Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. I am slowly blogging through Steele's Answers, posting each Q & A in the order in which they appear (whether I personally agree with the answer or not). But, these posts come from several other sources, as well. I post particularly eloquent passages from Dr. Steele's other writings. Occasionally I post "guest blogs" from other holiness writers.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The New Birth and It's Aftermath

Regeneration, or the New Birth, is a change wrought within the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost, creating within the soul a new spiritual life, a life of loyalty and love.

By nature men are the children of wrath. They are spiritually dead. The faith faculty exists, but is in a paralysis so far as spiritual objects are concerned. The divine life begins with the seed of God implanted in the soul. This is the new principle of love. "For the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost." [Romans 5:5] The phrase "love of God" may signify either God's love to me or my love to God. In this quotation it has the former meaning. The Scriptures teach us that God is love. But this is not enough to give me assurance of his favor so long as I read that he is angry with the wicked every day. Therefore, so long as I have a tormenting sense of guilt, I must be filled with painful forebodings till I have a positive and personal assurance that I am taken out of the class of the condemned, and am reconciled to God, who loves me, even me.

This is the witness of the Spirit.... He is styled the Spirit of Adoption, because as such his chief message is to attest to the believer his pardon and sonship. When this glad evangel resounds within, love to God springs up responsive to his great love to me. This is a new motive power. It reinforces the ethical feeling, the sense of obligation to right action. The bare perception of right, with no strong impulse toward it, while the appetites and passions are drawing in the opposite direction, constitutes the painful warfare between the flesh and the spirit, entailing upon the latter the sense of degrading bondage.

"I see the right, and I approve it too;
I see the wrong, and yet the wrong pursue."

But this new motive makes it easy to obey the law, because we love the Lawgiver. Hence love is the fulfilling of the law; not as a substitute for keeping the precepts and abstaining from the prohibitions of the moral law, but as an inspiration of the very spirit of obedience.

But this new principle is spoken of by St. John as only a seed when first implanted. It implies future germination, growth, and fruitage. It is to spread its branches till it fills the heart, and by absorbing all the fertility of the soil, and by completely overshadowing all other plants, destroys their life. Till this maturity of the seed, the moral condition of the heart will be mixed; good and evil will struggle for the ascendancy. Nevertheless, if faith in Christ — the weapon of victory — continues, the actions will be right, though the result of painful effort to keep the moribund evil within from breaking out into manifestation. For manifestation is the tendency of every principle. After the maturity of love, the Divine seed, all its antagonists will be excluded. Evil will still be presented to the choice, but from no foothold within. Perfect love will cast out, not only fear, but all the hateful progeny of depravity. This is entire sanctification. It began with the seed-grain of holiness sown in regeneration.



— Edited from Love Enthroned Chapter 2.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

How Could Jesus Be Tempted?

QUESTION: Could Jesus be tempted in all points like as we are tempted without a sinful nature?

ANSWER: Exegetes disagree about the limitation of the phrase "without sin." Some say the temptation left Christ without sin; others say it found him without any inclination to sin and left him sinless. They say this phrase "without sin" is an expressed exception to the words "all points." Jesus was tempted, as we are in all points save one, having inherited no evil inclination. Yet his temptation was real because he was human, possessing those susceptibilities, which pure in themselves, may without the resistance of the free will, be incited to sin.  If this is objected to because it implies the possibility that the Son of God might have sinned, we reply that it was certain that he would not sin, just as certain that God will never sin. There is a great difference between certainty and necessity. God is a free agent. He has a conscience which discerns the distinctions between right and wrong, and he invariably cleaves to the right. This brings us to the ground of moral obligation. He who says God does a thing because it is right stands on the foundation of James Arminius. He who says that a thing is right because God does it, that his will is the ground of right, and that he is a law unto himself, and that he can reverse the ten commandments, if he pleases, takes his stand with John Calvin.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 34, 35.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Spirit Can Qualify You to Preach

QUESTION: Being filled with the Spirit and entirely sanctified, though without education, except the ability to read, I feel called to preach. Cannot the Holy Ghost qualify me for this work?

