There are things which we know and feel but which do not result from our own study. We have a consciousness that there is some supreme power over us, and we are conscious of a certain responsibility to, and a dependence upon, this higher power. Reading the Bible and reasoning may give us clearer ideas of this power and our relations to it, but we have the consciousness of its existence without being taught.
This is never more clearly seen than in the case of the man who denies the existence of a personal God. As surely as he rejects the God of the Bible, he sets up something else in His place, and though he may call it by some other name than God, he will, nevertheless, attribute to it the powers and actions that belong to God. These intuitions by which we know without being conscious of how we know are given us by God for our protection and safety, and we ought to give careful heed to their testimony.
Sometimes our reason sees no harm in a thing, but we do not feel just right about it. A doctrine may look ever so plausible and be ever so interesting; but if we feel an inward uneasiness after consideration of it, there is a reason why we should be careful. Our intuition will often detect something wrong when our reason has not yet done so. These intuitions are not to be disregarded. They are God's means of warning us against unseen dangers.
Sometimes when we come in contact with people, we see nothing outwardly wrong, but we have an inward feeling that all is not well. We feel that there is something wrong somewhere, even though we may be at a loss to know what it is. Sometimes we come in contact with a company of people and at once feel a strange something that we can not analyze; but we can not always trust our feelings. There are many things that influence us, and it is very easy to misinterpret them. Nor should we conclude that there is something very badly wrong with anyone merely because we have peculiar feelings when in his presence. There may be something wrong, however, and it behooves us to be on our guard. Sometimes it happens that such feelings arise when we are in the presence of people who are deeply tried, or discouraged, or suffering under the assaults of Satan.
There are many evil spirits at work in these days among professors of religion, and especially is this true among the various holiness factions. Have you ever gone into a meeting and felt that some way you did not |fit| there? The worshipers may have seemed joyful and may have said many good things, but all the while you felt an inward uneasiness. There was some reason for this, and whether the reason was spiritual or merely human, it was wise to exercise carefulness. It is usually best to refrain from trying to make yourself blend with anything when you have that internal sense of protest against it.
Fellowship is natural and spontaneous. It can not be forced. If you are straight and true and your heart is open and unprejudiced, you will usually have fellowship with whatever is of God. Most sectarian holiness people are so broad that they can take in almost anything and call it good. Beware of this spirit. God's Spirit accepts only the good. If you have ease and freedom with true, established, spiritual people of God, and are free in meetings where the whole truth is preached and the Spirit of God works freely, and then when you come in contact with other professors you fail to have that freedom, do not accuse yourself nor try to force yourself to have fellowship with them.
A preacher once came into a certain community and began to preach. He was quite enthusiastic; he praised the Lord and shouted. He preached much truth and professed to be out clean for God. It was afterwards discovered that he was very crooked and wholly unworthy of confidence. I asked a number of the congregation later how it came that they received him. Their answer was that, as he came recommended by some good brethren and preached so much truth, when they did not feel right about him they came to the conclusion that they must be wrong and he right. So they accused themselves and went on through the meeting suffering under a heavy burden. They knew they had no such feelings when other ministers came into their midst, nor did they feel that way in their own ordinary meetings. But in spite of this, they took the wrong course, and the result was that the congregation received much harm both spiritually and financially. The same thing happened with this preacher in other places, till at length he came to a place where some refused to ignore their feelings or to accuse themselves of being in the wrong. Instead, they sent at once for two well-established ministers, and as soon as they came into the community, the crooked preacher fled and was seen no more in those parts.
Sometimes some one will come around making a high profession, and while we can see nothing wrong, we do not feel free with him, or, in other words, we have a sense of uneasiness. We feel at home with other saints, but not so with this person. Beware. If you are in fellowship with those whom you know to be true saints, look out for those with whom you do not have inward harmony. Do not blame yourself nor disregard the warning. Isolated Christians naturally become hungry for spiritual association. Sometimes they go to meetings where, while they find some good things, they also see other things and feel things that grate upon their spiritual sense of propriety. In such cases one should be guarded and should not try to |fit| with these things. To blend with them you must become like them; and if you become like them when they are not right, you will find that when you come into an assembly where the truth and Spirit have freedom, you will not blend there. If you ignore those inner warnings and accept something contrary to them, you will soon find yourself out of harmony with God's church and without the liberty you used to have among the children of God.
Do not follow your intuitions blindly, but do not go contrary to them. Let your reason find out the way of action before you act, so that you may act wisely. But when that inward sense says to us, |Stop, look, listen,| we shall do well to heed its warning.