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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
BY GOD'S REVIVALIST OFFICE
TO SARA ETTA COMPTON,
the beloved wife, whose holy influence and godly example has ever been the greatest earthly inspiration of my life; and who, through poverty, distresses, and fiery trials, has never shrunk from her duty, but has ever trustingly said, "Thy will be done, O Lord;" and to the memory of
our only daughter, the little rosebud that bloomed in our home for a short season, then faded away from our presence, to bloom with brighter luster in the gardens of the skies,
IS THIS BOOK LOVINGLY DEDICATED.
IT is with no small amount of pleasure that I comply with the request of my precious friend, brother, and co-laborer in the evangelistic field to write a few introductory lines to this valuable biography of his life.
Brother Compton has written this sketch of his life in acquiescence to the earnest solicitation of his many friends and spiritual children, who desire such a biography as this volume affords of the life of the one who led them to God.
I am aware, owing to the natural distaste for anything eulogistic that characterizes our brother, that some things I shall say will not seem palatable to him; but when I say that my object is alone to state the plain facts, and thus more largely glorify the blessed Christ who has made him what he is, I know that he will allow his friend to speak candidly.
In the providence of God it became my good fortune, when a young man just out of my teens, to win the love and confidence of this man of God. The call of the Lord had been ringing through my soul until it had become imperative that I should launch out into the evangelistic field and spend all my energies for God and souls. The field looked so large, and the boy so small, that I needed
just such an offer as an experienced warrior like the subject of this sketch gave me. Consequently we "harnessed double," and bade farewell to my own Northern clime, and plunged into the North Carolina mountains. Here God, through the example and companionship of Brother Compton, taught me lessons of endurance, boldness, humility, and contentment under all circumstances, favorable or otherwise, and mostly the latter, which have largely determined what present usefulness I may possess.
Evangelist Lucius B. Compton is pre-eminently the leading exponent of red-hot Bible holiness in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and is such a rebuke to the dead ecclesiasticism so prevalent in that country, that he is hated and dreaded by such more than any other man. On the other hand, he is loved and reverenced by all who are willing to pay the price of renouncing all worldliness and go all the way with God.
Brother Compton is, in the fullest sense, a miracle of Grace. No one realizes this more fully than himself; hence he always gives God all the glory for every victory. During his youthful years he was a cripple, hobbling about on crutches, so tongue-tied that he could scarcely be understood, and so void of learning that at the age of twenty he could scarcely spell out the simplest sentences; to-day, but eight years later, he is one of the clearest, most fluent of speakers, a deep Bible student, a leader of a great work in his home State, and a soul-winner whom God has honored with hundreds and hundreds of spiritual children.
The old-time power of God attends his preaching. By old-time power I mean the demonstration of the Spirit which made the preaching of early Methodism and Quakerism peculiar and unusual, when men and women would fall under the power of God and lie as dead for hours, then come through with a glorious, soul-thrilling shout of victory. I have seen Brother Compton preach with such glory of heaven upon his face, and with words so freighted with the unction of the Spirit, that many of the saints would leap to their feet and run about the house in holy joy, until soon religious pandemonium would make further preaching impossible or impracticable, and an altar call would be the result before the sermon was over half completed.
I believe that thousands will rejoice with me over the publication of this book. Like the preaching of this man, his book is written with no uncertain sound. We have read many books which were supposed to be clear, comprehensive, and instructive epistles of the second grace of entire sanctification, only to find that often they were but a compromise from which one could get little, or nothing, substantial and convincing.
I humbly pray that a copy of this book may fall into the hands of tens of thousands of those who are wandering along through the brambles and briers of sin, and lead them into the green pastures of the Lord; that it may also fall into the hands of those who have spent many years battling with their indwelling foe, the Old Man of sin, and lead them across the Jordan of full consecration into
the bright, fruitful Canaan land of entire sanctification. Let the holy people of all lands pray that the God of all grace, who has made the subject of this book what he is, may keep him in the dust of humility, and uncompromisingly on a stretch for more of the simplicity, unction, and power with which he is now indued.
Yours for Bible Holiness,
JOHN C. PATTY.
At the age of five years I became a sufferer with the white swelling, which was located in my left knee. The doctors said I was destined to be a cripple the rest of my life. Besides this painful affliction, I had another in many respects equally annoying. This was such a stammering tongue that I had great difficulty in speaking my own name. On account of these afflictions, and school facilities very poor, I was deprived of an early education, which in many ways has been a deep regret of later years. Since I was the youngest of the family, and a cripple, I was humored in everything, and had my own way - a fact which made me a spoiled boy from the beginning. Let me say to parents, out of my own experience, that if you have a sickly or invalid child, teach him that he must obey as well as the rest of the children, and in later years, should health be restored, he will thank you for your early discipline.
My parents enjoyed good, old-fashioned religion - the kind which took the Bible at its word, and believed it without any "ifs," "ands," or "buts." They were content to believe it without any modern "fixing up." Consequently they taught us children that there was a hell which was hot, everlasting, and unquenchable. They told us that people who did not repent of their sins would spend eternity there. How well I remember the hellscare this intelligence put upon me when but a child. Although many years have passed since then, I to-day have as great horror of it as ever. God grant it may never leave me till I hear His "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." One day, while in the yard making mother a duck-coop, without any apparent cause for it, I was suddenly seized with such an intense conviction of sin that all my young life came before me in a flash. How dark it looked! Sin, black and dismal, seemed to blot every page of my memory. I saw the shortness of time and the length of eternity. I quickly threw down the hammer I was using, and hobbled into the house to mother's side, where in fear I clung to her. I wanted to tell her just how I felt; but the devil closed my lips, and I could not. Although I did not yield to those convictions that morning by mother's duck-coop, still I never could get rid of the impressions there received.
I always loved preachers, but many of them nearly made a skeptic of me. It was in this way: I always attended the preaching services with my parents. Often have I heard sermons that melted my heart, and it seemed to me that the preacher was an angel dropped into the
pulpit from the skies. My father sometimes entertained the preachers, so they would go home with us for dinner, when they would often begin to tell jokes at the table about the dinner which some one set before them. After dinner we children would follow them out under a shade-tree, and, through puffs of tobacco-smoke and squirts of the filthy quid, hear them tell smutty tales. In the forenoon in the pulpit I heard them tell of the Spirit of Christ that dwelt in them; in the afternoon their own deportment forced me to believe it was the spirit of the evil one that dwelt there. I have often been at the village stores and heard ministers and deacons of the Church tell such smutty and indecent stories that any moral man should blush to hear. To think that on service days such men would take the stand and point sinners to Christ, the way of salvation, sickened me of the whole thing. I often complained of my knee paining me just for excuse to stay away from preaching. O, my brother ministers, may God help us to know that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
At twelve years of age I attended a meeting in the Methodist church of Clyde, North Carolina, conducted by a spiritual man. My conviction for sin became such a burden, making life so unbearably miserable, that I yielded to the Holy Ghost, and went to the altar. I tried to pray, but could not. I was fearful of what my young friends would think of me; so I left the altar, and my condition grew worse and worse, and I felt forever doomed to hell. When I got home my parents encouraged me to go on till I received the evidence that I was accepted of Christ. The next night I went to the meeting, and the text of the sermon I have never forgotten: "Because I
have called, and you refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.... Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." O how that message went to my heart! I got to the place where I cared to talk to no one. I felt that, without exception, I was the meanest boy in the country. Many times I resorted to the woods, and, hidden amid the underbrush and leaves, poured out my heart to God. One morning I came to the place where I fully realized it must be settled. All had left the Church except mother and a few friends. Then it seemed that all hope was gone and I was eternally lost, when, suddenly, the glorious sunlight of heaven flooded my soul. O the brightness and beauty of everything! Mother never did look so sweet to me as then, and the friends whom I had known for years, seemed to have changed. Paul tells the secret of all this phenomenon where he says: "Therefore if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When I got home the little chink and daubed log-cabin looked like a mansion. Did I fear to tell what God had done for me? No; you could not keep me from telling it. After years of experience in God's work of saving souls, there is a doubt in my mind about people who claim to get saved and do not tell it at home and everywhere and every time they have opportunity. God gave me a passion for souls. I would go out in the congregation and exhort sinners to come to Jesus. When I met sinners on the road I would stop them and tell them about the wonderful Savior I had found, and urge them to seek Him.
I joined the Baptist Church at Clyde, North Carolina, and, with about twenty-five others, was baptized. We organized a young men's prayer-meeting, which was largely attended, and the power of God was with us. The prayer-meeting was such an attraction to me that it often took special grace for me to wait till time for it to begin. How different from the condition of the vast majority of professing Christians of these days, when it is almost impossible to get them to prayer-meeting without the special inducement of a program, or social hour, or some other hilarious Church spree after it. God have pity! I was sometimes selected to lead these meetings, and, although but twelve years old, father would have me conduct the prayer service at the family altar. In all my efforts for good, God signally blessed, and my heart abounded continually in His love. Precious days to my memory!
During these days, when I spent much time alone meditating upon the things of God, I received decided convictions of His calling me to His exclusive work. I realized how ignorant I was in school-learning, for, although twelve years old, I had never spent over six months in school. I hungered to know God's Word, and I could not learn it until I could learn to read it. My father would often read Scripture to me, and I would commit it to memory, and, with a passion to tell others what I had found, I would conduct cottage prayer-meetings, and thus use these Scriptures I had stored away in my memory. God's smile and seal rested upon all my young efforts for His glory. God did exceeding abundantly above all I asked or even thought. Glory to His name!
SOME months after the preceding experiences my father one day asked me to do an errand for him, and for some reason I failed to do it. He corrected me for my disobedience, and, spontaneously and to my surprise, a feeling of resentment came into my heart. God knows I did not want it there; but I could n't help it. I hastened to the woods, and went to prayer over that which I had done. I struggled with an inward foe so long that my parents grew uneasy about what had become of me. However, I gained the victory, and God gave me grace to confess my wrong to father, and, with the confession, my joy was restored. This was the first I ever realized that there was carnality in my heart. I have since learned its name to be inbred sin. O, had there been some one then to tell me that there was power in Jesus' blood to take it out just as I had learned there was power in His blood to pardon a lost sinner! But no one seemed to know about any such work of grace. They told me that my trouble was the flesh, and as long as I lived I could expect fearful battles with it. Thank God, I have since found it to be carnality, the enemy of my soul, and that, through faith in Jesus, this foe can be forever eliminated from the believer's heart, resulting in constant victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil!
By this time, twelve months from the date of my conversion, the whole community was spiritually dead,
and the devil began his work on me. Being but a lad, with little spiritual help, and in constant battle with the carnal mind, I became discouraged. I resorted to the pine thickets for hours, wondering what was to become of my poor soul. I could not endure the thought of going back to the world, and to continue in this lukewarm condition I would not. My young companions who had been saved in the meeting a year previous were all backslidden and living in open sin. Satan whispered in my ear, saying: "You are but a boy of thirteen; what 's the use of your separating yourself from the boys of your community? You are more religious than the old folks." So the devil got my eyes off of Christ and upon the old folks of the town. They had let the prayer-meeting go down, and no longer encouraged the young converts. I have often gone to prayer-meeting, and been the only person there. I have stood on the church platform waiting for some one to open the door. No one would come, and I would return home crying.
The officers of the Churches would have candy stews, parties, and occasionally a dance at their homes, and the preachers would allow their children to attend. I remember distinctly that about the first condemnation that came upon me was when I attended one of the Church fandangoes. It was a candy stew for the young folks of the community, given at the home of Brother W. The preacher's children called at our home to invite brother Tim and me to go with them. Father never favored having his children go to such places; but those boys begged so hard that mother consented, saying, "Brother W. is a good man, and it is at his home." My first impression was not to go, because I felt in my heart that it was not
the place for a true Christian. Again the devil got the victory, and I went. I found the old folks in the kitchen stewing candy, and the young people in another room having a "big" time to the tune of a violin. Immediately upon entering the room I felt condemned. Their conversation and actions were anything but those of Christians. I did not stay, but hastened home, and spent a sleepless night. I would n't go to Sunday-school the next Sunday for fear I would be called on to pray. Some would tell me that candy-pullings were right, but I knew in my heart that God's people should not participate in worldly frolics.
O the loneliness of those days! I wept and prayed, and wandered over the hills and through the valleys, seeking something to satisfy my poor broken heart. I went to the pastor, and asked him to remove my name from the Church roll. Very reluctantly he was persuaded to do so. I was now about fourteen years old; and completely backslidden. No need to preach to me the impossibility of backsliding and losing one's soul after once being truly born of God. I knew that I was lost, that God had withdrawn His Spirit from me, and the Scripture was fulfilled in my experience which says: "But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places, seeking rest and findeth it not. Then he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out; and when he is come he findeth it empty, swept and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first." Yes, with the last clause of this Scripture I could say that the last state of this boy
became worse than the first. The devil again took up his abode in my heart, and brought with him more wicked spirits than ever influenced my life before. "When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die." When one has once tasted of the joys of salvation and turns away from the Savior, seek as he may for something to satisfy, it can not be found. One of the most painful remembrances of those dreary days to me now is, that they were so largely caused by the worldly living of those who professed to be Christians - those to whom we young people looked for guidance, comfort, and example. If in those months of endeavor to serve my Lord I had had the sympathy, prayers, and godly example of the Church that a true Church always gives, I do not believe I should ever have wandered away from God. O the dark, sinful, reckless years I would have been saved from had I held fast to that early profession of faith! Thousands of preachers and professing Christians, in hell, will hear the curses of those once converted, taken into their Church, and allowed to starve to death for lack of real gospel truth and living. Awful will it be in the city of endless night for them to look into the demoniac faces of scores who are there because of their unfaithfulness. Ministers who preach art, science, nature, philosophy, literature, political economy, etc., instead of Christ crucified, as is being almost universally done to-day, and who substitute the learning of the college for the power of the Holy Ghost, are greasing a plank upon which millions are slipping into the bottomless pit yearly. May God help us, brother
ministers, to obey the Divine injunction to "tarry in Jerusalem until endued with power from on high!" Then, when the Holy Ghost falls upon you, as He did upon those at Pentecost, sanctifying your hearts and filling you with the Divine power and equipment for service, go forth as a flame of fire for God and souls. When you become a flame of fire, you are a true exemplification of God's definition of a preacher - "Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire."
