IT is a truth which is made prominent in the volume of inspiration that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” “The words that I speak unto you,” said Jesus to the Jews, “They are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63. And the exhortation is given by the apostle Peter, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” 1 Peter 2:2.
The cause of spiritual truth must be maintained by the Word. The cause which opposes spiritual error must be thus maintained. The Word furnishes life and the principle of growth; and without the Word, they will soon fail and come to naught.
No man can live on an experience. He cannot live upon his opposition to something else. Nor can any organization of men maintain itself in this way. The experiment has been tried many times, and has always failed. Many a would-be Christian tries to live on an experience which he had when he first started in the service of God, or perhaps at some other special season. It seems to go very well for a short time, but he soon finds that the power of it is gone. To repeat over and over the statement of the blessings he enjoyed on that particular occasion, becomes monotonous. It soon palls upon his listeners, and upon himself. It fails to produce enthusiasm or to stir people to action. They must have something new, something fresh. This is a law of their natures.
Neither does opposition to error furnish the principle of life and growth. Of this we have an illustration in the work of the “A. P. A.” This organization exists for the purpose of combatting [sic.] the papacy. It maintains a number of journals, which aim to arouse public opposition to Rome by crying out the evils which are charged against her. In every way, the effort is made to spread before the people the real or supposed wickedness by which the papacy is endangering American institutions and liberty. The same thing has been done by other organizations in the past; but they have each failed and gradually faded into oblivion. The cause for which they stood had no food upon which to maintain its life. There was no life principle in mere opposition; and hence, while for a time the cause seemed to flourish, it came ere long to an inevitable decline, which could only terminate in dissolution.
It is all very well, of course, to call attention to the evil of the principles and work of the papacy, and the danger which they threaten to the national interests. But to repeat this day after day, becomes at last monotonous. No matter how great or how real these evils and dangers may be, the continual shouting of them becomes first a familiar and then a tiresome sound. Of itself, it can only tend to produce indifference, even in the minds of those who have lent their support to the work. The enthusiasm of the movement declines, and only time is then necessary for its complete extinction.
What is lacking is the power of the divine Word. It is this alone that can cause growth in true and right principles. A bad cause can flourish upon the depravity that is inherent in human nature; but a good cause which stands in opposition to the movements of the world’s agencies of evil, must be maintained by the power of divine truth. It is not looking at error, or crying out against it, that strengthens the heart in opposition to it, but a growth in the principles of righteousness. And it is by the Word that this growth must be attained. The Word of the infinite One is itself infinite in depth and breadth, and the finite human mind can never exhaust its treasures of truth. There are always fresh revelations, new meanings and vistas of truth afforded by it to the inquiring mind; so that as one studies the Word, he becomes more and more built up and rooted and grounded in eternal principles of truth and righteousness, and become more and more antagonistic to error and injustice, in their forms.
All other forms of opposing evil than by the eternal Word, must certainly fail. Evil is not to be overcome by evil; the devil cannot be successfully fought with fire. We are directed to “overcome evil with good.” It is the Word that makes us good, by faith in it; and by the Word must our goodness be retained, and ourselves nourished and strengthened in adherence to the right, and opposition to the wrong.