By Aaron Hills
Conclusion -- Appeal To Christians And Churches, To Ministers And To Theological Professors
If this book has proved anything, it has shown conclusively that sanctification and holiness are possible to any child of God; that this blessing is not for the few, but for all; that it comes to the soul through the "baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire"; that the blessing is not reached by the growth process, but is received instantaneously, as at Pentecost, "by faith," though the soul may grow gradually into the conditions of receiving the blessing; that the blessing, if retained by faith as it is received, is followed by great growth in grace, and peace, and assurance, and rest, and joy, and courage, and power, and an unwonted passion for souls. All these things have been established beyond a reasonable question of doubt, if a fair, logical, natural interpretation of a hundred proof texts can prove anything, and establish any truth of God's Word. But not only so we have quoted abundantly from God's "Living Epistles," the heart experience of his saints, as they have struggled and groaned in the bondage of the flesh, and in the toils of the carnal mind, until they have fled for refuge to a sanctifying Saviour, who, in the baptism with the Holy Spirit, has suddenly come with instantaneous deliverance. We have summoned a hundred witnesses who, by all unbroken line of converging testimony of personal experience, have shown that sanctification is instantaneously attainable by faith, through the power of the Holy Ghost, purging and cleansing the heart. We believe the teaching of this book stands on the impregnable foundation of God's Word, and the experience of his saints.
1. What then, Christian reader, will you do about this blessed truth? Will you remain longer in the unsatisfactory carnal state, without the joy of true sonship, without the glad shout of conscious victory, without the hope, and the rest and "the peace that passes understanding"? Have you not felt that there was a glorious maturity of Christian experience depicted in the Bible to which you were an utter stranger, and that your Christian life was a protracted infancy, because of the disease of the carnal mind, which checked your growth (I. Cor. iii. 1-3)? Are you not constantly grieving over the sins and failures; no victory over sin? Do you not constantly feel that the "old man" of "sin that dwells in you," has not yet been crucified, and is constantly manifesting himself by ill-temper and pride and self conceit, and the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life? Can you not say from your own sad heart-experience that these words of Andrew Murray are true? "Throughout the Church of Christ there is a universal complaint of the feebleness of the Christian life, and there are tens of thousands of souls longing to know how to lead a better life. They find in God's Word promises of perfect peace, of a faith that overcomes the world, of a joy that is unspeakable, of a life of ever-abiding communion with Christ, hidden in the hollow of God's hand, and in the secret of his pavilion. But alas, thousands say they know not how to obtain it." We have shown you in these pages the way to obtain it pointed out by God himself -- the way the saints have trod -- the way to victory and peace and joy and power. It is the way of faith in a sanctifying Saviour, and the receiving of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, instantaneously given to him who will hunger for it, ask for it, consecrate and believe. Will you walk in this divine way and have this blessing now? "We who believe do enter into rest." Will you believe and cross the Jordan and enter your Canaan of "Holiness and Power" right now? Or will you turn back into the sad wilderness of your own worthless works, doings, and strivings, and resolutions, and covenants, and vows, and repentings, and confessions, and tears in endless repetition? That wilderness has been trodden by your weary feet too long already -- has been wet by your tears a thousand times, and is sown thick with the graves of your dead hopes and broken resolutions and dishonoured vows. Will you wear out your life in that wilderness and die there when a Canaan of rest invites you, and the Holy Spirit, like another Joshua, is waiting to lead you in?
Remember, O believer, you are a member of the Christian Church -- a part of the body of Christ. Make the most of yourselves for the Church's sake, and for the sake of your blessed Lord. Whatever your denominational affiliation may be, let these words from the Bishops' address of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1896 move your hearts as a ringing call from God to "Holiness and Power": "It can not be too deeply impressed upon our minds that in all ages the Church has fallen short of the divine ideal, both in purity and power. God's thoughts and plans for his Church are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth. His Scriptures are full of promises. His skies are full of Pentecosts. Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you,' is the limitless divine promise. Heaven and earth are put in pledge for fulfilment. Both shall pass away sooner than one jot or tittle of his word can fail. When we look at his ideal, promise, provision, and power, at the humiliation and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, at the unwordable groanings of the Holy Spirit, it seems as if provision and performance were scarcely at all related. God's ideal for his Church is that both as individuals and as a whole it be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, a pure bride fit for the Spotless Lamb, and therefore strong enough to cope with any evil.
