« PreviousContinue »
READINGS ON HOLINESS,
The War Cry, No. 3:-JAN. 10, 1880.
A HIGHER UP RELIGION.
BY THE GENERAL.
A LADY in one of our large cities, who takes a great interest in the doctrine of holiness, and who had sought me out because she had heard I loved the same blessed truth, gave me a rather curious account of the way in which the Lord had led her into the possession of this pearl of greatest price. She said, “I was a member of a Presbyterian Church, and had been converted for some years, but for a long time had been living in a poor halfhearted condition, my special difficulty being a hot and ready temper. I became convinced, and hardly knew how, that there must be a religious experience far beyond mine, but knew nothing about it. I talked to the Elders of my church, and sought counsel and guidance from my Minister, but they could tell me of nothing better. I prayed and
searched my Bible, but got little forwarder, saving getting more deeply convicted that God had more of power and peace and joy for me than I had ever enjoyed. One day while walking in the city I saw on the other side the way a lady whom I knew by report to be more than ordinarily zealous in religion, and it occurred to me that she might be able to answer the problem that was perplexing and agitating my heart. At once I crossed the street, and, stopping her, said, “Miss can you tell me anything about “a higher up religion?” I knew no manner by which to describe the experience that the Holy Ghost had set me hungering after, and so in the first words that came to my lips, that seemed best to indicate what I wanted, I called it 'a higher up religion.' She smiled, and said she did not exactly know what I meant, but some friend had lent her a book entitled 'Holiness by Faith.' She did not know what it contained, for she had shown it to her Minister, and he had pronounced it a very dangerous book, and charged her not to read a word in it, but to return it at once to the owner. I said, 'holiness,' that is what I want, and I suppose it must be had by faith. So I borrowed the book, read it, received the truth it taught, and more than this, according to its teachings I knelt down and trusted Jesus Christ to save me from my evil heart and from my bad temper, and he saved me there and then, and though many months have passed away He saves me to-day."
Now it seems to me that there are a good many people who have some inkling, some very strong suspicion that there must be a religion higher up than that which they enjoy; that for them there must be some joy and assurance and power in religion that is far above and beyond anything they experience and know. Something nearer in work and victory and glory to the plan and pattern and practice of the Prophets and Apostles and Martyrs; nearer the plan and pattern and practice of Jesus Christ, who is not only our Great Teacher and Redeemer, but our Example—something nearer the all-perfect principles and practice of the Great God Himself.
For my part, I hardly see how the religion of many of the professed followers of Jesus Christ could very well be much lower down, for is it not down, down, until nearly into the world itself, and lost sight of there. It dresses, and dances, and goes to theatres and concerts. It grubs after money, and idolizes, and todies and fawns on rank and position whatever the morals and godlessness of the said rank and station may be.
Low enough. It is consequently all uncertainty and weakness. Sure of nothing. It doubts the forgiveness of sins, doubts inspiration and hell, Calvary and immortality, and angels and devils, and God Himself so far as any active interference with the things of this present every day world is concerned ; in short, all else that it cannot see and hear and in general apprehend and handle with its five bodily senses.
And what follows? Why the religion of to-day, this fashionable religion, even the very choicest of it sins and repents, and then sins again ; the things
that it would do those it does not, and the things that it would not do those it does. And, then to descend to a still lower depth, it argues from the very Scriptures, and proves to its own satisfaction, and the easement of its own benumbed conscience, that this is the very condition of soul that God desires and has planned His people to enjoy.
Yes; there is something higher up than this. But how much higher? In our dissatisfaction with this state of things we must not rebound too far and make the standard of a possible ascent too high. How much higher up? Can a question be more interesting? Can a question be more important than that which asks how much of holiness, and power, and victory, and God, can be possessed down here in this very present world. Oh, what books have been written, what sermons have been preached, what hymns have been sung to describe and make plain to us the possible attainments of the heavenly state. Every hour of every day multitudes are carried away with ecstatic expectation of what they are going to see and hear, and feel, and be, on the other side of Jordan. But are there not wonderful visions, and revelations, and signs, and feelings, and capacities, on this side of Jordan, that are worth inquiring about. In the kingdom of glory, above the stars, no doubt it will be grand beyond conception; but, short of that, down here in this lightly appreciated kingdom of grace there is a great deal that is well worth possessing, a very “kingdom of heaven” that is worth acquiring though it do require some force to take it. You may have to wait a few years before you are summoned to the fourth heaven; meanwhile, perhaps the first, or the second, or the third heaven may have some charms for you. Anyway many of our readers will readily confess that there are conditions, and experiences, and enjoyments, and revelations, and baptisms, far exceeding in height, and length, and depth, and breadth, anything they at present know and feel and possess.
Let us inquire concerning them. Don't be afraid, dear reader, we are not going off into any intricate and puzzling theological disquisition; we simply propose to present a few particulars of this higher up religion, and to point out the shortest and easiest, nay, the only method of getting
up into it.
We will begin with cautions. Perhaps we ought to do, although we are not quite sure about it. We used to think we ought always carefully to guard ourselves from being misunderstood, when we came to talk about how much grace can be had down here, in order to prevent people believing too much and aiming too high. But really when we find almost everybody who talks or writes about gracious gifts, and powers, and privileges, warning everybody else that they are not to expect too much, that God cannot save from this evil or bring them into that good, we are led to doubt whether we ought not to throw caution and prudence overboard, and go in for the thing as God does, for there. is very little caution and prudence (so called) in God's book and plan. However, we will give a caution or two in the
orthodox manner. AND HERE LET ME SAY THAT THERE IS NO PLACE IN CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE SO HIGH UP AS TO BE