Charles E. Orr
"Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ!" Philippians 1:27
We kindly ask the reader to compare the words of this booklet with the Word of God. What I have written has not been with an unkind nor unfriendly spirit, and I hope no one will take offense. My object has been to exalt Christianity to her rightful throne, and plainly mark out the Christian way, that we all may live to the glory of God, and gain a home in Heaven.
Your in Christian hope and love,
Charles E. Orr
My Dear Friend,
We have come to have a short, earnest talk with you about Heaven and the way that leads to that better land. In all the realm of thought and conversation, there is no sweeter theme than that of Heaven. Oh, what pleasantness there is associated with the thoughts and hopes of spending an eternity in the blissful fields of that glory world. As we look upon the pale, lifeless form of some dear one whose spirit has flown away — what a comfort comes to our sorrowing heart, when we have reason to hope they have gone to Heaven.
There are frequent occurrences along the journey of life which remind us that we are only pilgrims, traveling to an eternal beyond, to which we may be called any day. It may be we have been in imminent danger and narrowly escaped the blow that severs the thread of life. It may be the sick chamber. It may be the news of someone who has departed this life, or the vacant seats around our own hearthstone. All these remind us that it is "appointed unto men once to die." We cannot forbear remarking here, "Be ready: for in such an hour as you think not" the call may come to you. Surely you can not fail to comprehend the necessity of living every hour in such a way that, should the summons come, you could go softly and peacefully to your eternal rest.
There are no aching hearts in Heaven; no troubled breasts nor careworn brows. There is no sorrow there; neither pain nor tears. With such a place of eternal blessedness set before us — is it not wisdom to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure"?
The Savior said, "In my Father's house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you." In the trying hours of life, when all seems to have forsaken us and the world appears unfriendly; life's burdens seem to be heavy, and a despondent feeling steals over our spirit — what a comfort to our trusting soul, is the remembrance that there is an eternal home prepared for us, "There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest." There is room enough in Heaven for all who will walk in the way that leads to that desired destination.
While the thoughts of Heaven are beautiful, there may be other thoughts that come like a blight over the spirit of many. Man is prone to draw a veil over the scenes that awaken thoughts of torment and woe; he invites thoughts of Heaven — but banishes thoughts of Hell. There is no pleasantness in the thoughts of eternal punishment. To think of spending an eternity in Hell — brings a terror to the soul. Whatever may be our feelings or thoughts — either Heaven or Hell shall be the eternal destination of all mankind. These two places are set before all who inhabit the earth. There is a way that leads from earth to Heaven — and there is a way that leads from earth to Hell. The way to Heaven is called the way of life; the way to Hell is called the way of death. These ways are set before every man. He can take the way of life and gain Heaven — or, he can take the way of death and make his bed in Hell: "This day I call Heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life!" Deuteronomy 30:19
It is not enough to say and to hope that we are going to Heaven; we must walk in the way that leads there, else our sayings and hopes will be in vain. Should you desire to go to a city — you must take the way that leads there. The way that leads to Heaven is by the commandments of God. The Scriptures say: "Blessed are those who obey his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." The Lord said: "Not every one who says unto me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven." The Bible is the book God — it has given to teach us the way to that goal of eternal peace and rest. There is no promise for us in that blessed volume, nor an intimation from which we can glean a ray of hope of gaining Heaven, if we are knowingly violating any of its commandments (James 2:10). Only those who do His commandments will enter through the gate into the city.
An impure fountain does not send forth a pure stream; if we desire the stream to be pure — we must make the fountain pure. A holy and pure life — naturally flows from a holy and pure heart. The wisdom of Solomon declares that "out of the heart are the issues of life." The state or condition of the heart — determines the manner of the life. One wiser than Solomon said: "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts," etc. This saying illustrates the fact that the interior of man, or the heart — controls the exterior life. He further illustrates this by a cup and platter, which, he says, make clean on the inside, and the outside will be clean also (Matthew 23:26). We shall take it for granted that every reader will agree with us when we say that Christian conduct necessitates Christian experience, and that where the former is lacking — the latter is also lacking.
All men naturally are in sin, and consequently without Christian experience. Christianity is not a mere profession; it is a real inward, or heart, experience. In the plan of redemption, we find certain things required of man in order that he may obtain this change in his moral condition. The principal thing required, and one which covers almost the whole, is —
The Scripture tells us that repentance is a godly sorrow for sin, or, that "godly sorrow works repentance." This is unlike the sorrow of the world. When a man has committed a wrong, and because this wrong is made public and he stands in danger of punishment by the law — then he experiences a sorrow — but his sorrow is only of the world. A child who, having disobeyed its parents, grieves through fear of punishment, does not sorrow in a godly sense, and such sorrow contains but little or no merit. But when through force of temptation, he disobeys his parents and sorrows because he has wronged a parent who loves him — he may be said to sorrow in a godly sense. When man wails and laments and seeks a Christian life merely to escape the torments of Hell and to gain Heaven — he is not truly penitent; but when in his very soul he grieves and sorrows because he has sinned against a God of love, having no thought of reward or punishment — but only sorrows because he has wronged a being who loves him — then he experiences a godly sorrow.