"As a church we have taught from the beginning that believers have power to become the sons of God, be made partakers of the divine nature. We have insisted on the glorious privilege and duty of all men becoming saints, of immediately being made perfect in love, and of gradually ripening into Christian maturity in all faculties. This doctrine was never more definitely stated, clearly perceived, nor consistently lived by greater numbers than now. But how lamentably the church falls short of the divine possibility. God is always able to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think. The reason of our impotence is not in God but in ourselves. God teaches us that we should present our souls and bodies a live sacrifice, every faculty, power and possession devoted to his service. . . . How few consecrate all of their all! God waits through centuries to show what he can do with perfectly and completely consecrated men. And the whole creation also waits for the apocalypse of a full grown son of God." O readers, let us be wholly consecrated and believe and be like Barnabas, "full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." Then shall we "arise and shine, our light having come and the glory of the Lord having risen upon us;" for our "God shall be our light" and joy and strength and song, "and the days of our mourning shall be ended."
2. I would speak a closing word to my brothers in the sacred ministry. Eighteen years in the pastorate and four years in revival work have brought me in touch with you. I know by experience your difficulties, your trials, your weaknesses and temptations, your victories and joys and sorrows and longings. I know it is no child's play, no light task, to be a worthy and efficient ambassador of Jesus Christ in a modern pulpit. The trend of the hour, in this money-making age, is toward worldliness, and luxurious self-indulgence, and lax morality and unspirituality. As a brother minister said to me the other day "It is getting so that people see no harm in anything, and we are obliged to create a Christian conscience." I know about the incessant demands, the plans that miscarry, the captious criticism of "unreasonable men," the needless oppositions of those who ought to be helpers, the encroachments upon precious time, the burning of midnight oil, the unrequited love bestowed upon the unloving, the labours bestowed upon the thankless, the efforts and prayers to reach hearts that are not converted -- I hear all, I have felt all. I have seen a beloved ministerial brother, with an admiring congregation at his feet, with a salary of five thousand dollars a year, and many generous gifts from loving friends besides, and with an influence and position that most men might covet, come home from a Sabbath day of preaching and cover his face with his hands, and mourn over the apparent fruitlessness of his work, and declare that he had missed his calling. I looked at the despondent brother with all the pity of a sympathetic heart. I did not then know what was the trouble with that gifted man who had a place and an opportunity that an angel might have coveted. I know now. A baptism with the Holy Spirit would have increased his usefulness four-fold, and made his tasks a perpetual joy, and filled his heart with a gladness like that of heaven. He had the culture, the talent, the wit, the genius everything but the anointing of the Holy Ghost, without which he was poor and weak indeed.
So it is, dear brothers, and will be, and must be, with us all. While we trust to scholarship and culture and oratory and genius, valuable and desirable as they are, we shall miss the secret of success, and fail to accomplish more than a fraction of what God called us in the ministry to do. "It is not by [human] might nor by power [of oratory], but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It is the Spirit of God alone that imparts power to the Word preached, without which all the truths of the Bible will be no more than "thunder to the deaf or lightning to the blind." "A seal requires weight, a hand upon it in order to impression. The soul of the sinner is the wax; gospel truth is the seal; but without the Almighty Hand of the Holy Ghost that seal is powerless." In Apostolic times preaching was mighty because they "preached the gospel by the Holy Ghost sent forth from heaven" (I. Pet. i. 12). I write to the fourteen hundred Congregational ministers, and still greater number of Presbyterian preachers, w ho came to the end of last year with sad hearts because each had preached a year without a convert. I write to the three thousand who will have an equally dismal failure in this year of grace, 1896. I do not impugn your piety. I cast no reflections upon your earnestness or your love and loyalty to truth. But a doctor that lost every case for a year would soon be without patients. A lawyer that lost every case in court for a year would soon be without clients. So a minister that can preach one hundred times in a year and not make one successful plea for his Master -- not win one soul to leave the world and come over to the side of Jesus, is making an awful mistake somewhere. I believe it is just here -- he is preaching without the Spirit power upon him. Such a result would not be possible if he were "filled with the Spirit." A humble, obscure Irish preacher, James Caughey, mentioned in the last chapter, wrote in his diary: "No man has ever been signally successful in winning souls to Christ without the help of the Spirit. With it the humblest talent may astonish earth and hell by gathering thousands for the skies, while without it the most splendid talents are comparatively useless." With this conviction he sought the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and then saw in six years over twenty thousand souls accepting Christ at the altar. Dear brethren, a barren ministry is a needless thing. Seek this great blessing as the one thing absolutely essential to your work.
