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"Its Cowardly Service vs. The Real Warfare"
By Catherine Booth
The subject for this afternoon is The Cowardly Service of Popular Christianity in contrast with the Real Warfare which Christ demands of His People.
I should like to say before I commence, that I hope, nay, I believe, that many of my audience will give me credit for speaking the truth in love; that although some things I may have to say may sound cutting, and will be cutting, as all truth when it comes in contact with error must be -- it would cease to be truth if it were not -- yet that I do not speak these things censoriously. If I know anything of my own heart and experience, I can say I do not speak these things harshly, but painfully and reluctantly. But they have been burnt into my soul during twenty-one years of public work, by absolute personal contact with the evils of which I speak.
I have forborne long, hoping that some one more able would take up this sword, until I sometimes fear that I have been guilty of withholding my sword from blood -- God knows not for my own sake, for since I came to the crucifixion of myself I have not cared much what men might say of me; but I have forborne sometimes under a mistaken notion of dealing gently with, and of hiding, the sins of professed Christians for fear of hurting the kingdom. But some three or four years ago the Lord took me to task, more especially on this matter, and showed me that I had no more right to palliate a wrong state of things in His professing people than in open sinners -- that we ought to examine ourselves, judge ourselves, and reprove ourselves and each other, so that we might redeem His name from the awful effects of our inconsistency, and of our coming so far short of the standard which Christ has set up for us.
Therefore what I say this afternoon, and in my following lectures, please to bear in mind I only say because I MUST, and because I could not die in peace if I had not said it. That I shall be criticized and condemned I fully expect, and that in exact proportion to the force with which the truths shall be demonstrated in every man's conscience. But be assured that this effort has cost me many a tear and prayer, and much thought and self-abandonment. I think I can say to those persons here who may be cut the most severely, and to those who are not here to whom my words refer, I could gladly go down at their feet and wash them with my tears, if I could thus bring about a better state of things.
I want to remark first, that Jesus Christ came to establish the kingdom of God upon the earth; that He intended this kingdom to be a literal kingdom, that is, as truly a kingdom as any of the kingdoms of this world; that He intended it to be a holy kingdom, a kingdom of righteousness, and consequently separate from, and above, all other kingdoms; that Christ continually spoke of His followers as a community, existing in the midst of another kingdom or community, having its own laws and principles and aims entirely distinct. and separate from the world. He not only made it separate, but He ordained that it should be kept separate, and He did not fail to give the most emphatic cautions and prohibitions against any amalgamation whatever between the forces of His kingdom and the forces of the kingdom of Satan, in the midst of which His kingdom was established.
Further, He put forth the claim, as the King and Sovereign of this kingdom, to the highest affection, allegiance, and homage of the hearts of His subjects, representing Himself as a King in a sense entirely beyond and above all earthly sovereigns. He represented Himself as reigning, not by virtue of outward power, but by virtue of the inward love, devotion, and adoration of His subjects; and thus more perfectly and completely over their outward I lives than any earthly king could pretend to do.
Further, the avowed purpose of Jesus Christ was to propagate and extend this kingdom over the whole earth.
In this respect only was He the originator of a new dispensation, for God had already a kingdom in the earth, although it was of a national and sectarian character. Jesus Christ came to break down the walls of partition between Jew and Gentile, and to let out, so to speak, the mercy, goodness, and grace of God to the whole race. Henceforth there was to be "neither Greek nor Jew ... barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all."
But as in Adam all had died, so in Christ should all be made alive; as all men had lost their souls in Adam, so all should have the opportunity, subject to that free choice without which either salvation or damnation would be a mere figure of speech, and without which a man would be no more capable of salvation than an ox, -- subject only to such choice every son and daughter of Adam should have the provision in Christ of eternal salvation.
Then, further, Jesus Christ ordained and arranged that this kingdom of His should be propagated in the world by human instrumentality. Why, we do not know. There might be many reasons, but the main one probably was that the human being, him self transformed, restored to God and to His image, and inspired with His love, would be the most effectual ambassador that God could send.