ANSWER: Yes, he can bless your attempts at a thorough mastery of the Word of God and the art of speaking. God sometimes takes "the weak things of the world to confound the mighty," as in the cases of Benjamin Abbott and Bud Robinson, whose experiences you should read. God helps those who help themselves. A knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and a heart experience of  Christ's saving power are two cardinal elements of success. In this age of brain-worship and excessive leaning on education God likes to skip the universities and endow an ungrammatical Moody with the power to reach and save the multitudes. Such an act shows the church that her power lies not in the dead languages but in the living Christ. If the whole world is to be speedily evangelized the whole church must become preachers by precept and example. Our streets are becoming full of people whose only Gospel is the Sunday newspaper. The harvest is truly great and the laborers — wholly consecrated — are few. Hence I feel like encouraging every saved person to consecrate his or her gift of speech to the salvation of all for whom Christ died. Don't wait for a license, but begin now from the tail of a plow or cart and from the side of the washtub or sewing machine. Tell everybody of Christ's great salvation, backing up the message with your own experience. This was the way in which Christianity triumphed over all its persecutors and mounted the throne of the Caesars in 300 years.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 33, 34.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Forbidden to Speak

QUESTION: My pastor has forbidden my speaking in the social meetings. What am I to do?

ANSWER: Perhaps you have unconsciously fallen into a censorious, fault-finding style. This is neither agreeable not edifying. If this is your habit, try to change by striking the key-note of praise and thanksgiving to God in your heart experiences. It is more safe to do this than to exhort.

— From Steele's Answers p. 33.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Confidence in the Preacher?

QUESTION: I have no confidence in the piety of my preacher. What do you advise me to do?

ANSWER: Pray for him. Do not pray at him in public by asking the Lord to convert him. Pray for him in your closet. do not abandon the house of God because the preacher is not as pious as you wish he was. Attentively listen to his sermons and appropriate all the truth he utters. Do not imitate his example if you think his conduct is not right. This is the sum of Christ's advice in Matt. 23:2, 3, "All things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe; but do not after their works; for they say and do not." John Wesley always attended the Church of England and attentively listened to men who excited mobs against him and his people.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 32, 33.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Conditional Immortality in Scripture?

QUESTION: Do these texts prove the doctrine of conditional immortality: (a) I Tim. 6:16, "Who only hath immortality" and (b) I Cor. 15:53-4, "And this mortal shall have put on immortality."

ANSWER:  (a) "God is said alone to have immortality, because he has it not from another's will, as other immortals have, but from his own essence" (Justin Martyr), "underived, independent immortality" (Wesley's note). (b) This is quoted from a chapter in which the future destiny of the righteous only is described. Paul believed in the resurrection of the unjust (Acts 24:15), as did Daniel in 12:2, and as Christ asserted in John 5:29. But Paul had no occasion to discuss the future of the unjust in this passage. Hence this omission does not disprove their endless existence. Study "eternal punishment" in Matt. 25:46 and Rev. 20:10, where two men "shall be tormented day and night forever and ever."

— From Steele's Answers pp. 31, 32.

Friday, December 21, 2012

God Has Begun to Save Everyone

God has begun to save every human soul.

He has already saved the entire race from the extinction threatened in the instantaneous execution of the death penalty upon Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in the moment of their first transgression.

The remedial dispensation began with the promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. The children of the pair banished from Eden, and fallen from their high estate, are born in the likeness of their sinful parents, with tremendous proclivities toward sin in the strength of their passions and the bent of their wills. Yet they come into being under the dispensation of mercy. They have a gracious ability to repent. They are saved from that complete moral inability which paralyses the will of the fallen angels in the direction of obedience to the moral law. This ability to resist the downward tendency of their nature, and to turn from sin, is, through the influences of the Holy Spirit, procured by Jesus Christ for all the race. "He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement."

Through the atonement every soul is in a salvable state. By assenting to the facts and truths of the Gospel, and by relying solely on its Author, every penitent sinner may be saved from the guilt of sin. If any one fails to submit to the Divine plan of salvation, the merciful purpose of God is defeated, and the initial salvation never becomes actual and final. Through an abuse of the godlike attribute of freedom man may withstand all the suasives of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and create for himself a destiny of endless sorrow. The human will is an independent fountain of causation, itself uncaused in all its moral volitions. " Whatever the good man is, he is through God and his own will; the evil man, however, is so only through his own will, for evil is falling away from God."

