The Uncontainable Blessing
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Mal 3:10
The book of Malachi contains a recognition of the fact of Divine judgment as a result of faithlessness upon the part of God’s people. They had kept back that which belonged to the Lord and were now “cursed with a curse.” Poverty of various kinds was now upon them; and the prophet was showing them the way out of their calamities, and did it most powerfully in the words of the text.
If any one wants to know what spiritual poverty is, what it is to have heaviness of soul, and get into a foggy and twilight-kind of experience, let him take from God’s altar that which was once given to Him. It may be a small thing, but there is nothing little in the eyes of Love; and the fact that it is a mere trinket which has been presented to the friend or loved one and possesses little value, does not make the pang less when it is taken away, for it is the withdrawal of what was once given which hurts. God is a jealous God; He says so, and He cannot look with indifference upon such acts, when we remove from the altar anything once devoted to Him. He would not be true to Himself or to us if He turned the same look on us when we did these things. So to “rob” Him even of the smaller gifts is to bring at once the hazy cloudy feeling to the soul, and persisted in there comes greater calamity.
So the text is an exhortation along this line and coupled with a promise. It is a wonderful promise and covers a very remarkable experience. We notice, first
1. THE EXHORTATION.
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse.”
It is a blessed thought to me that God will accept anything from us. He owns everything, and yet here He is placing Himself in the attitude of a recipient of favors, while we pose as donors. Meantime there is nothing we bring Him but already belongs to Him. The whole occurrence is wonderful.
Malachi calls the things we owe God, tithes. For a long time I had a very narrow conception of the word. It had but one meaning, but as time passed and the Book unfolded and increasing light came, I saw it had greater lengths and breadths, and that to bring all the tithes to God meant a great deal.
One meaning, of course, of the word refers to the tenth of our substance. This was a law in the Levitical economy and a custom observed by Abraham. There is no hint that it has been revoked. If a Jew loved his God enough to give this amount, we ought certainly to be as devoted to our Saviour. It should be a part of the consecration to which Malachi exhorts us. What a blessing it would be to the church and to us all if we did so.
Again we owe the Lord a seventh of our time. The world has never been released from this obligation, and that same world never practices a poorer piece of economy than when it robs God of the Sabbath or a part of that day. There is no estimating the amount of crime prevented by men going up to church on the Lord’s day and coming in contact with the word of God and influences of the other world. Moreover, a faithful observance of the Sabbath is necessary to the Christian to find this great blessing the prophet speaks of. A new covenant has to be made respecting its sacredness, and the things to be done and not done on that day.
Third, we owe the body to the Lord. “I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God”. Many have been afraid to do this, but he who does it does a wise thing. No one can take as good care of it as the Lord who made it. It is necessary for the obtainment of the blessing that every member of the body, tongue, eyes, ears, hands, feet and all shall be solemnly given and set apart for God.
Fourth, we must give God the heart. “My son, give me thy heart.” This means the soul, with all its powers, capacities and affections. Happy the man who will do this; he will never be sorry for having done so. He who made the soul can best manage it and keep it in order. The jeweler is the proper person to carry your watch to, he can do a better part by it than a blacksmith. So I am glad that in the list of what we are to bring to God, the soul is included.
Fifth, I find still deeper requisition upon us in the Bible, in the words: “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Truly this goes down deep and is all embracing. Whether we rise up or lie down, remain in the house or go abroad, eat, drink or sleep, we must do all to the glory of God!
Many Christians have fairly trembled before this verse. It breathes of a consecration so complete that they were not ready to make it. It actually looked at times like bondage–and yet to the man in the secret of the Lord it is perfect and glorious liberty. The demand may look like a towering stone and iron gate, but inside is a park with beautiful lakes, whispering groves, winding roads, flower lined paths and singing birds. Behind the slashing, cutting swords of the cherubim in this verse is a life and experience as lovely, glorious and blessed as Paradise.
Sixth, we descend still deeper in the Word of God to find that the consecration we have to make to obtain the great blessing Malachi speaks of is a perfect consecration. It must be so to obtain such a perfect blessing. The tithes due the Lord are found to be more than first dreamed of. All must be forsaken, everything must be hated in comparison with the Son of God. It is a hard saying with some, and so they fall away. But others press on, crying, “Lord, to whom shall we go, but unto Thee?” and in the midst of the cry and pursuit they find themselves in the seventh heaven.
Listen while I read to you the sixth tithe: “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me. ”
“If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
“So, likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
Suppose we look around and see who has paid this tithe. Who among your religious acquaintances has made such a complete consecration?
