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- Godliness - 2/23 -
In our introduction to "_Aggressive Christianity_," we advertised, in behalf of the American churches, a universal want--Enthusiasm. In her brief Exeter-Hall address, Mrs. Booth discloses the source of the supply. Holiness is the well-spring of enthusiasm. Hence it is not a spring freshet, but an overflowing river of power in all its possessors, and, notably in the Salvation Army, bearing the unchurched masses of England on its bosom. A holy enthusiasm is contagious and conquering. We cannot touch the people with the icicle of logic; but they will not fail to bow to the scepter of glowing and joyful love. Few men can reason; all can feel. Enthusiasm and full salvation, like the Siamese twins, cannot be separated and live. The error of the modern pulpit is that of the blacksmith hammering cold steel--a faint impression and huge labor. The baptism of fire softening our assemblies would lighten the preacher's toil and multiply its productiveness.
The four addresses on _Holiness_ are hortatory rather than argumentative or exegetical. They are spiritual cyclones. It is difficult to see how any Christian could withstand these impassioned appeals to make what Joseph Cook calls "an affectionate, total, irreversible, eternal, self-surrender to Jesus Christ, as both Saviour and Lord," in order to attain that "perfect similarity of feeling with God," wherein evangelical perfection consists.
It gives me great pleasure to have some humble part in echoing across the American continent these glowing utterances from the lips of this modern Deborah, the Christian prophetess raised up by God for the deliverance of His people from captivity to worldliness and religious apathy. "Would God that all the Lord's people," men and women, "were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"
"Shall we the Spirit's course restrain, Or quench the heavenly fire? Let God His messengers ordain, And whom He will inspire! Blow as He list, the Spirit's choice Of instruments we bless: We will, if Christ be preached, rejoice, And wish the word success."
_Reading, Mass., Nov._ 23, 1883.
CHARITY AND REBUKE
CHARITY AND CONFLICT
CHARITY AND LONELINESS
CONDITIONS OF EFFECTUAL PRAYER
THE PERFECT HEART
HOW TO WORK FOR GOD WITH SUCCESS
ENTHUSIASM AND FULL SALVATION
HINDRANCES TO HOLINESS
ADDRESSES ON HOLINESS
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at band.--MATT. iii. 2.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.--MATT. iv. 17.
"Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Qentiles, that they should repent and torn to God, and do works meet for repentance."--ACTS xxvi. 19,20.
In the mouths of three witnesses--John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul--this word shall be established, namely, that repentance is an _indispensable_ condition of entering the kingdom of God.
People generally are all at sea oh this subject, as though insisting that repentance were an arbitrary arrangement on the part of God. I believe God has made human salvation as easy as the Almighty, Infinite mind could make it. But there is a necessity in the case, that we should "repent and turn to God." It is just as necessary that my feelings be changed and brought to repentance towards God, as it is that the wicked, disobedient boy, should have his feelings brought back into harmony with his father before he can be forgiven. Precisely the same laws of mind are brought into action in both cases, and there is the same necessity in both.
If there is any father here who has a prodigal son, I ask, How is it that you are not reconciled to your son? You love him--love him intensely. Probably you are more conscious of your love for him than for any other of your children. Your heart yearns over him every day; you pray for him night and day; you dream of him by night; your bowels yearn over your son, and you say, with David, "Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son." Why are you not reconciled? Why not pat him on the head, or stroke his face, and say, "My dear lad, I am well pleased with you. I love you complacently; I give you my approbation?" Why are you always reproving him? Why are you obliged to hold him at arm's length? Why can you not live on amicable terms with him? Why can you not have him come in and out, and live with you on the same terms as the affectionate, obedient daughter? "Oh!" you say, "the case is different; I cannot. It is not, 'I would not;' but, '_I cannot_.' Before that can possibly be, the boy's feelings must be changed towards me. He is at war with me; he has mistaken notions of me; he thinks I am hard, and cruel, and exacting, and severe. I have done all a father could do, but he sees things differently, to what they are, and has harbored these hard feelings against me until he hates me, and will go on in defiance of my will." You say, "It is a necessity that, as a wise and righteous father, I must insist on a change in him. I cannot receive him as a son, till he comes to my feet. He must confess his sin, and ask me to forgive him. Then, oh! how gladly will my fatherly affection gush out! How I should run to meet him, and put my arms around his neck! but there is a 'cannot' in the case." Just so. It is not that He does not love you, sinner; it is not that the great, benevolent heart of God has not, as it were, wept tears of blood over you; it is not that He would not put His loving arms around you this moment, if you would only come to His feet, and confess you were wrong, and seek His pardon; but, otherwise, He may not--He _cannot_. The laws of His universe are against Him doing so. The good, it may be, of millions of immortal beings, is involved. He dare not, and He _cannot,_ until there is a change of mind _in you._ You must repent. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Well, if repentance be an indispensable condition of salvation, let us glance at it for a moment, and try to find out what repentance really is; and, oh! how full of confusion the world and the church are upon this subject! I say it, because I know it by converse with hundreds of people. May the Holy Spirit help us!
Well, first, repentance is not merely conviction of sin. Oh! if it only were, what a different world we should have to-night, for there are tens of thousands on whose hearts God's Spirit has done His office by convincing them of sin. I am afraid we should be perfectly alarmed, astounded, confounded, if we had any conception of the multitudes whom God has convinced of sin, as He did Agrippa and Festus. Oh! I could not tell you the numbers of people, who, in our anxious meetings, have grasped my hand, and said, "Oh! what would I give to feel as I once felt! There was a time, fifteen, or seventeen, or twenty years ago," and so on, "when I was so deeply convinced of sin that I could scarcely sleep, or eat--that I could find no rest; but, instead of going on till I found peace, I got diverted, cooled down, and now, I feel as hard as a stone." I am afraid there are tens of thousands in this condition--once convinced of sin.
There are thousands of others, who are convinced _now_. They say, "Yes, it is true what the minister says. I know I ought to lay down the weapons of my warfare against God; I know I ought to cut off this right hand, and pluck out this right eye." They are convinced of sin, but they go no further. That is not repentance. They live this week as they did last. There is no response to the Spirit; they resist the Holy Ghost.
Neither is repentance mere sorrow for sin. I have seen people weep bitterly, and writhe and struggle, but yet hug on to their idols, and
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