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True holiness is not popular. Let one confine himself to that branch of holiness which consists in doing good to the bodies of men, and he will meet with general acceptance. After he is dead, all will unite to honor his name.

But let one take up another branch of holiness, and seek to do good to the souls of men, by conscientiously declaring to them the whole counsel of God, and he will not be popular. As a rule, he will be persecuted. Christ was persecuted; likewise Paul, so too Luther, John Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards also. Any man, at the present day, however gentle and prudent he may be, who insists that his hearers, to be saved, must forsake pride, and freemasonry, and all popular sins, and dress plain, and lead a self-denying life, will meet with opposition and persecution. The cross has not lost its reproach. The carnal mind has not become friendly to God. Righteousness has not come into fellowship with unrighteousness. Light does not enjoy communion with darkness, even in this advanced age. John A. Wood says in the Christian Standard: “The conviction is pressed upon us, unwelcome as it may be, that there is opposition in the Church to Christian holiness, and that it to some extent, is on the increase. We had rather believe otherwise; but clear light and facts manifest on the subject are painfully convincing. We cannot hold our peace and see our Saviour dishonored by the guilt and shame of many of His professed friends. To be faithful to God and point out the faults of the Church is no evidence of being her enemy. ‘He who tells me my faults is my friend.’

“It is easily seen that in the Church of today there is apathy, and more or less hostility, to holiness of heart and life. We know, and rejoice, there are many exceptions, but these are far from being general. Where there is no open hostility to the subject, there is a deep and all-pervading spiritual apathy and indifference regarding it.

“We ask: Why is this? What are the causes of this state of things? That Satan and wicked men should hate and oppose holiness is to be expected; but that men and women in the church of God, with baptismal, sacramental, and church vows upon them, should be indifferent to it, or oppose it, is surprising indeed. But there are causes for it, and one is the sad fact that there are many backsliders in the Church, and doubtless the same is true in the ministry.

“The main cause, as we view it, is the low standard of piety in the church generally. The degree of piety in many cases requisite for admission to the Church, and the amount requisite to sustain a fair standing in it, is fearfully small. It does not compare at all favorably with the piety of the New Testament, as drawn from its precepts or examples. Hence, when the Scripture doctrine of holiness is presented, it frequently meets with decided opposition.

“How much does the common standard in our churches include of self-denial, of cross-bearing, of deadness to the world, and of agonizing prayer? How much of daily labor for the salvation of souls? How much does it demand in the way of entire consecration of all we have, all we can do, and how much of our whole being to the cause and service of God?

“New Testament piety demands all these; but it would seem that they have largely dropped out of the elements of Christian character, and are not requisite now for Christian life. Though these items continue in our discipline and church manuals; their spirit and meaning have gone, and left only the hollow-sounding names.

“When holiness, including all these and other essential items, is presented with clearness and power, it stirs up opposition. An Eastern doctor of divinity said not long since: ‘I find something in me that kicks against this sanctification.’ Happy would it be for the Church of God if he were an exception.

“This low grade of piety is not Bible piety. The consecration so prevalent these days is not Bible consecration. The Bible gives no countenance to the idea that a partial consecration of one’s self to God can be accepted. The Scripture delineation of real godliness gives no countenance to the easy, slipshod piety so prevalent. It gives, no description of a second-rate piety which the Lord will accept as better than none. ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert either cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.’

“In all periods of the Church, in modern times, there have been those who have tried to elevate the standard of piety to where the New Testament puts it, and these have always met a decided, and sometimes a bitter, opposition from the Church. Luther, Wesley, Edwards and Finney are prominent examples of this. The special advocates of holiness in this country—east and west, north and south—need no proof that there is opposition to this subject among professing Christians. The little, petty innuendoes, sneers, misrepresentations, and ostracism, to which they are subject, are all the proof that is necessary.

“Let any man have his heart filled with Gospel light, love, and power, and then, realizing the moral deficiency in the Church, labor directly to bring it up to a higher standard of piety, he will soon find a decided lack of sympathy, and a tide of opposition in the Church; and while he may labor wisely and carry the conviction of the Church with him, he will find all the depravity in the Church against him. Human depravity is always opposed to holiness.”

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