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ACTS 19:2 “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” Ephesians 1:13: “In whom [Christ] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 5:18: “Be filled with the Spirit.”
These words were all spoken to the same body of Christians, and plainly teach the order of soul development. We learn in Acts that the Ephesians believed and became disciples. “Ye trusted in Christ after ye heard the word of truth,” says Paul. Then the dear apostle taught those disciples about the Holy Ghost. Like many another church, they had not “so much as heard” of Him as a Divine, sanctifying power. But Paul taught them, and they received the Holy Ghost and were sanctified. “After that ye believed” in Christ, he afterward wrote, “ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” The seal of the Spirit is holiness or sanctification ( 2 Timothy 2:19-21). Now, in behalf of these sealed, sanctified Christians, Paul offers that wonderful prayer in the third chapter of Ephesians: “That ye … may be able … to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God”; and in the fifth chapter he commands them to “be filled with the Spirit.”
The Bible commentator, Godbey, says: “In his fervency he [Paul] runs into the wildest hyperbole, leaping on infinitely beyond sanctification. The popular idea that sanctification is the highest state of grace is very erroneous. It is the normal New Testament experience, but comparatively not a very high state. ‘To be filled with all the fullness of God’ indicates a state of grace infinitely beyond entire sanctification.” John Fletcher said: “It is a small matter for me to be emptied of all sin (i. e., sanctified wholly), but a great thing for me to be filled with all the fullness of God.”
This brings our theme fairly before us, and I observe, — 1 . There is a blessing after conversion which all need. Precious as regeneration is — worth more than all the world — no Christian ought to be satisfied with it. There is something beyond that is higher and better. The disciples were Christians. Jesus commissioned them to preach and to cast out devils, a work that God never would have committed to wicked men, the children of the devil. He said to them: “Ye have followed me in the regeneration.” “Your names are written in heaven.” He said of them: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” “They have kept thy word,” “and they have believed that thou didst send me.” That these disciples were converted is indisputable.
But it is equally certain that these regenerated men were not wholly pleasing to God, nor all that God wanted them to be. They were imperfect in faith, cowardly, selfish, jealous, ambitious and vindictive. Jesus prayed that they might be sanctified and “be perfect”; and before He ascended He charged them to tarry in Jerusalem till they were baptized with the Spirit. They did so, and from the hour that the Spirit came they were transformed into new men. The fire of the Holy Spirit burned the unbelief and the cowardice and jealousy and selfishness and sin all out of them. “They swept out from Jerusalem like cyclones of fire, penetrating the time-honored empires of Satan till they sealed their faith with their blood.”
Philip, the evangelist, went down to Samaria and preached Christ, and gathered a large company of believers, “and they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” But there was another blessing which they greatly needed and God wanted them to have. And Peter and John hurried over from Jerusalem to help them to receive the sanctifying, power-enduing Holy Ghost. It was so with, Cornelius, the “devout,” God-fearing Roman, “who prayed to God alway,” and his household. They worked righteousness, and were accepted of God ( Acts 10:35). But they needed such instruction as would lead them to the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and God sent Peter to give it to them. As they were listening to the truth, the Holy Ghost came, and their hearts were purified ( Acts 15:9). Moody calls Acts “the Gospel of the Holy Ghost.” It is full of this “second blessing” doctrine from beginning to end. Dear reader, if you have been born again, I congratulate you. But if that is the sum of your religious experience, then God is teaching you, by these lines, that you greatly need what the disciples and Cornelius and the converts of Samaria and Ephesus needed — the sanctifying baptism with the Holy Ghost. Seek it with all your heart. 2 . Notice how to seek it, how to obtain this blessing of the Spirit baptism.
In my book on “Holiness and Power for the Church and the Ministry” I devote five chapters to this important subject, and there give more ample and explicit instruction on how to obtain the blessing than is given in any of the fifty books I have read on this theme. I put my whole heart into it, because I had learned by a score of years’ experience as pastor and evangelist, that multitudes are hungering for a higher Christian experience, i. e., sanctification, and knows not how to obtain it. Teachers have not been plain enough in pointing out the way. I should have entered into Canaan twenty-five years before I did, and been spared a quarter of a century of floundering about in the wilderness, if President Mahan’s “Baptism with the Holy Ghost” had given me clear and ample instruction. It is a blessed book; but it is vague and general where it ought to have been definite, and as plain as a sign-board, pointing to the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” even that inbred sin-depravity which is the torment of Christian hearts. I can only give brief directions here. And if any reader wishes more complete instruction, I commend him to the larger work. The real conditions of receiving this unspeakable blessing, briefly stated, are these: 1 . What dear Amanda Smith calls “A conviction of want.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Blessed are the Christians who learn that conversion is not enough, who are not spiritually satisfied, and do not think that “they are rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing.” When you begin to know and feel that you are “miserable and poor,” while at the same time you are sure that you are a child of God, the Spirit is calling you for the blessing. 2 . Repentance that you have been so tardy to reach out for the sanctifying Holy Spirit. “Blessed are they that mourn” — the Christians who mourn not over the loss of health or friends or money, as some suppose, but who mourn that they have kept the sanctifying Savior from the throne of their hearts so long, and have been so slow to become the temple of the Holy Ghost. God help you, dear reader, to take your place among the mourners. 3 . A firm belief that this blessing is for you. You can not successfully seek a blessing that you do not believe it is possible for you to receive.