Another reason might be that Christ chose to put this honor on His own brethren after the Spirit those whom He had redeemed from amongst men, and who have chosen Him as their Sovereign, with His cross and its consequences, in preference to the pleasures, riches, or honors of this world.
Or, third, it might be that no other instrumentality would be so calculated to bring glory to His Father, the weakness of the human agent exhibiting most perfectly the excellency of the Divine power.
Note further, that the establishment of this kingdom over all the earth means, of course, resistance and opposition from those nations already in possession.
And here is a wonderful analogy between the establishment of the kingdom of Christ and the subjugation of Canaan to the Israelites. God had promised that land to Abraham long years before, and spoke of it as already belonging to his descendants; nevertheless they had to go and conquer it in His strength. So God has given the kingdoms of this earth to His So n. In the end the kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ; but we have to go and conquer them, just as the Israelites had to conquer Canaan, in the faith, and by the strength, of our God. It has only been for want of faith that the world has not been conquered long ago. Oh, what a delusion many Christians labor under with respect to the extension of the kingdom of God!
They have a notion that the kingdom is to take the world by stealth; that men are to be turned to God without any connection of means with the event; that it is going to be done with a sort of internal miracle, and the church has been waiting for this miracle for 1800 years. Consequently the work is not done, because this notion is in direct opposition to the orders and ordination of the King. If ever the world is subdued, it will be by His servants Carrying out their Lord's instructions, and setting themselves to subdue it.
It will be by bringing all the wisdom, skill, and force of their humanity, allied with divinity, as the early disciples did, and turning that force upon the rebel world. It will be done by hard, desperate fighting, if the great fundamental principles laid down in this Bible are to be relied on, and in no other way, because the nations in possession will never let you subdue them and take them for God without opposition. Christ systematically foretold and depicted this opposition, and gave His disciples to understand that they would have to wage WAR with all the power of those who were possessed of evil, and who were profiting by evil, and that it would be no easy conquest.
He told them they would have to go and subdue this evil by good, this unrighteousness by righteousness. The spirit of the devil would have to be driven out of man by the power of the Spirit of God dwelling in them. This He taught as plainly and persistently as He taught anything. If we wanted an illustration of the continuance of this spirit of opposition in the earth, we might find it in the events that have lately transpired in Switzerland.
A little force of godly people, without any of the peculiarities about which there has been such a hue and cry in England, without an instrument of music, without a banner or flag, or procession, or open-air service, without even a uniform, had only to commence to live Jesus Christ over again, and to carry out His orders in thrusting His claims on their fellow-men, when wicked rulers combined with those who profit by the vilest kinds of vice to mob them, drive them out, put them down, or kill them, as the case might be. Why? Because the instinct of the evil one recognized the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The devil always knows where the Spirit of Jesus Christ is, and he knows something else; he knows where it is not, and where it is not he lets well alone!
"Oh! people say, "the world is different in these days from what it was in the days of Jesus Christ and Paul." Is it? Try it on the same lines, and you will soon find out how far different it is. The very essence of the spirit of evil is antagonistic to the spirit of good. Good and evil are as diametrically opposed to each other as ever; therefore they can never be brought into contact without conflict, without war, and sometimes of the most deadly kind, ending in the death and martyrdom of the saints. I was amused with the exemplification of this some weeks ago. As one of our female officers was walking up Clapton, a band of lads were hooting after her, "Hallelujah!" "Jesus Christ!" "Salvation!" and other beautiful names; for in whatever voice they be hissed out, they cannot make such words ugly.
They were hissing these names after her as she walked meekly and quietly along. At length she turned suddenly to them and said, "What are you doing this for? I have never done you any harm. I am walking peaceably along the road; why are you shouting after me?" They were all so taken aback that they stood breathless for a moment, then one of them, I suppose a little bolder than the rest, and at least an honest lad, said, "It is because you are good and we are bad." Ah! that was the truth for once. That was the expression, in his rough way, of the eternal principle, that there must be conflict between good and evil; and the greater good you bring in conflict with evil, the more the evil will rage and try for the mastery. Hence, the world treated Him who was the very personification of the Father's holiness, worse than it ever treated any other human being, because He was the concentration of goodness, and therefore the devil did His worst on Him; and just as we approximate to His character will the devil do his worst on us.
