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ATTRIBUTES OF HOLINESS—LOVE
Holiness implies deliverance from all hatred of any human being. Personal enmities—either open or avowed, or subtle and secret have a place, to a greater or less extent, in the hearts of men generally. Professing Christians scarcely form an exception. One interferes with our plans and purposes, and defeats our projects. As long as any selfishness remains in the soul, dislike is sure to follow. His actions are commented upon with severity, an unfavorable construction is put upon whatever he does and says, until he comes to be regarded with feelings of positive aversion. A truly sanctified soul has no sympathy with sin,—he abhors it; but he looks upon the sinner with sincere compassion.
In this respect, the supernatural character of Christianity is manifested. It is natural to return hatred for hatred. But holiness causes one to return good for evil, blessing for cursing, love for hatred. The teachings of Christ on this point are plain and unequivocal.—
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others Do not even the publican so? Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”—Matt. 5:43-48
This implies deliverance from all active hostility. It is deserving of notice that when the Apostle prays for the sanctification of believers, his prayer is addressed to the God of peace.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.”—I Thess. 5:23
The God of peace never gives the spirit of war. Whoever He sanctifies is made partaker of His peace. All animosities are buried.—Old enmities are forgotten. If you are thus made holy, you will forgive those who have wronged you. And what is still harder, you forgive those whom you have wronged. Instead of attempting to justify yourself by making them appear, both to yourself and others, as bad as possible, you take the blame to yourself, and confess it, and make everything right as far as it is in your power to do so. While you are by no means cowardly, you are no longer full of fight. You do not avail yourself of every opportunity to assail others when it can apparently be done to advantage. You do not strive for the mastery over others. If they assail you the assault is not returned. You do not return railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing.
A holy person is saved from that modification of hatred usually denominated prejudice. It matters not whether it be individual, sectarian, or national, holiness removes it from the heart. At a camp-meeting which we attended, a young lady at the opening of the meeting, made a clear profession of holiness. She was active, but not forward. The light shone clearly, and she welcomed the light. In a short time she was among the most earnest seekers of a clean heart. She felt right in every particular but one. She had a prejudice against her stepmother, whom she had said she never would like.—But when the blessing came, it removed this feeling entirely. There was none of it left. She was willing to reciprocate the love which had been proffered her from one whom she ought to love.
A young man who had warmly espoused the Southern cause, and served in the Southern army, became convicted for the blessing of holiness from reading some numbers of THE EARNEST CHRISTIAN, which providentially fell into his hands. He sought and found full salvation through the blood of the Lamb. At a large, outdoor meeting, where hundreds were assembled, he felt called to confess what God had done for him. Among other things he said that holiness took away all prejudice against the Yankees. This was said, not only a the risk of his personal popularity, but at the risk of his life. But he had to make and stand by the declaration.
At one of our large meetings in Western New York, a stranger arose and said he was a preacher from the central part of the State. He said he had heard a great many things against this people, but was determined to know about them for himself. Such was the prejudice that he did not dare to let his nearest friends—not even his wife—know where he was going. “But,” said he, “I am satisfied that God is with you. If any Christian comes among you, he is sure to love you. If he would keep up his prejudices, he must stay away and hate you.”
Another modification of hatred is envy. This is a malignant feeling toward others because of their prosperity. It manifests itself in little things—such as detracting from the merits of others; making efforts to impair their reputation; attributing their success to anything that looks plausible, rather than to their own good conduct. This spirit is often manifested among professed Christians, ministers not excepted. They cannot bear to hear their rival well spoken of. But holiness takes this feeling away. We can rejoice with those that do rejoice.
Many are not saved from their enmities, because they do not want to be. They hold on to their prejudices as they would to life itself. Yet they profess holiness. Such persons are evidently deceived. There can be no mistake in the matter. They need to have the Lord circumcise their hearts. They are holding on to that which will work their ruin. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” If grace does not root out malice, malice will kill out grace. The two cannot live together.
“But now ye also put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, filthy communication out of your mouth.”—Col. 3:8
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