BY the time I had reached the age of fifteen my crippled knee had become strong, and I was able to do as heavy work as any boy of that age. How swiftly I had gone to the devil! But fifteen and all love for father, mother, brothers, sisters, home, God, Church, and all else that was good, had evanesced! I became so wild and unruly that my parents could not control me. I was a notoriously bad boy of the town. If there was any trouble on hand, who did n't know that Luch Compton was in it? Nothing suited me like a scrap with the neighbor boys. Try as they would, my parents could not control or check me in my reckless career; so one day I ran away from home, not knowing or caring whether I ever returned.
At this time George Vanderbilt was employing hundreds of men upon his beautiful mansion and estate about five miles from Asheville, North Carolina. So thither I went, and procured a position, thus being thrown in company with all classes of men. I believe many of those men were about as wicked as the devil could make them. Although I was about the youngest employee on the works I quickly acquired many of the evil habits of the older men, and was soon noted for my wild and sinful nature. I became addicted to drink and other vices too vile to mention. I would not go to any kind of religious service, and tried my best to make an infidel of myself. I would take sides against the Church, and sarcastically
tell all I knew against preachers and professing Christians. I got good wages, and spent every dollar from one pay- day to another. At the age of seventeen I had every indication of a hopeless case. My parents were broken- hearted over the ruin of their baby boy. At one time my mother was thought to be losing her mind over my condition. I would never write home because I had lost all love for home. I doubt not that it would have been a relief to my parents to know I was dead, because they lived in constant expectancy of hearing I had been killed or murdered in some way.
One Christmas-day I decided to go to my home, not to see my people, but to have a spree with my crowd. While walking down one of the home streets I came face to face with my dear old father. I shall never forget the look on his face, so sad and careworn, tears had filled his eyes, and his emotions were so strong that he could not or did not speak to me. I knew father had done the best he could to raise me right, and his presence filled me with a sense of guilt - such an impression as I had not experienced for many years. This chance meeting with father made me think seriously of my wayward life, and the sorrow I had brought to the old folks at home. A spark of the better nature which still remained in my heart drew me to the old home to see my mother. As I write these lines I can, in memory, see the expression of my mother's face. She threw her arms about my neck, and it seemed she would never let me go. Though vile and polluted with sin, I realized that mother still loved her baby boy. As long as I remained, neither father nor mother could speak my name without weeping. The time came for me to return to Asheville to my work, and
mother hurried about preparing dinner for me, as I was to leave in the afternoon. Neither father nor mother talked much that morning; they both had heavy hearts. I dreaded a farewell scene, so I planned to slip away without saying good-bye; but father kept his eyes on me, and when, after dinner, with grip in hand, I started for the door, he placed his hand upon me, and, with tears in his eyes, said: "My son, you may never come back to see us old folks again, so I want you to wait and let us have prayer with you. You have broken our hearts by your wayward life, but we will follow you with our prayers until you come back to God or die in your condition." I have never forgotten those moments of prayer mingled with sobs and tears. Truly God heard in behalf of His prodigal son, and answered those petitions in His own time. I left that humble log- cabin home that afternoon with strange impressions upon me; but once more back with the old crowd, I wore them off, and continued in the path of sin.
While in the employ of Vanderbilt I met with a young lady who was attending school near by, and, after a further acquaintance, she won my heart. She was a truly regenerated Christian and devoted to her Church. Not knowing anything of my past life, she accepted my attentions, and on her account I began to attend Church services and Sunday-school. This young lady's piety made a deep impression upon me for good. I began to recall the time when Jesus was so precious to my soul, and longed for the same experience again. The place where I worked was controlled by wicked men, and my companions were wicked; so, although my poor soul was hungry for God, the devil made mountains of this fact to keep me away from Jesus.
I became restless and dissatisfied with my situation, and soon left it for parts unknown. I wandered from one State to another. When I would stop at a place, I would make resolutions to do better, and get into good company; but in a short time I would be in the same kind of a crowd I had left. As water will find its level, so will a young man find his when seeking a crowd of companions. In spite of all the good resolutions I made, the power of evil in my heart broke them, and I could say with Paul, "Truly his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." All the resolutions one can make, without the power of God in the heart to carry them out, are of little avail. Young man, if you are trying to reform without Christ in your heart, let me tell you that you are undertaking a job that the vast majority of young men like you never finish.
I one day found myself in a Western town where railroad work was being done, and I procured a position. Like my Vanderbilt fellow-workmen, these men were a very wicked class. I got into their deviltry, and found my heart getting harder and harder, and less susceptible to the truth of God each day. I became so reckless I cared for neither life nor death, and would scarcely have a thought about eternal things, except when receiving a letter from my parents or betrothed wife, and these epistles affected me but little. This condition continued for several months, until the spring of 1893.
At this time, about sundown one evening, I had a remarkable experience. Without any special inducement, and unsought, a terrible load of conviction came upon me. I tried to wear it off; but it became deeper and deeper, until night had succeeded sundown, and I thought I would surely be in hell before morning. The visions of my mind I can not describe. I remembered the mercy of God, and tried to pray, but I could not. I retired to my bed, and restlessly tossed about till daylight came, and with it somewhat of an abatement of my intense fears. Never was the sunshine of the heavens more welcome to me than that day. I tried to appear as care-free as ever, but no one knew the battle between heaven and hell that was waging in my heart. My position required my presence but half the time, and I spent the remainder wandering across the fields and through the woods. I did not want to see any one through the day, and I dreaded to see night coming.
I fell asleep one night, and dreamed that the trumpet had sounded and the Judgment had come. I saw all the people of all nations standing before Christ. But more distinctly than all the others I could see my father, mother, sister, and brothers standing on the right hand side with Christ, their faces radiant with His glory. My turn came to be judged, and the name of Lucius Compton rang from end to end of that vast judgment hall; but ere, with trembling knees and pallid countenance, I could walk to the judgment stand, my dear old mother, with face which, in spite of its glory, bore evidence of untold grief and
agony, interposed herself between myself and the judgment seat, and, weeping bitterly, cried, "O God, this is my wayward baby boy; have mercy on him!" In tones both stern and kind the Judge replied, "I have been merciful for years, but your boy trampled My mercy under his feet;" and, turning to me, He said, "Lucius Compton, depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." With this I cast a last look at the loved ones of my earthly days, and was being borne swiftly to hell when the shrieks of the doomed and damned awakened me suddenly from my dream to find myself crying out to God for mercy. I promised Him that night, if He would keep me out of hell, I would live for Him. I had been very profane, so much so that I would use the most fearful oaths and not be conscious of the fact until some, even of my wicked companions, would tell me of it. I don't remember asking God to save my soul at this time, but to take from me that awful habit of swearing; and, sure enough, from that day to this I have never uttered an oath, and have ever since had a horror of all blasphemy. My fellow-workmen noticed a change in me, and especially in regard to cursing. While I did not tell the boys my full purpose of heart, I did tell them I was going to live differently. There were no Christians in the crew, and not many who even had any respect for Christianity, so I had no one in whom to confide. God only knows what I carried in my heart and mind those days. I feared to go to sleep at night without leaving a light burning in my room. I concluded to give up my position and return to my parents in North Carolina, but my employer persuaded me to remain longer. I knew my only peace could be found in salvation, and how I could get saved, and continue to cook for that crew of men and keep saved, was more than
I could determine. I one day asked a foreman if he believed in religion, and he said he did, because his dear old blind mother was a Christian. This gave me boldness, and I opened my heart to him. He encouraged me, and said he hoped some day to be a Christian himself. Shortly after, I gave up my position with a full determination to give my heart to God. I returned to North Carolina, and visited my parents, and after a short time at home was married to Miss Etta Butler, of Asheville, North Carolina, the young lady before mentioned. Although youthful marriages are not always best, this one proved to be one of the most fortunate events of my life. My wife was a sincere Christian girl, and the first night in our home she erected the family altar, and, thank God, through her unflinching devotion to duty it has never been done away.
UP to the time just related I had not yielded myself entirely to God, although I had greatly changed and had given up my grosser sins. I soon returned to my position in Kentucky as a cook on the railroad. I had no rest day or night; the burden became so heavy I could not carry it longer. I again gave up my position, and told comrades and all, "Good-bye to that kind of a life." Instead of returning to my own home, I went to Cincinnati, Ohio. I secured a room, and set about in earnest to seek and find God. During the day I would roam over the city like one utterly forsaken, and at night go up the stairs to my little room, and pray, and sob, and cry. I could hear the lonely strike of the city clocks as they pealed out the hours of twelve, one, two, and three. Every hour seemed as long as a day. An occasional footstep on the street below only added to the loneliness and distress of my poor broken heart. I prayed as best I could, but it seemed I could never find peace. The black and gloomy six years of a wasted life came ever before me, and as I now write of them I would give much to forget them.
I heard of a mission on Plum Street, and went down one night to the service. In that place I saw men and women, and heard them tell how God had saved them from drunkards, harlots, gamblers, wife deserters, and from almost every kind of sinful life, and, although their faces were physically marred by sin and debauchery, they shone with the radiance of heaven. I wanted such a
salvation, and arose and told them so, and that I was a poor mother's boy, far from home and far from God. When I sat down one of the leaders sang -
"At home or abroad, in the alley or street,
Wherever I chance in this wide world to meet
A girl who is thoughtless, a boy that is wild,
My heart echoes softly, 'It is some mother's child.'
And when I see those o'er whom long years have rolled,
Whose hearts have been hardened, whose spirits are cold,
Be it a woman all fallen, or man all defiled,
A voice whispers sadly, 'It is some mother's child.'
No matter how deep he is sunken in sin;
No matter how much he is shunned by his kin;
No matter how foul is his fountain of joy;
Tho' guilty and loathsome, he is some mother's boy.
That head hath been pillowed on tenderest breast;
That form hath been wept o'er, those lips have been pressed;
That soul hath been prayed for in tones sweet and mild,
For her sake deal gently with some mother's child."
I was so touched by this precious song and the other things bearing upon me that I, that night, settled it in my heart that I was forever done with sin. I was walking down Main Street the next afternoon, talking to God, when all at once heaven seemed to open, and part of it fell in my soul. What I did I do not know, for I was not responsible. God had turned my spiritual darkness into day. Though dead in trespasses and sin, I had been quickened into life. I found myself shouting praises to God on the busy thoroughfare. I rushed around to my place of business, and wrote to my wife and parents telling what the dear Lord had done for me. I told my business partner that I was saved. I went to the mission
that night, and, although the devil tried to scare me by telling me I was ignorant and tongue-tied, I arose, and, with stammering tongue and trembling knees, told how Jesus had saved my soul. O how God blessed me when I confessed His pardoning grace! During the day I talked Christ to all with whom I had opportunity, and at night I could hardly wait till the mission service started, it was such food to my soul that had been starving in the devil's Egypt for six long years.
At once God showed me that I could not continue to keep my place of business open on Sunday. My partner was a worldly man, and God's plain word, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," rang in my ears until I saw we must dissolve all business relations as partners. All my own and my wife's money was invested. I should have been glad to sell my interest to my partner, but I knew he had no ready money. I could not remain in partnership longer, so I just left money, business, and all, and that is the last I ever had to do with it. That morning I stepped out with but seven dollars in my pocket, with nothing in sight, and my wife away down in the mountains of Western North Carolina, wanting to come to me. I wrote her a letter, saying I had lost all of our hard-earned money, and she replied, "Let all go, but stay with Jesus," and those words were worth more to me than all the money I had lost.
With the seven dollars I rented a room on the fifth floor of a large tenement-house, bought for two dollars a second-hand folding lounge to serve as a bed, a small monkey stove for one dollar and a half, and a stewpan and a chair. I used a drygoods box for a table, and another for a cupboard, and a tomato-can for a teapot.
My wife sent me a few dishes and some bed clothing, and this constituted my household furnishings. In a few days the Lord opened the way for me to get work at just enough wages to pay room-rent and procure a little food to eat.
My parents let my wife have enough money to come to me, and, I tell you, it was an awful test for me to take her to that poorly-furnished little room after losing enough of her own money to have had a nicely-furnished little home. When she came we knelt in prayer, and she thanked God that we even had as good as it was, and said she would rather have that little room with Jesus than a nice home without Him. It was a great blessing for me to see that my wife was so well contented under such unpleasant conditions.
January and February of the winter of 1895 were very severe months, characterized by heavy snows and hard freezes, which made it a dreadful winter on the poor. The Lord permitted us to go through some very severe testings; but He blessedly sustained us through them all.
As I have said, my wages were a mere pittance compared to the amount requisite for comfortable living. Often the weather became so extremely rough that I could scarcely work at all. Many times, when the morning had come, we could not see how we would get through the day, and often we got through on but ten or fifteen cents. Several of the families living in adjacent apartments were sustained at the city's expense. Wife and I agreed that we would trust God, and tell our needs to none other, and when it seemed that we could not possibly get through the day, God would open the way for me to earn twenty- five or fifty cents, and thus
our every need was supplied. This winter, as students in God's college of adversity, we were taught many beautiful lessons on simple faith, which, in plentiful circumstances, we would not have learned; so we rejoice to have had this experience, which helped us into the deeper things of God.
There were about fifty families living in the same building with us, and the Lord laid it upon our hearts to do missionary work among them. I would go from room to room, holding services with them, and God abundantly blessed in this work. Many of these families never attended any kind of public worship, so the Word of God touched their hearts, and souls were saved. The devil would often tempt me to give up trying to do any public work for God by showing me my awkwardness and ignorance. I truly was ignorant, so much so that often, when I would get up to read the Scripture lesson, some one who had a Bible would have to pronounce a great many words for me, while the little children would sit about laughing at the many mistakes I made, because most of them could have done better themselves.