Hence the following theological axiom of Fletcher: "All damnation flows from man, all salvation flows from God." He saves all that he can without a violation of the sacred prerogative of freedom. "Turn ye, turn ye — why will ye die?"

Thus love is revealed as dominant over this world; not a fondling sentimentalism, but a holy principle, ever acting in accordance with wisdom and justice; saving the penitent, persevering believer, and consuming with flaming fire all who, by incorrigible disobedience, thrust from themselves the cover of the atoning blood.

— From Love Enthroned, Chapter 1.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dr. Steele Discusses His Book "Love Enthroned"


 

This is the second in my ongoing series of necro-interviews with holiness writers of the past. Today our own Dr. Daniel Steele talks with us about his 1875 book Love Enthroned.




Dr. Steele, in the era in which you lived there were many books written about the deeper Christian life (what followers of John Wesley call Entire Sanctification or Christian Perfection). Why did you feel there was a need for another?

For the same reason that I should preach another Gospel sermon.

Why should you read it? For the same reason that you should hear again "the old, old story of Jesus and His love."

Doesn't it still seem strange that so many books on this subject were written in your era?

How strange it is that every one who receives full salvation gets hold of a pen as soon as he can, and blazons it abroad to all the world! It is no more wonderful than the loosened tongue of the young convert. It argues the genuineness of the blessing found.

So, you take this as evidence of the reality of the experience of entire sanctification?

The very fact that persons who hate hobbies become, when thus anointed of the Holy Ghost, men of one idea, and henceforth push this specialty with tongue and pen as if in the grasp of an all-absorbing passion, ought to demonstrate to doubters that there is here a great Gospel truth struggling to reveal itself to the Church.

Do not be afraid of the multiplication of books on advanced Christian experience. The light grain will drift off into the chaff, while the full corn will drop into the bushel and feed the famishing.
 
Do you feel there is real value in having so many people write about this experience of perfect love?

It takes many men to explore a continent, many pens to portray the unsearchable riches of Christ. Believers could have been saved by one gospel — one photograph of the Nazarene. But God chose four evangelists to hold up to the Son of Man their mirrors, in order to reflect his bright Image upon our dark world. Who shall be the limners of his great Successor, the blessed Comforter, but they in whom he abides, with whom he communes, and on whom he has wrought his transfiguration? The work of each of these spiritual artists may fix some wandering eye in a long and earnest gaze till transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit of God.

The venerable Bishop Janes, whose zeal for Christ, and abundant labors, are almost apostolic, in commending to the Christian public a book on this high theme by one associated with him in the episcopal office, used the following eloquent language:
Every man has his circle of influence. Each author on this subject will secure some readers that would not give attention to the writings of others. Here is a power for good that ought not to be lost. Verily, if there is any subject on which we need precept upon precept, and line upon line, the theme of this book is that subject. If there is any religious truth that should be urged upon the disciples of Jesus with the sweetness of his constraining love, and the solemnity of his Divine authority, it is the truth that Christians may and ought to be holy. O that tens of thousands of individuals, filled with its bliss, and inspired by its power, were telling of its charms, and inviting to its pursuit! O that tens of thousands of spiritual limners, the Holy Ghost guiding their pencils, were actively and ceaselessly engaged in portraying the glories of this subject to the vision of the Church until every member of it, ravished by its beauties, and impelled by its attractions, would aspire to its attainment, by faith enter into its enjoyment, and then join in labors to spread it!

Are your purposes in this book academic and theological, or are they more practical?

It is not the purpose of the author to bewilder his readers with pages of speculation, however strong the temptation may be, but to keep as near as possible to the teachings of the Scriptures, to his own experience, and to the testimony of others on whom the Holy Spirit has poured his illumination. It is the design of the writer, in true Pauline style, "To testify unto you the Gospel of the grace of God." He may not often use the pronoun in the first person singular. But he wishes it to be understood that his arguments have been forged on the anvil of his own experience. St. Paul's argumentative epistles are his experience expressed in logical form.

Have you always been an advocate of the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian Perfection, or was there once a time when you opposed it?

