By Charles H. Stalker
Message Delivered at Mansfield, Morning Meeting, February 2nd, 1919
"Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with me. And He went a little farther, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, O, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And He cometh unto His disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, what, could ye not watch with me one hour? watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: The Spirit indeed Is willing, but the flesh is weak."
I do not think that too much can be said about the work of the Holy Ghost, and I am deeply impressed with what has been done in this country since I was here before. But I am more impressed with what the Holy Ghost is going to do. There is nothing that is going to glorify God and bless men like the message we stand for in this meeting this morning. Now that statement will be criticized and laughed at, but it will prove absolutely true in every experience.
A great deal depends on the faithfulness of individuals. While there are some who think it matters very little, you are a link in the chain and although you know your sins are all forgiven and the Holy Ghost abides, yet He is going to reveal things to you and show you possibilities in the future that you never dreamed of, that is what He comes to do. After making a number of trips to this country, I believe there is nothing that will appeal to your people like the message that you carry. The Holy Ghost makes an appeal that can be made in no other way, and I know personally, that no other message ever appealed to my own soul as much as that. God gave me a vision that I had never had before, and I have never lost it. It cannot be expressed, but it is revealed by the Holy Ghost, and that is what is what I covet for you above everything else. I want everyone of you to know the secrets of the Holy Ghost. They are for you, just in your condition, He will bring them to you just where you are.
One often hears the words of our text flippantly spoken by people who are unfaithful, and by those who do not take their place in the work of God. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Never say it again. Those words were uttered in the greatest struggle that Divinity has ever known for humanity. You ask people why they did not take some part, and they say, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." It should never be spoken in that way. The expression came from the broken heart of the Son of God in the great struggle in Gethsemane. He was just bearing the burden, and He was just groaning under its weight when He said: 'Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done. And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh He to His disciples, and saith unto them, sleep on now, and take your rest, behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
There are some very impressive lessons in this, and I never take this message and read it without the consciousness of the depth of the meaning of it. When we think about it we can see at once that we can grasp only a part -- only a miniature part of the great struggle through which He passed.
We can see that Holiness is always ahead.
That is something every one of you can carry. The world will tell you that Holiness is behind, carnality will say it is out of date, but Holiness is always ahead. "He went a little farther." Just where carnality stops, a man filled with the Holy Ghost will move on and go ahead; just where the mobs of this world stop Holiness goes right on and you can always know where to find it. Never look for it in the rear, it is always ahead. You need not think it is something to be tested and to be tried. It has been tested and tried and it works, and it always takes its place at the front. That is why the victories have been won, Holiness goes ahead of carnality, intellectuality and humanity into the realm of victory. You can see these things are practical, they are the result of the work of the Holy Ghost in the heart and they are worked out in the life. Holiness never stops with the crowd, it never has and never will.
Now, I want you to notice that it was not the five thousand, it was not the one hundred and twenty, it was only three out of all who had been with Him and followed Him, all who had watched Him and heard Him. He only took Peter, James and John, the choice of the lot, those who had heard His heart secrets, those who knew Him best. He took them, and they followed along; and then when He came to the place -- when they came really to the place carnality failed. It always fails, it never keeps up with Holiness, it never keeps up with the Holy Ghost, and when it comes up to the crucial and critical point, it fails every time.
Now when they came to the place, -- just think what a place that was -- He went a little further and fell on His face. You can see for yourself how much it meant, and you will never stay with carnality after the Holy Ghost comes to your heart. Others will stop, and after they stop you will go a little farther. They say, ' You can't do it." You say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." They say, "You are going too far," and you say, "Good-bye." They say, "Don't see anything in it," and you say, "I see everything in it." You see why you are such a curiosity, you become the odd one. You were raised like the rest, but you have got some other kind of raising, you ate at the same table. You had the same instruction and the same education, and they had some hope of you until you received the Holy Ghost. Then you disgraced the family and you became the worst one of the lot. People say these things because they don't see anything else, but the Holy Ghost takes you right on in victory. Why is this meeting held here this morning? Because people see more in coming here than staying at home. Now a great many people do not see that, but some saw it, and they said "Good-bye."