When a man sorrows in this godly manner, he will turn away from his sins and forsake them. It must be obvious to the reader, that man cannot be said to be truly sorry for his sins — when he continues in them. But when in true penitence, he turns away from his sinful life, God will pardon him. "Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!" Isaiah 1:16-17. "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Isaiah 55:7
When a man is truly sorrowful because he has sinned against God — he not only ceases to walk in the ways of sin — but he gladly makes right, as far as he can, all the wrongs he has done. We do a kind act toward God, by doing it toward man, as Jesus says: "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren — you have done it unto me"; and we wrong God when we wrong our fellow man. Consequently, when a man truly repents, he will make right, as far as he can — all the wrongs he has done to his fellow man. We have this exemplified in the repentance of Zacchaeus when he said: "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Luke 19:8. Jesus, upon seeing such penitence, said, "This day is salvation come to this house." The law governing the restitutions of wrong in true repentance, is recorded in Ezekiel 33:15: "If he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die."
The fruit of repentance — is the forsaking of sin, of making right the wrongs we have done, of forgiving those who have wronged us, and of confessing our sinfulness to Him who sees and knows the heart; and, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." When pardoned, man experiences a change of affections; he experiences a change in his feelings and exterior life; he is no longer a rebellious sinner — but a Christian. This experience is termed —
The work of regeneration is effected by the grace of God: "By grace you are saved." When man complies with the requirements made of him by the Word of God, he will then by the power and grace of God, through the act of faith — be born again or brought into spiritual life. He is a new creation. The guilt and condemnation of transgression is gone — and he has peace with God. He is translated from the kingdom of darkness — into that of God's dear Son. He has passed from death unto life. He is a branch of the vine, and now lives a fruitful life. Although he enjoys much and experiences such peace and glory — he learns there is an especial promise of the Father yet in store for him (Luke 24:49). He comes as an obedient child and pleads with the Father for the promise, and God, being more willing to give His children the Holy Spirit, than parents are to give good gifts unto their children, sends the Holy Spirit in His cleansing power into his soul and he receives the glorious experience of sanctification.
The holy Bible is the book to guide the Christian's footsteps and govern his walk of life. When he walks in the truth, he walks even as Jesus walked; and when he strays from the truth, he departs from the life of Jesus.
You have heretofore agreed with me that a Christian life will naturally result from a Christian experience, and where the life is deficient — the experience is also deficient. The Bible is the book by which our life is judged or graded. If we fall below one hundred per cent in any line of conduct, we fall that much below the standard of Christianity. It is not enough to live up to the Word of God in a few things, or in many things — but we must live according to the truth in all things.
A young lady recently said, after hearing a portion of the Scriptures read relating to practical Christianity, "Our preachers have not told us how to live." This remark occasioned the writing of this booklet. In the judgment day I desire to stand clear from the blood of all men. In the name of Jesus my Savior I shall do what I can to inform you how to live that you may please God, and spend an eternity in the glory of His presence. Not only shall we tell you — but we shall earnestly pray to God for you.
The apostle Paul tells us in one short sentence how to live. He says, "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Philippians 1:27) A Christian life is one who adorns or makes beautiful the Word of God to the world. A holy and pure life, is a jewel to crown the glorious gospel of Jesus. A Christian life is a light shining forth and revealing the gospel to a lost world. Oh, what a privilege granted unto us by grace, that we can so live that our life magnifies the Word of God and makes it beautiful and attractive. Glory, glory be to our God!
With all my soul I appreciate the privilege of living a Christian life. We find many today who are disgusted with a professed Christianity, and disbelieve the Bible because of the imperfect lives of those who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus. Many also, thank God, have been caused to believe the Bible and in the salvation of God — by the pure and holy lives of Christ's true and devoted followers, who walk as He walked. This is what is meant by living "a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ," (Philippians 1:27) or, "adorning the doctrine of God." (Titus 2:10) By living a pure and holy life — we interest others in the salvation of our God and His gospel. Praise God! This is such a beautiful point, that I am loath to leave it. The privilege of reflecting the glorious image of God to a darkened world, by a pure life — fills my soul with gratitude and praise.