"A good while before I came away from South Africa," says Andrew Murray, "I read a sentence that impressed me deeply, and I wrote it down in one of my note books. It was this, -- 'The first duty of every clergyman is to beg of God, very humbly, that all that he wants to be done in his hearers may first be fully and truly done in himself.' I can not say what power there appears to be in this sentence. Brother minister and brother worker, the first duty of one who works for Christ, and speaks for Him, is to humbly come to God, and ask that everything he wants done in his hearers may first be thoroughly and fully done in himself. That brings us to the root of all true work. When I speak about the love of God, of the power of redemption, of the salvation from sin, or the filling of the Holy Spirit, or the love of God shed abroad in the heart of the Holy Ghost, you and I need to have God do the thing in ourselves, and the more earnestly we seek that, the more there will be a hidden power of the Holy Spirit to pass through from us, in whom God has done what he sends us to preach. God shines into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and by the Holy Spirit he reveals the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. I pray you, O workers, get the light of the glory of God into your souls, and you will go forth with new confidence and power" (Spiritual Life, pp. 159-162).
Dear brothers, did it never occur to you that even the holy Jesus was not prepared to preach until he was baptised with the Spirit? He began his first sermon by saying: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach the gospel." Alas, that so many of us, with amazing presumption, have ventured to enter the ministry and preach so many times without this divine anointing! A quarter of a century ago a sermon was preached before the Boston University School of Theology, on "The Qualities of a Successful Ministry," in which is found the following: "We must accept the historical fact of Jesus' baptism by the Holy Ghost as a preparation for his ministry, and that not till then do evangelists speak of him as 'full of the Holy Ghost,' 'led by the Spirit,' and 'in the power of the Spirit.' He left us an example that we should walk in his steps in everything not peculiar to his person and mission. The blessing of the Spirit is not peculiar to Christ, for it is promised to all who fully believe. Hence, it is instantaneous, as it was with Jesus at the Jordan, notwithstanding a previous uniform growth in favour with God. ... This gift of the divine fullness must be instantaneous, because it is conditioned on a definite act of faith. If a soul, with all its progress, never reaches a time when it distinctly apprehends, by a definite act of faith, 'the exceeding greatness of Christ's power to usward who believe,' it will never obtain this heavenly baptism. In all ages of the Church the experience of the holiest men and women attests this doctrine of the fullness of the Holy Ghost as a work distinct from regeneration. Let the fullness of the Holy Spirit be the experience of the preacher, and he will no longer feebly enunciate gospel truth, he will no longer hesitate to proclaim a living Jesus. Our pulpits will no longer be afflicted with impotency, but be girded with strength."
Get this Holy Spirit blessing, dear brethren in the ministry, and you will have such an inner light and intuitive conviction of the truths of the gospel that you will not be troubled by every new fad of semi-infidelity hatched up by speculating and unspiritual minds. Says Dr. Steele: "The fullness of the Holy Ghost is the sunrise of spiritual illumination and the source of absolute assurance, and this blessing is attainable by all." Again he says: "There is just as wide a scope for selfish ambition in the pulpit as in politics. If worldliness dominates the church and controls the pulpit, the temptation will increase to neglect the doctrine of sin and repentance, regeneration and retribution, and above all, the necessity of self-crucifixion and entire sanctification, in order to the attainment of the most vigorous spiritual life and the highest efficiency of service. Filled with the Spirit," you will lose that selfish ambition; you will preach the whole gospel in its spirituality and purity and power. Your churches will catch your spirit, and they too will be lifted to a new plane of Christian living, and you will find yourselves the spiritual leaders of spiritual congregations, whose hearts are set on walking with God. What a relief it will be to be no longer the salaried lecturer of a lecture association! or the head manager of an ecclesiastical euchre club! or the business director of a parish dancing association! or the grand toast-master of a roystering oyster-eating society! or -- but I forbear. Every thoughtful and spiritually inclined minister has reflected with humiliation upon these degradations of the church and the ministry. He has, in his better moments, longed to be a worthy representative of his Master, leading a company of consecrated sons and daughters of God, all devoted, heart and soul, to the work of building up the Redeemer's kingdom by saving men. The "baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire," upon the minister and his people can alone achieve such a happy and desirable result.
While writing the above lines my son drops upon my page "The Twentieth Century's Call to Christendom," and "Responses," by eminent divines. My eye glancing over the pages catches the following sentences: "The organizations and machinery necessary for the immediate and world-wide forward movement to victory and conquest of this world for Christ are all ready and in working order, and need simply to be directed under the quickening breath of the Spirit of God. . . . All these organizations will inevitably deteriorate into mere machines, and become hindrances rather than helps, curses rather than blessings, unless they speedily become Spirit-filled and consecrated. Are you ready to consecrate yourself to and enter upon the work now? Are you ready to cry mightily to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit of power for the work now?" George Frederick Wright, D. D., LL. D., responds: "I know of no means to make the gospel more powerful except its fervent preaching, accompanied by the gifts of the Holy Spirit given in answer to prayer. I confidently expect that the continued failure of political and sociological efforts will give such renewed emphasis to the spiritual needs of man and the gospel provision that we shall witness the Pentecostal seasons so much needed and so abundantly promised in the Bible. May God speed the day."
