Principle!—Principle is foundational to all real character and achievement. Principle cannot "trim," and will not capitulate. It will suffer misunderstanding, ostracism, persecution, and even death, rather than yield in base compromise. Principle is noble, lofty, majestic, and it imparts these very qualities to those who adopt it as the rule of life. But some tragically confuse nonessential particulars with basic principles, placing them on a parity. They champion a personal opinion as though it were a life-and-death principle. They bring principle from the heights to grovel with the trifles. Thus they cheapen it. They confuse the vital issues with the inconsequentials, and make themselves ridiculous. This is because they confound principle with some policy, some detail of interpretation, or the like. Let us pray for the spirit of discernment. Let us seek to distinguish between those great questions upon which we should stand as adamant and those little details that are immaterial.
Whispering!—Thereis scarcely anything more reprehensible than a whispering campaign conducted by Christian brethren against some institution, organization, or leader in this cause. Such a procedure is an ill-disguised shield behind which some one may fight from under cover. It may appear to shine as a garment of light, but it is in reality a mantle of darkness. Such covert agitation and subtle attack come not from above, but from beneath. Though it is in vogue in the world about, it should never be invoked or tolerated in the church. It is essentially political, not Christian. It is utterly alien to the true spirit and sound practice of this movement. There is an open, direct, and honorable way of dealing with differences of opinion and with wrongs or weaknesses in the church and its constituent organizations or institutions. And that is the only method Heaven can approve. Let whisperers be rebuked, and let candor prevail. We are to work together to the glory of God.
Sensationalism!—Influenced, perhaps, by the incessant dinning of the "yellow journalism" daily press, with its screaming headlines and exaggerated phrasings, we seem to be in the midst of an epidemic of sensational sermon titles and articles vying with the sensational press in extreme play up of the contemporary signs of the times. These presentations are, for the most part, based on developments in the Orient or in continental Europe, and cannot but bring adverse reaction upon our cause abroad. Such statements do not pass unnoticed by the governments of other lands, remote as seems the possibility of their being noticed. This we know. We must not jeopardize our work overseas by unwisdom in our utterances at home. God will not hold him guiltless who, by oral or written public utterances, needlessly creates difficulty, restriction, or persecution for his fellow workers and believers in other lands. His act may precipitously shut the fast-closing doors of liberty to preach our everlasting-gospel message to all peoples. We live in a period of radical change and reaction. We must use sanctified common sense and Christian consideration. It is time for some things to cease.
Half-Truths!—Half-truths often deceive more easily and more completely than do unmixed errors. The subtle appeal of the half-truth lies in the fact that the element of truth is made prominent while the error is largely concealed. Thus the element of truth constitutes the carrying power that sustains and makes plausible an error which probably would otherwise be rejected. Very real dangers confront us, due to these perils, in the interpretation of prophecy and the exposition of doctrine. Our difficulties have usually come through this channel. Let us demand and receive only unmixed truth.
Weep!—When men become bewildered and lose their way so that they leave the church and the ministry, it is time for us to weep, not to point the finger of pious horror. It is a summons for us to get down on our knees in entreaty that God may somehow awaken and retrieve the wanderers. We should solemnly search our own hearts to see whether our attitude may have contributed to the catastrophe. Many a man could have been saved to this cause had he had understanding friends and wise counselors instead of carping critics—friends who would have told him with frankness clothed with love, of his weaknesses, and of trends that were fraught with peril. O for a pitying love and concern for the lost, akin to that of the Master, which is, alas, so often conspicuous by its absence ! We compass land and sea to gain converts. Are those of talent who have known and taught this message of less value than they ? When such a one has made a fatal mistake, that is the hour of supreme need for sympathetic understanding, and of persistent, intercessory prayer in his behalf.
L. E. F.