From the editorial writings of the late:
Editor Of "The Earnest Christian", Author Of "Fishers Of Men," Etc.
From the editorial writings of the late:
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CHAPTER 2 -- Holiness Not Understood
Difference of opinion as to meaning, not recognized in Job, in Christ, His warning to His disciples, Wesley, Whitefield defamed, professors of holiness condone popular sins, slavery, secretism, persecution of holy men, false standard, not absolute perfection
CHAPTER 3 -- Nature Of Holiness
Edwards on holiness of God, of man derived, not the result of refinement, or discipline, being not doing, Christ's order reversed, Wesley's "Almost Christian," retrogression
CHAPTER 4 -- Properties Of Holiness
Negative characteristics, intolerant of false worship, consideration of Scriptures commonly held to teach necessity of sin
CHAPTER 5 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Deliverance From Pride
Roman Catholic teaching, purity without pride, pride in children, denominational pride
CHAPTER 6 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Unselfishness
Selfishness, self-love, regulated, selfishness sanctioned by pew renting, church fairs, enabled by grace to take a stand against these, holiness and selfishness cannot dwell together
CHAPTER 7 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Control Of Appetites
Holiness precludes unlawful and inordinate indulgence, saves from depraved appetites, tobacco, opium, spirits, holiness gives deliverance
CHAPTER 8 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Love
Holiness frees from hatred, hostility, prejudice, envy
CHAPTER 9 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Hatred Of Sin
Slavery condoned by spurious holiness, also popular sins, true holiness recognizes, hates, opposes sin in self, others, is aggressive, will ensure persecution, and enable one to stand
CHAPTER 10 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Honesty In Business
Justice done in business, no advantage taken because of lack of knowledge or because of position
CHAPTER 11 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Impartiality
Brotherhood of man recognized, in free seats in churches, in giving respect to character, not rank or wealth
CHAPTER 12 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Love To God
This is supreme, shown by desires to please Him, to know His will revealed in the Bible, in nature, by supporting only those who preach truth, by obedience to all His commands, by a Spirit of devotion, by praises
CHAPTER 13 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Trust In God
For grace, in emergencies, for temporal help in trials
CHAPTER 14 -- Attributes Of Holiness -- Love To Man
Interest in others, especially in brethren in Christ, shown by early Christians, not an indiscriminate love, love to enemies
CHAPTER 15 -- Joy
Not of earthly origin, undervalued, scripture instances, and teaching, also of Wesley, Edwards, and hymns, essential
CHAPTER 16 -- Examples Of Holiness
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job
CHAPTER 17 -- Limits Of Sanctification
Sin in any form incapable of sanctification, money worship, pride, the drama, the attempt, a cause of corruption to the church
CHAPTER 18 -- A Present Experience
Not placed in the future, present deliverance possible
CHAPTER 19 -- How Obtained
Determination, independence, self-sacrifice, "sanctify yourselves," confession, trust
CHAPTER 20 --How Retained
Respect to scriptural teachings, things to be done, kept by power and love of God
CHAPTER 21 -- How Lost
Yielding to temptation, relationship of him who has lost holiness, doubts, unbelief, experience of Fletcher, can one lose holiness without losing justification, degrees of holiness
CHAPTER 22 -- Professing Holiness
Necessity, be definite, unfounded professions, lack in professors, not temperate, conformed to the world in dress, humility, profess holiness if you have it, a false holiness, Methodist Discipline condemns
CHAPTER 23 -- A Powerless Profession
Want of usefulness, seek perfect love, confess your lack
CHAPTER 24 -- Kinds Of Holiness
True holiness, characteristics, aristocratic, fanatical, covetous holiness
CHAPTER 25 -- Defective Holiness
Ineffective because defective, in spirituality, loyalty to church rather than to God, early church, Luther, Wesley
CHAPTER 26 -- False Holiness
Based on false assumption, and teachings, sanctification a change not only in relation but in nature, teaching of 1 Thess. 23-4
CHAPTER 27 -- A Fighting Holiness -- Sanctification In Streaks
Holiness not quarrelsome, not compromising, but unyielding to evil, sanctified in streaks
CHAPTER 28 -- Holiness Before The Lord
Scripture warning of counterfeits, marks of the genuine
CHAPTER 29 -- Promoting Holiness
Reasons for little done, how it may be done, face the truth, point out inconsistencies in professed Christians, knowledge of the doctrine, baptized by the Holy Ghost
CHAPTER 30 -- Holiness Opposed
In the Church, reasons
CHAPTER 31 -- Justification And Entire Sanctification Discriminated
Explanation of 1 Cor. 1, 2, and chapter following, degrees of sanctification, true works of grace,
definiteness, holiness, entire sanctification, perfect love
CHAPTER 32 -- Perfection
Prejudice against the term, New Testament use, meaning, progressive perfection, not perfect by faith, perfection not sanctification, not sought by prayer alone. Apostolic example, perfect service, always necessarily imperfect in some things, perfect love not cross, unkind
CHAPTER 33 -- Dead To Sin
Lack of this death in professors of holiness shown by fear to speak against popular sin, lack of love, self will, crucifixion to sin, how obtained, results
CHAPTER 34 -- Roots Of Bitterness
Troublesome things in pulpit and church
CHAPTER 35 -- Be Ye Holy
God's command, importance, features examined, effects on life, possibility of obedience
CHAPTER 36 -- Be Ye Holy
Importance of the question, provision made for holiness, the word of God
CHAPTER 37 -- The Carnal Mind
Consideration of Greek words rendered "mind," the carnal mind set on things earthly, sanctification turns the affections heavenward
CHAPTER 38 -- Seeking Holiness
Omit the "if," put off the old, separation to God, the work of faith, the result, dying daily, feeling not evidence, the refining fire
The words sanctification and holiness, as used in the Bible, mean the same thing. The same Greek word, hagiasmos, is translated in our Bible, sometimes by the word, holiness, and sometimes by the word, sanctification. The same is true of the word translated sometimes holy, and sometimes saint. The original is one and the same word.
1. Holiness implies, in common with a state of justification, or pardon, victory over outward sin. A person that is holy does not commit sin. This is also true of one who lives justified before God. "For sin shall not have dominion over you for ye are not under the law, but under grace." That is, grace has the mastery over you. In the struggle between grace and sin, grace triumphs.
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin."-- 1 John 3:9
But, "Sin is the transgression of the law." So that he who imagines that he enjoys the blessing of holiness, and yet does what God in his word forbids, or neglects to do what he commands, is deceived. His so-called faith is fatal presumption.
2. Holiness is a state. It does not consist of a repetition of good acts, but is the gracious condition of the soul which prompts to the performance of all good actions. It is the pure fountain from which pure water continually flows.
Proof: "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." -- I Peter 1:16.
This does not say, Do holy things, but BE HOLY.
"To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness." - I Thess. 3:13
It is the heart that is to be established; then the habits will be right, of course. These texts show that holiness is a state, and not merely good habits, much less simply a relation.
3. Holiness implies deliverance from all wrong dispositions, tempers and desires; and from all inclination to indulge those that are right, in an unlawful manner, or to an inordinate degree. There are dispositions of the soul that are wrong in themselves, such as anger, pride, and covetousness. From all wrong tempers a holy person is so far delivered that be not only does not yield to them, but he does not feel them. Other desires become sinful only when indulged in an unlawful manner, or to an inordinate degree. Our Saviour hungered. In this he did not sin, but he would have sinned, if he had yielded to the temptations of Satan to satisfy His hunger in an unlawful manner. Enoch walked with God, and begat sons and daughters. In a holy person all his powers of body and mind are brought into harmony with the will of God.
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- I Thess. 5:23.
This prayer teaches:
1. That the body is so far sanctified as to be blameless. For it must be so,
before it can be preserved in that state. Hence, when the victim of the use of
tobacco, or of strong drink, is sanctified, his body undergoes such a change,
through the power of the Spirit of God, that he no longer feels the terrible
cravings for indulgences, which were fast hastening him on to destruction.
2. The affections, passions, desires, and propensities are so subdued that
they are the occasion of good, and not of harm.
3. The intellect, the judgment, the will and the imagination, are made pure and holy in all their exercises.
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." -- II Cor. 7:1.
Here we see that holiness is opposed to all filthiness, either of body or mind. It removes from soul and body everything that defiles.
"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." -- Rom. 8:12, 13.
He that does not live after the flesh, does not bring forth the works of the flesh.
These are: "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditious, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: . . . they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." -- Gal. 5 :19-21.
They who are holy are led by the Spirit, and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit, which is:
"Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." -- Gal. 5:22, 23.
4. Holiness is distinct from justification, and subsequent to it. When one is
converted, he is so far made holy that he has victory over sin. But sin
remains, though it does not reign.
"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." -- I Cor. 3:1.
These persons were "brethren," "babes in Christ." Therefore they were justified, they were not sinners, or backsliders, yet they were carnal -- not yet made holy. A celebrated minister of the Gospel, suddenly attacked by disease, was recommended to drink brandy. He took a small quantity, and being unused to it, its effects were painfully visible. He was drunk, yet not a drunkard. So these believers were carnal -- there were divisions among them, as is too often the case, over the respective merits of their favorite preachers -- yet they were not carnally minded. In the main, their lives were in accordance with the precept of the Gospel.