There was a crowd with Saul of Tarsus when he was riding along, and they heard a noise, but he heard something that knocked him down, and he never got over it. He heard a voice speaking to him, saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? " It stopped him right there. We have never heard anything of the other bunch, but why? We will never hear the last of Paul. Why? Because he heard a voice from heaven. The others heard a noise, they thought it thundered. If I did not see more in it than ninety-nine out of every hundred I would quit, I would not live at the miserable, half dying rate.
Holiness is always ahead. Don't think you are ever going to be defeated, while you keep the Holy Ghost in your heart you are going to have the victory. You do not serve God for victory, you serve God with victory. It does not matter what others say, you are always in the majority. Someone says "That seems strange, I cannot see how He can do it." But He can do it. All He wants is a channel. You can hold on to God until He will move in every room in the house, and He will move on every heart until they know that you have something they do not possess. They may get mad and say some hard things, but the thing is working just the same. Yes, God is able to do that.
When there was a lion's den, it was ahead, it was not back yonder, no, it was ahead. When there was a fiery furnace, Holiness was ahead. There were only three of them, but they were ahead, and I can see that hell-bound procession following them. I can see that godless king looking through his fingers, and while everybody else bowed, and bowed, and bowed, those three stood as stiff as a rod, and they would not bow down. They went straight into the burning, fiery furnace, and they found somebody there that the king had not put in.
That was the secret. "How did that fourth One get in there? We did not put Him in." How did a Holiness Meeting get in the Town Hall when carnality is hating it worse than hell? How can we have a meeting here without a D.D. or a LL.D. to come and see about it? That is the secret
And the king said, "I counted three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, now there is another that I did not count, and He looks like the Son of God." He had listened to the testimonies which had been so radical that he recognized that the fourth was like the Son of God. The king did not put that One in there, so there must have been someone he did not have charge of, there was someone round the corner in the furnace, and He did not show Himself till the fire had become hot enough. It burnt up the fellows that put them in, they were burnt to ashes. People have studied this, but they have never found out the secret. Holiness is ahead always, you never find it anywhere else.
Now the great tests and struggles of your life will take place when you are alone, and sometimes the devil's power will be strong. Your friends will leave you, and your own family will stand aside.
You will have to go through alone. The Son of God had five thousand when He was feeding them with the loaves and fishes, He had a multitude when He was opening the eyes of the blind, but when He was sweating the death sweat for a lost world, He was alone.
I want to say, beloved, that this is as true as it has ever been. You will spend much time alone with God and the greatest struggles and the greatest battles of your life will take place when you are alone. There will be meetings and there will be messages, but you must have something that will take you through alone. Until you have something that will defy the devil and defeat all hell and drive back the powers of darkness when you are alone, you will never have much victory. It is good to have someone to pray with, that is the right thing, but there is nothing that will give you courage and build up your character so much as being alone with God in the great battles of your life. We are apt to depend on people, and we are apt to listen to them. Jesus was left by the multitude and left by His followers, that is the thing -- left by His followers, those who had been with Him and knew Him best. They were tired and weary, and they had no conception of what was going on, they saw it not. It is good to be with our friends and to hear their encouraging words, but, beloved, you will get more alone with God in prayer, in communion and in struggle than you will ever get in any other way. This is the point where a great many fail, they are not prepared to go through alone.
Now and again the light will come to somebody's soul and they will say, "My people don't believe that way." Well, if they do not, God help you to believe that way. You can have family prayers alone, and you can have people saved and sanctified with nobody around. You will have to die alone, and God wants you to get the victory alone.