This demand of Christ, as laid beside the Christian lives about me, used to puzzle me greatly. I did not see any one who hated father, mother and family in the Gospel sense, and who had forsaken all. I saw that they were undoubtedly Christians, but they evidently had not met this great requirement and paid their tithe. For years I could not understand; but after the reception of the blessing of sanctification the light came. I saw at once that here was not the condition of salvation, but the price of the greater blessing of the Gospel, the one that Malachi is prophesying about.
The condition of salvation is repentance and faith; not a word about the perfect consecration spoken of in the passages I quoted. What has a sinner to consecrate? The Bible teaches that the worst sinner that lives shall be saved if he repents and believes. This is what millions have done, and find themselves in the church today, and in grace as well, but ignorant of that complete offering of the life which brings the uncontainable blessing called Purity, Perfect Love, the Abundant Life, the Indwelling Christ, Holiness and Entire Sanctification.
Again, I notice in this sixth tithe passage that Christ said if a man did not do it he was “not worthy of Him. ” He did not say worthy of salvation, but “worthy of Me.” There is a great difference. It was long before I saw it; but I saw it at last, and the Bible became a new book.
There is a difference between a gift and the giver. It is one thing for a woman to make and present to a man such things as dressing gowns, slippers, watchpockets, etc., and another thing altogether to give herself to him as his wife. The last is greater than the first; and the man feels it. He has now not only the gifts, but the woman herself, who can make the gifts.
So in the spiritual life. We obtain the gifts of salvation in regeneration; but the Bible plainly teaches a mightier work and greater blessing when Christ himself comes into the soul to abide perpetually. Speaking of it, He said: “We will come unto him and take up our abode with him.” What are the gifts of Christ beside Christ himself? Love, joy and peace seem to come and go in the converted life, but in the deeper experience of which I speak the Saviour stays in the heart all the time. It was to this that Christ alluded when He said unless we did certain things we were “not worthy of Him.”
So there is a profounder grace; one that for sweetness and power transcends anything in the regenerated life. It is given in answer to a complete and eternal devotement of everything to God. There must be a consecration that has not a single mental reservation. All must be laid on the altar, and the soul must cry, “O Lord, I am wholly and forever thine.”
Before this perfect consecration held forth in the Word of God many Christians are trembling and shrinking today. They fear that the step will bankrupt them. They make the remarkable mistake in thinking that they can outgive God; that they can surrender more to the Lord than He is able to recompense them for. In a word, that they can do more for him than He can do for them.
The wonderful proposition of Heaven is that if we give ourselves to God, He will give Himself to us. What a marvellous proposition! What an amazing exchange! And what a blessed experience it is bound to be when the exchange takes place!
I was never a good trader in my life, and remember some most unfortunate transactions that took place in my boyhood and manhood, all of which went to show a certain lacking business faculty; But there was one trade I made eight years ago in which I got a most decided advantage. It was when I gave myself to Christ, and secured Him in even exchange. I can never think of it without smiling and exulting as well. Even now the thought of how I got rid of my poor, tired, nervous self, and obtained in blessed exchange the great soothing tranquilizing Christ, sends thrills of gladness and voices of praise all through my being. I certainly got the best of that business occurrence and the Lord knew it.
I have noticed that many of God’s people will not take this step of perfect consecration, this laying on the altar of everything, until a few hours or days before they die. Then it is that finding they must leave the world, they surrender first one thing and then another until all is given up. Father, mother, husband and children, land property and all are at last laid altogether and forever on the altar.
Now there was a law in the worship and sacrifices of the Temple, that when a man brought his gift to the altar, the priest had always to put in an appearance and receive the offering. It is but a type or figure of what takes place in these Gospel days, for when an individual lays himself and all on the altar, Christ, our priest, has to appear, and thank God does appear. He accepts the gift and the fire falls.
Thus it is that when a Christian delays this act of perfect consecration to the death hour; when only two or three days before passing away into the spirit world he brings all his tithes into the storehouse, or lays his all on the altar, Christ in his faithfulness appears, receives the gift, the fire falls, and the dying Christian shouts, rejoices, preaches to all about his death-bed and goes off in a chariot of glory.
Meanwhile members of the family marvel over the scene, wonder why “father” or “mother” had not been that way before, and conclude that this is the “dying grace” they have often heard about, when the fact is there is no such blessing as dying grace. The Bible has no word about such a blessing. The truth is that “father” or “mother” for the first time in their Christian lives brought all the tithes into the storehouse, or laid all their gifts on the altar. The instant they did so the Holy fire fell and they were sanctified.