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." -- I Thess. 5:23.
"So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia." -- I Thess. 1:7.
"Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." -- Heb. 6:1.
Do not these plain passages abundantly sustain all we have said as to the nature of holiness?
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." -- Heb. 12:14.
"To see God," is to be in His presence, to enjoy the bliss He alone can impart. So that, unless he "Follows peace with all men and holiness," no one, no matter what his church or his creed, can stand before the throne of God.
"These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." -- Rev. 7:14.
But "white robes" are the emblem of purity (Rev. 19:8).
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." -- Ps. 24:3, 4.
God's holy place is heaven. But only those who are pure in heart, and clean in life shall dwell there.
2. Holiness is indispensable to present happiness. The unholy person cannot be happy. He may enjoy pleasure; but pleasure is not happiness. People seek after pleasure because the are unhappy. The pleasures of the world are short-lived and unsatisfactory. But he who is holy has a never-failing spring of enjoyment within.
"In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." -- I Peter 1:8.
"The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous." -- Ps. 118:15.
3. Holiness is essential to usefulness. Unholy men may spread Christianity, but they pervert it as they spread. it. Their "riches are corrupted," and they corrupt Christianity when employed for its support. Perhaps no man ever devoted so much wealth for the spread of the Gospel as Constantine; and no one ever did so much to corrupt it. An impure channel will foul the purest water. Colored glass imparts its own hue to the light that passes through it. A holy soul alone is qualified to lead others into holiness.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." -- Ps. 51:10-13.
One may, without a clean heart, or the joy of salvation, convert people to the church, but it is to be feared that few of them will be found to be converted to the Lord.
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." -- Acts 2:4,41.
"For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." -- I Cor. 4:20.
"Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God." -- Lev. 20:7.
"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." -- I Pet. 1:15.
God never commands that which is impossible. To affirm that he does is blasphemous. It would make him out a tyrant.
2. To sanctify the soul or make it holy, is God's work. If this can be proved, then it follows that holiness is possible. With Him things are easy that are impossible for men.
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh. And I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you, an cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." Ezek. 36:25-27.
Here God says He will do the work, and do it thoroughly.
1. He will cleanse -- not from some, -- but from ALL idols, and from ALL
2. He will give a new heart and a new spirit.
3. He will cause us to walk in His statutes and judgments. He will impart the spirit of obedience, and with it the power to obey.
"Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." -- John 17:17.
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly. " -- I Thess. 5:23.
These passages plainly imply that it is God's work to make believers holy.
3. Some have attained to holiness.
"Enoch walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years."
-- Gen. 5:21, 22. "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." -- Gen. 6:9. "Job was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." -- Job 1:1.
1. Giving one's self fully to God. All of time, talent, property, reputation influence, yea life itself, must be handed over to God to be His for ever.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." -- Rom. 12:1.
"For I am the Lord your God; ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy: for I am holy." -- Lev. 11:44.
That is, set yourselves apart for God's service, and he will make you holy.
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall save it." -- Matt. 16:25.
2. Confession of all sin actual or inbred.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." -- I John 1:9.
If we confess our actual sins he is faithful and just to forgive us. If we confess our inbred sins he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
3. Faith in Christ as our sanctifier.
"God put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." -- Acts 15:9.
"That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." -- Acts 26:18.
But beware that your so-called faith is not presumption. Otherwise you may become a self-conceited Pharisee, instead of a humble, meek, holy follower of Jesus.
"How can ye believe which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only." -- John 5:44.
In both these passages faith is spoken of as the medium through which sanctification is received.
Reader, what do you think of these passages of Scripture that we have brought before you? Do they not show you the necessity and the attainability of holiness? Do you live in this state of grace? If so, thank God, and press forward. If not, make no delay to obtain it. You have too much at stake to live without it a single day. Resolve that you will be holy. Ask God to search you. If, in the light of the Spirit, you see, as is often the case, that you are not justified, have the courage and honesty to confess your condition. If in a backslidden state you seek for holiness, you will, in all probability, take up with something short of reality.
Be thorough! Confess as fully as the word and the Spirit of God direct. Give yourself up without the least reserve to obey the Lord in everything. Look to Jesus as your present Saviour from all sin. Plead His promises. Rely upon His grace to save you to the uttermost. Thus you shall soon feel the sanctifying power the Spirit of God all through soul and body. You will then, in your daily life, have your fruit unto holiness; and the witness of the Spirit will be given, to assure you of your present gracious state, and to give you a pledge of untold glories to be enjoyed in the world to come.
"Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." -- I Cor. 2:12
"Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" -- Job 1:8.
But even his friends labored to convince him that he was a wicked man. Eliphaz
says to him,
"They that plough iniquity and sow wickedness, reap the same." -- Job 4:8.
Bildad takes up the accusation and reminds him that
"The hypocrite's hope shall perish." -- Job 8:13
Zophar asks him,
"Should thy lies make men hold their peace?" -- Job 11:3
And even Elihu exclaims,
"What man is like Job, who drinks up scorning like water? Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men." -- Job 34:7-8.
This was the opinion which his friends had of him, as expressed to his face. Of course the judgment of his enemies was much more unfavorable.
Our Saviour exemplified holiness in its most perfect form. In His life, His conversation His spirit, and in all His actions He was holiness personified. He gave the most unmistakable proofs of disinterested love to all mankind. Yet the popular verdict concerning Him was,
"Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." -- Matt. 11:19.
"If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" -- Matt. 10:25
From that day down to the present, holiness in the disciples of Christ has been recognized by but few, even of those who call themselves Christians. John Wesley stated clearly, defended ably, and exemplified in his life the doctrine of holiness. Whitefield for burning zeal, and simple devotion to the cause of Christ, has not had a superior since the days of St. Paul; yet the Rev. Sidney Smith, a clergyman of the same church as that to which Wesley and Whitefield belonged, and a writer of great celebrity, but expressed the estimate in which they were held by their fellow clergymen, when he said: "They were men of considerable talent; they observed the common decorums of life; they did not run naked into the streets or pretend to the prophetical character; and therefore they were not committed to Newgate. They preached with great energy to weak people, who first stared, then listened -- then believed -- then felt the inward feeling of grace, and became as foolish as their teachers could possibly wish them to be; -- in short, folly ran its ancient course; -- and human nature evinced itself to be what it always has been, under similar circumstances. The great and permanent cause, therefore, of Methodism, is the cause which has given birth to fanaticism in all ages -- the facility of mingling human errors with the fundamental truths of religion."
In our day we see that which we deem essential to holiness purposely omitted in instructions upon this subject. Popular sins are, to say the least, silently tolerated. During the war of the rebellion, [Civil War] in a popular meeting for the promotion of holiness, in the city of New York, Rev. D. F. Newton thanked the Lord for President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. He was at once called to order for introducing a topic calculated to disturb the harmony of the meeting. There are many works on the subject of holiness, written in the days of slave-holding to circulate among slave-holders, and not a word to be found in them condemning the practice. The same spirit which led to silence respecting the sin of slave-holding in the days when all the popular churches welcomed slave-holders to their communion, today utterly ignores the existence of sins which God's word plainly condemns; but which the leading churches openly tolerate. That which encourages what God forbids is not holiness. The name of a thing does not give it its nature.
There is a powerful secret society, spreading itself throughout the country, composed largely of unbelievers, to which, however, many ministers and church-members belong. This society is thoroughly anti-Christian in its character. To pray in the lodge in the name of Christ is declared by the highest Masonic authority, to be a violation of the fundamental principles of Masonry. The members bind themselves by the most horrid oaths to submit to be murdered, and to conceal, and even commit murder under certain circumstances. Of these facts any intelligent person can easily satisfy himself beyond the shadow of a doubt. Yet in many meetings held for the promotion of holiness, to point out these hindrances to the work of holiness would be considered impertinent and fanatical.
Again the persecution to which the saints of God have always been subjected shows that holiness is not recognized when seen. The word declares,
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." -- II Tim. 3:12
This persecution varies in its form with the prevailing spirit of the age. But whatever shape it assumes, persecution never assigns as its reason, the godliness of its victims. Their obstinacy, or contumacy, or disloyalty, or heresy is assigned as the cause of their sufferings. Christ was put to death as an impostor. Luther was excommunicated as a heretic, and Wesley and Whitefield were hunted as fanatics. Their persecutors were the professed children of God, and they believed it to be a zeal for holiness which instigated their opposition to those who furnished bright examples of holiness in their lives.
On the other hand, there are those who make holiness comprise attributes which are entirely beyond the reach of a human being in our present condition. They give a meaning to the term which the Scriptures do not warrant. According to their standard, a holy person cannot make a mistake in judgment, either through ignorance or misapprehension. He must not only do right as he understands it, but do right as they understand it, under all circumstances. They measure others by their own infallibility. They make no allowance for lack of judgment or for imperfect training. He who professes holiness, must be according to their views, beyond the reach of unfriendly criticism. In addition to all this, he must never fall. Should he ever afterward manifest any disposition contrary to his profession, it is then assumed that all along he was either deceived or hypocritical. If he lost holiness, the conclusion is not only that he never had holiness, but that no one ever did or ever will! In short holiness is pronounced unattainable because some who appeared once to have attained it did not persevere to the end.