The devil next got a false report out on me. It was told all through the house where I lived and had been laboring for the Lord, that I was not married to my wife. Some would come to our room and ask my wife if we were really married. God overruled this, and defeated the devil, and, very soon after, some one went to the janitor and asked him to put us out of the house. Their complaint was that I sang and shouted so much they could not rest. We were compelled to quit holding prayer-meetings in the other rooms, but we continued them in our own, and God honored them. Bless His name!
While living here, our little daughter Marietta was born. Before my wife had recovered so as to help herself any, I had spent the last cent, and there was no place in sight to earn more. Besides, there was no one to stay with wife and baby while I searched for something to do. With anxious heart I stepped over to the lounge upon which my dear ones lay, and asked wife what I should do. She cheerfully replied, "Let us pray." I shall never forget that morning as I knelt there, and, with tears in my eyes, told God that the last cent was gone, and no place to get more. I told Him that I could n't leave wife and baby alone, and the house-rent was due next day, so, divested of all human aid, I simply trusted Him who said: "Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? ....But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
The next morning came, and wife was very weak and I could not leave her. My faith in God to help us some way grew strong. The devil tempted me hard; but I walked the floor with Testament in hand, pleading the promises. While thus engaged, there was a knock at the door, and the postman handed me a letter which read about as follows:
"MR. COMPTON, -- Dear Friend: I am impressed that you are in need of some money. If so, use these five dollars; and if not, you can kindly return them.
O, we had a glorious shout in our little room, praising God for His direct answer to prayer! I fell on my knees, and restated my consecration to God, and gave our little baby to Him and His service. The Lord raised wife up very quickly, and I got to work again.
I procured work in an agency which took me from house to house. I would talk little business, but much religion. Sometimes I would take out my Testament and talk an hour about my wonderful Savior. Some days I would not work two hours, but spend the day talking to hungry hearts. Although I knew almost nothing about book learning, and had to spell my way through the New Testament, I knew that in His own time God would let me leave all and go into His work. In the spring I was offered a position on the railroad, working for the Pullman Palace Car Company. The wages were good, and I could have my Sundays to work in the mission. I asked the Lord to help me do the work right, and told Him if I could not be true to Him and hold the position I would give it up. The man beside whom I worked asked me if I ever swore. I told him, "No; I had been saved from awful profanity, and now I prayed and gave thanks." He did not seem to think I could keep true in such bad company. I realized that the men were watching me closely, and I prayed very earnestly for God to give me power to be true to Him. At noon, while the others were playing cards and throwing dice, I would spend the hour reading my Testament. They would try to get me to play with them, but I would invite them to listen to what Jesus said in His Word. They asked me if I believed what that Book said. I told them that I did not only believe it, but expected to obey every word of it. In a few weeks, instead of playing cards, the men would gather around me and listen to the Word of God. They learned
to respect me as a child of God, and I induced some of them to go to prayer-meeting with me, where I would testify how victoriously God was keeping me each day. The sermons I preached each day among those men in my Christian living resulted in much good. God needs preachers in the workshop, on the railroad, and on the farm as truly as in the pulpit; and in many instances those who are preaching Christ by their daily lives are accomplishing more real, vital good than those behind the pulpit, garbed in high collars, white neckties, and long coats.
I ONE day made the acquaintance of a man whom God had saved from the very depths of sin. He had served time in the State prison and city workhouse. When the Lord saved him he returned to the wife whom he had deserted eleven years before. God miraculously taught him to read the Bible, and made him a powerful street preacher. He invited me to attend a meeting he was to hold on Sunday afternoon under the Court Street Markethouse. When I arrived Sunday afternoon, a large crowd had gathered, and the brother opened the service with songs and prayer; then, to my surprise, he announced that there was present a young man from the mountains of North Carolina who would address them. I was greatly embarrassed, but tremblingly stood before the people, and in my humble way told them how Christ had saved me from sin. The Lord wonderfully blessed me in giving my testimony, and people's hearts were touched. A number came forward, kneeled before God, and were blessedly saved.
This experience greatly encouraged me, and gave me a love and burden for street-preaching which has never left me. The devil greatly tried me in this work. On one occasion I had an appointment to speak at this same place on Sunday afternoon. The day before, I had burst one of my shoes across the toe so that the side of my foot was exposed to view. I had been telling the people how
wonderfully God was supplying all of my needs, and the devil told me if I went out and preached with that shoe on my foot, the people would laugh at me and say, "O yes; look at his foot outside his shoe; that 's the way his Lord takes care of him!" I searched in vain for some excuse to stay at home, but could find none. I got some blacking and daubed it over the shoe and sock; thinking that this would look all right, and hurried to the street meeting. Just before I reached the place where I was to speak, I looked down at my shoe, and, behold, in walking, the sock had slipped from its former position, and part of the white showed and also part of that daubed with blacking. I turned to go back home, but decided that would never do. I slipped into a large building and wept before God, and told Him I would go and tell of His wonderful salvation if I had to go barefoot. With Christ's sweet presence in my soul I went on, and God blessed me in helping me to preach with greater liberty and power than ever before. Precious souls knelt upon the street, and prayed through to victory. The Lord tested me Sunday, and because I obeyed He gave me a new pair of shoes Monday. All praise to Him!
Another severe testing came. The weather turned extremely cold, and the snow fell heavily. Hundreds of the city's poor were suffering, and there seemed to be five men for every job of work. I searched far and near for work, but could find none. The morning came when wife and little Marietta ate the last bite, and I had none. This was indeed a time of last things. The last cent was gone, the last piece of bread was gone, and the last lump of coal was upon the grate. We had started to live a life of faith, and we expected God to come to our help. We read some of His promises, and went to prayer. The Lord gave us faith for our present need, and we leaned
hard upon Him. I soon after started uptown, and as I walked I prayed, and wept, and trusted. Suddenly I heard a call from some one on the street; but having so few acquaintances in the city, I did not suppose I was meant, so I hurried on, when presently the call was repeated, and turning about I saw a stranger across the street motioning for me to stop. I went over to him, and he said: "The Lord bless you; I have heard you preach on the streets, and the Lord told me to give you this money;" and with that he handed me the money and left. I lifted my heart in thankfulness to God, and hurried homeward that I might make wife's heart glad with the good news. When I arrived home, I noticed that there was a nice pile of coal under our steps. This I could not understand, and I looked at the number to see if this was really the right place. I hurried up the stairs, and asked wife where the coal came from, and she replied that all she knew was that some one had sent it to Compton's. What a blessed time we had praising the Lord! An hour before, no money, no bread, no coal, and now plenty of each for present necessities. Praise His name! I have over and over thanked God for these testings. How they have enriched my soul!
At another time a very courteous, nicely-dressed man introduced himself to me, at one of my street meetings, as a Christian worker. He could hold the crowds nearly spellbound with his oratory, and completely won my confidence. He seemed to take much interest in me, and wanted me to leave my position and go into the work with him. He offered to take my wife and baby into his home. Before I consented to this, I went home with the man to spend the night with him, that we might talk over our plans together more fully. Before morning I found that I was deceived by a smooth-talking villain masquerading
under the name of a Christian worker. I exposed him and his sin, and praised God for delivering me from one more snare of the devil. I relate these incidents for but one purpose, and that is to magnify the keeping power of the Lord. There I was, an ignorant, stammering mountain boy, with the allurements of a large city all around me, yet my Jesus kept me sweetly through it all, and I daily grew in grace and the knowledge of my Savior.
Before the Lord saved me the Bible was, of all books, most uninteresting; but then it became my only study. How I loved to pore over it for hours, and meditate upon it until duty led me where I had to leave it for a time! I thirsted to know all God's revealed will concerning me. Many times my wife would prepare the meals and call me to the table, but I was so absorbed in my study that I would forget that she had spoken, and long after the rest had eaten, and the table was cleared away, I would arouse myself from my Bible and find that I had lost a meal. Somehow God made the precious Word food for both soul and body. Often, while on my knees with the Word open before me, I would read a line and ask myself if I lived up to that. Many times, when reading such Scripture as the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the fifth chapter of First Thessalonians, or the last eight verses of the third chapter of Ephesians in particular, and many other Scriptures in general, I would feel that I came far short of the privileges of the Gospel, and would weep over this clearly evident fact. I was living up to all the light I then had, but at a later period, which will be considered in its order, God led me out into a larger place in Him, where my tears were turned to shouts of
praise when contemplating the Scriptures mentioned above. Thank God, "if we walk in the light as He is in the light, . . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." No one ever backslides while walking in the light of God. Any light that God gives a soul, whether through the Word or otherwise, is just as sacred as the Scriptures, and consequently must be obeyed, or else the sin of disobedience will cause God to remove His Spirit, and spiritual darkness will intervene.
I was engaged to do Christian work in a home that was conducted as a hotel. Here the proprietor, a blessed Christian man, had public prayers conducted morning, noon, and night. In a short time a cook was needed, and, as I had served as railroad cook, I was prevailed upon to take the position. This deprived me of all opportunity to do religious work, except as beggars would come to the kitchen door for something to eat, when I would preach Jesus to them. One day a young boy came to the door for something to eat. I took him in, and talked salvation to him, and from my own experience showed him the danger in running away from home. God touched his heart, and he repented, and returned to his country home. He later wrote me expressing his thanks for the good advice I had given, and for the interest I had taken in his soul.
Another time I was standing in the door, watching the passers on the street, when presently I heard some children howling and mocking some one upon the street. I looked carefully to see the cause of the uproar, when a girl, well dressed, staggering from one side to the other, came into view. I saw she would soon fall into the
street and the police would get her, so I hastily got Mrs. Compton, and going out we found her prostrate at our corner. We took her up, and carried her in, and placed her upon our bed. She did not have the appearance of a girl who had spent her young life in sin, and we could not detect the smell of intoxicating liquor upon her breath, so we concluded that she must be the victim of some devilish conspiracy. She lay there in this unconscious state for about ten hours, when she regained consciousness and told her story, which was the same old one of a human devil, called a man, pretending to make love to her, and drugging her in order to take sinful advantage of her helpless condition. She suspected his intentions, and was making her escape when we picked her up from the street. We found a temporary home for her, and later she returned to her own home.
When a boy or girl leaves the old country home to take chances in the city, they can have no idea what awful temptations and snares the devil has set to damn their souls and take them to hell. How many thousands of virtuous country and village girls have kissed their good old fathers and mothers farewell to enter the city, and, before many months, have been wrecked and disgraced by men and women of superior cunning! There are many proprietors of city brothels who have smooth, courteous men hired on commission to lure simple, virtuous girls into these cesspools of vice and shame.
In spite of the fact that I was receiving good wages and my family was very comfortable, I felt that I must give up all and go out upon the Master's work, or else completely backslide. My hotel duties so completely took my time from four o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock at night that I had no time to study my Bible and be alone with God. Consequently, I found that evil tempers would
arise, and I would many times do such things as would bring sorrow to my heart. Often I would speak shortly or impatiently to my wife, and then weep and ask her to forgive me for doing so. The Lord showed me that I was out of Divine order. He had called me to feed men's souls and here I was spending my time feeding their stomachs. These convictions deepened upon me until I cried out to God that I would leave all and follow Him. I told Him He had called me to His work, and I would trust Him to pay all the expenses.
One day, while in earnest prayer, God gave me a view of the world going at lightning velocity hellward, and an apostate ministry prophesying "smooth things" and saying, "Peace, peace," when there was no peace. When a schoolteacher heard that part of the School Board believed that the world was flat and the rest believed it was round, in order to get the position she told them she was prepared to teach it either way, just as the majority should decide. I could see a hireling ministry, prepared by a skeptical college and theological training, preaching to suit the carnal and worldly majorities of their congregations. I saw so little of the real, humble, unselfish Christlike living among His professed followers that my soul was pressed beyond measure. A still, small, sweet, and tender voice whispered in my ear and said, "Will you preach my Word regardless of all opposition and persecution?" I seemed to look God right in the face, and replied, "Yes, Lord, by thy grace I will."
I IMMEDIATELY moved my family into a suburban place, and arranged to start out upon the battle for souls in earnest. My wife wanted to know where I was going. I told her I had no idea, but to pack me a change of clothes, some tracts, my hymn-book and Bible, and I would trust in God to lead me where He wanted me. I kissed wife and baby good-bye, having no idea when I should see them again. I can never forget the emotions that filled my heart that morning as I tearfully took leave of my loved ones. My wife, with little Marietta in her arms, standing in the doorway, with trembling voice, said: "God bless you, papa. Do n't be uneasy about baby and me. God will take care of us." I had not gone very far when I turned to take a last look at those dear ones, and, as I saw them still in the doorway, it seemed that I could go no farther; the thought of leaving them was too much; but I prayed God for strength, which He gave, and I hurried on.
I soon met one of my old friends who wanted to know what I was about to do. I related to him the course I expected to take, and forthwith he endeavored to show me what a great mistake I was making. He suggested that my wife and child might die, and I far away, or else something might happen to me, and then to be out among strangers would be a great calamity. Well, I had no
sooner gotten victory over these arguments when I met my pastor, who started on me harder than my first assailant. He wanted to know who was going to support my family. I replied that the Lord would do that. He said that was all presumption, and the Bible said that a man who would not provide for his family was worse than an infidel. He wanted to know where I was going. I said: "I shall take the steamboat to-night and go as far as one dollar and thirty-five cents will carry me, and then get off, and ask the first man I meet if he is prepared to meet God." The poor man thought I had surely gone wild over religion, and seemed to feel really sorry for me. Again admonishing me to go home to my family, he left me. I knew that I was in God's order, and all things would work together for good.
I had walked about one block from the bridge leading over to Newport, Kentucky, when some one called to me. Turning, I met a stranger, who was introduced as a clergyman from Berlin, Kentucky, looking for some one to assist him in a grove meeting he was conducting on his charge. He said he had failed to find a helper, and I had been recommended. After prayer I felt this was God's providential opening, and consented to go with him. After a long journey, twelve miles of which was in a carriage, we reached his home. The pastor's wife, probably thinking I was some farmer boy that her husband had given a ride, wanted to know why he could n't find a helper. The pastor said, "This is Brother Compton, who is to help us." She looked as if all hope for a meeting had gone, and treated me as if I were a passing stranger who had begged for a place to spend the night.