It is with much sorrow of heart that the writer confesses one unenviable similarity to the apostle to the Gentiles, in the fact that he now preaches that part of the Gospel which he once destroyed. Before his eyes were anointed he saw not, in the provisions of the atonement, the blessing of the fullness of Christ as a sharply defined transition in Christian experience — an instantaneous work of the Spirit by faith only, as taught by Wesley. Embracing the plausible theory of a gradual unfolding of the spiritual life without any sudden uplift by the power of the Spirit, he criticized, without the charity that is kind, the professors of this grace, magnifying their imperfections, stigmatizing them as fanatics and "pluperfects," and judging them all by an occasional glaring hypocrisy or by the extravagances of some unbalanced mind. Thus he ran into the shallow fallacy of those sinners who feast on the failings of the saints — ex uno disce omnes — who from one learn the character of all.

Is this book a systematic overview of Christian salvation, or are you intending to focus upon particular aspects of Christian experience?

In unfolding his thoughts on this subject, the author has deemed it best to simply sketch the scheme of soteriology, or doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ, and to elaborate only that which relates to the privileges of advanced believers. This will account for the apparent lack of symmetry in the treatment of the whole question of human salvation. Although the author has addressed special classes of his readers in the concluding chapters, he has not restrained himself from occasional exhortation in the process of his argument. Whenever the temperature rose to a white heat, he has thought it wise "to strike while the iron was hot" It may not forestall criticism to confess, in advance, to this violation of the strict rules of logical development.

The purpose of the writer has not been so much to create for himself a high reputation as a dialectician, as to lead willing souls unto "the blessing of the fullness of Christ" by the shortest path. It is our devout prayer that these utterances of a soul filled with "joy unspeakable," and sometimes almost "intolerable," may contribute to the fulfilling of the Pauline petition, "That ye may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Are there particular types of Christians you especially wish to address?

Dr. Payson thus beautifully illustrates the relation of various classes of Christians to Christ. He conceives them as ranged in concentric circles around the radiant form of our Immanuel:
Some value the presence of their Saviour so highly that they cannot bear to be at any remove from him. Even their work they will bring up, and do it in the light of his countenance, and while engaged in it will be seen constantly raising their eyes to him, as if fearful of losing one beam of his light. Others, who, to be sure, would not be content to live out of his presence, are yet less wholly absorbed by it than these, and may be seen a little further off, engaged here and there in their various callings, their eyes generally upon their work, but often looking up to the light which they love. A third class, beyond these, but yet within the life-giving rays, includes a doubtful multitude, many of whom are so much engaged in their worldly schemes that they may be seen standing sidewise to Christ, looking mostly the other way, and only now and then turning their faces toward the light.

To induce those who are in the second and third circles to yield to the drawings of the Son of God, and gladly enter into the inner circle, and ever abide in the joyful presence of the crucified Lamb of God, is the motive of the writer, who, amid his pastoral and pulpit labors, and the more exhausting studies in preparing a commentary on a portion of the Pentateuch, has found refreshment in setting up along the path of his own experience a few guide-boards for the benefit of those who may wish to walk in the same path.

Is there any other special wish you have for your readers?

The writer cannot dismiss his book without invoking upon his readers the Pauline blessing, as translated by Bishop Ellicott, "Abstain from every form of evil. But may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved entire, without blame, in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mary's Davidic Descent

QUESTION: Where in Scripture do we find proof that the mother of Jesus was of the seed of David?

ANSWER: In Luke's genealogy of Mary, the name of Joseph is substituted for hers, because it was not customary to write a woman's name in the list. Read Luke 3:23 thus, "Joseph the son-in-law of Heli."

—From Steele's Answers p. 31.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sin & Law

QUESTION: Harmonize these verses, Rom. 5:13 and 14, "For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed, when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression."

ANSWER: Adam sinned against an express, revealed command. There was no other command like this till the giving of the Decalogue after 2,500 years. But men continued to sin, by transgressing their own inward moral sense. This kind of sinning is not against any revealed command, as Adam's was; and for this reason it was not so severely punished by God, as Paul said to the Athenians, "The times of ignorance God overlooked." (Acts 17:30.)