Faith would be paralyzed. But God says: “The promise [of the Holy Spirit] is unto you … and to all” ( Acts 2:39). “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3). “For God called us … in sanctification” ( 1 Thessalonians 4:7. R. V.). Believe it; write your own name, as Dr. Steele did, into the calls and promises, and believe that you are the one that God has invited to receive this blessing. 4 . Hunger and thirst for it. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” In my larger book I tell of the hunger of heart felt by Chapman and Moody, and Torrey, and Phoebe Palmer, and Hannah Whitehall Smith, and Dr. J. O. Peck, and other people whom the Baptism with the Spirit made to become kings and queens in the kingdom of God. A lazy desire will never secure this heavenly gift. The saintly Mother Booth said: “No one will ever have this pearl of great price until they are willing to sell all they have to get it.” Brother Torrey says: “No one will ever obtain it while he thinks he can get along without it.” It is the sharp soul-hunger that nothing but the Spirit can appease that drives to importuning prayer for this blessing, and brings it down from God. 5 . Obedience. A renewed and far more intelligent submission of the will to God than you made at conversion. “The Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” ( Acts 5:32). Absolute surrender of our will to know no other than the sweet will of God! All the bad habits and questionable and doubtful indulgences to be given up! Our wills to be used only in deciding that God’s will shall be done! “Take Thine own way with me, dear Lord, Thou canst not otherwise than bless; I launch me forth upon a sea Of boundless love and tenderness. “I could not choose a larger bliss Than to be wholly Thine; and mine A will whose highest joy is this, To ceaselessly unclasp in Thine “O! it is life indeed to live Within this kingdom strangely sweet, And yet we fear to enter in, And linger with unwilling feet. “We fear this wondrous rule of Thine, Because we have not reached Thy heart; Not venturing our all on Thee, We may not know how good Thou art.” 6 . Consecration. Paul, writing to Christians, said: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” ( Romans 12:1). The spiritually-minded Bishop Simpson said that the “body” being, for the present, the home of the soul, meant in this verse “the whole being” — all there is of man. In other words, we are to give everything to God — all we have and are — our selves, our time, talents, possessions and influence to be His forever. “Holy, acceptable unto God,” i. e., He will accept the gift, and He, the altar, will sanctify it and make it holy.
The sinner can make no living sacrifice, for he is “dead in trespasses and sins.” When he offers himself to God he offers only the wreck and ruin of sin. Like the ancient Israelite, he is flying from the avenger of blood, goaded on by the fear of the consequences of sin and endless damnation.
He falls at Jesus’ feet, and pleads to be saved.
But the Christian, already saved, made alive in Christ Jesus, and a citizen of God’s kingdom, no longer flies from the avenger of blood, but is actuated by gratitude and regard for the glory of God. He can bring a living sacrifice, bringing himself that he may spend and be spent for the glory of God, in a way which the sinner, convicted and seeking pardon, can not do.
But why, you may ask, must a Christian, seeking the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power, thus launch forth on a boundless sea of God’s sweet will, and lay his all forever on the altar in consecration? It is that self and selfishness may be emptied out of the heart. Dr. Carradine says, somewhere: “I used to think the disciples spent ten days in the Jerusalem chamber getting filled; but I now believe they were there ten days getting\parEMPTIED.” Moody writes: “Let us ask God to forgive our sins and anoint us with power from on high. But remember, He is not going to give this power to an impatient man; He is not going to give it to a selfish man; He will never give it to an ambitious man, whose aim is selfish, till first\parEMPTIED OF SELF —EMPTIED of pride and of all worldly thoughts. Let it be God’s glory and not our own that we seek, and when we get to that point, how speedily the Lord will bless us for good.” In another passage this same blessed man of God says: “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are\parEMPTIED of pride and selfishness and ambition and self-seeking and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Ghost will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasure and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God; and I believe many a man is praying to God to fill him when he is full already with something else. Before we pray that God will fill us, I believe we ought to pray Him toEMPTY US” (“Secret Power,” pp. 31 and 43). In the same vein B. Fay Mills once said: “The great condition of power is to be emptied of self and to be filled with God; to renounce self and appropriate God; to be dead unto self but to be alive unto God by the power of the Holy Ghost” (“Power from on High,” p. 25). This, dear reader, is why, if you wish the Holy Spirit to come with power, your will must crown Jesus Lord of all, and your all must be laid upon His altar. 7 . But after you have done all I have suggested, you may still miss the blessing unless you take one more step. Five times the holy Word tells us that we receive the sanctifying blessing byFAITH. “That we might receive the promise of the Spirit throughFAITH” ( Galatians 3:14).
