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Why Are We Not At Peace PDF Print E-mail
Written by R.Anna Phillips   
Butler, Ga., November, 1886

"Awake, awake, O, arm of the Lord, and put on. strength; awake as in ancient days, in the generations of old. Art, thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon? Art thou not it which hath dried the sea., the waters of the great deep, and that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?--Isa., Li. 9. 10.

The above was submitted by Elder B. L. Landers, of Arkansas, and sent out to me by Elder Respess for exposition, which I attempt, without a waste of words expressive of my unfitness.

The above refers to the mighty works of the Lord in the deliverance of Israel as a nation from Egyptian bondage. Rahab signifies Egypt, and hence answers to that bondage, or the flesh; while the dragon, the spirit of evil, and answers to Pharaoh—"him that held the power of death over them"—or the devil. The hope and comfort to be drawn, and that incited the prayers is that the Lord who, of his own mercy and grace, done this greater and most marvelous work for Israel as a whole, recorded it on the face of ancient days as a pledge that, not only would He perform the same for each one of His, but also having done this greater, He would not forsake and fail in a less; that having destroyed him that held the power of eternal death over them, He would not fail to destroy him who held the power of timely death or sleep over them; or, as our apostle says, having justified them by his death; much more would he save them by his life.

The above as an invocation applies to the church as carnalized from long living after the flesh; or rather to that part so living till dead to the spirit and all spiritual things.

Does this prayer of the prophet apply to the church today? Are the churches about us gathering together with Christ in Zion, or are they scattering abroad to the flesh in the world? Are their weapons carnal, or spiritual? Are they striving for the unity of the spirit and the faith of the gospel, or for the mastery, and to disarm one another? Judging from the strife, variance, hatred, evil speaking, etc., together, from the almost exclusive use of carnal weapons, especially in some localities, I am constrained to believe it will apply to many Churches, and individual disciples of Christ, must either in the spirit serve Christ, or in the flesh serve sin. Jesus has said, "He that is not for me is against me;" "He that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad;" "Ye cannot serve two masters." Then there is no middle ground, no compromise point between; to serve Christ is to put on Christ and walk in the spirit. And this is to be dead or asleep to flesh and alive to Christ; and vice versa. But this supplication must spring from the heart of the "Living in Jesus alone," of whom there are always a few in every organized church having the gospel preached; for these are as the bands to preserve the whole intact; the retainers of divine life and light; the savor of life unto life, for whose sake the Lord will not remove the candlestick! Oh! I thank God for these living; that he will not leave himself without a witness, and that still we behold their face as the humble, patient face of a faithful old brother or two here and there; and the face of a meek, long-forbearing sister or two here and there! And so sure as they live they will bear this burden of prayer for the weakly and sickly, and sleepy and slain. For in proportion to their measure of the spirit will they sorrow and grieve for the sins of the body. And, but for whom, there were none on earth to watch and pray in their behalf. For theirs is the same one spirit and spiritual concern for the whole body that moved the prophet to the foregoing, that as a garment has fallen from the shoulders of one generation of the living to another till now, and that stirred the heart of the lonely old prophet Jeremiah, in his time, to wish his head were a fountain of tears, that he might weep day and night for the slain of the Lord's people—and slain by so vile a foe as their own fleshly lusts. Oh, then, that they would shake off this fatal lethargy and heed the gospel admonition, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light;" and thus alarmed, join the cry of the living, "Awake, O, arm of the Lord, and raise these slain."

Not that the arm of the Lord is asleep, literally, but delays to be out-stretched, (literally manifested), remains inactive, till the faith of the living shall be so strengthened by Him, as that they can and will, from an undivided heart, as of one, lift this cry to the throne of God. Faith, in a sinner, is the arm of the Lord—their arm with which to appropriate all spiritual blessings. The Lord must give the strength to exercise this faith; hence, for the arm of the Lord to put on strength is to strengthen the faith of His people. And who knows but the burden is being weighted for our early uplifting? O, arm of the Lord, put on strength—give strength to our faith to plead for the sleepy and slain of thy people!

"But wherein do we sleep?" some may ask. Perhaps to remind them may awake them. Perhaps some of you have been led off, unawares, like those whom Paul addressed thus: "My little children, for whom I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in you," etc. This was to such little ones as would not, of themselves, have presumed upon a departure from the truth, much less led off into error; and yet, who were so credulous, so unsuspecting, as blinded by their personal love for their teacher, as to be led off unawares. And such pretended teachers or pastor as would, could, thus take advantage of the personal devotion of the weak and unstable as to lead them away from the safe simplicity of the gospel, so adapted to such, and that in order to accomplish a personal, selfish, evil end, contrary to the gospel, is the worst scourge, and plague, and pest the Lord ever permitted to afflict and destroy his people. How many divisions, schisms, and lasting wounds do you know due to such? Indeed, do you know any not traceable to such? For they do not only lead the little ones away from the truth, but also "zealously affect" them in a bad way—present and turn their minds in behalf of their own principles and position, assumed in order to attain to an evil, selfish end. And so lead to Christ, and so alive to the flesh are they, that they will not only take these tender members of Christ and shape them into tools of evil instruments of unrighteousness—but also, if necessary to the fulfillment of their evil designs, will finally sacrifice—exclude them from the church. And more, they will, if possible, exclude—have excluded, to my knowledge—the good and faithful old members who withstand them, and so stand as hindrances to the execution of their evil purposes. And thus become "murderers of fathers and mothers"—murdered, as killed to the visible church. Oh, arm of the Lord awake, and put on strength; delay not, and save thy lambs! Lo! wolves invade; the sheep of thy pasture are slain!

