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The great war for the extermination of sin out of the heart, or sinners out of the church, is destined to sweep over all the nations of the earth.
The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. (Isaiah 41:5)
But thou, Israel , art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. (Isaiah 41:8-9)
The seed of Abraham, and heirs of God’s promises, we are plainly told are all that believe in Christ (Galatians 3:7, 29). There can be no doubt that such are referred to in this Scripture, because they are chosen into the divine family from every part of the inhabited earth. But what of Jacob—the Scriptural seed or church?
Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel ; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:14)
When sin and self are all destroyed there is barely enough left of Jacob to constitute a small worm. But being thus reduced to “naught” God has prepared the church to exhibit His power in shaking the heavens and the earth, and bringing “to naught the things that are”—the great things of the world.
Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:15-16)
The characteristic of God’s church here portrayed is nearly lost sight of at present. People think it is the business of the church to stand like a beggar at the door of the Devil’s kingdom and politely coax his subjects over: saying much about the duty and advantage of belonging to church, and little about their sin and the duty of repentance; as though God were a dependent and the Devil proprietor of the universe. Satan, having thus stolen the spikes out of the church—her power of execution—he has distinguished himself in helping to run the empty machinery. But He that sitteth in the heavens will arise and bring to naught his devices.
The time is soon coming, by the Prophets foretold,
When Zion in purity the world shall behold;
When Jesus’ pure testimony will gain the day—
Denomination’s selfishness vanish away.
Already the Lord has begun to make Jacob new again; a sharp instrument, re-set with the spikes of its primitive power, the “weapons of His indignation.” A church or ministry that is destitute of these teeth will hurt no flesh, awake no persecution, thresh out no wheat, please the Devil and give no glory to God. But spikes are not the only essential to a first-class thresher. Anciently, grain was threshed with flails or trodden out by cattle and horses. Then a great improvement was secured by the invention of what is called the “old open machine.” But, oh, the heaps of chaff that piled up and filled the entire floor: then came the dreadful task of cleaning up—of separating and removing the worthless heap. Such have been the crafty open machines that have for years imposed heaps of trash upon the Lord’s threshing floor. They have not “taken forth the precious from the vile.” (Jeremiah 15:19)
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Ezekiel 22:26)
Ye have wearied the LORD with your words . . . When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them. (Malachi 2:17)
Is not this perfectly fulfilled at present by preachers who invite sinners into their folds without requiring a particle of saving grace: and who even flatter them that they are already pretty good, and need but to come and join the church? And how many of their poor, deluded victims remain in the church for years and never hear the Gospel lines drawn straight enough to convict them of their unregenerate hearts. The policy of these teachers has been to “gather of all kinds,” but the next thing in order—to separate and “cast the bad away”—has been wholly omitted. But as the Lord liveth, He is going to clear away this ecclesiastical rubbish.
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
Who would accept as a gift a few bushels of wheat scattered through a great heap of chaff and dirt, and think you that God will accept the church in her present condition? No, indeed, the gold must first be separated from the dross. The Bride must dissolve her unholy “friendship with the world” in which she is guilty of spiritual “adultery” in the sight of God (James 4:4). She must put away all her rival gods and adorn herself in robes of spotless white before “prepared as a bride for her husband.” The Bible most assuredly teaches that God will separate all chaff from the wheat before He comes to garner home His church. To accomplish this He is converting Jacob from an open machine to a separator.
Thou shalt thresh the mountains (the churches), and beat them small (there has been a raging mania to enlarge the church, but it needs reduction, there is too much of it, such as it is: holiness beats it small), and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:15-16)
When the “rushing mighty wind from heaven” strikes the gathered heaps of stubble and chaff, and begins to “scatter them,” people think the church is being ruined; but this fan is in the hand of the Lord Jesus, and it will not carry a grain of wheat off of His floor; and why fret about that which is not meet for the Master’s use? “What is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord.” Let the wind from heaven drive it, and the fire consume it, “and thou, (even in this scatterment) shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.” For, behold the effect of setting this terrible machine against the mountains. “I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 44:18). The divine wrath against sin is the divine goodness to the soul: and the more severe and searching God’s means for the purity of the church, the more freely salvation flows to “the poor and needy” (See Isaiah 41:17).
