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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 14

Mrs. Wiseman (next morning)—Well, I only wish, dear, that I could tell you how happy I am this morning. The peace of God is filling my soul. Oh! I would that all people were as happy as I.

But you’re looking worried or troubled. What’s the matter? Didn’t you rest well last night?

Mr. Wiseman—I don’t know that I have any trouble particularly. I wouldn’t advise you to have uneasiness about me; I’ll come out all right.

Mrs. W.—There’s only one way for us to come out all right, and that is by giving up all to Jesus and following where He leads.

Mr. W.—I did that years ago, but I see you don’t have much confidence in my religion. I’m going to go my way anyhow.

Mrs. W.—Do you feel perfectly assured that you’re a Christian?

Mr. W.—I certainly do; I’ve belonged to a church for forty years.

Mrs. W.—But you’ll admit that not all are Christians who belong to church.

Mr. W.—Oh, I know that some church-members are not Christians.

Mrs. W.—How do you know you’re not among that class?

Mr. W.—I know I’ve passed from death unto life because I love the brethren.

Mrs. W.—You don’t love Mr. Smith.

Mr. W.—Yes, but you know how he treated me. He beat me out of seven dollars.

Mrs. W.—Yes, but he belongs to the same church with you, and you must love him.

Mr. W.—Well, I don’t.

Mrs. W.—What assurance have you that you are a Christian then? You don’t love your brother.

Mr. W.—I love God, I know.

Mrs. W.—But, dear, the Bible says if a man loves God he will keep His word.

Mr. W.—I do keep His word.

Mrs. W.—The Bible says love your brother, and you hate Mr. Smith.

Mr. W.—He’s no brother; he’s an enemy.

Mrs. W.—The Bible says to love your enemies.

Mr. W.—Where does the Bible say any such thing?

Mrs. W.—Open your Bible to Matthew 5:44: “But I say unto you, love our enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” You say Mr. Smith used you despitefully?

Mr. W.—He certainly did. You know what he did.

Mrs. W.—The Bible says to love your brother and to pray for those who despitefully use you. Have you prayed for Mr. Smith?

Mr. W.—Indeed, I haven’t.

Mrs. W.—“If a man love me,” Jesus says, “he will keep my words.”* (John 14:23) Here is certain proof that you don’t love God. If Mr. Smith was hungry, would you give him something to eat?

Mr. W.—Would I? He would starve before I would give him anything.

Mrs. W.—The Bible says, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him.”* (Romans 12:20) But you say you’ll not do that.

Mr. W.—No; I will not.

Mrs. W.—Jesus says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”* (Luke 6:46) Why do you profess to be a Christian and not do what Jesus says?

Mr. W.—I don’t care whether I make a profession or not. You have been trying to get me to backslide ever since those preachers came to town. I don’t see where there is any Christianity in that.

Mrs. W.—You can see, my dear, that I have only been giving you the Word of God. I want you to be right.

Mr. W.—You have about put out all the light I had.

Mrs. W.—You may be mistaken in that. It may be like Sam Jones one time said.

Mr. W.—How was that?

Mrs. W.—The people accused Mr. Jones of putting their lights out, and he told them, no, he was only taking the bushel off that they might see that their lights were already out.

Mr. W.—Well, I’m not going to love Mr. Smith. I would backslide before I would love such a man as he.

Mrs. W.—I want to read you another text.

Mr. W.—I don’t know what you’d do if it wasn’t for the Bible—and this new literature of yours.

Mrs. W.—I don’t know either. But listen a moment. “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.”* (1 John 2:5)

Mr. W.—Well, now, I guess there’s not much of the Bible I don’t keep. I’m sure no one obeys it all.

Mrs. W.—I wouldn’t be so sure. As for me, I have set out to obey every word. Speaking of obeying every word suggests something to my mind entirely different from what we’re talking about. In your present state of mind, though, I almost question whether I ought to speak of it.

Mr. W.—I told you I would not change my feeling toward Smith. He needs to be taught a lesson. I’m not a backslider because I don’t love him. But what was that different thing that came into your mind about obeying every word of the Bible?

Mrs. W.—It’s about a New Testament ordinance we’ve never observed. Did you ever read the thirteenth chapter of John? I have it, and am sure we ought to obey what Jesus taught.

Mr. W.—Of course I have, but I don’t remember just what it is.

Mrs. W.—It tells of Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples.

Mr. W.—Oh, yes; He was teaching them a lesson of humility.

Mrs. W.—But He said, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”* (John 13:15)

Mr. W.—You don’t expect to practice such a thing, do you?

Mrs. W.—Jesus says, “Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”* (John 13:14) I told you I had set out to do the whole Word of God.

Mr. W.—Do those preachers teach such a doctrine?

Mrs. W.—I think likely they do. They said they were here to preach and practice all the Bible, yet I haven’t heard them say anything about it.

Mr. W.—Do the saints believe and practice feet washing?

Mrs. W.—I think they do. I received a letter not long ago from Cousin Jane in which she said they had an ordinance meeting at their place, and she spoke of what a blessing she received while washing her sister’s feet.

Mr. W.—I don’t know what such an ordinance could signify.

Mrs. W.—It expresses outwardly our true attitude toward each other. “By love serve one another,”* (Galatians 5:13) the good Book says. We’re all servants to one another. That’s the true experience in our hearts; that’s the way we feel. There is, perhaps no more menial service than washing the feet of another, and Jesus has taken this to express outwardly the true feeling of our heart toward each other. There’s nothing we’re above doing that we might be a help to our fellow man. I think it’s beautiful.

Mr. W.—Well, I don’t know. I guess it’s all right if people want to do it.

Mrs. W.—Did you know that Cousin Jane’s husband had gotten saved?

Mr. W.—Gotten saved! What do you mean? He’s been a Christian as long as I have; we joined at the same time.

Mrs. W.—Pardon me, dear, but he’s been about such a one as you and I have been. By reading the saints’ literature and by the life Cousin Jane has lived, he has been brought to see that he had nothing but a cold, dead profession. He repented of his sins; gave up all, and God has forgiven him, and now he’s a happy man. Let me read you a few lines he enclosed in Cousin Jane’s letter:

“I am glad to tell you I am saved. I fought the truth for a long time. Even after I saw it was the truth, the enemy of my soul did not want me to get saved. I was too proud. This was such an humble way I did not want to take it. They all dressed so plain and were so unlike our popular churches, I found it hard indeed to humble myself and take this blessed Bible way. Thank God! He helped me, and now I am saved and happy. Praise the Lord! Our home is a happy home. There is no quarreling, no more harsh words—these are things of the past. Such will do for cold-hearted professors, but will not do for real Christians. Oh! I am so glad there is a better way to live! You remember how ugly I used to get when things did not go as I wanted them to go. James well remembers it, I am sure. Dear man, he wasn’t any better than I. But God had mercy on me, and I pray He will show mercy to him. I hope he will get saved soon. I believe he will. You must have lots of patience with him. It is hard for one who has been under the teaching of a ‘sin-you-must’ religion so long, to see the truth at once; but like myself, he will see it by and by.”

Cousin Jane has been saved for some time, and after all this time her husband has been being brought to the blessed light of the gospel.

Mr. W.—Yes—um. You’ll please excuse me now; I have an engagement which I must meet. Good-bye.

Mrs. W.—Get home for an early dinner if you can, as we have an afternoon meeting today. Good-bye.