Further, Christ taught His soldiers to expect the opposition of devils.
I suppose most of you believe in evil spirits who have access to the human mind. I wish, if you do not, you could have some of the experience of the Salvation Army; I think you would then. If there are evil spirits, if they have access to this world, and if they are interested in circumventing the plans of God, it only stands to sense that they should influence their servants to fight in opposition to the servants of God. This opposition was foretold by Christ, and His servants were warned against it, and provided for it. He said to His apostles when he commissioned them, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep among wolves, but lo, I am with you always." And again to Paul, "I will be with thee, delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee."
Why? Because He knew the opposition which their mission would provoke. He said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." Wherever the true Christ appears, there must the sword come to the dividing asunder of everything evil, and there must also come the sword of provocation. Even the nearest and dearest relatives rise up to persecute those who truly follow the Christ. This must continue to be so while good and evil continue in contact, and the fact that modern Christianity has ceased, as a rule, to provoke opposition, is one of the deadliest signs of its effeteness. As a rule, the world and modern Christianity go comfortably on together. They are so actuated by one common principle, and walk so amicably on one common pathway, that you see very little collision between them. The world has very little to complain of, and so it lets them alone. May God help, and quickly mend or end it.
Further, I want you to note, that, notwithstanding all the danger involved in this deadly warfare, which Jesus Christ represented it to be, -- for He did not deceive them, but told them plainly that all. men would hate them, that they would probably have to follow Him to martyrdom and death, nevertheless, they accepted the mission. I grant that they were a little time in coming to comprehend it; I grant that it took some time to free them from their national and sectarian prejudices. Peter had to receive his lesson through the vision of the sheet let down from heaven, before he understood the true genius of his mission. But when he and the other apostles did comprehend it, -- and that was the difference between them and modern apostles, when they saw the work to which the Master called them, they joyfully embraced it.
They did not stop to confer with flesh and blood, or to reason what it would cost them, to ask about salaries, or houses, or friends; they embraced the mission and went, and carried it out with their lives in their hands; and oh, how magnificently they succeeded! What a large portion of the world they subdued in comparison with their numbers and facilities, for, remember, there were no railways in those days to speed them from town to town, and city to city; there were no telegraphs to fly before them with their announcements; no printing presses to herald their coming with posters and handbills and all manner of notices; they had none of the facilities which we possess in these days for quickening the speed, or how gladly would they have availed themselves of them!
What gigantic success they attained, because they carried out their mission on the lines which Jesus Christ had laid down. Is it not true that just in proportion as their successors have followed in their steps, they have been successful in propagating the gospel? We all know that the stars in the heavenly firmament, the men and women who stand out with extra brilliancy on the page of history, as having been successful in pushing this glorious warfare, have been the men and women who took their lives in their hands, and followed their Master without respect to consequences; who came out straight and clear from the world and set themselves to their work, irrespective of what men might say or do to them. And we know what mighty conquests some of them achieved, and therefore we may reason that if all Christ's professed disciples had followed in the same track, a million times greater results would have been attained.
Let me put a practical question here. How many are there here who have comprehended the task? How many are there to whom the Spirit of God has said in unmistakable language, "Come out from amongst the ungodly or the half-hearted, and be separate, and I will touch your lips with a live coal from off My altar, and will make you fishers of men?" Did you embrace the mission? Have you gone forth following your Master, carrying His cross and seeking the souls of men? If not, what will you say to Him in the great day of account?
Further, in looking at the requirements of the King, and at the history of the early apostles and disciples, I charge it on modern Christianity, that its professors do not even comprehend the first principles of this warfare, much less do they set themselves to carry it on to the ends of the earth.
The service rendered to the King and to the kingdom in these days is, alas, with few exceptions, of a very milk-and-watery type, of a very short-weight character, and the great effort of the majority of its teachers, judging from their writings, and from what we see and know of their public services and of their private lives, seems to be intended to make things comfortable all round. "Peace, peace," is the continual cry, when there is no peace. As one of the bishops said a little while ago, "We hear a great deal about Church defense; we ought to be hearing about Church aggression." Yes, alas! in the great mass of instances when these modern Christians do fight, it is over opinions and ceremonies with their own children, inside their own walls, instead of with the enemy outside. They are far more valiant in defending. some ceremonial of the Church, than they are in defending the cross of Christ in the presence of its adversaries. They are far more concerned in propagating their "ism" than the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Alas, that it should be so; but such is the fact, and it is patent to every enlightened observer.