Another thing I want you to notice, carnality is Sleeping while Holiness is weeping. That has always been the case. Now you want to get away from the sleeping to the weeping, and if you weep you will weep alone. You live and talk with your friends, but when you go to prayer they are not there. Look at Jesus up there on the mountain, looking over Jerusalem while it is sleeping, and what does He say? "How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood under her wing, and ye would not." They would not. That was the secret. "Your house is left unto you desolate." It is too late now, the opportunity is past. God help us to see these things this morning. If you laugh, the world laughs with you; if you weep, you weep alone.
The background to a Holiness meeting is something that many people know nothing about. They see the meeting and they hear the message, but that is all. He said, "If it be possible let this cup pass from me," and when He prayed again, He said, "If this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Why did He weep? Because He saw a lost world. Why did they sleep? Because they had carnality. Their eyes were open to see the miracles, but when it came to the great struggle they were asleep. The Son of God had no doubt walked as far as they had and was just as weary, but He was facing the cross, He was praying for a lost world and His heart was beginning to break, and Peter, James and John, not Judas now, but Peter, James and John, the chosen ones, those who had been with Him most, were sleeping. How few are willing to go out and go through with God alone. It means a great deal, but it is worth all it costs, and things you get that way you can have for time and eternity. You are going through single file. Some are going to die and be damned right in your home, you are going to follow some to the cemetery and know that they are lost. All your relatives and friends will not go with you, but the question is, Are you going? You will have to leave them; and someone says, "But I want them all to go." So did Jesus, that was His desire. But, beloved, God wants to know if you are willing to go through single file with Him, the Holy Ghost is faithful to all who will.
So you see how much it meant for the Son of God to go through that struggle; when He came back to His disciples He found them sleeping, how it must have torn His very heart. Three times He returned and found them sleeping. Regardless of what anyone else will do, go through and God will be true to you. There have been times when I have not had a word, when I have not had a letter, but there has not been a time when the Holy Ghost was not faithful. These times come and many people do not understand them, and many times the devil takes advantage.
Now you will have the greatest tests and the greatest struggles after you abandon yourself to the Holy Ghost and stand for Holiness, but in their severity God is going to give you victory. The devil hates Holiness more than anything else, he is going to down everybody he can and he will seek to get in every crack and corner, but the Holy Ghost is able to give you victory. He was alone and He was weeping and He sweat as it were great drops of blood, even on a cold morning. Someone says, "How do you know it was a cold morning? " Only a short distance away Peter was warming himself by a fire. He was sweating, it was just the burden of soul. There is nothing, beloved, that will bring such agony as a burden of soul. You can carry a financial burden, you can carry a physical burden, but when you get a burden of soul it will bring out of your veins the blood that is there. And it is a wonderful thing to know that God hears and answers prayer. A prayer takes something out of you -- it took sweat from the Son of God. It takes something out of you, but it brings something to you. A great many people think it is just a pastime, but when the heart is in it, it takes something out of you.
Then you see the disappointment. Carnality is always a disappointment to Divinity and it always will be. It always fails at the crucial point. It never can see inside heaven and it will leave everybody disappointed and doomed and locked in a devil's hell, it does not matter who it is.
deliver you and fill you with the Holy Ghost. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Now it is easier to get preachers and singers than pray-ers. People will do everything else before they will pray. There is a demand for pray-ers, but there are not enough to supply the demand. I do not like to speak on this subject without spending most of the night in prayer. It seems a special picture. He was just praying, and He had to do His praying alone. There is something peculiar about prayer, there is something special about prayer. Talking to man is one thing, but talking to God is quite another, and it seems that the devil wants to keep people from praying.
The Holy Ghost is faithful to everyone, and, beloved, you do not realize what privileges you have until you are filled with the Holy Ghost. He makes intercessions for you with "groanings which cannot be uttered." Now the groanings of Jesus could be uttered. Notice, He groaned in spirit and He uttered groans, but the Holy Ghost intercedes with groanings which cannot be uttered. You might pray a few words, but that prayer becomes special when it is groaned out by the Holy Ghost at the throne of God. Prayers that become groans always get an answer. And it says Jesus "sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground." And He went back the third time, but they did not understand; and notice the disappointment when He said, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour? " He asked for just one hour, but they were too sleepy and they did not wait with Him even one hour. God help everyone of us this morning not to miss anything He has for us.
