A Sermon Delivered by ELEAZAR BALES, 8-24-1884, At An Appointed Meeting at the Westfield, Indiana Wesleyan Church.
Previously Unpublished Material Transcribed from Archival Manuscripts by Tom Roberts, Made available to the editor by Edsel Burdge.

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 3: The 19th Century

In the first place I feel like making a few remarks on the subject of our meeting to day, In relation to the great object in view I may say it has been a great matter for me to ask the people to meet me in the capacity of a meeting for divine worship, especially so at this time in consequence of my advanced age as you see no doubt evident marks on me of the decline of life. The great object I have had in taking this privilege once more if the Lord should be pleased through a poor instrument as I feel my self to be, to offer some spiritual blessing upon you. Now we know it is so that we are here, and God has told us how we come here and what we come for. In our present condition we do not only have to work with our hands for the sustenance of this tabernacle of wastage but have at the same time to prepare for a future world of happiness and life that has no end. A life time here is short, especially so with many who are taken away in the younger walks of life, called away to another world. It is not only confined to old people to work out their souls salvation, but equally so for the young people. We are not here living in these bodies without a spirit, but we are told through the medium of inspiration that when we drop the dying flesh or in other words when these bodies return to dust from whence they were taken that the spirit returns unto God who gave it. As Christians we believe this. While the spirit and body are united together we have to make preparation for this future state of existence, and it is a great work. Every Christian man and woman have found it to be so, it is nothing short of denying ourselves of sinful pleasures. Our Savior tells us himself "if any man will come after him let him first deny himself, take up his daily cross and follow him". As believers how is it with us? We believe this for God has told us and it is from the lips of Truth. What have we to deny? and what is the cross we have to take up? Christ we know bore his own cross at least a part of the way to the place where he was fastened to it and on which he died, sacrificing his life in order to place us in a condition to work out our salvation preparing for a future life. We understand this, it is made clear and plain. It is not only one day but it is done daily and every Christian traveler knows from experience that it is so. There is not time to live here in idleness. We have to provide support for these bodies and a preparation for this future life, a work that must go on at the same time. Then he tells us he is no respecter of persons but all in every nation that fear him and work the works of righteousness are accepted of him. Here is a chance for us all, without it we cannot expect an inheritance with the saints of light. The work in the first as laid out by the Savior is "denying ourselves" and taking [up] our daily cross and following Him. It is to deny ourselves of the indulgence in unlawful things and unrighteousness. But what is the cross we have to bear? It was a wooden one that Christ bore and died on, but the cross as I understand we have to bear is the carnal will, the natural propensity to evil that men and women are to take and that daily. Now in relation to our present condition how comes it so? We are so prone to sin and vanity and so much unlawful [proceedings] as we witness and indulge in which is being carried on amongst men. God has given us a full history of this; In the history of the creation of the world He tells us that every thing was made by his hand. There is no object made its self out of nothing. Then there must have been a first [cause]. God the creator of the humans and the earth by his power and wisdom has brought all things into existence. He tells us after he had completed the work the wonderful world we behold was made and all the train of inhabitants of which the world is peopled, he tells us it was good. We think so indeed. He further tells us in regard to our present condition, how it happened, and all about it, just how sin was introduced into the world. He tells us our parents were made good, made after Gods own image, which must have been pure and holy. Thus were they were made, just made, and just they were when they come from the hands of the Maker, holy and pure. Only we know it was not so afterwards; they fell from their pure state, and God tells us just how this happened. The woman was deceived by the enemy. She first partook of the tree that they were forbidden to touch, for God had told them that in the day in which thou eatest there of thou shalt surely die. The woman did eat of this forbidden tree and then gave to her husband and he did eat and both fell in the transgression and lost the divine image in which God had made them and became poor objects of pity. Nothing could be done by them by which they could possibly be reinstated with their Maker They were cast out of the garden in which they were to work and train and dress with the privilege to partake of the fruit there of, cast out, not worthy to remain, because they became sinners. It seems the very ground was cursed for it brought forth only thorns and thistles. God told them that "in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread until thou return unto the ground for out of it wast thou taken for dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return." I have no doubt their labor was more increased in consequence of sin. They were totally lost, and that which they had lost they could not confer upon their children so we are in a helpless condition, nothing can we do to redeem ourselves from this fallen state. But God has provided a means where by we may be restored by the sacrifice of the Seed that should bruise the serpents head, which we do understand, I trust to be Christ the redeemed. This same Christ Jesus is within man except we be reprobates. I may not understand the true meaning, or extent, or significance of "reprobate", but I understand it is a soul who has sinned out the day of grace mercy. There is a possibility of sinning out the day of Gods visitation and be given over to a reprobate mind. There is a seed of evil and a seed of the blessed kingdom of the Son of God striving with us and against the seed of evil, and it is with us to say who shall have the victory. Will we give the victory to the enemy of our souls peace or will we serve that Seed the Lord Jesus Christ for the victory of eternal life. God has told us that the end of the wicked was everlasting punishment. When the Son of Man shall come and all the holy angels with him. When he shall sit on the throne of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations, he shall then separate between the just and the unjust, the righteous shall go away into everlasting life, but the unjust unto a place on the left hand with the sentence, "depart from me into everlasting fire", which is not for man, but for the Devil and his angels." Man was designed for happiness but the Devil is doomed to eternal ruin and death, and all those servants preferring his service, and worshiping him in preference to the Lord who made him partake of the Devils punishment. Will this do for doctrine? I so understand it myself. There is no redemption for a man or woman who lives and indulges in sin and dies without repentance; their fate is sealed. There is no repentance in the grave. I think I have not said any thing, but what we all know. We do not expect to preach any new doctrine. Christ has pointed the way to Heaven which is unchangeable and we need not expect to go there when not living up to His requiring, because we are sinners then and Sinners have no right to Heaven. God is looking down on this people to see if we do understand and fear him and the result is as said by good old David, "They are all gone back, become filthy, not one good no not one," indulging in unlawfulness and sin pleasing things of the world. All gone back from the guarded path of self denial. I would inquire at this time of two important queries given by our Savior. (1st) "What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and loose his own soul? (2nd) What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Shut out of Heaven throughout all eternity. What would any of us gain in exchange for our souls? We are beings not mortal but immortal and will soon return to dust as it was, but the spirit will return to God from whence it came. I hardly know how to express myself, I do feel so much concern for the good of souls. I know that my poor old frame must soon go down, at the same time my concern and desire is the same it ever was for the souls of men. I am a full established believer in the great saving doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our bounden duty to follow him and I do not expect to get to him unless I follow him in example and precept. We have him as a holy example as well as precept. I have found from experience that there is a danger of becoming so much at ease that we are idlers, forgetting to think of God who made us and who has followed us from day to day and to think of his providence and care, which is calculated to humble the mind of man helpless as we are. See how richly these tabernacles are clothed and our tables are furnished with the luxuries of the land. From whence does it come? It is from the divine source and fountain of divine light and life. God may permit us to plant our fields and cultivate them but we have to wait for the blessing which is from Him. Now for the sake of a home in heaven are we willing to bear all this as good soldiers of Jesus Christ when he has done so much for us, even sacrificing his life and feeding these bodies so long as we are here. Are we not prepared to say "thy will be done." David said in regard to the sinfulness of man, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God". I suppose there are none so foolish now to make such an expression. He made all things, those distant orbs shining marvelously in the heavens are the work of His Almighty hand. What are we, poor objects of pity? It seems to me there is no sacrifice that we ought to consider too great for a home with Jesus in heaven and we should prepare for the journey, we know that a man or woman who starts out on a journey they have to prepare for it and count up the cost before starting. It is just so on our spiritual journey to heaven. Have you dear brothers and beloved sisters counted up this cost. I want to be with you in counting up this cost and we will find this sacrifice to which I have alluded to. The natural will and inclination of man is prone to sin and requires great watchfulness on our part to keep from being led astray by the common enemy. Should I not see you any more, which is uncertain, considering my advanced age, if this be our last meeting here, do not let it be the last in the future. I mean in heaven. I do want to meet my fellow Christians there where we have the promise to part no more. David says in one place, but the expression seems to heave gone from me at this time, but the substance is the necessity of making this preparation while here, not putting the work off until we are on a death bed. We shall find enough pain and sickness then to bear without the companion of a guilty conscience.

