Knowing.... the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (2 Corinthians v. 11.)
'The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth,' (Psalm ix. 16.)
The majesty of God's law can be measured only by the terrors of His judgments. God is rich in mercy, but He is equally terrible in wrath. So high as is His mercy, so deep is His wrath. Mercy and wrath are set over against each other as are the high mountains and the deep seas. They match each other as do day and night, as do winter and summer, or right and left, or top and bottom. If we do not accept mercy, we shall surely be overtaken by wrath.
God's law cannot be broken with impunity. 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die.' We can no more avoid the judgment of God's violated law than we can avoid casting a shadow when we stand in the light of the sun, or than we can avoid being burned if we thrust our hand in the fire. Judgment follows wrong-doing as night follows day.
This truth should be preached and declared continually and everywhere. It should not be preached harshly, as though we were glad of it; nor thoughtlessly, as though we had learned it as a parrot might learn it; nor lightly, as though it were really of no importance; but it should be preached soberly, earnestly, tearfully, intelligently, as a solemn, certain, awful fact to be reckoned with in everything we think and say and do.
The terrible judgments of God against the Canaanites were but flashes of His wrath against their terrible sins. People with superfine sensibilities mock at what they consider the barbarous ferocity of God's commands against the inhabitants of Canaan, but let such people read the catalogue of the Canaanites' sins as recorded in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus (verses 6-25), and they will then understand why God's anger waxed so hot. The Canaanites practiced the most shameless and inconceivable wickedness, until, as God says, 'the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.'
'Fools make a mock of sin ' wrote Solomon (Proverbs xiv. 9), and professedly wise men still lead simple souls astray as the serpent beguiled Eve, saying, 'Ye shall not surely die.' (Genesis iii. 4.)
But men who understand the unchangeable holiness of God's character and law tremble and fear before Him at the thought of sin. They know that He is to be feared; 'the terror of the Lord' is before them. And this is not inconsistent with the perfect love that casteth out fear. Rather it is inseparably joined with that love, and the man who is most fully possessed of that love is the one who fears most -- with that reverential fear that leads him to depart from sin. For he who is exalted to the greatest heights of divine love and fellowship in Jesus Christ sees most plainly the awful depths of the divine wrath against sin and the bottomless pit to which sinners out of Christ are hastening.
This vision and sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and of God's wrath against wickedness begets not a panicky, slavish fear that makes a man hide from God, as Adam and Eve hid among the trees of Eden, but a holy, filial fear that leads the soul to come out into the open and run to God to seek shelter in His arms, and to be washed in the Blood of 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'
Lo! on a narrow neck of land, 'Twixt two unbounded seas I stand, Yet how insensible! A point of time, a moment's space, Removes me to that heavenly place, Or shuts me up in Hell!
Before me place in dread array The scenes of that tremendous day, When Thou with clouds shalt come To judge the people at Thy bar; And tell me, Lord, shall I be there To hear Thee say, 'Well done!
Be this my one great business here, With holy joy and holy fear, To make my calling sure; Thine utmost counsel to fulfill, To suffer all Thy righteous will, And to the end endure.
The Worst Drunkard In Town Got Saved Last Night And--
Many years ago I was visiting Riverside, California, for a brief campaign, and was met at the train by the Captain in charge at about ten o'clock in the morning. His face was glowing as he said to me: 'We got the worst old drunkard in town saved last night; and I have seen him twice this morning, and he is doing fine.' How could the poor old drunkard do otherwise, with a Captain bubbling over with faith, love, and good cheer, following him up like that! Don't forget, he saw the old saved drunkard twice the next morning. 'Twice'! That is the way new-born babies are cared for, and that is the way to care for new-born souls.
This Officer came east to Pennsylvania; and a Spiritual Special visited his Corps, had about fifty Converts, and the Captain did not lose one, but enrolled them all as Soldiers. On another occasion he labored until after midnight with a drunkard, and then carried him to his lodging-place on his back. The proprietor of the lodging-house refused to receive him, but the Captain carried the chap upstairs to his room, put him to bed, followed him up; and made a Salvation Army Blood-and-Fire Soldier out of him.
On the way home that night, long after midnight, the Captain had to cross a great irrigation ditch, and when he came to the bridge he heard a splash and a groan. Rushing forward he found a man's feet sticking up, but his head under the bridge and under the water. He pulled the man out of the water and got the water out of him, prayed with him, got him saved, and the man became an earnest Christian. The poor fellow in a fit of discouragement was trying to commit suicide.
This Captain is now a Lieut.-Colonel, and a Divisional Commander; and is still passionately seeking souls, and looking after Converts.
I would like to commend to all my comrades on the Field a re-reading of the life of the Angel Adjutant; and call to your special attention the faithful way in which she watched for souls, and shepherded her Converts. She was a good shepherd and 'the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.'
New Converts need care just as new babies do. Many years ago I was taken off of my Provincial Campaigns and put in charge of the Chicago No.1 Corps; and was Commanding Officer for three weeks while awaiting the arrival of the Officer who had been appointed to the Corps. One night a man fifty years of age was converted. He had been a builder and contractor but had met with reverses, and in his discouragement came to The Army and yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ. I took special interest in him; gave him a word of cheer, and a hearty handshake in every Meeting, but one night he failed to come, and I was anxious.
I could not call to see him that night, but I did write him a little note, before going to bed, and enclosed a little tract. I told him how greatly I missed him, expressed my hope that he was well, and urged him to look unto Jesus if he were passing through any temptation, and told him I was praying for him and looked forward to seeing him the following evening. And, sure enough, he was present the next night, and then he told me how he had been passing through a fierce temptation the day before, and was just about to give up and go back to his old life, when my letter with the little tract came with its message of love and faith, 'and that,' said he, 'saved me.' He became a Soldier and for years was a devoted Christian and worker for the Lord. The little note and tract and a two cent stamp saved him.
If the flock is to be preserved, the lambs must be shepherded.
If babies are to live, they must be nursed with tender care.
If the world is to be saved, we must have Converts and they must be guarded with sleepless vigilance, and followed with ceaseless and loving care.