Yes, brethren of the ministry. We said in the first chapter, and we repeat now in the last, our only way out of the evils that afflict society and the Church of Christ is a journey back to Pentecost. We may try socialism, and all other isms, sociology and all other ologies, and every scheme hatched up by the brain of man; but we shall find, sooner or later, for God will drive us to the conclusion that the baptism with the Spirit clothing the ministry and the churches with "Holiness and Power" is the hope of the world. This alone can give the gospel of Christ its full redemptive influence over man.
An evangelist writes: "Was this power a special gift designed (only) for the founding of Christianity? Can God's work now be successfully prosecuted without it? And are we now to depend on human wisdom, human learning, human experience and human energy? Can any influence in this day penetrate the heart, burn its dross, melt its prejudice, consume its sin, refine its character, save the touch of fire that fell on Pentecost? Churches multiply and ministers increase, but the shining face and the burning tongue are far to seek and hard to find. The Church of God needs something; the Church of God must have something more than she has today, with all her prestige and energy. She needs the upper chamber, the tarrying at Jerusalem, the power of the Holy Ghost, a continued Pentecost; and nothing less than this can give her the slightest particle of power."
3. I would speak a word, with all Christian humility and respect, to the honoured and revered theological Professors of the land. August 15, 1896, there was a cartoon in the Ram's Horn, one of the keenest and ablest Christian papers in America, representing "A Class in Theology." A Professor is standing on the Bible open to the words: "I am the Bread of Life;" feeding the class with a huge spoon out of a great bowl of "Dogma," who are standing in a line with mouths open to take their nauseating dose. On the wall back of the class is a "Bill of Fare " -- " Metaphysical Sawdust, Theological Husks, Ecclesiastical Conceits." A student is standing on a chair writing on the wall -- " We are starving. Give us Bread." Can you see what the satirist was driving at? Can you tell how it happens that the leading minister in Boston, and in Philadelphia, and in Chicago of one of our most learned denominations had no seminary training? that the foremost man in the Christian world did not? that the foremost pastor of t he century -- Charles Spurgeon did not, and he thanked God to his dying day that he never went to college? It was not because he deprecated colleges and theological seminaries and learning. It was rather because he feared that had he availed himself of those advantages he might, like so many other ministers, have trusted to his intellectual equipment rather than to the Holy Spirit for his success. Why is it that two ministers have said to me within five weeks -- one of them an honoured author, and both of them graduates of leading universities and equally prominent theological seminaries: "If I were to start in the ministry again, knowing what I now know of the essentials to success, I would rather attend Moody's Institute in Chicago one year, and learn my English Bible and get baptised with the Holy Spirit, than to have my seminary course repeated"? That you have a deserved name and fame in the intellectual world we do not deny. That you have an honest desire to serve the churches and the kingdom of Chris t we can not doubt. But you are certainly making the deplorable mistake of laying stress on things comparatively unimportant, and ignoring the only thing absolutely essential to ministerial success -- the baptism with the Holy Ghost that brings "Holiness and Power." That element of success was never so much as mentioned in the class-room during my three years' course in one of the best institutions in the land.
Last year a minister in Massachusetts told me the following: "In my early ministry I knew an uneducated, rough-speaking, country youth, by the name of Jim_____. He had only ordinary talent. He was converted, and at once got the idea that he was called to preach. I told him I thought he was called to work on a farm. But he went around preaching at schoolhouses and out-of-the-way places, abandoning the work several times in discouragement for the farm or the school, but never acquiring more than a meagre education, not equal to a high school course. He then attended Moody's school in Chicago one year, and received a real baptism with the Spirit. Since then he has utterly eclipsed me in ministerial success." Said I "Write to him and ask him to tell us about his success." He wrote and received a modest and beautiful letter from brother "Jim_____," giving an account of over fifteen hundred conversions. Over four hundred had joined his present church by profession of faith in four years, and a large church edifice had been built to accommodate his great audiences. He humbly attributed all this success to the Holy Spirit power that attended his labours. But while he was having such success as that, the two hundred and eighty-eight Congregational churches in that same State last year had but eight and one-half conversions each; and fifty-six churches had none, and only one in that State, with all its learned ministry, had over one hundred, and that was a church of over two thousand church members. Verily, it takes more than a college and seminary course to make a soul-winning preacher!