— From Steele's Answers p. 31.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Standing Miracle of Christianity

Our surprise is ever new when we discover that God so loves our entire race that he gave his well beloved Son to the humiliation of the manger, the mockery of Gabbatha, the agonies of Gethsemane, and the ignominy of Calvary. But this was but the beginning of his beneficence. Since the Son of God has gone up to be glorified and worshipped by all the celestial orders, the loving Father has bestowed an abiding gift, the Holy Spirit, to whisper in the ear of spiritual death the words of life, to pardon penitence, and fully restore the lost image of God. The greatest marvels of the gospel scheme are not in the facts of Christ's earthly life, death, and resurrection, but in the wondrous transformation wrought by the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer who apprehends the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. A less surprise is the fact that the eternal Logos should inseparably unite himself with a spotless human body and soul than that the Holy Spirit, co-equal with the Father and the Son, should first completely cleanse a polluted man, and then change his heart from a "cage of unclean birds" into "a holy temple" and make it the habitation of God. This is a mystery of mysteries with all who have experienced the love of God perfectly shed abroad in their hearts. The age of miracles is not past. Jesus changed unresisting water into wine, but the Holy Ghost transfigures the sinful soul bristling with antagonisms, transforming depravity to purity by the mighty alchemy of love. The power to effect such revolutions in character constitutes the standing miracle of Christianity. "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree" — tenderness instead of cruelty — "instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree" — the gentle graces instead of stinging hatreds — "and it shall be to the Lord for a name," indicating his nature, and "for an everlasting sign, that shall not be cut off." The Holy Ghost, holding up to the gaze of the world specimens of his sanctifying power in the form of purified characters and inspired activities for Christ, is the ceaseless miracle-worker attesting Christian truth in an age of intense materialism, selfishness, and unbelief

— From Love Enthroned, Chapter 1: "Love Revealed."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Is Immortality Conditional?

QUESTION: Is it true that immortality is conditioned on saving faith in Christ?

ANSWER: Some good people have fallen into this error. When they read annihilation into death and understand life to signify existence, or bare being, instead of well-being, they have a host of Scriptural proof-texts. Whereas there is no word in the Bible meaning annihilation. The Greek word  ἀπόλλυμι (apollumi), destroy, has not that meaning. If it has, we must translate Luke 15:24 thus, "He was annihilated and is found." "I am not sent but unto the annihilated sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24). See also Luke 15:4, 6. The destruction of the organism does not destroy the agent for whom it was made. "Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul," etc. The doctrine of annihilation is inseparable from materialism. If the moral Governor of the universe is at last going to rid it of sin by annihilating sinners he would long ago have given assurance of it by annihilating the devil to prevent the spread of this dreadful contagion.

Spirits angelic, satanic and human are indestructible. Hence the infinitude of the divine sacrifice for their redemption.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 30, 31.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Be Fillled with the Holy Spirit

It is sometimes said that Christ's new commandment, "Love one another," is the eleventh commandment. In the same way we have the twelfth in Paul's mandatory precept, "Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. v. 18). There is an error quite widely spread in the Church, that the baptism or fulness of the Spirit is not universally obligatory, but rather that it is an elective experience, a privilege and not an imperative duty.

We note that the passive voice, "be filled," implies that we cannot actively fill ourselves, but that the Spirit is present like the atmosphere and ready instantly to fill every vacuum. It is ours to create a vacuum by an unreserved self-surrender to Christ as both Saviour and Lord. This implies strong faith. In truth, faith is man's only capacity to receive God. He cannot enter us through the senses, for they report only material things; nor can the Spirit enter the soul through the reason, which apprehends only relations, not realities. Therefore faith is the only door by which the Spirit comes into the human spirit. Man, a spirit, is an image of God the Spirit. The creature is made for the occupancy of the Creator, and he finds his highest joy only when as a temple he is "the habitation of God through the Spirit."

--

Turning to our Greek Testament we note that the command "Be filled with the Spirit" is in the present tense, denoting not a mechanical fulness once for all, but a vital fulness, a constant appropriation and a perpetual reception, a ceaseless drinking and a ceaseless thirst. Hence the paradox of Charles Wesley:

"Insatiate to this spring I fly;
I drink, and yet am ever dry."

— From The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 31.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Day of Judgement

QUESTION: Is it Scriptural to teach that at death the righteous are rewarded and the wicked punished?

