Its Sham Judgment in Contrast With The Great White Throne
Its Sham Judgment
Many people dislike the very sound of the word judgment. They have abandoned, as far as they can, any belief in a judgment to come, and they ignore as uncharitable and severe any expression of judgment as to the doings and characters of individuals in the present; but somehow the instincts of humanity are too strong for them, and these very people find themselves, in spite of their theories, pronouncing judgment both on themselves and others every day of their lives.
God has reared a judgment seat in every man’s conscience, which in some slight measure answers to, and prefigures the sentence which He declares He will pronounce on every man’s action, whether it be good or bad.
Then if there is a great Judge of all, and a standard of right and wrong which He has set up, it must be of supreme importance that we should correctly understand what this standard is, and that we should judge of the conduct of ourselves and of those around us according to it. Surely nothing could be more deceptive and soul-ruining than to accept as correct any short of the one unalterable and eternal standard of righteousness and truth which he has laid down; and yet, alas! popular Christianity distinguishes itself by nothing more than by a systematic misrepresentation of right and wrong, calling evil good and good evil. Just as in the days of Christ the spirit and essence of the law of God was set aside and made of no effect by traditional interpretations of the letter, so in our time interpretations and expositions, in direct antagonism to the plainest words of Christ, are palmed upon the world by many of the official representatives of Christianity, who back up their false tenets by quotations from “the word,” separated from their explanatory connections, and made to sanction views and practices the very opposite to the mind and intention of their Divine Author.
In pointing out as plainly as I am able a few of these misrepresentations, I know only too well I shall lay myself open to criticism, and that I may even run the risk of wounding some hearts that I would fain cheer. But the vital importance of the subject will not permit me to pass it over lightly.
First: “Judge not that ye be not judged” is one of the favorite texts of popular Christianity, which is interpreted to mean that we are on no account to form an opinion of the rightness or wrongness of anybody’s conduct. Under the specious guise of charity, faith and unbelief, obedience to God and disobedience, sin and holiness, are to be confounded in one indiscriminate hodge-podge, and their actions and abettors treated exactly alike, making no separation between the precious and the vile.
This serious charity is pushed to such an extent that even the man who has pledged himself to preach certain doctrines, and who is actually employed as the agent of a Church for so doing, is not to be condemned if his “riper judgment” should lead him to renounce those doctrines; while at the same time he holds fast the salary and position with which he was entrusted in view of his original engagement.
On the same principle we are asked to allow that people who never go to a place of worship or how their knees in prayer may be as good and faithful servants of God as any others. We are told that perhaps they are carrying out “the Divine will in a spirit of true devotion to duty,” that working is praying, and that a man’s belief bounds his responsibility, and so forth.
“We are all aiming at the same thing” is a favorite way of expressing this popular Christianity, which just suits the ideas of drunkards, adulterers, and liars, as well as of shallow professors.
To declare positively that people are sinners, condemned already, and on their way to hell, is accounted as “uncharitable judging,” “really dreadful,” and no one, we are told, can possibly be justified in coming to such a conclusion.
All this we could understand perfectly, coming from the camps of infidelity or from the haunts of vice; but to find it passed off in connection with the name and teachings of Jesus Christ is monstrous indeed. What a sham to worship Him Who declares Himself to be THE Way, the Truth, and the Life, if there be no certain way, no definable difference between the true and the false, no practical separation between the Christ life and the life without Christ! Surely it is high time for all who care about the reign of Christ on the earth to make up their minds to one thing or the other. If Christ be our master let us learn His lessons, and abide by His rule, and obey His commands. If, on the other hand, some are unwilling to see any difference between the narrow and the broad road, between those who are in the kingdom of God or out of it, who are with Christ or against Him, let them be honest enough to declare openly that they have no Christ and will have no prophet but “Society.”
Another text which might be taken as setting forth a very favorite theory of modern Christianity is that in which Paul personified the struggles of a convicted but unsaved soul: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” We are all to look upon ourselves as “poor, incapable, fallible creatures,” and this assumed humility is to absolve us from all condemnation, on account either of doing evil or neglecting to do good. Instead of condemning ourselves or others, when convicted of some flagrant wrong or manifest inconsistency, we are to look upon it as only what might have been expected. How often have I heard people say, with regard to some man holding an official position &f great responsibility in the Church, “Well, he does not do this, that, or the other (whatever may be the duty in question) as he might, but, you know, he can’t do everything.” Such an apology as this would be beautiful in the extreme, applied to those who are known to be earnestly and faithfully striving to do their share for the extension of the kingdom of God; but when applied, as I have generally heard it, to what everyone knows to be a systematic and inexcusable neglect of everyday duty, it is no more nor less than a wholesale cloaking of sin. But, friends,. whatever you do, never allow your minds for a moment to trifle with questions of duty, for nothing can be more fatal to either body or soul than to give way to the theory that one really cannot be expected to do what one ought.
How differently people treat this question of doing their duty in commercial matters. Imagine the business man who cannot attend to all his customers, or who thinks it unnecessary to keep his place of business open all the week and every week. What would you think of a servant who should consider it unreasonable to get up at the proper time every morning, or carry out your wishes in matters in which her views differed from yours? How bug could society hang together if this looseness of thought as to what we ought and ought not to do were permitted to enter into the sphere of everyday life? But alas, alas! how much more ruinous is this looseness when it relates to our great spiritual duties towards God and our fellow-creatures. Either you ought or you ought not always to pray and not to faint — to learn and to do the will of God, to care for perishing souls, to warn, counsel, and help those around you; and what applies to you applies to all who take upon them the name of Christ in any way whatever. We should never, on any account, allow ourselves to excuse any neglect of God and duty, because such neglect is all but universal, but we should look at things as they are, and in the light of the judgment throne; and when we see conduct worthy of condemnation, condemn it, and be determined to separate ourselves in heart and life from evil practices, however much respected they may be, and to take our stand on the side of duty and of God at all costs.
I tell you honestly that I have turned away numberless times of late years, and with almost despairing disgust, from audiences of what would be called intelligent Christians, that is to say, persons who talk and act upon an intelligent view of any imaginable subject except that of Christian duty. How often do I hear the remark, “We know things are not as they should be,” from people who have not the slightest intention of striving in any way to make things better, and who would not on any account, incur the odium of expressing any condemnation on that neglect of religious duty which they profess so much to deplore. Away with this unmanly, unwomanly cowardice. We have the light; let us come to it in order to see whether our deeds, and the deeds of those around us who profess to be “working for God,” are wrought in Him. We call by God’s grace, do our duty, if we will. As we tried to show in a former lecture, Christ came on purpose to empower us to do it; but let those who will not have such a doctrine and such a Christ, but who prefer to accept the miserable theories of impotency, which would not be tolerated for a moment in the kitchen, the shop, or the exchange, — let them at least save Christ from the indignity of having such helpless, incapable creatures called by His name, and professing to be His followers. He says with respect to all such, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?”
“But the Lord looks at the heart,” is another of the pet doctrines of popular Christianity.
True, terribly true in the right sense, — for God is not to be mocked with lip service or the formality of worship in which the heart has no share, — but false, ruinously false, when it means, as it generally does, that all sorts of wrong may be passed over and excused, if people only say they mean to do right.
I rejoice beyond all expression in the precious thought of the Lord’s longsuffering and tender mercy toward those who sit in darkness; and if we were living in the center of Africa, where people have been trained only to fear and worship some hideous imaginary power of evil, — if we had absolutely no spirit of truth, and no word of light to hear or to read, no knowledge of God or a Saviour, — it might be admissible to consider everybody right who meant right; but even those in this country who are most skeptical as to divine revelation cannot pretend to be in any such position as this, much less people who profess to call themselves Christians. Is there anybody here taking refuge in this hollow subterfuge? Friend, let me ask you, did you really worship and serve God last Sunday? Had you any convictions as to what He wished you to do, not only on that day but throughout the following week? If so, have you acted on them, have you honestly tried to carry them out? If not, do not, I beseech you, try to pacify your conscience with any silly nonsense about the Lord looking at the heart. He has plainly told us over and over again in the New Testament, and in the very last book of it, that he will judge every lean according to his works, and, moreover, He has laid down the same rule of judgment for us. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous.” I fear there are thousands of professed Christians excusing themselves from the performance of the most manifest duty by this excuse; for instance, when a prayer meeting is announced, there are a certain number of people who make an effort to be present, but a much larger number of so-called Christians who deliberately choose to keep away. It is quite allowable to apply the doctrine of the Lord’s looking at the heart to the poor mother who would fain be there, were she not detained by the inexorable claims of half a dozen little children; but to cloak over with the same excuse, the constant indifference, nay, positive irreligion, in the great majority, is only to refuse to come to the light because it would condemn you. People who mean well, where there is no physical impossibility in the way, do well; but those who fail to do well, will fare ill when the great reckoning day comes.
Further, I charge it upon popular Christianity, even when it does pay some tribute to the truth with regard to character, by recognizing here and there what it calls an “excellent man,” or a “noble woman,” that when you come to examine into the meaning of these phrases, they are, in many instances, utterly misleading. Most generally the persons thus eulogized are distinguished, rather for the lack of those peculiar characteristics set forth by Christ and His apostles as of supreme importance, than by the possession of them. Just try to call up a person so distinguished within your own knowledge, and ask yourself how they have earned their title. To begin with, do they excel in prayer, or are they in most cases persons who were never known to pray in public, or, at any rate, without being specially called upon to do so? Or, are they renowned for praying by the bedsides of the sick, or even with their own families in the privacy of their own homes? Do these persons excel in faith, shown by their works in the way of bold, straightforward testimony for God, or in daring, unpopular enterprises for the salvation of men? or are they generally silent both in public and private, giving no personal testimony as to their knowledge of Christ, and carefully abstaining from any outward demonstration on His behalf, which would bring them into discredit with their neighbors? Probably they do excel in what is called charity; but is not this generally due to the fact that they are much richer than others, and only out of their enormous abundance do they contribute occasion any large sums for Christian or philanthropic objects. What a name may be acquired in modern Christendom by the judicious use of a few hundred pounds per year, without so much as speaking a kind word to a brother or sister in need, or denying yourself a moment’s ease or a single luxury! Is it not notorious that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is simply the possession of a certain amount of wealth which gives a man or woman his or her grade in religious as well as in civil society, and that people chosen for and entrusted with leading positions in churches, are simply those who have the best houses of their own? By-and-by their splendid coffins will be pompously deposited in the family vault, and you will be told that they “maintained an unblemished character for many years;” that is to say, they neither got drunk, blasphemed, committed robbery, nor picked anybody’s pocket. They lived in society in such a style as made them welcome in the circles of semi-worldliness everywhere. Their linen and their dresses were unblemished, for they never turned aside, like their Divine Master, into any of the soiling habitations of the poor and the wretched, nor mingled amongst such mobs as continually jostled Him all the way through life. Their names were always mentioned with honor, for they took care never to let them be used in connection with any enterprise, even on behalf of Jesus Christ, which was not considered “quite the thing.”
