Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Put Yourself Into Christ's Hands

A friend of the writer, travelling abroad, became sick in Paris. He sent for the most eminent physician in the city, who, after a careful diagnosis, informed his patient that he was attacked with a fatal fever then prevailing in the French capital. Said he to him, "You will soon lose your reason, and then sink into a state of insensibility, from which it is not certain that you will rally. But I will do my best to carry you safely through the deadly disease. Make your will, and deposit it with me. Put into my hands your trunk and its key, your watch, your purse, your clothes, your passport, and every thing else which you prize." The sick man was thunderstruck at such demands by an entire stranger, who might administer a dose of poison, and send the patient's body to the potter's field, and appropriate the surrendered treasures to his own use. A moment's reflection taught him that the demand was made out of pure benevolence, and that it was more safe to trust himself and his possessions to the hands of a man of high professional repute than to run the risk of being plundered by the hungry horde of hotel servants. He surrendered all his goods and himself into the charge of the physician. He sat by his bedside, saw his prophecy fulfilled, reason go out in delirium, and intelligence sink into stupor. He watched the ebbing tide of life with all the solicitude of a brother. At length he saw the tide turn, and detected the first faint refluent wave which was to bring the sick man back to the shores of life. He recovered, and found his purse and all his treasures restored to him.

Thus must you do if you would avail yourself of the skill of the all-healing Physician, Jesus Christ. Make your will, and give it to him. Commit your purse to his keeping. A consecrated pocket-book always attends a sanctified heart. Without this attendant, the heart-work is not real and genuine. Put yourself, your possessions, your reputation, your future, into Christ's hands by an act of consecration, and then BELIEVE that he will do his work without any assistance from you. You cannot improve your own condition. You cannot expel the dire disease of sin from its hold upon your very vitals. Jesus only can free you.

"His precious Blood both wounds and heals,
When faith the balm applies,
My peace restores, my pardon seals,
My nature sanctifies.
His precious Blood the life inspires
Which angels live above,
And fills my infinite desires,
And turns me all to love." 

— from Love Enthroned, Chapter  21.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Conscript Christians

Let me illustrate the difference between law-service and love-service by the conscript and the volunteer soldier.

The impulse which thrusts the former into the field is fear of the law reinforcing his feeble patriotism. When the news comes that his name has been drawn out from the wheel of fortune, and that the strong arm of the law has seized him to push him into the front of the battle, his cheeks turn pale and his heart sinks within him. Nevertheless, he puts on the military uniform, and shoulders his knapsack, though it seems to weigh a ton. Reluctantly he leaves the old homestead, and wearily journeys to the conscript camp, strongly tempted to slip away from the officer and escape from the country; but the fear of the law, and his weak love for his native land, overcome this temptation. He murmurs at the hardness of his rations, discomforts of the camp, the severity of the discipline. Yet he bravely does his duty. The law, like a bayonet behind him, drives him into the battle, where he fights like a hero. Yet he does not enjoy the privations and perils of the service. He cannot overcome its irksomeness. Every hour he wishes that he could avoid the disagreeable duties of a soldier's life.

He sees the volunteer enduring the weary marches with patriot songs, and with cheerful smiles rushing into battle as to a banquet. He sees him brought back mortally wounded, borne on a stretcher, blessing the old flag of his regiment as it fades away from his glassy eye, thanking God for a country worth bleeding and dying for. The conscript notes with shame the contrast between the spirit of this volunteer and his own cold, apathetic, reluctant service, and hides his blushing face from his comrades with the earnest, unspoken prayer for the inspiration of nobler feelings toward his country.

Let us suppose that the prayer of the conscript is heard, and that a baptism of patriotism descends upon his soul. Now his country stands before him as the chief among ten thousand nations, and altogether lovely. He gladly grasps his rifle and runs with eager delight to the thickest of the fight to drive back the rebels who are trampling beneath their feet the glorious old flag, the emblem of the object dearest to his heart, and for the honor of which he would gladly pour out his heart's blood. He has passed through a crisis in his military life. A new motive power has taken up its abode behind his will — love instead of fear — and it throws a halo about the hardest tasks, changes suffering into enjoyment, and transfigures death itself into an envied martyrdom. He is a new man. The temptation to desert, which once cost him a struggle to resist, never troubles him now. His rations are wondrously palatable, and his knapsack is a softer bolster for his head as he sweetly slumbers between the cornhills, than the downy pillow awaiting his return in his distant home.

