Perspective—Rejection of the 1880 Reformation
We want to present a fair and balanced picture of the holiness ministers who lived in the late 1800’s who rejected the truth on church membership and organization that was restored to the people of God. In doing this, we must print things which are in error—to detail the false belief and teaching that was sufficient to keep these brethren from receiving the light of the 1880 reformation. Yet these brethren were undoubtedly filled with the Holy Ghost and manifested the fruits of the Spirit. This presents us with a very serious and solemn question. How did they miss it? How can people filled with the Holy Ghost fail to fully be led of the Holy Ghost? It is in the interest of answering these questions that we present excerpts from the writings of Brother B. Carradine, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church:
Come-Out-Ism and Put-Out-Ism
In view of the suspicion, as well as unfriendliness, with which the blessing of entire sanctification and its possessors and professors are regarded in many quarters today, the question has been naturally raised, and that repeatedly: What shall we do?
Preachers are discounted who enjoy, preach, and press this great blessing. Laymen who have it soon find they are regarded with suspicion and uneasiness, are removed from official positions, and in other cases even put out of the church. As for meetings held in church, hall, tent or brush arbor, they are looked upon with great disfavor by many in the church, are felt to be disloyal and hurtful to denominational interests, and are avoided, discountenanced, ridiculed and opposed, as the case may be.
The profession of the experience in class-meeting, preachers’ meeting and conference love feast, is received with chilling silence and drooping heads. The subscribing to a religious paper published distinctively on this line is felt to be wrong, and is spoken against and legislated against in conferences. A holiness literature is felt to be unneeded, and holiness gatherings of all kinds to be deprecated and condemned.
This state of things and much more of the same sort exists and so extorts the question: What under the circumstances shall be done?
Numbers of questions and letters have been addressed to the author asking advice for individuals and for whole communities as well. The statement made by them was that the spirit of the century was against religious intolerance, that freedom of conscience was guaranteed by the constitution of this country, that the doctrine they contended for was embedded in the writings and teachings of their church, and yet for defending it they were treated as schismatics. That if one year they had a pastor who believed in it, the next year another preacher was sent who opposed the doctrine, ridiculed the experience, and either adroitly or forcibly undid the work of years, done by holiness people on full salvation lines. The question propounded was what should they do under the circumstances. Should they remain to be marked, tabooed, ostracized, and [to] hear assailed from the pulpit Sabbath after Sabbath the experience which they enjoyed and the doctrine they knew to be divine? Or should they go to other denominations that are more friendly and tolerant? Or should they organize themselves into independent congregations?
After a great holiness revival, when fifty, one hundred or two hundred souls have swept into the blessing of Perfect Love, the question arises again with increasing gravity. The thought of the people being left in the midst of a doubting and jeering community without a ministerial head and shepherd to feed and keep them together, and the additional fact of their peculiar danger of falling into the hands of false teachers who would switch them off into error and fanaticism; these facts are bound to spring the question: What shall be done under such a state of things?
And yet in the face of all this, when the question has been asked the writer, his pen has been used and his voice lifted against what is known as
Let it be understood at once that by come-out-ism we do not mean a change of church relationship. There are many good reasons that can arise in the lives of Christians to warrant and necessitate a transfer of membership from one denomination to the other. This has ever been practiced among the churches and has never that we heard of been called come-out-ism. There are many preachers in the Methodist Church who came there from other denominations. Some of them now occupy high positions, and no one regards them and calls them come-out-ers.
The come-out-ism that we refer to is a kind of ecclesiastical lawlessness, a spirit that will not brook control, despises authority, and is generally refractory. Such people quote the Scripture, “Come out of her, my people,” as referring to religious denominations, and so sever all church relations, and rail upon what they call “sects” and live ecclesiastically apart from their brethren.