Just as true is it, that if this is done three years before you die, instead of three days, the same fire will fall. Yes, verily, if a man will put his all on the altar ten, twenty or forty years before death, the power of God will come down, Jesus will baptize the soul with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and the same blessing that made the dying Christian happy will make the living child of God just as joyful all the days of his life.
So much then for the exhortation of the text which covers the condition of the obtainment of the wonderful grace. I turn now to consider the second thought of the text, and that is
2. THE PROMISE.
This promise presents the blessing under several heads or points of description, which taken together show up the very work of divine grace, the discussion of which is agitating the church today.
First, It is a heaven opening blessing.
Read the words, “I will open you the windows of heaven.” To my mind this is a striking figure. A house with doors and windows all shut up is not a very attractive spectacle. It has a forbidding look. It seems to hold us off and say that we are not welcome. When I approach a dwelling to pay a visit, it is always an agreeable sight to see the hall door wide open, the windows upraised with lace curtains fluttering and mocking bird singing in its cage. The whole appearance is one of friendly greeting and welcome.
Some of God’s people know what it is to walk under the sky with a feeling that every door and window above is shut and barred. The upward thought is driven back, and the prayer finds no entrance or admission above. The heaven seems perfectly impenetrable, and lowers like a ceiling of iron or brass so that nothing in the shape of prayer or message gets through to God. Some listening to me know it has been weeks or months since your supplications found admission to the Throne. Just as the palm of my hand now resists all efforts of my finger to get through it, so something above you shuts out and keeps down your prayers. They cannot get through. The explanation is that the windows of heaven are closed.
But the experience this text speaks of is one where every door and window of glory is opened above you, where the very sky is punctured with apertures; and just as I spread the fingers of my hand wide open, and the fingers of the other can now shove through at any point, so can the thoughts, desires, whispers and petitions of your soul leap through space and fly at once unhindered into the immediate presence of God.
Oh, what a luxury, joy and blessedness it is to feel there is no obstruction between the soul and God. To walk under a heaven filled with open windows, through which flows down upon your spirit the very influences that stir about the City of Gold and River of Life. When you can look up and feel there is nothing, not even a cloud the size of a man’s hand, between you and God, and your every word of praise or prayer comes instantly into the ear and heart of the Saviour. Truly, if this was the only feature of the great blessing it would pay to get it.
Second, “it is a poured out blessing.”
The text says. “I will pour you out a blessing” This expression sounded so familiarly to me that I went back into the Old Testament to find it, and at last located it in the book of Joel, where he, in common with other prophets, in speaking of a great coming blessing to the church, said: “It shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.”
Taking up the Scriptures and coming forward to see when this promise took place, I find the first fulfillment in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Ghost fell or was poured out upon one hundred and twenty waiting and praying disciples of Jesus Christ. The instant it took place, Peter sprang to his feet and cried, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” He then added that it was not simply for the disciples but “for you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
From that day this new blessing for the church began to descend upon those who sought it aright and paid the full price for it. So it fell upon the Samaritans, and upon Cornelius the Roman centurion, and upon the Ephesian disciples. During the Dark Ages it was scarcely known, but was sought and found by the Quakers under George Fox, and by the Moravians. Later still, under the preaching of Wesley and his lay workers, many obtained the glorious baptism, and the fire spread not only through England but over America. Today there are few but have heard of it, and many are receiving it.
When I heard of the blessing I never rested until it came upon me. For three days I was in an agony of prayer. Suddenly, on the morning of the third day, the blessing came. It was poured! It came down from above just as Joel and Peter said it would. Bishop Hamline said when he received it he felt it touch his head and then go down through him. It is always from above. I never heard of any one saying that it started in the feet and worked up. The feeling is that it comes down from above. It is too sweet and blessed to come from any other quarter.
If you study the principle of a shower bath, you will notice that when a man pulls the cord attached to the lever above his head he will instantly receive a Niagara like dash of water upon him. So let a man pull on the rope of a perfect consecration, and he will get a blessing that he will talk about all the rest of his life.
I have been informed that in the faraway West they have a curious way of watering their stock. There is a platform ten feet square, with a large trough upon it to hold the water. As water is scarce in that region, and the dry winds evaporate the precious fluid rapidly, the platform is so arranged with some simple machinery and a trigger that no water gets into the trough until the ox stands on the platform. If the animal puts two feet, or just half his weight, on the planks, the water does not come. It takes the whole ox, head, horns, hide, hoofs and all, to get that water. The instant the animal, with his entire weight, is on the platform, the trigger moves, and gush!–here comes the water into the trough shining, sparkling and in greatest abundance for him.