In the Prophet Micah, chapter four, and verses one and two, we have the mountain of the house of the Lord, (the church) established, and the law “going forth of Zion , and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem .” In the tenth verse we have recorded the captivity, or “falling away” of the church—“Thou shalt go even to Babylon .” And, in order to restore her purity, the Lord commands the following severe measures in verse thirteen:
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion : for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.
Threshing and separating, purging and consuming, is the order of God in the day of the Refiner. Many think we must so temper the Gospel as to preserve peace in the church, notwithstanding her sin and idols. But, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth, (peace with sin)? I tell you nay: but division,” so answers the Lord. His “fan is in His hand,” and He would rather blow the church to atoms and secure a little clean wheat by itself, that see it prosper in peace and multitudes, and under mortgage to Satan, and bearing his brand mark, i.e., spots of sin. For this purpose, says Jesus, “I am come to send fire on earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straightened till it be accomplished?” (Luke 12:49-51) Jesus intimates that the work of refining the church with the Holy Ghost fire could not begin until He Himself had passed through the ordeal of suffering and death.
For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. (Isaiah 66:15-16)
Here is the fire, sword, and division that Christ came to send on earth. Its shaking and purifying power was first manifest on the Day of Pentecost. This light makes Israel see her condition and cry out: “My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!” “Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea.” “When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done” (Isaiah 24:13-15). “And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit” (Isaiah 24:18). There is no escape from the seeping fire of holiness, but into the pit of sin; and all that cannot “abide His coming” are “like chaff, which the wind driveth away.”
There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon : and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. (Psalm 72:16)
Here is the power of Jacob after separated from all chaff and dross. But, nowhere in the Bible is the line more clearly drawn between the wheat and the chaff, the gold and the dross, than in our keynote text to this entire subject. What shall remain after the “once more” shaking? Nothing but the divine elements of the “kingdom which cannot be moved,” and which Paul represents as “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). These only remain in the heart that has passed through the second crisis. Hallelujah! But what is thereby removed? Answer: All “things that are shaken” and the “are made.” By the first class, we understand everything that flinches and shakes before the searching light and sin-exterminating Gospel of Christ: every vein of our nature, every motion of “flesh and spirit,” every temper of the mind and habit in life that does not perfectly harmonize with the “righteousness of God revealed” in the Bible, will naturally shake beneath the voice of the Holy One; and must, therefore, be removed. The second class—all “things that are made”—denotes every thing that is not original: every phase of our moral being that is not implanted by the hand of God. Or, in other words, every thing adhering to us that was produced by Satan, sin, or the perversion of our moral being. As the Lord says, “every plant that my Father has not planted shall be rooted up.” This includes inbred sin. We have all along assumed the existence of this besting foe. Yet we are aware that a very few deny the fact. But, we think David settles this matter in the fifty-first Psalm, where he declares that, as fallen creatures, our very being is “conceived” and “shapen in the mold of sin and iniquity.” Paul also avers that we are “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3); and that we are “cut out of the olive tree (Adamic root) which is wild by nature” (Romans 11:24).
But why multiply texts? Observation must necessarily teach everybody that children are possessed with a perverse nature long before the knowledge of right and wrong is developed. Justified Christians almost uniformly confess this same inward trouble. The remaining question is, can we get rid of it in this life? To decide this, we have but to ascertain whether it is original, or a result of the fall. That it formed no part of the likeness of God in the soul is very certain. It is, therefore, the “works of the devil,” and just what Christ “came to destroy.” It shakes, flashes out and roils up when pierced by the sword of the Lord, and must, therefore, be removed from the soul.
But the words of Paul apply to the church as well as to the individual. It is designed to assay and remove the dross of the whole body of Christ. Before the great holiness reform had shed its benign influences upon the Christian world, and, to some extent, raised the church out of the narrow rut of churchism, into a deeper and broader loyalty to God and unselfish love for humanity, the idea of getting saved from “your church” would have been regarded as blasphemy. But, thanks to the Lord! a purer light and higher standard of truth now compel the trumpeters of God, all along the line of holiness, to insist on salvation from all “our churches.” But it may be asked, what is it that we must be saved from in “our churches.” Surely there must be some way to discriminate between that which is pernicious, and that which is of God. Now, I know of no corner from which to run off this line but the one that Paul points out: “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,” and “this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made.” God has founded one body—the church, fold, or kingdom. In it He has place every element that is essential to its work, its prosperity, and its perpetuity. His wisdom has adapted it to all ages of time and conditions of men. Its faith was delivered to the saints once for all. Its principles and precepts are the last Testament, the final and immutable Will of the eternal God. This divine organization is invested with such absolute symmetry and perfection that to attempt the slightest modification of its divine unity or polity, is wicked presumption in the sight of its Divine Founder, incurs the curses, and forfeits all the blessing of God’s holy book. Now, since the work of entire sanctification is designed to elevate the church to her normal and perfect condition in the sight of God, it must shake out, and purge away, very existing element that was not originally implanted by the hand of the Lord. This test, I think, is one in which all true Christians agree. Indeed, if we were to untie from this moorage, we would soon be driven to sea without compass or chart; we would virtually open the door for every tradition of Rome and invention of error.
