Come! Let us hurry away from this place! But look! See! There is the castle of Giant Despair! It looks more like a jail, or prison, than a castle. Maybe there is some poor pilgrim in there now. O Immanuel, if there is, send an angel to tell him to use the key of Promise so he may get out!
Why, here comes a pilgrim from that direction now. And there comes old Giant Despair after him. O Immanuel, help!
Will the pilgrim escape? The old Giant is coming so fast! But it is clear today. Yes! now the sun bursts full on the old Giant! Ah! he seems to melt in his tracks. Oh, yes! now we know why—he can not run in clear weather. Here is the pilgrim on the main road again.
"Pilgrim, we are so happy to see you get away. You look so worn, so weary. And there, what can that be, poor fellow? There is blood and wounds all over your back. That is where the old giant beat you, isn't it? How did you escape?"
"Blessed be Immanuel forever! For a long time old Despair has had me in his dungeon. I've been nearly killed. Giant Discourager encountered me first and got me off into that ravine over there toward the castle. Then old Despair caught me and put me in his dungeon. He beat me regularly morning, noon, and night. He has killed a number of pilgrims. He killed one while I was there; and there is a large heap of the bones of other poor pilgrims out of whom he drove the spark of hope. But this morning I thought of a key called Promise [1 Kings 8:56] that Bunyan's pilgrim told of, and to my surprise it fitted every lock I had to open. The old Giant ran after me. I do not know what happened to him; I did not look back to see. But I am safe, anyway."
"Come on with us, we are going to visit Pilgrim Victory. What is your name!"
"My name is Honest."
"Well, here we are on Moriah. And yonder is Pilgrim Victory! He seems to be polishing or sharpening his sword. Why, it shines like silver now!"
"Blessings on you, pilgrims, and what can I do for you?"
"Oh, Pilgrim Victory, tell us of your battle with Giants Discourager and Despair, will you!"
"To the glory of Immanuel, yes. And I shall begin with an early experience, and this is the way it came about: No sooner had I crossed the Jordan than Giant Mistake began to keep me company. Not long after that, Giant Discourager joined us, much to my detriment. I should have fought him then; but he said he had a right to travel with pilgrims, and I did not know any better; so I let him stay in my company. When we got farther into the Wilderness of Canaan, Giant Discourager began to torment me awfully. Every day he beat me, till I had no strength left. I did nothing but sit and nurse my wounds for many days. According to Giant Discourager, I was a failure; and it did appear that way. I was not good for anything, he said, and there was much truth, apparently, in that saying, too. He said Immanuel did not care the least bit for me; and it did look that way. 'You will never get out of this wilderness. You will never be able to do any good. You will always feel miserable,' said Giant Discourager to me. In fact, he saw nothing ahead for me but woe, failure, misery, and despair. And it appeared certain that he was right.
"Just at that place where you saw the monument, I fought the battle through, and won. But I was in Giant Despair's dungeon two weeks at that. It was after I escaped that I fought the fight I won. I had got out of the dungeon by using the key of Promise; but the weather was foul, and the giants caught me at that spot.
"The battle was a long one. With all the subtlety of his lengthy career, Giant Discourager threw out every idea and insinuation to get me to give up. But while these insidious attacks were very hard to ward off, I had definitely promised Immanuel down in the dungeon that if he would get me out I would never be caught in company with Giant Discourager again. I saw while there that it was my keeping company with him that got me into Despair's hands. So I had to keep my promise.
"But Discourager would not leave; so I swung at him with my sword, and said, 'Get thee hence, Discourager, I am Immanuel's. I am a citizen of Canaan, I am across the Jordan, this is my home; here my rest shall be. Get thee hence' [Luke 4:1-13]. His foul breath blew over me, and his awful concoctions of unbelief and despair almost overthrew me. At that, Giant Despair grabbed me, and was in the act of lifting me bodily and carrying me away, when a fierce desire to fight to victory possessed me. I made another stroke at Giant Discourager and then aimed one at Despair. This freed me. Then, gathering myself, I rushed at one, then the other, until I chased them back into their haunts. Oh, victory, how sweet! And how blessed it was after that not to have that old Discourager's heartless and despairing conversation poisoning my thoughts! Oh, what a relief!
"On thinking of it, I then and there purposed to build the monument you saw on your way here. Many a pilgrim has taken warning and escaped an awful death.
"Pilgrim Honest, I know those are tears of gratitude flowing down your poor face; but dry them, and come with me. I will bathe those wounds of yours and give you food that will relieve all your distress [Isaiah 66:10-13; Matthew 12:38-21]. And to you, pilgrims, we say farewell."
"Good-by, Pilgrims Victory and Honest. May it be well with you."
Now let us talk between ourselves.
It is no sin to feel discouraged. The only place where sin can enter in connection with discouragement is in entirely surrendering faith and letting actual transgressions follow. When the soul is tormented to the point where it appears impossible for it to claim the victory any farther, that is no evidence that that soul has sinned and is lost. In this case God sees the soul as it really is; He does not look at the soul's own estimate of itself. Many a sanctified soul has given up faith for sanctification, and even for justification, merely on the strength of some argument the devil has presented. For instance, a person may consecrate all, have perfect faith, and receive the experience of entire sanctification. In a week or two this person may make a mistake, or for some reason or other he may begin to have bad feelings in himself. Satan now sends his tempter to accuse the soul and cause it to doubt its having the experience of entire sanctification. After a painful struggle, the soul feels, that, on the evidence presented, it must give up its profession of a sanctified state, and does so. But God, looking down, sees that that soul is just as consecrated as ever, and loves God as much as ever. He can not hold that soul as it holds itself. So while the soul despairs, God holds it as all right. The only reason the soul does not get God's view is because these doubts and accusations obscure God's will and promise, and the devil's doubts are admitted instead of God's word.
That more souls are done to death by discouragement than by any other one thing is probably a true saying.
You say you are discouraged. Over what? Is it because you do not have the pleasant feelings you would like to have? This is no cause for discouragement. You may be better than you feel, just as many are not so good as they feel they are. Feelings are no standard to go by. Is it because you can not accomplish more? Do the best you can and be satisfied with that. Is it because you make many blunders and mistakes? Care not for it, for all make them. Profit by them and go on.
Discouragement is deadly to the soul. It is a destroyer of hope, faith, confidence, joy, service, and victory. Look at the discouraged man! There he sits. Nothing seems good to him; and he hesitates to do anything. What army ever won a victory if it was discouraged? What merchant ever succeeded in business when discouraged? Who ever accomplished anything when discouraged?
Vow never to give way to discouragement. Sign the pledge against indulgence in it. Why not? Discouragement is the effect of the devil's work. Will you engage in helping the devil at his work?