God has a platform called Perfect Consecration. It stands marvelously connected with the great blessing He has for the soul of the believer. It has some kind of spiritual machinery above it that can tell the exact physical and moral weight of the man desiring the downpour of the outpoured blessing. It requires the whole weight of the man to get the blessing. If a man registers one hundred and fifty pounds, it is no use for him to palm off one hundred and forty-nine on God. He knows every pennyweight of the life. He is going to give all, and demands all. It is vain to try to deceive Him. We cannot deceive the weighing scales on street corners and in waiting rooms. The arrow will not point out your weight until you drop your coin in the slot. The Platform of Consecration seems to have no thought, intelligence, design, life or motion about it so long as the man fails to place the whole of himself and life upon it. God seems to be far away and oblivious of what is going on. The heavens look empty. The sky is without answering voice or waving hand. The spiritual slot machine does not record; there is no sparkling, overflowing water in the trough of life.
And yet, in spite of these things, what faithful machinery is in and under that platform! How the arrow points when the price is paid! How delicate, and yet how true and powerful that spring in the moral machinery of His great grace, that the instant it is touched a cataract of glory descends into the soul!
So it has ever proved, so it will always prove, the moment the whole man is on the platform of a perfect abandonment and consecration to God, the trigger is touched, the telegram flashes to the skies “all is on”–and lo! here comes the rushing, sweeping, gladdening, overpowering and yet empowering “poured-out” blessing that Jesus gives, that Joel talked about, and that Peter and the other disciples receiving stirred all Jerusalem with and afterward the whole world.
Brethren have you had the poured-out blessing? If not, then shove your gift through the slot, pull on the rope, get on the platform and never rest until the Son of God baptizes you with the Holy Ghost and with fire, which is the blessing I speak of.
Third, It is a full blessing.
This is taught in the words: “There shall not be room enough to receive it.” Of course if there is not room in the heart to receive it, when it is a full blessing, and this is the very blessing we all want and need.
I notice that the soul is so constituted that it craves a full blessing. What it gets at regeneration does not satisfy it, I never knew a genuinely converted man in my life who was really growing in grace but desired something more than he possessed. He wants a “fulness,” and so he prays to be “filled.”
This very condition of spirit to my mind is a proof of the blessing. It is the logic of Heaven in the soul. It pleads from the premises of a conscious emptiness and yearning for fullness, to the irresistible conclusion of such a filling. The craving declares the blessing. Just as thirst proves the existence of water, and hunger declares the fact of bread, so the longing for fulness shows there is a filling blessing. Somehow I do not dread the denials and attacks of the skeptical upon the doctrine so long as I find these mighty instincts and appetites in the soul reaching out for the blessing itself. The inward instinct will outweigh in the long run the sneer of the scoffer and opposer.
I have also observed that in the Bible there is frequent reference to a blessing of fulness. Paul writes about it to a certain church, telling them that when he visited them again he was going to come in “the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” So there is a blessing of the Gospel of Christ, and a fulness of the blessing. The first time he came he brought the good news of pardon and salvation, but when he came again he proposed coming in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ.
There is a command in the Bible bidding us “Be filled with the Spirit,” as clearly as sinners are told to “Repent.” God never tells a sinner to be filled with the Spirit; he is commanded to repent and thereby obtain the first measure of the Spirit. It is the believer who is urged to be filled.
It was for this purpose that the disciples tarried in the Upper Room ten days. Not to get pardon, or even obtain the Spirit, for He had been breathed upon them days before by the Saviour, and Christ Himself had said: “He (the Spirit) dwelleth with you.” They spent the ten days in prayer and waiting for the filling of the Spirit; and so we read that on the Day of Pentecost while they were all with one accord together in one place, suddenly the Spirit fell upon them, and “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.”
So the instincts and yearnings of the soul find a spiritual correlative in the Bible. The want is recognized and the supply is provided. The command “Be filled” is in exact harmony with the desire of the soul to be filled.
With these two great facts before me of the souls yearning and the Bible teaching, I can never dread the antagonistic writings of men in the church who try to explain away the Great Blessing or deny it altogether. The heaven inspired hunger for heart purity, and the declarations and commands of the Word of God will be more than a match for all opposers of this experience, whether they be laymen or preachers, learned or unlearned, prominent or obscure, powerful, more powerful or most powerful.
There is a blessing that fills the soul. Every room, hall and closet of ones being is filled with love, joy and glory. Malachi talked about it in his time, Peter in his day, Wesley in his age, and please God we who have it will testify to it in the evening of the nineteenth century.
Fourth, It is an Uncontainable Blessing.