Against this withdrawal and separation from the church we have always lifted our voice. We grant that in many congregations we find spiritual deadness, formality and worldliness; we grieve over the amusement features, questionable financial methods and the presence of the cooking-stove and dining-room in the Church of God. We listen to a character of singing in some churches that we believe to be offensive to God. We hear oftentimes sermons that are rhetorical, literary, and entertaining, but without spiritual food, and with no unction in them. And yet with all these things before us, we have counseled the people to remain in the church, and for the following reasons:
First, if we have the wonderful experience we say we have, it is evidently intended of God as a light of the world and salt of the earth blessing for those who have it not.
If the church has lost it or never possessed the grace, we who have received so many benefits from the people of God, in simple gratitude alone owe it to them to stay with them and so teach and live the blessing that they also will obtain it.
The very figures of “light” and “salt” should reveal our duty. Salt is not to be removed to itself, but put on the meat it is to preserve. Light is sent to scatter darkness, not to draw off in a bunch to itself and leave it alone.
If our church friends do not see the second work of grace at once, we must remember that we also heard of it for years before we felt stirred up to seek and possess it. Our duty evidently is to stay by the ship in hopes that God will give us all the company who sail with us.
Second, to “come out,” is finally to drift into some kind of organization, and the objection to that is seen in the following grave facts:
One is that we have enough of religious denominations already.
Again, by coming out from the churches in which we were raised, we separate ourselves from the very body of people we want to teach and ought to bless. This movement is certain to raise an insurmountable wall in that direction. We have seen it in quite a number of places. Nor is this all, but we have seen this lofty and unscalable wall presented to Holiness workers and preachers who never dreamed of leaving the church. The doctrine was made to suffer from the mistakes of good people who acted hastily and unwisely. In such communities great bodies of excellent people will not hear the doctrine of sanctification preached, no matter who fills the pulpit, because their impression is that it rends and destroys instead of filling with the Holy Ghost and building up every interest of Zion.
Still again, the very things that have been deplored and inveighed against in the various churches will in due course of time be seen reproduced in any ecclesiastical organization. It may start out well, but certain regrettable things are sure in time to come in and break forth.
Some twelve or fifteen years ago a large body of Christians formed a Holiness Church in which there must be fully two hundred congregations. Today they are rent over a question of church polity, the two wings standing one for Elder Supremacy and the other for extreme Congregationalism. The opposite party dubbing the other side by one of the titles above.
We know of two preachers who said they were so domineered over and oppressed by church authorities that they drew out and left the fold. Today they have a “following” and are ecclesiastical despots. I never saw a bishop or presiding elder more autocratic than are these same men.
In other quarters of our country there are leading laymen in the holiness movement who are on the high road to be popes. Yet they were once the humblest and most sweet-spirited of men.
With equal pain we have discovered in more than one holiness camp ground committee the same partialities, prejudices, man-fear, and secret way of doing things, that they as individuals had formerly condemned in Boards of Stewards.
These are sporadic cases, it is true, but are hints to us of what we are to expect if the holiness people “come out” and organize. God forbid that they should do so. We are convinced that no greater calamity could befall the holiness movement than for it to separate from the church, and form into a distinct ecclesiastical organization. In a few years we would see the same things existing that we deplore today in certain religious quarters.
The third reason against “coming out” is that a witnessing of suffering on our parts to the truth of sanctification will be more convincing and effective in bringing people to the knowledge of the truth and into the experience itself than any other course.
The excuse given for Come-out-ism is that our traveling preachers are located [held to certain locations only]; the licenses of local preachers are taken away, while our members are ridiculed and continually belabored from the pulpit in regard to the blessing they enjoy and which they know to be as true as heaven. Ought we to remain, they ask, in such surroundings? and Sunday after Sunday, instead of hearing the gospel, be treated to this hour’s tirade and abuse?