There is no sound argument in favor of becoming discouraged; there is no reason or logic on its side. If you have obstacles to overcome, discouragement will make them only that much harder to overcome. Do you make mistakes? Discouragement will only make it harder to overcome them. No matter what may be your trouble, or failure, or other problem, discouragement is a positive hindrance. And if it is given way to, it must ultimately be overcome, in addition to overcoming the obstacle which occasions the discouragement, before one has the victory.
There is one thing you will do well always to remember, and that is God's promise in John 3:16. No matter where you are, no matter how hopeless everything seems, no matter how far down you may get, even into sin— remember that God loves you and has this promise, exactly suited to your need. All you have to do to begin to get out is to step upon that promise.
Yes, sanctified people feel discouraged at times. But since they are all the Lord's they must not give way to it, but must pray and trust Him to carry them through. This sooner or later brings them through the trial (1 Peter 5:10). Jesus Christ never gets discouraged. Let us be like Him in the eternal hope of the triumph of the grace of God (Romans 8:37-39). In which triumph we may have a share both while we live here and again in the heaven of heavens.
THE TORMENTS OF GIANT BAD FEELINGS
I am just a bundle of feelings. I never imagined one could have such a variety of them as I am now experiencing. Most of them are bad ones and I am greatly disturbed by them. Really, I doubt whether I am sanctified, on account of the feelings I have. Do sanctified people always feel joyful? I have heard that they do, and if it is true that they do, then I am not sanctified. Big doubts take up company with me every morning, and so long as I feel as I do I do not see how to dismiss them. My heart is heavy, very heavy, over these questions. Can you tell me how sanctified people feel? Please do, I am so anxious to know.
* * * * *
Nearly every pilgrim in Canaan has met Giant Bad Feelings, a doughty old giant with a long bad record for troubling pilgrims. He is not, they say, so dangerous to life as are some of the other giants, as he rarely slays a pilgrim; but for inflicting torment on them and as a helper to Giant Discourager no one can equal him. He is a most pestiferous giant, with a numerous family.
This is going to be a fair day, the sun came up clear this morning; shall we visit Pilgrim Sunshine? She lives in one of the sunniest, most pleasant vales in all Canaan, so I hear. You think it will be profitable to go over to her home? Very well, let us go.
By the way, did you ever hear the story of Pilgrim Sunshine? It is said she used to be sad, broken-hearted, fearful, and despondent, and that she lived long in the Valley of Sighs. Of course, we want to hear the story from her own lips. She has had a great deal of trouble, has pilgrim Sunshine; enough to make one despair, almost. Her people persecuted her, her husband deserted her, her sons reproached her; but, nevertheless, she is one of the happiest inhabitants of Canaan.
I believe we are nearing her home now, see how clear the air is up here, and the flora is getting more bountiful and beautiful, isn't it! There is her place! What a lovely garden she has! And it is growing out of such rocky soil! There she is, the dear old mother in Israel! When we get to her, note the marks of care that line her saintly face; but notice also the sweet smile that graces her kind countenance. Oh, that we could bear up under life's cares and burdens as she does!
"The Lord's blessings be yours, Pilgrim Sunshine."
"Aye, and the riches of His great goodness attend you, pilgrims. Sit down under this amaranthine bower and rest yourselves."
"We are new pilgrims in Canaan and we want to settle somewhere in the land. Some one said the Vale of Hidden Delights is a good place to live in. Seems to us it is. Could we find a home here? And we should be glad to hear you tell us some of your adventures in Canaan. Coming along, we saw some giants. Do any giants live in this vicinity? We are hoping that we can gain our inheritance without meeting any of them. Can we?"
"Pilgrims, I could wish you might settle into your inheritance without a battle; but I have never yet heard of a case where a pilgrim did so. It is true some more sturdy and valiant pilgrims have little trouble with the giants and soon win, but many have hard battles to fight [Luke 12:28; 1 John 5:4]. As to your settling here in the Valley of Hidden Delights, remember that it is only by the greatest toil and care we are able to bring loveliness and beauty out of this rocky soil. But if Immanuel allots you a home here, do not fear; some of the sweetest fruits and flowers of Canaan grow right here.
"My hardest battle was with Giant Bad Feelings. Beware of him! I had a pensive soul, a sensitive nature, and was conscientious to a scruple [Romans 14:1-6]. Bad Feelings took advantage of this fact and caused me trouble untold.
"I was very happy when I crossed the Jordan into Canaan, and set up my memorial stone with a shout. I advanced into the land to explore it at once. The old corn and wine of Canaan delighted me [Joshua 5:11, 12]. My weapons of warfare were bright, and I felt able to meet any foe. But inadvertently I got into the Valley of Sighs, and lived there far too long. I blame Giant Bad Feelings for it, yet I should not have allowed myself to be influenced by him.
"It was not long after I had passed Jericho that Giant Bad Feelings accosted me.
"'Good morning, pilgrim,' he said, 'how do you feel this morning. Seems to me your feelings are not what they should be. Pilgrims in Canaan ought to be happy all the time. You are not happy. There is a little load on your soul. See, you are carrying burdens!' and at that he laid something heavy upon my shoulders. 'It is true,' he chattered on, 'that pilgrims should be always happy, and you are not. That is plain to be seen. Now, be honest about it, aren't you sad?'
"Well, I had to confess I felt bad.
"'Certainly you feel bad. Are you sure you are all consecrated to Immanuel? Are you certain you left all the love of Egypt behind, on the farther side of the Jordan? Something must be wrong with you since you feel as you do.'
"At that he blew something into my face that sickened me with feelings of discouragement and dejection. Really, I felt worse than I did before ever I crossed the Jordan. I felt faint and sad.
"'Probably you have failed somewhere! More than likely Immanuel has cast you off, and some giant will carry you out of the land. You are a failure. That is all there is to it.' And with this he struck me a hard blow that seemed to land right on my heart. I fainted and fell.
"After this, Giant Bad Feelings visited me every day. He had the power, it seemed, to make me feel just as he desired. At times he would throw over me feelings that imitated envy, anger, and such like. When Bad Feelings would shroud me with ingratitude to Immanuel, then he would turn around and beat me for the ingratitude just as though the feelings were my own. And really it was here that Giant Bad Feelings deceived me. He had manufactured these feelings himself and, on encountering me, would lay them upon me, all the while insinuating that they were my very own. He would bring bad words to my mind, bad thoughts, ugly pictures and ideas that my soul and mind revolted against. He would deftly cause it all to seem as though it came from my heart. And then he would lay the most miserable and heart-deadening feelings upon me possible.