(Note: Here the speaker seems to have become exhausted in his earnest efforts and took his seat for a few moments, when he resumed his discourse as follows,)

I hope my friends will bear with me for the good of souls. I have lived far beyond what is the average age of man and experienced a good deal and it seems to me I have seen the danger resulting from disobedience. We are told, perhaps, by one of the apostles "That if we offend in one point we are guilty of the whole, because we have become transgressors for disobeying one article of the law. God has promised to help us, and I believe in the fulfillment of his promises. There are some here whom I think are truly good Christians, and I love them dearly. there is a great deal said in words at the present time calling upon God, crying Lord, Lord, calling on Him for mercy and salvation, singing hymns and other exercises: If they are done not in the right they are still vain. I believe you will [coincide] with me, it must enter in the heart. It is not only merely belief in the existence of a God but his righteous law should be carried out and fulfilled or else it is vain at least. Considering mans nature it is so foul, some think it is impossible to abstain from sin. The apostle says "ye are sanctified, justified, washed and remain with God". Washed signifying cleansing, Sanctifying pure, remaining for the justification. Just as far as we are washed and sanctified, just that far we are justified in the sight of God and no farther.

What has been the concern of my mind for a little time is that we might not deceive ourselves with a part of the good work of the Christian. I love the Christian and also the sinner but not his sins. It is my duty to love all men and I do love them. I desire earnestly that we may not conclude that the way is made too narrow for the Christian to walk in. It is represented to be straight and narrow, but every Christian will find there is room enough, and God will help every soul to walk in it and not vary from it if he keep an eye single to his Guide and Leader. The victory will be ours, for God has promised it to us and will not fail to give it, I have no fear if I do my part. It is a terrible thing to turn back and die without acceptance into heaven. Then what will we do? Let us do all to the glory of God, keeping a single eye to his holy teaching and all will be well at last. We shall be favored to join the host of glory where there will be no more going out forever.

A few more days will bring it about for some of us here. Dear young people you have the same need, many of your age are taken away from the ever changing scenes of this world, and sometimes with little or no warning. Let us then deny ourselves and take up this daily cross and follow the Lamb to the glorious realms of eternal rest.

(Note: After a short interval of silence in which there seemed to pervade a deep solemnity over the meeting, he resumed his remarks thus:)

The time has about come for us to separate. I feel that it may be the last time I shall meet with you here, and under this feeling I feel like giving my right hand of fellowship. Fare well

(Whereupon quite a number went forward, took him cordially by the hand and bid him an affectionate farewell.)