There are things which we know and feel but which do not result from our
own study. We have a consciousness that there is some supreme power over
us, and we are conscious of a certain responsibility to, and a dependence
upon, this higher power. Reading the Bible and reasoning may give us
clearer ideas of this power and our relations to it, but we have the
consciousness of its existence without being taught.
This is never more clearly seen than in the case of the man who denies the
existence of a personal God. As surely as he rejects the God of the Bible,
he sets up something else in His place, and though he may call it by some
other name than God, he will, nevertheless, attribute to it the powers and
actions that belong to God. These intuitions by which we know without
being conscious of how we know are given us by God for our protection and
safety, and we ought to give careful heed to their testimony.
Sometimes our reason sees no harm in a thing, but we do not feel just
right about it. A doctrine may look ever so plausible and be ever so
interesting; but if we feel an inward uneasiness after consideration of
it, there is a reason why we should be careful. Our intuition will often
detect something wrong when our reason has not yet done so. These
intuitions are not to be disregarded. They are God’s means of warning us
against unseen dangers.
Sometimes when we come in contact with people, we see nothing outwardly
wrong, but we have an inward feeling that all is not well. We feel that
there is something wrong somewhere, even though we may be at a loss to
know what it is. Sometimes we come in contact with a company of people and
at once feel a strange something that we can not analyze; but we can not
always trust our feelings. There are many things that influence us, and it
is very easy to misinterpret them. Nor should we conclude that there is
something very badly wrong with anyone merely because we have peculiar
feelings when in his presence. There may be something wrong, however, and
it behooves us to be on our guard. Sometimes it happens that such feelings
arise when we are in the presence of people who are deeply tried, or
discouraged, or suffering under the assaults of Satan.
There are many evil spirits at work in these days among professors of
religion, and especially is this true among the various holiness factions.
Have you ever gone into a meeting and felt that some way you did not “fit”
there? The worshipers may have seemed joyful and may have said many good
things, but all the while you felt an inward uneasiness. There was some
reason for this, and whether the reason was spiritual or merely human, it
was wise to exercise carefulness. It is usually best to refrain from
trying to make yourself blend with anything when you have that internal
sense of protest against it.
Fellowship is natural and spontaneous. It can not be forced. If you are
straight and true and your heart is open and unprejudiced, you will
usually have fellowship with whatever is of God. Most sectarian holiness
people are so broad that they can take in almost anything and call it
good. Beware of this spirit. God’s Spirit accepts only the good. If you
have ease and freedom with true, established, spiritual people of God, and
are free in meetings where the whole truth is preached and the Spirit of
God works freely, and then when you come in contact with other professors
you fail to have that freedom, do not accuse yourself nor try to force
yourself to have fellowship with them.
A preacher once came into a certain community and began to preach. He was
quite enthusiastic; he praised the Lord and shouted. He preached much
truth and professed to be out clean for God. It was afterwards discovered
that he was very crooked and wholly unworthy of confidence. I asked a
number of the congregation later how it came that they received him. Their
answer was that, as he came recommended by some good brethren and preached
so much truth, when they did not feel right about him they came to the
conclusion that they must be wrong and he right. So they accused
themselves and went on through the meeting suffering under a heavy burden.
They knew they had no such feelings when other ministers came into their
midst, nor did they feel that way in their own ordinary meetings. But in
spite of this, they took the wrong course, and the result was that the
congregation received much harm both spiritually and financially. The same
thing happened with this preacher in other places, till at length he came
to a place where some refused to ignore their feelings or to accuse
themselves of being in the wrong. Instead, they sent at once for two
well-established ministers, and as soon as they came into the community,
the crooked preacher fled and was seen no more in those parts.
Sometimes some one will come around making a high profession, and while we
can see nothing wrong, we do not feel free with him, or, in other words,
we have a sense of uneasiness. We feel at home with other saints, but not
so with this person. Beware. If you are in fellowship with those whom you
know to be true saints, look out for those with whom you do not have
inward harmony. Do not blame yourself nor disregard the warning. Isolated
Christians naturally become hungry for spiritual association. Sometimes
they go to meetings where, while they find some good things, they also see
other things and feel things that grate upon their spiritual sense of
propriety. In such cases one should be guarded and should not try to “fit”
with these things. To blend with them you must become like them; and if
you become like them when they are not right, you will find that when you
come into an assembly where the truth and Spirit have freedom, you will
not blend there. If you ignore those inner warnings and accept something
contrary to them, you will soon find yourself out of harmony with God’s
church and without the liberty you used to have among the children of God.
Do not follow your intuitions blindly, but do not go contrary to them. Let
your reason find out the way of action before you act, so that you may act
wisely. But when that inward sense says to us, “Stop, look, listen,” we
shall do well to heed its warning.