"Finally some pilgrims found out that Giant Bad Feelings was causing me much trouble and they visited me. 'Pilgrim,' they said, 'pay no attention to Giant Bad Feelings. He is a big blusterer, anyway. Ignore him. Next time he comes tell him plainly that you belong to Immanuel, and that your feelings are consecrated to Jehovah. Tell him that if Immanuel allows you to have feelings you do not understand, that is Immanuel's business, and must be a blessing to you in some way or other.'
"Giant Bad Feelings came around as usual after this visit of the pilgrims.
"'Good morning, Pilgrim Sunshine. Not much sunshine in your soul today, is there?' he bawled out.
"'Perhaps not,' I said. 'But I belong to Immanuel, and the state of my soul is in His keeping.'
"'Oh, pshaw! you feel miserable, and you know it. Be honest! And be sure! you might be deceived if you do not investigate very closely the state of your feelings. Remember, as a man feels so he is, according to Beelzebub.'
"'I am Immanuel's,' I declared vehemently. 'How I feel is His concern. Whatever the feeling He allows, there must be good for me in the experience. Anyway, I am His and He is mine.'
"'Come now,' said the Giant. 'Do you mean to say that you believe you are all right when you feel as you do! Be careful!'
"'Yes, sir, I mean to say that very thing. I believe I am all right, no matter how I feel. You have been lying to me. Get thee hence' [Matthew 4:1-11; 1 John 5:4, 2:12-14].
"At this I swung at Bad Feelings with the trusty sword of the Spirit. It was a hard struggle, but at last I chased him away. Then I moved out of the Vale of Sighs to this Vale of Hidden Delights."
"Oh, we feel so animated over this recital of your battle and victory over old Giant Bad Feelings, Pilgrim Sunshine! If he attacks us we believe we shall know what to do. Our armor and weapons are proof against him, this one thing we know. Oh, Immanuel, help us use the weapons thou hast so graciously put in our hands!
"Farewell Pilgrim Sunshine."
Now let us do some considering. Probably seventy-five per cent of the people who consecrate all to God for the grace to live the victorious life are troubled over the state of their feelings. It is so natural to think that if one wholly abandons all to Christ, that one thereafter should at all times feel joyful, close to Jesus, be conscious of His presence, feel the love and peace the Christian has. In general, feel at all times that all is well. And when one's feelings are opposite from this, a serious question and doubt usually arises as to whether the soul is really in Canaan-land or not. The fact is, one's feelings are no standard to go by; for they are subject to a variety of conditions, spiritual, mental, and physical, and change and fluctuate in a very swift and unaccountable manner many times. The ups and downs of the Christian life would indeed be violent and serious if they followed our feelings; but our faith tells the real story, not our feelings (Ephesians 2:8, 3:17; Romans 8:28, 37-39).
When you are tempted to regard your feelings, ignore the matter altogether. Look in another place for evidence of your standing. How is your consecration? (Romans 12:1-3). How is your faith? (1 John 5:4, 10). Are you all the Lord's? Do you still believe His promise? If you can say yes to these questions, you are still on victory's side, though you may not feel it.
The will, not the feelings, is the controlling factor in life. The feelings are like a family of children who may, if allowed to grow up disobedient and unruly, cause one much trouble, but if controlled and made obedient, contribute to one's happiness. Feelings are a part of us. Christian experiences are felt; that is, they affect the emotions as well as the will. Feelings fluctuate, and, in fact, in many cases become very unruly, like spoiled children, and want everything their own way. Bad news will produce sad feelings. If you receive a letter today announcing the wedding of a friend, you rejoice; if it announces a death, you sorrow. If you are sick in body your feelings may partake of the quality of your physical condition. It is well that our feelings enter into our lives in this way, else we should lack the sympathy, love, and other emotions that are essential to social happiness. So let us thank God we have feelings; they connect us with the joys and sorrows of others. But let us not gage our Christian experience by the way we feel.
Sanctified people have feelings that are natural. Man was created with all the social instincts before the fall. Before sin came in, he was told to multiply and replenish the earth. Out of the two natures, male and female, arise all the social instincts that produce families, homes, laws, and governments.
Man, however, is twofold in being, with soul and body in union. Soul and body function together and each affects the other. By steadily thinking you are sick, you can become sick; by overexerting the body, the mind can be deranged; etc.
Sanctification restores man morally to where he was in Eden. Sanctification cleanses away the nature of sin and leaves all the God-given instincts intact.
Without trying to be technical, we may set down man's natural instincts and feelings as follows:
Man's nature as created by God had capacity for love, joy, sorrow, justice, fear. These may be called basic instincts. There are phases of these we may profitably mention and discuss in connection with how or what a sanctified person may feel.
A sanctified person may feel: (1) The working of the law of self- preservation. (2) Sorrow at the death of loved ones. (3) Pleased when receiving words of appreciation. (4) Rising of righteous indignation at times. (5) Impatience at the slowness of justice or the wrong actions of others. (6) Pleasure in social life. (7) Craving of sex impulses and desires. (8) Hurt when illy spoken of or to. (9) Heavy through many temptations.
Taking these in order, let us explain them more fully. And we shall give here the results of over twenty years experience in the sanctified life, and many of these facts have been learned by bitter experience.
1. Self-preservation is a natural law. Fear is a part of it. Perfect love casts out fear, the fear that is slavish and results from sin; but perfect love does not destroy all timidity nor the sense of the need of protecting one's life. A sanctified person has just as good a right to run to a storm-cellar when a cyclone comes as has any one else. One form of fear is timidity. A newly sanctified person may feel somewhat timid in performing some duty. If, however, God's will calls to duties that mean even death, the fully consecrated soul goes on. So in such cases the law of self-preservation gives way to the higher law of self-sacrifice for Christ's sake.
2. Sorrow at the death of loved ones is compatible with sanctification. Many other things cause sorrow, such as disaster, disease, and sin, and these affect the wholly sanctified. The sanctified, however, have the Comforter to help support them and assuage their griefs.
3. If a sanctified person receives words of appreciation, he feels pleasure; not that they exalt him, but that they create in him a natural joy at being so appreciated. It is said by some that sanctified persons are "dead," and the point is illustrated by saying that pins might be thrust into a dead man and he will not wince. If sanctification destroyed the natural feelings, it would be a disaster rather than a blessing. It purifies them, but does not destroy them.