Jesus Christ did not call us to fight each other, but He called us to present one bold front to the enemy. He bade us go and take captive the hearts and souls of men, and not merely to change their opinions. Get a man's heart right, and his opinions will soon follow. But you may be tinkering at his intellect till the hour of his death, and he will not be a whit nearer heaven, but perchance nearer hell, than if he had been left alone.
Further, these modern Christians, as a rule, do not see any NEED for the fight.
They hide themselves under some vain, false notions of the sovereignty of God. Oh, how often they have made my heart ache when I have been trying to arouse them to do something for the kingdom. They say, "God is a sovereign, and He will accomplish His purposes out of all this sin and ruin;" and so they sit comfortably down and let things drift; and they have drifted to some purpose, have they not? In this so-called Christian country, in this nineteenth century, they have drifted to about as near perdition as they well could, without absolutely bringing hell on the earth. They have drifted socially as well as spiritually. Look at the state of the nation. Look at the godlessness, the injustice, the falseness, the blasphemy, the uncleanness and the debauchery everywhere! Do you ever look at the condition of things close to your doors and your churches? the worse than heathen beastliness into which thousands of our neglected neighbors, rich and poor alike, have sunk? If only half the professing Christians of London had followed in their Master's steps for one twelvemonth, such things would have been impossible, utterly impossible.
I repeat, Jesus Christ has ordained and provided that His people are to set themselves to stem these .torrents of moral and social pollution; they are to go and beard the lion in his den; to face the slaves of sin, open their eyes, and bring them down to His feet, just as much as were His early followers; and never till we do it shall we realize a better state of things. All the legislation, education, or provision of better dwellings, as I shall hereafter try to demonstrate, won't touch the moral cancer, the spring of all this wickedness and misery; nothing will do it until the Christians rise up to do their Master's bidding. But I say, they do not see any need for it, and they try to quiet us who do.
You have to prove, and argue, and drive, and almost show them damnation before you get a bit of service of any sort out of them. They have no heart for the fight. They do not feel these things. As God said of the fallen and false prophets of the 'Jews, "They lay not these things to their hearts." They lay their own business to their hearts. You see it depicted on the countenances of these Christian men if the balance is on the wrong side; if bankruptcy stares them in the face, you soon find that out. These Christian women lay the welfare of their own families to their hearts; you soon find out when a child is sick, or in any kind of disgrace or danger. But these same men and women can walk about the walls and see the desolations of Zion without any of these marks of distress or apprehension, without any such tears or groans.
They will manifest more anger against the people who urge them to fight, than they will against the enemy. A great many of them hate the Salvation Army for this more than for any other thing. They say, "You are always at us; let us alone, we want peace." They want to be quiet and comfortable, and to have their religion in a snug, back-parlor fashion. Fight! they hate the name of fighting. Going out to face the mob! oh, dear no! that is out of all question. How could you ever think of such a thing? Being mocked, and spit upon, and kicked, and buffeted, and perchance killed for Christ! they would think you were clean gone mad.
Some of these modern Christians have tried to put two or three of our people into asylums for nothing else . The moment anybody attempts really to obey Jesus Christ, they cry, "Mad! mad! away with such a fellow; he is not fit to live." What a veritable laughing-stock to hell such professed Christians make themselves. The devil says, "All right; let them alone. Let them go to their sanctuaries, let them have their creeds and ceremonies, let them sing their sweet hymns, and amuse themselves with their religious entertainments and their Bible classes; do not disturb them, whatever you do, they are amongst my best and most successful allies." Oh, may God show us these things, and help us to set to work to awaken every backslidden, lazy professor within reach of us.