Our reply is that our sufferings are not worthy to be compared with what the disciples and early Christians went through for the gospel’s sake. Nor does it measure up to the mob violence inflicted upon early Methodists. Nor does it equal the harsh treatment given by the world to the Salvation Army before it became popular. Neither have we been martyred like the Apostles; nor treated like Mr. Wesley, who was stoned times without number; nor burned at the stake like the Reformers; nor butchered in cold blood for our faith like the Armenians.
We have been sent to broken-down appointments, located, and [had] licenses taken away. We have been sat down on at Conference, attacked in our church papers, and ridiculed and called cranks and fanatics. We have been treated to any amount of “cold shoulder” and our stock value has gone down amazingly in our church councils. We have been laughed at publicly and privately, and been the butt and target of many tongues and pens—but we have not yet seen the prison or the stake, and God has said, “Touch not his life.”
The question to my mind is: Can we not stand abuse? Can we not be laughed at, ridiculed, and treated unjustly without straightway wanting to leave the church and withdraw support from the preachers! Can we not endure opposition? Will not the blessing of sanctification keep us sweet? Is not thy God, O Daniel, able to deliver thee from the lions? God is today giving us the opportunity to prove the blessing of sanctification to the church and world. The way He adopts for the illustration and vindication of the doctrine is by the course of ridicule, opposition, and even persecution. “If when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently: this is acceptable with God.” (1 Peter 2:20) If when detracted, denounced, and opposed we keep sweet, uncomplaining, loving, and full of holy joy, we will convince gainsayers and doubters and bring about a sweeping holiness revival. It will take time, but we will win at last. It is the only way in which we can win the victory we crave to see.
If, on the other hand, we cannot brook contradiction, but fly into controversies and disputes; if we will not wait for God to lock the lion’s jaws or unlock the prison doors, and thus deliver us from our difficulties, but take things into our own hands and try to lock the lion’s jaw ourself, and beat down the walls of our confinement with our own fists and weapons, then will the lion eat us up, or the prison wall fall on us. If we, instead of keeping patient and waiting God’s time, go to inveighing against laws and authorities, and abusing the church which baptized us, married us, buried our dead, taught us in our childhood and youth all we know of God, bore with us a thousand times; if we do this, who will believe we have perfect love, and who will want what we say we have?
If sanctification does not keep us patient, kind, long-suffering, and forgiving, then in what respect does it differ from the ordinary type of religious living we see around us?
The soul as we have studied it need never be injured by hardship and oppression. Like violets, the spirit breathes out its sweetest perfume when down-trodden. Christ, the Bible tells us, was made perfect through suffering, and we read that if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him. Let us stand firm and true, but be gentle and loving. Let us witness a good confession before the Pilates of this world. Let us rejoice like Peter when we are scourged, and go on preaching, testifying and living the experience. Let us pray for our stoners as did Stephen. Let us say with Paul, no matter how we are treated, that our prayer and desire for Israel is that it might be saved. Let us be “in the Spirit” even on Patmos, where we have been exiled to poor appointments for the truth, and write messages of thrilling power to the churches that will burn when we have gone to ashes. In a word, let us look up that overlooked passage in the fifth chapter of Matthew where the Saviour tells us to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
If anything in the world will convince our brethren that we have the second blessing, one ahead of them, it will be such a spirit and such a life.
Do not let us leave the church, but continue to come to the services, contribute to the collections, and always keep sweet. We should also have a regular holiness meeting at least once a week on some night that will not conflict with the regular church appointments. So, if we will do these things, if we will steadily follow this sweet, gentle and yet firm way we will move and win the people, disarm prejudice, remove resentment, and as David was asked to return to Jerusalem by the very people who drove him out, so shall we finally prevail and return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy.
This we regard as very different from Come-out-ism. It is a treatment that has been visited upon the best people in the past ages, that has been repeated in these days, and will continue to be exercised, we fear, for years to come. Divisions and parties seem to be as natural in State and Church as hemispheres are on this globe.