Thus a false standard of holiness is raised, and then holiness is declared to be an impossibility, because no one is found to come up to this imaginary standard. We are told to aim our arrow at the sun, and then are ridiculed because we fall short of the mark. The moral perfections of God are presented as our standard, and then we are gravely told that we cannot attain it
"Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" -- Ex. 15:11. "There is none Holy as the Lord." -- I Sam. 2:2. "The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." -- Ps. 145:17. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." -- Isa. 6:3.
This is the nature of the God we worship.
Holiness in man is derived. It is not original, nor innate. It is the image of God's holiness. It resembles His holiness, though it falls infinitely short of it. A tumbler of water taken from the ocean, possesses the same chemical properties as that which remains, though it has not the sublimity, or grandeur, or power of the ocean; so a holy man possesses in a limited degree, the hatred of sin, the sincerity, the veracity, the justice, the love, the goodness, and all the other virtues which constitute in all their fullness the holiness of God.
"Put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." -- Eph. 4:24.
"What then," says John Wesley, "is that holiness, which is the only
qualification for glory? In Christ Jesus;" (that is according to the Christian
Institution, whatever be the case of the heathen world,) "neither circumcision
availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision." It first, through the energy of God,
worketh love to God and all mankind; and by this love, every holy and heavenly
temper -- in particular lowliness, meekness, gentleness, temperance, and
long-suffering. It is neither circumcision -- the attending on all the
Christian ordinances, nor uncircumcision -- the fulfilling of all heathen
morality, -- but the keeping the commandments of God; particularly this: "Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself;"
in a word, holiness is having the mind that was in Christ, and walking as
No matter how much refinement or self-government a man may acquire by discipline, self-control is not true holiness. Some of the old heathen philosophers lived according to the most rigid rules of morality.
Here is found one fault of much that is taught for holiness in these days. It strives to make men do better, without telling them how to be better. It lays great stress upon their doing holy things, without insisting upon their being holy. The practical part of Christianity is required of men, without their being taught that they must have its inward experience. The order that Christ established is reversed. The effort is perseveringly put forth to make an evil tree bring forth good fruit. The person whom Wesley describes as an "almost Christian" would, according to the modern theology, be readily accepted as in the enjoyment of holiness. Wesley himself, before he was, according to his own statement, converted to God, might sit as the model for the modern saint. He gave largely; he was strict in his devotional exercises, and denied himself very rigidly, that he might have to give to the poor. Said a popular Methodist preacher from the pulpit in our hearing: "I thank God the time has come when men's piety is estimated, not by what they profess, but by what they give." In the middle ages warriors, whose hands were red with blood, who had plundered cities by the score, and laid whole countries waste, endeavored to atone for their crimes, by building magnificent cathedrals; and these were accepted by the priesthood as acts and evidences of piety. We are going back to the theology of the tenth century. In the largest denomination of the land, their chief Theological Seminary for the instruction of the future preachers of the church, was built and endowed by one who is notorious as a stock gambler, and whose business transactions are condemned by even the lax, Wall Street morality. In the next largest denomination, the most popular female college was, in like manner, built and endowed by one of the heaviest brewers of the country. The influence of these illustrious examples, is felt in almost every country church. Property controls the pew, and property controls the pulpit. Mammon is the chief minister in Christ's kingdom. The affairs of the church are conducted upon the same business principles as those which control other successful corporations. Experimental piety is branded as fanaticism, which in the poor is not to be endured, and in the rich is only tolerated as a necessary evil.
All this comes from the efforts to build a Christian character with self as the foundation. The seeming success is but a splendid failure. The glittering structure will not stand the first flash of the fires of eternity.
A holy nature comes from God. -- Wesley expresses the true sentiment when he sings:
"I want thy life, thy purity, Thy righteousness brought in."
It must be "brought in" to the heart by power divine; it is not there by nature. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven hid in the meal."
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." -- Ex. 20:3.
It was not enough to worship the true God-this, Solomon did, even in his
backslidden state; but no false god must be worshipped. Of the ten
commandments, nine contain negative provisions. They tell us what we shall not
do. Nine prohibitions in the Ten Commandments, and but two positive precepts!
From this we might infer that God sees that there is much greater difficulty in
keeping us from doing wrong, than there is in leading us, in other respects, to
do right. "Herod heard John gladly and did many things," but he would not put
away the woman with whom be was unlawfully living.
"Cease to do evil; learn to do well" (Isa. 1:16), is God's order. To require this, makes trouble. The Romans never scrupled to add another go to their Pantheon. They would readily have admitted Christ to that honor. But when the uncompromising Apostles demanded that their false gods should first be dethroned, Christ was rejected, and his disciples thrown to the wild beasts and to the flames. It was not the purity. so much as the intolerance of Christianity, that stirred up the fierce opposition which it encountered. The martyrs would have avoided their fate, if in addition to worshipping Christ they would have consented to worship Jupiter and Minerva. But they not only maintained that Christianity was true, but that it was exclusively true. They not only preached that, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" but that "he that believeth not shall be damned." They were bold to declare, "Neither is there salvation in any other." No terrors could induce them to join in the cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," or swear by the image of Csar. It was this opposition to all that was false, that brought them into trouble wherever they went.
In general, then, holiness implies deliverance from sin. It is the opposite of sin, as light is of darkness.
The Bible teaches us the possibility of having every wrong propensity of the soul destroyed. We are aware that some passages look, at the first view, as though the continuance of sin in the soul was unavoidable. Let us give the more prominent of these a careful and candid examination. The first to which we call attention is found in I Kings 8:46. -- " If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not.)" In the original Hebrew, the word that is translated "sinneth," is in the future tense. "This tense," says Stuart, in his Hebrew Grammar, page 207, designates all those shades of meaning which we express in English by the auxiliaries may, can, must, might, could, should, would," etc. Thus "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden." -- Gen. 3:2. The term "may eat,." is, in the original, in the future tense. So, also,
"That they may fear thee." -- I Kings 8:40.
The phrase, "may fear," is in the future tense in the Hebrew. The same is true of the phrase, "may know," in the forty-third verse, "That all the people of the earth may know thy name." Hence, a literal translation of the forty-sixth verse would read: "If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that may not sin.)" This teaches, not that every man does actually and necessarily sin, but that every one is liable to sin. It is possible that he may, but not necessary that he should sin. So, also, the supposition, "if they sin," implies that they might sin, or they might not. It expresses a contingency that could not exist if sin were unavoidable. That they might not sin, is clearly implied in the declaration that if they did, God would be angry with them, and deliver them into the hands of their enemies, so that they should be carried into captivity. But as this was not necessary, it follows that it was not necessary that they should sin.
Most of the above remarks will apply to the passage found in Eccl. 7:20,-"For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not." The word, "sinneth," is, in the original, in the future tense, and should also be rendered, "may sin." This passage teaches the doctrine that runs all through the Bible, that we are never secure from the danger of falling. In our best estate, when grace has done the most for us, we have great need to "watch that we enter not into temptation," to "keep our bodies under, and bring them into subjection," lest we should "become castaways."
"Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin." -- Prov. 20:9
"Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." -- James 4:8
In this way alone can God's command be met. -
"O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness that thou mayest be saved." -- Jer. 4:14.
"If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse." -- Job 9:20
"Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil." -- Job 1:8 "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." -- Job 14:4
"Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." -- Isa. 6:5
"All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Isa. 64:6
"I am carnal, sold under sin." -- Rom. 7: 14
2. As a converted sinner: "But when the commandment. came" to my comprehension, "sin revive, and I died;" my hopes perished.
3. As a believer in Christ: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ
Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Now, "being made
free from sin," and become truly the "servant of God," he had his
"fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
That the Apostle, in the above passage, refers to himself prior to his conversion, is the opinion of President Edwards, a Congregationalist divine, who for learning and piety, and philosophical acumen, never had a superior in this country; who says: "The Apostle Paul, speaking of what he was naturally, says, 'I am carnal, sold under sin."'
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." I John 1:8
"if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS." -- I John 1:9
"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man." -- Mark 7: 21-24.
"Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin." I John 3:9
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." -- I John 1:7
True holiness will save one from sins that are popular, just as readily as from those that are disgraceful. It is the work of the Spirit. With God, the standard of right does not vary. Selfish considerations lead men to tolerate, sometimes one sin, and sometimes another. A few years ago, many of the advocates of holiness had nothing to say against the sin of slave-holding. The Church gained by it in numbers and resources. How, many take no decided stand against pride and worldly conformity. They have not a word to utter in condemnation of conspiracies of the strong against the weak. But those who really aim at being right with God, turn from every thing which He has forbidden, even though it is encouraged by the Church.
Holiness implies deliverance from pride. A holy person cannot feel proud. A holy Church cannot indulge in pride. Pride cannot dwell in a holy soul.
"Him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer." -- Ps. 101:5
"Be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble." -- I Peter 5:5
"The poor have the Gospel preached to them." -- Matt. 11:5.
"Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." -- Matt. 1:21
This, then, is the grand peculiarity of the disciples of Christ, they are a
saved people. By nature they are no better than others. Grace makes them to
differ. And the grand distinction is found in what they are saved from. There
are dispositions and appetites which in themselves are sinful. They answer no
good purpose. They were not a part of man's nature at the beginning. They
result from the fall. No one is sanctified wholly till he is saved from these
depraved dispositions and appetites.
