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THE DEVIL A THEOLOGIAN
“ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” -1 Timothy iv. 1.
THEOLOGY is defined as “ the science which treats of God, His existence, character, government, and doctrines,” or the science of religion—a system of truth derived from the Scriptures. The caption of this article- The Devil a Theologian-jars our spiritual nerve centres. There are three things necessary to produce a theologian: experience, information, ability. From every possible view-point the Devil is preëminently qualified to formulate a system of doctrinal statements having all the earmarks of genuineness and credentials of authenticity.
In our discussion of the Devil's theology we shall not, at the present, touch upon the theories and vile imaginations of demon-possessed men, but the finer phases of truth, beautifully presented by his apostles with a show of orthodox reasonableness. By the term Devil's theology-doctrines—we do not mean his beliefs—get the distinction—but what he wants us to believe. He is every whit orthodox; he believes the Old Book; he does not indorse the new theology, or the so-called higher learning, only as it may be turned to his advantage. The Word of God is a mighty reality to him; he has met its blazing truths, and has been burned by its power. He has millions of skeptics and doubters blindly following his delusions, but he is a believer in the “old school”; he“ believes and trembles."
We call attention to the term “ doctrines "—therefore religious beliefs : reasonable, plausible, satisfying beliefs. What are they? First: Ritualism is Religion; when we have gone through a certain proscribed programme—whether it be a chant, reading prayers, or burning a dim light—there you are. How do we know we are religious ? We have gone the rounds, said the required number of Ave Maries, counted the rosary, etc., etc., therefore the work is done. It sounds harsh to place these beautiful ceremonies, which have doubtless comforted so many hearts, in the enemy's catalogue; but the Pharisees were rigid ritualists, yet Christ denounced them as miserable hypocrites—" whited sepulchres." Anything he can get us to adopt, having a semblance of reality, yet does not save—does not deal directly with the sin question, he shouts over our delusion. He appropriates Ritualism for Religion and it becomes his doctrine.
A second doctrine : Good Resolution for Regeneration. There has never been as much strenuous evangelism, of a certain quality, as we are having to-day. Great cities unite in stupendous revival effort; no expense is spared; the leading masters of assemblies are called as workers. The zeal and motives of it all are commendable ; but the bane of such evangelism is this : the work stops at the resolution period. Men are brought under conviction, and the Devil at once proposes his compromise. Not until the “big meeting" closes do the convicted multitudes discover the deception. Herein is the explanation of the lethargy, depression, and utter indifference which so often obtain after a “sweeping revival." Faith is then shaken, and sometimes permanently, in the truth of a conscious, know-so salvation. If the Prodigal Son had stopped after pass,ing a good resolution with himself he would have died at the swine pen without the knowledge of the father's love, the kiss, the robe, the ring, and the fatted calf. A sinner must not only quit his meanness but straighten out his meanness. Regeneration is not by the will of the flesh, the will of man, not of blood; but it is to be born of God-born from above—a new creature. Doctrines floating under the banner of evangelism which do not get believers into the kingdom must be listed with the enemy.
A third doctrine: Sentiment is Salvation. We are a sentimental people; esthetic and humanitarian developments of recent years have done much to soften our barbarian instincts. If sentiment were salvation, this land would be redeemed. Many think we are rapidly becoming a saved nation; those who enjoy such reflections should stand at the entrance of any theatre on Sunday, or a pleasure garden, or a ball park; then hurry around to the entrance of the finest, best equipped church in the city for comparison. Sentiment is educated emotion. Rome used to shout over the bloody scenes in the amphitheatre ; now we can weep over the unfortunate girl who goes down in spectacular glory behind the footlights. Sentiment makes us rejoice with those who do rejoice, and weep with those who weep; it moves us to deeds of charity. Satan then has no difficulty in persuading us that we are religious—spiritually redeemed; if we weep over our loved ones, our emotions are very religious. The most grief we ever witnessed at a funeral was in the home of a saloon-keeper; the dead wife and mother, a depraved opium and morphine eater; the home was utterly irreligious, but the grief was hysterical, explosive. The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart-over sins committed, producing a godly sorrow, and not a sentiment.
Again, the Devil takes great delight in telling the unsaved and unchurched masses that religion is all selfishness; the poor are made to feel that the Church is the rich man's institution. Notwithstanding the efforts of God's people to reach and help the lost they are represented as mean and selfish, pretending a pious fraud, with no bread for the hungry and no helping hand for the needy. We build stately temples of worship to gratify our pride and vanity with money earned by the sweat and toil of the poor man; money that ought to be given to the poor. Judas protested against breaking the alabaster box. The church is a place for dress parade; the humble and meanly clad are not wanted. All such is malicious slander against God, His Church and His people; but as stereotyped as this may sound, it is being used effectually everywhere. If a church
preaches salvation from sin, it is the poor man's best friend; but reference to the church and the preacher is often hissed in gatherings of toiling men. Unless there shall come to this land the establishment of the righteousness of Christ, as taught in His Gospel, we shall see another reign of terror; the fires of restlessness, hate, and discontent are smouldering in every shop, factory, and mine. “ The Golden Age will never come until it is brought in by the Golden Rule of Christ.” The Devil is busy keeping these facts! from becoming known. The doctrine stated: we are in it to serve a selfish end ; take away our hope of advantages, and our faith becomes religious junk.