By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
By E. E. Shelhamer and Others
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
In the preceding pages we have tried to discover why some preachers fail. - One is "lazy," another "worldly," another "envious" and others are "unwise."
But now we come to another class, who are not guilty in any of these respects. They are studious, sound in doctrine, and exemplary in life. Why then are they not a success? Why are they not in great demand? The answer is, Lack of Holy Unction -- lack of power from on High. It seems too bad that so many good men, who are capable of filling important positions, content themselves in preaching to a score or two of people and a lot of empty seats, when they might as well be having a lively interest and bringing many souls to Christ. Oh, brethren, let us not be content to be "circuit riders;" let us not be satisfied to "hold our own," or perhaps go a little further and report a "few accessions." Let us go in for a mighty, divine anointing upon our own hearts, then never rest until we see an outpouring of the Spirit upon our people.
"A young man rises in the pulpit. You see nothing engaging in his person, nothing musical in his voice, nothing winning in his manner. He has no reputation for genius or learning or wisdom; no illustrious ancestry, or secular sources of influence or authority. He speaks; but when you come to analyze his speech, you find neither logical ability nor rhetorical charms in it; indeed, it may be wanting in connection, and void of new thought; yet all listen with eager interest. The guilty is sobered; the worldling feels that he is a fool; the sinner shudders as if brought to the mouth of hell; the saint resolves to live a better life; the minister who has preached for fame, turns pale; and the whole crowd trembles as in the presence of God. What is the cause? We call it Unction. The man has been in his closet, has wrestled with God, and prevailed. lie has received his commission anew, and had a fresh Anointing from the Holy One. He did not tell yon this, but you found it out; you detected the odor of the Divine Ointment, as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed; and therefore his words went forth into your heart with power as the words of God."
The following is a brief account by A. M. Hills of Charles G. Finney's conversion and subsequent baptism with the Holy Ghost:
"A quarter of a mile in the woods he crept into a covert where great trees had fallen across each other, making a closet for him. He had thought that if he could but be alone, he might pray freely and not be overheard! But lo! when he came to try, he was dumb; he had nothing to say to God., He found himself fast verging to despair, and he Cried, "My heart is dead to God, and will not pray!"
"He thought several times he had heard a noise, and he stopped to listen and see if any one was overhearing him. Then and there the senseless, wicked pride of his heart was revealed to him. An overwhelming sense of the wickedness of being ashamed to have a human being see me on my knees before God took powerful possession of me. The sin appeared awful, infinite! 'What!' I said, 'such a degraded sinner as I am, on my knees, confessing my sins to a great and holy God, and ashamed to have any human being, and a sinner like myself, find me on my knees, endeavoring to make my peace with an offended God. It broke me down before the Lord. I cried at the top of my voice that I would not leave that place if all the men on earth and all the devils in hell surrounded me.' Then his heart was melted, and his tongue was loosed, and he could pray.
"The Spirit brought a promise to his mind: 'Then shall ye go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. Then shall ye seek Me and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.' He seized upon the heavenly promise with the grasp of a drowning man, and cried, 'Lord, I take Thee at Thy word!'
"He continued thus to pray and appropriate promises for a long time, until be found himself tripping through the bushes on the way to the road, and saying, 'If ever I am converted, I will preach the gospel.' In his ignorance he did not realize that peace with God had come, and he was already converted. He reached the village, and found that it was noon. He had spent the whole forenoon with God. Such a wonderful quiet and peace had come to his soul; all sense of sin and all consciousness of guilt had so completely departed, and his repose of mind was so unspeakably great that he thought he must have grieved the Holy Spirit entirely away. But no burden came back. And when, after dinner, he took down his bass-viol and began to sing a sacred hymn, his whole heart melted before God, and he began to weep.
"And now began the spiritual wonders of this wonderful life. Night came on. Squire Wright bade him good-night, and went home. He built a fire in the front room of his office, and went to the back room to pray. He says:
"'There was neither light nor fire in the room; nevertheless it suddenly appeared perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seems as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me at the time, nor for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality that He stood before me, and I fell down at His feet and poured out my soul to Him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed His feet with my tears. I must have continued in that state a good while, absorbed with the interview. I returned to the front office, and found that the fire I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism with the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression like a wave of electricity going through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love. It seemed like the very breath of God.