Just as once, when a sinner, you apprehended your atoning Savior by faith for pardon, so now receive the Holy Spirit by faith as your Sanctifier for sanctification. By simple faith “reckon yourself dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God,” and God will make the reckoning good ( Romans 6:11) You could not believe until you had taken the first six steps I have described. But if you have really taken them, they have brought you to believing ground. It is now possible for you to believe the Word of the holy God that, as you do your part, God does His part. Believe, then, with all your heart, and according to your faith it shall be done unto you. “Reckon” by faith “that you are dead indeed unto sin”; God will slay the “old man” within you, and make you “dead unto sin.” Believe that you are now and henceforth “alive to holiness and God,” and He will make you so. The very simplicity of it stumbles and staggers people who are seeking the blessing. It is as it was in conversion. Once it was difficult for you to realize that upon the conditions of repentance and faith Christ would come and save your soul. Now you empty out of your heart everything for which you are directly responsible, and make an assignment of your heart to Jesus, begging Him to come in and take absolute and eternal possession, and believe for it. Stand right there at the door of the emptied heart, and look up with the expectant look of faith for your descending Lord. Just as surely as Jesus came to believers in days of old, “giving them the Holy Ghost, purifying their hearts by faith,” so He will cleanse yours. You will find that the Spirit coming in will do the last bit of cleansing that you could never do. “We cleanse the life and He cleanses the soul.” He will put out the “old man” carnality, that “root of bitterness” that is ever springing up to trouble you; that secret source of all backsliding; that “law in your members” forever warring against your redeemed soul.
Then you will be a sanctified temple of the Holy Ghost. Having done all else, simplyBELIEVE, and there rest in calm assurance that the work is done. God may be pleased to have you wait a little for the witness of the Spirit. But believe, and wait and expect. If occasion offers, dare to confess to God and angels and men and devils that you have taken Jesus as an “uttermost” Savior, and that you are “cleansed by the blood.” Jesus will not disappoint you. He will send the Spirit. The Spirit will come. Your purified heart will find it all blessedly, gloriously true. 3 . This blessing may be increased beyond the degree of sanctification by repeated pourings out of the Holy Ghost, until the soul is filled and overwhelmed with the blessing. In John 20:22 we read that after Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to His disciples and breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Beyond doubt they received a touch of the blessing then. But for some reason the full blessing could not be given until Jesus had ascended to the Father. In Acts 2:4 we read that at Pentecost “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” In Acts 4:31 we read that when these same disciples had prayed, “the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Thus within the space of a few months at the most they received the Holy Spirit three times.
It would seem as if they had either lost part of the blessed fullness, or else their capacity for blessing had increased, and God had filled them again.
God does not, apparently, deal in the same way with all souls. But the blessed truth seems to be manifested that “God giveth not the Spirit by measure” unto those who open their whole beings to receive and use all He gives them.
It is a very great thing to be converted and regenerated, and become “a new man in Christ Jesus.” It is a very much greater blessing to receive the Holy Spirit in sanctifying power. But it is a much greater blessing still to receive the “fullness of the blessing,” to “be filled with the Spirit,” to “be filled with all the fullness of God.” To quote Godbey again: “This indicates a state of grace infinitely beyond entire sanctification.” Or John Fletcher again: “It is a small matter for me to be emptied of all sin (i. e., sanctified wholly), but a great thing for me to be filled with all the fullness of God.” Do not accept for a moment the popular heresy that sanctification is the ultimatum of all progress or Christian attainment. That is what John Wesley meant when he said the experience of entire sanctification may consist with very little spiritual power. Godbey adds: “Hence you need not be discouraged as to your sanctification because of this deficiency, but seek it from the Lord as a subsequent gift” (“Spiritual Gifts,” p. 36). But, oh, when one isFILLED, FLOODED with the Holy Spirit, till, as Moody did, one must exclaim, “Lord, stay Thy hand; I can endure no more and live,” then the heart is equipped for service. It is endued with “power from on high,” and God is wonderfully glorified in the life. I am persuaded that many sanctified Christians who are sweet and beautiful and pure in heart need to seek the added and repeated fillings with the Holy Ghost, till God shall make them wondrously useful. For, 4 . This mighty filling of the Spirit is given to equip us for mighty service.