After supper the pastor and I walked down to the place where the services were being held, and we went up on the platform. Shortly after, he was called aside and
interviewed in regard to his help, and he replied it was the best he could do. God blessed me in telling my experience, and many wept under their convictions. We had a gracious service the next morning, and at night the crowd greatly increased, as also did the interest. The people grew to appreciate my humble efforts for souls, and they made up enough money for me to go to Cincinnati and get Mrs. Compton. I have received many offerings in these later years, but never one more appreciated than that. God gave us a most glorious revival. The last Sunday they wanted to charge a gate fee, but I protested. I had never seen evidence that Jesus or the apostles had done such a thing, and I said I would stand on the fence and talk to the crowd in the road before I would agree to it.
At this meeting I received two calls, and accepted one to Harrison County, Kentucky. Preacher and people admitted I had struck the hardest place in the country. Prior to my coming, there had been a general Church row, in which the preacher had been struck in the face. I began to preach, and the crowds increased right along, but the spiritual interest was in the bud. O such coldness I have scarcely ever encountered! How I wrestled and groaned before God for the salvation of that people! I saw that the Achan in the camp was a woman who was taking a prominent part in the service. She invited me home to dinner one day, when she freely told all the faults of the whole neighborhood. She said she had no freedom in prayer when she met with them in service. When I got an opening I told her that, from what I could see and learn in regard to the community, she was the worst one in it, and needed to confess her sins and repent. This made her mad, and she refused to attend any more services. The morning of the second Sunday
I found a place of secret prayer where I prevailed for the day's services. I told God I would never go down to the service until He gave me a message. The bell rang for service, but I would not go without a special message. I kept on pleading, when God gave me Rev. iii, I, 2. I had never before preached a textual sermon, always giving my experience and exhorting others to seek Him who had done so much for me. The house was packed, and many opposers were there, including the woman I had left mad in her home a few days before. I read my text, and as I did so it seemed that a legion of angels came down to help me preach from it. From the first hearts were broken and began to cry out to God. The husband of the woman I had rebuked arose to his feet, and interrupted me by crying in a loud voice that they were all condemned and had no time for preaching, but for all to pray. The altar was packed; people began confessing their sins, and a revival from the skies came upon us that spread for miles. All through the power of prevailing prayer!
Some time later I went to a place to conduct services, and met with fearful opposition. A man of great influence did all he could to break up the meeting. He lived close to the church, but refused to let any of his family attend. He even went so far as to have dances at his home to entice the young people from the services. The saints prayed earnestly, but could get no faith for his salvation. The meeting closed, and in less than a week later that man was in eternity. When on his deathbed he called for me to pray for him. I lifted up my voice to God, but my words would seem to fall back upon my heart with a thud, and the last words he was heard to utter were, "I am lost, I am lost!" I was asked
to take the funeral service, and as I went to the mansion the oldest son met me at the door, and asked me to pray that he might never live the life his father had lived. I have seen many sad homes, but the bereavement of this was greater than can be described. The house was filled with ungodly friends, who were trying to comfort the family. I asked God to give me a judgment-day message, and I preached damnation and eternal hellfire just as I thought the rich man in hell wanted Lazarus to preach to his five brethren.
As I intended staying in this part of Kentucky to make a very thorough evangelistic convass, I sent for my Church letter, which was held by the Baptist Church of Clyde, North Carolina. It was granted, and I presented it to the Baptists of Kentucky, but they refused it on the ground that I placed the standard of Christianity too high. They said that I preached a sinless religion. I did not deny it, because I always taught that a man must be saved from all sin or be lost in hell, according to 1 John i, 7, and scores of other Scriptures. From this time opposition greatly increased, and most of the Baptist Churches were closed against me. My preaching was generally done in groves, schoolhouses, private homes, and on street-corners with a goods-box for a pulpit. I often walked twenty and thirty miles to an appointment, until one day the Lord laid it upon the heart of a man to give me a pony, cart, and harness, and another man gave me a load of corn. The dear Lord so bountifully supplied all our needs that we were able to help poor families out of our abundance. In all
of my experience as a traveling evangelist from State to State I have never taken up a collection for my support, nor asked another person to take up one for me. I could always trust the God who called me into His service to supply all my needs. One of the most puzzling things to me is, how evangelists can write to a people who are hungry to hear the truth that they will come for expenses and so much. It seems to me that an evangelist who has no faith for his expenses couldn't have much for souls.
Walk in the light the Lord hath given
To guide thy steps aright;
His Holy Spirit sent from heaven,
Can cheer the darkest night.
Walk in the light of gospel truth,
That shines from God's own Word;
A light to guide in early youth,
The faithful of the Lord.
Walk in the light, tho' shadows dark,
Like specters cross thy way;
Darkness will flee before the light
Of God's eternal day.
Walk in the light, and thou shalt know
The love of God to thee;
The fellowship, so sweet below,
In heaven will sweeter be.
FROM the happy day that Jesus had so clearly reclaimed me from those dark years of backsliding I had endeavored to walk in the light the Lord had shed across my pathway. I had lived a consecrated life before God and the world. That I was a child of God I could not doubt, because the witness of God's Spirit shone clear and bright in my soul; but I found there was a principle in my life that often caused me to do the thing I did not want to do, and leave undone the thing I wanted to do. In one of my meetings, where God came down in great power and gave a glorious revival, I preached myself under conviction. I found
within me tendencies which were not Christlike; for example, impatience, fretting, pride which at times caused a desire that folks should brag on me a little, light talk, and a tendency to easily get the blues. Then, too, although God was blessing my efforts and giving me souls, I felt a great lack of the real spiritual power which I read that the disciples received at Pentecost and Peter declared was for us all. I had been taught by my Baptist Church that the heart was made pure in regeneration, and that sin still dwelt in the flesh; but God gave me wisdom to know better. I learned that sin did not emanate from or exist in flesh and bone, and that flesh and bone could have no power-to commit sin without the consent of the man himself; and I reasoned that if the man himself got rid of sin, then the flesh and bone would be holy and pure as well as the heart. Paul prayed that our "whole body, soul, and spirit be preserved blameless," and again commanded us to "present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable;" and still again, that "our bodies were the temples of the Holy Ghost, which should not be defiled, but must be holy." Then Jesus Himself clinched the argument in Mark vii, 21-23 by saying, "For from within, out of the heart of man [not out of his flesh] proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within and defile the man." I was taught that the best God could or would do for His children was to give them a seventh-of-Romans experience where the "body of sin" lived, and generally had its way. I found that Paul testified in the next chapter that "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made him free from this law of sin and death" that had given him so much trouble in his
regenerated experience, as recorded in the seventh of Romans.
I began to see now that there was a "balm in Gilead" for all of my troubles. The Word declared that Christ's mission was to destroy the works of the devil. All sin is alone the devil's work, and so, until a person is freed from every iota of sin, Christ's uttermost salvation has not been realized in the life. I was not satisfied with a head full of theory, even though it was logical and Biblical. To know gave me a burning desire to experience. The world is full of head religion, but real heartfelt experience is a rare jewel. Thousands of people come to my meetings, and nod their assent to my preaching, and say "Brother Compton, I agree with you," yet they go on with apparent unconcern as to seeking and experiencing what they see is their privilege. God help them to see that, after having a knowledge of the truth, the neglecting or refusing to receive it as their personal experience will make for them the greater damnation! Beloved, as you read this book, I beseech you, be not only hearers of the truth, but doers of it.
I became acquainted with Evangelist C. W. Clark, a man of power, whom God was greatly using, and we labored together for some time. Brother Clark urged all believers to seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost. While with this brother the precious little book called the "Double Cure," by M. W. Knapp, who has since been translated to glory, was placed in my hands. I read it with great interest. I had been taught that the baptism of the Holy Ghost suppressed the Old Man of inbred sin, while the "Double Cure" clearly revealed that the baptism of the Holy Ghost expressed the Old Man of sin, purifying the heart and empowering for service. I also found that the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and
the experience of entire sanctification, and a life of holiness were synonymous terms in the sense that, when a person had one of them, he had all of them. The Holy Ghost comes and purifies our hearts, giving us the experience of sanctification, which causes us to live a life of holiness. This intelligence took away any prejudice I might have had against the words, so much hated, "holiness" and "sanctification." Most persons will listen to a sermon on the "Baptism of the Holy Ghost," who would run from any consideration of "holiness" or "sanctification."
I became as deeply convicted for a pure heart as I had for the pardon of my sins. As I studied and contemplated the meekness, humility, and longsuffering of Christ, and read how Peter said He was our example and we should follow in His steps, and then compared my life to His, the more deeply conscious I was of the impurity and imperfection of my own heart. The reason why so many people do not see the sin-principle of their own hearts is because they never draw close enough to the Lord to let Him reveal it. When Isaiah got so close to God that he could see the seraphim, and hear them cry, "Holy, holy, holy!" then it was he saw his uncleanness, and God sent a seraph with a live coal from off the altar and purged or sanctified (each word means the same) him from his uncleanness.
In the she summer of 1899 I most providentially found myself in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the opening day of the Salvation Park Camp-meeting, which was then held at Carthage. I had no thought of being able to attend the entire meeting, because I was not financially able, but concluded to go to the grounds and hear the first services. The camp-ground seemed to me to be a spot where all heaven had come down to spend a few days,
and, as I walked about, the tears would course down my face and fall to the ground. I felt it would be an honor to hold any position, however humble, about that sacred place. I would gladly have blacked the preachers' boots for the privilege of spending a week under their preaching. Rev. Seth C. Rees preached that morning, and with wide-open mouth I sat and swallowed the old corn and grapes and honey that he was dealing out to the crowd, fresh from the rich fields of Canaan land.
As I started for home that night I began earnestly to pray God to open up the way for wife and myself to attend the entire camp-meeting. When I got home, Mrs. Compton told me the Lord had sent in four dollars, so we concluded to go out to Carthage and stay as long as our money lasted. By living on dry bread and raw canned tomatoes, we were able to stay several days. God here turned on such clear light that I saw my need of entire sanctification as a definite experience, and, deeply convicted of my need, I began earnestly to seek. The time came when we could no longer stay at the camp, so I sent Mrs. Compton home in a private conveyance, and started to walk the eighteen miles to our home. I determined to get the experience before I got home, or know the reason why. About seven miles from home I found a spot where I could be alone with God, and there, in the silence, broken only by the chirping of insects or the rustling of the leaves overhead, I looked heavenward, and told God to show me my worst condition as He alone knew it. I pleaded in intense earnestness; I was not simply trying to see if there was anything in it after all, but I believed in it, and wanted it more than anything else on earth or in heaven. I knew I was seeking for something without which I could never see God. I needed no altar-worker to coax me to hold
up my hands and head and pray. Like a drowning man, I grasped at every suggestion that had the slightest hope in it. Without hesitancy, as God revealed to me what I might expect and much of what it meant, I would put it upon the altar. I could see myself, with my earthly possessions tied together in a red handkerchief, walking about the country, the target for sneers and reproach. I imagined I could hear the people say, "There he goes; that 's the sanctified fellow." But I kept on saying, "Yes, Lord, anything, everything; only give me this blessed experience." I somehow had the witness in myself that I was fully consecrated to God for any world or any work, to be something or be nothing. I felt that God was crowded into a corner, and could not and would not get out without verifying His promises in me. I said, "Lord, I believe Thou doest sanctify me just now! just now!! just now!!!" Then the glory of heaven flooded my soul, and it seemed that Holy Ghost fire was purging my heart from every root and stain of sin, and I was made clean and pure in heart. The Lord Himself did it all! Glory! Hallelujah to His precious name! He did exceeding abundantly above anything I could ever think or expect, and it was so little for the Lord that heaven never missed what fell into my soul. Beloved reader, have you a little hope-so, think-so, maybe-so experience that you are somehow, in some miraculous way, thinking will just squeeze you through at the judgment? Let me recommend to you an uttermost salvation that will exterminate all sin, and make you as sure of heaven, if you do not backslide, as though you had already been within the pearly gates and spent a week with the angels in the New Jerusalem. Never limit the power of our omnipotent Savior; never eat, drink, or sleep until Christ has done for you what He died to do; i.e., destroyed all
sin, actual and inbred, which is the work of the devil. "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," and not only that, which means salvation, but to come the second time and "cleanse you from all unrighteousness;" i. e., all unrighteousness is sin, and He will sanctify you from all sin, remaining in your heart subsequent to your forgiveness.
The more I praised God, the brighter He revealed Himself in me, and the remainder of those eighteen miles I had three companions, - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. That was the most glorious night in all my life up to that time; but from that day the way has grown brighter and brighter, and I can say, in the language of Micah the prophet, "But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord."
"Golden sunbeams round me play,
Jesus turns my night to day;
Heaven seems not far away,
Since I found my Savior."
SHORTLY after God gave me the precious experience of entire sanctification, as related in the preceding chapter, He laid upon my heart a heavy burden for my own native people in the mountain country of North Carolina, where I was born and where I spent my early youth. I knew that very few, if any, had ever heard of holiness as a definite, obtainable experience, although many were saved and enjoying a justified experience. I felt that the Lord wanted me to go to them as Paul did to the Ephesians, saying, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?"
Although God's call to North Carolina was clear, I did not immediately go, but labored for many months in Kentucky and Ohio, where God gave me scores of conversions and sanctifications. The annual Salvation Park Camp-meeting found me near Cincinnati, thus making it very convenient for me to attend. The camp, one year before, had proven such a blessing to me that I wanted everybody I knew to attend this one. Accordingly, I engaged four tents, and, driving about with my horse and wagon, gathered up a load of eleven grown folks and some children, and filled the tents. In many ways I was well repaid for all the sacrifice I had made in getting to this camp, but especially because my only child, little Marietta, but five years old, was clearly converted to God. She had been in a children's meeting conducted by Mrs. M. W. Knapp, where the simple message of
the Savior's love touched her heart. She knelt at the altar, and, in a childlike way, asked Jesus to save her. She quickly jumped up from the altar, and ran to her mamma and me, shouting happily that Jesus had saved her! Truly Jesus had come into her young heart, because her face shone with heaven's own light. When we got back home, she let her light shine by telling her playmates what Jesus had done for her. One time she came into the house, and told her mamma that she could n't play with the children because they used bad words. How many parents make the mistake of thinking that their children are too young to get saved at five or six years of age, and thus let the devil get their young hearts and minds poisoned by sin, and estranged from Christ! Many of the brightest Christian men and women of all ages have been those converted in early childhood.