Starting then from this cornerstone of divine truth established at Jerusalem nearly nineteen hundred years ago, and with the Bible as our compass and field notes, let us run off a line.
1. Between the true and false spirits in the church—let us “try the spirits, whether they be of God.” “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” But the party spirit, so prevalent in the churches, is not of Christ, hence must be removed, purged out of the heart. A zeal that springs from anything but pure, unmixed love for God and humanity; a spirit that would even promote holiness, or the conversion of sinners, partly to build up “our church,” is badly mixed, is soon shaken and cannot survive the Refiner’s fire. It is only when the “eye is single, that the whole body is full of light,”—wholly sanctified.
A spirit, which, out of deference to its own creed, willfully disobeys the divine Word, is not of God and cannot co-exist with a pure heart. All these secondary motives, these mixed and unclean spirits “shake” at the voice of the “mighty God” and are “removed” in the thorough work of sanctification.
2. The next thing I am compelled, in the fear of God, to speak of, as included in the catalogue of the Devil’s shaky works, the foul smut and chaff of error is the evil of sectarianism. This is the most destructive bane that God has ever suffered the Devil to sow in His kingdom. It is the very mildew of hell that spreads its blasting curse over nearly all the precious fruit of the Lord’s vineyard. Here the words of Paul are an all-sweeping besom.
Oft the enlightened Christian’s conscience inquires whether it is right for the church to be divided thus into a plurality of sects or denominations with their respective human creeds and party names. In the light of truth we are compelled to answer, No. And for the simple reason that these parties are not of divine origin. Christ is the source of all true union among His disciples, and all divisions between them and the world, while the Devil is the instigation of all divisions in the church and all union between it and the world.
I quote the following from an editorial in the Christian Harvester.
1. God has a church on earth. It is one and indivisible. It is made up of all, and singular who are born of the Spirit.
2. Individual [local] churches, or congregations, are as scriptural as they are necessary.
3. There is not one word in the Bible favorable to denominations or sects. The only sect among Christians that is spoken of in terms—the Nicolaitan—is severely condemned. There are indications of sectish belief, against which John is supposed to labor in the first chapter of his Gospel, and Paul withstood in the Judaizing tendencies, even in a brother Apostle. Denominations are directly or indirectly the result of sin, remaining in the great body of professors. Thorough and widespread holiness would soon destroy denominations.
4. But the evangelical denominations of today contain the mass of true Christians with a multitude of mere professors. Because of differences, sects cannot yet be abolished; and an effort at abolition would result in a new one. Therefore, sects are a present necessity, until holiness more generally prevails.
5. The possessor of perfect love of necessity overleaps denominations in spirit, and so regards all the sanctified as perfectly his brethren.
We are personally acquainted with the editor of the Harvester, and believe him a holy man of God. We admire the frankness with which he acknowledges that “there is not one word in the Bible favorable to denominations or sects,” and that “denominations are directly or indirectly the result of sin remaining in the great body of professors.” Such must be the honest verdict of every intelligent, God fearing man.
It is no pleasant thing, we know, to look upon and admit this monster evil, this fell destroyer of the purity, love and power of the Lord’s Zion . Says William Starr, “My heart has groaned as, pen in hand, I have looked at this subject, arranged my thoughts to present them to you.” But for the love of truth I am constrained to differ with the position that sects are a present necessity. They originated from sin in the church; and shall we admit that the fruit of sin is a necessity under any circumstances? “Shall we do evil that good may come? God forbid.” Where the cause—sin in the church—is removed by full salvation, should not its effects also disappear? But it is thought that “because of differences sects cannot yet be abolished.” We might say, with equal propriety, because of sects difference cannot be removed. They co-exist and mutually support each other. These divergent views and party shibboleths may have had their root in carnality, but they are stereotyped and perpetuated by sectarian parties, and their man-made creeds. Therefore we have no more right to palliate the sin of sects because of differences, than to excuse the latter because of the former. One of the great evils of sectarian divisions is, they prevent the return of the church to the “faith once delivered to the saints;” and shall we let the baneful tree stand until it ceases to bear its legitimate fruit?