As Arthur has said, in his “Tongue of Fire”: “It was a new religion, and a poverty-stricken one, which the little band of disciples had to propagate. It was without a history, without a priesthood, without a college and without a patron. It had no presses, it had no literature, it had none of our modern means of influencing masses of men. It was cast solely on the one instrument of the tongue, and in that respect it was destitute of the wisdom of the Greek and of the skill of the scribe. It was destitute of prestige; it was contemptible in numbers; it was rustic in manners and thwarted by circumstances. With only its two sacraments and its tongue of fire, on it went, and on, overturning its enemies and advancing the name of the Lord.” Says Dr. Godbey: “On the day of Pentecost all the disciples received double tongues of fire: one to preach hell-fire to convict the wicked, and the other to preach heavenly-fire to sanctify the righteous. Hence the gospel preacher has but two subjects, i. e., hell for the wicked and holiness for the Christian, and is bound to have a tongue of fire to preach either of these gospels. The baptism with the Holy Ghost splits the tongue, and sets both prongs of it on fire. Therefore our Savior made sanctification the basis of the gospel ministry, and interdicted His apostles the privilege of going forth under the commission until they had received a fiery baptism. He knew they never could preach this wonderful double salvation till they received double tongues of fire.”
Christian workers and Christian churches need power — spiritualPOWER; and allPOWER belongs to God. “It is only as we have power from on high that we have power at all.” “The gospel … is the power [dunamis] of God” ( Romans 1:16). “Ye shall receivePOWER [dunamin] when the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” From this old Greek word for power we have derived our modern word “dynamite,” the name of the awful newly-invented explosive, whose mighty force nothing can resist. This is what the worldly, weak and languishing church of today needs a fresh endowment of heavenly power, spiritualDYNAMITE. Says Godbey: “It takes the dynamite of conviction to burst up the strong heart of the sinner. All sin is Satan’s rock. It is so hard that nothing but God’s dynamite can blow it out of the human heart.” When God lavishes this spiritual dynamite upon a man, he is fitted for service, and becomes mighty for God. Jonathan Edwards had it that day that he preached that sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” and sinners were so moved that they cried for mercy, and hung on to their seats to keep from slipping into hell. Calvin Worcester had it. Dr. Bangs writes of him: “Such was the unction of his spirit and the bold, resistless power of his appeals to the wicked, that few of them could stand before him. They would rush out of the house or fall to the floor under his word. It is recorded of this holy man that when so far reduced as not to be able to speak above a whisper, his whispered utterances conveyed by another to the assembly would thrill them like a trumpet, and fall with such power on the hearers that stout-hearted men were smitten down to the floor; and his very aspect is said to have so shone in the divine glory that it struck conviction to the hearts of many who beheld him. At one time, when he was preaching, a man in the front gallery commenced swearing profanely to disturb the meeting. The preacher paid no attention till in the midst of the sermon, when, feeling strong in faith, he suddenly stopped, fixed his piercing eyes on the profane man, then stamping his foot and pointing his finger at him, cried out, with great energy, My God, smite him!’ He instantly fell, as if shot through the heart with a bullet. At this such a divine afflatus came upon the congregation that sinners were crying to God for mercy in every direction, while saints burst forth in praises to His name.”
Dr. Akers received this spiritual dynamite. “Immediately,” says he, “as I believed for it, I was filled with such a sense of Christ’s fullness and grace as overpowered me, and, unable to speak or stand, I sat down. I felt that the power working in me was able to raise all the dead from Adam to the last man that dies, and said to myself, ‘This is the power of Christ’s resurrection.’ The congregation was affected at the same time in a similar manner. Believers wept and shouted for joy, while the impenitent trembled and fell to the floor, crying for mercy. At last I got to my room and lay down, unable to sit up, overwhelmed with a sense of the infinite grace and glory of God. In some ineffable way there came to me a consciousness of the presence of the triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — a view of the Holy Trinity as related to human redemption and my own need, which filled me with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But mortal man could not long endure such visitations of the living God, and at length I asked Him to stay His hand, and let me live to declare His glory. Under my first sermon after this forty persons were awakened, and most of them were soon converted; and under almost every sermon I preached for years similar results appeared. Nearly half a century full of changes has passed since then, but the power of that baptism is with me still, and I trust will abide with me for ever” (“Prevailing Prayer,” p. 441). This spiritual dynamite was given to Finney, with oft-repeated bestowals of the gift, until he became a very wonder of God. He tells us that at times, when he was preaching, people fell from their seats as fast as he could have knocked them off with a club. With this power upon him, he enters a cotton mill, his face radiant, no doubt, with celestial fire. Operatives look upon him and begin to tremble, till they can not tie the threads with their fingers. They are confused, then appalled, and sit down and weep. A solemn awe settles upon them, as if the angel of God was summoning them to judgment, so mightily are they convicted of sin by the power of the Holy Ghost. The proprietor of the mill, an ungodly man, does not escape that heavenly influence, and says to the superintendent: “Stop the mill; it is more important that our souls shall be saved than that this factory should run”; and all this time the mighty man of God has not spoken a word. A religious meeting is held right there and then, and hundreds cry for mercy and rush into the kingdom. At another time, when for days Christians were discouraged, and sinners were enraged and stubborn and would not repent, Finney and a Baptist deacon went into a grove together, and spent the whole afternoon in prayer. Just at evening God gave assurance of victory.