ANSWER: Rewards and punishments are administered at the day of Judgment. But the natural consequences of righteous or wicked conduct, happiness or misery ensue immediately, the righteous having present joy and glorious anticipations, and the wicked are stung with remorse and are foreboding the punishment which awaits them, like the murderer in jail awaiting his trial and sentence. There is a great difference between the natural consequences of a wicked life and its punishment. No one has yet experienced the punishment due to his sins. Nor has any saint yet experienced the fullness of joy which will follow the "Come ye blessed." The righteous dead are happy. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." They are in the vestibule of heaven awaiting the resurrection when their felicity will be supreme. The wicked dead are miserable (II Pet. 2:9, Jude 6). For the happiness of the righteous after death see Luke 23:42, II Cor. 5:6, Phil. 1:23.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 29, 30.


Monday, December 10, 2012

The Secret of the Success of the Early Methodists

Since Methodism is really no narrow sect, but what Chalmers styled "Christianity in earnest," we shall not be blamed for divulging the open secret of the early success of that spiritual uprising, which has quickened the pulse of our common Christianity throughout the world. Listen, and I will disclose that secret, for we have not taken out a patent right, and do not intend to. The secret of American Methodism is not in its doctrines. Arminius had lived and fought his great battle with Calvinism, and died ninety-four years before Wesley was born. In theology, Wesley simply adhered to the Arminian section of the Church of England. Nor is that secret to be found in the unique ecclesiasticism which this spiritual movement took on. The spirit existed before it embodied itself in a form. What is the essential characteristic of that spirit?

A young man of thirty-three, a presbyter of the Church of England, a fellow of Lincoln College and a Greek lecturer at Oxford, in 1736 went to the colony, of Georgia as a missionary. Stepping on the shore at Savannah, one of the first men he met was the Moravian elder, August Gottlieb Spangenberg. Wesley asked his advice how to act in his new sphere of labor. Spangenberg replied, " My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?" Wesley was surprised at such questions. They were new to him. He was at a loss how to answer. The Moravian continued, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" This was easier, and the Oxford priest replied, "I know he is the Saviour of the world." "True," said Spangenberg, "but do you know he has saved you?" This question is the seed-germ of Methodism. For two years it lay germinating in the heart of Wesley as a mystery. "Do you know that Jesus Christ saves you? " Then in an evening Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, while a person was reading that faith alone justifies, in the preface to Luther's Epistle to the Romans, Wesley experienced an amazing change. "I felt my heart strangely warmed, and an assurance was given me that Christ had taken away my sins, even mine. And I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart."

Here is the secret. An assurance of sins forgiven and an open testimony before all. In other words, it is the rising of the day-star in the heart, and the opening of the mouth in confession. It is the immediate contact of the Holy Spirit with the human soul, affording a certainty beyond a doubt of pardon and adoption into the family of God.

This doctrine, written in all the evangelical creeds of Protestant Christendom, but lying dead and inoperative, or taught as the privilege of a select few, Wesley published to the vicious and neglected masses of colliers, sailors, soldiers, operatives and peasants; flying like the angel of the Apocalypse, over England, Scotland and Ireland, preaching Jesus a living, present and conscious Saviour, in forty-four thousand sermons.

This great privilege of the direct witness of the Spirit I gladly proclaim to you. You may each ever have within your own bosom a satisfactory and joyful assurance that Christ Jesus is your personal, present and perfect Saviour. The path to that blessed experience is not made by proud philosophy, but by humble faith. "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"

— From Jesus Exultant, Chapter 8.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Where Is the Print of the Nails?

Roman Catholic legends often embody some important truth. It is said of St. Martin of Tours that once, while meditating in his cell, there appeared a form radiant with beauty, crowned with a jeweled diadem, with a countenance glorious and persuasive, and a manner so austere that it seemed to require homage and love. This form said, "I am Christ; worship me." After St. Martin had looked long in silence, he gazed upon the hands and said: "Where is the print of the nails?" The vision suddenly vanished, and St. Martin was left alone, assured that he had met the tempter.

Are we Protestants not invited to bow the knee to some Christ of our own imagination, a Christ without the nail-print, whom it is easy to serve because his service does not require self-crucifixion?

Beware, my beloved, of every form of so-called Christianity out of which the element of self-sacrifice has been dropped. For there are false Christs in many beautiful forms in modern times. A perfect orthodoxy may enrobe a phantom Christ. "We may," in the words of John Wesley, "be as orthodox as the devil and as wicked. For the devils believe and tremble and are devils still." Yea, the modern evangelical who rests in a mere intellectual assent to the truth may not even tremble before the object of his faith. Thus he may prove that his piety is inferior to that of the demons themselves.

