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The Character of a Soulwinner
The distinguishing marks of a Soulwinner are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, and his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever, therefore, imagines that a Soulwinner is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally.
We believe, indeed, that “all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God;” and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Moslems, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God (known to us as the Holy Bible) to be the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice, and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish Church (The Romans Catholic) and the Latter-day Saints (The Mormons).
We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians, the Arians, and the Jehova Witnesses. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Soulwinner.
2. Neither are words or phrases of any sort. We do not place our religion, or any part of it, in being attached to any peculiar mode of speaking, any quaint or uncommon set of expressions. The most obvious, easy, common words, wherein our meaning can be conveyed, we prefer before others, both on ordinary occasions, and when we speak of the things of God.
We never, therefore, willingly or designedly, deviate from the most usual way of speaking; unless when we express scripture truths in scripture words, which, we presume, no Christian will condemn. Neither do we affect to use any particular expressions of Scripture more frequently than others, unless they are such as are more frequently used by the inspired writers themselves. So that it is as gross an error, to place the marks of a Soulwinner in his words, as in opinions of any sort.
3. Nor do we desire to be distinguished by actions, customs, or usages, of an indifferent nature. Our religion does not lie in doing what God has not enjoined, or abstaining from what he hath not forbidden. It does not lie in the form of our apparel, in the posture of our body, or the covering of our heads; nor yet in abstaining from marriage, or from meats and drinks, which are all good if received with thanksgiving. Therefore, neither will any man, who knows whereof he affirms, fix the mark of a Soulwinner here, in any actions or customs purely indifferent, undetermined by the word of God.
4. Nor, lastly, is he distinguished by laying the whole stress of religion on any single part of it. If you say, “Yes, he is; for he thinks ‘we are saved by faith alone:'” I answer, You do not understand the terms. By salvation, he means holiness of heart and life. And this he affirms to spring from true faith alone. Can even a nominal Christian deny it? Is this placing a part of religion for the whole? “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.”
We do not place the whole of religion (as too many do, God knoweth) either in doing no harm, or in doing good, or in using the ordinances of God. No, not in all of them together; wherein we know by experience a man may labor many years, and at the end have no faith at all, no more than he had at the beginning. Much less in any one of these; or, it may be, in a scrap of one of them: Like her who fancies herself a virtuous woman, only because she is not a prostitute; or him who dreams he is an honest man, merely because he does not rob or steal.
The Task of an Evangelist
1. A Soulwinner is one who has “the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him;” and one who “loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, “Who have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!”
2. He is therefore happy in God, yea, always happy, as having in him “a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. “Perfect love” having now “cast out fear,” he “rejoices evermore.” He “rejoices in the Lord always,” even “in God his Saviour;” and in the Father, “through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he hath now received the atonement.” “Having” found “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of his sins,” he cannot but rejoice, for his sins that have been forgiven; now “being justified freely, and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
3. Knowing the Love of God towards us and the hope of glory, we give thanks in everything;” knowing that this “is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. ” We cheerfully receive all, saying, “Good is the will of the Lord;” and whether the Lord giveth or taketh away. For we have “learned, in whatsoever state we are in to be content.” we know “both how to be abased and how to abound. Everywhere and in all things we are instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need.”
4. For indeed we “pray without ceasing.” It is given us “always to pray, and not to faint.” We may not always be in the house of prayer; though we are frequently there. We may not always be on our knees, although we are often, be or on our faces, before the Lord our God. Many times “the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groans that cannot be uttered.” Thus our heart is ever lifted up to God, at all times and in all places. God is in all our thoughts; we walk with God continually, and our heart is fixed upon him, and everywhere.”
5. A soul winner has the commandment written in his heart, “That he who loves God, love his brother also.” And he accordingly loves his neighbor as himself; he loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love for all mankind, to every child of “the Father of the spirits of all flesh.” For he “loves his enemies;” yea, and the enemies of God, “the evil and the unthankful.” And if it is not in his power to “do good to them that hate him,” yet he ceases not to pray for them, though they continue to spurn his love, and still “despitefully use him and persecute him.”