Do not misunderstand me. I am very far from wishing to pour contempt upon such persons, for without them what would become of the churches and of benevolent enterprises generally? I do not question that many of these individuals have at one time or other been converted, and might have become true saints, had they been faithfully dealt with; but alas! they have, to a great extent, been made the victims of that sham judgment which now selects them as its standard-bearers. Of many of them, I doubt not, it might be written, were Jesus Christ again amongst us, and were they brought in contact with Him, that He looked upon them and loved them, notwithstanding all their worldliness and pride of position. But what I want to point out is, that such persons are not distinguished by popular Christianity for the peculiarly Christ-like traits in their characters, but for the possession and use of a long purse. This exaltation of mere morality with money stamps modern Christianity as an unjust judge, and it will be fatal to your views of what Christ demands of you, if you accept its model men and women as the representatives of Christian excellence.
Fifth: As I have before remarked, there has come over society of late quite a fever of professed benevolence towards the poor; and yet, in connection with this very pleasing awakening to the existence of millions of miserable people, we have another striking illustration of the sham judgment of modern Christendom. “Those wretched, filthy people” are simply the poorer classes, who are compelled by their poverty to herd together by families in small rooms, surrounding perhaps a court-yard full of oyster-shells and other refuse, at which society — and Christian society, too — turns up its nose, and declares that the people breathe an “atmosphere of moral pollution.” Perfectly true there is an atmosphere of moral pollution present in these dark alleys and horrible dens, to which people are driven by thousands, that others may have plenty of room in which to carry out their ideas of civilization; but to eyes that look at things in the light of God, I say there is an atmosphere of moral pollution not a whit less dangerous, and far more blameworthy, in very different circles.
Is it not notorious that multitudes of people amongst what are called the higher classes deliberately denude themselves of ordinary clothing, and then go in a half-dressed condition, with every addition of ornament that can be conceived, to insure that they shall be noticed and admired, to large places of public amusement? Is there hot a growing disposition in Christian circles to look upon it as perfectly harmless for Christian families, including often those of ministers, to spend hours together, dressed in the way I have described, at parties, balls and other entertainments, frequently given within the precincts of some consecrated building, or in order to raise money for church purposes? Now, I ask, how it comes to pass that the poor are spoken of as herding together without regard for decency under the circumstances of necessity which I have described; while the herding together of the rich and well-to-do in this voluntary indecency should be regarded with complacency and described as refined and genteel? That such is the judgment of modem Christendom can only be attributed to one fact — the power of the purse; and that the churches should in the main devote their attention to the well-to-do classes, while they regard the masses of the people as a kind of outside element, to be operated upon by separate agencies, as a few missionaries or Bible-women, is, I contend, a crying scandal to the Saviour’s name. The judgment of Jesus Christ led Him to spend most of His time herding with fishermen, with publicans and sinners. Their language might often be very violent and bad and their home life simply scandalous; but the Son of God preferred to make His bed in a fishing-boat, and to sit talking with that infamous woman of Samaria, rather than to hobnob with the religious swelldom of Jerusalem, the outside of whose cup and platter would have passed muster with modern Christianity while their lives were full of hypocrisy and unrighteousness.
Sixth: “The brutal tastes of the lower orders” Is another pet phrase of modern Christendom.
It represents the idea that for a poor man, who has to keep himself and his family on a few shillings per week by hard labor, which takes away all inclination towards study or more exalted pursuits, it is a brutal taste to like to have a quart of four-penny beer as often as his scanty means will allow. It is a brutal taste to take pleasure in seeing two men fight each other with their fists, inflicting in the course of half an hour many hard knocks and bruises; and it is a still’ more brutal taste which leads men to train animals to fight each other, and to take pleasure in seeing them do so. Now, I perfectly concur in the denunciation of all these evils, from which God is enabling the Salvation Army to rescue multitudes of these poor, so-called “brutal fellows;” but let us turn the light of truth upon the Christian society which shrugs its shoulders in horror at the mere description of these men who get drunk and beat their wives; the Christian society whose refined taste leads it to have as little intercourse as possible with these lower orders.
What sort of taste is it, which, in the presence of the existing state of things among the poor, spends not four-pence but four shillings, and double and treble that sum on a single bottle of wine for the jovial entertainment of a few friends, and from twenty to forty pounds for a dinner to be swallowed by a dozen or two of people? I maintain that no splendid furniture, no well-trained and livened servants, no costly pictures or display of finery or jewels, can redeem such a scene, viewed in the light of the teachings of Christ, from being worthy of being called “brutal,” and all the more brutal because it is delighted in by persons whose intelligence and knowledge of the awful state of things in the world around them must make them fully aware of the good that might be done with the money which they thus lavish upon their lusts.
Let me take you to another scene. Here is His Grace, the Duke of Rackrent, and the Right Honorable Woman Seducer, Fitz-Shameless; and the gallant Colonel Swearer, with half the aristocracy of a county, male and female, mounted on horses worth hundreds of pounds each, and which have been bred and trained at a cost of hundreds more, and what for? “This splendid field ” are waiting whilst a poor little timid animal is let loose from confinement and permitted to fly in terror from its strange surroundings. Observe the delight of all the gentlemen and noble ladies when a whole pack of strong dogs is let loose in pursuit, and then behold the noble chase! The regiment of well-mounted cavalry and the pack of hounds all charge at full gallop after the poor frightened little creature. It will be a great disappointment if by any means it should escape, or be killed within as short a time as an hour. The sport will be excellent in proportion to the time during which the poor thing’s agony is prolonged, and the number of miles it is able to run in terror of its life. Brutality! I tell you, that in my judgment, at any rate, you can find nothing in the vilest back slums more utterly, more deliberately, more savagely cruel than all that; and yet this is a comparatively small thing. One of the greatest employments of every Christian government and community is to train thousands of men, not to fight with their fists only, in the way of inflicting a few passing sores, but with weapons capable, it may be, of killing human beings at the rate of so many per minute. It is quite a scientific taste” to study how to destroy a large vessel with several hundreds of men on board instantaneously. Talk of brutality! Is there anything half as brutal as this within the whole range of rowdyism? But against all this, modern Christianity, which professes to believe the teachings of Him who taught us not to resist evil, but to love our enemies, and to treat with the utmost benevolence hostile nations, has nothing to say. All the devilish animosity, hard-hearted cruelty, and harrowing consequences of modern warfare, are not only sanctioned but held up as an indispensable necessity of civilized life, and in times of war, patronized and prayed for in our churches and chapels, with as much impudent assurance as though Jesus Christ had taught, “But I say unto you, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and, return evil for evil, hate your enemies and pursue them with all the diabolical appliances of destruction which the devil can enable you to invent.” Alas, alas! is it not too patent for intelligent contradiction that the most detestable and brutal thing in the judgment of popular Christianity is not brutality, cruelty or injustice, but poverty and vulgarity? With plenty of money you may pile up your life with iniquities, and yet be blamed, if blamed at all, only in the mildest terms, whereas one flagrant sin in a poor and illiterate person is enough to stamp him, with a majority of professing Christians, as a creature from whom they would rather keep at a distance. I had an amusing corroboration of this the other day from one of my younger daughters who had been visiting a poor criminal in one of our large prisons. She said to one of the officers in attendance, “I suppose you do not often have rich people in here?” He replied, “No, miss, we very seldom get anybody but poor folks,” and on her replying, “No, I am afraid it is because you do not look out so sharply for them,” he remarked to a fellow officer, “She’s all there.”
Seventh: Further, “the criminal classes” is another of the cant phrases of modern Christianity, which thus brands every poor lad who steals, because he is hungry, but stands, hat in hand, before the rich man whose trade is well known to be a system of wholesale cheatery.
It is never convenient for ministers or responsible church wardens or deacons to ask how Mr. Money-maker gets the golden sovereigns or crisp notes which look so well in the collection. He may be the most “accursed sweater” who ever waxed fat on that murderous cheap needlework system, which is slowly destroying the bodies and ruining the souls of thousands of poor women, both in this and other “civilized” countries. He may keep scores of employees standing wearily sixteen hours per day be hind the counter, across which they dare not speak the truth, and on salaries so small that all hope of marriage and home is denied to them. Or he may trade in some damning thing which robs men of all that is good in this world and all hope for the next, such as opium or intoxicating drinks; but if you were simple enough to suppose that modern Christianity would object to him on account of any of these things, in fact, that you were alluding to such as he, in the phrase “criminal classes,”– how respectable Christians would open their eyes, and, in fact, suspect that you had recently made your escape from some lunatic asylum, and ought to be hastened back there as soon as possible. If any one should dare to cast any reflections upon any of these Christian money-makers, the representatives of their churches would say, “Hush, hush, my dear sir, Mr. So-and-so is the great man at our place, you know; they would be glad enough of him at the church opposite, but he likes our minister, and we mean to propose him as a deacon at the next church meeting.” So the wholesale and successful thief is glossed over and called by all mariner of respectable names by the representatives of a bastard Christianity. It is ready enough to cry, Stop, thief! when some poor fellow who has been out of work for perhaps months, gets desperate at the sight of children crying for bread, and makes a bungling attempt at getting what is not his own in order to satisfy them; or when it hears that such men, left helplessly to their own devices, take to living together, and bringing up a generation of thieves, it cries out vigorously against the criminals. Sure, it may suggest a mission to them, and even set about it in a helpless, patronizing sort of way, wondering if really it is of any use to try to help “such men,” as though they were of different flesh and blood to themselves. Verily such Christianity is of different blood from Him who preferred talking to a thief in His own last moments, to holding conversation with any priest or white-washed temple worshipper standing around. The man who hung by His side was a great ruffian, no doubt, but then he had been trained in that way; and if we want the judgment of Jesus Christ on such a point, He would certainly give. it against the pet of modern Christianity, and in favor of this poor rough. The man whom Jesus Christ consigned to .a hopeless perdition was he who made long prayers, and at the same time devoured widows’ houses; or whose barns were filled with plenty while Lazarus lay covered with sores at his gates.