This appears in the words, “There shall not be room enough to receive it.” Truly, then, if there is no room for the blessing, it must be an uncontainable one.
This is the very kind of blessing the Church wants. She has many blessings already; we do not deny it, and thank God for it. But the trouble is they are all containable. God’s people have love, but they have no difficulty in controlling it. They have joy, but it is easily kept under. They have the missionary spirit and the benevolent spirit, but all are easily managed, kept in and kept down. At this rate it is easy to see the heathen will never be converted and the world won for God. What is needed is an uncontainable blessing that will sweep us down upon human want, misery, ignorance and sin, and capture and change the whole world for Christ. We do not want a force and energy that we must create and stir up, but we want a heavenly power that will come down upon us like a cyclone and sweep us along with it as the storm whirls the leaves in its mighty course.
I am heartily sick of seeing the church “mark time,” as on dress parade. I want to see an advance movement so solid, impetuous and overwhelming that sinners will surrender everywhere, wickedness slink into its hiding holes, devils fear and fly and all hell stand in utter dismay.
I am tired of beholding the horses and chariot of Zion trotting all day in the shade of one tree–an appearance of going, and yet, in reality staying. I am tired of seeing devils roosting on the axletrees, and some even on the seat manipulating the reins. I want such a galvanic battery shock of divine glory to come upon us, that every wrong thing will be knocked off the chariot, and such a hurricane rush of joy and zeal and fire and heavenly power fall upon and sweep us onward that plotting devils and hating men will be left astonished in a cloud of dust far behind, while we are disappearing in the glorious light of the Millennium.
The disciples had this uncontainable blessing, and from the instant it came upon them nothing could stop them, neither men nor devils, kings, armies, stakes, dungeons, wild beasts, seas, mountains or deserts; on they flew, running for God, telling the good news of salvation, warning of the wrath to come, begging men to be saved, until, still running, they struck their foot against their tombstone and fell flat in the grave, broke the bottom out of that and woke up in glory. They had the uncontainable blessing.
The Wesleyan movement had it, and the combined force of church authority, mob violence and public ridicule could do nothing before the unlearned but fire-baptized lay preachers of John Wesley. So long as the Methodist Church retained this blessing its advance was like the tread and sweep of a victorious army.
Moreover, we have got to have this blessing if we are ever to take the world for Christ. We can never win the day with an experience which we have to coddle and manage, but we must have a steady, permanent blessing that will manage us–something like steam in an engine, or, better still, like the force behind the world.
When this blessing does descend on a church or congregation here or there, there is immediately such a stir and commotion that a timid, unthinking, conservative element in the church becomes alarmed and thinks everything is going to pieces, when only sin, worldliness and formality are going to pieces. There was a great deal of agitation in the apostolic church, and stormy times in the Wesleyan revival, but God was in both movements. The church had something that would not bend, truckle and go down before earth and hell. It had the uncontainable blessing, rode every wave, ran through every troop and leaped over every wall. Lord give it back to us.
To the timid, fearful wing in the church, let me say that God will never never send a steed of fire to be placed in the shafts of His chariot that would break it to pieces. In other words, God will never send a blessings that will rupture His church. It may offend and cast out some people who claim to be His church; but God’s real church is called the body of Christ and that will never be hurt by the Baptism of Fire or the Uncontainable Blessing.
Fifth, It is a running over and flowing-forth blessing.
Again we read the words, “There shall not be room enough to receive it.” The picture suggested to the mind is evident. The overflowing fountain, murmuring on its benevolent way, can readily be seen in the words.
I have seen fountains in our city squares playing into a large marble or iron basin that would hold a hogshead of water. I noticed that when the basin was full, the fountain did not cease to flow, but kept pouring in, and there was nothing for the basin to do but to overflow, while the water streamed forth and carried overground or underground in troughs or pipes went to distant places, nourishing the roots of trees and grasses, slacking the thirst of cattle and thousands of birds, and so becoming a blessing to vegetable and animal life.
In like manner when a man receives the blessing I am talking about today, he is first filled, but as God keeps pouring in more and more of His grace and Spirit, there is nothing for the man to do but overflow. He like the city fountain runs over and flows out. He in a manner radiates. He cannot keep in what he has. It is driven forth by other measures of grace flowing into him. So he becomes not only a daily but a constant benediction. Filled and overflowing with good, he leaves a blessing wherever he goes. It is a book here, a paper yonder, a hand-shake there, a pleasant smile and word in another place, a flower to the invalid, or prayers by the side of the sick and aged. The very grasp of his hand does good, his smile is contagious, the spiritual brightness in his face clears the atmosphere of home and social circle, and the firm ring of his voice and kindly look in his eyes is like a tonic to drooping faith and an inspiration to Christian life and performance.
