From The Lure of Divine Love, chapter 37
The Argument of My Own Heart
We do not hear of the opposition to holiness that we once did; perhaps it is because the standard (in the minds of men generally) is as much too low as it was once too high.
Honest, spiritually-minded men stood strong against what they thought to be an impracticable teaching of Adamic or angelic perfection, and justly so, if that had been true (and perhaps it was in some instances) and thus they were blinded to the real, the true experience of perfect love, love out of a pure heart, Christian perfection, or the various expressions used to denote the second work of grace.
Nevertheless, every twice-born soul who keeps living and active has a heart that hungers for the experience even if, for lack of understanding, their lips denounce it.
Reverend J. B—— was a very fine man, and a splendid preacher, with the “solar light” beaming from his countenance; yet he fought holiness, and considered it his duty to do so, because of the conception he had of the teaching. Here was a man with an incredulous mind but an honest soul, who, like the man in the following poem, needed to see entire sanctification lived as well as clearly taught, to offset, overbalance, and outweigh any theological teaching that comes short of the second definite instantaneous work of grace.
I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.
I’d rather one would walk with me than merely tell the way,
All travelers can witness, the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who leads the way.
Fine counsel is confusing, but examples bring no fear.
Right living speaks a language that to everyone is clear.
The best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creed,
More what they are than what they say will cause men to take heed.
Though an able speaker charm me with his eloquence, I say
I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.
Somewhere this man had touched a life that had convinced him of something beyond him, and started a train of thought as to a possibility that he had not conceived. I remember well the first sermon I saw, on the inward, undisturbed peace of entire sanctification.
In the providence of God, an opportunity was brought about, and he attended meetings conducted by an evangelist that enjoyed the real experience, as well as preached it. J. B—— carefully studied the man, as well as the doctrine as he taught it. He compared by the Word (Acts 17:11), and the outcome, before the meetings closed, was a seeker at the altar. He found what he sought, and this is what he told us afterwards:
“I was very incredulous. I could arraign and impeach every presented evidence. I could down every argument until it came to the argument of my own heart. There was that irresistible, unsatisfied longing. My heart was craving purity, and longed for the cleansing blood. It yearned for perfect love, and inexpressible was the desire for the indwelling of the blessed Holy Spirit. This argument overcame every other argument, and I could no longer withstand the argument of my own heart.”
We, as a congregation, appreciated this man’s sermons before this epoch, but from that time on he fed the flock of God (John 21:17). “We know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin” (John 16:8).
How marvelous is Bible conviction, especially noticeable when it falls suddenly upon a soul (Acts 9:3). Preconceived ideas, vital questions, that were thought to have been settled by strong argument beyond controversy, are swept away by the overwhelming argument of a hungry heart.
An unusually intelligent young man, that we had been praying for, had imbibed atheistic ideas, and had long since settled the question of his responsibility to God from that viewpoint. One morning during the progress of a revival meeting, just as he started to his work his mother gently appealed to him to go to the meeting and give his heart to God.
He looked up in surprise, and said, “Why, Mother, you know I do not believe in those things any more. That question is settled.” He went on to his work, but he said later on, in testimony, “Right there began the argument of my own heart, that soon made a complete overthrow of all those ‘settled’ questions. I wondered why my breast should heave; why I should sigh and groan; and why should tears blind me so that I could not go on with my work, when I did not believe in the Christian religion. But all I said did not make any difference. There was the irresistible argument of my own heart.” By the convincing power of the Holy Spirit he realized the truth, and it was the decision of his judgment that the only common sense thing to do was to give his heart to God, and at once. He knelt down right there, in the basement where he had been working alone, but he encountered such strong opposing forces that he realized he must have the help of the prayers of others, and make a full surrender of himself to God, if he ever could get away from the power of the enemy that held him. Yes, he would go to the meeting, or do anything. But could God for Christ’s sake forgive all his sins?