After the camp-meeting we bade farewell to the North, with all that it held dear to us, and, with horse and buggy, which God had sent in answer to prayer, Mrs. Compton, Marietta, and I started on our long trip. Many predicted the impossibility of our getting to North Carolina thus equipped, but we knew God was able. The weather was delightful, and little difficulty was encountered until we arrived at the foot of Hatton Creek Mountain in Kentucky. As we gazed towards its lofty summit and up its rugged sides, it looked as if we had met our Waterloo at last. To get around that mountain without going over it meant twenty miles of travel, while scaling it meant but about two miles. We looked to God in prayer. I applied carriage-oil to the wheels, while God applied the oil of the Holy Ghost to our souls. The carriage-oil enabled the horse and buggy to scale the bowlders with greater ease, while the Holy Ghost oil
enabled us to keep sweet in our souls during the journey. With the aid of Mrs. Compton blocking the wheels at short intervals, and all of us exercising much patience and longsuffering, in three hours the lofty mountain was left in our rear.
During our journey, which took about fifteen days, we had many opportunities of doing something for the Lord. Sometimes I would preach in churches or courthouses. God made the trip profitable to us, and made us a blessing to others. We at last arrived in North Carolina, feeling as well and refreshed in body, soul, and spirit as when we started.
Nearly ten years before, I had left Clyde, North Carolina, a very wicked boy. Now that the Lord had saved and sanctified my soul, I had a great desire to return to the home of my early youth. I wanted once more to enter the little, humble log-cabin, and, bowing upon the rough slab floor, thank God for delivering me from the devil's clutches which had held me so firmly when last I sat beneath the paternal roof.
When Mrs. Compton and I testified, in Clyde, to God's sanctifying power, it very soon became the subject of town talk. The Methodists were having a meeting in the town, and one day one of the brethren invited me to preach. Out of curiosity to hear the reformed "bad boy of the town" preach, many were in attendance. The Lord helping, I did the best I could in giving a simple gospel message. I preached that Jesus not only died to justify us freely, but also to sanctify us wholly. This stirred up a great opposition, and many would call on me at my father's cabin and endeavor to reason me out of the so- called delusion that any one could be sanctified and live without sin in this world. They often tried
to quote Scripture to me in defense of their position; for example, they would get 1 John i, 8, mixed up this way: "If we say we live and do not commit sin, we lie and the truth is not in us." When I asked them to find me such Scripture, they searched in great assurance, but soon found that the Bible said no such thing. My preaching from the first was misconstructed and misrepresented. Many good, well-meaning people have been so prejudiced against me that they would not even come to hear me preach, and at the same time they would contend that the work and doctrine was that of the devil. May God bless them by leading them into this light as He has me! I love them, and would be glad to go into their churches, and pray, and weep, and labor for their salvation. Nearly all their churches have closed against me, and my preaching is done in schoolhouses, tents, and arbors. The opposition I have encountered, however, has proved the greatest possible blessing to me, and the Lord's work of full salvation. The people, hearing so much talk against my work, would be impelled, through curiosity, to attend and learn for themselves, and the arrow of conviction would be driven into their hearts, and they would seek and obtain the blessing. Glory!
One preacher has evidently felt that, if he could poison the people against sanctification and its humble exponent, he would be doing God and humanity a great service. To show how God will use the devil to be a blessing to His children, I wish to submit a couple of letters which he has published against me in an official organ of his Church. I want to say that I truly believe that nothing has proved such a blessing to me and the work as this man and his letters, although they do seem to be a diabolical scheme of Satan to frustrate God's work.
Many having read the articles, and knowing how false much of them were, dropped the paper in which they were published and have since been my stanch friends.
"EDITORS SOUTHERN BAPTIST, - I guess it is about time for me to write again. Somebody might think I was going to Cincinnati with that great evangelist, Compton, who thought himself all the apostolic preacher of this country, and that there was not a Church in this country that was fit to take members into its fellowship, especially the Church at Clyde, - this preacher, who ran most of the people of Newfound crazy, or a great many of them, after his doctrine and heresy, and stood people on top of their heads when he baptized them, and turned them loose to root pig or die. I hope the good Lord will keep him in Cincinnati, or in some other region, for we do n't need him in this country. I am just like Brother L. P. ----. I 've not got any use for him; he is a deceiver. Sanctification and holiness of life is a mighty nice thing, but I have lived fifty years, and have never seen a sanctified person yet. Of course, we must bring the flesh into subjection to the spirit, and yet the warfare goes on. Paul, it seemed, was more sanctified before his conversion than after; for, before, he verily thought he was doing God's service in persecuting the saints. I think we ought to be mighty careful whom we take after; we might take up with an E----, who was so slick he got off with a good horse and a watch, saddle, and overcoat; or an S----, who will seduce some man's wife or daughter, or, as Paul says, 'Lead captive silly folks who know not the truth.' I think some of the Newfound folks got their eyes open before Compton left, especially some of the Methodist folks, when he began
to lead off their children and others, who said, when their children wanted to be baptized, hunt a secluded place.
Yours in love, J. M. H."
A copy of the second letter to the same paper, from beautiful Haywood:
"DEAR SOUTHERN BAPTIST, - We have had plenty of winter in Haywood, so that the pastors have not been able to fill their regular appointments, except the Evangelist Compton. He goes, rain or shine, like a dog without a home or master, imposing himself upon people, and going into churches that have before locked him out, even going into churches without the knowledge or consent of the pastors, and is ordered out on account of his unchristianizing other Christians, and his heresy. Years ago, when L. B. Compton was fifteen years old, he professed faith in Christ at Clyde, but became unwilling to be governed by his parents, and ran away from home, and went on to public works, and from one mean thing to another; and the Church, to protect herself, was compelled to withdraw fellowship from him. He landed in Ohio or Kentucky, and in a meeting claimed to be reclaimed, and wrote back to his father, asking to be restored to membership in the Church, and the Pleasant Hill Church at Clyde restored him, and granted him a letter in good standing; which was all right, but they did not know it all, but when he presented himself for membership in a Baptist Church in Ohio, they, knowing more about him than we, rejected him and his heresy. He no doubt passed himself for a Baptist preacher until last January, when, in Church Conference, the writer preferred a charge against him, and he was excluded,
for heresy, and asked for the return of the letter. Now he goes about like the heretics, putting up a plea of persecution. I warn all the Churches of him, for he will cause division and trouble. This will do. J. M. H.
"Clyde, N. C."
Any one can see, from the spirit in which these letters are written, the object of them. But they were used to move on the work of God. I want to say here, as I will meet this at the judgment, that I love the dear man who wrote these epistles. He is but one out of the thousands of preachers who are against the whole truth of the Bible. The heresy referred to is the Bible doctrine of sanctification. I was turned out of the Baptist Church for teaching that the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin, according to 1 John i, 8, and scores of other Scriptures. Those who turned me out are strong exponents of a sinning religion, and they are well known to practice what they preach. I speak with authority, because I have lived among them. This man has lived fifty years, and has never seen a sanctified person, according to his statement. This might be true, - there is such a thing as looking at the sun so long that whenever one looks he will see nothing but suns. How many have gazed upon things carnal and sectarian so long that their vision has become impaired, and they can see nothing better! The Jewish Church was so backslidden that they could see nothing in Jesus but a devil.
Such opposition as this so stirred my father that he began diligently to search the Scriptures, and soon finding that the experiences his baby boy was preaching was the gospel truth, he fell down at the altar of his own Church at Laurens, South Carolina, and sought the blessing. He stood before his congregation and confessed
that the prejudice he had in his heart for his Church had blinded his eyes against seeing God's will. How many preachers, if honest, could and would confess the same thing!
My Baptist brethren who brand my teaching as heresy fail to see that, by so doing, they brand many of the greatest lights of their Church as heretics. For example, I desire to quote a few from the many statements of Dr. A. J. Gordon, the great commentator of their Church.
He says: "The Scriptures seem to teach that there is a second stage in spiritual development distinct and separate from conversion; a stage to which we rise by a special renewal of the Holy Ghost, and not by the process of a gradual growth." Again he says: "There is a transaction described in the New Testament by the terms 'the gift of the Holy Ghost,' 'the sealing of the Spirit,' 'the anointing of the Holy Ghost,' and the like. The allusion to it in the Acts and the Epistles mark it unmistakably as something different from conversion. I came to this theory after a fresh study of the Acts of the Apostles, and from the conviction begotten by much study that there is more light in that book than we have yet imprisoned in our creeds. The Spirit is to fall upon believers and give them this power." Again: "To say that, in receiving Christ, we necessarily receive in the same act the gift of the Spirit, seems to confound what the Scriptures make distinct; for it is as sinners that we accept Christ for our justification, but it is as sons that we accept the Spirit for our sanctification. It is a fact that the Holy Ghost has been given in consecration; faith appropriated this fact for our sanctification."
Under existing circumstances, if Dr. A. J. Gordon should return to this earth and desire to conduct a meeting along the line of the foregoing statements in the
Baptist Church at Clyde, or almost any other place, he would be locked out on the charge of heresy. I never have preached the second work stronger than Gordon does.
It is truly amazing how many are ignorant of the real Bible way of salvation. When I ask people, who have been Church members from childhood, if they know that they are saved, the best they can invariably say is, "I am a Church member;" or, "I trust to be saved ;" or, "I hope so."
A prominent minister told me he knew he was saved, but that he committed sin in word, thought, and deed every day. I said, "Brother, is it possible that you commit sin each day in word, thought, and deed? Let me tell you, sir, that the devil himself couldn't beat that." If we are saved, we do not commit sin; if we commit sin, we belong to the devil. We can not be Christians and sinners at the same time. Please look up these references and believe God's precious truth: Matt. i, 21; John viii, 34; 1 John iii, 6-9; v, 18; 2 John ix; 1 John i, 9; Titus ii, II, 12; 2 Thess. iii, 3; and Rom. vi, 16. The whole Bible condemns sin in every form. Nine out of ten preachers in this country preach a sinning religion; that is, that no one can be saved from sin in this life. Why call sinners to repentance if you can not offer them something different from that which they already have? Very few are in a condition to receive the truth of entire sanctification; most professing Christians need to learn what a Scriptural regeneration will do for them. When we consider the existing condition of the Churches, it is no wonder that those who are led into the deeper truths of God are called heretics.
THE Savior said that "the foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head." Again the Scripture says, "For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps." In my experience as an evangelist in Western North Carolina I have many times been able to follow in the Savior's steps, inasmuch as, like Him, I had no place to lay my head. I have truly learned that to be red-hot for God and Bible holiness means to go through with the despised, unpopular crowd; it means to be a pilgrim and a stranger in this world. In the eyes of the world it is to be as its offscourings, but in the eyes of God it is to be a member of the sheepskin and goatskin brigade who wander in mountains and in dens and in caves of the earth, of whom the world is not worthy.
My friends used to come to me and say, "Lucius, if you will give up this doctrine that you preach, and be one of us again, we will board your wife, and send you off to college, and make a great preacher of you, and it won't be long until you will be filling the-best pulpits in the Church." But these friends did not hear the other Voice, whispering in my ear, saying, "My child, if you are willing to be despised and rejected of men, unnoticed and unknown, unpopular and obscure for My sake and the gospel's, I will give you a hundred-fold in this life, and eternal life in the world to come." O, Hallelujah!
My soul is inundated with heaven's glory as I write. Sometimes friends come to me and say, "Brother Compton, I feel sorry for you; you must be having a hard time; no one seems to appreciate your labors." I always reply, "God bless you, brother, do n't waste your sympathies on me; it's the other folks, without Jesus, who need your tears and your sympathy." O, glory! glory! glory! for the privilege of being sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.
Because church and schoolhouse doors have been closed against me I have many times had to preach in little rooms in mountain cabins, where no ventilation could be obtained, and my garments would become saturated with perspiration. Then I would have to step out into the cold night air, and walk over the mountains two or three miles to spend the night. The next morning I would find my clothes frozen until coated with ice, and, putting them on, allow them to melt and dry upon my body. And often have I spent the night in cabins where the rain and snow would fall through the roof, and I was forced to sleep with the covers over my head to keep it dry. And, glory to God! through it all He kept me in perfect health, and people would come for miles, fall in at the altar, and seek God for His pardoning and sanctifying grace.
At a certain place the opposition was very great. The preacher sent me a letter forbidding me to preach in any of the churches on his charge. Some of the rowdy boys from the place where this preacher lived asked me if I wanted to hold a meeting at L----. I told them I did, but that I did not know of a place that could be procured in which to have it, as L----. was the center of opposition in that country. They told me that they
would fix up an old schoolhouse on the edge of the town with stove, lights, and seats, if I would come. I left an appointment for a certain night, and when the time came I found that the preacher was so bitter against me that he had gone personally to his people, warning them against the meeting. That night, upon arrival at the schoolhouse, I found that my congregation consisted of the four boys who had invited me to the place. I preached to the boys, and announced the services to continue. The next day, as I went to the post-office to get my mail, I was greeted with such yells as, "Ha! Ha! Yonder goes the holy man! Look, there he goes! That 's him."
There was a little patch of woods below the old schoolhouse, and thither I repaired. Scraping away the snow, I buried my face in the leaves, and told God He must shake that country by Divine power, and there, in prevailing prayer, I received the witness that God was going to do it. Inside of a week the house would not hold the people, and souls were being saved at every service. And, bless God, some of the rowdy boys who invited and opened the way for me to hold the meeting, fell at the altar and were blessedly converted. The preacher who had fought me so bitterly came one night, and sat back by the door, and while I was talking he came and threw his arms about my neck, asking me to forgive him. He invited me home to spend the night with him, and, while in his home, he told me that it was my stand against secret societies that had poisoned him against me. I moved the meeting from the schoolhouse to his church, and from his church, later, to a larger one, and still we could not accommodate the people. The dear people kept me busy going from house to house receiving their apologies for the way they had
treated me. The preacher got sanctified, gave up his lodge, and to-day is a power for God and Bible holiness. Hallelujah! It pays to learn the secret of prevailing prayer.
