Not To Our Feelings
Many people are consecrated to their feelings and emotions more than to God. They have come to estimate their religious state by the amount of “good feelings” they have. When they feel bad, they think they have no religion; when they feel well they suppose it is an indication of the possession of very much grace. Some of these people think very little about their conduct and character but very much of their feelings. Whether they live right or not does not concern them very much, but they are very much disturbed if they do not “feel good.” This is one of the weaknesses of modern religion. People are seeking frames and feelings more than God. Such religion is mere sentiment, and so far has it gone that the majority of seekers at the altars of religion, whether it be for pardon or heart-purity, are seeking more an emotional experience than a radical change of character. They want to feel good more than they want to be good. They object to radical treatment that destroys sin, because it requires too much self -abasement and crucifixion. A little boy of our acquaintance a few years ago fell out of a hammock and broke his arm. When the physician came to set the bones, the little fellow appealed to his mother saying, “Don’t let him do it, mamma. Give me medicine; give me medicine.” There are many in the church who had rather have soothing medicine than to have their bones set and made right. About all some preachers dare to deal out is soothing syrup. Many want to feel nice whether they are right or not. The result is a large class of religious weaklings. They seek the loaves and fishes of religion instead of righteousness. Feeling is not religion, but it is the result of true religion. Many want the results who do not desire the cause — salvation. Here is the great vantage ground of Satan. He harasses many good people right at this point and gets the advantage over them and destroys their souls. Perhaps there is no more common form of Satanic attack than right here. It is not too much to say that every Christian ha s had more or less trouble right at this point. The will is the only possession that man can call his own. God can touch and modify and destroy everything else. Property, friends, health, life are at his disposal, but our will is at our own disposal. He will never violate the freedom of our will. He will not break our will. We are our own governors when it comes to the freedom of the will. We can exercise the power of choice but we cannot control our feelings and emotions. He alone can do that. He can touch and thrill them as a musician controls the strings of his instrument. Hence the control of the will belongs to us. The state of our emotions and feelings belongs to him. It is our business to be firm in our determination to be entirely his and he will give us joy and peace or allow “heaviness through manifold temptations,” to suit himself.
This is the last thing that many people give up who are trying to consecrate themselves to God. It is a common experience to hear people say, “I am all the Lord’s but I do not feel any different.” This very expression goes to prove that they are not wholly given up to God. If they were wholly given to him, they would be given up in the matter of their emotions, frames and feelings. When wholly given up to God, we shall be content to feel as he wishes. The desire for some remarkable manifestation in our experience comes from a willfulness, whereby we desire our own way instead of God’s way. Many people linger about our altars seeking justification or entire sanctification who never obtain either because they want God to come to their terms and save them in their way and not in his way. And such people, although they may think they have consecrated a great many things to the Lord, are leagues distant from entire consecration because they have not given their feelings to him. Reader, if you have been seeking in vain “the fulness of the blessing” stop and ask yourself if the cause of your failure is not because you have expected God to save you in your own way instead of allowing him to save you in his way.
Taking this view of consecration we shall have great vantage ground to withstand the attacks of Satan. When he tells us that we do not feel as we should, we can reply, “I belong wholly to the Lord.” When he asserts that we do not feel like other people, we can maintain that we “belong to the Lord wholly,” and that we accept none of his suggestions and believe none of his suggestions and believe none of his insinuations: that he must bring forth facts or we will not believe him. Keep declaring and maintaining, “I belong to God,” no matter what may be your feelings or fancies. Go by your facts. You have made a covenant with God and have taken nothing back and are keeping your part of the contract the best you know. Act just as people do in the business world. They do not successfully do business on their feelings, but on their facts. A man who has sufficient money in the bank but stops his business because he feels poor is a fool. And are people much better who have truly given all to God and then allow the devil to persuade them to cast away their confidence because they do not feel after a certain way or manner! It is time people were taught to estimate the degree of their religion, not by their feelings, but by the spirit in which they endure the trials of life. We have dwelt at length on this point because here is the turning point in the spiritual experience of thousands. No man ever becomes a perfect Christian until he has learned the happy method of maintaining his contract in spite of his feelings. The way to become established is to let this become a habit.
Let no one suppose that we discount or disapprove of a religion of the emotions. We believe in and enjoy such a religious experience, but we enjoy it, not because we seek to be happy, but because we have the salvation from which flows the joy of the Holy Ghost.