Another thing that seems so very impressive, and it was about the last thing Jesus said to them, "Sleep on now." He had awakened them twice, but the third time He went back He said, "Sleep on now." It is one of the most pathetic and saddest utterances there is in the Bible. The disappointment at the cross was hardly equal to this. It scarcely meant so much when they took His garment and tore it to pieces and gave Him vinegar to drink. This "Sleep on now," showed they had missed the great opportunity of their lives. They disappointed Him in the hour that He needed them most. There was only one Transfiguration and there was only one Gethsemane. Now they had disappointed Him and He said, "Sleep on now.
Later, these disciples went to the Upper Room and received the Holy Ghost; but just think of the people who never wake up. It seems that people have been fed with the opiates of hell so long that only one here and there can be rescued. The Holy Ghost is doing His last work and preparing a people for the coming of the Lord. The physical need is not so great as the spiritual need, and although some are alarmed at the conditions, yet so few are in the place to take the message that will meet the need.
God help us this morning that we may never have that sentence spoken to us. What is time for? Just weeping and praying and groaning for a lost world. What is eternity for? Rejoicing with the blood-washed and the redeemed. We are having the hardest battles now that we will ever have, and you will be going alone with your burden for souls sometime, and it will just slip off and you will be for ever with the Lord. Some day you will be getting ready for a service, and the burden heavy upon you, but it will just slip away and the Lord will come. I am expecting it.
It seems to me that things are getting into such a condition that none but God can handle them, and the coming of Jesus is the only hope. The Church has failed, carnality has failed, but, thank God, Christianity is a success and Holiness is alive for evermore.
They may be sleeping all around you, but you can be wide awake, and the greatest honor that can be given to you is to have a burden for souls that will lay on your heart till it breaks. In Palestine, in the places where Jesus is supposed to have been there is a little flower which is called the blood-drop, and, according to the legend, Jesus carried such a burden that blood came out of His veins and dropped on the ground and the little flower came up. No one need believe that, but the thought I want you to get is that He carried the burden and it increased until when they saw Him hanging on the cross His heart was broken. People have remarked that certain men would have lived longer if they had not had such a burden for souls, but if you die with a broken heart there is no lost time. You had better live ten years with the Holy Ghost than a hundred without Him.
The Holy Ghost energizes and inspires and gives courage and character so that you can accomplish more in ten years than some people would do in a hundred. The burden for souls is rare, not many have it, and some say they would not like that kind of burden. It takes real life to carry it, and people may not live so long, but they will live through all eternity.
Jesus might have lived longer if He had not carried such a burden, and His followers might have lived longer if they had not received the Holy Ghost. We say that because they all died an unnatural death. John might have stayed off the Isle of Patmos if he had not had the Holy Ghost. They chose to have the Holy Ghost and die an unnatural death rather than have carnality and live a hundred years. That is the secret, and may God help someone to receive the Holy Ghost this morning, and in life and in death have the victory.
I believe this morning, beloved, that the Holy Ghost could take possession of this crowd and increase this work with all the increase of God just as much as I believe we are in this hall.
God is calling someone. You may have those in your home who know nothing of God, but if you let the Holy Ghost come into your heart you can take something to that home that has never been there before, and by your life and by your obedience you can carry something to those hearts.
God help you to be willing to pay the price. Do not miss your opportunity, it is within your reach now, and the Holy Ghost will be faithful to you. There was only one Transfiguration, only one Gethsemane, and only one Calvary. Jesus went through and died of a broken heart. Take the step now, regardless of anyone, and God will meet your need.
Let us pray.