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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 1

Mr. Wiseman (sitting by the fireside)—Well, I never read such a paper! What will people get to teaching anyhow? Say, Sarah, have you read any in this paper?

Mrs. Wiseman—What paper, James?

Mr. W.—This religious paper I found on the sitting room table. I never saw such reading. Where did you get it?

Mrs. W.—I’ve been reading it for the last four or five weeks. I think cousin Jane is having it sent to us; for you remember that when she was here last summer she told us about this paper and the people who publish it.

Mr. W.—Oh, yes, the saints! But whoever heard of such a thing as a saint on earth? The saints are all in heaven, for the Bible says, “We shall be crowned saints in glory.”

Mrs. W.—I don’t remember reading that in the Bible. You must have read it in our hymnal. The Bible speaks of saints.

Mr. W.—I know the Bible says something about the saints, but it is those who have gone to heaven. It doesn’t mention saints on earth.

Mrs. W.—I think it speaks of saints here on earth. Let me get my Bible and see. Paul begins the Ephesian epistle like this: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus.”* (Ephesians 1:1) So there were saints at Ephesus. Also, in his second letter to the Corinthians he says, “With all the saints which are in all Achaia.”* (2 Corinthians 1:1)

Mr. W.—Well, I’ve belonged to the church nearly two score years; I’ve heard our best preachers, and I never heard them tell about saints. I don’t expect a paper like this to teach me anything. I knew what it is to be a Christian long before this paper was published.

Mrs. W.—It’s not only the paper, James, that talks of saints, but the Bible also calls Christians saints. I believe we should take what the Bible says. Cousin Jane says there are a great many saints where she lives.

Mr. W.—Well, I do hope they’ll not come East. I shouldn’t want to see so strange a thing as a saint.

Mrs. W.—Well, I like their paper anyhow. I read every word in it, and I want you to subscribe for a year when the ten weeks are out.

Mr. W.—Subscribe for a year! I’ll not have it in my house. I’m not going to have my children reading such nonsense. Let me read you a few words here—“On the fifteenth of last September I was thrown from a hack. In the fall I struck my head and fractured my right shoulder. My circumstances seemed to require that I continue my work, which the Lord enabled me to do without laying off a day.” Here is one who says he has been healed of paralysis; another says he has been healed of a tumor and of sore eyes. Did you ever hear such nonsense? You know there’s not a better educated man or preacher than our presiding elder, and I’ve heard him say that the days of miracles are past.

Mrs. W.—I like our presiding elder very much, but let me say, since I’ve been reading this paper I feel more like looking to God and the Bible than to man. Now, where does the Bible say the days of miracles are past?

Mr. W.—Well, I’m going to believe what our presiding elder says, and not believe every new thing that comes along.

Mrs. W.—But it’s no new thing, James. This is not the work of man I’m reading you; it’s the Bible. Which are you going to take, the Bible or man?

Mr. W.—I think our church and our preachers are good enough. I’ve stood by them forty years and I’m not going to be turned aside in my old days.

Mrs. W.—I think we ought to believe the Bible, for even the very best man might be mistaken, but the Bible makes no mistakes. We never get too old to learn.

Mr. W.—I see you mean this last remark for me. Well, I’m too old for such a paper as this to teach me anything.

Mrs. W.—But I want to read you what the Bible says about healing. I’ll read you from Mark: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”* (Mark 16:15-18) Now, Husband, the Bible says, “These signs shall follow them that believe.” The great trouble today in our church is they don’t believe. Cousin Jane sent me a book called Divine Healing of Soul and Body, and in it I read of many who have been healed of different diseases.

Mr. W.—Well, Sarah, I think you’ll get to be a saint pretty soon.

Mrs. W.—If to be a saint is to be right with God, I pray him to hasten the day. The way we’ve been living is very unsatisfactory to me. But I want to read you more of what the Bible says about healing. I’ll read from James: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.”* (James 5:14-15)

Mr. W.—Well, I don’t believe that we can be healed in these days. So that ends that; I just don’t believe it.

Mrs. W.—As for my part, I’m beginning to believe that God can and will heal in these days. I’ve been taking medicine, as you know, for eight years; but I’m almost ready to conclude that if I’m ever well, God will have to heal me.

Mr. W.—I’m very much afraid, Mother, it’ll not be long until you are as crazy as the rest of these people seem to be, and that will be a sad day at our house.

Mrs. W.—Well, I’m tired of living in sin. My poor soul is sick.

Mr. W.—Living in sin! Why the Bible says, “He that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Mrs. W.—Where does the Bible say that?

Mr. W.—I don’t know just where, but I can find it.

Mrs. W.—Well, you find it while I see to baking my bread.