Again, it is thought that “sects are a necessity until holiness more generally prevails.” “Thorough and wide-spread holiness would soon destroy denominations.” Sects and are antagonistic to each other. This truth is clearly implied in the above remarks. The fire of true holiness burns up all the fences that Satan has placed between the saints. And shall we defeat this its real mission by not lifting up the sword of the Lord against sects, and attempt to abolish the evil until holiness prevails more extensively? That is the same as saying that we should make no attack upon unholiness until holiness gains a certain degree of ascendancy. Yea, it provides that we should “give place to the Devil” in the church to destroy holiness until the church becomes more holy. These are no trifling words. It is a solemn fact that adherence in different denominations is the Devil’s wedge, whereby the unity of the Spirit, so perfectly procured in the grace of perfect love, is again destroyed. Party names, party creeds, and party spirits, almost of necessity go together; and the natural return of this spirit, because of membership in a fragmentary church, takes more souls off of God’s altar, than everything else together.
Let sects alone until holiness prevails! What a device of the enemy. How can we expect to bring forth permanent fruits unto holiness, if we allow the plowshare of God’s truth to slop over this fallow ground of sin? Sects are the Devil’s “high places” in the land, the groves of his own planting, and gods that he has set up to corrupt Israel , and “provoke God.” How many of the kings Jehovah complains of, because they did not, like Josiah, “purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places and the groves” (2 Chronicles 34:3). Beware that we partake not of their sins. Of Judah it is said that “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done; Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places. And the LORD smote the king (Judah), so that he was a leper unto the day of his death.”
Says W. H. Starr, a conscientious Presbyterian minister, after quoting 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 in his Discourses on Sectarianism:
It would seem as if no man could read these words of the great Apostle without vividly seeing that party divisions among the people of Christ were, in his view, a most astounding evil. “Is Christ divided,” he says, that ye who are all His, and who have been “baptized by one Spirit, into one body,” even “the body of Christ,” should be sundered one from the other by party names.
And he adjures them in the most solemn manner, he beseeches them by an appeal the most sacred that words could utter, even by the name of Christ, as it were for His sake, and for His bleeding cause—to forsake these pernicious ways, and to be perfectly joined together in the same mind.
Hear what this author thinks of promoting holiness over these “high places,” or sect walls.
The divisions of the Christian Church, as they now exist, are a prominent cause of the low state of piety among believers; the greatest single obstacle, which not exists, to the spread and triumph of our religion in the world.
The moment you separate the church of Christ into distinct divisions, you set up the idol of party. Success or adversity will no longer affect the mind simply as they touch the cause of Christ, but they will be felt, also, as affecting “our side,” or “our church.” It is not Christ and His cause to which their whole thoughts and desires are now turned; the idol of party has now been set up, and it claims—and receives part of their regard. The man, I think, is almost more than human, that can wholly avoid this influence, at least, after he has been long identified with any particular branch of the church.
It is an influence which is all the time at work. The idol has been set up to divide the heart from the blessed Savior and His holy service; and its influence is as ceaseless as the existence of the cause. And this party feeling is, as we have seen, very wickedness, being a from of selfishness, the essence of all sin; so that sinful desire is blended continually in the heart with its love to Christ, and polluting the worship which it offers Him.
This is an honest and faithful description of this monster evil. The party feeling is very sin. Yea, says this God-fearing man, “It casts a millstone round the neck of those who are struggling upwards to the image of their Redeemer. It mingles poison with the streams of salvation that flow to the soul through the church, and casts a blight upon its budding fruit.”
Sectarianism is the greatest foe to the exhibition of love, which God has ever suffered Satan to beget. It hinders brotherly love among Christians, and regard for the souls of men. It is vain for brethren in Christ to talk about the duty of loving one another, and to try to feel love for one another, while they refuse to act as love dictates [by separating into parties]. Their actions will control their hearts, as men’s acts always do in the end. The fences which they set up between them in fact will become fences in feeling. And that is now even so, every Christian knows.