On no point does the sham judgment of popular Christianity appear more startlingly in contrast with that of Jesus Christ, than on the everyday question of honesty. It knows that its rich tradesmen are so dishonest in their modes of carrying on their business, that if some poor fellow comes out of prison, determined to do right and earn his bread honestly, we know scarcely any with whom we dare entrust him, and with whom he would not be tempted to break his resolution, by being asked to tell business lies, or perform business tricks, which to his “unChristianized” intelligence is only another mode of thieving; but Christianity goes on, with virtuous breath declaring that the poor and found-out thieves are criminals, while the rich and secret scoundrels are the valued supporters of her institutions.
Further: “Desecrating the Sabbath” is another virtuous-sounding phrase, which is accepted .as the expression of a very reverential religion. So it should be, but here the sham judgment comes in again! What is desecrating the Sabbath? Well, it is not dressing up in fabulously costly clothes (sometimes unpaid for), as near in fabric, style, and fashion as can be to those worn in the very vilest services of sin. It is not to lie in bed consuming the early hours of the day, and then to flaunt in this array to one short service, as an exhibition of self and respectability, spending the remainder of the “sacred day” in an easy chair with the last new book. This is Sabbath keeping, even though to carry it out comfortably, servants may have to work over an elaborate dinner, or the turning out of a luxuriant equipage. Then what is “desecrating”? Well, go and spend next Sunday evening in Mr. Easy’s mansion, and he will show you. You will not have an unpleasant time, that is, if your notions agree with his. He will give you a splendid meal, and then you will be allowed to lounge on one of his soft couches, while your host tells you spicy stories about the popular ministers of his denomination, or his daughter will play to you some “sacred” music on the piano or the harp. Fire and lamp-light will gleam softly, and thick curtains shut out the night, about which some one will occasionally remark that it is awful weather.”
Presently a harsh, discordant sound is heard, like shouting and singing with some brass instrumental music all mixed up; and if you looked out you would see a little handful of men and women, wet and mud-stained, nearly exhausted in the struggle with rain and storm, and the half rough, half good-natured crowd, who have been allured out of yonder alley, and are now going, swearing pushing, rolling along, in a fashion of their own, to a little room, or a low music-hall, where these tambourine players and the rest do congregate. Your host will jump up with an annoyed air, and exclaim with great emphasis, “Desecrating the Sabbath, that is what I call it!” and he will go on to expound his views until you understand that it is a Sabbath breaking for those poor folks to have made a noise in the street, even though they were only doing what David and Jesus Christ insisted was to be done-praising God with a loud voice, and confessing Him before all men. For, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” or “Glory! Hallelujah!” certainly had rung clearly out above the din with almost tragic earnestness. You will learn that your host’s son and daughter have kept the Sabbath by singing in the church choir, although you see them later on, the one reading a novel, the other strolling out of the house with a cigar and a hint about returning with the latch-key. Now I charge it upon popular Christianity that its professors know all the miserable desecration which lies under the whole modern keeping of the day, and yet have not courage to condemn, but keep their blame for some effort to serve the Lord which they deem vulgar and distasteful. Modern Christendom gives its judgment ill favor of the hollow, conventional sacredness of the performance of the dressed up choir, whose very manner and countenance often betray the irreligion and frivolity of their hearts, and which neither wins the souls of sinners nor stirs the souls of saints; but reserves its strongest censure for the unscientific, rough-a nd-ready brass band, which empties the public houses and gets sinners saved by scores and hundreds.
Further: “The Sanctuary,” according to modern Christian theories, is a “holy place,” and yet a place where no one must speak of being now and actually holy! In fact, it is a place where scarcely anybody except the minister may say a word to, or for God; where such a scene as that recorded in 1 Cor. xiv. 23-31 would be counted the highest fanaticism, and next door to blasphemy. I have heard of a congregation being actually thrown into dismay by the cry to God for mercy of some poor sinner who had been previously convicted, and gone to that chapel in the hope of finding the way of salvation; but he had a near escape of being ejected by the beadle. Better everybody refrain their feet from going to these modern sanctuaries, than have a crowd of rough, needy sinners really wanting light and needing to be brought to repentance and salvation “Keep silence before me,” says modern Christian society, and not a word is breathed to hurt its feelings. It is a literal fact that in these modern sanctuaries any manifestation of the LIVING GOD is the last thing expected or desired. Imagine the scare and horror of excitement and the intense surprise if He came, as He did once in an upper room, with His baptism of fire, in the middle of one of these quiet and soothing services next Sunday morning! There would be a quicker and more precipitous exit of many of the professed worshippers than there was from the temple when He drove them out with a scourge of small cords! The great work nearest to His heart — the gathering in of the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind, or the victims of sin, debauchery, and crime, the thieves and the harlots — is the very last thing desired and expected in these modern sanctuaries. That He should speak in what is called His own “house” is the last thing arranged for. Alas, alas! do not these facts prove that these are the temples of Mammon, of respectability, of miserable, hollow, Pharisaic profession, where all manner of ungodliness is glossed over by what answers to the tithing of mint, anise, and cummin? and yet Christianity baptizes these temples with her name, and holds up to ridicule and contempt the open-air ring, where poor, simple, but devout and consecrated people, plead with God to speak, and try to make the world hear His message.
Further: “He is much to be condemned!” What for?
Never, as we have shown, because he is taking it too easy; never because he is enjoying a thousand a year, and letting men go on in sin undisturbed; never because he makes no straight forward, bold confession of Christ, or takes not up his cross to follow Him; never because he does not deny himself even the luxuries indulged by others in his “position,” in order that he may push on the interests of the kingdom of God in the world!! “But he is much to be condemned” who gets into trouble, — into a row, as it is politely termed, — for Christ’s sake. Modern Christians ask with bated breath, “Why ever should he have gone and stirred up the moral cesspools all around him, filling the atmosphere with ‘moral pollution’? How could he be so quixotic and fanatical as to expect to make things better where the bishops and clergy, and all the most influential good people of the day, had long decided that it was better left alone? We really cannot pity him,” say these modern Christians, “if he is set upon and traduced and persecuted by all the libertines and whoremongers of the age; we fear that he is seeking notoriety, and posing to be a martyr!!” And thus this bastard Christianity adds its bann [sic] to the curses of God’s enemies on the man who has not done well for himself, but who has dared to stand up for the poor and helpless, for broken-hearted mothers and fathers, and for the innocent and infant victims of the devils of lust and villainy, incarnate in the persons of rich debauchees. Modern Christianity has got rid, to a great extent, of damnation, but it can damn right vigorously in its own fashion all those who “go to extremes.” It can pour its half-pitying, half-sneering contempt upon ignorant, blundering fishermen or mechanics, but who, nevertheless, love God and souls, and believe in heaven and hell, and who really exercise self-denial and take trouble in order to serve God and save men. If such men go to prison to win some point for God and liberty of conscience, these Christians say in their drawing rooms, in their magazines and newspapers, “Ah, they are trying to become notorious! they are zealous of being thought martyrs!” And thus they join hands, as of old, with those who stood around the cross and wagged their heads, and said, “He saved others, Himself he cannot save;” and they can pronounce this judgment with such a pious, ex cathedra air that many simple men accept it as really the judgment of Christ’s body on earth, instead of the hollow, sham verdict of modern Pharisees.
In conclusion, let me repeat that if my words seem to condemn the great majority of the representatives of Christianity around us, it is with sincere grief that I admit it. Would to God there were few localities, few churches, and few ministers to which my remarks could be applied! But if there be not few but many, I cannot help it. I appeal to you whether I have spoken more than the truth; and I speak it in love to you who wish to hear and to obey it in the love of it. I would gladly -forbear to speak out thus, — I have forborne for long, and have frequently felt condemned hi so doing and it is only because I see the utter hopelessness of any improvement, of any recurrence to the simplicity and purity of the gospel, without an utter abandonment of the false and hollow judgment of modern Christianity with respect to the matters we have been reviewing, that I venture to speak thus. I would fain hope that some of you may be induced to forsake every refuge of lies which has been reared around you, and to abandon all the false standards of faith and practice to which I have alluded, and open your hearts and ears to listen to the voice that never changes, but which in all ages alike tells men of a just judgment to come. We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; and it will be no excuse for us there that we were surrounded by false witnesses, sham lights, and an openly received system of hypocrisy. God has shown us His beloved Moses, Daniels, Nehemiahs, Jeremiahs, Pauls, Johns, and numberless other worthies, standing out gloriously alone in the midst of a Pagan society, full of refined and splendid iniquity, and standing out ever more Divine, when all around were “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” You have but the old choice to make; may God enable you to make it, and to stand out for God and righteousness against all around you.
The Judgment of the Great White Throne
As we remarked in the first part of this lecture, the innate convictions of humanity are too strong for the successful annihilation of a dread of coming judgment. It seems to have been the universal opinion of the wisest and best of the human race that there ought to be a judgment, The continual miscarriage of justice in this world, and the unequal distribution of its goods and enjoyments; its false standard of right and wrong; its unjust and sham judgments, to which we have already alluded, have seemed to drive it in upon the reason of all thoughtful beings that there must come a settling day.
The unavenged wrongs of multitudes of the poor and the oppressed; of millions of slaves; of poor, helpless children; of tens of thousands of poor, broken hearted girls, — mere children, — who have been wrecked of virtue and happiness through the vice of those double or treble their age, and who were fully awake to the consequences of their conduct; wrongs such as these, and multitudes of others, all unjudged and unrequited in this world, seem to demand some future retribution. The unpunished sins of multitudes who have flourished in their lives and gone in triumph to their graves, who floated to their positions of eminence, fame, and luxury through the tears and blood of widows, orphans, and others, down-trodden by their greed and power, cry from the ground, as did the blood of Abel, for avenging justice.
Methinks if we could face this guilty crowd and compel them to speak, they would be obliged to say, ” Yes, during our lives we violated all law and justice, won the applause of men and the pleasures and honors in which we reveled, by means of the sorrows and sufferings of our fellows; but no strong arm stayed our progress, no tongue denounced our villainies, no power punished our crimes; we lived and fattened, and died with the approbation, nay, applause, of men ringing in our ears; and after death we were praised and flattered on tablets of marble, in newspapers and biographies, as though we had been the excellent of the earth. We know that we are of the devil; we expect and are waiting for the judgment.”
Further, the common-sense of humanity perceives that human lives are all unfinished at the grave, and require some appendix, some explanation. If you found a book with the story all unfinished, — the villains and seducers all unpunished, and the poor, .down-trodden slaves unavenged, the wronged and helpless people undelivered, — you would feel that there must be another volume somewhere. So, when life breaks up, with almost all men there are so many things and doings and feelings all unfinished, that you might write on every gravestone, “To be continued in the next world.” It is as if the tree were blighted at its bloom; as if the life were sapped at its source; as if the flood were turned back at its tide.
