"A discussion on card-playing and theater-going before the Ministers' Association to-day was suddenly ended by the forcible remarks of the Rev. S. Halsey, pastor of the Grand Avenue M.E. Church. 'A minister of the Gospel in Milwaukee might as well pack up and prepare to leave town if he intends to go to a prominent society woman in his church and inform her that she shall not play cards,' he said, and then inquired: 'What minister is there in this city with backbone enough to go to a man worth $100,000 or more, a member of his church, and say, Here, I understand you were at the theater last night or at a card-party. Now if that happens again there will be trouble? Where is the minister who has the backbone to do it?' The thirty or forty ministers present were silent, and the entire question was dropped with a suddenness that seemed enough to cause the ministerial head to swim."
If these human ministers' lives, or their all which they would give in exchange for their lives, were wholly consecrated to the Master, would they hesitate to carry a message or admonition from the Master? Would the fact that the member might be a leader in the church, paying a large proportion of the expenses and of large influence, make any difference with the pastor who has nothing at stake? Would the frown of the society lady frighten him whose only object in this life is to obey his Master's will?
Does it not appear that these ministers, who are frightened from their self-imposed task by the mere mention of opposition from the acknowledged worldlings of their respective flocks, show that they, who are so easily influenced by the effects of these worldly desires in others, are themselves largely tinctured with worldliness?—that they are time-servers? And is it an evidence of good judgment to follow leaders tinctured with cowardice? What confidence can be placed in a general who weakly yields to the enemy without a word of remonstrance? Yet this is exactly what these alleged "ministers" or servants of our Lord and Master have most ignominiously done.
Mind, we are not discussing the propriety or impropriety of card-playing or of theater-going. Their impropriety was an accepted premise in their argument. It was assumed by them to be in violation of His commands (though we have thus far failed to find the prohibitory clauses in His word), yet they dared not remonstrate. These modern Jonah's dare not speak in the streets of Nineveh. Does Jonah's experience symbolize that which must sooner or later happen to them?
When any class of people, in any imaginable association, by virtue of its position, or circumstances, exercises a dominating influence, does not the whole association partake thereof? If worldly—confessedly worldly—influences predominate in the Grand Avenue M.E. Church, is it not a worldly association? No matter what its members may call it, is not such the fact? Is not its "Minister" the chief servant of a worldly organization, instead of a faithful minister of "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth?" The trouble with these double-minded servants is that they permit their own selfish personal interests to come in between them and the fulfilment of their duty to the Master. Complete consecration to Christ would at once result in the loss of their positions as leaders of, and of their emoluments from these worldly organizations, miscalled Churches.
Does it not indeed seem due time that these chilly, scarcely luke-warm, systems should be "spewed out of His mouth?" See Rev. 3. W. M. WRIGHT.
The above is from the pen of the dear Brother whose letter in defense of the Episcopal Church was published in the TOWER of November, 1887. We rejoice that he now sees clearly which is the one true Church founded by our Lord and which are the imitation systems organized since by men. Yet let us always remember to "speak the truth in love." Let us remember that still there are true sheep in Babylon's bondage as we ourselves once were. Thanks be to God for the light of truth which has made us free in Christ and yet his bond-servants.