Nothing makes a plainer line of distinction or digs a deeper channel of division than a marked grade in the religious life. Some have ever stood up for form, ceremony, and church machinery and government, while others filled with the Spirit care little for those things, save as God would have them regarded, and duty and common sense see their actual fitness and need.
The Pharisees were great on the observances of the Law; the Sadducees were mighty in doctrinal discussion, and the Essenes went to the deserts and caves in lives of spiritual contemplation. The Catholic prelates in their glittering vestments, and Martin Luther pleading before them for the truth of justification by faith was a spectacle along the line we speak of. The clergy of the seventeenth century, engaged in the work professionally with relaxation of wine parties and fox hunts, while John Wesley and his followers, preaching to the neglected masses and visiting the sick and prisoners and helping the poor, is another contrast.
The big religious conventions of today with famous speakers out-doing one another in the name of the Lord, and the holiness camp meetings with altars crowded with weeping penitents and the fire falling from heaven, is another scene for the thoughtful. Also the stirring, fussy, unspiritual Ladies’ Aid Society is in marked contrast to, and holds itself aloof from the class meeting room where testimonies ring clear, tears drip, and shouts abound.
We have men filling high positions in the church today who never save souls. Editors, college presidents, dignitaries and officials of various kinds; and yet preaching, writing, and moving around, they do not know what it is to see a conversion. On the other hand, we see another class of ministers, humble, obscure, poorly paid, many of them unlearned, but deeply religious and full of power, saving the souls of men wherever they go. Another curious fact is that the first-mentioned class have the ruling influence in the church and manage everything, while the second class are ruled, and listen deferentially once or twice a year to big addresses and sermons from the first class. It is certainly a strange spectacle both to earth and heaven, to see a body of men who know how to save souls listening for an hour to instructions as to how to do it, when the instructor himself does not know how and never knew how.
These foregoing hints are given that the reader might see how divisions arise in the Church of God not only on questions of polity, but along the line of character and religious experience.
As a rule, the less spiritual part of the membership of the church is in the majority, and when this class handles the reins of power, hasty and oppressive measures are certain to come. Naturally, the deeper spiritual experience and testimony of the minority will grieve and offend the majority, and so only too likely ridicule, criticism, opposition, and finally expulsion will be the fate of the smaller number.
This prepares one for Put-out-ism while still not believing in Come-out-ism. The last is a mistake, and is certain to end unhappily; the first is all right so far as the victim is concerned, who is sure to receive happiness and blessedness on earth and reward in heaven.
It is a sorrowful spectacle, however, to see people ridiculed, oppressed and sometimes ejected from the church on account of possessing a heart-warming, soul-overflowing religious experience. The Bible tells us about putting away the member who committed sin, but where will we find a Scripture that can cover and defend the course of thrusting people out of the ministry and church because they have received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and are sanctified?
In some places where this has been done, the reply is that it was not on account of the man’s belief in a doctrine or profession of experience that he was turned out, but for general crankiness, insubordination and other faults. Laymen are said to refuse to bow to authority, and preachers are reported at Conference as unacceptable, and that work cannot be found for them. By this method men filled with the Spirit of God and who have revivals every year have been cast out. Concerning the excuse given, we only say that “The Great Day” will prove whether the charge was true or not. All hidden things shall be revealed in that hour.
In other places, and among denominations other than the Methodist, no scruple is felt nor time lost in putting one out of the church because of the doctrine of sanctification. Nineteen were expelled from one congregation. The only charge against them was that they believed in sanctification and said they enjoyed the experience.