4. God planted in man the sense of justice. God made man in His own image. What we find in God, we find in man. God is just; so the principle of justice abides in man. Sanctification destroys the selfish vindictiveness of anger, but it does not destroy the sense of justice, and a sanctified person will feel the rise of a righteous indignation at evil. This is illustrated in Jesus, when He "looked round about on them with anger" (Mark 3:5), and also when He made the whip of cords and drove the robbers out of the temple (Matthew 21:12, 13). If the righteous man can not feel indignant at evil, how can God judge the world? Justice implies anger at evil. If righteous anger is wrong in man, it is wrong in God. Because God is God does not mean that He can do a moral wrong and it be right because God did it. His acts must be intrinsically right of themselves. Therefore, on the fact that He will judge the world we predicate the righteousness of sanctified indignation. And this is not carnal anger, which raves and slays and destroys unmercifully and wickedly.
5. It is rather hard to divide impatience into a just impatience and an unjust impatience. The point may be too fine for definition, but Scripture and experience both prove that sanctification does not make one perfectly patient. In fact, who should judge as to what perfect patience is if it were a possible attainment? Sanctification does make us patient. The constant ruffling of soul over untoward events stops. We grow patient. We trust God. We wait and hope. But we read that "tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3); so hard experiences make us patient, that is, if we bear them. James says, "The trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:3). So what tribulations and trials work is not completely done by the Spirit when we are sanctified.
6. It used to be said by some that sanctification destroyed social instincts to the point of making social diversions distasteful. It seems very hard to disentangle the true state of holiness from asceticism. Once, holy men were supposed to be dead to social enjoyments—they would not marry, they would not wear ordinary clothing, they would not associate on a common plane with their fellows. But Jesus did not live that way. He made wine for a marriage feast; He ate dinner at a rich Pharisee's house; He enjoyed being at Martha's home. John leaned on His bosom at the last supper. Jesus was no ascetic.
Sanctification lifts social contact to its highest level. Brilliant conversation on a plane of purity is as enjoyable to holy people as to others. Figures of speech, puns, and riddles may mark the conversation of holy people as well as others. Yet their talk does not descend to the vulgar, frivolous, giddy, jay chatter of the wicked. As is said of conversation, so may be said of parties and picnics, which are names for outings or gatherings of various kinds at which refreshments may or may not be served. Should God's children be debarred from these pleasurable associations because the world goes too far in them?
7. Sanctification does not destroy sex impulses, but it does ennoble them and bring them under control. Hence the drawing of natures to each other is common to all, and courtship and marriage are honorable, as Paul said.
8. Since sanctified persons can appropriately feel pleasure at words of appreciation, so can they feel hurt at slights and impositions heaped on them by others. Perhaps the dividing line between what is right and what is wrong in this matter is this: so long as one feels hurt but does not feel like hurting in return, he may be safe; but when one is hurt and then feels the retaliating spirit which boils over in anger, that one feels the mark of an unsanctified soul. We may be hurt, but we also commit and trust it to God.
9. Joy is not always overflowing in the hearts of the sanctified. Heavy trials will produce a heaviness of spirit (1 Peter 1:6-9).
These trials are profitable, really indispensable.
Sanctification restores the soul. It purifies the affections and motives of the life, it lifts all of life up to a plane of holiness and love, but it leaves us men and women. Do not expect impossibilities of it, but expect it to cleanse out sin and carnal wicked elements.
God's plan for the earth is for salvation to extend to all men until this world shall be ruled by divine principles and love instead of lust and selfishness.
Give yourself wholly to God, then, dear soul; fully yield all up to the divine will and care not how you feel. Let God care for your feelings as well as for everything else. He will "keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on" Him. Glorious peace, precious rest, delightful confidence!
A certain woman lived a precarious existence, but she was so happy in her life with Jesus that she was the marvel of her town.
You have given all to God, let Him keep all of you and for you.
THE ROUTING OF GIANT DOUBT
Doubts! doubts! doubts! Just a company of them around me all the time worse than Job's miserable comforters. What can I do with them? I should like to dismiss them, but it seems I can not. They make me much trouble, but it seems I can not get them to leave me. Especially are the doubts concerning my entire consecration aggravating, and those, too, concerning my entire cleansing. I fear to come out boldly and declare that I believe that Christ fully saves me now. I believe He can and will, but the words die on my lips when I attempt to bring it down to the present moment. Yet I know these doubts are dishonoring to God, who has made such great and glorious promises. Can you give me some instructions on what to do with doubts? How did you overcome yours? Please help me, in Christ's name.
* * * * *
Pilgrim Sincere lives in what I hear is one of the best parts of Canaan. He had a great encounter with old Giant Doubt; so let us pay him a visit. We have met the old Giant already, and we have no hesitation in saying that if there is a worse giant than he in Canaan, we are not eager to meet him. Pilgrim Sincere may tell us something about him that it will be of profit to us to know.
Here! We are at Sincere's place already. There is no question of his victory over Giant Doubt. Such a shield of faith as his is I never saw before!
"Pilgrim Sincere, we have been talking with pilgrims and residents of Canaan, and now we have come to see you. Will you tell us something that will enable us to gain a freehold in Canaan? We have met many poor pilgrims who say they have never yet gained a clear title to a home here. They have been driven here and there by this or that old giant. We are eager not to be defeated in this great adventure in Canaan."
"If you will give all honor to Immanuel and none to me, I will relate my experiences—a few at least. There are many giants in Canaan, very many of them. There is Giant Lust, who has slain thousands. Poor souls! Giant Puff-up, who causes pilgrims to act as foolish as did the toad that saw an elephant and burst itself trying to be as large; Giant Lethargy, who operates an opiate factory in a hollow that runs directly down into Egypt; Giant Covetousness, who decoys pilgrims to the silver-mine run by Balaam and Demas; Giant Pride, an evil giant who has troubled pilgrims for time out of mind; Giant Liar, who uses an abundance of camouflage; and others [Galatians 5:19-21]."
"My, you almost scare us naming them! Can it be we must fight all of them? Is not this that rest-land!"
"My dear pilgrims, this is Beulah-land, and Sabbath-land. Here is the true rest. But remember, Canaan has its giants, more so than the wilderness; the true rest is found in overcoming them. Do not be frightened. Look at the armor with which you are equipped."
"Sincere, the armor is all right, but it is ourselves that we are doubtful of. Can we use the sword and the shield as they should be used?"
"Indeed you can, pilgrims, no doubt of it. Why, when I got into Canaan I was so weak I nearly lost my life fighting."
"Tell us about it."
"About twenty-five years ago I entered Canaan. It was a great day for me! At last the long journey through the wilderness was over, the deep, wide waters of Jordan passed! Canaan was my own! I praised Immanuel and began to possess the land [Joshua 1:2, 3].
