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To Infidelity and Back

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To the sacred memory of the pioneers of the great Restoration Movement of the nineteenth century, who forsook the religious associations of a lifetime and cheerfully endured poverty, persecution and every hardship in their endeavor to restore Christian union on the primitive gospel, and who held forth a beacon-light that helped me to find the truth in its simplicity as it is in Christ Jesus.

My Soul Struggle in Symbolism

Upon the fly-leaf of my Bible I find the following, which was written shortly after I emerged from the stormy sea of heartrending agony through which I passed in my conflict with sectarianism, rationalism, infidelity and doubt. It was not written for the public, but was simply an effort of my soul to express in a measure, through human symbols, the painful experiences through which it passed. It will seem extravagant language to those who have never had their souls lacerated by doubt and despair. But the sensitive souls who have endured similar experiences will understand, and it is with the hope of reaching and helping them that it is given to the public.


From the childhood land of ignorant innocence to the kingdom of Christ: by way of deserts of negation; mountains of assumption; rivers of irony, sarcasm and conceit; bays of contention; gulfs of liberalism; and oceans of infidelity, doubt and confusion—swept by undercurrents of selfish passion, tempests of blind sentiment, maelstroms of fear and despair; covered with black clouds of prejudice and preconceived ideas, dense fogs of theological speculation, gigantic icebergs of indifference, monstrous sharks of procrastination, and ruinous rocks of materialism; through the strait of darkness and absurdity, over the sea of twilight and joy, into the haven of rest.

"In the ship, religion; pole-star, faith in God; rudder, free will; compass, conscience; sextant, rationalism and experience; anchor, hope; guiding chart, creeds and opinions of men vs. the Word of God; pilot, Jesus Christ.

"Motto: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

"Prayer: O God! thou knowest the secret desire of my heart. Thou knowest how earnestly I have sought the truth. God forbid that my life should be a barren waste; that I should so use the powers that thou hast given me that the world shall not be better for my having lived in it. Lord, grant I may ever find the work that thou wouldst have me do. 'Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen."

This, in substance, was my daily prayer for ten long, dreary years; for, while my intellect was in doubt and confusion, my heart continued to cling to God.


One of the clearest expounders of the Scriptures in my acquaintance is the author of this book, who honors me in asking that I write these few lines of introduction. His experience is full of interest. I have listened night after night with profit to his sermons, and he has dug his way in the most painstaking fashion out of the darkness of unfaith into the beauty and strength of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no institution like the church of God, for it is founded upon the divine Sonship of Jesus, and his Holy Spirit has given to it divine life, so that Isaiah's prophecy lights up the pathway of victory, when it is said: "He will not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set justice in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law." Its right to advance has been disputed, and, at times in its long history, it appears to have stood timidly doubting its power and right to soul conquest, but this has only been apparent, for every century has brought with it a greater courage, so that in this day believers in Jesus are speaking in the language of every nation on the earth, and hosts of these are as ready to lay down their lives for their faith in Jesus as did Stephen and James and Paul and that host of martyrs whose willing sacrifices gave strength and solidarity to the early church....