Some time after this I went to B--- to conduct a meeting. Here, also, I found much opposition; but the God who has never known defeat, came down in great power, and men and women would fall like dead folks while I was preaching, and lay thus for many hours. Some services would last all night long, and people would come for miles to see the slain of the Lord.
Hiram Rich, a Baptist preacher, who was very bitter against me and the work, had never heard me, but, like nine-tenths of the opposers, had only heard of me. This brother came to one of these services to see for himself. The first night God got hold of him and convinced him that he had been opposing God Almighty's truth, and after a few services he fell at the altar, and cried for deliverance from the carnal mind. After going through a real death for a few days, the Pentecostal fire flashed from heaven and sanctified him wholly. He immediately began to preach sanctification like a flaming messenger of fire, and to-day is a powerful, fire-baptized exponent of the fourfold gospel.
We have heard Brother Rich tell how the preachers of the Baptist Church, when they ordained him, prayed God to make "Hiram a man, like Barnabas, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." No sooner had God answered their prayer, and given him the blessing that Barnabas enjoyed, than they Churched him as a heretic. "Consistency, thou art a jewel!" While Brother Rich was a quiet, carnal, little- used-of-God Baptist preacher, preaching the doctrine of the Church more zealously than that of the Bible, he had an unbroken fellowship with the
Holy Ghost, and converted him into a flaming messenger of gospel truth, and made a great soul-winner of him, than his Church raised the cry of "heresy" and "fanaticism," and excluded him from their membership. We have seen so many precious saints turned out of the Churches of their choice in these late years because they were "too religious," but how few members of these Churches are ever turned out on account of their meanness! How really are we living in the last days, when "men shall have a form of godliness, but shall deny the power (Holy Ghost) thereof."
The day before a certain election in Asheville, North Carolina, while I was passing along the principal street, I noticed that the city seemed greatly stirred over the coming election, and groups of men could be seen in all directions electioneering for their favorite candidates. The thought occurred to me, "I wonder if any one ever electioneers upon these streets for Jesus." Immediately I stepped over to a policeman, who was standing near by, and said, "Sir, does anybody ever electioneer for Jesus on these streets?" "No one," he replied, "except old B---, and nobody pays any attention to him." I hurried over to the public square, and took my position in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse, and, with a prayer for God's help, began to sing:
"I dreamed that the great judgment morning
Had dawned, and the trumpet had blown;
I dreamed that the nations had gathered
In judgment before the white throne;
From the throne came a bright shining angel,
Who stood on the land and the sea,
And swore with his hand raised to heaven,
That time was no longer to be.
Then O, what a weeping and wailing,
As the lost were told of their fate;
They cried for the rocks and the mountains,
And prayed; but their prayers were too late."
By the time I had completed the song, I had a congregation of from two to three hundred people gathered around me, with questioning looks upon their faces, and I began the Lord's message by saying: "I see that there is great excitement about this place in regard to the coming election, as to who is to be the man, and I feel it my duty to my country and to Almighty God to electioneer upon these streets this afternoon. Before I commence I want to bow upon my knees and invoke the blessings of God upon what I shall say; for I realize that every word I speak I will have to meet at the judgment-bar of God. Let every man who realizes this fact bow your head while I pray."
After a short prayer, during which many of those men reverently bowed their heads, I arose to my feet and began to preach Jesus to them. I said: "I am here this afternoon to represent One who is sure to be elected whether you vote for him or not. I learn that over eighteen hundred years ago there was an election held in a prominent Eastern city, and the names of the candidates were Jesus Christ and Barabbas. The majority of the voters cast their ballot for Barabbas and against Jesus; nevertheless Jesus Christ was elected, and to-day, while I am electioneering for Him, He is sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and every person who will accept Him now will have the privilege of reigning with Him in His glorious kingdom."
For about forty-five minutes God poured into my soul a burning message, and sent the truth home to the hearts of that congregation. As I closed my message, the
deputy sheriff of the county rushed up to me with tears in his eyes, saying, "Will you preach in the courthouse for us next Sunday?" I said, "Yes, sir, I will." He called the attention of the people, and announced the meeting for Sunday. I was on hand, and preached according to promise, and continued the meeting many days, preaching afternoons from an old band-stand as the crowds passed out of court, and evenings in the courthouse.
God only knows the results of those meetings. I know of a number who were convicted in the street meeting that afternoon who sought and found God. One young man, who had been fleeing from justice on account of blockading liquor, received an arrow of conviction in his heart which never left until Jesus saved him. Later he was sanctified wholly, and called to preach, and to-day he is traveling the mountains, preaching a full gospel and being used of God in saving souls.
This was the beginning of holiness preaching at Asheville. From this humble start the work has grown until, at present writing, there are scores of people professing the experience. The holiness people have a large church of their own on Buxton Street, and a regular pastor. The services are often so largely attended that the large audience-room will in no wise accommodate the people. My gospel tent has been pitched at various times in various parts of the city, and God, through these meeting, has often stirred the people in a mighty way, and scores have been saved and sanctified. Opposition has become greater and greater as the work has progressed; but God is with us, and gives us the victory all along the way.
LITTLE Marietta, the only child that God has ever given us, was the bright little sunshine of our lives and the joy of our home. Often, when I had been kept from home for weeks, on my return she would throw her little arms around my neck and cry for joy.
At one time I was in the midst of a meeting in the mountains, several miles from Asheville, when a messenger brought me word that my little child was dying, and if I wanted to see her alive I must hasten to her side. I saddled my horse, and rode home as quickly as possible. Arriving a little after midnight, I found my faithful wife, with little Marietta in her arms gasping for breath. No one knows the anguish of my heart as I looked at my sweet little darling, and realized that I would so soon have to give her up. My great consolation, however, was in the fact that He to whom I must give her was the same gentle, loving Savior who had said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." I quietly withdrew from the presence of all earthly friends, and, where none but the ear of God could hear, I poured out my bleeding heart. I cried to Him to spare my darling's life, when a voice seemed to whisper to me, "Can you say, God's will be done?" I said: "Surely it can not be God's will to take our only child. O, Lord, do spare her!" Again the voice: "Can you say, God's will be done?" I remembered the day that little
Marietta was born in that little scantily-furnished room on the fifth floor in Cincinnati. How I knelt down beside the bed upon which she and her young mother lay, and there solemnly consecrated her life to God for time and eternity. Then I looked up towards the heavens and quietly said, "Yes, Lord, take her home, if it be Thy will." O, what a sweet peace flooded my soul! I arose from my knees, satisfied for God to take the child or heal her.
I returned to the sickroom, and found that wife could get no faith for her healing either. Convinced that this was my last opportunity to be with my child this side of heaven, I took her in my arms and nursed her through the night. She talked with me much, and was so happy to know that I had come home; she would often want me to hold her up so that she could place her arms about my neck and tenderly embrace me.
In the morning, about nine o'clock, we could see that the end was near. Her mother kneeled on one side of the bed, and I on the other, and there we prayed God to make her journey from earth to heaven as easy as possible. In a few moments she closed her eyes and quietly fell asleep, and her little soul had gone to be with Jesus.
No more would we hear the patter of those little feet, nor the prattle of that childish voice, which was sweetest music to our ears. Never again would that precious form hasten to meet me upon my return, throw those arms about my neck, and press sweet kisses to my lips; for, although she seemed to be lying there as ever, yet she was not there, but had taken a long journey, and would not come back until the resurrection-day, when I knew I should see her in her glorified body with Jesus and His holy angels. I arose from my knees a better
man, realizing that for me earth was poorer and heaven richer.
Now the important question to consider was the burial. I had no money, and knew no one from whom I could get any. The enemy of my soul seemed to marshal all his demons about me that day. Fingers from all directions pointed to me as the heretic. I had one Friend who had never failed nor forsaken me, and I went to Him and laid it all at His feet, and He took the burden away. Praise His precious name! I restated my consecration to God, and told Him I would walk with Him and obey His word forever. I had such victory that I could have parted with all my loved ones, because I felt the everlasting arm of God beneath and sustaining me.
The Lord sent me every dollar that was needed to give my child a good burial. Thank God, the experience that I preach I have tested in every phase of life, and I find that it sustains through all things.
The taking from us of our little girl proved a great blessing to me. It caused me to sink away into a place in Divine things where I had never been before. More souls were saved, more sanctified, had greater faith in God, more were divinely healed through the prayer of faith, and deeper, more lasting work was done altogether. Because of the demonstration of the Spirit manifested in the meetings, the opposing element, including the backslidden preachers, have tried to make the people believe it was hypnotism; but they are having a hard time, while we are happy in the Lord, having victory an along the way.
GOD, through the prophet Hosea, said that His people were destroyed or cut off for lack of knowledge. Although He said this almost three thousand years ago, it clearly applies to-day. The kind of knowledge that God refers to is not the wisdom of this world, attained through years of college and university learning. Paul says in Corinthians that the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, and that He hath chosen the foolish, the base, and the weak things of this world to bring to naught the things that this world calls wisdom. The kind of knowledge that God calls wisdom is the knowledge that we may have of Him as a personal Savior and of His Word as God's revealed will. So, you see, if a person were born, and always lived, in the jungles of Africa, and did not know "A" from "Z," but in some way had received more of God s holiness in his heart than anybody else in the world possessed, he would be the wisest person in the world in the eyes of God. Education is a fine thing, and when sanctified to God, one could never receive too much of it. I have so often felt my great need of more learning; but the Lord deliver us from this modern plan of substituting the curriculum of the schools for the power of the Holy Ghost and the wisdom of God!
After God sanctified me wholly, I learned a great many lessons, both through the study of the Word, for
which my appetite had greatly increased, and through personal experience. I learned -
1. That the devil was not dead.
When the blessing came, and for some days afterward, God's glory flooded my soul until I felt that the devil, as far as bothering me any more was concerned, was surely dead; but, alas! to my surprise one day, I realized that the powers of darkness had settled upon me like the night. All the demonstration, all the joy, and all the peace seemed to have utterly left me, and I was alone in the wilderness with the devil. After Jesus received the Holy Ghost at Jordan, He was immediately led into the wilderness to be tempted of Satan. During the whole of three days this darkness continued, and Satan did his utmost to defeat me by inducing me to cast away my confidence in God and in His work wrought in my heart.
I had often been riding along the Southern Railroad at a swift speed, greatly enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery and the bright sunlight as it fell upon the sparkling, rushing waters of the river which ran close by, when, suddenly, the train would dash into one of the many tunnels and utter darkness would ensue. The engine- smoke would fill the car with smut, gas, and smoke, until breathing became difficult. Under these circumstances, I never leaped from the car to save my life because I knew that would be folly; I never fretted about the unpleasant atmosphere or the density of the darkness; what I did was to sit quietly back in my seat, contented and happy. I knew that it would soon be over, and I trusted the engineer to pull me through in safety.
I believed these three days of darkness through which I was passing to be a spiritual tunnel that God was taking
me through, which would result in my good and His glory. I trusted the Engineer, and held on to the gospel train by faith, and, glory to God! soon the bright sunlight, the towering mountains, and the sparkling river of God's love came again into view, and the victory was gained. O, beloved, when darkness comes, hold on to the God of our salvation, and He'll carry you through.
2. That the sanctified are strongly tempted.
One of the devil's big guns to hinder the spread and acceptance of the doctrine of holiness is to circulate the erroneous report that the sanctified people say that they can not be tempted. In all the years that I have been sanctified and mingling with sanctified folks, I have never seen a person, nor heard tell of a person, who had seen any one that made any such claim. Any claim of this kind would be heresy. If Jesus Himself were tempted severely by Satan, it would be folly for any one, born in sin and living in the midst of it, as God's people are forced to do in this world, ever to claim to be exempt from temptation. The real truth of the matter is, that there is no people on earth as persistently tempted by the powers of darkness as the sanctified are.
In the regenerate heart the devil knows that his greatest work (inbred sin) still remains. He also knows that, as long as it does remain, and that person fails to get rid of it in sanctification, the chances are ten to one that he will backslide anyway; so he does not waste many of his cannon-balls on him. The sanctified heart and life is free from all the sin that the devil ever put there; consequently, he must put in his most desperate efforts to regain his former follower; which thousands can testify he does.
In order to receive the experience of entire sanctification
the seeker must put his all upon God's sanctifying altar. This means all bodily appetites as well as everything else; such as time, talent, friends, reputation, riches, etc. When all is surrendered, the blessing comes as definitely, and many times more definitely than pardon. Now, one of the first temptations of Satan will be to tell you that you never did put everything on the altar, and in this way he will get you to tinkering with your consecration. If you listen to Satan in this, you will very soon get in the "dumps." You tell the devil that it is none of his business; that is a matter settled between you and Jesus, and shout the victory. The devil is the accuser of the brethren.
When you were consecrated, you put all you knew, and all you did not know, on the altar; so probably, for a long time, new things will present themselves, and all you are to do is to happily shout, "Yes, Lord; here it is; take it!" One of the surest ways of getting rid of the devil at such times is to shout him out of countenance. O, glory! He can not stand Holy Ghost demonstration, but he is a great lover of demonstration out of the Holy Ghost.
Another method of the devil to cause you to backslide is to induce you to practice something again that you told God you would give up. For example, you tell God that you will quit the use of tobacco; the devil knows that to be your weakest point, and he attacks you there. He will have some tobacco-chewing friend call upon you, and for an hour spit the filthy stuff all about you. The fumes of the tobacco creates in you the old desire, and if you yield, the Lord will leave you as suddenly as He came in.
One more plan of the devil I desire to mention in this connection, is to get you to quench the Spirit.
Where the Holy Ghost is allowed to have His way, there will always be Holy Ghost demonstration. I do not say that every one will jump the same or jump at all; neither will every one shout and clap their hands the same, or do it at all. But there will be some manifestation of the kind mentioned, or of the many kinds not mentioned. This you must always be sure to do - if the Spirit moves you to shout, jump, clap your hands, run around the building, or anything else, quench it not, but obey, and by so doing your soul will ever be on the victory side. I see more of a tendency to formalism among the sanctified folks than fanaticism. The Lord keep us so red-hot that the devil will never know what we are going to do next.