"Not long after that I met a lean, white-whiskered man named Legality. He said he was my friend. He looked venerable and sincere, even if he did appear rather stern and immovable! 'Now friend Sincere,' he said, 'I have something here that will help you walk safely and straight,' and with that he slipped a peculiar jacket over my head and buckled it up pretty tight around my waist [Galatians 5:1].
"'There,' he said, 'that jacket just fits you. You are in Canaan now, and must walk, oh, so straight and carefully! Why, if you make even ever so little a mistake, you will be punished, I fear, dreadfully. But that jacket will help you and keep you from doing anything far out of the way.' And with that he left me.
"Well, I wanted anything that would help me, so I kept the jacket on. It bothered me considerably. It was made of stiff, iron stays, woven in with rough haircloth, both of which were made, so Mr. Legality said, by one Mr. Over-Conscientious Scruple who lives in the town of Sensitive.
"Every move I made was retarded by that jacket. By and by sore places appeared where the end of the stays engaged my flesh. I met Mr. Legality once and told him how bad the jacket was treating me, but he said the cure was to buckle it on tighter. Oh, my, how it did hurt! But he said it would be dangerous to take it off. So I continued to suffer. I could not act freely in any matter.
"Just about this time old Giant Doubt met me. He carried a book and a big pencil. 'Sit down here while I give you an examination; that is my business,' he said. 'My lord has commissioned me to do this work.' Something inside me told me that here was an enemy; but he spoke with such a show of authority that I passively sat down. And he began.
"'How do you feel?'
"'I do not feel very good, just now.' I said.
"'I thought so. No doubt there is something wrong with you. Have you gained an established home in Canaan yet?'
"'No, I haven't,' I replied.
"'Well, you never will; at least there are serious doubts about it. It is my business to make sure that pilgrims possess the land. Did you put up your memorial stone!'
"'Yes, I carried a stone out of the middle of Jordan and set it up. I suppose it is there yet.'
"'That stone was no good, a little rough rock it was. Why didn't you select a nice large stone such as Pilgrim Joyful carried out?'
"'I did the best I could; that was the only stone I saw in passing through. I noticed it was not like Pilgrim Joyful's, and not like Pilgrim Honest's, either.'
"'No good, no good! Too small! I doubt if it is really stone at all. Did you leave all the wilderness luggage on yonder side Jordan?'
"'I intended to. I dropped the whole bundle as I stepped into the Jordan.'
"'I doubt it. I believe you have considerable wilderness trappings in your possession. More than that, I doubt whether you left all your load when you crossed the Red Sea. Did you?'
"'I thought I did,' I replied.
"'I doubt it. How do you feel now?' said old Giant Doubt.
"'I feel bad, worse than before the examination began.' I replied.
"'I see you do. Something is wrong with you. You have passed a poor examination. It is my business to carry you out of Canaan as unworthy to be in this good land. Come on,' and with that he arose and advanced toward me with both hands extended. I trembled violently, but seemed powerless to resist. He picked me up and started off with me. Just then I spotted a sturdy post with a sign-board nailed to the top. I eagerly sought to read the legend. 'Beware!' it began. 'At this place a certain old giant, named Doubt, has a habit of stopping pilgrims and taking them through a pretended examination. He claims to hold a commission from his lord to do this work. His commission is true; but his lord is Beelzebub. After the examination, he usually carries off the pilgrim who allows him to question him. Many have fallen to his devices. He is a cruel, old giant, and he carries his victims to'—and here I could read no more.
"We soon left the main road and entered a dark valley called Vale of Destruction.
"'Let me go,' I shouted.
"'I will not, you are not fit to be in Canaan,' he replied.
"I struggled and shouted for help with all my might. He held me close, however, and the vale grew darker and darker.
"'O Immanuel, do send me help! Oh, deliver me from this cruel giant!' I cried. Just then there appeared ahead a stream of light, which came in from one side of the valley. When we reached the light, I saw a beautiful mansion built high up on the sides of a valley that broadened out in a beautiful vale named Hope. Some people were singing on the lawn of the mansion. Either they caught a glimpse of the old giant carrying me, or my loud shouts for help reached them. At any rate, I saw two of them start toward us [Galatians 6:2].
"Old Giant Doubt attempted to run faster, as he also caught sight of them; but a periodic rheumatism attacked him, and he made little progress. The two pilgrims, who I found were Valiant and Faithful, rushed to my rescue.
"'You wicked old Giant Doubt,' they shouted, 'let go of Pilgrim Sincere.' And they attacked him with their swords.
"'Sincere,' they cried, 'take your sword and use it!'
"By this time my arm was free enough to grasp the sword, and I gave the giant a close thrust. At this he dropped me and ran as fast as he could.
"'Poor pilgrim,' said Valiant. 'How fortunate for you that you shouted! We heard the call. Praise and honor to Immanuel.' And Valiant reverently lifted his hands and eyes heavenward.
"'Where did the old, evil giant overcome you?' asked Faithful.
"'Back at a place where there is a sign warning pilgrims against Giant Doubt. But I did not see the sign till he started off with me.'
"'I wonder if we can not mark that spot more plainly, so that no pilgrim will ever allow Giant Doubt to hold his false examination there?' asked Valiant.
"'No,' said Faithful. 'It has been tried over and over. No sign except the one that is there ever remains even if it is put up.'
"'What kind of garment is that you are wearing around your waist?' asked Faithful.
"'This is a jacket that Mr. Legality gave me to wear.' I answered.
"'The crafty villain,' exclaimed Faithful. 'Put it away from you!'
"But I was afraid to do this, and told them so. They related how that same jacket had caused them much trouble. They further said that no one could unbuckle it but me, as there was a secret lock on each jacket that no one but the wearer could work.
"After this I got back to the main highway again. But the first thing I knew was that old Giant Doubt was with me again [Matthew 14:28-31]. And he began to talk to me just as if he had never said anything to me before. I wondered what I should do if he attempted to carry me away. And then I remembered what I read on a monument just after crossing the Jordan: 'Every pilgrim must overcome the giants for himself.' But just how to do this I did not know. So I had another encounter with him.
"'Do you still think you are a pilgrim in Canaan?' he said. 'More than likely you will never find rest. I doubt it very much. See how bad you feel. And you are always saying or doing something that hurts you. Pilgrims should live better than you do.' And with that he grabbed me in his big, burly arms and nearly squeezed the life out of me. I couldn't fight at all. The jacket held me so rigid that I could not even use the sword or hold up the shield. In fact, Mr. Legality told me his straight-jacket was a better protection than any sword or shield; and I had gradually grown into dependency on it.