We have often seen a ray of sunlight passing from the keyhole through our darkened room and ending in a bright spot on the opposite wall. This reminds us of a Christian's life journey, which as a beautiful stream of light, finally ends in a bright spot upon the walls of time. By living upon God in prayer and holy thought, and by careful earnest effort, this light "shines more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:18) Every prayer and hour of holy meditation, burnishes the image of God in our soul to a greater clearness and brilliancy. Every vagrant thought and hour of worldly meditation and gossip — dims the features of the Christlikeness in our life, hence the exhortation, "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
There is a way, an only way which leads to eternal rest in the paradise of God. Jesus is the way, and He tells us to follow in His steps. The Bible is the book given to guide us in the way. Who can persuade a man that he is not in the way which leads to the city — when he is carefully following every signboard that points that way? Just so, who can persuade a man he is not in the way that leads to eternal glory — when he is carefully keeping every commandment of the Bible? "Blessed are those who obey his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14)
Now we desire to give a few commandments teaching us what should be our daily manner of life. Christian behavior is our theme. Had ministers everywhere been zealous to teach the whole of the commandments of God, and nothing but the commandments, no doubt our present task would be unnecessary. But the time has come (we speak the truth in love) when people with itching ears have heaped unto themselves teachers who have turned away from the truth and turned to fables, or the telling of amusing stories, consequently it becomes necessary that we be zealous to do what we can to declare the whole counsel of God. It is true, and sad that it is true, that from many pulpits and pews, Christianity at this present day is reduced to almost nothing. In many religious organizations now extant, there is but little to distinguish their Christianity from the uncouth world. From the minister unto the laymen — they are jesting, talking foolishly, chewing and smoking, getting impatient and fretful, returning evil for evil, having enmity in their hearts against some fellow man, attending ball games, horse races, fox chases, etc.; engaging in politics, having membership in secret societies, loving money and laying up treasures on earth, neglecting to pay debts, etc.
Oh, what a shame! Is this not the ordinary life of many, many pretended followers of Jesus? Is this all there is of Christianity, which the Bible calls spotless and pure? We do not speak of these things to condemn you. God has not sent us into the world to condemn the world — but to preach the pure gospel, that the world might be saved.
It is astonishing what a poor conception many a professed Christian has of Bible Christianity. They seem to think that church membership, church-going and giving, and a few outward ceremonies is all that is included in Christianity. One woman whom we met entertained hopes of Heaven, because she sent her children to Sunday school. Has Christianity been changed in its nature since the days of Jesus and the apostles? Is it any less to be a Christian now, than it was then? Is not as much required of us today to be Christians — as was required of the Christians in the first centuries of this gospel era?
With love and loyalty toward God, we proceed to give a few Scriptures governing a Christian's daily life and practice.
Christianity in Home Life
Nowhere is Christianity more beautifully displayed, than in the home. It changes the home of wickedness, strife, and contention — into a peaceful and delightful Eden. It converts the home of the wicked — into a palace. It drives away discontentment, uneasiness, fear, and darkness — and showers contentment, peace, and sunlight into every heart.
Recently we saw some people speaking their testimonies in a public meeting, and telling of the blessedness of salvation. Yet in their homes, we found them irritable, impatient, and contentious, which is very unlike Heaven.
But, thank God, true Christianity brings a Heaven to the home — as well as in the public life. Christianity is Christ in the heart, and where Christ is, there is Heaven; consequently a Christian has a Heaven within him, and he has this Heaven at home as well as abroad. Praise God!
Christianity in home life — makes all love, peace, harmony, honesty, and faithfulness between husband and wife; love and kindness between brothers and sisters; love and dutifulness between parents and children.
Christianity makes a home — a Heaven. A Christian home where all is love and tenderness and devotion — and is the sweetest and most sacred spot on earth. A home where Christianity is crowned a queen in every heart — is an Eden. The heart of God is filled with delight as he looks down upon such a home. His presence dwells there and causes this home to be a beautiful oasis in this desert world of sin. Alas, that such homes are so few! Sin destroys the happiness of man and makes many a home a hotbed of contention, strife, and confusion! Jesus came to put away sin and establish "on earth peace, good will toward men."
The HUSBAND'S Duty to His Wife
The Bible tells man what should be his behavior toward his wife, and a Christian must live and do just what the Bible says, without any modifications. The reader has already agreed with me, that to have a Christian experience — is to live a Christian life.
The husband is to regard the wife as the weaker vessel, and thus give her honor, support, and protection. "Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)
The husband must look upon his wife with respect, and because of her feminine sensitiveness, have an especial care for her in spiritual things, and be her support in temporal things. Women have trials peculiar to their own gender, and a husband can scarcely be called a husband, much less a Christian, who neglects to console and comfort them, and throw as much joy and sunlight into their lives as possible.