Conviction spread over the congregation. Many could not hold up their heads. When the service closed one was lying speechless on the floor”; and that night he was sent for from many quarters to visit people in awful distress of mind, and great numbers were saved.
It was this heavenly dynamite that took possession of a dull student in Andover sixty years ago. He was so dull that he could not take the studies in eight years that his schoolmates took in four years. “Yet,” said one of them, who afterwards became a college president, “that dull student was used to do more for God than all the theological students, and all the professors, and all the ministers, and all the church people in all the town of Andover, Mass.” With a six-months’ license, he went to preach in a township where there was but one Christian, and in six months he died; but before his death he saw “every man, woman and child in the township but one converted.”
It was this divine might that enabled the black Negro, Samuel Morris, to lead seventeen men to Christ the first day after he landed in New York City from Africa. It was this that enabled Dehlia, a poor fallen woman of New York City, after her conversion and baptism with the Holy Ghost, to lead, in ten months, one hundred and fifty of her fallen companions in sin to Jesus. It was this that enabled a servant girl in Australia to start a revival which brought a similar anointing to a pastor and his church, and led to the conversion of seven hundred souls. It was this that has made dear black Amanda Smith a benediction to two continents, and started Jennie Smith out as a most successful railroad evangelist, and made Annie Fothergill an evangelist in England. It was this that enabled Robinson Watson, a lay evangelist of England, to secure ten thousand trophies of grace in four years, and helped James Caughey to see twenty-one thousand six hundred sinners repenting, and ten thousand Christians at the altar, claiming a sanctifying Savior, in six years. It was this that gave to Phoebe Palmer her twenty-five thousand souls, and to Maggie Van Cott her seventy-five thousand, and to A. B. Earle his one hundred and fifty-seven thousand, and made Andrew Murray, and F. B. Meyer, and Torrey, and Chapman, and Mills, and Moody so wondrously used of God. It is this that has made Smith, and Pickett, and Thompson, and Carradine, and Godbey, and others in the South, such heroes of faith and power, and enabled Bishop Taylor and General Booth and his wife Catherine to belt the world with gospel radiance. It was this that caused Dr. Charles Pitman to be an apostolic camp-meeting preacher, the effect of whose preaching was felt in three worlds. During his travels he stopped at a camp-meeting in an eastern state, and said to the presiding elder in charge: “Brother, I have a message from God to deliver to this people, and I can not get away from it; and if you will let me preach this afternoon, as I must leave tomorrow, I will deliver it in the name of God.” As the service began fierce lightnings flashed across the sky and the loud thunders rolled up into mid-heaven. Dr. Pitman knelt before the God of the universe with whom he was acquainted, and in whom he believed, and prayed with holy boldness: “O Lord God Almighty, Thou who hast sent me to preach to this people, hold back these threatening clouds for one hour, while we go on with this service in Thy name, and let us not be disturbed by the impending storm, but let Thy presence descend upon both preacher and people, and let great good be accomplished this day in the salvation of souls.” His auditors were amazed, and held their watches while he preached just an hour with heavenly pathos and Holy Ghost anointing. “Now,” said he, “go to your tents, and fall before God.” Again the pent-up lightnings flashed and the thunders roared; the rain descended almost in a deluge. The people stood aghast and trembled. Sinners fell to the earth under the power of the convicting Spirit, and “over five hundred souls were converted.” Glory to God! He has a heavenly dynamite to put into the life and face and words of any one who is willing to surrender, and die to self, that he may be used of God. 5 . It is the imperative duty of the church to pray for it. Wigel well says: “All should tarry for this Holy Spirit power. I have no doubt that it would be infinitely better for the world if professors would suspend all their efforts in every other direction till, with strong crying and tears, they shall have waited on the Lord and received this unction. How few stalwart souls there are in the church — moral giants, who can put their arms under a whole community and lift it Godward! The land might be full of these giants. How the hearts broke and the stubborn wills surrendered under the all-powerful testimony of Peter,BACKED BY ACHURCH ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST! The power of Satan over the sinner is alarming. The Holy Spirit alone can break this influence. How easy to lead a sinner to Christ when this power of Satan is smitten! ‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.’ If we would do more pleading with God we would not have to do so much pleading with men. It is not so much great preaching that we need as great praying! It is power, power,POWER from on high, that is the need of the church today.” Yes; the preacher “BACKED BY ACHURCH ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.” I desire to impress this upon every layman who may ever read these lines. It is the devil’s trick to lead the church to throw all responsibility for the possession of this spiritual dynamite and success in spiritual work upon the minister, the membership indulging themselves in worldliness and unspirituality. God can not lavish His best gifts upon such a church. It was Peter and the whole church filled with the Holy Ghost that harvested the three thousand souls, not Peter facing the mob with a breaking heart, while half the church were at a big dance and the other half were attending a progressive euchre party! God pity the forsaken, heart-aching modern preachers!