He has found out the secret that love knows no burdens, feels no hardships, in the service of its object. If the term for which he is drafted should expire today, instead of throwing up his cap for joy he would find a recruiting officer and re-enlist for the whole war, bounty or no bounty, for he means to fight till the last rebel lays down his arms, and the land of his fathers is redeemed.

Now, my young friend, do you see the point of this illustration? There are multitudes of conscript Christians pressed into Christ's army by the constraint of the law. They render acceptable service, and will be rewarded for their fidelity, as the grateful country gives pensions alike to the drafted and volunteer soldier, and indiscriminately decorates their graves. But the volunteer enjoyed his service, finding the battle-field a delight because it afforded him an opportunity to suffer for his loved country, while the conscript, just as faithful in the outward act of obedience, never tasted joy in his irksome toils and sacrifices. Which kind of a Christian do you choose to be? You may serve all your life under the constraint of law, or you may serve with gladness in the way of God's commandments under the mighty impulse of love, perfect love, which casteth out all servile, tormenting fear.

— edited from Love Enthroned, Chapter 20.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wrestling Jacob

Having chosen the higher path, do not be discouraged by the obstacles in the way of your entering and walking therein. You are not to remove them by your own strength. You have an almighty and complete Saviour, "able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by him." With a submissive will and believing soul, "pray that you may know the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe." Pray, and faint not. Take into your closet Charles Wesley's great dramatic lyric of a struggling and victorious soul, "Wrestling Jacob," and pray its words till the intensity of the expressions kindle your soul with earnestness and unconquerable persistence.


        COME, O Thou Traveller unknown,
        Whom still I hold, but cannot see,
        My company before is gone,
        And I am left alone with Thee.
        With Thee all night I mean to stay,
        And wrestle till the break of day.
        
        I need not tell Thee who I am,
        My misery, or sin declare,
        Thyself hast call'd me by my name,
        Look on thy hands, and read it there,
        But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
        Tell me thy name, and tell me now.
        
        In vain Thou strugglest to get free,
        I never will unloose my hold:
        Art Thou the Man that died for me?
        The secret of thy love unfold;
        Wrestling I will not let Thee go,
        Till I thy name, thy nature know.
        
        'Tis all in vain to hold thy tongue,
        Or touch the hollow of my thigh:
        Though every sinew be unstrung,
        Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly;
        Wrestling I will not let Thee go,
        Till I thy name, thy nature know.
        
        My strength is gone, my nature dies,
        I sink beneath thy weighty hand,
        Faint to revive, and fall to rise;
        I fall, and yet by faith I stand,
        I stand, and will not let Thee go,
        Till I thy name, thy nature know.
        
        Yield to me now--for I am weak;
        But confident in self-despair:
        Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
        Be conquer'd by my instant prayer,
        Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move,
        And tell me, if thy name is LOVE.
        
        'Tis Love, 'tis Love! Thou diedst for me,
        I hear thy whisper in my heart.
        The morning breaks, the shadows flee:
        Pure UNIVERSAL LOVE Thou art,
        To me, to all, thy bowels move,
        Thy nature, and thy name is LOVE.
        
        Contented now upon my thigh
        I halt, till life's short journey end;
        All helplessness, all weakness I,
        On Thee alone for strength depend,
        Nor have I power, from Thee, to move;
        Thy nature, and thy name is LOVE.
        
        Lame as I am, I take the prey,
        Hell, earth, and sin with ease o'ercome;
        I leap for joy, pursue my way,
        And as a bounding hart fly home,
        Thro' all eternity to prove
        Thy nature, and thy name is LOVE.

        — Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Let your faith grasp some one of Christ's many precious promises, and use it as a key. Then will the iron gate across the king's highway swing back upon its hinges, and the path never trod by the lion's whelps shall lie before you. 

— edited from Love Enthroned, Chapter 20.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Theme That Satan Hates

Satan, who seeks to plunder the Gospel of that element which gives it the highest efficiency in its warfare with his kingdom, blinds the eyes of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shine unto them.

