Lost and Restored – 4
Aimee Semple Mcpherson
CIRCLE V. The Work of the Caterpillar
We are now nearing the bottom of the large circle. The perfect tree is perfect no longer. Stripped of her fruits, denuded of her leaves, her branches made white, laid clean bare, it was not long till the trunk and the roots began to decay and the caterpillar made his nest in the decayed and rotted hollows of the tree.
No tree can eke out its existence without leaves through which to breathe, and its branches and limbs through which the sap and life courses through its veins. For a believer to live without the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, or the Holy life of Jesus as revealed by the Spirit, coursing through his veins, is to eke out a meager, barren existence nowhere recorded in the Word of God. And now in circle five we see the tree in the most lamentable condition yet described, fruit gone, leaves gone, branches bare, trunk decayed and rotten, a nest for the caterpillar. In other words, the gifts and fruits of the Spirit gone, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit gone, separation and Holiness gone, Justification by Faith gone. Well might the Angels lean over the battlements of Heaven and weep, the noble Church, the perfect tree which had once stood clad with Power and Glory of the Holy Ghost, there remained now naught but a name, not even a remnant of her former splendour, as she entered into the DARK AGES.
CIRCLE VI. The Dark Ages
No wonder they are called the Dark Ages. Ah! dark indeed is the night without Jesus. He is the Light of the world, and when the Church lost sight of Justification by Faith, lost sight of the atonement, the blood of Jesus, there was a total eclipse and the face of the Sun of Righteousness was obscured, and the succeeding years that followed are known as the Dark Ages.
Men and women groping in this gross darkness tried to win their way to Heaven by doing penance, by locking themselves up in dungeons, walking over red hot plowshares in their bare feet, and inflicting unnameable tortures upon themselves and upon one another, blindly trying by some work or deed to pay the debt that had already been paid on Calvary’s rugged cross. They had lost sight utterly of the fact that
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him we owe, >br> Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”
The great arrow you see in the chart had been steadily going down and down and down, pitilessly and relentlessly going down as I saw the vision, till it seemed as though it would never reach the bottom. And now it had struck the bottom, the church had lost all, the tree was dead.
Angels might have wept, mortals might have wrung their hands, and their souls have failed within them in utter despair, but GOD, Hallelujah, looking on ahead into the future still, had spoken through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:25), saying:
“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” O beloved, do you see it? Then shout aloud and praise Him! Why that was all, ALL, think of it, All that has been lost was to be restored. Hallelujah! What is impossible with man is possible with God.
Now the Church had not lost all this “all” at one time. The restoration came as “meat in due season,” as line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, till today we are nearing the completion of this Restoration, and Jesus is coming soon to take His perfect Church, His Bride, His fruit-laden tree unto Himself, where transplanted from earth to heaven the tree will bloom and yield her fruit by the great River of Life, forever.
No, God did not restore to the Church all at once what she had lost. He was willing to do so to be sure, but they did not have the light at that time. Therefore, the last thing that had been lost was the first to be restored. They had had a name that they did live but were dead and therefore must needs repent and do their first works over again before taking any higher step.
CIRCLE VII. The Years of the Caterpillar Restored
Just before the arrow began to ascend, and the work of Restoration began, we see the scene of ruin depicted by Joel in all its awfulness, in the first chapter of Joel, the meat offering and the drink offering cut off, the field wasted, the corn wasted, the new wine dried up, garner laid desolate, barns broken down, the beasts groan, the herds of cattle are perplexed, the sheep are made desolate, the rivers of water are dried up, and the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness. Then one day amidst all this desolation God began to move, the treading of His footsteps was heard, and in Circle VII we see the roots of the tree again sinking deep into the earth and Justification by Faith restored. This is the way it all came about.
Martin Luther one day was walking up the steps of the cathedral on his hands and knees, over broken glass, endeavoring to do penance, thereby seeking to atone for his sins. As he was toiling painfully and laboriously up the steps in this manner, blood trickling from his hands and knees, cut by broken glass, he heard a voice from Heaven saying:
“Martin Luther, the Just shall live by Faith.”
At the words, a great light fell from Heaven. It banished the darkness and doubts, it illuminated the soul of Martin Luther, and revealed the finished work of Calvary and the blood that alone can atone for sin.
“For nothing good have I,
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.”
The days that followed were eventful days, epoch making days, fraught with self-sacrificing and suffering. The Lord had spoken, and promised that all the years that had been eaten should be restored. Out of the seas of travail and suffering that followed the preaching of Justification by Faith there was born a little body of blood-washed, fire-tried pilgrims, willing to suffer persecution for His name’s sake.