When Hannah wept because she had no son, her husband sought to comfort her with these words: "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" (1 Samuel 1:8) May God help husbands to so dwell with their wives, that when the wife is in discouragement and sorrow — they can cheer them by recounting their love, devotion, and goodness to them — Why is your heart grieved? Am I not good and kind to you?
Husbands must love their wives as themselves. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church." (Ephesians 5:28-29) The care Jesus exercises in nourishing and cherishing the church — is illustrative of the care the husband should manifest in nourishing and cherishing his wife. "Husbands, love your wives — and do not be bitter against them." (Colossians 3:19) All hasty, sharp, cross, unkind, cutting, bitter words — are forever put away by the Christian husband, who loves his wife. Cross, hasty words — are not the fruit of a Christian spirit; and if you have not ceased from them — God has better things for you.
The WIFE'S Duty to Her Husband
Nowhere is wickedness more greatly revealed — than in a wicked woman — and nowhere is Christianity more beautifully exemplified — than in a pure, chaste woman. "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband." (Proverbs 12:4) "Her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband trusts in her. She will do him good and not evil. all the days of her life." (Proverbs 31:10-12) These words are beautiful and should encourage a wife to a life of faithfulness and devotion — that she may be a crown to her husband, and be valued far above rubies.
The wife who will honor and respect her husband, and seek to please him — will find a joy in her own heart. "Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." (Proverbs 31:28)
Wives should love their husbands (Titus 2:4) and respect them: "Let the wife see that she respect her husband." (Ephesians 5:33) The wife is to respect her husband, as the Christian reverences God. To reverence God is to be submissive to Him, and to look upon Him as our Lord and protector, adviser, etc.; to fear and obey Him, yet be in perfect freedom. Such should be the attitude of the wife toward her husband.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22) Too few women comprehend the full meaning of this text. Just as the Christian consecrates, resigns, and submits himself to the care and control of God — so the wife is to submit herself to her husband. Just as the Christian leans in loving confidence upon God — so the wife should lean in loving confidence upon her husband; and the husband's conduct toward the wife should be such as would encourage her to trust and confide in him — as God's conduct toward us encourages us to trust and lean upon Him.
When the husband and wife are kind, loving, and gentle toward each other; when she in her weakness feels her dependence upon him, and lovingly, trustingly looks unto him as her defense; and he in his strength and delight folds her in his strong arms of protection with a feeling of responsibility to nourish and cherish her — then they can testify that they have a Heaven in their home. Unless they have attained unto such a life, they have not attained to Bible Christianity, neither to domestic joy and happiness.
The PARENT'S Duty to Their Children
Most parents believe they love their children — but true Christian love of parents toward children, comprises more than many have understood. They may love them in a sense — but the parent that feels provoked toward the little one and threatens to slap it, calling it some ugly name — he does not love the child with a Christian love. How many fathers and mothers under provocations, are making severe threats to punish their children, at the same time calling them "ugly brats," "little imps," etc. Such parents are not Christians — no matter what may be their profession. They do not comprehend the true nature of Christianity, if they believe themselves to be Christians while having such harsh feelings and using such evil terms toward their children. Christianity is far more beautiful than this!
Parents are commanded to train their children up for God and Heaven: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)
They must teach them God's Word: "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." (Deuteronomy 4:9) "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 11:19) They must tell them of the judgments of God, as given in His Word: "Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation." (Joel 1:3)
Parents are to provide for their children: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family — he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever!" (I Timothy 5:8) Parents who through indolence fail to comfortably clothe and sufficiently feed and give them educational and religious advantages according to the Bible rule — such parents cannot be termed Christians. Parents cannot possibly be Christians and use their money for liquors, tobacco, or amusements — and then fail to comfortably clothe and give their children a sufficiency of wholesome food, or fail to give them proper educational and religious advantages.
Now, elders and deacons are commanded to rule their children well, and have them in subjection with all gravity (I Timothy 3:4,12). Elders are an example to the flock; consequently it follows that all Christians must rule their children well, and have them in subjection. Parents cannot have the approval of God on them — no matter how much they may pray and how active they may be in the religious life — if they allow their children to disobey them and go in the ways of sin!
We have known many parents to pray for the salvation of their children, and all the while were allowing them to attend worldly amusements, dances, etc. Such prayers go unanswered, and such conduct brings the wrath of God upon the parents. For the sake of your soul, and the souls of your children — restrain them from evil ways! Prohibit them attending worldly places of amusement — but take them with you to the house of God.
Great responsibility is laid upon the parents. They have a child whose eternal destiny depends largely upon the training it receives in youthful days. We would love to write much more on the subject — but must forbear, only adding these words of exhortation to every parent: As you value your own, and your children's eternal happiness — get your soul filled with divine love and the Holy Spirit — so that you can set a godly example before your children — and then seek help from God to train them up in the ways of righteousness!
The CHILDREN'S Duty to Their Parents
While it is the duty of the parent to teach his child — God makes it the duty of the child to heed the parent's teaching. "A wise son hears his father's instruction." (Proverbs 13:1) Children are commanded to obey their parents: "Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother." (Ephesians 6:1-2) Obedience to parents is well pleasing to God. "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." (Colossians 3:20)
Many boys and girls at the present day are found to utterly disregard their parents' commands and wishes. Such children have not yet experienced the power of regeneration — no matter how many church meetings they attend! Children, God commands you to love, honor, and obey your parents — and unless your faith causes you to do as He commands — you have no promise of Heaven.
SERVANT'S Duty to Their Masters
We shall not use the word servant in the sense of a slave — but in the sense of a hired man or woman. They are to be subject to their employers (I Peter 2:18); to obey them (Ephesians 6:5); to please them in all things (Titus 2:9); should serve them with good will (Ephesians 6:7); should honor them (I Tim. 6:1); must not defraud them (Titus 2:10); should be profitable unto them and do them good service (Philemon 1:11); should not serve them faithfully just to please man — but because it is right, in the sight of God (Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22).
MASTER'S Duty to Their Servants
About all we care to say on this subject, is to condemn the evil of oppression. It is a disposition on the part of many to secure laborers at the lowest possible price. We shall give an illustration that will enable you to see the evil practiced by many who profess to love God and their fellow men.
Mr. A__. is a laborer and a poor man. He goes to Mr. B__. seeking employment. Mr. B. has work he desires to have done — but he wants it done at as low a cost as possible. Mr. A., in order to support his family, thinks he should have one dollar per day. Mr. B. does a little calculating and finds he could pay Mr. A. one dollar a day and make quite a profit — but he knows Mr. A. is a poor man and could probably only find work at even less wages, so he offers him seventy-five cents per day. Mr. A., rather than lose the job and be idle, consents to do the work at seventy-five cents, although, justly earning one dollar. What does the Scripture say? "Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in Heaven" (Colossians 4:1) And "Do unto others — as you would have them do unto you." It is very sinful to refuse to pay one dollar per day to a laborer for his service — when we know it is worth it, and that it would be just and right.
There is a disposition on the part of many employers to secure labor at just as low a cost as possible, and a disposition on the part of the laborer to get as high price for his service as possible — consequently there is contention, quarreling, and bitter feeling between employer and employee, oftentimes resulting in strikes and serious trouble. Christianity removes all such trouble and makes everything just and equal. The Christian employee is willing to labor for that which is just and right, and the Christian employer is willing to give him that which is just and right — and thus all trouble is averted. Praise God!
Christianity in the Marketplace
There is one text which should rule the action of every man toward his fellow man. These are the words: "Do unto others — as you would have them do unto you." (Luke 6:31) We desire to mention a few sinful things we find practiced among men, which reveal the wicked and selfish condition of the heart.
Many men are prone to misrepresent property they are offering for sale. For instance, a horse may be said to be seven years old by his owner — when he knows he is ten. He may represent him to be sound in every way — when he knows he is diseased, and for this very reason he desires to sell him.
Of course, no man can do these things and be a Christian. The Bible says, "Lie not one to another." (Colossians 3:9) "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood — and speak truthfully to his neighbor." (Ephesians 4:25) The Christian not only tells the truth when it is asked him — but he also tells of all his defects though he is unquestioned. If a horse should be in some way diseased or blemished unknown to and unsuspected by the purchasing party — the Christian owner instead of seeking to hide his defect, frankly tells all about the diseased and blemished condition! This is "Doing unto others — as you would have them do unto you" — and is true Christian conduct.
Recently a gentleman was telling me of a man who, when having his wheat threshed, asked the men that were doing the measuring to heap up the half bushel, that he might save some of his threshing bill. Is it not a pity that man will allow a covetous heart to lead him into such awful sin? He brings the wrath of God upon his soul for a few pennies! It is much worse than Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew! The salvation of Jesus saves men from such conduct; consequently a Christian desires the men to give a just and right measure, for under no circumstance would he defraud his neighbor, because he would not want others to do so unto him.
"By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20); so we know that a man who will thus defraud another, is not a Christian.
Men sometimes become so greedy of gain, that in order to secure the good price of an early market, they will harvest their melons when they have reason to believe they are too green. This is not Christian conduct — but is very sinful. It is not as you would want others to do unto you — so let no man endeavor to persuade himself that he is a Christian when he has such a disposition of heart. Christianity is not merely a profession — but is an experience of the heart, and you have agreed with me that if a man has the experience — then he will live the life. Thus we are "known and read of all men." (2 Corinthians 3:2)
Sometimes men and women manifest a selfish and avaricious disposition, at the counter of their grocer. They always want the grocer to give them extra goods — just a few more ounces of meat, or a bit more sugar, or a few more inches of cloth, etc. Of course, if the grocer is a Christian — he will have patience with them and give them just weight and measure.
Some people have the shameful custom of trying to get everything they buy at the very lowest price possible — and the highest price possible for everything they have to sell. This only indexes an impure heart! It does not matter to them if the merchant can only get 8 cents per pound for chickens in the city, they will want him to pay 8.5 cents, and would gladly take it if they could get it! It does not matter to them if his cloth cost him 5 cents per yard — they want it for 5 cents! This is all shameful, and has led into sinful practices.
Some excuse themselves for haggling unfairly with their merchant, by saying, "He makes his goods too high, and we haggle with him to get him down to a reasonable profit." It is their practice of haggling unfairly, which has forced the merchant into the practice of high marking. He expects you to haggle with him — and so makes himself ready for you. This is wrong, and things ought not so to be. Farmers and mechanics have need of home merchants, and would be perfectly willing to allow their merchant a reasonable profit, and the merchant should not ask any more. Christianity sets these things right!
It has come to pass that at the present time, man has but little confidence in his fellow man. Christianity restores this lost confidence. Some of the leading men in the monopolies and "trusts" are professing to be followers of Jesus, and yet are hoarding up their thousands at the expense and cry of the poor. Such profession is an abomination to God. Christianity will break up all "trusts."
Christianity will compel a man to pay his debts if he possibly can. Refusing to pay debts is sinful — and a Christian will not do such a thing.
Christianity will not allow a man to place the inferior potatoes in the bottom of the barrel — and the very finest on the top. In some sections of the country, unscrupulous men have a custom of requiring a "bonus" on loaned money; that is, you borrow one hundred dollars of them and they want you to give a bill for one hundred and ten dollars — plus the legal interest besides. In the fear and love of God, we say a Christian will not do such a thing. It is not doing as he would want others to do unto him. It is oppressing the poor. The legal interest is all the law of the land, and the law of God allows him — but he has forced the poor man to give him ten dollars for nothing, and he ought to be ashamed of such conduct! "Not every one that says, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
Christianity will not allow a man to return evil for evil. If a Christian is smitten upon the right cheek — he will turn the other. If his neighbor claims a few feet of land over the property-line — he will let him take it. If his neighbor abuses him and mistreats him — he does him good in return. If his neighbor mistreats or kills any of his farm stock — he in return will gladly rescue this neighbor's stock from injury. If this neighbor should set fire to his buildings — he in return would put out a fire that was destroying his neighbor's buildings. If his enemy is hungry — he feeds him; if he is thirsty — he gives him drink. This is the spirit of Christianity as manifested in the life of Jesus, and as it was in Him — so it will be in all who possess it.
It is sometimes known that neighbors are at enmity with one another. Perhaps one or both of them profess to be Christians, yet they will not speak to each other if they meet upon the street or in their house of worship. Do you think that looks like Christianity? What shall they do in Heaven, should they get there? No, this is not Christian conduct, and any man that holds enmity or ill feelings, and ill wishes toward another fellow man, and thinks he is a Christian — is deceived! And I shall be thankful if this little book by the help of God's Spirit will help him out of his deception. Jesus says that we should love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us and despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44).
Remember we are not writing for the purpose of condemning — but for the purpose of helping such ones to a real, living experience of salvation, which will admit them into that glorious land of eternal rest when life's toils are over.
The Effect of Christianity on HABIT
Man in his sinful life often forms many habits that rule him. They grow upon him and gain such a power over him — as to make him their slave. Some conclude it is no sin to indulge in certain habits — as long as we do not go to an excess, and as long as we do not get into bondage. Indulgence to any extent whatever in bad habits, is wrong. Swearing is a habit, and a bad one. Some men have so acquired the habit of swearing that they swear unconsciously. This excessive swearing is not only wrong — but any indulgence in such practice is wrong. Christianity breaks the power of such habits, and sets man free. Such sin has no dominion over a Christian.
Men have formed the habit of drinking strong drink, or using morphine and opium. They become slaves to these evil habits. Now it is not only a sin to indulge in them to an excess — but any indulgence in such evil practices, is altogether unfitting in a Christian. Some people have so lost sight of true Christianity, that they think they can indulge in strong drink occasionally and yet be Christians approved of God. Such are laboring under a deception and will meet with a sad surprise in the judgment day. Christianity breaks the power of such evil habits and sets man free, so much so that they are not overcome by a single indulgence.