This should teach us not to follow any man, only as he follows Christ. We should love and serve our pastor, not in a spirit of rivalry, but simply because he loves and serves Christ. We should doubly honor him, yet never love him so blindly and trust him so implicitly as to permit him to zealously affect us, or lead us away from the safe simplicity of the gospel, whether as touching faith or practice, doctrine or discipline. We should do all things as unto the Lord. Then is our eye single, and our pastor will be pleased, if spiritual; if not, we need not care to please him; and this will prove him. Always remember it is CHRIST who died for you.

But, in following any man, have we followed the flesh? Is there a party spirit causing strife, variance, evil speaking, etc., and that as emulated by a spirit to devour among you? If so, "let him that thinketh he stands, take heed lest he fall." One party, at least, is wrong. It is the flesh that sows the above; it is the devil that seeks to devour. If you have heretofore acted like children to let this or that brother, or even the pastor, shape your course, I pray you now, "acquit you like men" –like men, mind you, who are personally responsible—upon whom rests the sacred obligation to Jesus Christ, the only law-giver, of personal investigation and responsibility in all things pertaining to the faith and order of God's house. And remember, what has been will be again.

The object of this teacher (?) at Galatia, who, it seems, had duped the little ones, and bewitched the larger, was to destroy Paul as a teacher and apostle, and build himself instead. But the Lord God, almighty and immutable, has said He will be with His own called ministers to the end of the world; and that no weapon formed against them shall prosper; therefore, take heed to your footing, lest you fall with a false teacher. Also says the apostle, "Mark them which cause divisions and offenses; that by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple," and avoid them, for they serve themselves, and not the Lord Jesus Christ.—Rom., xvt. 17.

There are some like those mentioned in Matt., xxiii., and Luke, xi., who pay tithes on mint, and anise, and cummin, and all manner of herbs, to the neglect of the weightier matters of the law; that is, they are great Sticklers for all the outward forms, ceremonies, customs and traditions, etc., that constitute the visibility of the church, to the practical neglect of the living, spiritual principles of the gospel within. For instance, a church seeks the fellowship of another; the first and most important question is—not whether she is sound in the faith; not whether she manifests the life of Jesus in her mortal body—but whether that mortal body has paid tithe in all manner of herbs, like herself; was she constituted upon the same principle, by the same hand, and according to the same forms, etc., like we? No little irregularity? And she has continued in the forms as to order and ordinances? Yes. Then she is received, though, in some one or more of her members, she denies the faith, the resurrection, the Trinity, the eternal Son-ship, that Jesus has come in the flesh, etc. And she may practically neglect judgment, mercy, faith and love, just so she fights for the forms, etc. Another church applies, but on close searching a little irregularity is found in the order or form in constituting, or in an ordination; though mindful of all the weightier matters of the law; she is denied. And the result is many good, faithful children of God. are separated—divided—and most of them do not even know the cause. I know a dear, faithful sister who, years ago, left her church and county, and moved to another; years after she visited her aged mother and went to the church that first received her, as she told me with such an humble, thankful, yet sad and rejoicing heart, as that it was Communion time. But they told her, "You cannot eat with us." Why? Not that she had "wronged any man, or defrauded any man, or corrupted any man," but "your Association has dropped correspondence with ours." A sister of that Association came to our church at Communion time; "She must not eat at the Lord's table, not that she is excluded by his word, but, because our Association has dropped correspondence with her Association." Oh, arm of the Lord, awake, and put on strength, and save us! How long shall ambitious preachers, striving for the mastery and vain glory, build barriers between Thy table and Thy meek and humble poor, and break the sacred bonds of fellowship Thou hast established, binding them together as one, in One?

But are we not warned against false teachers ? false apostles, who should even appear as an angel of light? How fair and pure and beautiful! How good their works, and fair their speeches. But there is absolutely nothing required of a child of God, in a religious sense, but FAITH and OBEDIANCE. Whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil. The last and best commandment of Moses or man, added to help us stand approved unto God, is against Christ, and scatters abroad to the flesh. "For we are the circumcision that worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Jesus Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh." Then, wherefore and whereby those means by which churches are divided, and Christians separated?

But perhaps there are some who have not made what might be termed a "religious" departure;" whose church is at peace, and who may therefore ask "wherein are we dead, seeing we have observed the ordinances, attend our regular meetings, love the brotherhood and pastor, visit the sick? etc. These are all good, if done in the spirit as unto the Lord. But how can they be done in the spirit, if the every-day life and walk is after the flesh? To put on Christ is to put off the deeds of the flesh, and walk in the spirit. In Christ—the result of putting on Christ—the spirit reigns and rules alike on meeting days and working days, at home and abroad. In Christ, love is the law of the heart and mind, always and inevitably demonstrating, practically and otherwise, peace and good will to all men, in all things, at all times; the strongest factor in which is the spirit of forgiveness, followed closely by meekness, gentleness, and all long-sufferings.



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