6. A soul winner is one that is “pure in heart.” The love of God has purified his heart from all revengeful passions, from envy, malice, and wrath, from every unkind temper or malign affection. It hath cleansed him from pride and haughtiness of spirit, whereof alone contention comes. A soul winner has “put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering:” So that he “forbears and forgives, if he had a quarrel against any; even as God in Christ has forgiven him.”
7. A Soul winner has no love for the world nor any of “the things of the world;” He is “crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him;” He is dead to all that is in the world, both to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” For “all his desire is unto God, and to the remembrance of his name.”
8. The desire of the heart of the Soul winner is “not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him.” His one intention at all times and in all things is, not to please himself, but Him whom his soul loves. God alone reigns in his heart. All that is in the soul is holiness to the Lord. There is no motion in his heart but is according to God’s will. Every thought that arises points to Him, and is in obedience to the law of Christ.
9. Thus the tree is known by its fruits. For as he loves God, so he keeps his commandments; not only some, or most of them, but all, from the least to the greatest. He is not content to “keep the whole law, and offend in one point;” but has, in all points, “a conscience void of offense towards God and towards man.” Whatever God has forbidden, he avoids; whatever God has enjoined, he does; irrespective of fact that whether it be little or great, hard or easy, joyous or grievous to the flesh. It is to do the will of the father on earth, as it is done in heaven.
10. A soul winner keeps all the commandments of God with all his might. For his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows. As he loves God with all his heart, he serves him with all his strength. He continually presents his soul and body as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God. All the talents he has received, he employs constantly according to his Master’s will; with every power and faculty of his soul, and every member of his body. Yeah, Once he “yielded” them “unto sin” and the devil, “as instruments of unrighteousness;” but now, “being alive from the dead, he yields” them all “as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
11. Everything we do is all for the glory of God. Our business and refreshments, as well as our prayers, all serve this great end. Whatever we do it all tends to advance the glory of God, through peace and goodwill among men. His one invariable rule is this, “Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” d
12. The customs of the world cannot at all hinder our “running the race that is set before us.” Since “every man must give an account of himself to God.” we cannot follow the multitude to do evil.” We can’t make provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” We dare not “lay up treasures upon earth,” any more than we can take fire into our bosom. A truth soul winner will not “adorn himself,” on any pretense, “with gold or costly apparel.” He cannot join in or countenance any diversion which has the least tendency to the vice of any kind. He cannot “speak evil” of his neighbor, any more than he can lie either for God or man.
13. Soul winners do not utter an unkind word of anyone, and He cannot speak “idle words;” “nor can corrupt communication” ever “comes out of his mouth.” But “whatsoever things pure, whatsoever things lovely, whatsoever things ” justly “of good report,” he thinks and speaks, and acts.
14. It is the task of every soul winner, as they have time, to do good unto all men;” either neighbors, strangers, friends or enemies: And that in every possible kind; not only to their bodies, by “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those that are sick or in prison;” but much more should they labor to do good to their souls, to awaken those that sleep in death; to bring those who are awakened to the atoning blood, so that, they can be ” justified by faith, and have peace with God;” and to provoke others to abound more in love and in good works.
15. We are willing to “spend and be spent in this case,” even “to be offered upon the sacrifice and service of our faith,” so they may “all come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
16. These are the principles and practices of our Christian ministry. These are the marks of a true Soulwinner. By these alone do we desire to be distinguished from other men? If any man says, “Why these are only the common fundamental principles of Christianity!” yes, that is the very truth. Thus we adhere to the common principles of Christianity. For we are Christians, not in name only, but in heart and in life. We are inwardly and outwardly conformed to the will of God, as revealed in the written word.
17. We think, speak, and live, according to the method laid down in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Our soul is renewed after the image of God, in righteousness, and in all true holiness. And having the mind that was in Christ, we also walk as Christ also walked. This is our true identity.
So we strive together for the faith of the Gospel with those whose heart is right, as our heart is with them. Anyone who loves God and serves Him is our brethren in Christ, walking together worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Yeah, there is one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called with one hope of our calling; “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.