Holiness implies deliverance from selfishness. A selfish person cannot, at the same time, be a holy person. Selfishness is that disposition which prompts us to seek our own interests or our own gratification without due regard to the rights or happiness of others. The second great commandment is,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." -- Matt. 19:19
This certainly supposes that we are, within proper limits, to love ourselves.
The Scriptures not only allow, but command us, to have a due regard for our own
happiness. Every promise of the Bible is based upon the principle that it is
right for us, within proper limitations, to pursue our own welfare. Abraham,
in going out from his father's house,
"Looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." -- Heb. 11:10
Moses, in giving up the treasures and honors of Egypt, "had respect to the
recompense of reward." -- Heb. 11:26
But this principle so proper in itself must be carefully regulated and kept within the bounds which God has prescribed or it becomes sinful and pernicious. Self-love takes into account the whole of our existence for time and for eternity. Selfishness looks at present interest and present gratification. Self-love has due respect for the happiness of others; selfishness inclines us to seek our own gratification without regard to the duties which we owe, either to God or to our neighbor. Self-love is a principle which God gave man for his own preservation: selfishness is the sinful substitute which man at the fall adopted. The one is the alcohol which maddens: the other is the corn that gives strength and the delicious grape that gives health to man.
There is scarcely a crime which man commits, or a sin of which he is guilty, which does not originate in selfishness. It is the bitter fountain in which every corrupt stream has its source. It is the evil tree which bears every manner of pernicious fruit. It is a vice that is never satisfied; it grows by what it feeds upon. The more it is gratified, the more inordinate are its cravings. It becomes most intense when there is least apology for its existence. It has the utmost tenacity of life, and never dies a natural death. It can be slain, only by the Sword of the Spirit -- it can be destroyed only by the fire of the Holy Ghost. It can wear out the strongest constitution, but it is never worn out itself. It exists under a thousand different forms, and in every state of society. The most refined, and the most highly educated, are as much under its influence as the most ignorant and uncultivated.
Popular churches sanction and foster this selfish spirit, in selling, or renting the seats in their houses of worship. The rich man, if saved from selfishness, would not want, on account of his riches, better accommodations in the house of God, than his poorer brother. The rich and the poor would meet together as brethren, feeling that the Lord is the Maker of us all.
Every effort to raise money for religious or benevolent purposes by means of fairs, festivals, or similar contrivances, is an appeal to selfishness. Thus the sanction of the Church is given to a corrupt principle which underlies all wickedness and saps the very foundation of the Christian character. It fosters that for the extirpation of which it should put forth its mightiest energies.
Years ago, when we were first brought into the experience of the blessing of holiness, and began to realize something of its importance, we saw clearly that the enjoyment of this grace could never become general in a church, so long as pews were rented, and fairs held for the benefit of the finances of the church. We took our stand firmly against all these appeals to selfishness, as standing in the way of the great work of the Church of Christ -- the spreading of Scriptural holiness throughout the land.
Holiness and Selfishness cannot dwell together. When the Spirit was poured out, upon the opening of the Christian dispensation, the selfish spirit was utterly rooted out,
"And all that believed had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." Acts 2:44, 45.
Whether this is, or is not, to be regarded as a model for Christians, in all
ages, to follow, it is certainly a specimen of the spirit which Christian
holiness is to produce. It is an extirpation of the selfish principle.
To this end are such precepts and declarations as these:
"Let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." -- Phil. 2:3, 4. "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." -- Rom. 14:7 "But to do good and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." -- Heb. 13:1 "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." -- Gal. 6:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." -- Col. 3:2
"I know," says the Apostle, "both how to be abased, and I know how to abound, every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need." -- Phil. 4:12.
The Saviour, when he was hungry after having fasted forty days, would not
obtain bread in the manner suggested by the devil. We should follow this
example. No matter how strong may be the cravings of appetite, or to what
straits we may be reduced, we should remember that there is something more to
be considered than simply whether what is presented will assuage hunger, or
satisfy thirst. Have I the right to it? Can I obtain the right on conditions
with which I may lawfully comply? Esau did not steal, but he sold his
birthright to obtain means to gratify his hunger. Many do the same today. The
bodily appetites clamor for indulgence. Satan offers to gratify them on
condition of some service rendered to him, -- as breaking the Sabbath, catering
to the vices of others, preaching the Gospel in such a manner as to throw out
of sight the cross and the self-denial. A holy person will suffer the pangs of
hunger before he will obtain his bread by any of these methods. If he will not
resort to these means to keep from starving, of course he will not for any
True holiness will give one such control over his appetites that he will not indulge them in an inordinate degree. He eats to live, but does not live to eat. His tastes are simple and natural. His wants are easily satisfied. He who spends large sums of money to gratify his own pampered tastes, while so many are perishing of want, may be orthodox and polite, but he is not holy. No matter though he can afford to be "clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day," yet he sees representatives of Christ in the destitute around him, and he denies himself of luxuries that he may minister to their necessities. Church festivals, to raise money, are open to this, among other objections. They educate the people to make self-gratification a stronger motive to action than duty to God, and to our fellow men. They assume that Christians will do more for their stomachs' sake than they will for conscience' sake. They take it for granted that they care more for their own sensual enjoyment, than they do for the claims of God, or the sufferings of their fellow men.
True holiness saves those who enjoy it from all unnatural, depraved appetites which have been formed by a course of sinful indulgence. Such is man's depravity that he forms appetites at which his physical nature at first revolts. After a time the indulgence of these appetites is attended with momentary enjoyment. Such is the use of opium, tobacco and ardent spirits. No one likes them at first. They frequently make beginners sick. But they stimulate the nervous system, and create an excitement which affords a certain degree of pleasure. When this excitement passes off, it is followed by a corresponding degree of languor and depression. This soon becomes so insupportable that the stimulant must be had at any cost. An appetite is formed that the victims will gratify at the expense of every thing which men hold dear. Property, friends, reputation, standing, health, and even life itself are sacrificed to gratify an appetite which brutalizes and enslaves. The only safe course is to avoid the beginning. But for those who sincerely repent of their wickedness in forming and feeding such an appetite, God provides a remedy. The promise,
"If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," -- I John 1:9
covers this ground. The appetite for either of the stimulants named, cannot be
godly -- this no one contends. It cannot be indifferent, -- it is of too
positive a character. It is an unrighteousness, -- both its nature and its
effects proclaim this. That it is true of the appetite for opium and the
appetite for ardent spirits is generally conceded. No one will maintain that a
drunkard is holy.
"This ye know, that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God." -- I Cor. 10:6
But an habitual tobacco user is as clearly condemned by the Scriptures, as is
the one who habitually uses ardent spirits as a beverage. His habit involves,
of necessity, personal filthiness. But we are commanded to cleanse ourselves
from all filthiness of the flesh, and of the Spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of the Lord. We readily admit that the works of holiness may be begun in
the heart of a person who uses tobacco. But it cannot go on and this habit
continue. One or the other will cease. He will cease to advance in holiness,
or he will abandon his unholy habits. No person can perfect holiness without
cleansing himself from all filthiness of the flesh, as well as of the Spirit.
Again, we are commanded to eat and drink to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31). We do this when we eat temperately, and such things as do not injure us or others. But it is a fact, as clearly established as any fact can be, that the habitual use of tobacco breaks down the nervous system, and brings on many diseases. No man,. immoderately addicted to the use of tobacco, can retain his mental vigor, and his bodily soundness, as he could without it. No one, seeing a professed Christian smoking or chewing, will think any more highly of the Christian religion on that account. It is an act, to say the least, in which God is not glorified.
No man has the right to spend the Lord's money in this way. It is God who gives the power to get wealth. It should be used to advance His cause, -- to make men better, -- to relieve their wants and instruct them in the way of life. A Christian man cannot spend his money as he wills, but must use it as the Lord wills.
But there is little use in multiplying words on this subject. Those who are really in earnest to gain Heaven, and who are willing to meet the conditions of salvation, cannot fail to see the necessity of denying themselves of the gratification of an appetite formed in sin, the indulgence of which can do no good, but must eventually result in much harm. Those who make religion a mere matter of convenience, or fashion, would not be convinced any way, and it would do no good if they were. It is useless to talk against idols, to men who are joined to their idols. But to those who have formed this appetite, and wish to be delivered from it, we say holiness will do it. Seek earnestly to be delivered from bondage to your animal nature, and you shall be delivered. You will become spiritual by becoming holy.
"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." -- Rom. 8:14.
"Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it." -- I Thess. 5:24.
"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
"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
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." -- Prov. 8:13 "Ye that love the Lord hate evil." -- Ps. 97:10
"I hate every false way." -- Ps. 119:104.
"I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love. -- Ps. 119:113
So Bunyan truly says, "Where the grace of God is in the heart it shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor sin."
He hates sin in others. No matter with what talents, or accomplishments, or position it may be joined, he abhors it utterly. The popularity of the sinner does not mitigate the repugnance which he feels on account of his sins. There is no malice in his hatred, but the holy soul feels an instinctive aversion to sin, no matter how polished may be its appearance.
"Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." -- Ps. 1.39:21, 22
This does not imply angry, malevolent feelings, but a settled aversion of soul
toward the haters of God. As to his chosen companions, the Psalmist says,
"I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts." -- Ps. 119:63
"Let him that heareth say, Come." -- Rev. 22:17
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." -- Matt. 12:30
But unless one feels a hatred to sin he will not make war upon sin. A man who
goes to the bar and drinks water, while his friend drinks whiskey may be
personally temperate; but he certainly cannot be a very warm advocate of
temperance. It was when Paul saw that the city was wholly given, to idolatry
that his spirit was stirred within him, and he preached to them the true and
living God. Luther would never have been a reformer, had not his indignation
been aroused against the sinful practices of the Church. He made war upon the
sale of indulgences because he hated the sins that were thus encouraged. One
who sees little or no harm in pride will not insist upon humility. He who
thinks that a conspiracy of the strong against the weak, the union of believers
with unbelievers, cemented by the most awful oaths and penalties, is a matter
of so little importance as not to be worthy to be looked into, will not oppose
secret societies with any earnestness.
So of sin in all its manifestations; until it is seen to be "exceeding sinful," and hateful, no vigorous effort will be made for its overthrow. Revivals will dwindle down into periodical efforts to promote the interests of each particular sect, and the converts, instead of being made happy in God, will become at best only the zealous proselytes of the favorite opinion.
Hatred of sin will necessarily expose a person to persecution. It cannot be otherwise. Satan will never surrender without a struggle. If he is attacked he will attack in turn. He will return blow for blow. He has no scruples and feels no pity. No lie, if only it is clothed with probability, will be too great or glaring for him to employ. No character can be too well established for him to assail. When he cannot use violence he will make the most of defamation; of all the arts of which he is a most consummate master. He is ever the relentless enemy of all good. Hence the Apostle declares,
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." II Tim. 3:12
This is a general declaration. It applies to all time and all places. It must hold good as long as holiness is opposed to sin. No degree of wisdom or prudence can enable one to escape this consequence of a godly life. If you have met with no persecution it is an alarming symptom. It shows that there is an essential element wanting in your religious experience. You do not hate sin.
Hatred to sin secures the comfort of the Holy Ghost. There is no joy like that which He imparts.
"A peace to sensual minds unknown, A joy unspeakable."
With this in the heart one can go through any thing that in the Providence of God he is called upon to suffer or endure. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Yet many professed Christians know nothing about this joy. They have never felt it themselves and when they witness it in others it looks to them like fanaticism or wild-fire. The reason they have never felt it is, they have never been sufficiently given up to God to obey Him in every thing, to secure the comfort of the Holy Ghost.
"Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." -- Ps. 45:7
Heb. 1:9. To be "anointed with the oil of gladness" it is not enough to love
righteousness. If you stop there you will not receive it. You must go a step
farther and become a partaker of so much of the divine holiness as will make
you hate wickedness. Then, when you take your stand against it; when you meet,
unmovable as a rock, the billows of wickedness, God will pour up on you the oil
of gladness to that degree that you will not heed the sufferings you will
endure for your fidelity to Christ. You will have the martyr
Hatred to sin will enable you to stand true to God under all circumstances. You will not backslide. As long as sin looks odious you will not embrace it. While you fight sin in real earnest, because it is sin against God, you will not become its friend. It is the half-hearted renunciation of sin which causes so many to fall away. Lot, in Sodom, maintained his integrity because
"in seeing and hearing, he vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." -- II Pet. 2:8
"in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." -- Eph. 6:6
"So whosoever of you he be, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" -- Luke 14:3
was not spoken to those only who have not much to forsake. It applies with
equal force to the prince as to the pauper.
In proportion as we become holy we become partakers of the mind that was in Christ. A holy person will not claim, and accept any privilege in the house of God which is conceded to him on account of his wealth, but is denied to his poor but equally deserving brother, To him there is a depth of meaning in the words of our Saviour;
"How can ye believe which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" -- John 5:44
He is "a companion" -- an equal -- "of all them that fear God," (Ps. 119: 6),
and he does not accept any honor bestowed upon him on account of the superior
worldly advantages he may enjoy.
Consequently a holy person should not buy or rent a seat in a house of worship. To do this would be to give his sanction to a practice which shuts the poor out of the house of God, and which introduces into the Church an aristocracy based on money.
"The poor have the Gospel preached to them." -- Matt. 11:5
This is the standing miracle of the Gospel. False religions seek their
votaries among the rich and powerful. The Gospel was made for the poor. It is
adapted to their capacities and their wants. If the rich receive it they must
come down to a level with the poor. They must lay aside their "gold and pearls
and costly array" and be clothed upon with humility. In all ages the greatest
triumphs of the Gospel have been won among the poor. Paul, writing to the
saints at Corinth, one of the proudest cities of his times, said,
"Ye see your calling; brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." -- I Cor. 1:26-28.
"suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." -- Heb. 11:25
Job says, "The cause which I knew not I searched out." He did not accept the
popular voice as his verdict. He examined carefully, weighed impartially the
evidence, and gave a just decision.
"Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor." -- Lev. 19:15
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." -- Matt. 22:37
A failure here involves failure everywhere. Who is pleased with professions of
love when convinced that the affection is wanting? So Christ assures us that
acts of devotion are unutterably loathsome unless they spring from love.
"So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." -- Rev. 3:16
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." -- I John 5:3
"O how I love thy Law! it is my meditation all the day." -- Ps. 119:97
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways." -- Ps. 119:11, 14, 15.
This is the language of one who loves God. He studies the Bible -- not as a literary critic, but with a sincere desire to know the will of God concerning him. There was never a saint who did not love the word of God. The knowledge that a holy person desires above all other, is a knowledge of God's will. So he studies the sacred writings -- not to establish a doctrine or to prove a disputed point; but to really find out what God requires of him. He would not pervert it, nor make it bend to his convenience or his prejudices. But let one lose the love of God out of his heart, and the relish for the Bible is g one. It is generally neglected. If read, as it may be when the light becomes darkness, it is that its meaning may be perverted so as to form an excuse for an unholy life. There are many now, as in the Apostle's day, "who handle the word of God deceitfully."
A holy person has his ear open to the voice of God in the soul. There is a still, small voice, that one who loves God does not fail to hear. He who formed the ear can speak to the ear. In many things respecting which the word of God is silent, or speaks only in general terms, we need specific directions by the Holy Spirit.
"As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God." -- Rom. 8:14
If we love God, we delight to hear Him speak to us. Even if reproof is given,
we rejoice to hear it. We are glad to listen even to the warnings that our
Heavenly Father gives. But his voice of approbation compensates a thousand
times for any hardships we may have undergone, or any sacrifices we may have
made. In whatever way God speaks, or whatever may be the import of His
message, He always finds in those who love Him attentive listeners. They are
so thankful for the condescension showed that they listen with the utmost
reverence and attention. In their hearts they say, "Speak, Lord, for thy
The truly devout also take delight in ascertaining the will of God as shown in the physical laws by which our bodies and other material substances are governed. A lover of God is likely to be a lover of nature.
If we love God we have a high relish for that preaching and that reading which most plainly discloses, and most strongly enforces the will of God. We try those who say they are apostles. It was to embodied spirits, -- to preachers and teachers of the Gospel -- that the Apostle refers when he says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:" for he assigns as a reason,
"because many false prophets are gone out into the world." -- I John 4:1
We shall hear and support preachers -- not because they are talented or
eloquent -- but because they speak the word of God faithfully. This will be to
us of prime importance. No amount of polished oratory will be accepted as a
substitute for fidelity to God. A holy person cannot give encouragement to
compromisers and trimmers. He cannot bid them God-speed who bring another
Gospel. He does not help false prophets -- no matter though they may belong to
his own denomination -- by giving them his presence and his money. This,
again, will make trouble. But holiness, in a sinful world, has always been a
troublesome thing. It is so because it is holiness.
Again, if we love God we shall manifest it by unquestioning obedience to all His commands. There can be no real love to God without the spirit of obedience. Our Saviour makes obedience the test of love.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him." -- John 14:21
This is clear and conclusive. Professions of love to God, when attended by
manifest disobedience to His commands, show how easy it is to be deceived.
Christ cannot be mistaken; but the most intelligent among us may be very much
out of the way, especially in the opinion which we entertain of our own state
of grace. We are safe only as we measure ourselves by the standard which God
gives. And He repeatedly gives obedience as the test of love.
We must have respect to all of His commands. It will not do for us to make choice of those which it is fashionable to obey, and disregard those that are commonly disregarded. Such a course would prove that we are the slaves of fashion, instead of being the servants of God. This was what brought upon the Pharisees the severest denunciations the Saviour ever uttered.
Finally, he who loves God has a spirit of devotion. He loves the worship of God, secret, social and, public. The saints have always been a praying people. They talk a great deal to God. If they cannot use the enticing words of man's wisdom, they can plead before the throne with "groanings that cannot be uttered," and their prayers avail. They know that they have the things they ask for. They love the mercy-seat. Those who have been mighty on earth for God, were mighty in prayer. David was a valiant warrior; but his fiercest battles were fought out in his closet. Elijah, was too strong for his king, had power over the elements, and openly conquered death, because he prevailed in prayer.