"Next day Giant Doubt assailed me again. This time he unmercifully beat me with his wormwood club. And after cuffing me about until I was nearly dead, he again left me. Then he came every day. It is peculiar how long he kept my company. Or, rather, it is strange how long I allowed him to be with me. And every day I found myself weaker; and when the old giant threatened to throw me into the sea of the dead, I had very little resistance in me—just enough to keep him from his purpose.
"I found that every time I used the sword ever so little it scared the old giant; and when he shot hot darts, I found that the shield would stop them if I held it up. But that old jacket was very much in my way.
"At last I said to myself, 'I believe this jacket is a nuisance. Off with it!' and I pulled it off and threw it as far as I could down into the crevasse of Worn Out Laws [James 1:25].
"After this, I met Giant Doubt again. But my wounds had become well, and I determined to fight for my life and my liberty. I told the giant that, Immanuel helping me, I should not let him travel with me another step of the way.
"'Oh, yes I will!' he said. 'You can not travel without me. I'm your friend.'
"'You are no friend,' I cried, 'but an enemy. You have made my journey miserable. You have driven away my peace; you have killed my joy; you have beaten me, deceived me, and threatened me with death, and have indeed nearly killed me. Go! Get behind me! you enemy of my soul' [Matthew 4:1-11].
"And at this I smote him with the sword of truth. He ran away and got out his arrows to shoot at me as before; but I simply held up the shield, and not one hurt me [Romans 16:20]. Then I ran after him with all my might and chased him away—and I haven't had a real encounter with him since."
* * * * *
The cure for doubts is faith; not prayer, nor fasting, nor working— just faith. Faith is believing God, believing just what God says. God has said many things and made many promises. Faith expects God to fulfill His word. Trust is faith holding on and waiting.
We are sanctified by faith; we enter into complete soul-rest by faith. There is no other way. We must come to God and simply ask Him to work His complete redemption in our hearts and fill us with the Spirit. After we give ourselves wholly to Him, after we lay all on the altar, there is nothing more that we can do except trust and obey. It is God's part to complete in us the work for salvation; our business is to trust Him to do it. We trust carpenters and builders to build our houses, we trust bankers with our money, we trust men every day and hour of our lives; shall we not trust God?
In all battles with doubt, go back to basic facts. Allow no confusion of mind, no agitation of spirit; calm every fear and find out just where and how you are. First, ask yourself if you are all the Lord's. Do you now lay on His altar your all? Do you now choose His will? Do you intend to serve Him? Do you answer, "Yes"? Put that down then as a settled fact. Never allow yourself to doubt a point that has been settled. Let it stay settled. Next ask yourself if you believe God is true to His word, if you believe He will do what He promised. If you say, "Yes," let that point be settled also. Stand by it. If you have met the conditions upon which God promised to cleanse and fill you, you must believe that God does these things for you.
Doubts have a way of coming in early in the morning. They are like bad neighbors, they come when they are not wanted. Doubts may arise because you do not "feel" as you should like to, or because you have made mistakes; or simply because you have been sorely tempted. You must learn that feeling is no true gage of your spiritual experience.
An encounter with doubts may be something like this: You awake in the morning and are possessed of a feeling that is utterly non-religious. You do not feel one whit as though you are fully saved and trusting, but just the opposite. Not having learned to pay no attention to this, but instead to jump up and praise and thank God for all His goodness, you begin to question, "Am I really and truly consecrated? Where are all my joyful feelings? Why do I feel this way? Surely something is wrong."
The longer you think, the more doubtful you become, and at last discouragement takes charge of your whole soul.
There is no harm, but good, in examining ourselves; it is all right to put hard and searching questions to our hearts as to our standing with God. But when doubts lead to such an examination, the result is usually disastrous.
Doubting gets to be a bad habit; one very hard to break. It is a sort of self-depreciating, self-deprecating, self-condemning habit. Doubting becomes easy and natural after the habit is formed. A chronic state of discouragement follows. You are as miserable as you can be. And yet the idea of abruptly cutting off the whole bad thing fills you with dismay. You are afraid to do it. A sort of up-and-down life seems preferable to a bold, upstanding victorious life. A sort of weakness or spiritual cowardice follows, too; and one habitually doubting prefers to be a pygmy, a dwarf, for Christ, rather than a real man, a warrior in Him.
Doubt has a dreadful reaction on the soul and mind. Its influence is deadening and damning. It shrivels and dries up the joy and spontaneity of service. It makes one feel inferior and weak. Instead of causing one to fight, doubts lead one to give up the fight; instead of prompting resistance, doubts make one lie down and get wounded and bruised. Doubts make us failures. They blight, mar, and drag down. They are the devil's own poison to kill off God's people.
There is only one thing to do to overcome doubts: have faith in God. Kill the doubts, or they will kill you. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4).
THE WINE OF PRAYER
I am troubled with listlessness in prayer. When I kneel to pray, my mind wanders here and there out over the world—to my business, or probably to some trifling thing that amounts to nothing. I feel chagrined and disappointed. Jesus is so loyal to me, so worthy of praise and prayer, that to feel thus in prayer is mortifying. I have confessed it, but have not obtained a satisfactory deliverance, nor a solution of the matter. Can you give me any help? It will be much appreciated if you can teach me how to feel unction in prayer, and how to pray the fervent prayer of the righteous. Oh, do help me! My heart longs, yea yearns, for that nearness to God in prayer that will draw out my soul in mighty petitions for others, especially for the suffering and the lost.
* * * * *
We heard of the fruits of Canaan long before we arrived. There were grapes of Eschol, pomegranates, milk and honey, and the old corn and wine of the land. Back in the Wilderness we were told of fruits so wonderful that they made the pilgrims strong and valiant for Immanuel, and of course we were eager to pluck them for ourselves. But we found that every one must grow or gather his own fruit, and also that the finest food is obtained from the most unlikely places, on hard, stony soil, and in rather inaccessible spots.
For instance, the honey. Hardly any of this delightful food was obtainable except in the crags of Hard Trials Mountains. And the Wine of Prayer was pressed from grapes that grew best in the Valley of Sore Temptation.
Do you suppose Caleb could tell us how to obtain these fruits? We are specially interested in the Wine of Prayer, suppose we go and see Caleb today. He received us so graciously on our former visit, he probably would be glad to see us again. Let us go!
Yes, he is at home today. See, there he is now. Oh, he is on his knees! Dear old saint of Canaan! And what is that he is doing? Oh, see, he seems to be drawing something from a cask in the shades of his beautiful garden! Yes, indeed, that must be Wine of Prayer he is drawing! What a blessed favor to call upon Him on such an occasion. He does not see us. Let us wait here, apart from his sanctuary.