In a Southern city we heard a man give the following remarkable testimony. He was known by the community and stood well. He was not a Methodist, but belonged to one of the largest Evangelical churches in the land. He said: “I have been turned out of my church. For twenty years I was a drinking member of that church, and have been seen repeatedly carrying a jug of whisky home in my buggy. I got drunk many times, and they never turned me out. But a year ago I was reclaimed, and soon after heard of the doctrine of sanctification. I sought it with all my heart and found it. And now with my soul full of religion my church has tried and expelled me. They could keep a drunkard on the roll, but could not stand a sanctified man.” There was not the slightest accent of bitterness in the man’s voice, while his upturned face fairly shone with the light and love of God. A great thoughtfulness settled down on the audience as the fact came out for the hundredth time, that card-players, theatre-goers, Sabbath-breakers and even whisky drinkers can be allowed to remain in the church, while people claiming to be sanctified and living acceptably before God in thought, word, and deed are thrust out of the synagogue.
To this same misunderstood and wronged class we say: “Be patient, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Do not sour, no matter what may be your treatment. Be true to God, go to church, and support its institutions. Keep sweet, love everybody, say that you are sanctified and prove it by your life.
As an additional thought of good cheer we call attention to the fact that the line of men and women thrust out of social and ecclesiastical circles for living close to God makes a very lengthy and glorious chain, a true Apostolical Succession. Heading the procession is the Savior Himself, who was taken by the official members or the synagogue at Nazareth and not only thrust out, but led to the brow of the hill on which the city was built that He might be cast down and destroyed.
Paul was so frequently dragged from the Temple and synagogues and preaching places that it was with eminent fitness he said, “I die daily.” (1 Corinthians 15:31)
The disciples were arrested in the Temple, beaten by order of the Sanhedrin, thrust into prison, commanded to preach no more, and as the apostle said, were “counted as the filth and offscouring of the world.”
Luther was a Put-out-er. So were Bunyan and Fox, and a great many others whom we might name and who, unrecognized and unappreciated in their life-time, are now seen by the world to have been messengers of God, charged with a message, and having a dispensation of the Gospel committed unto them.
John Wesley was a Put-out-er, but not a Come-out-er. He regarded the thought of leaving his communion with pain and horror. And yet the doors of the church he loved so well were shut one after another against him all over the country. A recurring expression in his Journal is, “I was asked no more to preach in —— church.” One sermon perfectly satisfied or dissatisfied the curate or rector. Summoned before the Bishops, forbidden repeatedly by clergymen to hold meetings in their parishes, opposed by the magistrates and treated with violence by the mob, so a great portion of the life of this apostolic man was spent. Shut out from the church in which his father had served, and preaching in front of it on that father’s tombstone to an audience of ten thousand people, the whole scene would make a splendid coat-of-arms for the great army of Put-out-ers who have been similarly treated for many centuries, and will continue to be so served until the coming of the Millennium.
Time would fail to tell of the spiritual Samsons, Gideons, and Jepthaes, who for their faith and works’ sake have been made to go forth and wander about, being destitute, despised and afflicted—but of whom it will be seen at the Last Day that the world was not worthy.
Many instances crowd on the mind, but we select only a single case from the many. He was one of the most faithful and fearless of Methodist ministers. At home and in the social circle he was as gentle as a woman. In the pulpit the fire would fall upon him and he would speak as one inspired. Going to his circuit, his first two sermons directed upon a backslidden church were on the subjects of Intemperance and Sabbath-breaking, while the third was upon Holiness. They heard him until the last topic was reached, when his leading members came together, packed his furniture and baggage in with him in a wagon, had him driven thirty miles, and dumped in the boundaries of another circuit in an adjoining county. The steward who drove the wagon groaned all the way of that thirty miles drive, while the preacher who was thus being “put out” had a constant stream of praise and hallelujahs arising in his heart and flowing from his lips every foot of the remarkable journey. What a strange duet it was that went up from the wagon that day. One man groaning, the other praising God. They never changed parts, but each one held to his own without cessation or letting down of any kind.