"'No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me and over me, and over me, until I cried out: 'I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me. Lord, I cannot bear any more!'"
"I question if there is a parallel to this in all the literature of the saints -- a man receiving such a baptism with the Spirit so soon after conversion, without asking for it or expecting it, and when he was too utterly ignorant of the whole subject to even think about it. In this instance God seems to have stepped beyond the bounds of His ordinary method of conferring the great gift. Finney was the instrument God wanted, and He used His sovereign right to deal with him spiritually after an unusual manner, and equip him at once for a matchless service.
"A member of the choir came into the office late that Wednesday evening, after the Spirit came, and he found Finney weeping aloud, and said: 'Mr. Finney, what ails you? Are you in pain?" "No, but so happy that I cannot live. He hurried out, and brought in an elder of the church, to whom Finney began to tell his experience. Another man, who was preparing for college, stepped into the office, and was listening, when, suddenly, he fell to the floor, and cried out in the greatest agony of mind, 'Do pray for me!' and he was soon converted. The next morning, when Squire Wright came into the office, Finney said a few words to him about his soul. He dropped his bead, stood in silence a moment, and left the office. The words of the young convert, Spirit-filled, had pierced him like a sword, and he did not get over it until he was converted. Finney started out to talk with anybody he chanced to meet. He entered the shop of a pious shoemaker, and found there a young man, son of an elder of the church, defending Universalism. The Lord at once gave Finney an answer to his arguments. He rose up in silence, left the shop, and broke for the woods, and there gave himself to God. He spoke to many others that day, and the Spirit drove the message home, and every one was converted. In the evening he sat down to the tea table, and was requested to ask the blessing. There were present at the table with the Christians an unconverted young woman and a young man who was a professed Universalist and a whisky distiller. He had scarcely begun when their spiritual condition so excited his compassion that he began to weep. They sat in silence a moment, when the young distiller rushed from the table, and locked himself in his room; and he was not seen again until he came out a Christian the next morning. He afterward became an able minister of the gospel."
Speaking of the fiery baptism, Vivian A. Dake says:
"Hot shot will burn its way through barriers that cold shot batters against in vain. It is fire added to powder. So God says He will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire. The fire of the Holy Ghost will make us veritable hot shot.
"Why do so many of our preachers make so few breaches in the walls of sin, although they seemingly smite so powerfully? They are cold shot. Once they had the fire, but they have lost it.
"In the Holiness Movement there are many who could strike mighty blows if they had the fire to burn through the barriers. 'Refining fire,' we need it. Bishops, editors, district elders, preachers and people need this Pentecost power. The power is leaking out. Many of our conferences are at a standstill. Some are on the down grade, and all for the want of the fire.
"How many are wondering why they do not succeed! 'Why,' they say, 'I am zealous, I preach the truth clearly and forcibly. What is the matter?' Wonder no longer. You have lost the fire. When the French and Spanish ships besieged Gibraltar in the eighteenth century, they covered their ships with green oxhides. The old cannon balls of the English bounded harmlessly off. The garrison was at the point of starvation, and capitulation was only a question of time. One day an English artilleryman bethought himself of heating a cannon ball. The red-hot missile, roaring as it went, struck and burned its way through, setting fire to the ship. Soon the English cannon began to vomit out the red-hot storm. The fleet was soon in flames, and the remnant were only too glad to get out of reach of the fire.
"Here is the secret: heat your shot red-hot, that is, get red-hot yourself, so that you can send forth the burning truth. Like the blacksmith's iron in the fire and fire in the iron, so must you have the Holy Ghost and fire in you and you in the fire. The green oxhides of formalism and sin will be pierced through, and the souls of men left naked and open to the truth. The fire comes in when carnality goes out. Hallelujah!
"I have struck this line. I have died the death to carnality, and it is fire all the time."