A Sermon Delivered by HULDA REES, August 25th, 1890, Location Unknown.
Rees, Byron J., ed. Hulda, The Pentecostal Prophetess. Philadelphia: Christian Standard Co., 1898, pages 51-57.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part Three: The 19th Century.
This text, thought it contains but three words, is a most important one. The
context tells us that it is God our Saviour who saves us, and that He does it
through His mercy by "the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy
Ghost." The word salvation means "preservation from destruction or calamity."
In the text the salvation of the soul is referred to, and this is the one important
Now, to understand the full import of the text, we must refer you to a verse farther back in the chapter; we refer to the third verse of the third chapter. You remember, perhaps, that when we were children our parents had photographs taken of us. When we look at them now we say: "Did I ever look like that? Did I ever dress like that?" And we are almost ashamed of them. This third verse will serve us as an old picture of ourselves. It will help us determine our present condition in grace; it will help us to see if, though we claim to be saved, there really is a contrast between the old life and the new. Are we so dead that we can bear the thrusts of the sword of the Spirit and be able to maintain our position because it is in God?
Are we saved from "foolishness?" Of course we know that we were all fools before we came to God. The first wise choice of our lives was when we chose God. But are we saved from foolishness now? Are we delivered from silliness, "foolish talking" and "jesting?" The relating of, an idle, foolish story will destroy all the effect of your testimony. Are we saved from foolish dress and manners? Do these things take time which we need for prayer and Bible study?
"Disobedient." To obey is one of God's just laws. It is essential to our spiritual
life. A parent who desires the happiness and usefulness of his child requires the
child to obey, and God makes obedience one of I-Its requirements. To retain any
spiritual .experience it is necessary that we obey God unquestioningly. How
often we hear in our class and covenant meetings the confession, or, rather, the
admission of unfaithfulness. There are even professed holiness people who
speak of their own unfaithfulness. Oh, that we may see that disobedience is sin,
and that this sin must be repented of and forgiven before we can be saved!
The early Quakers dwelt much on obedience to God, whatever the cost. Their fidelity took the lives of some of them. People sneer at the idea that God requires certain unusual things of other people. They think they know just what is required of everybody, and are intolerant of anyone stepping outside their lines. But God wants to bring us to a place where our hearts are very tender in these matters. When people say that God speaks to them of things of which he has not told us, we must say to them, "The Lord bless you!" The humble spirit of Major Cole ought to commend himself to us. He said it was his disposition, to keep everybody in line, but that God often checked him, and said, "Cole, you don't know much yet." And it is true of all of us that we know but very little. Therefore let us allow the Spirit to have free course and obey Him.
"Deceived." Are we saved from deception? Are we, in the first place, deceiving ourselves by saying we have no sin, no inbred sin, to be cleansed away? Are we saved from deceiving others? Are we saved from misleading and false statements? Do we say we "enjoy visits," "think things just lovely," etc., when it is not true? Do we profess to be friends to people to their faces, and betray them to their enemies? "Why," says someone, "do you mean to say that we must always express what we think?" No, but you must always speak the truth. "Will it not make a person very disagreeable?" No, we think not. Honest, frank, truthful people are not disagreeable. They are usually delightful. Of course, God gives wisdom and love in speaking truth. "Will you inform us why there are not lectures and organized societies antagonizing lying, just as there are antagonizing intemperance?" We asked a minister this question, and he replied that he "supposed it was because so nearly everybody was guilty!"
"Serving divers lusts and pleasures." We presume that we talk to people who have seen the folly of the lusts and pleasures of the world, .and have forsaken them all. But has the love of entertainments, under the guise of religious purpose, been taken out? It is not money that we are after so much as pleasure, when we hold these fairs, festivals and church entertainments.
Indeed, we know of a church where a few godly men and women offered to contribute all the money to the church which the promoters of a fair hoped to get front it if they would but do without it, and the money was refused on the ground that the young people must have entertainment! But perhaps we speak to some who care nothing for these things, and believe with us that they ought to be expelled, who yet may be serving pleasure. Possibly you are an intellectual man or woman; you have a literary training and you like to hear polished sermons; you may be serving pleasure by your thirst for mere intellectuality. "It is," you say, "a high form of pleasure, a pleasure of the mind;" yet, though this is true, a purely literary sermon will not feed the soul. Thousands of preachers are being driven to death trying to gratify the lusts of these people, these pleasure lovers. It is not because it is hard to preach that so many preachers are having to go to Europe or take vacations; it is because they try to preach a lot of high-sounding things not in the gospel so that people will say: "He is a smart speaker." "We have a fine preacher." Poor deluded souls! If they would but get saved and keep to gospel preaching! Bishop Roberts said to my husband: "The preachers of our Church are breaking down of too little work. When they worked harder they lived longer." But they work awfully hard now, some of them, but the difficulty is that it is not on gospel lines.
"Serving divers lusts and pleasures." The word serving has an important meaning here. It is a slave-life certainly to serve lusts and pleasures. Sometimes it is said to me: "You work too hard!" But when I hear these ladies tell how hard they work to get up these abominable church fairs, and when I think of all the hurt feelings resulting from these things I am sure I am having a delightful time preaching the dear old gospel.
"Malice and envy." Are you saved from envy? Do you envy other people their money, houses, position? Are you contented with God's dealings with you? A lady of culture and wealth said to me once: "Do you believe that there is salvation enough to enable a homely woman to look upon a beautiful woman without envy?" I answered: "Yes; I believe in a salvation that will not only take all envy from a woman's heart, but will enable her to look at a beautiful face and thank God as for a beautiful flower." Are you thankful for people who can sing better than you can who can preach better than you yourself? Can you bear to work hard, bring about success, and then joyfully let another have the credit and praise?
"Speak evil of no man." Are you saved from religious gossip or from a desire to hear it? One of our well-saved brethren said that when people talked gossip to him he "felt as if he had had dirty water thrown all over him."
Yes, there is a full salvation. We can be saved from all this horrid, awful category of things enumerated in this third verse. We have a great God, and he will save us with a great salvation. Glory!