Prayer answered turns to praise. -- Hence one who loves God delights in His praises. With the Psalmist he says,
"I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." -- Ps. 34:1
See how full the Psalms are of the praises of God. In the New Testament we are
commanded to "rejoice in the Lord always." Now if we love God, we shall delight
to do this. We would as soon think of hiring others to eat our necessary food
for us, as to hire them to praise God for us while our own tongues are silent.
A holy people will never employ others to worship God for them Never! -- Acts
of worship performed by the ungodly or indifferent, even though they be done
decently and in order, and paid for by the church, are but open mockery and not
worship. Mere sound, though it be pleasant to the ear, is not worship.
"God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." -- John 4:24
"I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." -- II Cor. 6:18
Yet the love of a mother, if not stronger, is more enduring than a father's
love. It follows her child with ceaseless anxiety to the ends of the earth,
and to the close of life. It survives the loss of character, and the wreck of
hope. It goes, with tearful eye and ardent sympathy, and trembling step, with
the criminal to his cell, and the murderer to the gallows. But a mother may
forget her child, but God will never forget those who separate themselves to
His service. They are said to be graven upon the palms of His hands to be
continually before Him.
A holy person, then, trusts in God. All his interests, for time and eternity, are committed to the keeping of Him who never wearies. He has confidence in God. A loving child is not always exacting promises -- he trusts his parents for all his needs. So a holy person trusts in God himself. He has confidence in the ability and in the willingness of His Heavenly Father to do for him the very best that his circumstances call for. He may not always see how it is coming out. He does not ask to. He feels the utmost assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God. With that he is satisfied.
He trusts God in particular:
For all the grace that he needs. He knows that God can carry him through. The channel supplied from a mighty river, may be small but it is always full. The source of the supply is inexhaustible. So is it with the fountain of all goodness. There is grace for us for any emergency. We never need be overcome. No matter how sudden may be the attack, our Protector is ever at hand. The darts thrown at us may be fiery, and hurled with tremendous force, but they can never penetrate our shield. The enemies that assail us may be legion, but more are they that are for us. Thus a holy person, while not presumptuous, is confident in God. He knows in whom he trusts, and that He is able to keep, in perfect security, that which He has committed to His care. Whatever may be his duties, whatever God may call upon him to do, He will give him grace to perform. Increasing loads of care, and labor, and responsibility may be laid upon him, but his strength is so multiplied that he is able always to testify that Christ's yoke is easy, and His burden light. Temptations most furious, most subtle, and nicely adapted to accomplish their end may assail him, but he always finds that with the temptation, God provides a way of escape, that he may be able to bear it. So his confidence in God that He will give him increased strength, as his wants require, never fails. He is not discouraged, ever ready to give up the battle; but he boldly renews it from time to time, and goes in for new conquests, and an extension of Christ's kingdom. He knows that the battle is the Lord's, and he never expects defeat.
He trusts God for temporal blessings. If God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, we should naturally expect that He would provide for His children. So His word declares that He will "withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly." He knows best what is good for us. We take the remedies which a doctor in whom we have confidence prescribes, without knowing before hand what their effects may be; and shall we not as cheerfully accept from our Father's hand whatever temporal dispensations He may order? Disappointment may be bitter, but it may be just the remedy we need to sharpen the appetite for spiritual food. Toils and privations may be grievous to the flesh, but they may be necessary to purify our spirits of their grossness and fit them for their upward flight. But whatever is best God will give us if we walk before Him in the light of holiness. Every holy person has the most unbounded confidence in the declaration,
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." -- Matt. 6:33
This does not make him indolent or improvident. Quite the contrary. He labors
unweariedly because he labors in hope. He is
"not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Rom. 12:11
He does the best he can, dismisses all anxiety, and commits all to the hands of God, for soul and body, for time and eternity. He who can trust God for his happiness in another world, certainly can have no hesitation in trusting Him to have his necessary wants supplied for the few fleeting years of his probationary existence. If God cares for the oxen, and cares for the grass of the field, He will care for His children. Their wants will be provided for if they do their duty. He can send manna in the desert, and bring water from the flinty rock. So a holy person rests in the promise, "Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure." His Protector is always at hand: his Provider is always near. The Lord is his refuge: the Most High is his habitation.
"They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion which cannot be removed, but abideth forever." -- Ps. 125:1
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." -- Matt. 22:39
"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." -- Mark 16:15
His law knows no boundary lines. His efforts to do good are not confined to
any territorial limits. His righteousness goeth forth
"as a lamp that burneth." -- Isa. 62:1
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a, liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" -- I John 4:20
Comment can make these words no plainer.
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." -- I John 3:14
This love is not bare sentiment. It is an ardent affection. It makes us care for each other's interest and welfare. We take pleasure in each other's company,
"not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together; . . . but exhorting one another daily." -- Heb. 10:25
If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it. If one soul is in destitution, those who have, are ready to supply his necessities.
"Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" -- I John 3:17
If one is in peril, others share his danger. This is the spirit of true holiness. It was exemplified fully in the primitive Christians. Paul says:
"After ye were illuminated ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly while ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly while ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." -- Heb. 10:32-34.
Lucian, a Roman writer, says of the early Christians: "It is incredible what expedition they use when any of their friends are known to be in trouble. In a word, they spare nothing on such an occasion, -- for those miserable men have no doubt they shall be immortal and live forever; therefore they contemn death and many surrender themselves to sufferings. Moreover, their first lawgiver has taught them they are all brethren, when once they have turned, and renounced the gods of the Greeks, and worship this Master of theirs who was crucified, and engage to live according to His laws. They have also a sovereign contempt for all the things of this world, and look upon them as common." This is the testimony borne by an enemy.
A holy person does not love indiscriminately and blindly those who profess to be Christians, simply because they belong to the same church that he does. This displays a partisan spirit. He tries those who say they are apostles. His love is not the result of any reasonings; nor is it based on natural qualities nor acquired gifts. It springs from the love of Christ. We love Him so greatly that we instinctively love His true friends. Those who walk in the light have fellowship for each other. They find each other out, and their hearts naturally run together. Rays of light, coming from the same source, easily mingle. Living streams, however widely separated, unite at last in the ocean. Holy persons feel that union of spirit, which is properly called, the communion of saints.
Holiness implies love for our enemies. It is impossible to have true holiness without having enemies. Christ had them. He told His disciples they should have them.
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." -- John 15:19
"Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." -- Matt. 5:44
This is Bible holiness. No other religion but that of Jesus will enable a
person to do this. There may be the semblance. Anger may be suppressed by
force of resolution. But God alone is able to make us really love our enemies,
and honestly strive to promote their welfare. The Holy Spirit will enable us
to hate sin, and love the sinner. It will make us kind to them, but not
indulgent to their faults. Holiness is not blind. It has eyes as well as
heart. It never mistakes darkness for light. To one who has true holiness it
is not hard to obey the command,
"If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." -- Rom. 12:20
"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." -- II Cor. 6:10.
Vessels floating on a river are driven up stream by the wind, but underneath,
the current flows steadily on to the ocean. So the sad occurrences of life
occasion grief to the saint, while down deep in the heart joy reigns
undisturbed. This joy is not of earthly origin. It does not stand connected
with temporal prosperity. Prosperity does not create it; adversity does not
destroy it. The good opinion of our fellow-men does not set it in motion, nor
their persecutions stop its steady flow. It does not spring from the
consciousness of the possession of any gifts, natural or gracious. It is
supernatural in its origin; pure and holy in its nature. It comes from God as
directly as pardon comes from God. It is imparted to the soul by the direct
power of the Spirit. Hence it is called the joy of the Holy Ghost. That is,
the joy which the Holy Ghost imparts. It is a God-given happiness -- happiness
intensified. It is not levity. It is a solid
There is a strong tendency to undervalue this joy. It is spoken of frequently by professed Christians in a contemptuous manner, as emotional, affecting only weak-minded persons, and short-lived in its continuance. That it is emotional, we admit. So is the compassion which leads us to relieve the suffering, without which, we are as
"sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." -- I Cor. 13:1.
And whoever reads his Bible will find that some very strong-minded persons have
been affected with joy to an overpowering degree. David was a mighty man. But
so great was his gladness when the ark of the Lord was brought up into his
city, that "he danced before the Lord with all his might." When his proud wife
"saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her
heart." (II Sam. 6:14, 16.) But God cursed her and blessed the king. As to
its duration, holy joy is to last forever.
"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." -- Isa. 35:10.
"Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance." -- Acts 2:28
"I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." -- John 16:22.
The disciples were sad at the prospect that Jesus was about to leave them. He
consoled them with the promise that He would manifest Himself to them
spiritually -- would be with them always, and this would afford them a joy that
no man could deprive them of. This joy is just as free for the disciples of
Jesus now as it was then. More than this, it is positively promised.
"He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." -- John 14:21
Every holy soul obeys Christ, and so Christ gives him a joy that man cannot take from him.
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." -- Rom. 14:17
"And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost." -- Acts 13:52
This, too, was in the midst of a violent persecution.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. -- Gal. 5:22.