Dr. Wilbur Chapman once told us that, when he went to Philadelphia to be pastor of Wannamaker’s church, after his first sermon an old man met him in front of the pulpit, and said: “You are pretty young to be pastor of this great church. We have always had older pastors. I am afraid you won’t succeed. But you preach the gospel, and I am going to help you all I can.” “I looked at him,” said Dr. Chapman, “and said to myself, ‘Here is a crank.’” But the old man continued: “I am going to pray for you, that you may have the Holy Spirit power upon you, and two others have covenanted to join with me.” Said the Doctor: “I did not feel so bad when I learned that he was going to pray for me. The three became ten, the ten became twenty, and the twenty became fifty, and the fifty became two hundred, who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. In another room the eighteen elders knelt so close around me to pray for me that I could put out my hands and touch them on all sides. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of the two hundred and eighteen men. It was easy to preach, a very joy. Anybody could preach with such conditions. And what was the result?
We received eleven hundred into our church by conversion in three years, and six hundred of them were men. It was the fruit of the Holy Spirit in answer to the prayers of those men. I do not see how the average pastor, under average circumstances, preaches at all.” O disciples of Christ, remember you have something else to do besides going to church as curious, idle spectators, to be amused and entertained, or even instructed. It is your business to pray mightily that the Holy Ghost will clothe your minister with power, and make his words like dynamite to the flinty hearts of sinners. “If we would obtain this power we must feel deep down in our hearts that nothing can supply its place. Here lies the difficulty of the church in multitudes of instances. She leans upon other things to do the very work which this power was sent into this world to perform. In some cases she will lean upon the minister, his talent, his eloquence, his learning or his influence. When the church has secured the man of her choice, she sits down to rest. She expects he will build her up. What can a minister do unless he has this power to work with him? If he is as eloquent as Gabriel, not a soul will be saved without this power. The church must feel this, and be on her face, and plead with God for the Holy Ghost to work in him and by him. If the church substitutes the preaching and talent of the minister, or leans upon them instead of this power, God will withhold this blessing, and let the church try it. Now, says God, lean upon and glorify the minister if you will, but the people will go to hell, and I will hold you accountable. Should He give this power to such a church, they would give all the glory to the minister. God says: ‘My glory I will not give to another.’ “Again, the church can lean on a series of meetings to save men.
But what can a series of meetings do without this divine power?
You may have them three hundred and sixty-five days in every year, and not a soul be saved, unless those meetings lead you to lean upon and look to this power for the salvation of men. Again, the church may lean upon a splendid edifice, a fine organ, and the best singing, thinking that this will draw the people and save them. But, notwithstanding the churches in our cities have been experimenting in this way for years, the wicked have walked straight by our splendid sanctuaries on the way to hell! It requires the power from heaven to fill our sanctuaries” (“ Power from on High,” American Tract Society).
It was a church leaning hard on God in prayer for a week, and spending nearly two whole nights in prayer, that brought the Holy Spirit power upon their pastor, Livingstone, when he preached the sermon at Shotts that brought five hundred to Jesus. It was a similar praying of a church for Jonathan Edwards for a week that gave him the manifestation of power already referred to on the most memorable Sabbath of his life.
Finney himself says that it was the praying of “Father” Nash and Rev.