He succeeds so well with unbelievers that he applies the same method to believers, blinding their eyes to their highest Gospel privilege, the fullness of the Spirit, lest the light of this blessing should gladden their eyes, strengthen their hearts, and intensify their zeal against his kingdom. Says John Wesley, in a letter to a Christian woman respecting her preacher, in 1771:

I hope he is not ashamed to preach full salvation, receivable now by faith. This is the word which God will always bless, and which the devil peculiarly hates; therefore he is constantly stirring up both his own children and the weak children of God against it. 

Hence the difficulty which the great Head of the Church has in keeping this doctrine in the pulpit. It dropped out of the English pulpit, and Methodism was raised up to bring it back. Wesley, true to the great light, "the grand depositum intrusted to the Methodists," found his preachers inclined to abandon this precious theme. Even now, after the inquiry on this subject among the laity has become so general, the majority of preachers pass over the subject like a slurred note in music, as if it was a demi-semi-quaver in the jubilant song of our Christianity, and not its very key-note.

—edited from Love Enthroned, Chapter 19.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Washed, Sanctified, Justified

QUESTION: Explain 1 Cor. 6:11: "But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."

ANSWER: The only difficulty is in putting washing and sanctification before justification. This inversion of the order of clauses, called Chiasmus, from the letter χ, was by the Greeks considered a rhetorical elegance. An English writer would have said justified in the name of Jesus Christ and washed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

— from Steele's Answers, pp. 68, 69.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hireling ministry

QUESTION: What do you understand by a hireling ministry?

ANSWER: Those who are in the ministry "for the money there is in it." The Quakers used to call those who had a fixed salary hirelings. I think they are more charitable in these days.

— from Steele's Answers, p. 68.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is a Distinct Call Necessary?

QUESTION: Is it necessary for one longing to enter the foreign field to have a distinct call from God to that field?

ANSWER: A desire to enter a particular field and a fitness for the climate and the work required are God's sufficient call.

— from Steele's Answers p. 68.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No One Is Above Criticism

The Holy Spirit, [even] in his most intense illumination, does not insure infallible moral judgments.

John Newton, while master of a slave-ship, blinded by the darkness of his times, said that while enjoying intimate communion with God, "he never had the least scruple as to the lawfulness of the slave-trade;" and the seraphic piety of George Whitefield did not deter him from pleading before the trustees of Georgia for the introduction of slaves, on the ground of "the advantage of the Africans." Hence a man whose heart is full of love, and whose intellect is darkened by ignorance, may appear unconscientious to one favored with high moral culture.

You should constantly bear in mind this fact, that a man can never appear above the criticism of his fellow-men. Did Christ, the absolutely sinless man, escape hostile criticism? Was he not called a winebibber, a Sabbath-breaker, a Beelzebub, and a subverter of the law? The difficulty was not in Jesus, but in his green-eyed critics.

You may be stumbling over the glaring imperfections of some who profess to be walking in this higher path of Christian life. Perhaps this is the solution of your perplexity about the imperfect exemplifications of the love "that passeth knowledge."

God once said to Abraham, "Walk before me and be thou perfect." He did not command him to be perfect in the estimation of fallible men. Suppose that Abraham had interpreted the command to include men as well as the heart-searching Jehovah? He is commanded to go to Mount Moriah, and to offer Isaac in sacrifice. He goes and exhibits to God a heart perfectly obedient, as proved by the severest test. God is satisfied. But suppose that some of Abraham's jealous neighbors wonder what the mysterious three days' journey means, and that they follow on the patriarch's track afar, and, at last, they see him actually seize his son and cruelly bind him hand and foot; and then, O horrible! he draws out from his belt a great sheath knife and raises it on high and attempts to plunge it into the throbbing heart of innocence. But something seemed to prevent the wicked purpose — the spies are too far away to see what it was but they saw enough of Abraham's harsh conduct in his family to satisfy them that his profession to be an especial "friend of God" is a stupendous piece of hypocrisy. "Perfection on earth," say they, "is all a myth; we have proved it." Yet, while this damaging misconstruction of Abraham's conduct is whispered from one to another of the neighboring Canaanites, the patriarch is in the enjoyment of the inward testimony that his ways please Jehovah; he walks before him and is perfect.

It may be thus with many a living friend of God, maligned of men, while approved of Heaven.

— Edited from Love Enthroned, Chapter 19.