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Written by J. H. Oliphant   
The Gospel Messenger--1892

We should exhort one another to love and good works. Strange we should be so stupid and dull in things pertaining to religion; and do not each of us see within ourselves an unlawful concern for this world, a dread of leaving it, a coldness of our love for Christ, and a heartlessness in his services, a murmuring spirit in the hour of affliction, all of which we know is wrong? It would be well for us often to go to our Savior and study, seriously study, his frame—the estimate he set on this world, the concern or unconcern he had for its honors, its wealth or ease. Go and view him in the garden where he prayed, and then enquire, do we deserve to be called his disciples? How much of our thoughts have been given to the world, considering how we may attain it, how we may wear its honors, or have its ease. As we go to our places of worship are not many of us reflecting upon worldly themes, contriving in our minds ways and means of our own personal benefits? Remember what our conversation has often been, even in halls erected for the worship of God. Do we not need the word of exhortation? Think what a profession we have made—to be the children of God. With this high profession, what have men a right to expect of us? They have a right to expect to see good in our ways, sincerity in our conversation, and evidences in our behavior that we love the Savior; but alas! alas! many of us, nay, all of us, are far below the example of our dear Redeemer. Let us exhort each other; “as though God did beseech you,” so let us urge each other. Oh, for the power of inward religion for the Spirit of our Master.

Sometimes our faces are covered with shame as we see pride, worldliness and idolatry have eaten up our enjoyments and led us away from our true happiness and best interests. Affliction often calls our minds home. David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”—Ps. cxix. 67. How strange that God should find affliction necessary in managing us. It would seem that the mercies of God, a good home, good friends, good health, happy families and worldly plenty would fill our lips with praise and our hearts with gratitude, but when you find one so favored he is loath to wear the yoke. The cross of Christ has too much weight, too much reproach, and he sets his heart on the gift and not on the giver.

But “Afflictions, though they seem severe, are often in mercy sent.” In affliction, worldly things lose their importance in our minds, and prepare us to look to the great beyond for rest. Toil and labor prepare us for rest naturally, and it is true spiritually. There we learn that earth’s best comforts will not suffice—we can not rest in its honors, for they are empty and misapplied, and in deep affliction we see this. The wealth of earth may say there is no rest here for you; it is more likely to prove a snare and an idol. You may seek it and worship at its altar all your days, and in affliction you will reproach yourself for your wasted life and misspent years. See a man worth his thousands (Billions today—DM) and mark his thoughts; he is often still studying how to draw more from the sweat and labor of his poorer neighbors; there is no rest. There was one who said, ‘when his barns were filled, his garners overflowing with plenty, “Soul, take thy rest,” but the reply was, “This night shall thy soul be required at thy hands.” We often see men who have had their hearts set on wealth, and have labored hard to obtain it, but no sooner is the new house done, the estate made sure, and home crowned with plenty, than he is called to go, a widow and orphan children are left to mourn his loss, and lose his earnings by the cunning of others. Worldly things are not a rest to God’s children; its pride and fashion must go. They will go from his heart, and he must learn that God is the place of rest. Are you too proud to be a Christian, are the ways of Jesus too plain for you, are his people too low and out of style to make good companions? Affliction will one day change your mind, and you will see that your idols will be insufficient. God will have our hearts; by affliction, bereavement, tears, sadness of heart, grief, woe and distress, we often learn that nothing is so good, lovable arid precious as God. We cannot love God too much.

How so have God’s people had their sweetest comforts in affliction and death. The martyrs by the thousand were made happy in death; when they knew that earth had nothing for them, they rejoiced in God. Stephen died with his face aglow with love and hope—forsaken of earth and hated of men, but chosen of God and precious. The rich man had his good things all here, but alas for that man in the world to come.

Oh, Christians, is your heart set on God, on your blessed Redeemer. If this is the object of your worship you will not reproach yourself at death for the devotion. Oh, that the Lord would draw us away from our idols, and wean us from every undue attachment to earth. God’s end in giving us the good things of earth is thwarted when we idolize them.

Let us remember how much we are under obligation to God. Should we hesitate and say excuse me? The Savior suffered on the cross, he bore reproach, he spent cold nights in mountains and solitude for you; he yielded his back to the lash, his cheeks to the smiter, his hands and feet to the nails, and his soul even unto death, and was forsake of God and hated of men, all for you. Are you willing to be one of his disciples? Can you see any reasons why you should not yield obedience to him? He endured the reproach of men and set the example in Jordan. Go see him buried in its waters; here is an example to you, mark the company he keeps; the gay and fashionable are not sought; the poor of earth are his favorites. Earth’s honors, wealth and ease are all treated with contempt. This is your example, can you submit to it? The war is here, but the rest is in heaven. The time for labor and toil is now, but the time for repose is in heaven. Oh, how Satan fortifies the mind against his duty. He suggests that your friends will forsake you; that you can defer to a later period of life. These thoughts are so cold and ungrateful! Think how you need the Savior in life and in death, and in the great day. A poor man said as he died: “A man at death finds that he is a weak thing.” “Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment,” and our opportunity to confess our Redeemer before men, will soon pass away.

Oh, dear brethren and sisters, I beg of you to love one another. Do not bite and devour one another. Worship God—sing his praise with the spirit and the understanding. Do not speak evil of each other. We will soon be beyond the storms of life. Let us all pray God to visit our poor confused and tried people once more. I am grieved at myself; there is so much in me that I regret. Once I loved God; my soul was full of love, but, alas, “The tempter came in, with his own subtle sin, and infected my nature with pride.” “Where am I now, when was it, or how, that I fell from a sense of his love.” Self is a poor thing to worship. To pray with thoughts of self, or preach or worship with a view of promoting self, how hateful and detestable. I long to see a pure and true revival of the religion of Jesus, when we shall learn love and not strife, when we shall he blessed with peace and the Lord’s presence.

Crawfordsville , Ind.            J. H. OLIPHANT.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 September 2008 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.