You have read perhaps how Martin Luther and his followers were turned out of the churches, spoken against falsely, and accused of all manner of evil. As Martin Luther, Calvin, Knox, Fletcher and many other blessed children of the Lord stood firm for the truths of salvation and a sinless life they suffered all manner of persecution. God’s Word says, ‘‘They that will live godly shall suffer persecution,” (If you or your church profess to live godly and yet never suffer persecution, if you have become popular and the shame and reproach of the cross is gone, there is something radically wrong somewhere, for those who live godly still suffer persecution.)
As the noble tree again put down her roots of justification into the fertile soil-faith, as life again began to surge through the trunk and the limbs of the tree, every demon in Hell seemed to be raging and howling against those who saw and accepted the light of salvation. Martyrs were burned at the stake, stoned to death, swung from public scaffolds, suffered the tortures of the Inquisition, their eyes were put out with hot irons, they were beaten till great gashes were cut in their backs, salt was rubbed into the wounds and they were cast into the dark dungeons still true and unflinching for Jesus. They were tortured in unspeakable ways, beheaded, sent to the guillotine, the Covenanters were driven from hill to hill and often had to hide themselves in caves in order to pray or sing the praises of the Lord, hunted and harassed at every turn.
But God had said, “I will restore the years that have been eaten,” and in spite of the burning stake, in spite of the blood and fire and the deep waters of tribulation, in spite of the raging of the demons of hell, the great arrow that had so long been going down had at last started upward and was never to stop till it reached the top and the tree was again restored to its perfection.
Persecution cannot stop God. Floods cannot stay His step. Fire cannot delay His progress. So, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, the work of restoration has been going on. Not only did the Lord restore the years the caterpillar had eaten but years the cankerworm had eaten.
CIRCLE VIII. The Years of the Cankerworm Restored
An entire consecration, and holiness unto the Lord were preached; God called out a still more separated people with a deeper realization of what it meant to live a life wholly given up and consecrated to the Lord. The people a step lower always seem to fight the people a step higher. Nevertheless, as the work of sifting and separation went on God led His people forth to higher heights.
As one church grew cold, lost their first love, or fought higher truths, they lost out spiritually. As soon as one creed would refuse to walk in the light as given by the Lord, or begin to organize and set up man rule, the Lord simply stepped over their walls and left them to their forms and ceremonies and took with Him the little ‘‘called out, out of a called out” flock. In many instances the recording angel had to write upon the door of the fashionable churches—
“Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead,” or “You have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” But the work was not stopped; somewhere people were praying, somewhere hungry hearts were meeting in little cottage prayer meetings, or on the street corners, and the tender shoots and branches were being thrust forth on the tree. Consecration and holiness were being preached and the years of the cankerworm being restored.
John Wesley Was – A Man with a Message.
He too suffered persecution. Preaching on the street corners in those days, faithful followers were stoned, and rotten egged. They were fought, but not defeated. The power of God was manifested in the dear old Methodist Church, also in Charles Finney’s meetings in a wonderful manner. Men and women were slain under the power of God. At times the floors were strewn with the slain of the Lord. Signs and wonders accompanied those who preached the “meat in due season.”
While these churches lived godly, prayerful, mighty lives in Jesus, they suffered persecution. But when they too began to drift into the same cold, formal state as the others before them, the power and manifestation of the Spirit began to lift from their presence. When supper rooms take the place of upper rooms, and concerts the place of prayer meetings, the Spirit is grieved away. As each body began to organize and throw up walls of difference, God simply stepped over them again and called out another separated people, willing to suffer and sacrifice for Him.
Then came the day when William Booth was called upon to decide whether he would compromise or would follow the greater light God gave him. As he hesitated a moment his wife called from the balcony of that thronged church:
“Say No! William.”
And William Booth said “No!” and refusing to compromise, went forth preaching the message that had been given him. In the early days of the Salvation Army they were unpopular, suffered persecution, were a peculiar people, just as the others before mentioned had been in the beginning. They too, were stoned and imprisoned. Some were even martyred, but neither the devil nor his agents could stop God and His work of restoration. In these early days of the Army it was nothing uncommon to see men and women slain under the power of God. Some of their number received the Holy Spirit and spake with other tongues. All night prayer meetings, dancing before the Lord and mighty power were manifested in their midst. True to prophecy, while they lived their separated holy life they were persecuted and unpopular with the world. Then came the Holiness churches wonderfully blessed of God, and the Lord moved in their midst in a mighty manner.
These dear people, many of them, thought that the Lord had now restored all He was going to restore to the Church, and believed that they had all the Lord had for them. But not so! God had said, “I will restore the years that the locust, the cankerworm, the caterpillar and the palmerworm hath eaten.” This necessarily meant A-L-L. Now so far only the years eaten by the caterpillar and the cankerworm had been restored. What about the years eaten by the locust and the palmerworm? When God says “ALL” does He mean all or only half? Why, He means all, to be sure. Therefore next: