Secret actions! What a field to explore! A world by itself, hidden away from the eyes of man, but not hidden from God. The wise man in Proverbs has written, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” How little or how seldom does the average person stop to ponder over those words, or that passage which reads, “For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all things.”
Friends, those words mean exactly what they say, “He seeth all things — every secret act — and they are all in the book of actions that will be opened at the Judgment Day, and every man will be judged according to the things found in the books. Paul wrote that we must ALL appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body, whether good or bad. My God, help men and women to see and understand! No wonder that old warrior cried out, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Would to God that we might be able to persuade every person who may sit under our ministry to turn from sin and seek for that “great salvation” that saves from all sin.
If that, and that alone, was not the one all-absorbing object or effort of his life, this preacher would never face another congregation, never preach another sermon, and these lines would never have been written. There are so many whose opportunities in early life were so much greater than his, whose preparation was so much more thorough, who are so much better qualified in so many, many ways; but because of the fact that he has found this great salvation himself, and “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come,” and with a sense of the condition of his fellowman and. a realization of the teaching of the Scriptures of what man must face at the bar of God, he can do no less than, with voice and pen, do his utmost to warn men and beg them to flee from the wrath to come. These efforts, put forth to the best of his ability, may be the butt of ridicule, the subject of jest, and the object of Severe criticism by men, but it is not men, either friend or foe, he seeks to please; but knowing that the Heavenly Father knoweth all things, even the secrets and intentions of the heart, he is doing and, with the assistance of the grace of God, will continue to do, his best to warn and persuade men to be reconciled to God. It is not at the bar of man’s approval we must render up an account, but to the Almighty God whose we are and whom we serve. And He, who sitteth upon the throne, knowing the ordeal that men must meet, is doing His utmost to warn them.
All through the Bible we constantly read, “Be ye holy, for I, the Lord thy God, am holy.” God the Father demands it. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God;” and Paul wrote that “without holiness no man shall see God.” A record of the lives of men is being kept, and at the Judgment Day, toward which all mankind is hastening, the books, wherein is recorded our actions, public, private and secret, will be opened, and then the sinful secrets of men will be laid bare to the gaze of the gathered universe.
Friends, what about your secret actions? Hezekiah besought the Lord to remember how he had walked before Him and what he had done. If. at this hour you lay on your death-bed, do you think you would pray as he did? That boy that stole from his parents; that clerk that stole from his employer; that dishonest man who changed the figures — what will they say when they see themselves in the very act? That man who robbed the bank of the depositors’ money; that husband who was untrue to his wife; that wife who was false to her husband; that young man who sold his manhood for an hour’s pleasure; that girl who trifled with her virtue; that young man who robbed that maiden of her good name; that preacher who sailed under false colors; that husband and wife who deliberately destroyed that which God has ordained to bring forth life; that wife who refused motherhood; from the highest society to the poorest walks of life, from the preacher in the pulpit to those occupying the last seat, with all those of every walk and position in life, from every tribe and nation, together with those who seek the darkness of the night to cover their ungodly deeds — what will they say, what will they do, when their secret actions are laid bare? The Word of God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” and the things that many have done secretly ofttimes come to light in this life. David committed an awful sin secretly and it soon came to light, and while he confessed it and found forgiveness, yet its effects followed him down to his death-bed. Achan did not confess his sin until it was too late, and there are many today who have dark secret sins covered up in their lives which they have not confessed or endeavored to straighten up; yet the avenger is on their. track, and it is only a question of time until the black, hideous thing will be dragged from its hiding place. How much better it would be if such persons would confess and get the thing straightened up and wiped out, than to wait until, like Achan, they confess when it is too late!
We are quite well aware that not everybody either enjoys or is very desirous of looking back over their lives. but look back over them they will, when at the Judgment they stand. We are also aware that there are those who object to the preacher who dares to proclaim that God demands freedom from sin, and in his preaching insists that, in order to get right with God, every man must abandon all wrong doing, and be willing, so far as he is able, to make reparation to those whom he had wronged; and to refuse to do so, God would refuse his pardon and salvation. Those making objections to such preaching. ate themselves guilty and have. things covered up that they don’t want held up before their minds, else there would be no objection from them, and in due time they will get their just dues. The following we clipped from an editorial of a holiness paper:
“A pastor of one of the largest churches in the country has a few experiences that are interestingly suggestive and decidedly alarming. He is and has been a most sane and safe man; never extreme, always careful; an intelligent and very successful man of God. He had been in this strong church for a year and half of another, and had had a most prosperous pastorate during that time, particularly in the conversion of sinners.
His work had been so successful that he had been officially invited by the Board to continue with them. for the full term of five years. This was, of course, not emphasized in his thought, save as an appreciation, since it could hardly stand in point of custom or discipline. It was, however, very properly appreciated by him. Strange to say, when the second year was nearly half through, five men connived to oust him at the end of that year.
This pastor was a holiness preacher, but one of such a delightful spirit and sanity of method that, if any man could be an acceptable holiness man, this excellent brother would seem to have been such an one. To relate the method employed by these men would make interesting reading and reveal an awful villainy. The Quarterly Conference, influenced by these five men, actually called a man by telegram, who accepted the call in this mid-year.
“Sequel: Two of these men afterwards served sentences in State prison; one died in his buggy going home from a house of ill-fame; a fourth died in agony of soul crying for help; and the last — the presiding elder — went to the Pacific Coast for his health and died of a rotten jaw.
“This pastor was a victor in his own soul and is yet afield as a blessed and successful minister. How wicked not only, but positively dangerous even in the life that now is, to resist God and fight God’s people.
“We tremble for men who did this only few months ago. Two men held a very successful revival meeting in a college town and in the church which is the college church. The faculty of this university actually got together to consider how they could defeat the influence of the evangelists and of the pastor of that church and put a stop to that revival.
“They applied to the Chancellor, who is an open holiness fighter, and be said: ‘The situation is deplorable. But it is not best, probably, for you to carry out your plans; but when the meetings are over, in the classrooms and elsewhere, we ca overcome this influence and set these folks right.’
“Have we not a reason for fearing God’s judgments upon these men, if not on this institution itself! We are far from wanting them; but we expect them, and that soon.”
We are also aware that there are preachers who object to that sort of preaching, but we honestly believe that where objections are made to such preaching by a preacher, there is a reason for his so doing. No man who is right with God and who is walking with God is afraid of the truth, and a preacher that objects to a faithful presentation of it, we believe, has something in his own life of which he does not wish to be reminded.
Some years ago there was a certain man who had power with God and with men. He seemed to “walk with God.” The product of his pen, savored with the joy and sweetness which flowed through his heart and life, appears in the majority of the song-books of today. He was associated with good and holy men, officially connected with a state holiness association, and a recognized leader in its camp. There began to be whispered rumors connected with his good name and something of an examination was made, but it all passed by. But this brother, who had been so used of God, drifted from the holiness work, though he continued his ministry. Years went by, and the writer, together with a friend somewhat acquainted with the subject of this incident, was conducting meetings in another state. Among the many who became seekers at the altar was a fine, healthy looking young woman, who sought diligently and very earnestly for several days, with no apparent results. One day at the altar, we said to her, “Sister, is there not something in the way; something that God cannot smile upon; something that is ever before you?”
She dropped her head and wept bitterly. Soon afterward, she called the minister and his wife, whom we were assisting, and poured out her trouble. She had lived in the home of the subject of this incident when but a young girl, ignorant of the ways of men. He had been good and kind to her. One night going home late from a meeting, he took advantage of her ignorance and confidence, and, telling her how much he thought of her, robbed her of all that woman holds dear, though he was a married man with children of his own. He told the girl that he did not expect his wife to live long and as soon as she died he would marry her.
Bitterly she poured out her story, how, time after time he came to her, and she, but a young and inexperienced girl, learned to love him. She left his home and he was changed to another appointment, but the affection for him never died, and remaining unmarried, alone in the world, making her own way, she had carried that affection in her heart, waiting and hoping for a future. In that condition she came into that meeting. She said, “I was so young and did not know, and trusted him so confidingly.” She wept, prayed and agonized, but some way not much relief seemed to come to her. Though that meeting was held in another state, and she had not seen him for a long time, the very day she was at the altar struggling to find God, he was seen in that town in company with another woman not his wife.
Since then several years have passed, and, only a few months ago, she attended another meeting conducted by the writer, and after a bitter struggle the darkness of years broke away and the sunlight, which only the incoming of the Holy Spirit can give, broke over her face and calmly, but with a face radiant with the joy of her newly found peace, she testified that she had gotten rid of that which had troubled her for years, and Jesus had taken its place.
But the person who had caused it all — where is he, and what is he doing? He stands high in the ranks of his denomination. His song is still being sung up and down the land, and many are cheered and blessed by it; but his voice is not heard among the holiness meetings, and at the camp where he once was a prominent figure. He is not known now for the deep spirituality of his messages; his work is not ablaze with salvation. At his watch chain there dangles the emblem of his secret order, and preachers, even of his own denomination, and singing his own song, and preaching what he used to preach, are not wanted by him in his community. He does not know that the writer is in possession of the knowledge of his secret sin, a crime that he has never tried to make right. Who wonders that he does not want holiness preached in his territory? His secret actions, no matter how bad, could have been atoned for and forgiven, but on he swings, with his awful act, as he supposes, still hidden and buried in the past. But steadily and surely the hour is coming when it will be laid bare and, if not here, then at the bar of God where he must receive that which he has done.
We have known so many who, having opposed God’s faithful messengers in their proclaiming His truths, have had their wickedness unearthed, that when we hear of those who do so, or come in contact with them, it is hard for us not to suspect them of having something dark and wicked covered up somewhere in the past, and although they may fuss, fume and fight, the man who walks with God can turn them over to Him, whose “eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” “for His eyes are upon the ways of man and He seeth all things.”
God is not mocked and He seeth the ways of men. What about your secret actions? Come on, and answer the question. Were you on your death-bed, could you pray as Hezekiah prayed: “I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight”?