Clary and other souls who were walking with God that clothed him with such power from on high that the stoutest sinners were broken down by his presence and his words. The Baptist evangelist, Earle, tells us: “An evangelist had just closed a four-weeks’ meeting, and said, The revival is at an end; we can go no further. I stopped in town to rest a day or two on the way to a meeting, and was asked to preach. The minute I got in I could see that the net was full of fish, but there was not power enough to pull it to shore. And I said: ‘Now, there is that double parlor, and we are going in there to spend the whole of this night in prayer, if Jesus does not answer sooner. You may rely upon it, He will answer when He has got something He can use. One after another we poured out our souls until half-past two in the morning, when Christ seemed to walk in among us, saying: ‘My children, I have got prayer that I can use, and you can put you heads on your pillow and go to sleep.’ I went home and slept soundly. That night God sent conviction like a chain-shot of lightning to the heart of Judge ____. He was a bold sinner — the leaning-post of all the sinners in the town — and he was converted. There was another prominent man in the place, and as soon as he heard the judge was converted, he came and cursed us all, and said: ‘Judge _____ has made a fool of himself.’ I said: ‘Let the man curse; he will pray pretty soon.’ The Spirit took away the leaning-post, and swept like a tornado. In three or four days all the prayers that were in the golden vials were used up. Fifty of us went to the vestry and prayed till past midnight, till Christ came and told us to go to rest. A third night two hundred of us prayed again to fill the golden vials, and the revival swept like a tornado, and one hundred and fifty men — hard, solid men — in that town were converted.”
Moody has lately said this of his work at Cambridge: “I don’t think the preaching had anything to do with it. Mr. Sankey and I had a pressing invitation to go to Cambridge when we were in England ten years ago, and I refused. I thought I had no call to go to universities. But when we were over there again, another call came, signed by a list of names six or eight feet long, and I said, ‘I will go.’ The first Sunday night we were in Cambridge the students tried to break the meeting up. I had preached to all classes of people — to the hoodlums of California — and never had that happen before. It looked very much as if they were going to snatch the whole thing out of our hands. I don’t think there were fifty students out of that roomful that heard the songs of Mr. Sankey, and right on through the whole meeting it was just the same. On Monday night the disturbance was just as bad, or worse. On Tuesday the outlook was darker than ever. But on that day a lady, a bed-ridden saint, who was very much interested in the work, sent around word to a few Christians to get together in a little upper-room, to plead with God for a change in those students. That turned the tide. It wasn’t the preaching. They had heard better sermons from the best preachers of the Church of England. It was those Christians, in that upper-room, praying to God, that made the difference. And how they did pray! It seemed as if their prayers burst into heaven, and I said ‘The victory is ours.’ That night I preached. I don’t think I had much power. When I asked, ‘If any man in this audience wants to become a Christian, will you go into the inquiry-room?’ — they had their gowns on; of course, they were known — I did not know there would be a man. But there was a hush over that audience, and fifty-two men sprang to their feet and went up into that gallery, and we had all the inquirers we could attend to. About one o’clock in the morning — I was getting pretty tired — a man came to me, saying: ‘I wish you would come and talk to this m an.’ They were on their faces, crying to God for mercy. God had not only broken their wills, but their hearts were broken. It wasn’t the preaching; it was pretty weak that night. I talked to the man, and the tears were running down his cheeks. But he found Christ that night. Some one said to me: ‘Do you know who that was? That was the senior wrangler in Cambridge — the first in scholarship among three thousand students.’ There he was on his knees, and the power of God came in answer to prayer. The next Sunday night there were two or three hundred inquirers — men of broken hearts, crying out for God. It isn’t preaching we want; it is prayer. I would rather be able to pray like Daniel than to preach like Gabriel. “We don’t want any more preachers in this country; — we have enough. What we want is toPRAY. Let us open up communication with heaven, and the blessing will come down.”
When will the great body of believers learn this all-important lesson: to clothe their ministers with Spirit power — God’s dynamite — by their prayers? Moody, in the face of that great body of cultured, jeering rebels against God, was no more than a chip on a turbulent torrent until the bed-ridden saint and her friends in the upper chamber prayed down the heavenly power that broke their wicked hearts.
The only road to victory for the barren churches and ministers lies through the Pentecostal chamber. Even Finney, a man of rare intellectual gifts, though not college bred, and possessing transcendent gifts of oratory, and beyond compare the mightiest man I ever saw stand before an audience to preach, wrote: “NO HUMAN ELOQUENCE CAN EVER CONVERT ASOUL! Unless the Spirit of God sets home and makes the truth of God effectual, all human eloquence and learning will be in vain. And it is a fact worthy of all attention and consideration, that with very little culture this enduement of power will make a Christian wise and efficient in bringing souls to Christ.
