all his ordinances, all his providences, whether of an afflictive or prosperous nature, all divine revelation from the beginning to the end, all center in these two points, to shew us how we are fallen, and to begin, carry on, and compleat a glorious and blessed change in our souls. This is an end worthy of the coming of so divine a personage. To deliver a multitude of souls of every nation, language and tongue, from so many moral evils, and to reinstate them in an incomparably more excellent condition than that from whence they are fallen, is an end worthy the shedding of such precious blood. What system of religion is there now, or was there ever exhibited to the world, any way to be compared to this? Can the deistical scheme pretend in any degree to come up to it? Is it not noble, rational, and truly divine? And why then will not all that hitherto are strangers to this blessed restoration of their fallen natures, (for my heart is too full to abstain any longer from an application) why will you any longer dispute or stand out against it? Why will you not rather bring your clay to this heavenly Potter, and say from your inmost souls, "Turn us, O good Lord, and so shall we be turned?" This, you may and can do: and if you go thus far, who knows but that this very day, yea this very hour, the heavenly Potter may take you in hand, and make you vessels of honour sit for the Redeemer’s use? Others that were once as far from the kingdom of God as you are, have been partakers of this blessedness. What a wretched creature was Mary Magdalene? And yet out of her Jesus Christ cast seven devils. Nay, he appeared to her first, after he rose from the dead, and she became as it were an apostle to the very apostles. What a covetous creature was Zaccheus? He was a griping cheating publican; and yet, perhaps, in one quarter of an hour’s time, his heart is enlarged, and he made quite willing to give half of his goods to feed the poor. And to mention no more, what a cruel person was Paul. He was a persecutor, a blasphemer, injurious; one that breathed out threatnings against the disciples of the Lord, and made havoc of the church of Christ. And yet what a wonderful turn did he meet with, as he was journeying to Damascus? from a persecutor, he became a preacher; was afterwards made a spiritual father to thousands, and now probably sits nearest the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. And why all this? That he might be made an example to them that should hereafter believe. O then believe, repent; I beseech you, believe the gospel. Indeed, it is glad tidings, even tidings of great joy. You will then no longer have any thing to say against the doctrine of Original Sin; or charge the Almighty foolishly, for suffering our first parents to be prevailed on to eat such four grapes, and permitting thereby their children’s teeth to be set on edge. You will then no longer cry out against the doctrine of the New Birth, as enthusiasm, or brand the assertors of such blessed truths with the opprobrious names of fools and madmen. Having felt, you will then believe; having believed, you will therefore speak; and instead of being vessels of wrath, and growing harder and harder in hell fire, like vessels in a potter’s oven, you will be made vessels of honour, and be presented at the great day by Jesus, to his heavenly Father, and be translated to live with him as monuments of rich, free, distinguishing and sovereign grace, for ever and ever. You, that have in some degree experienced the quickening influence (for I must not conclude without dropping a word or two to God’s children) you know how to pity, and therefore, I beseech you also to pray for those, to whose circumstances this discourse is peculiarly adapted. But will you be content in praying for them? Will you not see reason to pray for yourselves also? Yes, doubtless, for yourselves also. For you, and you only know, how much there is yet lacking in your faith, and how far you are from being partakers in that degree, which you desire to be, of the whole mind that was in Christ Jesus. You know what a body of sin and death you carry about with you, and that you must necessarily expect many turns of God’s providence and grace, before you will be wholly delivered from it. But thanks be to God, we are in safe hands. He that has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith. Yet a little while, and we like him shall say "It is finished;" we shall bow down our heads and give up the ghost. Till then, (for to thee, O Lord, will we now direct our prayer) help us, O Almighty Father, in patience to possess our souls. Behold, we are the clay, and thou art the Potter. Let not the thing formed say to him that formed it, whatever the dispensations of thy future Will concerning us may be, Why dost thou deal with us thus? Behold, we put ourselves as blanks in thine hands, deal with us as seemeth good in thy fight, only let every cross, every affliction, every temptation, be overruled to the stamping thy blessed image in more lively characters on our hearts; that so passing from glory to glory, by the powerful operations of thy blessed Spirit, we may be made thereby more and more meet for, and at last be translated to a full, perfect, endless, and uninterrupted enjoyment of glory hereafter, with thee O Father, thee O Son, and thee O blessed Spirit; to whom, three persons but one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honour, power, might, majesty and dominion, now and to all eternity. Amen and Amen. Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.