How many are worshiping the false Christ of splendid ritualism, resting in symbols forgetful of the thing signified, content with water baptism with no aspiration after the baptism of the Spirit. They are satisfied with the wine, the emblem of the blood, without experiencing the joy of the Holy Ghost of which it is also an emblem. They may be advocates of the individual cup with no individual appropriation of the blood of Christ to the soul's spiritual need. The ritualistic Christ may always be known by his uncharitable exclusiveness. He limits His grace to those who have a certain external mark made by tactual succession, a myth of myths which no man on earth can prove to be real, or which would be of no value if it were real. "He is a Jew which is one inwardly." Others again worship an ethical Christ, advancing no farther than the sermon on the mount; they never reach mount Calvary. They are legalists. They insist on a righteousness without the basis of regeneration, a righteousness which is independent of grace and a substitute for the new birth. It is one thing to admire the beauty of Christ's moral character, and quite another to submit to him as Lord by an all-surrendering trust and an intense desire to be conformed to the image of Christ by being crucified with him.

It will be spiritually healthful always to remember that there is no salvation in a fancied Christ. Only the real Christ can save sinners, Jesus more than hints that many people will forget this truth and lose their souls in consequence. Hear him: "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. vii. 21, 22)

— From Jesus Exultant, Chapter 6.


Friday, December 7, 2012

A Special Mission

If I have any special mission in the afternoon of my life between this and sunset, it is to show to the Church the grave perils which will inevitably follow the abandonment of an intense spirituality and the neglect of the doctrinal truths which inspire this vigorous spiritual life. If the warning is heeded, doctrinal defections will he checked, and all our members will have an experimental realization that Jesus is Jehovah. Then will the weak ones become as David, and David as the angel of Jehovah in valor and strength. Then there will be at least one denomination that the devil will not laugh at and the world spit upon. It was Whitefield who wisely said that he "had rather have ten members wholly consecrated to God and filled with the Spirit, than five hundred that the devil laughs at in his sleeve." The world has an instinctive fear of the man who intensely believes the whole Bible from cover to cover, who is dead to the world and alive to God in every fibre and atom of his being, with every capacity filled and every power energized by the Holy Ghost. "Give me a hundred men," says Wesley, "who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world; and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the kingdom of God on earth." He got his hundred men, and he shook the world with an earthquake mightier than can be produced by a million of easy-going nominal Christians afraid of the Holy Ghost and apologizing for their own distinctive doctrines.

I wish I had power to reach every methodist on the round earth. I would say, cease living on the heroism of your fathers, quit glorying in numbers, sacrificing to statistics and burning incense to the general minutes; down upon your knees and seek and find for yourself the secret of the power of the fathers, a clean heart and the endowment of power from on high, then arise and unfurl the banner of salvation free and full and a common-sense theology, the beauty of which, as Joseph Cook says, is "that it can be preached." Then, in double-quick time, charge upon the hosts of sin and conquer the world for Christ. A Brahmin recently said to a Christian, "I have found you out. You are not as good as your book. If you Christians were as good as your book, you would in five years conquer India for Christ." Come, Holy Spirit, and so cleanse and fill us that we may be as good as our book!

— From The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 36.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dogma Divides, Christian Feeling Unites

The language of Christian feeling can never be successfully counterfeited. The language of the dry intellect, the language of the head, may be misunderstood. Hence wherever religion has consisted in theological dogmas alone, fierce strifes have arisen.

But when the gospel has been addressed to men's hearts, and has been received by faith in its transforming power, the weapons of denominational warfare are cast away, and believers vie with one another in magnifying our common Saviour. Such, thank God, are the happy times upon which we have fallen. We live in a day when the Holy Spirit has come down upon the evangelical churches, and we now understand one another, because our hearts speak. In the eras of the warmest theological controversy this heart unison was not noticed amid the din and discord of clashing swords.

Professor Shedd says that:
"Tried by the test of exact dogmatic statement there is a plain difference between the Arminian creed and that of the Calvinist; but tried by the test of practical piety and devout feeling, there is little difference between the character of John Wesley and John Calvin. The practical religious life is much more a product of the Holy Spirit than is the speculative construction of truth."