The divisions of Christ’s people beget and stimulate continually that opposite spirit of rivalry and contention which is the spirit of the world.
Yes, I charge all this mischief, the existence of which you all know, upon the sectarian divisions of the people of Christ; and let him deny it who can. It is in fact their legitimate fruit.
The division of the church into parties not only destroys the power and holiness thereof, but is the greatest impediment to the conversion of the world to God. Again, we will hear Brother W. H. Starr, and the blessed Redeemer Himself.
Would that the church of Christ might pause long enough from its sectarian strive, to hear the voice of its Redeemer and Lord, pleading with God in prayer, on that sorrowful night, ere the traitor came. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name, those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me and I in them, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. The prayers of Christ were not offered for a light matter, least of all that memorable petition which the pen of inspiration has recorded for the church in all ages to wonder and weep over, the prayer of its dying Lord. The desirableness of that visible union of His people for which Christ prayed as the means of impressing His truth on the world, and the evils of those divisions against which the Apostle so earnestly exhorts, need to be better understood by the church.
May God grant you a disposition to look the evil fairly in the face.
Of the thousands of souls that are being lost to all eternity through the selfish, wicked and carnal spirit of our churchism! God is dishonored, yea, robbed of the purchase of His Son’s death, and infidelity stalks abroad; the result of a divided house.
It is said that “the possessor of perfect love of necessity overleaps denominations in spirit.” Does not this prove that they are in the way of the Spirit of Christ? And shall we compel the Lord to drag His children together over these cursed walls, only to have them rise up again, and grieve away the Holy Spirit?
If it be true that “thorough holiness destroys denominations,” then it follows that where they yet exist, this genuine degree of holiness has not been attained by the people. But I have not quoted correctly: it is “thorough and wide-spread holiness.” Ah! Here is the sticking point—a condition put in by the enemy of souls, it implies the following: “Though entire sanctification removes all sectarianism out of my heart, I will still adhere to my sect until people generally abandon their schismatic parties and creeds.” The Devil is perfectly easy over these principles. Now, if this evil is to be done away by popular sentiment, then it is not through holiness; but if by the latter it does not depend upon any foreign influence. The condition of the church in one state does not rob the Word and Spirit of God, of their virtue in another. The power of holiness to destroy denominations in one community does not depend, in the least, upon another. Judah can burn down his groves, and destroy his idols, whether Samaria and Ephraim do or not. Therefore, we repeat, that in every neighborhood, city and village, where the professed followers of Christ are divided into a plurality of sects, they have not yet become thoroughly sanctified to God.
Can it be said of professors of holiness that they have “one heart” and “one mind,” while some have a mind to be Presbyterian, others Baptists, others United Brethren, and other have a mind to adhere to the several different sects of Methodism? Have they “one heart and one way,” when they rise from the solemn altar in the holiness meeting and go each one his own way to the synagogue of his own sect?
Now I must confess that I cannot see the necessity of this, unless it be to please the Devil, break the unity of the Spirit and grieve away the heavenly Dove, bring to naught the divided house of the Lord and destroy the work of holiness as fast as it can be built up; to this end alone it is necessary.
But let us come still closer home. I would lay the responsibility of this enormous evil just where God places it, and all other sin. We will not be judged by sects, states, nor even by neighborhoods and towns, but “every one shall give an account of himself to God.”
A revival of holiness in a community is the result of personal consecration and faith; and its relapse will be in proportion to the number of individuals that remove the sacrifice from the sanctifying altar. There is no such thing as thorough holiness, except as wrought by the Sanctifier in individual hearts; and if, as has been said, and as I verily believe, thorough and wide spread holiness destroys denominations—burns up sectarian distinctions—it must do it in your heart, as an individual. And if this work is done, the fruits must exhibit the fact; you will be “saved by the precious blood of Christ from all vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers;” such as “your church,” “our church,” “our preacher opened the doors of the church,” “what branch of the church do you belong to?’ “you ought to join some branch,” “and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”—that grew out of a “perversion of the right ways of the Lord,” and the “Gospel of Christ” (Acts 13:10; Galatians 1:7). If the bitter root of sectism is entirely destroyed out of your heart, you will ignore all sectional lines and party fences, the dreadful curse of which Brother Starr has so honestly pointed out. If you are a true, intelligent, Bible Christian, a holy, God fearing man, you must cast off every human yoke, withdraw fellowship from, and renounce every schismatic and humanly constituted party in the professed body of Christ. Instead of belonging to “some branch,” you will simply belong to Christ, and be a branch yourself in Him, the “true vine.” Instead of remaining identified with any sect,—i.e., cut-off party, “directly or indirectly the result of sin”—you will claim membership in and fellowship with the “one and indivisible church that God has on earth, and which is made up of all, and singular who are born of the Spirit.” On this broad and divinely established platform, and here only, can you stand clear of the sin of sectarianism and the blood of immortal souls that perish through its pernicious influence. Are you strictly loyal to God, while you persist in adhering to a sect, notwithstanding He says “there should be no schism—sects—in the body” (1 Corinthians 12:25).