Caleb seems lost in earnest communion with Immanuel. Note the heavenly smile that lights up his weather-beaten old face! He seems animated by the draughts he takes from his wine-cask. When his devotions and communions are over, we shall greet him. See, he rises! What a glory emanates from his face! It causes me to feel eager to slake my thirst at the same holy place! My life seems so earthly, so lacking in heavenliness and saintliness!
"Pilgrim Caleb, do tell us what you were drinking and how we may obtain some of the same wine."
"Most gladly. First, I must tell you a secret. The grapes from which the best Wine of Prayer is made come from the Valley of Sore Temptation. That is not a pleasant place, by any means. Several bad giants rendezvous there. Old Giants Lust, Pride, Persecution, Worldliness, Covetousness, and others make it a sort of headquarters. They never bother the grape-vines; it is only the pilgrims that they annoy. The soil is rocky and hard to subdue and cultivate. I wanted the very best fruits the land had; so I, too, was obliged to take a plot of ground in the Valley of Sore Temptation and make a beginning.
"No sooner had I marked off my little plot than the giants haunted me. They buffeted me about rather rudely. Old Giant Pride tried to make me think I was one of the greatest men who ever came into Canaan. Old Giant Covetousness told me all about a silver-mine which Balaam opened and Demas worked in. I could easily get rich, he said, if I would abandon the cultivation of grapes and follow him to the mine. He certainly told a plausible story, and tried hard to influence me to go. Giant Lust pointed out ways and means to capture silly souls, and tried hard to attract my attention toward a valley that leads down into Egypt; I had had enough of Egypt, and resisted him with all my might. But no matter how hard I resisted or rebuked these giants, they stayed in that valley. No one, it seems, can rout them completely from it. Their presence there goes with the cultivation of grapes.
"Well, I grew a small crop the first season. Then I made a wine-press out of pieces of faith, patience, and obedience, and placed a heavy weight on top made of perseverance. I got a little wine, and, oh, it was delicious and refreshing! Since then I have learned more about raising the fruit and making wine. I can get more wine out of the grapes, too, than formerly, by getting a heavier weight and using larger pieces of material in the press.
"Nothing is so refreshing as the Wine of Prayer. The whole soul is caught up, invigorated, revitalized, inspired. It gives mighty strength. Giants tremble and quake and run for their lives when they see a pilgrim fresh from his wine-cask move upon them. Blessed be Immanuel! Glory, praise, and honor, hallelujah to His high name, forever and ever! Oh, He provides such power and unction and sweetness! Never rest, pilgrims, till you get your vineyard started. And may Immanuel bless you!"
Thanks to Caleb for his words!
Listlessness in prayer is the result of a lack of interest; no one is listless about things he is vitally interested in. The thing to do is, not work against listlessness, for listlessness is only a symptom, but work up a real interest in the object of prayer. Find something to pray for, and pray for it with all your might.
Mind-wandering during secret prayer can also be attributed to lack of interest in the right thing. If your mind wanders, it is no sin, but a sign that you have nothing very pressing to pray for. If you were wanting something which you needed very much—if you were sorely and severely tempted, or were sick and suffering, or if you were persecuted and needed help—you would pray earnestly enough. Or, if you had in mind a friend or relative who was in need of help, then you could pray earnestly.
The cure for listlessness and mind-wandering, therefore, is in feeling and knowing the need, either of ourselves or of others, for which we engage in prayer. There is too much need for any listlessness in prayer. To be sure, no one can always feel the same degree of fervor and unction in prayer; but there may always be enough to make prayer a really refreshing season to the soul.
Prayer is more than asking; it is praise, thanksgiving, communion. We are exhorted "to be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). Prayer, then, is partly thanksgiving.
Begin with thanksgiving. If the Lord has done anything for you, thank Him for it. Count your blessings as you kneel. Remember the pit of sin you were taken out of; consider how often you have been helped and protected. Exercising the soul in this way produces the most favorable state of mind for further prayer, for making requests.
Give God a chance to talk to you while you are in prayer. Ask for a conversation. Be still and listen for God's voice; expect Him to speak.
In making requests, be willing for God to have His way. Ask, and you shall receive; but not always as soon as you ask.
Importunity in prayer is needed as well as perseverance and patience.
It is a blessed thing, this life of trust, the life of prayer. In daily communion with Christ we may travel life's road and enjoy a fellowship too rich, too deep, too holy to describe adequately. Enter in and see and taste for yourself.
PILGRIMS OF THE VICTORIOUS LIFE
Please tell me, will you, if a really victorious life is possible to me; I mean a day-by-day, year-in-and-year-out experience? I have so much of struggle and battle in my life that a life of constant victory seems a vague, faraway dream. It seems to me that the only ones capable of obtaining and retaining this blissful state are those living very sheltered lives and with few obstacles in their way. These may live victoriously; but as for me, with my toils and troubles of various kinds, how can it be possible? I have met many victorious Christians. Of course I do not know how it is with them; but I believe their sweet temper pointed plainly to the fact that their lives had fallen in very pleasant places. Can you give me any clue to this matter? If a victorious life is possible for me, I want it. Will you help me? Thank you!
* * * * *
Well, upon my word! There goes Pilgrim Serene, who lives in Poverty Vale, close by Caleb's fair Hebron home! Shall we engage her in conversation? They say she is one of the sweetest-tempered pilgrims in Canaan, and yet we are told that her home is in one of the poorest spots in the land. And who is that walking by her side! She seems to be very happy. Oh, yes, that is Pilgrim Joyful! And where does she live? They say she lives in Trouble Hollow, close by Offense Mountain. My, those names sound ominous, don't they! Do let us engage them in conversation; for it seems sweeter faced pilgrims we never have seen.
"May we walk with you in the way? And may we inquire about your home in Canaan, and why it is you seem so happy and calm? We are only a few days over the Jordan, and are trying to learn all we can of the land. Where did you get those beautiful flowers in your hands? Tell us your experiences! Please do!"
"You are welcome to our company, gladly. I am Pilgrim Serene; my companion is Pilgrim Joyful. These flowers came from the garden of Patient Endurance, which is situated on Mount Calm. The flowers are free to all pilgrims; but the road to the garden is a very rough road, and thorn-bushes fringe it for a considerable distance. Some pilgrims once organized a band to clear out the thorns; but the bushes have such a tough bark that no knife was able to cut through them. So they stand there still. Another band gathered out all the stones; but new stones fall from the cliffs above all the time, and some of the new stones are worse to cut the feet of pilgrims than the old ones were. So it is thought best to let the path alone. Just smell how sweet these are!"
"Where do you live, Pilgrim Serene?"
"I live in Poverty Vale. The floor of the valley is very hard and poor. But Immanuel walks and talks with me. Every day He comes and helps me; every day He lifts burdens off my back. Showers of blessing fall every day or two."