"In whom though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." -- I Peter 1:8
Whoever enjoys true holiness is a believer in Jesus. But all believers have
joy unspeakable and full of glory.
How explicit are the Scriptures on this point. They show plainly that wherever holiness is, there is joy. We might go on at an indefinite length, for the Scriptures are as full, as they are plain; but if these passages which we have quoted do not carry conviction, no amount of proof will avail. The difficulty is beyond the reach of argument -- it lies in the heart and not in the intellect.
But we are not alone in our opinion of the teaching of the Bible in this matter. John Wesley says, "True religion, or a heart right towards God and man, implies happiness as well as holiness. It is not only righteousness, but also peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Joy wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, by the ever blessed Spirit of God. This peace, joy, love -- this change from glory to glory is what the wisdom of the world has voted to be madness, mere enthusiasm, utter distraction. But thou, O man of God, regard them not; be thou moved by none of those things. See that no man take thy crown.
"Joy in the Holy Ghost will far more effectually purify the soul, than the want of that joy; and the peace of God is the best means of refining the soul from the dross of earthly affections. Without doubt our joy in the Lord will increase as our love increases."
President Edwards was a rigid Calvinist -- a man of gigantic intellect, great learning and solid piety. He says, "The Scriptures speak of holy joy, as a great part of true religion. So it is represented.
"And as an important part of religion, exhorted to and pressed with great earnestness.
'Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.' -- Ps. 37:4 'Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous.' -- Ps. 97:12 So, 'Rejoice in the Lord, O, ye righteous.' -- Ps. 33:1 'Rejoice and be exceeding glad.' -- Matt. 5:12 'Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.' -- Phil. 3:1 'Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.' -- Phil. 4:4 'Rejoice evermore.' -- I Thess. 5:16 'Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in the King.' -- Ps. 149:2
This is mentioned among the principal fruits of the Spirit of grace. (Gal.
5:22.) The Psalmist mentions his holy joy as an evidence of his sincerity.
'I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches.' -- Ps. 119:14.
If glory is not begun in your heart, there is a serious lack in your experience. In like manner, we sing with Charles Wesley,
Others who do not go so far, treat these rejoicing ones in a patronizing kind
of way, as though they were to be tolerated and pitied. True holiness of
itself will make its possessor happy and triumphant. His springs are in God,
and they never run dry. He does not go to the world for pleasures, but is
"abundantly satisfied with the fatness" of God's house, and drinks "of the rivers of his pleasure." -- Ps. 36:8
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." -- Heb, 11:4.
"All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." -- Gen. 6:12.
But general corruption comes on gradually. There must have been, then, great
wickedness in the days of Enoch. But in the midst of it,
"Enoch walked with God." -- Gen. 5:22.
In this simple statement is a world of meaning. It is testimony that cannot be questioned, to his complete deliverance from every sin, and to his enjoyment of every grace which is necessary to constitute a holy character. And his daily course of life was steady and uniform. He was not at one time governed by high religious principle, and at another led by Folly in her train. He exemplified holiness in all the relations of life. He was acquainted with all the cares and trials that press upon the head of a family, but his patience, his faith, his courage never gave out. As years passed over him he did not compromise as so many do, but he held out true to God to the end. He did not hold his peace in the presence of sin; but bore an outspoken testimony against the increasing ungodliness around. Enoch prophesied, saying,
"Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." -- Jude 14, 15.
This remarkable passage shows both the wickedness of the times, and the fidelity of Enoch in giving a faithful warning. It also shows that the immortality of the soul was a doctrine well understood in those days. The language plainly implies that the saints spoken of were with God, for they were to come with Him -- He was not to go to them first and raise them from the grave.
During three hundred years -- a period three times that of our national existence -- this holy man ''walked with God." So complete was his deliverance from sin, that even his body formed an exception and did not return to the dust. In Genesis it is said,
"He was not; for God took him." -- Gen. 5:24.
St. Paul explains this as follows: "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."
NOAH. God does not leave Himself without a witness. When all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth, and the earth was filled with violence, Noah remained true to God. He stood alone. Wickedness was general. It was also most intense. Men lived long, and became proficient in crime.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." -- Gen. 6:5
It is impossible to describe sin as more intense or more deeply seated. In the midst of this moral corruption Noah lived a holy life for six hundred years. He had all the elements of true holiness.
There was a strong power of resistance. There is never an Eden on earth into which the tempter does not enter. You cannot build walls so high that they will keep out the emissaries of evil. Every apostle of truth will find it to his apparent advantage to sell out his Master. He who is willing to follow in the evil paths will never be at a loss for some to lead the way. In the most favored localities bad examples can be found. He who takes the broad road that leadeth to destruction, will never lack for companions.
Noah's friends and neighbors, relatives and acquaintances, all forsook the service of God. In most places, here and there one can be found who has the fear of God before him. But it was not so in that age of the world. Go as far as he might, in whatever direction he might, he could find no assembly of the saints -- for there were no saints to assemble. Every gathering was a wicked gathering. Every man was a wicked man. To stem this current of corruption required moral energy. He had it. We may have it. The force of gravity is just as great now as it was when the world was first swung out upon its orbit. So grace does not degenerate. It can do for us all it did for the patriarchs of the infant world.
Noah was a just man. He met all his obligations, both to God and his fellow man. Some men who call themselves honest will, when opportunity offers, take advantage of those who have taken advantage of them. They try to be even with the dishonest. If the government steals from them they do not hesitate to defraud the government. If they suspect others of misrepresenting, their own representations must be taken with allowance. But Noah was just. Honesty is essential to holiness. It is but a small part of holiness, but it is a necessary part. No excess in other directions can compensate for a lack here.
He was a devout man. While walking uprightly among his fellow men he maintained a spirit of true devotion to God. In every thing he was led by the Spirit. His life was one of communion with God. His prayers and praises were not formal. He walked with God.
Without a spirit of devotion the most rigid morality makes one but a Stoic. He is not a Christian. An essential ingredient is wanting. Without the love of God there can be no true service of God. But if we love God we shall walk with him. We shall have a consciousness of his presence. He will talk with us and we shall talk with Him.
He was consistent. His piety was all of a pattern. There was no redundancy and no lack. Some who are very devout abroad, are ill-tempered at home. Some will give liberally, but they make their money by questionable practices. Others are full of integrity, kind, polite, firm, but they encourage pride, both by silence and by example. Many hold out well for a time, and then gradually cool down to the temperature around them. But Noah was perfect in his generations. (Gen. 6:9.) He began well and he held out as he began.
In true holiness there is symmetry of character. Every one has his natural defects, but grace is intended to supply these defects. Whatever is too prominent it depresses; whatever is wrong it removes, and it furnishes whatever is lacking. Any one may become a saint. Whatever is needful for the purpose God can, by the mighty operation of His Spirit, impart. The Bible not only affirms that Noah was perfect, but the Saviour commands us to be perfect. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." -- Matt. 5:48. This has respect, not to any one good quality in particular, but to all good qualities. It is the practical application, made by the Saviour, of His own blessed teachings. It requires right feelings towards our fellow-men, and a course of conduct corresponding in every particular to that feeling. It enjoins love to our enemies, the kind treatment of all, and the full discharge of all the obligations which we owe to our Heavenly Father.
The end aimed at in all the teachings of the Bible, is this completeness of Christian character.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." -- II Tim. 3:16, 17.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." -- Eph. 4:11-13.
With all these helps, it is expected that the weakest Christian excel the
mightiest saint who lived and died without these aids.
"Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matt. 11:11
Does not the prophet refer to this when he says,
"He that is feeble among them at that day shall be is David." -- Zech. 12:8
"There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil." -- Job 1:8
He manifested his piety under a great variety of circumstances, and with the most satisfactory results.
He is mentioned in the Bible as one of the three holy men who had the greatest power with God.
"Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God." -- Ezek. 14:14.
"My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me; and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him." -- Job 23:11-15
"And it was so when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offering according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually." -- Job 1:5.
"The young men saw me and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth." -- Job. 29:7-17.
"Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die." -- Job 2:9.
Yet under this accumulation of trials, Job's faith in God never for an instant gave way. He maintained his fidelity to God to the last.
True holiness is adapted to us equally in all the relations and in all the circumstances of life. It is a crown of beauty to the young, an unfailing source of strength to the middle-aged, an unwavering support to the aged, and to all a safe covering from the scorching rays of prosperity and the blasting storms of adversity. Follow holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
"A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick." -- Isa. 65:3.
To display pride and fashion-badges of the love of the world in the church, is
as if the wife should present herself to her husband adorned with the rings and
jewels of his wicked rival and enemy.
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." -- Jas. 4:4.
"If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." -- I John 1:7.
"But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." -- Josh. 24:15
Others may make an opposite choice; I may grieve over the wrong choice they make, but I will not be governed by it. If the multitude goes right, I will rejoice in it; but if they go wrong, I will not go with them. It is not in battalions that we march up the path of life: it is in single file that we press along the narrow way. It is for want of this independent determination that so many who profess holiness do not hold out. They lean on others, and when their earthly supports give way they fall back into the crowded ranks of worldlings in a semi-Christian guise.