Many of these latter day Christians are most zealous in building the sepulchers of the prophets, that is, of the saints -- the spiritual warriors of bygone tunes. They are often great at lectures on these ancient worthies -- Luther, George Fox, Wesley, and others, -- and they will listen most interestedly to a dissertation on their heroism, just as they would listen to a lecture on Shakespeare or Milton; but as to imitating their deeds of valor, it never enters their minds any more than if they had been inhabitants of another sphere. They simply go, in the great mass of instances, to have their intellects amused, their feelings tickled.
It never dawns on them that they are to go and imitate the example of. these heroes. They do not perceive that it ought equally to be the absorbing interest of their own lives, and that they are equally called to brave men and devils in propagating the kingdom of Christ in the earth. They go home and live the coming week exactly as they lived the week preceding it. They admire the men who laid down their lives for .the King a hundred or three hundred years ago, and will perhaps put up a monument to their memory, but as to doing so themselves, or allowing themselves to come into the same circumstances of persecution, they would sooner almost go to hell. I speak the things I know and have witnessed till my heart is sick.
Further, I charge it on popular Christianity that its professors are ashamed of their colors in the presence of the enemy.
They shrink from any open, straight forward confession of Christ before men. I maintain that it is not confessing Him to go to church or chapel once a week amongst those who go the same way with you. They do not confess Him on the exchange, in the bank, or in the streets of the city. Where do you see any one, or only one in a million, who comes out with any thorough going, straightforward confession of Christ before the world? Where? There are a few Roman Catholics or high Church monastics, and whatever I may think of their errors and their mummeries, I always feel a measure of reverence when I pass them. I feel there is a man or woman who is willing to acknowledge his God before men, and who is not ashamed to come out and condemn the world, by being separate from it, and entering a protest against its fashions and its follies.
How many professing Christians are there of this day who would go through the city of London in any attire, or with any kind of badge, that said to men and women, "I am a saint and a soldier of Jesus Christ?" And yet the soldiers of the queen are proud to do this in an enemy's country! I repeat, who is there that dare do it for Christ, except us fanatics of the Salvation Army?
I understand that a popular minister said the other day, speaking of the Salvation Army, that we were "playing at soldiers!" I will engage to say that if that minister will come with us for a single day, we will give. him such a dose of fighting as he never had in his life before. We will send him home at night quite convinced that it is no playing at soldiers on our part. If he does not get his head broken, we will guarantee that his coat will be torn, or covered with mud or ochre [ochre = a mineral of clay and ferric oxide, used as a pigment varying from light yellow to brown or red -- Oxford Dict.], or something worse!
Playing at soldiers, indeed! let him doff his kid gloves, his gentleman's attire, and lay aside his cigar, and come with our lasses into the public-houses with the War Cry or a Bible under his arm, or anything else that tells the inmates what he has come for, and he will find out whether we are playing at soldiers or not! I would like to put that man alongside one of our dear little female captains in a certain jail just now, and see whether such an experience, even for twenty-four hours, would not change his opinion. Such cruel stabs from professed Christian ministers are worse than the cruel mockings and scourgings of the enemy. "May the Lord not lay this sin to their charge."
But to return to this shame-facedness in the Master's cause: it is time we had done with it; it is time we proclaimed ourselves; for we speak to numbers by our appearance to whom we can never speak by our words, and unless we confess Christ in our appearance in such instances, we cannot confess Him at all Besides, why should we be ashamed of it? Why? The other day when I was driving through a low thoroughfare of London, and the little urchins were crying after me, one "Jesus!" another, "Hallelujah!" and a third, "There goes the Salvation Army!" I felt my soul glow with holy joy as I thought of the words, "The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on me."
I do not care what kind of a garb or a badge you wear, -- that is not the point, but there ought to be a badge which says to every man and woman, "I belong to Jesus Christ, and I am not ashamed of my colors."
Any profession of Jesus Christ which brings no cross is all nonsense; it is not confession at all There are plenty of Christians very brave inside their churches in the presence of their friends, or on parade. They sing:
"Am I a soldier of the cross?".
or, "Hold the fort, for I am coming."
I was once in a large congregation where they were singing this with the greatest gusto:
"Wave the answer back to heaven, 'By Thy grace we will.'"