But, as we have already noted, there is a judgment already begun here and now. The same Divinity is at work in this world who will reign and operate in the next, and He is working on precisely the same principles. The moral government of this world is going on under the shadow, so to speak, of the great white throne. The shadow of that tribunal is reflected on all the tribunals and transactions of this earth.
Formerly, when the judges visited the provincial towns, there used to be a sort of public entry. The legal civic dignitaries went forth to meet them and march in procession with them into the town, preceded by heralds with trumpets, announcing the coming of judgment for the wrong-doers of those towns. So God has His heralds abroad in the world, proclaiming that He is coming. These heralds are already gone forth; they are here today. There is a herald in every man’s heart, giving foretastes of what the judgment will be, pointing out and convicting him of sin.
Every transgressor of the Divine law stands condemned before his own judgment seat. Conscience pronounces sentence on him according to his works, independently of all creeds and theories. A false gospel, under the auspices of popular Christianity, essays to set at naught this judgment, and to tell men that they are not to judge themselves according to their works, but according to their beliefs. But God’s herald in them remorselessly holds up their sin, and points to coming retribution. Conscience asserts itself, and the man who has sinned knows, feels that he must be judged.
Further, not only does conscience convict of sin, but to a certain extent punishes sin, even here. What horrors men suffer from their guilty consciences, in spite of all their infidel reasonings and hopes. How many suicides will be found, like Judas, to have been driven to distraction by the remorse and anguish of realized guilt. Is not the fact that such suffering is the consequence of sin unquestionable evidence that so long as the soul contumes [with insolence purposes — DVM] to live and remain guilty, it must continue to suffer? If transgressors can find no comfort or deliverance from this tormenting sense of guilt in this world, on what principle can it be argued that they will find it in the next? If conscience is too strong for them here, what ground is there for supposing that they will rise superior to it in the future?
Secondly: God has a herald in society. We have wandered a long distance from God in these days, I admit, and as distance from the sun brings corresponding darkness and obliterates the distinctions between natural objects, so distance from God brings spiritual darkness and induces blindness to moral distinctions. Nevertheless, far as society has got away from God, and rotten as it largely is, still it has the herald trumpet blowing loudly enough to proclaim evil to be evil, and, being evil, to be amenable to judgment. And although many preachers of a false theology, under the patronage of popular Christianity, combine to persuade men and themselves that they will escape punishment, the very libertines, thieves, gamblers, and moral bankrupts of all descriptions, pronounce their judgment to be false, saying, “Hypocrites all of you, we know we are of the devil his works we do, and we expect to go to hell.”
I have no doubt that the great secret of the success of the Salvation Army with multitudes of the openly wicked and profane is that we go straight to their consciences, attacking their sins, making no excuse or palliation, but telling them as straight as Jesus Christ Himself told the sinners of His day, that, except they repent, forsake their sins, and turn to God, everlasting fire must be their portion. This gospel answers to the voice of conscience within; they know it is true, because it matches their most secret and powerful intuitions, whereas the popular gospel of this day, its judgment included, is the laughing-stock of hell; it dare neither damn the sinner nor sanctify the saint.
But we must now consider for a few minutes what the character of this judgment is to be, which is proclaimed alike by conscience, reason, and religion. And the BIBLE, after all, is the great authority. It meets us just where conscience and reason fail us, and responds to and corroborates the profoundest and most indestructible intuitions of humanity.
Here the bible comes forward and proclaims the fact of a coming judgment in the most emphatic and unmistakable language, and describes the principles on which it is to be conducted, and the consequences which are to follow from it, with the utmost minuteness. I have avoided quoting texts more than I could help in former lectures, mainly because the number corroborative of each of my points would have been so overwhelming; but I must necessarily quote three or four passages here, and shall take them from the words of Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude, and John, that in the mouth of three or four witnesses this truth may be established.
“The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John v. 28, 29).
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be published with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. v. 10).
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. xx. 11, 12).
I accept that authority. That answers to the voice of my conscience. That satisfies the claims of my intellect. Here I perceive that God will avenge the wrongs, not only of His own elect, but of the fatherless, the widow, and the oppressed of all ages, and the cry of my soul for justice is met, my sense of outraged righteousness is appeased, my conscience pronounces, “True and righteous art Thou, O King of saints!”
But people say, and a great many Christian people say in this day, “A good deal of the language in these and similar texts is figurative language.” They do not like the doctrine; it is too definite, too particular, too inclusive for them; and so they try to explain it away. But supposing that some of the language were figurative, — what then? What do you gain by making it out to be figurative? What are figures for? Surely no one will argue that the judgment, as prefigured in the words of Jesus Christ and His apostles, will be less thorough, less scrutinizing, less terrible than the figures used to set it forth i Therefor it does not matter whether these be figurative expressions or no, seeing that they are calculated to convey the most awful and tremendous ideas of the judgment which any figures could convey, which the wisdom of God could select.
Some of the objections which people bring against the literal fulfillment of these passages seem to me to be very weak.
They say, ” Where could be the scene of such a judgment seat!” I answer, He who created the universe can surely make a platform big enough on which to judge the inhabitants of this little world. For ought we know, there may be one already erected. There may be a world of judgment going on, where the representatives of the Divine government are already at work, getting ready for the final sentence. We do not know.
Again, they say, “Look at the time it would require.” But I say, He who has had patience to watch the long procession of man’s iniquities through the ages of time will perhaps have patience to judge men on account of them And as one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, be sure, sinner, He will take the time to investigate your case; you will not be missed out.
Note that the judgment is to be universal.
These passages and numberless others declare that the dead, small and great, shall stand before God, and that every knee shall bow before Him, and every tongue confess to Him. If God in some way will deal individually with every son and daughter of Adam, what does it signify where or by what method He does it, so that the end be secured? You and I will find our way from the spot, wherever it may be, to heaven or to hell, according to the sentence. Our destiny in the great eternity which follows will be settled by the sentence, not by the method by which it is arrived at. The great matter to us is that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” This is not the Old Testament. I have purposely confined my quotations to the New; this is the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by which Paul declares God will “judge the secrets of men.”
Not only will every man and woman be dealt with, but every character will be demonstrated, made manifest.
There will be no whited sepulcher business there, no make-believe, sentimental salvation, no false gospel, with its creeds and phrases, no ceremonial salvation; but we shall all stand revealed as we are, black or white, good or bad, washed or unwashed, pure or impure.
What nonsense it is for people to talk of going down to death with their hearts full of iniquity, “as a cage of unclean birds,” as some of them are so fond of quoting. If so, what effect will death have upon their moral nature? What cleansing stream will be opened by the Angel of Death? If you are not saved from sin before you come down to the Jordan of death, there is no virtue in its waters to wash you. There is only one cleansing medium for SOULS, and that is the blood of the Lamb; and you must get washed in life, if you want to pass muster at death and at the judgment seat.
People say, “Do you think the sins of the saints are going to be dragged out at the judgment seat?” No! not the sins of the saints, for they are cast behind His back; but the saints themselves are going to be dragged out. One great end of the judgment will be to decide who are the saints, and to show to the universe that Jesus was equal to the work He had undertaken, namely, to destroy in the hearts of His saints the works of the devil, and that He was strong enough to hold them up against all the temptations and allurements of sin, blameless unto that day; and now they are to be revealed and held up, not as dark, hollow, evil-hearted, hypocritical people, but as the saints of God, washed and saved and made clean and white, which you know means holy, in the blood of the Lamb. He will point all the devils in the universe to His saints; they will be His boast and glory, and manifest victory over the devil. The question of questions then will be, Are you a saint?
Further, every character is not only to be settled and demonstrated, but it is to be judged according to its deserts — “according to that he hath done.”
He that knew his Master’s will and did it not, is to be beaten with many stripes; while he who knew it not and did things worthy of stripes, is to beaten with few. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell.”
We shall be judged according to our privileges, according to the light we have received, and the obedience we have rendered to it, not only outwardly, but inwardly; according to our rebellion or submission to God; according to our loyalty and obedience to Him, in our hearts as well as in our lives.
I am afraid many, even of those who are saved, will suffer great loss in that day. There will be a great deal of wood, hay, and stubble, instead of gold, silver, and precious stones. Oh, let us wake up in time to redeem the few remaining days of our lives. The past is irredeemable; it is gone, and its losses must remain forever. The harvest which we might have gathered is lost, and God Himself cannot make up to us for that loss. We may have many to-morrows, but we shall never have over again a yesterday. Oh friends, you who love Him will have to stand before His judgment seat to receive the things done in the body. What are you doing? Are you visiting His sick or in prison? Are you ministering unto Him when hungry or naked, in the persons of His poor? When He is cast out and traduced in the persons of His persecuted ones, are you showing your love to Him by standing up for His character and doing what you can to defend Him? Are you seeking after His lost sheep diligently until you find them, which means, you know, going after them where they are, however the thorns may prick your feet or the sun light on your head? Are you DOING these things? because, if not, don’t expect Him to say, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Can anybody imagine that Jesus Christ will pronounce a sort of figurative or sentimental judgment — that He will say, “Inasmuch as ye did this or that” to those who never did anything of the kind? Such a proceeding would be very unlike anything He ever did or said when on earth, would it not? He was so true that He was called “the Truth;” so intensely real and practical that no shadow of unreality or sham could endure His gaze for a moment. is it possible to conceive that He will be any other when he comes ‘to judgment?’ And yet how many of His professed followers are presuming on a Judge all meekness, mercy, and love, quite forgetting that in that day the reign of mercy will be ended and the Lamb that was slain will appear as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Judge of all the earth, who will still do right.