One more point, and we conclude the chapter. When the Pharisees and Rulers cast the man whom Christ had healed out of the synagogue, we doubt not that his heart was grieved and his mind troubled. It is no small thing to a religious nature to be Jewishly cast out, Roman Catholically excommunicated, and Protestantly put out of the church in various ways. In this instance the man’s main fault was that he had been thoroughly healed, and said that Jesus did it. He would not be confused by the cross-questioning, nor intimidated by the anger of the Jews; he firmly held his ground and said: “He has opened mine eyes.” Their answer was: “Dost thou teach us? And they cast him out” (John 9:34)! Now comes the blessed word of cheer. It is in the next verse. “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and… found him” (John 9:35)!
Let every man or woman who has suffered and is still suffering for Christ and the Gospel’s sake, be of good cheer. If Jesus has made you whole, you owe it to Him to declare it. If such a testimony brings opposition and hardship to you in different ways; if men should thrust you out of church position and membership, there is no need for gloom or despair. Jesus sees what is going on. He knows perfectly well who is suffering for Him. He will not forget or overlook you. He who visited the three Hebrew children in the Furnace of Fire will come to you. He who hunted up the man cast out of the synagogue and interviewed him will come after you, find you, and talk with you. What a visit of glory that was in the Babylonian Furnace, and what an interview of rapture that was the excommunicated man had with the Son of God. In like manner there will be visits and interviews of such heavenly sweetness granted those who suffer for righteousness’ sake in this world, that they will not feel the fire of persecution, and instead of regarding themselves as “cast out” or “put out,” there will be an unutterably blissful sensation of having been “taken in” to a tenderer, holier communion with Christ and into a rest, joy and glory that seem to belong to the third and seventh heaven.
The Savior has given the time and eternity view of such a piece of moral history. In this world He says, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad.” In the world to come, “great is your reward.” (Matthew 5:12)
[Beverly Carradine; The Sanctified Life, “Chapter 15”]
Before we say anything else about this writing of this dear brother, we want to quote the Word of God:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 6:14-7:1)
The reader will note how thoroughly the scriptures contradict Brother Carradine’s advice. Nor is it left to the enemies of the cross to force out a child of God (called put-out-ism by Brother Carradine), but here the Bible commands the child of God: You come out from among them. You be separate. You do not even touch the unclean thing. And then, contrary to a spirit of “ecclesiastical lawlessness, a spirit that will not brook control, despises authority, and is generally refractory,” we see that the person who obeys the Word of God in coming out of all man-made institutions is actually submitting to the law of God, embracing the control of the Holy Ghost, and his action is an act of submission to the highest Authority. Furthermore such obedience is highly pleasing to God, and He has something for the believer. “I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” Praise God!
“Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)
It is plain that the faith of Brother Carradine has limited God (in his mind). For the dear man accepts division as inevitable. He has not faith in the standard that the Word of God teaches, namely: “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” (Isaiah 52:8) He does not see men able to live to such a spiritual standard and does not think it possible. Yet in thus limiting the work of God’s salvation, he must set aside the plain Bible teaching on this point. Jesus prayed for the church to be sanctified that they might be one, even as He (Jesus) was one with God (the Father). “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:19-23) We find also that God is, right now in the dispensation of grace, removing from His children all causes of division and enabling them to stand for nothing but unity in Him. We read, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Now dear Brother Carradine believed in and was much attached to, not only a certain denomination, but to the entire concept of denominations. He regarded them as together making up the people of God, though riven by divisions, and these divisions he regarded as inevitable. Furthermore he could see no future higher than this in the present age, so regarded any attempt to withdraw from the existing sects as still another formation of yet another sect. In his belief, “Still again, the very things that have been deplored and inveighed against in the various churches will in due course of time be seen reproduced in any ecclesiastical organization. It may start out well, but certain regrettable things are sure in time to come in and break forth.” All of this ignores the provision that Jesus made for unity. And on this unbelieving note, he advises the spiritual to stay with the unspiritual—entirely in outright contradiction to the Word of God.