3. That we never get so far in this life that we can not commit sin.
Another trick of the devil to hinder the spread of Bible holiness is to warn the people against us by saying "we teach that we can not commit sin after we are sanctified." We make no such claim. What we do claim is, that we can not commit sin and be sanctified; neither can one commit sin and be justified. A good case of old-time Bible conviction will make any man so sick of sin, and hate it so thoroughly, that he would as soon lose his right arm as to have anything to do with it. Sanctified folks could commit sin if they wanted to, but they do not want to. The "want to," or tendency to sin, is eliminated with the eradication of the Old Man.
This present life is a probationary life, and as long as we are on probation, or trial, we are liable to fall. The devil and his demons were at one time the brightest of angels in glory. If they fell from their first estate, with all their heavenly surroundings, what folly to suppose that it would be impossible for a Christian to
fall, with sin abounding on every side! I thank God that the day is soon coming, however, when the devil will be cast into the lake of fire, where he can no longer tempt nor lure God's people from their Savior. Hallelujah!
4. That we are never free from mistakes in this present life.
God created Adam and Eve in His own image. They were perfect in body, in mind, and in heart. When they transgressed they fell from this perfect state, not only spiritually, but mentally and physically as well. Jesus Christ came into the world to save men from their sins, or, in other words, to restore them spiritually to the same purity and perfection of heart that our first parents enjoyed before the fall. Entire sanctification does this for the heart. But you see that the redemptive plan for us in this present state does not provide for the perfection of our bodies and minds; hence we are all defective in judgment, and however pure and holy our hearts may be, we are ever liable to mistakes. But, mark you, although sin is always a mistake, a mistake is not always a sin. The holiest people often make mistakes that grieve them to the heart, yet they realize that they have committed no sin against God.
Man is a trinity consisting of mind, heart or soul, and body; the heart, or soul, is the real man himself, consisting of the conscience, the will, and the affections. These three constituent parts survived the fall of man. The conscience of man teaches him right from wrong; the will enables him to choose or reject; and the affections cause him to love or hate. The will is the king of man, and hence God always appeals to man's will, and says, "Whosoever will, may come." On the other hand, whosoever will, may reject. No amount of grace takes
from us our will-power or free moral agency; so if the sanctified will to commit sin and backslide, they may do so; or if they will to obey God and retain the blessing, thank God. there are not enough devils on earth or in hell to make them backslide. O, hallelujah! Don't you feel like laying down the book and taking a good shout? O, glory! glory! glory!
5. That we must redeem the time, because the days are evil.
In walking in the light as the Lord reveals it, another thing He has taught me is the necessity of redeeming the time. I realize that each day is a new one - one that I never experienced before, and never will again; hence the importance of making each moment count for God and souls.
The apostles, in Acts vi, 4, said that they "must continue steadfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the Word." This is the only duty of the minister of to-day, and yet how very few thus perform it!
He who would know the real secret of soul-winning must first learn to spend the most of his time alone with God and His Word. In the evangelistic work in these mountains it is often very inconvenient to get alone with the Lord, because the people are not often prepared to give one a separate room. Often the whole family live in a one-roomed log-cabin. Many times, under these circumstances, I put on my overcoat and hunt the barn, where, nearly buried in the hay, I wait on God in meditation and prayer. Family prayer and other forms of united prayer are good, but a little while in the secret chamber with God is often worth a much longer period spent some other way.
Many times, when engaged in a fireside conversation, the Spirit of the Lord would impress me to arise and
leave the family, in order to get alone with God. Of course, they can not understand such strange actions, but if we obey God we will always be doing things that will seem strange and incomprehensible to folks about us. "They know us not, because they knew Him not."
If you want to know why the average minister has no power in winning souls, just spend a little time with him and listen to his conversations, and you will learn the secret. I have never heard of a lazy man or a loafer that was known very far for his spirituality. So, when I see a preacher or professor of religion hanging around stores and post-offices, whiling away his time, I conclude that if he has any salvation at all, it is away down in the bulb. Any so-called Christian who can go visiting and spend several hours talking about everything else, and not mention salvation, is a good candidate for the mourners' bench. Of course, if you talk religion most of the time, the folks will call you a fanatic and religious crank; but when time is ended and the judgment is come, no one will regret that he spent so much time in prayer, in the study of God's Word, or in conversations about salvation from sin and Bible holiness. Again:
6. That going in debt is a hindrance to spiritual growth and happiness.
The Scripture tells us to "owe no man anything, save to love one another." It is always much easier to get into debt than to get out. Many of God's people are so weighted down with debts that they never get very far along in spiritual things. They pray, but their debts seem to come between them and God; they arise to testify, but the sight of a person in the congregation whom they owe hinders their liberty; they feel that they ought to speak to that man on the back seat about his soul, but,
behold, they have owed him sixty cents for over three years, and he has no confidence in them.
At one time I got into debt, and thought it unavoidable, but soon found it such a hindrance to my faith that I quit preaching for a while, and, taking a mattock, went to grubbing new ground at sixty cents a day. I had not done hard physical work for a long time, and my hands blistered so that I had to keep them soaked with oil and well bandaged in order to stand it at all. The Lord helped me to pay my debt in this way, and, thank God, I could once more take my Bible, and sing, preach, and pray, realizing that I was a free man.
The kind of conviction that results in Bible salvation will make a man put his nose on his back track, and either pay or promise to pay, with the first opportunity, every cent he owes any man. If the man is dead, you will gladly pay his heirs. If the debt is called "outlawed" by the courts, you will realize that no debt is ever outlawed in the courts of the Eternal Judge, and you will pay the debt with regular interest up to date. No wonder that so few people are getting saved these days! In conclusion, I have learned -
7. That sanctification is purity and not maturity.
The devil uses his co-workers, in both the ministry and laity, to prejudice the minds of the people against holiness by saying that we claim absolute perfection, or that we can never get any farther out in Divine things in this life after we are sanctified.
Absolute perfection is alone the attribute of God, and that we can never possess. The perfection that the sanctified enjoy is the Christian perfection of which John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was the great exponent, along with Paul of Tarsus and most of the other
Bible writers. Christian perfection is perfection, or purity of the heart. The sinner receives pardon in regeneration, and the believer purity in entire sanctification. Purity is one thing, and maturity is a vastly different thing.
Sin is the only element in the heart that is not pure. When sin is all out of the heart, there being nothing impure left, of course, the heart is perfectly pure and holy. But there are great things in store for every perfect or sanctified Christian. Sanctification just gives one a good start in the Christian race by eliminating from the runner the greatest barrier to his progress; i. e., the old man of inbred sin. One can not grow into entire sanctification; but, thank God, there are illimitable heights to which he can attain after receiving the experience.
Reader, I beg you, in Christ's name, to lay aside all prejudice, that you "may be strong to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fullness of God."
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever." (American Bible.)
I HAVE been asked many times my opinion upon the secret society question. Many honest folks desire to know the evil of them, who, when given the light, will be glad to obey God and drop them forever. For the benefit of such persons I devote this short chapter to the subject, with my earnest prayers that those who read it may forever withdraw from any affiliation with these "marks of the beast."
My stand against secret societies, and especially Masonry, has caused many to withdraw from them, and, on the other hand, has brought me much persecution and opposition. I have long been clearly convinced that no one could be a Bible Christian, a true follower of Jesus Christ, and at the same time be a true Mason.
At one time I was in a few days' meeting at Clyde, North Carolina, where I noticed that there were at least seven preachers in that town wearing Masonic pins, and wondering why they could not have a meeting of power in that place. At that time I was very free to tell them they could never expect God to pour out His Spirit as long as all the preachers were yoked up with ungodly fraternities. A long time has passed since then; I have learned a great many things I did not know at that time, both in and out of God's Word, and to-day I am more convinced of the truth of my position than I was then.
I am against secret societies because God and His Word are against them, as any one who desires can clearly
see. The trouble with so many is, that the "hoodwink" that was placed over their eyes when they joined is still there, blindfolding their eyes from seeing the plain, positive teaching of God's Word, by which all must be judged.
Brother, will you please lay aside your biased mind for a few moments, and look with me into the Scriptures? Remember God's Word is forever settled in heaven, whether we believe it or not. In the fifth chapter and third and fourth verses of Leviticus are these words:
"Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it shall be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty, and it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing."
Brother, do n't you have to pronounce with an oath never to reveal certain things when you are taken into a secret society, when those things are hid from you? Yes, certainly, you answer. Then God says you have sinned.
Now for a moment let us read 2 Cor. vi, 14-18, giving special attention to the following:
"Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? . . . What portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? . . . Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate."
Brother, is there a secret society on earth that you can join without yoking yourself with unbelievers? The man that becomes a Mason yokes himself with thousands of infidels, skeptics, agnostics, and atheists. He yokes himself with men who call Jesus Christ a bastard; he yokes himself with an organization that will not allow Jesus Christ to be mentioned in any of the ceremonies,
prayers, etc., because it is objectionable to some; he yokes himself with thieves, murderers, drunkards, and fornicators. O the thought of the leading clergyman and Church folks of to-day belonging to such a devil's helltrap as this is almost beyond all credence! The preacher of to-day gets in his pulpit, and prays for power, and at the same time has his neck in the yoke of secret orders. Many are convicted at heart of the wrong, but for their Oath's sake, like Herod, they will keep it, and stay among them for worldly honor. Brother, listen to Jesus again:
"How can ye believe which seek honor one of another, and seek not the honor [alone] that cometh from God only." (John v, 44.)
Is it any wonder that the nominal Church is so worldly, when the majority of her ministers and members are more interested in their oath-bound societies than in the secret chamber of prayer, prevailing for a lost and hell-going world?
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of." (Eph. v, II, 12.)
Secret orders do works of darkness (works of secret), by whose power our courts are bribed and crime is never revealed. Very prominent Masons have told me, in friendly conversation, that all they want when they have a case in the courts is to have one or two Masons in the jury- box, or a Masonic judge or opposing lawyer, and, whether right or wrong, they have little fear of the result.
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye can not serve God and mammon." (Matt. vi, 24.)
Lodge officers are called by such names as, "Worshipful
Master," "Grand Master," and "Noble Grand." Come pare this with:
"Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even the Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." (Matt. xxiii, 10, 11.)
Why do you belong to a secret society? "Because when I die they will give me a good burial, and give my wife and children a good sum to maintain them." Brother, how does this harmonize with the Bible?
"Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." (Jer. xvii, 5.)
"Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi, 31-33.)
"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread." (Psa. xxxvii, 25.)
As has been mentioned, the Masonic lodge will not recognize Jesus Christ. Let us compare this with God's Word:
"There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts iv, 12.)
"I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (John xiv, 6.)
"Whosoever therefore will be ashamed of Me and of My Word in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of the Father with the holy angels." (Mark viii, 38.)
I do not hesitate to condemn anything that God
condemns. When God gave Ezekiel a vision of secret society work, He boldly denounced it.
God told Ezekiel to go into the "hole in the wall, and see the wicked abominations that they do in the dark [in secret], every person in his chambers of imagery. . . . And He brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east. Hast thou seen this, O son of man?" (Ezek. viii.) To be sure every one who has gone into one of these "holes in the wall" (that is, into the lodge), has seen it.
Much more could easily be said; for example, that the third degree of Masonry is worked on a lie, saying that Hiram did not finish his work, when God's Word says Hiram did finish it. But I forbear, and turn it all over to the God who says He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and dishonesty.
Many tell me that I have lost my influence with a great many people by taking this stand against secret societies and for Bible holiness; but that does not surprise me, for Jesus Christ did not have influence enough to keep Him off the cross; Stephen did not have influence enough to keep the shower of stones from crushing out his life; Paul did not have influence enough to save his neck; but he had power with God, and that is what my heart is after, and if God needs a martyr in Western North Carolina, I am a candidate for the honor. Praise the Lord!
"But man dieth and is laid low; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" -- Job xiv, 10.
THIS is a text that should interest every hearer, and may God draw your mind to it this morning! I want especially to call your attention to this part: "YEA, MAN GIVETH UP THE GHOST, AND WHERE IS HE?"
My friends, do you ever give this a thought: I must give up my spirit, and where will it be? Beloved, some things may be neglected without very much loss; but I want to say, you can not afford to neglect this all-important question, -
"WHERE WILL I BE?"
When death receives my body, where will I be? That is, my spirit; where will it be? O the solemn question! May God fix it on hearts this morning! Beloved, there are many of our modern soul- sleepers who would tell us that we go into the grave with our cold, icy bodies, and there remain until the trumpet sounds; but, thank God! I see something better now. At one time in my early experience this doctrine of soul-sleeping drifted me on the island of Doubt and Fears; but after a fresh study of the Word and some help from the true saints, I swam
from the island of Doubt to the living Rock of Christ, who is life from Alpha to Omega, and there I settled with a living faith forever. Hallelujah to God! And I see that no such teaching has any place in the Word of God, although one can see very plainly how such teaching can be produced by the way the Authorized Version has rendered the word Sheol.
The word Sheol is translated grave thirty-one times in the Authorized Version of the Old Testament; but the Revised Version corrects this, and I am thankful that I got to studying the Revised Version, for it has made some things plain to me that I never saw in the Authorized; so I use the Revised, and all the Scripture I shall give to-day will be quoted from the Revised, and you can distinguish the difference. So may the dear Lord teach us this morning His Word, and back it with power!
Beloved, the thought I want to call your attention to this morning is to the question asked in my text: "WHERE: IS HE?" or, when I learn, where will I be? God's Word plainly teaches two places: one is a place of conscious happiness, and the other a place of conscious torment and misery. According to the Word, when man departs this life he goes straight to one or the other of these places.
