intends that they shall be His; but, the hour of their inward redemption
not being fully come, they still love the world. They attach their
affections first to one object, and then to another. They would,
perhaps, be pleased to have God for their portion; but they must have something
be-sides God. In other words, they vainly imagine that they would
like to have God and their idols at the same time. And there they
remain for a time, fixed, obstinate, inflexible. But God loves them.
Therefore, as they will not learn by kindness, they must learn by terror.
The sword of Providence and the Spirit is applied successively to every
tic that binds them to the world. Their property, their health, their
friends, all fall before it. The inward fabric of hopes and joys,
where self-love was nourished and pride had its nest, is leveled to the
dust. They are smitten within and without; burned with fire; overwhelmed
with the waters; peeled, and scathed, and blasted, to the very extremity
of endurance; till they learn, in this dreadful baptism, the inconsistency
of the at-tempted worship and love of God and Mammon at the same time,
and arc led to see that God is and ought to be the true and only Sovereign.
is thus that God chooses His spiritual leaders in the dreadful furnace
of affliction. Such leaders can never be made by man nor any combination
of men. Neither councils, nor conferences, nor synods, nor schools,
can make them, but only God. This process, of course, applies equally
to the man in the pew. God knows we should all be spiritual leaders
in the vanguard of truth.
simple, earnest, heart-hungry souls we make our appeal. Seek spiritual
liberty as soldiers "seek victory in a siege or in a battle." Believe with
all your heart that the power of the Spirit will be yours. Sit down
and count the cost. Be well assured that the sharp edge
of the Cross will be felt, in your own life, and those to whom you
witness. We insist that the great lack today is a mighty liberation
through an inner crucifixion which will give us holy carefreeness (not
fleshiness and lightness-there is far too much of that), so that, without
embarrassment, we can witness before small and great, and be instant in
season and out of season. When the whole hierarchy of Jewry gathered
them-selves together in the first blast of persecution against the Christian
church (Acts 4), they were shocked by the boldness of Peter and John.
Now spiritual bold-ness is simply unembarrassed freedom of speech.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. To those fishermen,
the Cross was real, vital, fresh. With Christ they were identified,
crucified, and liberated. Theirs was an unembarrassed freedom of
speech. Let the hierarchy rave! Christ's captives were free.
They would neither fear nor flatter any flesh on the face of the earth.
Among these first threatenings the early church fled-but only to her knees.
There they prayed, not for the conversion of the hypocrites, nor that they
themselves might speak more carefully, more lovingly. They asked
nothing for themselves, but only for "all boldness" to present Christ-thereby
jeopardizing their lives. And God was so pleased with such daring
and uncompromising spirits that He shook the house where they were assembled.
They bad ceased to save their own skin. They had no cause to defend.
Christ was the living Head of the church. He had died in uttermost
weakness; they had died with Him. Be the consequences what they may,
they would obey God rather than men. Neither success nor failure
entered into their considerations. They were not afraid to jostle
the Jewish proprieties. They put themselves at Heaven's disposal,
and when they preached Christ Jesus as Lord, men were "cut to the heart"
as the word of the Cross fell like
a two-edged sword
Of heavenly temper keen,
And double were the wounds
Where'er it glanced between.
'Twas death to sin; 'twas
To all who mourned for sin.
It kindled and it silenced
Made war and peace within.
In a generation that glories
in the flesh and well-nigh worships power, God's choice of weapons seems
to be "foolishness" personified. But "the foolishness of God is wiser
than men." Paul says, "God hath chosen the