I am not advocating the no-church theory that we hear of in the west, but the one holy church of the Bible, not bound together by rigid articles of faith, but perfectly united in love, under the primitive glory of the Sanctifier, “continuing steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,” and taking captive the world for Jesus.
But it is thought that we should not fight against sects, nor attempt to abolish the evil at present, lest we thereby form another sect. This is virtually saying we should “go on sinning lest a worse thing come upon us.”
An attempt to rally Israel under any of the many party names and creeds might indeed result in a new sect. But this is not what we contend for. Nay, but let us rather burn to ashes these high places of Israel ’s corruption and returning to Jerusalem , let us build upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the “chief corner stone.” Let us abandon the nonsense of ecclesiastical succession: cease to inflate our pride and vanity by parading the good and long since departed who innocently wore our party badges; the piety of our fathers will not atone for the worldliness of the church at present. Let us also quit flourishing our church creeds as though their excellency were an essential supplement to the wisdom of inspiration. Let us, we pray you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the sake of our holy and divine religion, and a world that is lost in sin, O let us put away these childish things and return to Jerusalem, not to form a new sect, but as the “servants of the God of Heaven and earth, let us build the house that was builded these many years ago, which the great King of Israel (Jesus Christ) builded and set up” (Ezra 5:11).
Many say we need more union of hearts, but think a visible organic union unnecessary; but, remember that it was a visible union that Jesus prayed for, such as the world could see and be thereby convinced and saved. We quote once more from W. H. Starr:
They will say to me: Cannot we have union of feeling without external union? (That is; with external dis-union) I answer, No! You cannot except in rare instances and in an imperfect degree. It is vain to be beating off the leaves of the tree while you continually nourish its roots. And sectarianism is the “root of bitterness” whose acrid and legitimate fruit of divided hearts, and jealousy and strife doth continually grieve away the Spirit of our God and Savior, and leave our churches in a comparative poverty of grace and growth, that methinks must make the very heavens groan with sorrow, as they look down upon our dying world.
Up, Up! My brother, my sister in Christ, inquire of the Lord concerning this thing. Why slumber ye here while Satan has entered the fold of Christ, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and is rending the flock?
O, cry to God, that He will direct you and all the children of His grace, till the church of His holy Son shall be purified and saved. Alas! It is now “a house divided against itself.”
O, pray that the Lord would unite and build it up in the truth; and that He would show you your duty in the matter. The wants of the world require a holy and united church.
From what has been said, and the uniform teaching of the Bible, the following facts are very evident:
1. The division of the church into sects is one of Satan’s most effectual, if not the very greatest means of destroying human souls.
2. Its enormous sin must be answered for by individual adherents to, and supporters of sects.
3. The only remedy for this dreadful plague is thorough sanctification, and this is only wrought by a personal, individual contact with the blood of Christ through faith.
4. The union required by the Word of God is both a spiritual and visible union.
5. The divisions of the church are caused by elements that are foreign to it as a divinely constituted body by deposits of the enemy, which exist in the hearts and practices of individual members, involving their responsibility and requiring their personal purgation.
These facts make your duty plain. What you and I want, dear reader, is “thorough and widespread holiness” in our individual souls to destroy denominationalism here. Holiness, ever so thorough and widespread around you will not cleanse your heart: neither can the sin of division in the hearts and lives of others attach to you unless you drink in their spirit and also become a partisan. You need not waste time in planning general union movements or praying the Lord to restore the unity of His church until you go down under the blood and have every bone of contention and cause of division purged out of your own heart; then you may do something to influence others to do the same.