What are you doing, friend? As the stories come to me from Hackney Wick, Seven Dials, St. Giles’, the Borough, and other parts where our people are visiting and working continually, — stories of destitution, sickness, sorrow, and suffering, no less than of sin crime and shame, — I feel, what can I do, what can I say that will arouse God’s professed people to some concern and care for these poor lost multitudes? Our people tell me they find people who say, “Don’t talk to us about a God: we don’t believe in such a Being. Don’t tell us about Christians: we want neither you nor your tracts, nor your Bibles — away with you. We don’t believe in such Christians, who leave us to die in want and misery like this.” Men and women nearly naked, children absolutely so, women who must not look off from their match-box making, at 2 1-2d. per gross, or their shirt stitching, at 3d. each, for fear of reducing their earnings a half-penny, and thus robbing their children of an ounce more bread, or the rent of their wretched room of the last fraction which an inexorable (perhaps Christian?) landlord exacts. Thousands of such wretched beings, without a bed to lie upon, without fire to warm them, or sufficient food to keep body and soul together, are living in the .greatest degradation and sin all over this London, perhaps not two hundred yards from the very spot where we are assembled this afternoon; and yet who cares for them, or visits them, or weeps over them with a really Christ-like sympathy? Who carries them either the bread that perisheth or the Bread of Life? You London Christians, what shall you say in the great day of account? Where shall you stand? How will you look? Oh, friends, give up the sentimental hypocrisy of singing,
“Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying,” —
in the drawing room, to the accompaniment of the piano, without ever dreaming of going outside to do it; such idle words will prove only a mockery and a sham in the great day of account. Such songs will come booming back on the ears of the soul with more awful forebodings than the echoes of the Archangel’s trumpet itself! Sentimentalism will have no resurrection; it will rot with the grave clothes! What doth it profit, my brethren, to say to the hungry and naked, either physically or spiritually, Be ye warmed and filled, if, notwithstanding, ye give them not either the temporal or the spiritual bread? He will say, “Inasmuch as ye did it not, depart from Me.” .
Further, the verdict of that day will carry universal conviction.
Every being will feel that long-waited-for justice has come at last. The song which will burst forth from the lips of the saints, as they take their places in the celestial city, will be, “True and righteous art Thou, O King of saints;” and methinks the same words, though not uttered by the lips, will be graven on the hearts of the hosts of the lost as they sink to meet their doom, and the realization of the justice of their sentence will make their hell. May no soul in this assembly, or any who may read these words, ever realize what this means. Amen.
NOTES OF THREE ADDRESSES ON HOUSEHOLD GODS
Delivered in Steinway Hall, Regent Street
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans vi. 1(3).
It is assumed all through this Book that every human being has a deity. In fact, we are so made that we must have a god. Even the man who says there is no God, worships a god notwithstanding, and that god is, “to whom he yields himself a servant to obey.” Now God claims to be the Deity of the soul of every human being; but Satan has supplanted God, and he has done it in many ways. He has assumed many different forms in order to suit different classes and conditions of men. For one class of persons he finds one idol, for another class another. But the principle here laid down is, that whatever the outward form may be, that which usurps in a man’s affections, life, and action, the place of God, becomes his deity. He need not outwardly label it idol, or bow his knees and worship it. The supremacy which he gives to it in his affections and life is the point.
What an awful thought that in this so-called Christian England, tens of thousands of people are as truly worshipping idols as are any of the inhabitants of Africa or China.
I want this morning to confine myself more particularly to the gods of the household. Professing Christians speak about giving up the vanities of the world, and coming out from the world, when, alas! we need not go outside the four walls of their own dwellings to find their god. I am afraid there are quite as many people who go wrong with these inside idols as with the outside ones.
The first that strikes us as the most universal god of so-called religious society in this day is the
God of Fashion.
Now, what is fashion? What does the term mean?. It means the world’s way of having things, and the world’s way of doing things. When we look abroad on the great majority of men and women around us, we see that they are utterly godless, selfish, and untrue, and yet the majority always fixes the fashion. It is not the few true, real, God-fearing, earnest men and women who want to serve God and help humanity, who fix the fashion; it is always the majority. Consequently, you see, fashion is always diametrically opposed to God’s way of having things, and God’s way of doing things. Therefore the votaries of fashion cannot possibly be the servants of God! There is no getting away from that conclusion.
Let us now inquire what is God’s great end or purpose in His way of doing things, and in the way that He has prescribed in which we are to have and to do things. What is shown by the constitution of our bodies, by the laws and ordinances of the heavens, and by the laws of nature, to be God’s end in everything? Utility! If you look at your eye, or study your ear or hands, or any other part of your body, you cannot find a single fiber or nerve which is not of some use in your annual economy-nothing superfluous, nothing for waste or for mere sake of being there. A useful result is the end contemplated. Look at the heavens-it is the same; there is not a single waste star. Look at the animal creation — it is the same. Look at the vegetable creation — it is the same. The very rocks exist not for themselves. The earth ministers to the wants of man and beast. There is nothing created for mere show, no useless part of creation. The aim of God in all His modes and works is the highest good to all His creatures. Now let us inquire what is the end of fashion. When we substitute the means for the end, we lose the great result God had in store for us. This is true in everything, natural, mental, and spiritual. Now, God’s order is to have everything attuned to the highest result, especially in the case of His highest creature-man. He wants us to use every power and capacity He has given us for the highest ends-to serve God and humanity! But fashion has turned God’s order topsy-turvy, and set up as its end, supposed Beauty! not that beauty which is an accompaniment of utility; but fashion sets up beauty as the end, and not the accompaniment. Fashion says, “That is elegant. That looks grand, so it shall be so.” So the great question comes to be in dress, in equipage, in our modes of doing business, in our furnishing arrangements, and in our institutions, What is the order of fashion? Fashion sets the law, and everybody does what everybody else does; and all who will not bow down to this idol are called puritans, fanatics, straight-laced, or by any other terms of contempt most convenient. So hot is this furnace of contempt and scorn that it is one of the highest tests of moral courage in man or woman to set fashion at naught. It is one of the grandest things to teach your children from their babyhood to say, “No, I won’t do that because everybody else does it. You must give me a better reason than the fashion for what I do.”
Fashion prescribes the form of dress for almost the whole world. Doctors may talk, and advise, and warn against high heels, tight waists, and insufficient clothing, and all the monstrous and ridiculous appendages to dress which fashion from time to time prescribes. But it is fashion! that is enough. Never mind if tight-lacing does squeeze my lungs and prevent my getting the necessary amount of air, thus inducing premature disease and death; it is the fashion, and I must do it. Never mind if the high-heeled shoes produce deformity of the spine and all manner of other injuries; it is the fashion, and I must have them. I must dress myself in the most ridiculous costumes which Parisian milliners can contrive, it is the fashion; if the dress is too light, or does not half cover my body, never mind; I shall wear it because it is the fashion.
So, in the furnishing of people’s houses, in a great many instances, it is the same. I have been in many houses where it seems to me that almost all utility and necessary comfort for health and work is lost sight of. It is almost all show, so that you are afraid to use a table for fear you will injure it. Oh, the money and tune that are squandered, and the perpetual strife that goes on to keep up this show because everybody else does it.
In their very companionships fashion has decided that should be the ground and the rule of selection, and so fashionable people have only the companions that society has settled they are to have. They do not look, as you would suppose rational beings would, for congenial society in the way of congeniality of thought, and feeling, and intelligence, that which gives vivacity and interest to communion with one another. Oh, no! If a person ever so attractive and clever, and competent to interest, or instruct, or please them, happens to be a grade lower in the social scale, fashion says, “That person is not in your circle, he is out of your sphere; you cannot associate with such a person.” So they deprive their intellects and hearts of the greatest delight, because fashion has prescribed what kind of people they should associate with, and if those people be ever so hollow and empty, never mind; they must obey the behests of fashion.
Fashion has also settled that it is not the thing for people in certain positions and stations to go to such and such places, but that it is right for them to go to others; and so they go wherever fashion dictates. Fashion has even prescribed the way people shall move and the way in which they shall speak, and has got them pretty much squeezed down into uniformity, so that all naturalness is lost and they are nearly all alike. It is the same kind of movement they make and the same kind of platitudes they utter, everywhere and in all circumstances. I hope there are not many of this class here this morning; but if there are any, let me ask, How do you like the picture — the representation of the claims of this deity? — that rational beings, intelligent creatures, some of them capable of great and glorious things, should be thus fettered and bound and forced into one shape and reduced to nonentities and puppets?
Do you envy the fate of the devotees of fashion? Will you worship this god any longer? Thank God, He emancipated me twenty-five Years ago, and I have been free ever since. If you are not yet emancipated, get emancipated this morning.
Do not consider fashion when you are settling how you ought to order your household, but plan for the highest good of your children and those around you, and for your greatest usefulness in the world. Never mind fashion.
In this day when chaplains of prisons and reformatories tell us that gaudy, flashy dressing leads as many young girls to destruction as drink, it behooves every true woman to settle before God in her closet what kind of dress she ought to wear, and to resolve to wear it in spite of fashion. If all professedly Christian ladies would do this, what a salvation this one reform alone would work in the world! You young people here resolve that you will be original, natural human beings, as God would have you; resolve that you won’t be pressed into this mold, or into that, to please anybody-that you will be an independent man or woman, educated and refilled by intercourse with God; but be yourself, and do not aim to be anybody else. Set fashion at naught. If people would do this, what different households they would have! What different children! What different friends! What different results they would produce in the world, and how differently they would feel when they were dying! Oh, what wasted lives! What beautiful forms, and beautiful minds, and beautiful intellects are prostrated and ruined at the shrine of the god of fashion! May God deliver us from this idol!
Another of the most prominent of household gods is that of ease — comfort. In many instances the highest interests of the children and servants, the good of the bodies and souls of men, the serving and glory of God, are all made subservient to this god of comfort.
Think for a moment what God requires of every human being. First, He requires all men to be His people; and secondly, He requires of all His people that they should be absolutely HIS SERVANTS.
Now then, compare the duties of a servant with the idea of ease and comfort being the prevailing notion of a man’s life, and you will see its absurdity. What would you think of a servant, whose prevailing idea was to make her or himself comfortable? Suppose such a one saying, “Yes, I want the situation, I should like the wages, but I want my comfort most. I do not want to get up any earlier in the morning than the mistress or the master. I am not going to do any hard or troublesome work. I don’t see why I should. I should like an easy chair to sit in, and certain hours of the day to myself. I am not going to do this or the other that is disagreeable to me. I am going to be COMFORTABLE.” What would you think of such a servant?
You smile; well, if we are true and real, we have given up the ownership of ourselves. We have become literally the slaves of the living God, to do His bidding, to work for His interests, to look after His lost ones, to extend His kingdom, and to live for His glory! This is what we PROFESS. This is not The Salvation Army theology only. This is in all Church creeds, more or less. It was sworn over your baptismal font that you should renounce the devil and all his works, that you should give up “the world” and be a true and real servant of the Most High God. And yet I am afraid many in this congregation have taken good care never to serve God at the expense of their own comfort! If you suggest any plan of usefulness, the first thing that meets you in one form or another is, “Oh, that would be hard work; that would be a sacrifice; or, I should have to give up so many evenings a week;” or sometimes, alas, “that would interfere with my dinner hour.”