Many people have formed the habit of smoking and chewing tobacco and using snuff, and are so unconscious to the purity of a Christian life, that they have never understood it to be wrong. Is it not surprising that man would attempt to worship God and gain Heaven — and indulge in such unclean practices? Now we do not mean to say anything harsh or unkind, for we pity all who are in bondage to such a hard master. We want you to see the evil of it — and seek the Lord, who is able to set you free.
The using of tobacco is a habit, no one can deny this. The question is, is it a good or bad habit?! If it is a good habit we should advise all to form the habit. If it is an evil habit, we should advise all to cease using it. The health profession condemns the use of tobacco. It is injurious to the human system. We are not our own. We should glorify God in our body and our spirit, which are His. God will hold man responsible for the care of his body. No one can abuse his own body and willfully injure his health — without incurring God's displeasure. "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)
God will hold man responsible for the example he sets before the world, and before his own children. Where is the father who would give tobacco to his boy or girl? Most parents endeavor to keep it from their children, and some would even punish them were they to find them using it. How wrong it is to indulge yourself, in a thing forbidden to your children. Just to think of a Christian, a follower of Jesus, chewing and smoking and using snuff. A Christian is a light in this world; but what kind of a light is a tobacco smoker? Could he say to his children, "Follow me — as I follow Christ?" Oh, may God help you to quit its use, and live as befits the gospel of Christ. We are to "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." (Titus 2:10) A man chewing and spitting tobacco or using snuff, is not a very beautiful adornment.
As I was driving through the country a few days ago, I saw a farmer's wife emptying her husband's tobacco spittoon. She held it far away from her, and turned her head as she turned it up. How shocking that a man would impose such a task upon his wife!
Again, God will hold a man responsible for the way he spends the money he has given him. Which is more beautiful in the sight of Christ or more befitting his life and gospel — to use money and chew and smoke it up, or take the money and give it to the poor? Surely we have said enough on this subject to convince every honest reader — so we shall leave it, praying God to bless it to you and to help you to live and obey the truth and all principles of righteousness.
Christianity in DRESS
The Bible, in telling Christians how to live, makes mention even of their dress. Why is this? It is because extravagance in dress is indicative of a proud heart. Thefts, murders, evil thoughts, pride, etc., come forth from the heart and defile the man (Mark 7:21-22). Any article of dress put on merely for adornment — can only be the fruit of pride in the heart. Some may wear adornments by way of jewels, pearls, rings, necklaces, etc. — and still say that they are not proud! But the Bible says, "By their fruits you shall know them." (Matthew 7:20) These facts are plain, no matter how much man or woman may deny them.
Some have asked, "Can I be a Christian — and still continue to wear my rings and plumed hats?" We would ask, Can you be a Christian — and willfully disobey the Word of God? What does God's Word say? "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety — not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
We have heard people say that this text does not mean what it says, or is not meant for us now. What makes you say that? It is because you do not want to live up to it. If I should tell my daughter not to wear gold, and she continued to wear it, and would tell others that I did not mean what I said — I would consider it an act of very great disrespect.
Jesus says, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3) Where is the professed Christian that does not believe that Jesus meant what He said in this text, or that He did not mean it for them? If He did not mean what He said in the former text, or meant it for some other people — how can we know He meant what He said in the last text, or meant it for us? We all believe this text to mean what it says, and that it is meant for us. Why do we? Because we would love to have it that way. And why do some disbelieve the former text? Because they do not want to have it that way. Oh, the inconsistency of man!
The braiding of the hair, or the wearing of gold and pearls does not befit a woman who professes reverence for God. Such things give them a worldly appearance. It is really painful to the Christian heart — to see men and women laboring and planning and striving to keep up with the world's fashions. Someone has said, "We had just as well be out of the world — as to be out of style." That is just what Christianity will do for you. It separates you from the world and its fashions and styles. Many a young man is driven to dishonesty merely to keep up with the world in its pride. His clothier perhaps goes unpaid, while he walks the aisle of some fine meeting house with the air of a millionaire.
Many a husband is working hard to support his wife and children, while the wife is spending his hard-earned money for fashionable and costly clothing for herself and children. The new spring hats and bonnets must be purchased, and that in the latest style — even if debts go unpaid. Many a mother is working late at night, and goes to her bed with an aching heart and head — because of her desire to clothe her children after the world's styles — so they may attend Sunday school, etc. Oh, where is the plain and humble Christianity of primitive days! Let us take a look at the life of the lowly Nazarene and His devoted followers. Here we behold the humble and self-sacrificing Christian virtues.