Dear Professors, all the Congregational churches in the country had but an average of six and one-half conversions each, and over fourteen hundred had none. Those ministers were your own children, and went to their work with such conceptions of the conditions of success as your influence and instructions gave them. And multitudes of them, after years of experience in the ministry, look back with keen sorrow, not to say disgust, upon the impractical training which they received at your hands, from the evil effects of which many of them never recover. As for myself, I compress all my criticism into this one charge, -- You did not show yourselves to be baptised with the Holy Spirit, and show us how to receive the blessing, and, like the Apostle Paul, with all the power of your beings, urge us to be possessed of it. O that, like Tholuck, the "Spirit of fire" were ever upon you all, and that like him, you led your students to have but one passion, and that a ''passion for Christ, and Christ alone!"
During the last season, ministers flocked into Chicago from many miles around to hear Andrew Murray lecture to the students of Moody's School, on the Holy Spirit power, and later also to hear F. B. Meyer, because they were conscious that they needed to learn something which you had not taught them. If you do not change your methods, you will inflict a barren ministry upon the churches that will be the death of them, or God will be obliged to raise up more schools like Spurgeon's and Moody's, where the Bible is loved and taught, and the baptism with the Holy Spirit is urged upon the students as the indispensable condition of success.
President Asa Mahan, writing about Tholuck's "Baptism With the Holy Spirit and With Fire." said: "Had I the ears of the Professors in our Theological Seminaries, I would say to them, 'What God most desires in you as the immutable condition of the discharge of your high functions as the teachers of God's truth, what is indispensable to the required moral and spiritual culture of your pupils, and what the immortal well-being of the Church and the world imperiously requires of you is the personal reception on your part of this baptism of fire."
Speaking of his own experience in the theological seminary and of such seminaries in general, he writes: "Apprehensions of Christ, as a Saviour from sin, were confined almost exclusively to the sphere of justification. The doctrine of 'sanctification by faith' was not so much as named among us. We heard nothing of it from the pulpit, or in the class-room, or among ourselves. Still less, if possible, did the doctrine of 'the baptism with the Holy Ghost' have any place in the sphere of Christian thought in which we moved. The Pentecost, with all its moral and spiritual enduements of power, belonged to the Apostolic age; to us nought remained but a dreary pilgrimage over that bog, that swamp of legalism described in Rom. vii. 14-25.
"We solved our problems of theology as we had done those of geometry when in college, and with no more seriousness or reverence in the one case than in the other. With the most painful interest the question often came home to my mind, How can individuals reverentially set before the people truths which they have so irreverentially studied in the school of the prophets?" In thus studying God's truth, the pupil not only receives a moral and spiritual paralysis in his inner life, but becomes habituated to cold and unvitalizing apprehensions and presentations of God's eternal verities to the Church and the world. Such facts will sufficiently account for the moral and spiritual atmospheres which too commonly encircle our theological seminaries.
"The student not only finds the atmosphere the opposite of what he anticipated, but finds all his efforts for the higher forms of life fruitless and vain. The result is a reaction, a moral and spiritual repulsion, in which the foundations of his faith seem to be falling away, and he has periods of painful doubt of the real validity of the claims of Christianity itself.
"A theological seminary, surely, should be, and may be, 'holy ground,' 'the house of God' and a 'gate of heaven.' No man, however learned, is at all qualified to teach God's truth in it who is not 'full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.' A teacher of a class of candidates for the ministry, who is not thus filled with the Spirit, and does not so teach that the faith of his pupils shall stand, 'not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God,' is doing more than any other individual can do to send men who are 'not spiritual but carnal' into the sacred office" (Autobiography, Chapter 8.).
In the same strain President Finney wrote: "It is painful to observe the constant tendency to substitute culture for this Holy Spirit 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 baptised with the Holy Ghost. The seminaries of leaning are much in 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. The manifest possession of this enduement of power should be considered an indispensable qualification for a Professor in college or in a theological seminary. A theological Professor who does not believe in this enduement of power and who does not possess it in a manifold degree, can not fail to be a stumbling block to his students. If he does not speak of it as altogether indispensable, and urge it upon them as the most important of all qualifications for the ministry, his teaching and his influence will be vitally defective. This must be true, or this whole question of the enduement of power from on high must be a delusion. It is nothing or it is everything in the sense of being wholly indispensable to success" (Bapt. of Holy Ghost, Eng. Ed., pp. 246, 247).
May the Lord open the eyes of all to see this great truth, till the theological Professors, the students, the ministers, and the laity, shall all seek the baptism with the Holy Spirit for Holiness and Power.