These ease-loving Christians do not look at the object that has to be accomplished for God; but how it will effect their own ease and comfort. “I visit the poor! Oh, I could not; think of the smells I should have to encounter; look at the disagreeable sights I should have to see! My delicate nerves would not bear it. Oh, no, I could not. If the Lord has any nice comfortable work, I have no objection; but my comfort must first be considered. Your mission services are all very good, but we cannot have our household duties upset. We must have our domestic regularity — our comfort.” I have wept many times as I have parted with such people, when these words forced themselves upon me: “Saul returned into his own house, but David gat him into the hold.”
David must go and fight and face the perils of the wilderness, and endure all sorts of self-sacrifice, and conflict, and sorrow, but Saul goes back to his own house. He has done with it. He thinks his responsibility is at an end. When the meeting is over, these people who have heard all about the claims of God and the lost, and perhaps said a few sleepy words of sympathy, or given a five-pound note, away they go to their own houses; but the real Davids must get up into the holds, or else God’s armies will be wasted, and hell will be more largely peopled than it would be otherwise. Somebody must hold the fort, somebody must fight, somebody must suffer. Nothing can be done for humanity hilt through . suffering, and if one won’t, there falls a double .weight upon another. Oh, the multitudes of souls who have made shipwreck through this god of ease! It ruins the soul that worships, as well as hinders all the good that might be done for others. It has a stupefying, paralyzing, damning influence upon every soul that once gives way to it.
Once get under the dominion of THAT GOD and you are done for. If you are under his dominion, for Christ’s sake get up this morning and ask Him to snap the fetters that bind you. Jesus from the Cross cries to you. Suffering humanity is sinking at this hour by thousands into a hell on earth, and a nethermost hell hereafter. Up, Christians, arise and be doing! Put off your sleepiness, your idleness, and set to work; bend your back to the burden, stoop to pick up the lost. They are crying all around you for help.
If I understand this book, you will be called to an awful account if your opportunity, your strength of body, your capacities for blessing your fellow men are all buried and destroyed by this love of ease.
Thank God, He emancipated me from that years ago. I have had the same temptations that others have had, and perhaps sometimes even extra temptations, through excessive weariness, frequently hardly knowing how to get from my bed; but I have had such a horror of getting under the dominion of this god of ease that I have set my whole nature against it.
What would you think of a mother whose child was dangerously sick saying, “Really, I am so burdened with the rest of my family, I have so much to think about, that I cannot give myself up to this child. I am very sorry, of course, I feel it very deeply, but I cannot deny myself the comforts of life. I must lie on the sofa so long, and I must do this, that, or the other, or go here and there?” What would you think of such a woman? And yet there are thousands of professing Christians who lie on the sofa, I am afraid, half their time. They don’t know what to do with themselves, trying to get amused and occupied, and yet they profess to be God Almighty’s SERVANTS.
My friends, put this practical test to yourselves. It is of no use going to services and hearing beautiful sermons which you don’t apply to yourselves. Are not these things realities? If so, I say, for Christ’s sake, for your soul’s sake, and humanity’s sake, act accordingly. Another household god-alas! I wish it could be kept out of the household (for it is more especially the god of the world outside, yet it comes into the family and gets into the hearts of the very little ones) —
The God of Gain.
Now God’s order is for every man to look after his fellow man-” look not every man on his own things, but also on the things of others,” but the world’s order — its received maxim is — “Every man for himself.” God’s order is, “As ye would men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” That means, you know, when you are making a bargain, don’t run a man down below the lawful price of his goods, any more than you would like to have him run you down. Don’t beat down that poor woman in her work because you know she has no one to appeal to. That is the spirit of selfishness, which is of the devil.
This god of gain! how I see its sway sometimes in houses where I stay. What a contrast I often see between the interest excited by the news of the day, and any information respecting the kingdom of God. You know how morning prayers are not over very often — how superficial it all is, how little heart there is in it. It seems quite a relief to the worshippers when it is over; then begins the real interest of the day. The gentleman seizes the newspaper, looks up and down the columns to see how the funds stand. If you keep looking at him you will tell in a minute if there is anything in the paper that touches him. If he is a merchant the state of the market as to the things he buys or sells touches him to the quick; if he sees something affecting his interests he will perhaps tell it to his wife; and then you will see the older children looking towards him with the greatest anxiety-the god of gain has his hand even on their young hearts. They may have some outward show of being religious, but gain is the real god. If there is anything that entails immediate action in connection with the business, you see how everything else is at once put on one side. Then the lady says, “Business must be attended to.” Must is a sine qua non in the matter. Would to God they would put a must in somewhere else. The children all know the importance of that must. They know, perhaps, that they have money, that they are to be rich some day, but nevertheless they want more. Their father cannot afford to lose if he has ever so much. Gain, gain — they must make gain! That man may see in another column of the paper something which affects the work of God, but he only says a few sleepy words about it, “Very sorry, very sorry indeed.” Then down goes the paper, and he gets ready to go to his office. The column touching his gains touched him to the quick, the other only touched his sentimentality; the one touched his interests, the other touched only those of Jesus Christ.
Once I was at a conference, and I shall never forget it. I saw a company of ministers deliberating on certain questions, and the questions were all on paper, so that everybody knew what was coming on. I noticed that when anything came up affecting the character, or position, or income of those individuals, every man was in his place, every man had his paper and pencil quick as lightning, to catch every word that was said. But when it was a question that only referred to the work of God, to the interests of the Church, to the salvation of souls, a number of them were out of their places altogether. Others had got the newspapers, others were writing letters. There was only a handful who were paying proper attention to the question. I thought, O my God, it is as it was in the days of old, “there is not one of them that will keep Thy doors for naught; they are all gone after their covetousness.” Don’t call that censorious. You know how true it is. I WISH IT WERE NOT. I feel as if I could give the blood out of my very heart that it might not be so, but it is so. I have no doubt the Apostle was forced much against his will to say and feel — “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Alas! it had begun to be true then; how much more true is it now? I trust and believe that God is raising up a people who will seek His, in their very hearts’ core, and who will be willing to sacrifice their own gain!
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” Human experience justifies the Divine Word. Show me a man who loves money for its own sake, for the sake of hoarding it and leaving it to his children, and I will show you a man whom the DEVIL IS SURE OF. There is no doubt about it, unless God in His omnipotent mercy awakens him and gives him grace to turn that devil of avarice out of his soul — “Covetousness, which is idolatry “-idol worship! gold worship! wealth worship!!
Are you worshipping this god? My friend, make haste for your life. You can no more be the Lord’s servant and worship wealth, than the Jews were who crucified the Lord Jesus.
Friends, go to your closets; see whether you are in any measure under the dominion of this idol of gain! see why you value your money; see what you purpose to do with it; reckon, if you had a husband, a wife, or child in slavery, and you could buy them out, how much of the money you would keep. Reckon what you ought to keep while thousands of your brethren are the slaves of sin and the devil, when your money would help to deliver them. Reckon this matter as you would reckon with your’ steward.
You give your steward possession of certain property to manage for you; you know that he must eat and drink, and have a place to rest in. If he is a good servant, you say, “Here, John, I want you to accomplish that work for me in so many months, and I place at your disposal these resources. Get in these debts, see these creditors, receive such and such moneys, do such and such things. You may take out all that is necessary to keep you in comfort and health (and if he has a family), as much as your family requires, not for extravagance, but for your necessary comfort, while yeti are doing my business.” Would you reckon that such a steward had a right to spend your money in extravagant living, or hoard it up for his own personal ends? Are you a steward of God? And do you expect to give an account to Him who shall judge both quick and dead? If so, what will you say when He demands an account of your stewardship?
The household god next in importance, and which is perhaps the most popular both of the household and the nation, is the God of Education.
Everything must how to the scholastic education of the children. Their very health is sacrificed in hundreds of instances; the whole of the domestic arrangements, the convenience of father and mother and visitors must how down to this god. The children must be educated, whatever else becomes of them. I touched very briefly on this subject in my address at Exeter Hall on “Family Religion,” and some friends seemed to infer that I was against education, whereas I have seldom talked with any one on the subject more profoundly impressed with its importance! I adopted, many years ago, the sentiment of the philosopher Locke, who said that “in nine cases out of ten all the men we meet are what they are for good or for evil, for usefulness or otherwise, by their education.” I say I fully believe that, and have acted upon it in training my own family; so you see my quarrel is not with education, but with a certain kind of education.
I believe that a child ought to be educated every half-hour of its life — never ought to be left to itself in the sense of not having a recognized influence exerted over its mind. The question is then, What kind of education is the right kind to bestow upon children? How ought you to educate them? The same idea which helped us on the question of fashion may help us again here. What should be the great purpose of education? Surely right education must be that which is calculated to help the child to attain the highest type of its kind, and to fit it for its highest destiny, You train your horse on that principle. You develop and strengthen it that it may be a perfect creature, having capacity developed for the highest service of which its nature is capable. I say that all right training ought to contemplate this end, and especially with respect to man, God’s highest creature. Next comes the question, What is the highest type of a man? and the highest destiny of a man? What ought we to aim at? For if the aim is wrong, all our training will be wrong. . I say that the highest type of a man is that in which the soul rules over the body, in which a purified, ennobled soul rules through an enlightened intelligence, and makes every faculty of the being subservient to the highest purpose, the service of humanity and the service of God! If I understand it, that is the highest type of man and his highest destiny. And it seems to me that all education that falls short of this is a curse rather than a blessing,
The aim of all rightly directed education is to make such men and women, and to fit them for such work, and if it fails of this, I say it is one-sided, unphilosophical, and irreligious, and THAT IS MY QUARREL WITH MODERN EDUCATION. I charge it with being all this, and that is the reason I did not educate my children after its theories; I did not believe in them, and the results so far prove that I was right.
Then first let me look at what ought to be the purpose of education. Most of you, nearly all, I presume, agree as to what I have stated. But the purpose of modern education is anything but this It is for the most part planned and executed with a view to the aggrandizement or well-being of the individual, looked at in a worldly point of view. Parents look at their boy and say, “Now, what can we do with him?” They have all sorts of aspirations and ambitions for the boy, and they. say, “Well, we must educate him, develop his intellect.” What for? That he may use it for the service of humanity and the glory of God? Oh no, that never enters their minds. They say, “We will have him educated in order that he may shine in the world. We will have a son who will be able to go to the bar, the senate house, or do anything else that ambition fixes on.” The AGGRANDIZEMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL is the end, not the universal good, and out of this wrong aim arises the undue estimate of mere scholastic education. What would you say of the training of an animal, if it were possible for the trainer to select one or two faculties, and develop and strengthen them to the exclusion, neglect, or extinction of other faculties? Would you say that was right training?