Now multiply this man by five hundred, in other words a congregation. Think of a whole church filled with such a blessing, and tell me whether it will be a benediction to a town and city or not. Filled and overflowing they will flow forth in a thousand acts of benevolent and spiritual work. Relief for the human body and salvation for the humble soul will be in their creed. What missions will be started, what prayer meetings and Sunday schools organized, what jails and hospitals visited, and what good of every kind for mind, body and soul will be done willingly and rejoicingly.
God gave me a church where I had several hundred members in the possession of this blessing. The result was that the congregation literally flowed out on the city in deeds of mercy and salvation. The naked were clothed, the poor were fed, strangers were visited, prisoners in the jail were looked after, while the cottage prayer meetings in the houses, Gospel meetings on the streets, and salvation power all the time at the church, made Hell to stand astonished and grieved, while angels camped around about and God kept sending down the Holy Spirit upon us in holy love and approval. Do you see why the Devil does not want the church to obtain this blessing?
In a meeting in a Southern State an old lady of about seventy-five years of age obtained this blessing and at once undertook a missionary expedition up one aisle and down another. In less than ten minutes she had shaken hands with over sixty people and left a track of emotion behind her like a steamboat leaves a wake of bubbles as it goes down the stream. The old lady shook hands right and left, and as she did so, said: “God bless you,” while her face fairly shone with holy light and love. The warm handshake, the God bless you, backed up with the shining faces was more than the people could stand, and I saw numbers of men wiping the tears from their eyes. As I looked on the scene I said if the church had what this old lady has, it would go out at once on missionary expeditions in every direction, shake hands in a few months with Europe, Asia, Africa and America, stir them all up with hearty God bless yous, and shining countenances, and have the nations at the feet of Jesus in a little while.
In a California town two girls in the Presbyterian Church were sanctified in a Methodist Mission. The instant they got the uncontainable blessing they began to run over and flow forth. Satisfied with formal church attendance and some perfunctory Sabbath-school work up to that time, now they overflowed the regular banks and backed up to the hills. In a word, they could not keep still and see men going down by scores from their town into hell. So they rented a hall, filled it with chairs, procured an organ and opened a meeting. Neither of them knew how to preach, but they could sing, and give their experience and cry some, and pray and exhort a little. In a few days a gracious revival broke out and scores of sinners were saved. At once they were summoned for trial before their church, the charges against them being “Irregularity.” This was quite true. They were very different from what they had been before. A mechanical, perfunctory Christian life no longer satisfied them; they were burning up with love for souls and were trying to keep men and women out of perdition. They were doing what their fellow church members were not doing, namely, saving souls; and so they both looked and were exceedingly “irregular.” Fortunately for the girls, the Moderator of the church court or assembly was both a religious and sensible man. As he propounded numerous questions to the young women as to how and when and where and why they did these things, light streamed into his mind, and he secured their acquittal. His final remark to the assembly was noteworthy. He said, “From all I can see these girls have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and it would be a good thing if we all had it. ”
Amen! Lord send upon the church the uncontainable, running over and running out, blessing.
Sixth. It is the blessing that fills the church with food for a spiritually starving and perishing world. Listen to the text, “That there may be meat in mine house.” This is the Lord talking. He is telling His people how the starvation and death of the nations can be prevented. If they will bring up the tithes, the material substance and spiritual services, the affections and energies, the love and devotion, the body, mind and soul, and consecrate all to God–then His storehouse will be full, and all that a miserable, needy, sorrow-stricken, sin-stained and despairing world wants will be found in the church of God.
The church in this figure is held up in the light of a great receptacle and dispensing place, where everything needed by poor, heartbroken humanity can be found, from material aid up to spiritual light, comfort and salvation. If God’s people will do what Malachi exhorts to here, and God’s answering blessing comes down, everything will be found in the church that is needed and that should be there–the cordial welcome, the hearty hand shake, the practical help, the burning love for souls, the unctuous prayer, the melting hymn, the earnest exhortation, the sermon filled with spiritual food and salvation flowing about the church altars at every service.