The advance of spirituality will be the advance of that unity for which Jesus prayed in his wonderful high-priestly prayer in the seventeenth of St. John.

It is said that an Asiatic Christian convert met a converted Feejee on the deck of a ship. Ignorant of each other's native tongue and burning with new-born love to God and man the one exclaimed, "Hallelujah," and the other immediately responded, "Amen." By these words they recognized each other as brethren in Christ Jesus. But what are these but two Hebrew words transferred, not translated, into all our modern tongues, words which once resounded over the hills of old Canaan? They suggest the ease with which believers communicate when they have learned the language of New Canaan.

— From Jesus Exultant, Chapter 3.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Methodism Opposes Pessimism

The intensely evangelistic career of Wesley and his faith in the gospel of Christ as sufficient for the conquest of the whole world in the Pentecostal dispensation have impressed his followers with an optimistic hopefulness. Hence Methodism opposes pessimism.

The present age has witnessed the uprising of a numerous company of prophets of despair. They go about teaching the dismal doctrine that the world is growing worse and worse, that it is like a ship so badly wrecked that there is no hope of saving her under the management of her present captain and crew, and the best thing to be done is to rescue as many passengers as possible before she goes entirely to pieces. This is Mr. Moody's favorite illustration. In fact it is openly declared that the efforts of our Missionary Boards to save the world are a waste of time and treasure which might be spent more profitably in "preaching the gospel to all nations for a witness" and thus hasten the end of this ineffective dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and the inauguration of the personal reign of Christ on David's throne in Jerusalem. Then Jews and Gentiles will be converted in a wholesale way, and the gospel will speedily dominate the whole world. Nearly all modern millenarians are pessimists.

Many millenarians of former times were not of this type, but rather thorough believers in the possibility of the conquest of the world by the church vitalized and energized by the Divine Paraclete. The difference between these two types of religious teachers arises from the fact that the one believes that the kingdom of Christ will begin after he comes, and the other that it will be completed before he comes. The latter will naturally bend all their energies to the glorious work of converting the world, believing that no sinners will be saved after Christ descends on his throne of judgment. Both John Wesley and John Fletcher had sympathy with this view. It presents nothing specially repugnant to Methodism, nothing to discourage, to paralyze and to cut the sinews of effort. It does not dishonor the Holy Spirit and discredit the church, as the other view is constantly doing.

From the very beginning Methodism has magnified the Holy Ghost in his various offices. It is his immediate contact with the soul of the penitent believer which is the distinguishing doctrine of Wesley. It is "the spirit of adoption" crying in the heart, "Abba, Father," which is the key-note of Methodism. Her doctrine of entire sanctification magnifies the Pentecostal dispensation. The universality of the atonement demands the parallel doctrine of the universal effusion of the Spirit in the conviction and conditional regeneration of the world of mankind. Wesley would set no limits to the work of the Spirit. Were he living now his voice would be loud and vehement against the teaching that the mission of the Spirit was not designed to reach and conditionally save all men, but only a very few to constitute Christ's elect bride, and that after the failure of the Spirit to sway the mass of men Christward, he would, himself awe them into submission by the majesty of his visible presence. No true followers of Wesley can have patience with such an utterance as gospel truth.

These are some of our reflections as we read these disheartening words of a celebrated living evangelist, "that one reason for discouragement in missions was that we were sometimes working on the basis of an expectation of converting the world in this dispensation, whereas the true Biblical hope authorized in the Word is only an outgathering from all nations of a people for God. If we expect the conversion of the world under this dispensation we have no authority for it in the Word, and the facts after 1900 years are utterly disappointing, whereas if we accept the other basis it is not only scriptural, but historical, for the facts bear us out, for that is exactly what God is doing." This means that he is not trying to save the whole world at present, but only a few to enjoy his favor as his bride, or to constitute his kingly cabinet, when his visible kingdom shall be established by his coronation at Jerusalem.

If there is no authority in the Word for the conversion of the world now, it is remarkable that scores of missionary societies in Europe and America, after a diligent study of the Bible, should undertake this impossible enterprise on the basis of the command in the great commission, "Go ye and disciple all nations," and the promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," or till I come again at the end of "the age" (R. V., margin)

— From Jesus Exultant Chapter 2.