The main idea of modern education is that of the imparting of knowledge. Knowledge is the idol which both the household and the nation today are worshipping more largely perhaps than any other, as if progress in knowledge constituted the true progress of man. Oh, if it were so, what a different world we should have today; but we know it is quite the contrary. We know that the more knowledge you give to an individual, without giving him a corresponding disposition to use it for good, the more you increase his capacity for mischief. Very often the most learned men live for the worst purposes! But, alas,! the very flower of the youth of our nation is sacrificed to this modern deity. The notion is that our youth must be educated in this mischievous sense; they must be crammed with knowledge; whether it be a curse or a blessing to them is not the question, but they must have it. They must learn the dead languages, and read had literature, in order to make them like the rest of the world around them, no matter what becomes of their morals; they must be crammed with science, — much of it falsely so called; much of it in embryo, crude and shallow — the shallow theories of minds trying to grasp profound thoughts, and getting lost in the fogs of their own folly, landing the poor pupils on the strand of infidelity and atheism. The intellect, the one faculty of the man, must be strained, and stretched, and crammed, to the utter neglect, and often destruction, of the moral faculties. And when you have done, what have you produced? An enlightened animal, an intellectual monster, who walks abroad, treading under his feet all the tender instincts and most sacred feelings and aspirations of humanity. That is all you have produced; there are thousands such to be seen today. Alas! my heart bleeds over the stories I hear all over the land, which I could give you as illustrations of this fact. All this mischief comes of upsetting God’s order — cultivating the intellect at the expense of the heart; being at more pains to make our youth clever than to make them GOOD!
This false theory leads to false methods, and hence the deplorable condition of our nation today. It leads to the separating from home life our little boys of ten and twelve years of age, and our girls too, alas! sending them away from the tender influences, and what ought to be the grand and noble inspirations of their mothers, to herd with boys of their own age and class, to have their moral nature manipulated by masters, often skeptical or immoral.
Now I say, and will maintain, that the chief end of education is not mere teaching, but INSPIRATION; and if you fail to inspire your pupil with nobleness, disinterested goodness, truth, morality, and religion, not only are all the glorious ends of education lost, but you damn your pupil more deeply than he might have been damned without your education. I ask, Is it not so? Take some of your own sons (alas! I could point to numbers round about) as illustrations of this fact. God has given every child a tutor in his mother, and she is the best and only right tutor for the heart.
I defy you to fill a proper mother’s place for influence over the heart. If God were to depute the angel Gabriel, he could not do it. God has tied the child to its mother by such peculiar moral and mental links that no other being could possibly possess. I tell you, mothers here, that if you are good mothers, you are committing the greatest wrong to send away your child from your homes, and I believe this wretched practice is ruining half our nation today. God committed the child to its parents to be educated, not to the schoolmaster. You can employ the schoolmaster to teach his head, — and even then you must be very careful of what sort he is, or he will ruin the child; but God committed the child to the parents to be educated, trained — that is taught how to feel, think, and act. And it is to the mother especially belongs the art and the capacity to inspire her boy to love all that is noble and good, and disinterested, and grand in humanity, and to keep on inspiring him until he is strong enough in moral excellence; in other words, strong enough in God’s likeness and grace to walk alone. Just as you tend him when he is a baby, and will not leave him to strangers, so, while he is a moral infant, you are to watch and keep. and train him until he is able to walk alone. I set my soul on this with regard to my own children, and God has enabled me to do it. I had a great fight over it in many ways, but I said, “I am determined to keep my children for God and goodness. They shall have the education that I think likely to help them to be useful to their generation, as far as possible; but I will never sacrifice purity to polish, I will never sacrifice the heart to the head.” That was my resolve, and I see no cause to regret it.
I think it was Fenelon who said that “the service of my family is more important than the service of myself, and the service of my nation is more important than the service of my family, and the service of humanity is more important than the service of my nation.” That is my opinion. This is God’s idea of man’s highest vocation: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” If God’s type of manhood had been a being crammed with knowledge to the exclusion of the moral and religious sentiments, Jesus Christ would have been such a man, whereas He was the opposite. He combined all the tenderness, sublime devotion, and self-sacrifice of the woman with the intellect and strength of the man. He was God’s model man. That is the type for us. Therefore, for the sake of your children and your own gray hairs, I beseech you to see to it that you train and educate them in His likeness. Alas I know many parents in this land today, who are wringing their hands in anguish for the consequences of a false notion of education; and yet there are tens of thousands more who are making the same experiment, to have the same results.
I was staying in a mansion some time ago, where there was everything that wealth and refinement could procure to make the parents happy. But I thought as I looked at the dear old gentleman — one of the kindly type of man, at whose table you like to sit down because of the genial intercourse and the generous sympathies of his soul towards all humanity — but I thought there seemed to be a gloom over the household. I felt as if he had a sorrowful spirit, though I knew not why. After dinner, when we got into the library, he said, with trembling lips: “I wish you could get a word with F____.” I said, “Who is that?”
“My eldest son; do try to get a minute to speak with him.”
“Why, what is the matter?” I said.
“I am afraid he has embraced skeptical opinions. I sent him to a professedly Christian school (ah, I thought, the old story!) and then to college, and now I am afraid he is nearly an infidel.”
And when I got hold of the young gentleman, I saw that he was just of the type our modern schools produce — self-conceited, self-indulged, proud, vain; a young man who looked down on his father much as an antiquated picture or piece of furniture. Oh, these stories, they break my heart! I felt that this dear old man spent his money on the education of his son, and thought he was doing the best he could for him, to send him to a so-called Christian school and then to a so-called Christian college, and here is the result; and there are thousands of such results!
Yet people send their sons over and over again to these schools and colleges, commit them knowingly to skeptical and infidel teachers — give them over, body, mind, and soul, to them, to go through a process of education which necessitates the putting into their hands of text books containing all manner of idolatrous legends and impure and immoral histories, bringing into their imaginations all manner of profanities and impurities just at the most critical period of their history. And this is all done under the name of “CHRISTIAN EDUCATION.”
I could tell you stories that would make you weep almost tears of blood at the consequences of these associations. Don’t I know mothers today who are wringing their hands in agony, and fathers who are bowed down almost to the grave, broken-hearted, because of them? Add to this education association with troops of godless, lawless, and frequently immoral youths, whom they are sure to have for their companions, and then wonder that youths isolated from their mothers, sisters, and all the refining influences of home life — put into these schools and colleges, and kept there frequently for seven or eight years, and I ask, Can parents be surprised that they receive them back without any principles, without any love for their parents, without any religion, and without any respect for humanity? to walk about and trample under foot the most sacred instincts, and feelings, and aspirations of true manhood and womanhood, and to march over the nation to spread desolation and ruin wherever they go — moral waifs and strays — drifting down the current of humanity, down, down to everlasting shame?
This is the result of modern education falsely so called. I challenge anybody to disprove it. Now then, I say, let every Christian parent in his closet settle before God this matter. What will you make your child? Will you say, “I will be more concerned that he shall be a good, benevolent, holy man, working for the good of his race, than that he shall be one of those intellectual monsters, all head and no heart. I will rather that he should be poor and good than that he should be rich and wicked”? When you come to that you will save your children. But you say, “Well, I must have this position and that position for him, not because of the use he will be to humanity and the glory he will bring to God, but because he will be a bigger man, having social position and influence.” Ah! thousands have said that, and their sons have ended in being nobodies — idle, extravagant, spendthrifts, taking all the patrimony of their brothers and sisters to keep them going in their evil courses. Truly “God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
THE SALVATION ARMY FOLLOWING CHRIST
By Commissioner Railton
During the past twenty years there has been growing up in the midst of Christendom an organization which has been all along denounced and opposed, in a manner remarkably resembling the opposition shown to Christ and His apostles by the religious and respectable people of their day. The very phrases applied to the latter have been those most commonly used in connection with the Salvation Army.
Such expressions as “blasphemy,” “Blasphemous performance,” “mockery of religion,” have been repeatedly used by the most thoughtful and influential critics with respect to this organization, and for what reason? Simply because poor and unlettered men and women are found continually expressing an intimate acquaintance with God in terms almost identical with those which are common in the Psalms and the Gospels. The poor man cries, and the Lord hears and delivers him; the convicted publican smites on his breast and cries, “God he merciful to me a sinner,” but the unbelieving onlooker denounces his crying as an “intolerable noise,”‘ and this declaration that he has been delivered, an “unwarrantable presumption.” It is notorious that in thousands of buildings next Sunday, congregations of people who, a few years ago, had nothing whatever to do with the worship of God, will be repeating exactly such-like experiences. Yet even some of those who regard these people with a somewhat friendly eye will excuse their making “a joyful noise unto the Lord” as a “pardonable extravagance,” and will explain that it is due to their “want of culture” that they do not worship God in the “decorous silence” which is customary in modern places of worship. As for the greater part of the community, they will denounce the whole of the proceedings as an “outrageous nuisance,” “a farce,” etc., which “ought to be put down,” or got rid of, if it were possible, and which it is to be hoped “will not last long.”
Now it is a remarkable fact, worthy of the most careful study by all who would understand either the power of God or the times in which we live, that in the face of all this hostile opposition this Army will go on without altering its course in the slightest degree to gain public favor, and that in fact it has gone on steadily increasing during twenty years, in spite of such opposition.
Five years ago this Army had only 442 corps and 1,067 officers — persons, that is to say, employed in the work and supported by it. During the year 1882 no less than 669 of the soldiers, — 251 of them women-were knocked down, kicked, or brutally assaulted in the streets; fifty-six of the 530 buildings used were attacked and partially wrecked, and eighty-six officers or soldiers, fifteen of them women, were locked up and imprisoned by the authorities in connection with the open-air services. Bishops, editors of religious papers, chairmen of great religious assemblies united to denounce the Army in the extremest terms; but at the end of five years it is found to consist of 2,153 corps, under the leadership of more than 5,200 officers.
Now, if it be correct that the Army systematizes blasphemy, this prodigious increase is truly a calamity; but if, on the contrary, it is found that thousands whose every second sentence was formerly an oath, and who neither feared God nor regarded man, are now to be seen clothed and in their right minds, singing (though it may be in rough style) the praises of God, and living honest, industrious and benevolent lives; then surely these figures eloquently demonstrate that the truth lies entirely on the other side, and that this vast working-class organization is, after all, acting in conformity with the will of God, and therefore blessed and helped by Him, involving the inevitable conclusion that the common opinion of the day is in violent opposition to the spirit and work of Jesus of Nazareth.
