The sermons of Mrs. Booth already re-published under the title of "Aggressive Christianity," came to American Christians as a tonic to their weakness, and a stimulant to their inertness.

The sermons in the present volume are a much-needed prophylactic, a safeguard against several practical errors in dealing with souls; errors which lead them into Egyptian darkness, instead of the marvelous light.

The sermon on Repentance is a most faithful showing up of spurious repentance, the vain substitute for a downright abandonment of every form of sin, and right-about facing towards the Lord. In directness and point, it is a model for earnest revival preaching, -- rather, for all preaching to unsaved souls, outside the church, or within it. All of these will be found in some subterfuge, which must be ruthlessly torn down, before it will be abandoned for the cleft Rock.

The sermon on Saving Faith is next in order. The disastrous consequences of what, for the want of a better description, maybe styled an Antinomian faith, an unrepentant assent of the intellect to the historic facts of the Gospel, which too many evangelists and other religious teachers are calling saving faith, are clearly set forth and plainly labeled, POISON. This spurious trust in Christ following a superficial repentance, which has never felt the desperate sinfulness and real misery of sin, has furnished our churches with a numerous class of members, aptly described by the prophet Micah: "The sin of Israel is great and unrepented of, yet they will lean on the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us?" We are convinced that much of the work of the faithful and pungent preacher, who preaches with his eye fixed on the great white throne and the descending Judge, is to dislodge professors from their imaginary trust in a Saviour who does not save them, and probe deeply their hearts festering with sin, which have been hastily pronounced healed, "slightly healed." Many of us have incautiously said to awakened souls, "Only believe," before we have thrust the heart through and through with the sword of God's law. We have dismissed God's schoolmaster. The law, like the slave charged with the task of leading the boy to school, and of committing him to the teacher, we have thought to be too harsh and severe for our sentimental age, and have unwisely discharged, and have assumed its office of a paidagogos to Christ, and we have missed the way, and misled a priceless soul. God have mercy on us, and give us humility, as He gave Apollos, to be set right by an anointed woman!

After her timely correction of erroneous teachings on faith, Mrs. Booth proceeds, pruning-knife in hand, to cut away from the tree of modern Christianity the poisonous fungus of a "spurious charity." Her four sermons on Charity are four beacons set on the rocks of counterfeit Christian love. She sets forth several infallible tests by which genuine love may be distinguished from the devil's base imitation. Like the Epistles of St. John, these sermons are full of touchstones for testing love, that golden principle of the Christian life. It would be very profitable for all professors of that perfect love which casteth out all tormenting fear, to apply unflinchingly these touch-stones to themselves. They may find the word "perfection" taking on a meaning deeper, broader and higher than they had ever before conceived. Why should not our conception of Christian perfection steadily grow with the increase of our knowledge of God and of His holy law?

The sermon on The Conditions of Effectual Prayer, we commend to all Christians and to all seekers of Christ, who are mourning because their prayers do not prevail with God. In the clear light of this sermon they will find that the difficulty lies, either in the lack of fellowship with Jesus Christ, or of obedience to His commands, or in the absence from their hearts of the interceding Spirit, or in defective faith. In the discussion of these hindrances to prayer, the preacher lays open the heart, and with a skilful spiritual surgery, searches it to the very bottom. The incisiveness of her style, her courage and plain dealing with her hearers, tearing off the masks of sin and selfishness, the various guises in which these masquerade in many Christian hearts and obstruct their access to a throne of grace, remind us of Dr. Finney's unsparing exposure and condemnation of these foes to Christian holiness, and of John Wesley's cutting up by the roots "Sin in Believers."