What were the results of Brother Carradine’s counsel in this matter? We are sorry to say that his words have fallen to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19). Here are the fallen words: “So, if we will do these things, if we will steadily follow this sweet, gentle and yet firm way we will move and win the people, disarm prejudice, remove resentment, and as David was asked to return to Jerusalem by the very people who drove him out, so shall we finally prevail and return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy.” Oh, how sad! How grievous! Instead of right triumphing over wrong, wrong has triumphed over right. The desolation of the Methodist Episcopal sect is frightful to behold.
Now the wisdom of following God’s Word, no matter how costly or strange it seems to our reasoning, is again verified. When God says, “Come out of her, my people,” then we must obey. When fears assail us as to how we will survive, we must trust Him who said to leave. When it seems that our capacity to do good is greatly hindered by the awful walls that are raised by men when leaving their fellowships, we must trust God to make possible the work that He has for us to do.
What happens if we reason ourselves out of following this portion (or some other portion of God’s Word)? Does He abandon us altogether? No. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” (Matthew 12:20) But in due time, the wisdom of God’s Word and the soundness of His commandments will be manifest. For the rest of that scripture reads, “Till he send forth judgment unto victory.” Again, we are told, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5) Some have thought that this gives them license to continue on, saying in effect, “Well, I don’t really see that at this point.” But this ignores the fact that God brings things out at certain times—this is the judgment sent forth unto victory. If I fail to get a hold of what God is thus revealing, then I will be left behind with the consequences of whatever I am not allowing myself to thoroughly and humbly examine. It seemed foolish to Brother Carradine to make yet another sect (and truly it is, and wicked, as well), but the truth taught before him (in all of the confusion and noise that attends any spiritual battle) was that God already had a church, and this church was not a church among churches, but the only church that the Son of God had built. It seemed humility to him to confess the divided state of the people of God among denominations, but God looks upon it as a failure to take hold of what He has provided that we might be one in Christ Jesus.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) The plagues are real; the consequences of staying and not coming out cause those who remain to receive of her plagues. The spiritual revivals and the work of salvation and sanctification that attended the dear brother’s labors have largely been swallowed by the plagues. What does God do when there is a less-than-complete following of His Word? He works with what is left. Unless there is an outright rejection of truth to the extent that sin is involved, then God keeps doing all that He can. But the inevitable result is the burning of wood, hay, and stubble. And the burnable stuff will not prove out—it will not withstand the fire that tries every man’s work. And the trend is discouraging. There is a cloud that overshadows a less-than-complete following of the Lord. When we attempt to do something (without rebellion) when God would rather have us walk differently, then we get into no-win situations and the victory is diminished. This is what happened to some of the people who rejected the light on God’s church. If the nature of their rejection was honest misgivings and their rejection was not in rebellion, and they really did not see what God was bringing out at that time, the rejections till hurts them, but they can be saved by fire, so to speak.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
Brother Carradine’s end is sobering. His attempts to work with a church membership dominated by sinners and backsliders brought him into increasing persecution and outright hatred from church officials. He was accused of adultery (falsely, it seems) and tried unsuccessfully. He became an outcast within the system. He suffered for Jesus to be true to the truth that he did have, but the scripture, “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” (Proverbs 4:18) does not seem to be proven out in his life. He finally withdrew from the M.E. sect and went to another Methodist group. He suffered mentally from an accident and had other sad experiences. Even a child of God walking in all the light given him is not promised a comfortable old age, but Carradine’s loyalty to an organization of men was poorly repaid.
We are glad for what good came out of his life, but grieved at how things went in the latter part. Oh, we do trust and hope that he was accepted of God at the end, howbeit with loss! God will be perfectly fair with him, just as He will with us. In the end, all of us will make it only by mercy and grace—undeserved favor.
But his experience is a study in the importance of minding God alone. He knows best. Just obey His Word. Can we be too humble? Can we plead too much for light and insight into His commandments? Can we go too far in appreciating the wisdom and the love behind what He tells us to do?
See also: Part 2