"You never have any trouble do you, Pilgrim Serene? I am sure you do not; for you look so free from care and worry."
"My dear pilgrim, I have a struggle all the time. I never know what it is to be free from pain or poverty. If it were not for Honey Rock, I certainly should have famished long ago."
"Where is Honey Rock?"
"Oh, it borders the Vale, high up in the mountains. Only a faint path leads to it; for it seems only a few pilgrims know where it is. And besides, it is the roughest path I ever tried to follow. But once one is at the Rock, all one has to do to feast on the nectar is to smite the Rock in the name of Immanuel, and forthwith there comes out the most delicious honey in all the world."
"Oh, we wish to eat of it! But, there is that rough foot-path. I don't know whether we can walk it or not!"
"Have you been to Honey Rock too, Pilgrim Joyful?"
"Yes, pilgrims, I have. I was there yesterday."
"Is it that which caused the scratches and blood stains on your feet and hands and which tore your garments?"
"Yes, pilgrims. As to my home, it is in Trouble Hollow. Offense Mountain rises high on two sides of it. Not many pilgrims like my home; but Immanuel gave it to me, and any home in Canaan is preferable to the best spot in the Wilderness, better than the grandest mansion in Egypt. It is true my home is in a dark valley, and old Offense Mountain has continual landslides that I have to help clear away; but, glory and praises to Immanuel! a bare existence in Canaan surpasses anything I ever enjoyed before. Hallelujah! Angels in bands visit me often. Heaven seems in sight!"
"Thank you Serene and Joyful. We shall be glad to meet you again."
These two pilgrims whose lives are spent in Canaan's most troubled spots have a holy serenity that shames us when we think of how we complain at a few hard things that we have met. Thank God for such pilgrims!
Here is a true story. Mrs. B—— is a cripple woman who walks with a crutch. Years ago she was converted and later was wholly sanctified. Her husband was a wicked man who gave her a great deal of trouble and at last died and left her with several children. They were miserably poor. She took her family overland for a hundred miles to another place, walking and carrying their effects as best they could. She is still poor, though her children have now become self-supporting. No one could think of anything harder to go through with than this woman had. Her physical handicap prevented her doing many things she could otherwise have done, she was compelled to work at the hardest jobs, and had to see her children grow up without schooling. All was hard; just plain, hard living. If the family had enough to eat, it was a thing to be thankful for. And yet, in those years this woman has always been cheerful, and gives a brilliant testimony to the grace of God to keep her sweet and joyful.
Another case is that of "Brother H," we shall call him. Brother H was afflicted with tuberculosis. He was called to the ministry, was a splendid singer, mightily gifted in prayer, and was used of God in working several remarkable miracles of healing. His family was numerous, much more so than his afflicted condition made possible for him to support. He lived in a small three-room house, with eight or nine children and an overburdened wife. He could do no work. His neighbors frowned on him and persecuted him mildly for not working. His home was the very picture of poverty; nothing could be worse in that line, scarcely. Yet he was a man of the highest Christian integrity and faith, and was one of the happiest Christians one could meet. And his happiness was not that of the careless man, not the happiness of a callous, uneducated person; for he felt keenly the poverty to which he was subjected and was always embarrassed at his state and the condition of his home. He had that fine intuition and grace of a gentleman of the highest order; and yet he was happy in the Lord. His happiness was the genuine joy of full salvation in his heart, born of a faith that believed all things were working together for his good.
Entire sanctification is not something that takes troubles out of the life, neither does it change one's outward circumstances; but it does lift the soul above all earthly troubles and let it soar in God's free air of victory.
To the fully consecrated soul there are no "second causes"; that is, no one is between him and God who can harm him or affect him in any way apart from God's will. It may be that others will mistreat us grievously, and their acts be wrong and utterly opposed to God's will; but those acts have had to pass God's will in getting to us. By this they become the will of God to us. For instance, some one may persecute us. The spirit of persecution is wicked and God has nothing to do with it; but before that persecution reaches us it must pass God's will; so the persecution becomes God's will to us, and we bear it for His sake. God may put some bad medicine in human bottles and cause us to drink of them for our good.
This victorious life is a life on wings. We are to mount up with wings as eagles. The wings are faith and consecration. When troubles come, we flap our wings and fly over them. Since we are God's, it is His place to bring us out and help us over, hence the fully consecrated soul trusts, and lets God work matters out. Of course, this does not mean that we shall not help ourselves. In fact, little trust can be exercised until we have done all we can do to help ourselves; but if we can not avail or prevail, we carry it to the Lord and leave it with Him to work out.
David speaks of the Lord's hiding him in His secret place, in His pavilion, under His wings. Jesus has said that not a hair of our head shall fall without our Father's notice. Peter says we are to cast all our care upon God, for God careth for us. And Paul exhorts us to be careful for nothing, but with prayer and thanksgiving let our requests be known to God.
The greatest of all comforts is this, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). "All things" means all things. The Christian who gives up all is certain of God's continual care and protection. He can not expect to escape trouble or trial or temptation; but he is kept in these things. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." That is, nothing shall cause them to fall. They may be hurt, and be wounded by the inconsiderate or deliberate acts or words of others; but they will sail on in peace in God.
The will of God surrounds us like a wall, and nothing can penetrate that wall and touch our consecrated souls unless God so wills, or permits.
Of all lives, the victorious life is the richest and best. There is joy in serving, giving, sacrificing. If we are persecuted for Christ's sake, there is great joy. Life's problems are met with faith. A colored woman who had to wash for a living was very happy all the time. Rich women would marvel at her peace of mind, and one time one of them chided her for her optimism, which to the rich woman seemed based on nothing. "Why, suppose you should get sick, or suppose something should happen," said her rich friend. "Oh, I never supposes," said the poor woman. "That is what is the matter with you, you supposes and supposes and imagines all lands of ill coming on you. The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want. So I never supposes, I know everything will come out all right." She just flapped her wings, so to speak, and flew over her troubles.
The victorious life is free from worry, fretting, overanxious solicitude, burdensome care. It is free from malice, ill will, retaliation. It is free from bad temper, sees the bright side of things, and wears its clouds inside out. The sanctified life is a life of faith, and it is a life of obedience. To trust has to it become a habit, to obey a second nature. The victorious life looks not behind, but ahead; it ignores past failures and goes forward in faith.
And this victorious life is for all. Instead of being for favored folk, it is for the weak, the burdened, the poor, the sick, the troubled, the persecuted. Enter in by consecration and faith. Yield all just now. Lay all on God's altar. Be His alone. Then by faith enter into this life which will be yours every day as you live by faith and trust and obey.