It is very humiliating to human learning and pride, and always has been; nevertheless, it has been Christ’s method from the first to ‘choose the weak things of this world to confound the wise.’ This power is not a thing which people can gradually grow into by forming habits of persuasion and conversation. It is a gift — an anointing instantaneously received, and that may be enlarged or diminished as the possessor of it uses it more or less faithfully. Where this power exists, the more learning and eloquence the better. But it is painful to observe the constant tendency to substitute culture for this power, or human learning and eloquence in place of this divine enduement. I fear this tendency is increasing in the church. The churches are calling for men of great learning and eloquence instead of men who are deeply baptized with the Holy Ghost. The seminaries of learning are much at fault in this thing. They do not lay half stress enough upon the possession of this enduement as an essential qualification for usefulness in the world.” And so the seminaries of learning and the churches themselves are unwittingly conniving at their own shame, and bringing up a barren ministry to increase the desolations of Zion. O teachers of ministers! O people of God! lay stress upon the Divine anointing. Pray for it for yourselves. Above all, bring down the cloven tongues, the heavenly fire, the spiritual dynamite upon the ministry, or they will not be able to break the hard hearts of sinners, and they will go to hell, and you, in large measure, will be held accountable for it. 6 . When we get the blessing of the Holy Spirit for sanctification and service, we must take care that we do not lose it. The blessed, sensitive Heavenly One can be carelessly grieved and driven from our hearts. There are men who have this Holy Spirit power upon them till they shine like the stars of heaven. Then they fall like Lucifer. God, make them a warning to us. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 1 . We must beCLEAN VESSELS, ever depending on Jesus for the perpetual cleansing of the blood. God can get along without gold vessels or silver vessels. He can use very common earthen vessels; but they must be clean. He gives the Holy Spirit “to them that obey him.” If we tolerate carelessness about God’s law, and get lax in conscience and once disobey, the Spirit is gone. “Christians, walk carefully,” as those utterly dedicated to God and set apart for holy uses. 2 . Keep close to Jesus as possible. Peter fell because “he followed afar off.” Moody says: “God always chooses the vessel that is close at hand.” I have seen a minister that was a very giant in physical proportions. He gloried in his learning. He boasted of having three tons of books. Yet, they told me that, with a whole church to help him, he had not had a conversion for nearly two years. At the same time a Salvation Army lassie, three squares away, in a rickety old building, was preaching the gospel, and having conversions. She was living near enough to God to be used. 3 . If God is pleased to make us unusually useful, we must keep humble. Moody says: “We will have to keep down in the dust. God won’t use a man that is conceited. The moment we lift our head, and think we are something, He lays us aside.” God help us to keep low in the dust at Jesus’ feet, and for whatever we are or do, give Him all the glory.
The whole Christian world has just been startled by the spiritual downfall of one who has been a very prince in Israel. It is almost needless to say the writer refers to B. Fay Mills. When he was an obscure minister, God’s Spirit came upon him, and gave him the power of a Samson to slay the Philistines of sin. Whether it was the money that poured in upon him, or the unbounded popularity that turned his head and caused him to lose his humility, we know not. But certain it is that, spiritually, he is a fallen man.
Somehow, somewhere he has lost connection with the blessed Holy Spirit, and all that made him the man of power and fame is gone. It is absolutely certain, for his own words prove it. No man speaks lightly of truth and of a Divine Savior, as he is doing, who is at the same time filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus; B. Fay Mills is degrading Him. B.
They can faintly glimmer with an ethical culture derived from the abandoned faith of their fathers and from the purer religious faith around them; but that they should be radiant with spiritual power, while discrowning Jesus and grieving the Holy Spirit, is flatly impossible and unthinkable. When such a man as Mills has been comes to find himself in sweet harmony and fellowship with such thinkers, one can only say: “How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed!”
Then he thought himself privileged to be permitted to preach a divinely-inspired gospel of salvation, through faith in a Divine Savior, from present sin and from wrath to come. Now he tells us: “I would not dogmatize, either in affirmation or denial, concerning the Scriptures, the supernatural character and work of Jesus, or the mysteries of the world to come.” Then he esteemed himself “an ambassador of Christ,” pleading with sinful men “to be reconciled to God.” Now he says: “We have outgrown the idea of man as once holy and now demoralized, and of the special revelation and peculiar devices of God to reconcile Himself to His own handiwork and His creation to Himself.” Once he held up a Divine, atoning Savior as the only hope of fallen man; now he says: “I would emphasize the essential divinity of man”, “but I would not dogmatize concerning what may be called the unique divinity or deity or pre-existence of Jesus.” “I would not emphasize the necessity of a belief in the deity of Christ.” Once he said: “The great condition of power is to be emptied of self and to be filled with God; to be dead unto self but to be alive unto God by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Now, when asked before a ministers’ meeting about the secret of his success as an evangelist, he replies: “So far as the truths have been presented, I think it is due to three things — to their simplicity, to their gentleness, and to the fact that I always put the snapper in the right place.” The Holy Spirit power was not mentioned. It was simplicity, gentleness and Mills’ skill in adjusting aWHIP-SNAPPER PERORATION! O Christ, have mercy on a man so insulting to his God, and so fallen! May we all take warning.