As we consider the history of man from the beginning of time until now, it does appear that the worship of a God, or gods, is an inherent principle born in every man, that it is a part of his human nature, therefore it is one of the elements which surround him, which he breathes, and which shape and mould his career in this natural life. Notwithstanding the fact that there are many men with a corresponding number of minds, yet in all the world there are but two religions. One is, “Pure religion and undefiled,” the other is impure and defiled. While the word “religion” means any system of worship, yet in the pure and undefiled religion there is but one system of worship, but in the other they are almost innumerable. The religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the only true and pure religion. It presents salvation by grace through the blood and the merits of the only Savior of mankind, the Lord Jesus Christ. While the other is a seething caldron in which is a confused mass of creature works, of gods many, through which (by vain imaginations) man obtains his own salvation by his own merit and goodness, after a way has been made possible by a God which they do not know. The Scriptures designate only “the Jews’ religion,” and that embraces all other religions by which man is saved by his own works. The apostle Paul said to King Agrippa, “After the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee,” in which religion he persecuted and sought to destroy the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. Then he goes on to say, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers.” He was no more a Pharisee, declaring his own works and thanking God he was not as other men, &c., but he becomes a follower of this Jesus whom he had persecuted, and now ascribes all power and glory to the “only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” He reminds his brethren of the rumors concerning him in the past, saying, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God and wasted it; and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceeding zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the nations, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,” &c. This experience of the apostle (which is also the experience of all God’s children) sets forth clearly the two religions in the world. The one under a law of works, and the other under grace. The religion of creature works embracing (as before stated) every system of worship of the world, and standing in direct contrast to the religion of Jesus Christ, which is pure and undefined and comes to us from God out of heaven, by his rich and unmerited grace. Therefore all the religion in the world is to be found in each experience of every child of God. So that we do not have to go out of our own house to find all that is embraced under the term religion. We have only to examine ourselves to find the gods many in our own household, in the lusts of our flesh, the pride of the eye, the pride of life, &c. The religion of the flesh worships the works of the flesh, because they all emanate from the natural mind. For the natural mind is the element in which they thrive and flourish, which mind is enmity to God always. He who depends upon creature works for salvation never seeks any higher for it. He does not need to, for he is rich in self-righteousness. He is the character of whom the psalmist speaks, when he says, “The fool hath said in his heart, No God.” He cries out against the man Christ Jesus, saying, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live.” Their religion is impure because they are impure, and defiled because they are defiled. The religion of the world wants you to seek and obtain an offered salvation. To them the death of Christ is of no avail, except you accept that which you have offered to you in the way of reward for service. The principle motive of the impure religion is to obtain release from punishment for evil doing. To secure this, they set up rules of practice, by which they not only save themselves, but will also save others, and so heap up for themselves great rewards of glory. It is a system therefore, wherein the sinner does the work of salvation, and therefore earns the glory. In this system there is no need of any other Savior except themselves. This system of religion is a kind of worship, but the devotion is to the gods of this world, and not to the God of heaven. The apostle James tells us that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Pure religion and undefiled then is the true worship of God. A worship and devotion which is acceptable in the sight of the Father. The love of God in the heart of man turns that man from the error of his way, and causes him to desire holiness and righteousness in the Lord. The motions of sin and defilement are subdued, because the stronger power of grace exercises him to righteous and holy acts. The elements of his carnal nature cause him to die and not to live. He lives and thrives and walks by faith alone. Green pastures of God’s love, and still waters of peace in Zion fan his soul into heavenly desires for the prosperity of Jerusalem. Self-righteousness and self-praise give place to spiritual and heavenly aspirations. Gracious deeds done by the right hand are secretly hidden from the knowledge of the left hand. Earnest prayer to be kept from presumptuous sin, and from exalting the creature is in his heart and in his mind. By the light of faith he sees the path of life, and to him it becomes a shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The law of God is his sweet meditation day and night. Humility of soul marks his steps in life. With fear and with trembling he beholds the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The riches and pleasures of this world sink into insignificance as he views the treasures of the kingdom of heaven in Christ Jesus his Lord. He cannot boast and thank God that he is not like other men, for he sees himself as nothing and less than nothing and vanity in the sight of a holy God, and feels to be the least of all saints, if one at all. Grace in his soul, says to the horde of enemies led by the power of darkness, which he finds in his own household, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” and 60 he goes forth to battle led by Jesus the Captain of his salvation. Now the religion of this happy soul is pure. He seeks no honor to himself, but having an eye single to the glory of God, he is determined within himself to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified. It is pure also in the sense that he continually seeks holiness, with a pure heart and a pure mind. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness. Like Job, he is a man that fears God and eschews evil. Like David, he exclaims, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts, my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.” His religion is undefiled because it emanates not from a source of defilement. Its source is the pure river of the water of life. It seeks the house that is bnilded by wisdom. It entereth therein and receiveth the precepts of life everlasting, and it entereth not into the house of the foolish woman. When- this religion makes itself manifest in the life of the children of God, grace is its beautifier. It is clothed with righteousness; wisdom is its sponsor; holiness is the way of its feet; the temple of God its dwelling-place, and it seeketh heavenly places in Christ Jesus, where God’s honor dwelleth. Such religion exercises the subjects of God’s grace to good deeds and to holy conversation. Their feet are directed to the house of mourning, and away from the pleasures of sin. Their love and sympathy and fellowship are with “the fatherless and the widows in their affliction.” For they themselves are an afflicted and poor people. The world which they once loved has now no charms for them. Therefore are their lives spent in the house of their brethren. To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction is the very spirit of pure and undefiled religion. In other words, charity abounds where God’s love has found a resting-place. Each child of the living God becomes a nursing mother to every other afflicted one who needs a cup of cold water. The ministration of the Spirit becomes a song in the night to every one that is weary. And that which is ministered to the afflicted ones is ministered also to Jesus who is their life, and whose Spirit worketh mightily in the heart of each one, to the upbuilding and to the healing of the body which is made perfect in Christ Jesus. Pure religion and undefiled was made clearly manifest and also made beautiful in the attitude and condition of the poor publican who went up to the temple to pray, and who, with unfeigned humility and with fear and trembling, cried, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” To such an one “the fatherless and the widows in their affliction “are a source of constant solicitude. The outward act of charity emanates alone from him in whom is the life of Christ. It is the Spirit that exercises to action, “the flesh profiteth nothing.” The law of life in Christ Jesus which is the spirit of wisdom and knowledge, guides and directs its subjects into all truth. Therefore the lofty aspiration of every member of the household of faith is “to keep himself unspotted from the world.” As by faith he sees the contamination and degredation of his own flesh, with all its unprofitableness, he hates its lusts thereof with perfect hatred, because his soul cries out for holiness, and because his carnal mind is enmity against God. He views his atonement through rich and reigning grace, in the blood of the holy child Jesus, shed upon the cross for him. And now that precious life-blood which flowed from his body on Calvary, courses through his veins, and in consequence, “The life that he now lives in the flesh he lives by the faith of the Son of God who loved him and gave himself for him.” His life therefore is a holy life, having holy desires, that in keeping himself unspotted from the world he may honor the gracious Master whom he serves. To mortify the deeds of his flesh is his constant aim, wherein he realizes that he is “crucified with Christ, nevertheless he lives, yet not he, but Christ liveth in him.” Therefore did the psalmist pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Such is the prayer of every conscious sinner. And this is pure and undefiled religion, for it is continually seeking the treasures of life eternal. It is exalting a risen living Savior, and worshiping the true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
B. F. COULTER.
Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 7, 1900.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 19.
OCTOBER 1, 1900.