While it is wrong and contrary to the Scriptures to spend money for gold and pearls and costly apparel — it is equally as wrong to make an unnecessary expenditure of money in the erection and furnishing of church buildings. When we see homes with their fancy carvings and domes and decorations — we conclude that the owner has a vain heart. And when we see a church meeting house with its towering steeple and stained windows — our heart is grieved.
In the name of Jesus, we affirm that it is wrong and contrary to the spirit of Christianity, to make such an unnecessary expenditure of money in the building of a house of worship! We have seen many a fancy meeting house — which costs enough to build three plain meeting houses, which would seat as many people, and fully as durable. The unnecessary expenditure of money in the building of these houses is often double the amount required to build a good comfortable plain building. Frequently, meeting houses are remodeled when the old one was plenty good enough — but not fine enough. Why those stained-glass windows with their drawings? Are they the result of love to God — or are they the result of pride?
At this present writing, there are thousands of human beings starving, not in foreign and heathen lands only — but in our own beloved land, many feel the pangs of hunger. With this suffering of human beings around us, we say in the fear of God, that no man nor society can expend money for costly stained-glass windows, and rich fancy carvings and ornamentation — without incurring the displeasure of the Almighty!
Dear reader, I appeal to your commonsense and reason (if you do not know anything about the Bible): Which is more congenial to the spirit of right and of Christianity, and more commendable to God — to use money in buying feathered and flowered hats, laces, ribbons, necklaces, beads, jewels, gold rings, chains, etc. — or the giving of this money to some poor man or woman who is struggling hard to keep the wolf from the door? May God help us to understand his mind and heart!
Christianity Separates from the WORLD
Christians are not of this world. Jesus, in speaking of His followers, says, "If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world — but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you." (John 15:19) The apostle John says: "Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world — the love of the Father is not in him." (John 2:15) The apostle James says: "You adulterers and adulteresses, don't you know that friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world — is the enemy of God!" (James 4:4) The apostle Peter says, "For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry!" (1 Peter 4:3) God saves his people from the sins of the world!
The apostle Paul says: "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath!" (Ephesians 2:3) When he was in sin, he walked as the world walked — but when he became a Christian he was saved, or separated, from such a life. The spirit of Christianity, and the spirit of the world — are directly opposite in their nature. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Surely every reader is convinced that Bible Christianity saves men and women from a worldly life!
Now how is the world going? We see them striving, planning to lay up treasures here upon earth. But Christian conduct is to lay up treasures in Heaven. We see the world dressing in feathers, flowers, laces, ribbons, beads, pearls, jewels, gold, and costly array. Such is not the Christian's dress. They are commanded to dress in modest apparel with humility, as people who profess godliness. We see the world chewing and smoking tobacco and using alcohol, etc. Such is not Christian conduct, neither is it befitting to the gospel of Christ. We as Christians, must live clean, pure and holy lives.
We see the world returning evil for evil; when wronged they seek revenge. Christians do not act that way; they love their enemies. They are not overcome with evil — but overcome evil with good. We see the world engaging in foolish and slangy talk, the telling of stories, and saying foolish and amusing things. Such is not a godly, nor Christian conversation. Christians are to be sober minded, to have a sound speech; every word must be seasoned with grace, that it may minister grace to the hearers.
We see the world going to amusements, fairs, card parties, ball games, horse-races, theaters, etc. Christians do not love the world nor its revelry. There is too much for a lover of the Lord to do in this sinful world — to spend time in such worldly amusements! Besides he has no desire for such things. His affections are set on things above. What do you think of a professed Christian sitting along side of a worldly man watching the horse-races? When the race is becoming very close — they both get nervous, and both cheer with equal enthusiasm. What kind of a light is this professed Christian? What is there here, noble or beautiful for Christianity? While the professed Christian and his unprofessed companion are cheering over the horse-race — the true Christian is visiting the sick, or encouraging the discouraged, or helping the needy, or about his honest toil.
The reader can at once see which is more Christlike. I pray God to make every professed Christian who thus enjoys the world — to blush with shame as he reads this. Sometimes we see a company of young men and young women walking down the street, perhaps the greatest number of them belong to church — but along with their unprofessing companions, they are jesting and laughing, and giddy and frivolous, and fashionably dressed — so you cannot tell the one from the other. Ah, tell me where is the separation between the Christian and the world — if this is Christianity.
Alas! how sad that the standard of Christianity has been so lowered, that in many instances you are unable to distinguish it from the world! Thank God! true Christianity retains her exalted seat far above this world. She reigns a queen of light and peace, in her robes of spotless white.
"Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ!" Philippians 1:27