This is God’s plan, thus to fill His church with devoted, fire-baptized, soul-loving men and women as so many servants and waiters; then to line the rafters and load the shelves with all kinds of spiritual food; and after that literally bombard the church with crowds of sinners and backsliders, people undone in reputation and character, lives gone down under appetite, pride and passion, hearts broken and despairing through sin and sorrow; and have them not only met and welcomed but loved, cheered, helped, lifted up and saved as fast as they come. This is God’s plan, and this why He urges the uncontainable blessing on His people; because that through its marvellous power this very thing will be done. But God’s people are slow to see the heavenly design, and, neglecting the conditions by which the wonderful work is to be brought about, the church is not the spiritual feeding-place, nor the Power House that it should be. Some of us have seen congregations stream out of handsome-looking cathedrals as well as p lain-looking houses of worship, and the people did not look like they had been fed. There seemed to have been no meat in God’s house that day.
Any one can see how this hurts Christ even more than the church. The unsatisfied soul of the man of the world reasons thus: “I heard this was the church of God; that it was a supernatural institution; that it had supernatural influence; that the soul was fed and men were made to feel the presence and power of the other world. But I have not so found it. It is just like any other gathering to me. What they called the sermon was like a speech or lecture, and I came out as I went in, nowise helped or made better.” It is a distressing thought that this is not only the reasoning but the experience of many who go into some of our churches. People who may have gone in for help and light, left confirmed in doubt and skepticism.
When I was a boy I read somewhere that three people went to church one night each in peculiar trouble and hoping that help or deliverance would come to them in some way. One was a man in great agony of mind contemplating suicide, another was a woman who from poverty was meditating flinging herself into a life of shame, a third was a boy who owed a debt and not being able to pay it was being tempted to break into the cash drawer of his employer and take what he needed. It was a critical hour for these three souls and they had come up to the house of God with a vague hope of being helped or delivered in some way. What a time it would have been for the choir to have sung Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee. But no it was a paid choir and they hemi-demi- semi-quavered and ran the rattlesnake note for half an hour, and brought down no sweetness or unction upon the soul. It was a good time for a prayer which would have lifted a despairing soul up to see the Fatherhood of God and His delivering care, but instead the preacher for ten minutes gave the Lord a great deal of information about what was going on in the world; in fact it was no prayer. Then what an opportunity for the man of God to have selected a text about God being with us in the “seventh trouble,” about Jesus not letting us be tempted above that we are able to bear, etc., etc. But instead the preacher took some curious passage is the Old Testament and for three quarters of an hour talked about The Third Geological Epoch of the World’s History. He fed the people on rocks for nearly an hour. I remember the paragraph read that after the sermon the man went out and leaping over the river bridge committed suicide, the woman flung herself into a life of shame, and the boy went home to rob his master, and in the act of breaking open the drawer was detected and sent to a House of Correction.
The little story made a great impression on me, and when I became a preacher it came back to me and I cried to God and asked Him please to grant that in all my ministry I would never fail to help every broken heart or troubled soul He might send to me for light, assistance or deliverance. If the pulpit and church does not do that kind of work, of what use are they to God.
Some years ago, before I received this blessing of which I am speaking to you, I lost n little boy of eight years of age, named Guy. He was such a deeply spiritual lad, such a John-like, Christlike boy that I have perpetuated his memory in a chapter of one of my books called Pastoral Sketches. He died a very horrible death of lockjaw, and while he was struggling in the peculiar and awful convulsions of the disease for ten days, it seemed that I died a thousand times while sitting or kneeling as a lonely watcher by his bedside.
The morning he died the sun seemed to go down, and the whole world seemed black and empty to me. I did not have the Great Blessing at that time, so that life became a burden to me. I fancied I could hear his voice from the street where other little boys were playing. One of the last times in life I saw him in the days of health, he was swinging on a wind waved branch of a tree and cried out to me as he saw me leave the gate “Good-bye Papa!.” I could hear that same loving call now wherever I went, “Good-bye Papa.” In the pulpit, when I arose to preach, his sweet little face would arise before me and I could scarcely proceed. When I came into my house from my pastoral work about the city and would come across the cap he once wore, the kite he flew, or some plaything his precious hand had made sacred, an agony pierced my heart like a minnie ball, and once or twice I fell as though I was shot through and through by a missile of death.