In this sermon Mrs. Booth turns her attention to another phase of faith and of practical error in the guidance of souls to Christ. Her views on this vexed question are not extreme but philosophical and scriptural. She teaches that God has made the bestowment of salvation simultaneous with the exercise of faith, and that "telling a person to believe he is saved, before he is saved, is telling him to believe a lie." But she insists that the act of faith is put forth with the special aid of the Holy Spirit giving an assurance that the blessing sought will be granted. This assurance, or earnest, given by the Spirit, becomes the basis on which the final act of faith rests, namely, "I believe that I receive." This corresponds with William Taylor's Divine "ascertainment of the fact of the sinner's surrender to God, and his acceptance of Christ," before justification. [Footnote: Election of Grace, pp.38-42.] Both teachers agree with Wesley's analysis of faith which teaches that the fourth and last step, "He doth it," can be taken only by the special enabling power of the Holy Spirit, [Footnote: Sermons. Patience, Section 13; Scripture Way of Salvation, Section 17; and Whedon on Mark xi.24.] All three locate the Divine efficiency before the declaration, "I believe that I receive," or "have received" (R. V.), making that declaration rest upon the perception of a Divine change within the consciousness. They all insist that saving faith is not a mere humanly moral exercise, but that power to believe with the heart descends from God, and that it must be waited for in prayer, and that it becomes in the believer a series of supernatural and spiritual acts, a habit of soul, at once the seed and fruit of the Divine life-stirring, uniting in itself the characters of penitent humility, self-renunciation, simple trust, and absolute obedience grounded in love. These teachers magnify the Divine element in faith. We look in vain in their writings for any such direction to a penitent as this, "Believe that you are saved, because, God says so in His Word," but rather believe that you are saved when you hear His Spirit crying, Abba, Father, in your heart.

Many modern teachers fall into the error of treating saving faith as an unaided intellectual act to be performed, at will, at any time. It is rather a spiritual act possible only when prompted by the Holy Spirit, who incites to faith only when He sees true repentance and a hearty surrender to God. Then the Spirit reveals Christ and assists to grasp Him. In the refutation of the high predestinarian doctrine that faith is an irresistible grace sovereignly bestowed upon the elect, there is great danger of falling into the opposite error, called Pelagianism, which makes saving faith an exercise which the natural man is competent to put forth without the help of the Holy Spirit. The real guilt of unbelief lies in that voluntary indifference toward Christ, and impenitence of heart, in which the Holy Spirit cannot inspire saving faith.

In our introduction to "Aggressive Christianity," we advertised, in behalf of the American churches, a universal want -- Enthusiasm. In her brief Exeter-Hall address, Mrs. Booth discloses the source of the supply. Holiness is the well-spring of enthusiasm. Hence it is not a spring freshet, but an overflowing river of power in all its possessors, and, notably in the Salvation Army, bearing the unchurched masses of England on its bosom. A holy enthusiasm is contagious and conquering. We cannot touch the people with the icicle of logic; but they will not fail to bow to the scepter of glowing and joyful love. Few men can reason; all can feel. Enthusiasm and full salvation, like the Siamese twins, cannot be separated and live. The error of the modern pulpit is that of the blacksmith hammering cold steel -- a faint impression and huge labor. The baptism of fire softening our assemblies would lighten the preacher's toil and multiply its productiveness.

The four addresses on Holiness are hortatory rather than argumentative or exegetical. They are spiritual cyclones. It is difficult to see how any Christian could withstand these impassioned appeals to make what Joseph Cook calls "an affectionate, total, irreversible, eternal, self-surrender to Jesus Christ, as both Saviour and Lord," in order to attain that "perfect similarity of feeling with God," wherein evangelical perfection consists.

It gives me great pleasure to have some humble part in echoing across the American continent these glowing utterances from the lips of this modern Deborah, the Christian prophetess raised up by God for the deliverance of His people from captivity to worldliness and religious apathy. "Would God that all the Lord's people," men and women, "were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"

"Shall we the Spirit's course restrain,
Or quench the heavenly fire?
Let God His messengers ordain,
And whom He will inspire!
Blow as He list, the Spirit's choice
Of instruments we bless:
We will, if Christ be preached, rejoice,
And wish the word success."


Reading, Mass., Nov. 23, 1883.

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