You are praying and longing for the happy time when God’s children shall all be one, but are you willing that the “once more” shaking shall have its designed effect in your own case? Do you, indeed, suffer the Holy Ghost fire to consume out of your own life, heart, religion and conversation, all the shaky chaff and stubble the Devil has made to divide the children of God? Do you, indeed, withdraw from and ignore all churches—so called—but the one Christ purchased “with His own blood” and founded nearly nineteen hundred years ago, and to which the “Lord added” you by regeneration (Acts 2:47)? Do you discard every church title but that “which the mouth of the Lord hath named” (Isaiah 61:2), even the name of the Father in which Christ and the Apostles kept the church? (John 17:6, 11-12; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 3:15) Do you honor the divine head of the church by rejecting every creed but the one that “is given by inspiration of God;” every door that is opened and shut by men, and every spirit but the Sanctifier and every motive but the love of God and humanity? If you, by the grace of God, die to all these prime causes of sectism, and their concomitant sins, then, and not until then, will the Lord have “thoroughly purged” so much of “His threshing floor” as you will have to answer for in the day of judgment. Where this is not accomplished, the grace of God is frustrated; holiness is not permitted to reach the Bible standard of thoroughness, or spread its healing virtue to every part of the soul.
Pray not for union if unwilling to part
With the idols that dwell within your own heart.
If you would see the millennium begin
First cleanse your own heart from all sectism and sin.
It may look foolish to many thus to blow the trumpet of the Lord around the high and massy walls of sectarian glory and selfishness, but the power of God with the faith and shouts of the “holy people” will surely bring them down.
Though the heaps of sectarian chaff have reached the magnitude of mountains, God has some wheat scattered through them, and He will have it separated for His garner. Therefore, He says to Jacob, “Fear not . . . thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them.”
The pure elements of God’s church possess a wonderful inherent attraction and cohesion; but the Devil neutralizes the divine cement by mixing in his chaffy and sloughy trash, thereby effecting divisions; therefore, the Lord restores union by “removing these things that are shaken, as of things that are made” by the enemy, thus removing discord and schism. Glory to God! Little Jacob has barely commenced threshing and separating. Soon we will see clouds of chaff driven by the “mighty rushing wind from heaven.”
But, Oh! What storms of persecution will rage,
For the cause of old Babylon too many engage.
Says Brother I. Reed in his paper, The Highway,
The great holiness movement is shaking harder than ever. It is to be a real moral earthquake yet. We have nothing to fear in that direction. We have allied ourselves to the Power that does the shaking, and feel a kind of holy joy at the falling walls, reeling Babels and ecclesiastical fortifications that can’t stand the grand holiness shock. In anticipation we enjoy the grand smash up of things semi-religious—this half-and-half, linsey woolsey type of Good God-Dear Mammon, kind of fashionable moral froth, too often called “religion”—that is coming some of these days. It is coming. We hear the tread of a mighty army.
Amen. Let the conflict come. God will have a pure church—He will shake the chaffy works of the Devil out of His kingdom, though all hell be moved in rage; though Gog and Magog surround the camp of the saints on the breadth of the whole earth.
A battle is coming between the two kingdoms,
The armies are gathering round;
The pure testimony and vile persecution,
Will come to close battle e’re long.
Then gird on your armor, ye saints of the Lord,
And He will direct by His living Word,
The pure testimony will cut like a sword.
Dear reader, I am aware that in these chapters I have written things that will be unwelcome to many: truths that will assail and stir up many prejudices, but in doing so, I have determined to cast from me the fear of man, and clear my conscience in the sight of God.
It is, indeed, my honest conviction that the great holiness reform cannot go forward with the seeping power and preeminent triumph that God designs it should until the Gospel be so preached, and consecration become so thorough, that the blood of Christ may reach, and wash away every vestige of denominational distinction, and “perfect into one”—yea, one indeed and in truth—all the sanctified.
I am aware that this will elicit storms of persecution, but in the name of the Lord it must come. God will be glorified in the escape of his holy children from all human enclosures into the “one” and identical “fold” of Jesus Christ. Oh! Let us be honest before God in this matter.
It will then be discovered who for Jesus will be,
And who are in Babylon the saints then will see;
The time of division then will fully be known,
Between the pure kingdom and defiled Babylon .