In the midst of this darkness and sorrow came a telegram from my brother a physician, in New York City, asking me to come on to see him. He had heard of my sorrow. Most kindly and tenderly he tried to divert my mind by taking me to different places. One trip was up the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains. But everywhere I saw the sweet boyish face, now hidden under the sod of the hills of Vicksburg, and the burden seemed to grow heavier. On Saturday we returned to New York City, and I picked up the paper to see what the preachers were going to preach about next day that I might know where to go. I wish I could recall the topics that for a column and a half literally sickened my eyes and heart. There were political subjects, scientific topics, literary treatises. It was amazing to see how the Gospel had been skipped and Jesus left out. So as I read on I kept saying: “#No No! don’t want that or that–or that.” Some subjects were upon startling occurrences that had recently taken place. Some preachers pro posed to answer certain Questions of the Day, and still my heart said: “No, I don’t want questions of the day answered, I am already sick of them. There are heart questions, and providential problems and mysteries about the other world that I want solved. Lord I want this burden to be taken away, I want peace and rest.” So my eye kept glancing down the column until at last I read these words: “On tomorrow at the Washington Square Methodist Church, the Rev. J. R. T will preach at 11 a. m. and 7:30 p. m. His morning subject will be ” Soul Rest.” At once my heart cried out: “Yes Lord, that is what I want, soul rest.”
On the next morning I sat in the center of the church and gave most faithful attention to the preacher. He appeared to be about forty years of age. There were lines in his face that showed he had known great suffering, but there was a light among the lines which revealed he had come through victoriously. His manner was impressive, his voice tender and solemn. He took for his text the words of David, “Return unto thy rest O my soul.” For forty-five minutes he opened up the verse and from it poured a stream of inspired thought that was like heavenly oil to the wounded heart. Jesus was held up and brought near. Jesus our best friend, Jesus the lover of our souls, Jesus with us in the storm and in the dark, Jesus making everything work together for our good, Jesus explaining to us in heaven some of the dark, inscrutable things that took place on earth. I saw my soul like a poor storm-tossed bird far out over the deep, and I could see Jesus stretching out his arms for it. I could see it beating its tired way back to Him, feel His hand taking in the wearied flutterer and placing it in His bosom. I never wept so much under a sermon in my life before. The tears came not in drops, but flowed in streams, while the preacher with heaven directed hand poured the oil upon the spirit.
When the service was over I walked forward to the altar and took him by the hand and with a broken voice told him he would never know in this life how much good he had done a heartbroken preacher of the Gospel. As I walked out on the street I begged God to grant that whenever I stood up to preach I would thus bless and bind up the broken hearts He would send to my church. Even then I began to see what the mission of the church was, and if we are not encouraging the discouraged, uplifting the fallen and saving the lost, we are of no earthly use to God.
I held a meeting in a large Northern city two winters ago; and this occurrence took place a couple of weeks before my arrival. A young woman was engaged to be married when her betrothed suddenly died. A strange desperate feeling came over her and in that reckless spirit she entered upon a life of sin and shame. At once remorse set in, and feeling that life was unbearable she determined one night to drown herself in the river that flowed through the city. On the way to the bridge from which she intended casting herself, she passed the church where I afterwards held my meeting. It was lighted up and the sound of singing came out upon the night air. She concluded to go in and hear one hymn before she took her life. She entered and sat in the last seat. The people were all filled with the Spirit, it was a Holiness Church, and one sweet hymn followed another. She had heard four hymns when the speaker of the evening arose suddenly and said, “I will speak a few minutes on the words of Jesus ‘Come unto me all ye t hat labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”‘
Then followed an earnest, tender, unctuous talk of fifteen minutes, when he concluded by saying, “If any sin sick soul, or and burdened heart would like to come to Jesus tonight, let them draw near at once to this altar that we may pray for them. ” At once the girl rushed forward, fell at the altar, and in less than ten minutes was soundly saved. Several weeks later I opened my meeting in this church of which she was now a member. When she heard of the deeper experience of sanctification, the greater blessing I have been talking about, she at once sought it, and in a few days found it. Several times after that I heard her testify, and as I looked at her transfigured face, the perfectly angelic expression upon it, and thought that only a few weeks before she was on her way to the river to drown herself, I blessed God for a church that had the power to stop her mad career and turn her steps from an endless hell to an everlasting Heaven. And I saw once again why God wants to fill His church everywhere with a blessing that will make it a soul saving institution, cheating hell out of a weeping and wailing population, and crowding the streets of Heaven with a multitude that cannot be numbered, plucked from the walks and ways of sin everywhere, and now white robed and shining-faced to glorify God in the skies forever.
Why is it that God’s people are so uneasy and suspicious about this blessing. It is not an enemy to the church, but the friend. It is not to strip and rend, but to fill it up with redeemed people and bind all its interests together. It has not come to assail the church, but to show her the way of capturing the world for Christ. It is not to be a burden and affliction, but is the very “power” which Christ promised should come down, and which on coming down makes one man to chase a thousand, two to put ten thousand to flight, makes the church in a word victorious and irresistible at every point and place, while to the eyes of the world it looks “Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.”
Lord send down upon us and into us the Uncontainable Blessing.