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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 8

Mr. Wiseman (after meeting next evening)—Those preachers must find a great deal to talk about. I was expecting you home an hour ago.

Mrs. Wiseman—The meetings are getting better every night, James. The large hall was filled to overflowing. The preacher talked for two hours, and no one became weary. He preached on the subject of redemption.

Mr. W.—I suppose he thought he was telling the people something they didn’t know. Perhaps he doesn’t know our ministers are great theological scholars.

Mrs. W.—He treated the subject from a Bible standpoint, and it was so plain and comprehensive that all could understand it. I can tell you of it only in part.

Mr. W.—I suppose you think if I won’t go and hear them, you’ll have me to hear it anyway. Well, do tell me all he said. If I know what he said, I can better refute his teaching. Deacon Jones said that one of those preachers said he was better than Christ or the angels.

Mrs. W.—You can’t believe all you hear. I’ve been there every night, and I’m sure I have heard every word that was said, and there hasn’t been anything said like that. Besides that, Mr. Jones hasn’t gone to hear them.

Mr. W.—No, he hasn’t been there, but he was told that the preacher said that.

Mrs. W.—This is what the preacher did say. He said there was power in the blood of Christ to save us and make us as pure as the angels.

Mr. W.—The deacon told me the preacher said there hadn’t been a man saved in the Methodist church in twenty years.

Mrs. W.—People are ever ready to wrest a man’s words and have him to say something he never said. I’ll tell you just what he said. He said he himself had been a Methodist for twenty years, but wasn’t saved any of that time.

But I must tell you something of his sermon. He said that man in his primeval day was pure and holy.

Mr. W.—We all know that. Our theologians teach the same thing.

Mrs. W.—Man possesses, he said, not only a physical life, but eternal life. By means of our physical life with its senses he has correspondence with the world, and by means of the eternal life with its senses he has communion with God.

Mr. W.—That is all very good and true. I presume he has studied our theology.

Mrs. W.—But sin, he said, just one sin, one act of disobedience, brought death. Man was turned away from the tree of life. Death didn’t mean an end of the physical life, but loss of eternal life.

Mr. W.—But death was also pronounced upon the physical man. You see, I know a thing or two.

Mrs. W.—Since Adam’s sin, all his posterity are born in sin. There is an evil principle in the heart of every child; but they are not sinners, for they have never transgressed.

Mr. W.—What did he say about children who die in their infancy—are they saved or lost?

Mrs. W.—He said they were saved. He proved it by the text, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”* (Luke 18:16) But when they arrive at an age when they know right from wrong and they willfully do a thing that is wrong, they are sinners and are in a lost state.

Mr. W.—I don’t see any great revelation in that; we have all known that.

Mrs. W.—But the truth I desire to call your special attention to is that just one act of disobedience or wrong doing knowingly committed makes the child a sinner and cuts him off from God.

Mr. W.—I think I know what you are trying to come at, but you’ll not get me in a corner; I’m too old for that.

Mrs. W.—If that child who willfully does wrong and becomes a sinner ever gets converted, he’ll have to repent of his sins, will he not?

Mr. W.—Certainly he will.

Mrs. W.—He repents of the sins he committed; he doesn’t repent of the evil that was in his heart when he was born. Now, when one comes to Jesus in real true penitence, he forsakes everything. To repent means more than to shed a few tears. Repentance is giving up the world; it’s forsaking every sin; it’s forsaking all. Jesus says, “[He] that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”* (Luke 14:33) It’s a surrender to God.

Mr. W.—Yes, I know that is what the Bible says, but our preachers don’t make these minor points so prominent. They dwell more on the love and mercy of God.

Mrs. W.—But the love and mercy of God can never save those who don’t come to Jesus in true repentance. Oh! I can see now, dear, how many in our church have professed conversion who have forsaken but little. There was no putting away of sin; there was no forsaking of everything. They go on after they profess conversion very much the same as they did before.

Mr. W.—Well, we’re not to judge. We can’t see the heart. God’s ways are not our ways. I’m sure we can’t tell who is converted.

Mrs. W.—I know people must meet the demands of the Bible. When one repents and believes on Jesus, he is then converted or regenerated. To be regenerated is to be born again. This is a work of the Spirit of God in the soul. All sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus. The Spirit of God comes into the heart with its quickening, resurrecting power, making the individual alive in Christ Jesus. He is a new creature. Old things are passed away, and all things are become new. Salvation makes a change—it brings peace and joy and, oh, James, I have that peace in my soul. I’m not a creature of this old world; I’m on a higher plane, in a holier realm. I live more among heavenly things than I do among earthly things.

Mr. W.—That is the way it was with me when I was converted forty years ago; but we can’t always keep that fullness of joy in this world of sin and trouble.

Mrs. W.—Let me die now then. I can’t be separated from this joy I feel in my soul. I would rather die than to have this sweet peace depart from my heart. Oh, tell me not that we can’t keep this sweet heavenly life!

Mr. W.—I’ve talked with many and have never found any one yet who has retained the joy he found when converted.

Mrs. W.—They have been taught that they must sin more or less. It’s sin that destroys this peace. As long as man is a Christian, he’ll have peace with God. To be a Christian is to be righteous, and righteousness and peace have kissed each other. They cannot be separated. If you don’t have peace, you’re not a Christian. When a man is converted he’s in the kingdom of God. You know what Jesus says?

Mr. W.—He says, “Except a man he born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God,”* (John 3:3) and of course, we understand that when he is born again he has entered the kingdom of God.

Mrs. W.—Can you tell me what the kingdom of God is?

Mr. W.—I don’t know that I can: I’ve often heard our preachers explain it but now it escapes my mind.

Mrs. W.—Open your Bible to the fourteenth chapter of Romans and read the seventeenth verse.

Mr. W.—Romans—let—me see—is that book in the Old Bible?

Mrs. W. (turning to her Bible, with which she has recently become better acquainted)—No, James, it’s in the New Testament. Here it is, read it from my Bible.

Mr. W.—“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”* (Romans 14:17)

Mrs. W.—It’s peace and joy as well as righteousness. If you no more experience the peace and joy, you have also lost the righteousness. But after conversion there is yet an evil element. This is cleansed away in sanctification as a second work of grace, which I desire to talk to you about tomorrow, but now I must retire. Good night.