We will never forget that night. As he came to the altar, dry-eyed but with determination written on his countenance, he said to the evangelist, “I don’t know if I feel as deeply as I ought.” The evangelist looked him right in the eye, and said, “Do you mean it?” “Yes, I do,” and we knew he did. “That’s enough, God will help you.” It was a transaction. He was dealing with the Infinite. Surrendering to God meant something; a fearful battle ensued, the unseen forces of evil, that had held him in bondage so long, fought hard. But those that “stand by the LORD of the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:14) became desperate in prayer, and prevailed. God came, broke the shackles, and set him free from the thralldom of unbelief, the one great power of the deceiver of the nations, that holds them like cables of steel.
Freedom to serve our gracious God is a wonderful privilege, and he has since been greatly blessed in His service, and has been entrusted with a large and growing work which has prospered in his hands.
As we intercede for souls, how we ought to ask in faith, to really expect the Holy Spirit to move upon them with such irresistible force as to overthrow, to bring to end, to utterly defeat, every other argument but that all-convincing argument of their own hearts. He gives His people an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11-13; Psalm 62:5).
Many years ago, an aged mother in Israel told me of her father’s experience in his last illness, when she was a child of twelve summers.
He was a saved soul among a people who lived the first work of grace, but knew nothing of the second work.
He lay sick for some months, and died, or appeared to, but revived and lived some weeks. While he was unconscious to things of time and sense, yet he was thoroughly conscious to things of the Spirit, communing with the Lord, repeating Scripture, and praying for a clean heart. He would plead and pray, with the tears rolling down his face, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:10)
Like any child perplexed, she said to her mother, “What does Father want?”
Her reply was, “He wants the Lord to give him a clean heart.”
“Why doesn’t the Lord give it to him?”
“He will,” answered the mother; “now you watch over him, while I work.”
“I did watch over him,” she went on to say, “very closely indeed, for if God was going to give him a clean heart I wanted to see when He did it. And I did, I surely did.
“My father had been praying and pleading the promises until his pillow was wet with tears. The earnestness of his soul I shall never forget. Suddenly there was a wonderful change. His face lit up with ‘a light ne’er seen on land or sea,’ a heavenly radiance; and simultaneously praise burst from his lips, and he shouted and praised God with all his limited strength. I ran out to Mother, saying ‘He’s got it, he’s got it. The Lord did give it to him,’ as happy as I could be; and great joy beamed upon my dear mother’s face, as she saw the reflected glory, and listened to those words of adoring praise. He lingered still another week or more praising God with every breath, but remained utterly unconscious to the most tender solicitations of loved ones, or any effort to win his recognition.”
It was one of those strong proofs of the undeniable argument of the human heart hungering for holiness, and that it can be met, even when beyond the realization of earthly surroundings. For God can deal with a soul at such a time, just as “in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction.” (Job 33:15,16)
For years, I have had a settled conviction that I must never give up a soul that has been laid on my heart, but keep believing; for even in their latest moments, they may catch the vision of the Christ. It is possible that the seeking Savior may so be revealed that they can even then let everything go under the atoning blood, and trust such love. This is the confidence I have in Him.
I could mention many incidents in which this undoubtedly was the fact; for that “solar light,” the glory from the upper courts, illuminated the dying face and was lingering still when we looked upon it for the last time in the casket.
My one great desire is for an early yielded life of blessed service, and I deeply feel the heartbreak to see souls living for themselves, carelessly ignoring the claims of God to whom they owe everything. They are missing the best here in this life, and may miss heaven in the hereafter. Yet, I feel to hold on by prayer and faith, still pleading pardoning mercy, even to life’s close; for if they will yield and are saved, yet so as by fire, there is an eternity in which to love and serve the Lord.
It is a most unbearable thought, that anyone that I have carried on my heart these years should spend eternity hating with ever-increasing hatred their beneficent Creator.
For this reason, beyond all other reasons, I will never give up a soul this side of the great divide (James 5:20).