Let us examine a little more closely the method of the Army’s increase, as illustrated by one of its most recent advances. A couple of young girls formerly engaged in domestic service, declare themselves to be called to preach the Gospel. For this purpose they place themselves at the disposal of the only religious organization in the world which thinks it right to give them this opportunity, and after careful examination into their character, they are sent off to a foreign country, where they are to raise an Army corps in a certain small town. The building in which they are to gather their congregation is simply a long-disused workshop, where a number of unbacked seats have been placed. There is not a single person in the town who can be regarded as friendly to their mission, and most people consider their appointment as directly opposed to the will of Christ. Yet night after night their humble barracks are crowded with an audience consisting mainly of persons who have never worshipped God before. The meetings are interrupted, and violent scenes sometimes occur. Yet, as is common all over the world, those two officers have raised a corps in a short time.
And what is their corps? It consists of working men and women who are ready to stand up in the meetings and add their testimony to that of their officers, that Jesus Christ is a living Saviour. In the language of apostles and psalmists, not quoted but reproduced almost in identical terms from their own experience, they say that they were up to the time of their coming to these meetings “afar off by sin and wicked works, but have now been brought nigh to God by the blood of the Cross;” that He has filled their hearts with peace and gladness such as they never found while in pursuit of worldly pleasure, — peace and gladness which rather increase than diminish under the scorn and opposition of family, friends, and work-mates. It is not long before some of these converts are found expressing their highest ideal of duty in the desire to do exactly what their officers did when they left home, situation, worldly comforts and prospects, and embarked on a life of poverty and difficulty such as they have seen worked “but before their eyes, in order to spread the glad tidings of a real Saviour from sin, whom they personally know.
Every step in the Army’s progress has been accomplished in some such way as this, and the astonishment to most of us is not that such results should follow, but that people of intelligence should either continue with their eyes closed to it all, as though it had no existence, or else with persistence object, as though the Army were violating in every way the will of God. Again I say, this drives one inevitably to one of two conclusions, — either the Army must be a system of the most terribly God-dishonoring delusion, — a curse to the world of the most awful kind, or else, if it be indeed what it professes to be, inspired, moved, and directed by Him — then the people of our day must have departed far from the spirit and teaching of God, both by His prophets and His Son, to have come into direct collision with these forces acting under His leadership.
If we search still more deeply into the secret of the Army’s life and activities we shall find at every step the phenomenon of a faith and practice exactly similar to those which the language of psalmists and apostles, literally taken, describe. Here are poor fishermen who declare that they have heard Jesus Christ calling them to leave all and follow Him. They say that He walks by their side on the shore and sails with them over the stormy deep; that they commune with Him in the night watches; that whereas, but a short time ago, they were so utterly in darkness as to know nothing of the possibility of prayer, they now see clearly those great spiritual truths which have sustained their comrades in ages past; that God Himself is their light, and gives them to see, day by day, amidst the most toilsome occupations and the most ruffianly surroundings more and more of Himself and His will concerning them. Nobody pretends to question that the lives of multitudes of such men have been, as the result of their connection with this Army, transformed as completely as they themselves declare that their inward experiences have been. Here are people who, but a few years ago, received with blows and curses those who spoke to them in the name of Christ, but who now manifest the same tender love towards those who ill-treat as was shown in the first place towards themselves — men and women who gladly bear contempt, abuse, poverty, and suffering of every kind, that they may spend the part of life which still remains to them in proclaiming their Saviour; men and women whose want of education and of many qualifications that one would suppose to be desirable for such a work, cannot prevent from profoundly impressing the souls, and thus changing the lives of multitudes of others. How is it all to be accounted for? We must either accept their own account of the marvel, and conclude that it is by the power of Jesus of Nazareth that these men see and walk thus in the presence of us all, or else we must find some other way of accounting for the change wrought in them.
Attempts of this kind have indeed been made, but they do not commend themselves to very serious attention. “Excitement-all excitement!” some have said. But has religions excitement ever been known to last for years consecutively in individual cases? Generally speaking, the duration of a wave of popular excitement upon any subject is to be measured by weeks, or by months at most. But here we have huge audiences gathered continuously, Sunday after Sunday, for years, and men and women devoting themselves to the holding of services said to be of the “most exhausting character,” night after night, without intermission. How can any mere excitement account for all this?
A somewhat more reasonable theory is that the Army owes all its successes to a “rigid discipline.” But is not this begging the whole question? That the Army maintains and extends its influence largely as the result of military order and system is undoubtedly true; but the question is how men and women, hitherto averse to all religious control, and indeed, control of any kind, are induced to submit themselves without fee or reward to the orders of those who are often in every way their inferiors. Look at that young lad, not out of his teens, commanding a corps in some large city. His every sign is obeyed by men and women old enough to be his grandparents, by tradesmen who were accustomed to manage business affairs before he learned arithmetic (what little he knows of it), by sergeants and soldiers of the Army, who have served years longer than himself in it, and some of whom know more of God and mankind, more of the work and literature of the Army, than he does. Whence all this ready obedience, this systematic labor under such leadership? It is easy to explain all upon “the love of Christ constraineth us” principle, “submitting yourselves one to another in love;” but take that away, and what becomes of the Army’s discipline?
The Army’s discipline is all the more remarkable when we remember that it is applied amongst all nations alike, and that in the world’s three greatest Republics it is carried out as successfully as amongst communities more accustomed to the idea of submission to absolute authority. Moreover, the marvel of general and absolute obedience, rendered without murmuring by persons of all sorts and conditions, scattered all over the world, is all the more striking at a time when any approach to the exercise of authority in connection with religious work is becoming more and more out of the question.
Just consider for a moment what this Army discipline amounts to. Forty thousand times this week, and every week of this hot summer, bodies of men and women are induced, after having toiled all day at their usual employment, to walk a more or less considerable distance from their homes, and place themselves under the leadership of officers who keep them from two to three hours engaged in praying, singing, speaking, marching through the streets, standing in narrow, dirty alleys and courts, or sitting on unbacked seats in the close atmosphere of uncomfortable buildings. Yet this only represents the public services of the Army. We give up in despair any attempt to calculate the number of hours spent by scores of thousands of these soldiers in visiting, War Cry selling, and other labors, under the direction of their officers. All this will bear investigation and consideration to any extent; and the more it is considered, the more inevitable will be the conclusion that the Army’s strength within and without must arise from a power far superior to anything human. If so, then the Army is everywhere a standing manifestation of the saving power of God and a standing reproof to the “modern thought” which ignores that power. .
The one-minded and one-heartedness of the Army is strikingly exemplified in its newspapers and its prayers. It has twenty-four War Crys, published ill as many different countries and colonies, in their several languages. In not one of these can there be found any recognition of the controversies which disturb the Christian world! They represent minds always engaged upon the one subject, lives entirely devoted to the one object — the subjugation of the world to the dominion of Jesus Christ. In prayer this absolute union of heart and mind is even more remarkable. In the course of more than twenty years there have of course arisen frequently within the Army differences and disputings, which could not have been easily brought to an end but for the exercise of a strong central authority; but it is a remarkable fact that these differences have scarcely ever arisen from any variety of opinions, and in only one or two instances from the introduction of any new teaching. I was very much impressed lately with the Army’s oneness in prayer, during a tour is which I had the opportunity to observe closely the action of soldiers of half a dozen different nations in succession. I do not wonder that the Army is reproached with the constant use of a few phrases, repeated over and over again. The accusation is gloriously correct to this extent — that officers and soldiers, to whatever class or nation they may belong, and wherever you may meet them, appear to have their minds so concentrated upon the one great theme, and their whole energies so thoroughly called out for the accomplishment of the one result — that to hear one is to hear all.
Now to what conclusion can one come but that either all this union is produced by one Almighty Spirit working “all in all” — according to the Scriptures, making His real followers not only of one spirit but “of one mind,” giving them to “see light in His light,” producing in every one the same purpose and the same entire subjection to the will of Christ, — or else that we are in presence of the most astounding wonder of the age, without having placed before us any means of accounting for its existence?
This becomes all the more evident when we look at the financial system of the Army. To overcome the general indifference to religion and its teachers, it has become common, in our time, to endeavor to induce the poor to attend the ministrations of this or that religious community by the presentation of gifts, or the provision of gratuitous entertainments. The Salvation Army, on the other hand, goes to the people in every service with its collecting boxes, and pays the rental of expensive buildings everywhere by means of the poor man’s pence! Hundreds of thousands of pounds are contributed in this way annually, the people not only meeting the cost of the services conducted in their own immediate neighborhood, but assisting in the extension of the Army’s work all over the world, and showing the greatest readiness to respond to every appeal from new enterprises. There are multitudes of persons whose incomes are between 10s. and 20s. per week, who give to the Army one or two shillings of that amount, besides devoting so much of their time and strength to its operations, as already explained. The 5,000 officers who have given themselves up entirely to the war, without the guarantee of any salary whatever, merely represent tens of thousands more who would gladly do the same thing, if we were able rapidly enough to arrange for their dispatch to every part of the great world-field. We had more than 1,000 such offers in a few weeks of 1887, in England alone. To all these people home and comfort are as enjoyable as to yourself or any one else; yet they glory in the possibility of a whole life of self-denying activity for Christ, and eagerly look forward to the day when, far from home and old friends, their bodies shall be lowered into a salvation soldier’s grave, amid the tears and prayers of others now reveling in sinful indulgence, but induced by their life, example, and testimony to leave all and follow Christ.
Let no one say in presence of a vast assemblage of facts like this, that it is no longer required of us, or no longer within our power, to follow in the footsteps of the prophets and apostles of the past. Amidst the snows of Lapland, as well as in the Indian jungle, on the outskirts of European occupancy in the far West and the other side of the world, as well as in the midst of crowded European and American cities, men and women are proving every day that the experiences of the Psalms, — the very experiences of God’s presence and salvation, which in apostolic days made the poor, despised, and persecuted followers of the Messiah the happiest of beings, — are now within the reach of all who will equally deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him who became poor in order to make others rich forever.
The Salvation Army deserves and demands the careful and patient study of all who would learn how best to follow God and hasten the coming of His kingdom. The more closely and carefully you examine, the more fully will you be driven to the conclusion — the opinions of the day to the contrary, notwithstanding — that those who truly wish to follow Christ at all costs can do so in this age as well as in previous ones, and will succeed, just as others have done before, in gaining the world’s hatred, the smile of God, and the victory which He guarantees to all who trust in and obey Him.