I want to call your attention to the word Sheol in the Revised Version. Scholars tell us that the word Sheol in the Old Testament is the same as Hades in the New Testament, and they never mean grave; and here are some of the reasons why the word Sheol never means grave. You never find the word Sheol in the plural in any of the places it is mentioned. You never read of the body going to Sheol. You never read of Sheol being located on the earth. Man never digs or makes a Sheol, but all of these points are found in connection with the word grave and sepulcher, Sheol means the place of
departed spirits, and not grave, as it is rendered so many times in the Old Version. No doubt the reason why the old translators translated the word Sheol grave, is that they did not understand that Sheol was a place of two compartments, which the Scriptures plainly teach was before Christ, which we will notice as we go further in this subject. The thought I want to impress on your minds at present is:
THAT SHEOL MEANS THE PLACE OF DEPARTED SPIRITS.
If you will follow me in the Scriptures, and notice the revised rendering you can see it plainly. Psalms XVI, 10: "For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol, neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption."
Beloved, this is a prophecy of our Lord: while His body lay in Joseph's new tomb, His soul was in Sheol or Hades. This is also made plain by the quotation in the second chapter of Acts, verse 31. This also proves that Sheol and Hades mean the same place. We will notice this again before we get through. Another proof that Sheol is the place for the soul is found in Psalms xxx, 3: "O Jehovah, thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol: thou hast kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit." And we read again in Psalms xlix, 15: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol." And another place is Proverbs xxiii, 14: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Sheol." And another place is Luke xvi, 23: "And in Hades, or Sheol, he lifted up his eyes, being in torments."
Beloved, you see that Sheol is a place for the spirit and not for the body, and any one who studies the Scriptures on this subject will see the truth. I believe the soul-sleeping heresy has largely sprung from the way the Authorized Version has rendered the word Sheol grave.
Beloved, I want to give you a stronger proof yet that Sheol never means grave. We read of "Conversations in Sheol," and this is never thought of by any one in connection with the grave, and this alone should be proof that Sheol is not the grave, and should stop the mouth of every soul-sleeper. I see something higher than the sun and deeper than a grave. Hallelujah!
In three different passages in God's Word we read of "Conversations in Sheol."
First, Isaiah xiv, 10: Here we have a remarkable conversation. "All they shall answer and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the noise of viols; the worm is spread under thee, and worms cover them." "How art thou fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations, and thou said in thine heart, I will ascend into the heavens: I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." And in the fifteenth verse: "Yet thou shalt be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble; that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and overthrew the cities thereof?"
Here is a conversation where they are stirred up in Sheol talking about their leader becoming as weak as they, and their leader is the devil, and he is going to lose his hold on this world, and will soon be cast down and shut up just as weak and powerless as any creature there.
Beloved, lift up your hearts to Jesus, and let your faith be set on Him as a conqueror of every foe. Bless His name forever! He has prevailed to open the seals and put to naught the devil according to His Word. (Hebrews
ii, 14.) But, precious unsaved souls, think of your doom shut up in the lowest Sheol in conscious torment and misery because you neglected the great salvation, which was purchased for you through Jesus! God help you to see it before mercy's door is forever closed!
We find, in Ezekiel xxxii, 21, another remarkable conversation in Sheol: "The strong among the mighty shall speak to Him out of the midst of Sheol with them that help Him: they are gone down, they lie still, even the uncircumcised, slain by the sword."
Beloved, what can be said of this? Here we read language that was uttered in Sheol. None of you believe that this was uttered in the grave. I have never found any one yet who believes it; but it was spoken by those who were in Sheol, the place of departed spirits.
The next passage I want to call your attention to is in the Lord's Gospel of Luke, chapter xvi, commencing with the nineteenth verse and continuing to the end of the chapter. I do not see who can read this and not see that Sheol or Hades is the place of departed spirits, and that before Christ it was a place of two compartments. I know many call this a parable; but Jesus never said it was a parable, and there is no proof in the Word that will support the idea that it is a parable. But, bless God! it is a matter of fact related by Jesus Himself, and the Word will stand forever whether you accept it or not.
All through the Old Testament we read of the saints going down to Sheol, and, as I have before stated, I believe that is the reason why the word Sheol in the Authorized Version is rendered grave so many times. It has given some chance for the doctrine of soul-sleeping; but, thank God! by a careful study of the truth, we can see something better than a hole in the ground. (Amen!)
It is positively proven in the plain Word of God that
both saint and sinner went down to Sheol before Christ, and no doubt the old translators could not understand how the saints went to Sheol, so they rendered it grave, and it has been misleading to many; but the plain truth of God reveals that the spirits of all who die go to Sheol, or Hades. The sinner goes down to the lowest Sheol, as is revealed in Deuteronomy xxxii, 22: "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and burneth into the lowest Sheol."
And, again, we find where it mentions the lowest Sheol in Psalms lxxxvi, 13: "For great is thy loving kindness toward me; and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Sheol."
The one who realizes that he has been delivered from the lowest Sheol certainly realizes it is through the great mercy of God. You see, the sinner goes down to the lowest Sheol, and he is tormented in the flames of fire. As it is clearly revealed in Luke xvi, 23, "But the saints in their compartment are in happiness and perfect rest," so is it revealed in many places which we will notice before we get through.
As we search the truth, let us pray for God to give us Divine wisdom to see His Word clearly.
Now I want to give you some more Bible proof about the wicked going down to Sheol. We find in Job xxiv, 19, "Drought and heat consume the snow-waters: so doth Sheol those who have sinned;" and also in Psalms ix, 17, "The wicked shall be turned backward into Sheol, even all the nations that forget God;" and again we find in Psalms lv, 15, "Let death come suddenly upon them; let them go down alive into Sheol, for wickedness is in their dwelling in the midst of them."
Now you see that all of these passages are "Sheol," and the wicked who die go there in conscious torments. Beloved, there is no place for soul-sleeping here.
I want to show you now, to prove the assertion that I have made, that the righteous saints, who died in the Old Testament days, went down to Sheol, not in torment, but in a department of conscious happiness and bliss.
First read Genesis xxxvii, 34, 35: "And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, for I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning; and his father wept for him." The Authorized Version says grave; but if you read the thirty- third verse it will prove to you that Jacob never meant grave, for Jacob never believed his son Joseph was in a grave. He believed that a wild beast had devoured his body; so you see that Jacob could not go down to the grave to his son; but he said, "For I will go down to Sheol to my son;" and Jacob knew if the beast had the body, that Sheol had the soul, or spirit.
Another Bible proof that the saints go down to Sheol is found in Job xiv, 13: "O that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past!" Job did not want to go in the grave and there be hid until the wrath be passed, but he said, "Hide me in Sheol." The grave is not a desirable place to be hid, nor is the thought of dying and then, in an unconscious state, lying in the grave until the trumpet blows, comforting.
Bless God! I see something better than all of that. (Amen!) While death may take the body in the grave, yet the spirit will fly away to sweet rest, and conscious happiness. Hallelujah!
Another remarkable Scripture on this subject is found in Isaiah xxxviii, 10. Here we read of Hezekiah, the man who called God's attention to how he had lived and walked before Him with a perfect heart. And God heard his prayer, and saved him from death, and added to his days fifteen years. Now I want you to hear what this
man said when he thought he was going to die. He said, "I said, in the noontide of my days I shall go into the gates of Sheol."
Another remarkable passage, stating that both saved and unsaved go down to Sheol, is found in the twenty- eighth chapter of First Samuel. If you will read that chapter you will find where King Saul got into trouble and backslid from God, and could not get any message from heaven. He was like all backsliders. When he disobeyed God, he failed to get his prayers through. Saul sought comfort the wrong way. He went to the witch of Endor and deceived her, and had her call up Samuel, so he could tell him what to do. And when the witch saw Samuel she was afraid, and she knew that it was Saul who had called him.
I tell you, beloved, that the powers of hell tremble when a holy prophet of God arises. (Amen!)
And now I want to read to you a few passages from this chapter, so you may see the truth that I want to impress upon you in the thirteenth verse: "And the woman said unto Saul, I see a God coming up out of the earth." You see here that God permitted this witch to call Samuel up from Sheol to deliver the final message to King Saul. And Samuel said to Saul, "Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?" Now the thought I wanted to call your attention to is that Samuel said to Saul in the nineteenth verse: "Moreover, Jehovah will deliver Israel also with thee into the hand of the Philistines, and to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me." The thought is "Be with me to-morrow."
Beloved, if you will study this carefully, you will see it does not mean the grave, because Saul the next day killed himself, and his sons were killed, and their bodies were not buried for many days; so you see, beloved, that
Samuel did not mean their bodies would be in the grave with his, but he meant that to-morrow their souls or spirits would be with his in Sheol. And, no doubt, while Samuel was in perfect happiness in Sheol, Saul the king was in conscious torments; for he was a sinner. While both went to the same place, yet there was a "great gulf fixed," as our Lord said in Luke's Gospel, xvi, 26. Let us turn to that chapter, and read from the twenty-second verse: "And it came to pass that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades he lifted up his eyes being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the top of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." I wanted to read this so you might get it clear in your minds, that both the rich man and Lazarus were in Sheol or Hades, and there could be conversation between them, yet one could be in happiness and the other in anguish.
Beloved, I am not trying to give you something that God's own Word does not teach, but I am trying to show you that the doctrine of soul-sleeping is not Scriptural. I was bothered with this heresy for many months by a book that was put in my hand when I was a young spiritual calf, just beginning to pick the grass of the truth; and very often I would get a poison weed in my mouth and chew it up, thinking it was good food, and afterwards find I was poisoned; and this is one of the poisoned weeds
the devil tried to stuff me with. But, thank God! I have gotten over it. Hallelujah!
Beloved, remember the text: "Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?"
If Jesus tarries, you will have to give up the ghost, and where will you be? Do you think of it? Are you sure that God bears witness to you that you belong to those who are saved? Or are you in doubt? You can not be unsettled in this; you must depart to be with those in conscious bliss, or with those in conscious torment.
Now, I want to show you that our blessed Lord, when He gave up His body in death, went down to Sheol or Hades, as it is related in Acts ii, 31, "That neither was He left in Hades or Sheol, nor did His flesh see corruption." And again we find that He was in Hades while His body was in Joseph's new tomb, in Matthew xii, 40: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Now compare this with what Jesus said to the dying thief on the cross in Luke xxiii, 43, while they both were hanging on the cross in the very jaws of death. The thief said, "Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom; and Jesus said, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise."
And now turn with me and read Romans x, 7, "Who shall descend into the abyss?" that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.
Beloved, who can read this and not see that at one time a compartment of Sheol or Hades was paradise for the departed spirits of God's saints? No wonder the prophet Isaiah, with his prophetic eye, could say as in Isaiah xliv, 23, "Shout, ye lower parts of the earth." All the Old Testament saints had been shut up in Abraham's
bosom, or in Sheol, waiting for the coming of our blessed Lord, who was to come and spill His precious blood on the cruel cross to make redemption complete; and when He cried, "It is finished!" He gave His body in death to be laid in the tomb, but His Spirit descended into Hades, and there He proclaimed to the spirits in prison the complete redemption He had purchased, and there He met with the dying thief according to promise, and there they had a wonderful shout of victory, and every little demon in the pit had to bow and confess with his mouth that Christ was the conqueror of heaven, earth, and hell. O hallelujah!
I am glad I bow to Him here in probation, and confess Him here, and love Him here, and I have the assurance I shall see Him in peace. O glory! it is wonderful to know! Glory!!
Beloved, before closing this subject, I want to call your attention to another Scripture showing that the Old Testament saints were called Prisoners of Hope, shut up in waiting for the complete redemption through Christ's blood.
Turn with me to Zechariah, ninth chapter, commencing with the eleventh verse: "As for thee also, because of the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the stronghold, ye Prisoners of Hope: even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee."
Beloved, can not you imagine there was a wonderful shout among the Prisoners of Hope when Christ spilt the last drop of blood and then descended to lead captivity captive? No wonder the prophet said, "Shout, ye lower parts of the earth!" It makes me shout just to read it and know it is real (Amen!), and to know that Jesus has never made a promise that he has not or will not fulfill;
so, beloved, believe Him, trust Him. Shout the victory in the face of every enemy, for Jesus is faithful. Bless His name forever!
Now, in conclusion, I want to call your attention to another Scripture in John xx, 17, where He arose from the dead and said unto Mary, "Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended unto the Father; but go unto My brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and My God, and your God." What an honor to that precious woman to carry the news of her risen Lord! And no doubt while she was gone to bear the message, the Lord ascended to the Father and made His report. And, as Paul taught in Ephesians iv, 8, "When He [Christ] ascended up on high, He led captivity captive," or, as the margin says, "a multitude of captives." So you see by this, beloved, that when the Lord ascended He led the Old Testament saints from Sheol to the third heaven, where Paul was caught up when he was stoned to death, as related in Acts xiv, 19, 20. His body was under the shower of stones while his spirit was caught up to the third heaven, and heard words not lawful to utter; but whether in or out of the body, he could not tell. This is certainly a denial of soul-sleeping.
Another passage that proves the spirit that departs from the body is present with the Lord, is found in Second Corinthians v, 6-8. Another that proves that, when we die, we are with the Lord, is in Philippians i, 23. Friend, listen how this reads: "But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better."
Beloved, Paul did not believe in soul-sleeping, but he knew that when his spirit left the body it would be with the Lord; and, beloved, we never read of any saint going down to Sheol or Hades now: for when Christ rose He
was the first-fruits of them that slept; and when He ascended He took all the saints with Him; and when He comes He will bring the saints with Him, and they will at that time receive their glorified bodies, and shall "be kings and priests unto God." O glory to God, I am looking for my King! I am looking for something much brighter than the grave, although if death should get my body, I would fly away to be with Christ. Glory to God forever!
Now, can you see anything in this that will give the poor lost soul any chance of repentance after death? There is not a passage in the Word that gives any hope of a second probation.
I want to say, as you leave this world so will you be through all eternity. So, my precious, unsaved soul, seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. The loving Savior is calling to you. Hear Him while mercy's door is open.
O the thought of rejecting God! No soul-sleeping - no second chance - but forever banished from the presence of God, if you fail to repent here! But to you who are saved, rest in God and let Him sanctify you wholly, and then, whether you wake or sleep, you are all His. Bless His dear name!