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THE DEVIL A THEOLOGIAN (Continued)
ONE of the Devil's tactics is to make much ado about nothing. It is astonishing how sane people can be deluded over childish non-essentials. Think of the doctrine of Abstinence; at certain seasons be holy with a vengeance. It is a mortal sin to let down during certain days and moons; no meats, no riotous gormandizing, no wine, no dancing, no theatre going, when the season is holy. But are we not so commanded concerning the Sabbath day? The Sabbath day must be kept holy, but if our moral standard and relationship fall below during the week what we are supposed to make them on Sabbath, our piety is a farce.
An incident will illustrate. It was a steamboat excursion ; drinking and dancing were freely indulged in by the hilarious passengers. A parson was among them; he danced not, neither did he look upon the wine that was red. He looked sad-it was Lent. One week later we beheld this same parson in full evening dress gracefully waltzing with one of the lambs of his flock. Amazing spectacle! Robes of holiness to-day, with fastings and prayers; to-morrow, broadcloth, perfume, patent leathers, and arms encircling a maiden in the dizzy whirl of the dance. Paul saw such times coming and warned against them.
There are many more, but we shall mention only one more: the gigantic system of saints' worship. What does this mean? Anything that diverts and absorbs the attention away from things fundamental is surely of evil origin. His fall began when he conceived hatred and jealousy of Jesus; now if he can get people to pay a part or all of their homage to Mary, or any one of the many “saints,” just so the Son of God is robbed of His glory and neglected, his devilish malice is somewhat gratified. There is a long list of dead worthies who are reverenced and supplicated unto daily; but high over all is the
Virgin Mother of God.” After the birth of the Saviour Mary was the wife of Joseph, and bore children as
a natural mother-she was not a virgin. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me;" “ Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images—thou shalt not bow down to them.” “ Doctrines of Devils."
Spiritual minded students of the Bible and human conduct are forced to the conclusion that the Devil is not only a wise theologian, but he is a great preacher; and, as we have learned, he has a mighty gospel which he preaches with effectiveness and power. He has clearly defined doctrines which he promulgates at such times and places as will best meet the desired end. But with cunning craftiness he preaches his dogmas and tenets everywhere: housetops, society parlours, centres of business, legislatures, court rooms, barrooms, and bawdy houses, as well as in pulpits. This sounds like a strange mixture : " the sacred desk" associated with such an array of evil-ad absurdum. If the pulpit is immune, why Paul's exhortation? Doctrines presuppose a preacher, and also an effort to gain an audience whenever and wherever possible.
Yes, the Devil preaches, and if doors are barred he forces an entrance: home and foreign missions, slums, emigrants, aristocrats and sports. He has access to scores of avenues where the Gospel of Christ never enters; but under the cover of human interests he takes the field with our Lord Jesus and His ministers, offering a more beautiful, excellent, easier and successful way. As God's method of saving the world is by the foolishness of preaching, what better agency of opposition could be launched than preaching ? Nothing. Far stronger is the expulsive than the opposing power. The most dangerous poison in the world is the kind that hides its death in a cup of sweetness; a child eats a sugar-coated pill and never
Hell is peopled by the multitudes who have drunk at the Devil's fountain of soothing, satisfying poison. He keeps his deluded patrons from the fountain of cleansing by an easier way to delectable fountains, the waters of which paralyze with the chill of death.
We note another very remarkable fact concerning the Devil's doctrines and his style of preaching. Christ's ministers often fail because of a lack of adaptability; “ he overshot his crowd” is the comment often heard. The genius of this subject does not make this mistake; he is a past-master at adapt
ability ; to those who have a feeble, fluttering conscience for spiritual things he has the sincere milk of the word that soothes and sustains ; but for his robust followers, whom he has bound in chains stronger than those which bound Prometheus, he gives the meat of diabolism, prepared and seasoned by a skill of six thousand years' practice.
Place your ear at the keyhole where his children are conducting a “revival meeting”-high carnival of sin—and hear the ideas of God, salvation, preachers, the Church, and the hereafter. This is the strong gospel referred to; the gospel that fires the masses with hate and prejudice against the only means of human redemption. Yes, he preaches, preaches, preaches, and from every nook and corner ; ten messengers to one preaching the Christ; his preachers support themselves, and touch the highways and byways; his lines are gone out into all the earth, circumscribing sea and land. The Devil gets an intelligent hearing. He has a long catalogue of doctrines, but he does not believe a single one of them. We should be wise enough to eliminate them from our creed also.
THE DEVIL'S RIGHTEOUSNESS “ Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain.”— Jude 11.
“For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselve unto the righteousness of God.”—Romans x. 3.
We are becoming, according to the canons of this world, a righteous nation; the standard of civic and commercial righteousness is elevated as never before. Sleuth-hounds are scenting every indication of misrule and running to earth evil-doers, high and low. Our cities are keeping tab rigidly on sewerage, cesspools, and outhouses; a persistent war is being waged or flies, mosquitoes, and germs of all kinds. Private citizens are everywhere organizing to coöperate with officials for public welfare. Corporation and municipal rings must answer at the bar of an outraged public conscience.
Righteousness is in the air; it resounds from the pulpit, platform and press. Chautauqua specialists who have discovered some deflection in the political and social woof and warp declare, amid salutes of fluttering handkerchiefs, the righteousness of twentieth century standards. Preaching on the cardinal doctrines of the Bible has been displaced by rhetorical messages on altruism: light, ethics, mercy, cleanness, goodness. 6. The fatherhood of God and the brother