This decision must be self-sacrificing. He who will be holy while it is popular, or profitable, will never become holy at all. The very essence of holiness is the extinction of selfishness. It requires just as much of the martyr spirit to be a holy man or woman today, as it did in the days when they exposed holy men and women to be torn in pieces by wild beasts, or chained them to the stake to be burned. The spirit of persecution is not dead. The old antagonism between sin and holiness still remains. Christ and Belial sustain no more friendly relations to each other than they did in the days of the apostle. It is still true that
"Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Jas. 4:4.
There must be a willingness to encounter its hostility, to endure the worst that it can inflict upon us. In the 14th chapter of St. Luke are recorded several illustrations which our Lord uses to show the necessity of counting the cost, by all who would be His disciples. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
If, then, you would obtain true holiness, you must count it of more value, not only than any one thing; but more than all things else. Things that were the greatest sources of joy to you must be abandoned if they stand in the way of living a holy life.
To obtain holiness we must sanctify ourselves. This is the Lord's order as laid down in both the Old and the New Testament. He who prays for a harvest, must, if he would not mock God, prepare his ground, and sow, and till, and guard against destructive forces, in a proper manner. So he who would be holy, must break up the fallow ground of his heart, and sow to himself in righteousness. To secure spiritual results, it is just as necessary to meet the conditions which God has established, as it is to meet physical conditions to secure desired material results. The laws of the spiritual kingdom are as inflexible as those of the vegetable kingdom. No amount of faith, or of praying, can take the place of the work which God requires us to do. We must show our faith by our works.
See how explicit are the directions which God gives to those who would be holy.
"For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy." -- Lev. 11:44. "Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God." -Lev. 20:7. "And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them." -- Ex. 19:52.
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." -- II Cor. 7:1.
"But the proud he knoweth afar off." -- Ps. 138:6.
We can lay aside all its outward manifestations, and then, with confidence ask
God to take the unholy disposition from our
Again the apostle says,
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." -- Rom. 12:1.
Here again, we have the second blessing. They were already brethren. But in order to prove that "this is the will of God, even your sanctification," we are entreated to "present our bodies a living sacrifice."
This implies a consecration of every thing, even our lives, to the service of God. All our powers are to be employed as He directs. If our bodies are given to God, they must be fed and clothed and used for Him. We cannot follow the fashions of the world in any particular in which they conflict with the plain directions that God has given. We must be directed by God in our business, and in all the affairs of life.
To obtain entire sanctification we must confess our inbred sins, our sinful dispositions, which to a greater or less extent remain after one is truly sanctified to God.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." -- 1 Jon. 1:9.
"The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." -- I Thess. 3:12, 13. "If ye do these things ye shall never fall, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." -- II Peter 1:10, 11. "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last times." -- I Peter 1:5.
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." -Jude 24.
"I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." -- I Cor. 9:27.
It is evident then, that one who has experienced the blessing of holiness, can
lose it. He need not; he should not; but still he may. There is a possibility
that he may fall away.
In what relation does one stand to God who has lost the blessing of holiness? Can one lose the blessing of entire sanctification and still retain the blessing of justification? These are important questions which should be examined carefully.
When one falls into actual sin he loses both justification and sanctification. He falls into condemnation. He is no longer a saint; he becomes a sinner. If he gets back to God, he must come confessing his sins and seeking pardon.
"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." -- Jas. 5:19, 20.
It is a brother who has erred. Not a false professor, but a real Christian.
He is to be converted like any other sinner. If not converted, his soul is in
danger of death.
Again one may lose the blessing of entire sanctification by giving way to doubts and unbelief. It is by faith we stand. Whatsoever ground we gain by faith we hold by faith. By unbelief we lose it. He who walks on the water by faith, goes down, as fear supplants his faith. One may also lose the blessing of holiness by failing to confess it. In the same degree that profession becomes indefinite, the experience becomes indefinite. Doubt lies at the bottom of this want of confession. Satan is ever ready to accuse a saint of God. But to hold his ground he must keep fully consecrated to God and confess out boldly all that God does for him.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony: and they loved not their lives unto the death." -- Rev. 12:11.
"Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts." -- Mal. 3:7.
"Can one lose the blessing of holiness without losing his
We answer this question again.
Without any degree of holiness one cannot be in a state of salvation. He who is destitute of holiness is not justified. Many appear to think that they can possess saving grace without any measure of holiness. This is a fundamental error. When God forgives, he says, with power, "Go, sin no more." Such a change is wrought, instantaneously, in the moral nature of one whom God forgives, that from that moment he has power over his sinful appetites and passions. We must never lose sight of the great truth that
"He that committeth sin is of the devil." -- I John 3:8.
In the popular religion of the day, this plain statement of the beloved
disciple is completely disregarded. It is treated as though it were an
interpolation, wholly inconsistent with the general teaching of the Word of
God. But the whole tenor of the Scripture is in harmony with the teaching of
St. John. There is not, when rightly understood, a contradictory passage in
the Bible. St. Paul says,
"And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." I Cor. 6:11.
Notice the order, washed, sanctified, justified. This is God's order in saving
a soul. An unwashed sinner, wallowing in his sins, is not justified. When
forgiven he is sanctified, not only in the sense of consecrated -- that is set
apart to do God's will -- but in the sense of made holy. Not only has he
sanctified himself, but he is sanctified -- that is, God has sanctified him,
actually made him holy. From being a sinner he has become, in an important
sense, a holy man. Being thus washed, and sanctified, he is at the same time,
justified, -- that is forgiven -- and placed in a state of acceptance with
But mark! It does not say sanctified wholly -- entirely. He is so far sanctified that he has power over sin. He is not under the dominion of any of his former sinful appetites or habits. Sin does not have dominion over him as it once did. But he feels sinful tendencies remaining in his heart. He has, at times, to repress pride, to keep it down. He does not yield to anger, but sometimes he feels it, and suppresses it. He comes to God, confesses and bewails these inbred sins and is cleansed from them. He reads, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." He believes for it to be done in himself -- and it is done. He is sanctified wholly.
Can he be kept in this state? He can.
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- I Thess. 5:23.
"Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." -- I Pet. 1:5.
"With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." -- Romans 10:10.
"He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." -- Heb. 5:9.
We see then that the blessing of holiness may be lost by doubting, by failing
to confess what God has done for us, and also by actual willful disobedience.
When one loses the blessing of holiness by transgression, as David did, he
loses all. He is no longer justified. If he ever gets back to God it must be
by repentance and confession. His prayer, in substance, must be,
"Have mercy upon me. O God, according to thy loving kindness, according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." -- Ps. 51:1, 2.
In a case like this, when one loses holiness he loses justification. There is
no controversy about this, all admit it. But when one loses the blessing of
holiness by giving way to doubts and fears, under manifold temptations, the
case is different. He has not willingly given up anything. The blessing is
gone. He feels it -- he laments it. He cries out, "O that I knew where I
might find him!" When I was pastor of a church which held to the doctrine of
holiness in theory, and persecuted those who enjoyed it, one of our members, a
quiet, conscientious man, obtained the blessing of entire sanctification. He
was as happy as he could be and continue in the body. He testified to the
blessing, with great power. But when he attended his class meeting, and his
turn came to speak, the enemy, transformed as an angel of light, suggested, "If
you profess the blessing of holiness, your leader will not receive it, for he
does not believe the doctrine, but if you say you are very happy you will
confess the truth and no opposition will be aroused." He followed the
suggestion. But he had no sooner sat down than great darkness came upon him,
which lasted several months. But all this time he was one of the most careful,
conscientious Christians. He had lost the blessing of holiness, but he had not
lost his justification. Then our answer to the question is, "It depends on how
one loses the blessing of holiness whether he loses justification at the same
time." Sweeping declarations are seldom true. They need generally to be
qualified. It is not best, unnecessarily, to discourage those who have lost
some of the grace they once enjoyed. When they are on their backs the way to
recover them is not to cut off their heads. Encourage them to hold fast that
which they have, and to seek for more. Do not fall into the mistake that to be
faithful, you must discredit the professions of those whose lives are in
harmony with their professions, because they were not saved under your labors.
God has many saints that you never saw nor helped. Satan is the accuser of the
brethren. Suspicion is no proof of piety. Be more ready to build up than to
tear down, to lead on than to drive back.
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." -Isa. 40:1.
"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." -- Rom. 10:10.
Mark. It is with he mouth that confession is made. Keep up the confession until you reach eternal salvation.
The word "sanctify" is one of the words of Christ. It will not do to be ashamed of it. Christ prayed for His disciples,
"Sanctify them through thy truth." -- John 17:17.
If the prayer is fully answered, you dishonor Christ by confessing that it is answered in part. That is not the way men do in business. When a request is fully met they acknowledge it fully. If Christ not only forgives you, but sanctifies you, then it is not enough to say that you are forgiven. That is not the whole truth.
An indefinite profession will lead to an indefinite experience. The eye that is not used grows dim. The faith that is not professed, for fear of giving offense, vanishes.
"From him that hath not," so surely that he cannot profess it, "shall be taken away even that which he hath." -- Matt. 25:29
Profess out clearly and definitely all that God does for you. Only see to it,
as an old writer says, "That the bottom of your life is on a level with the top
of your profession." Let the most objectionable things that you do be perfectly
consistent with the highest profession that you
If you enjoy it, and live it, by all means profess it. If God sets this great light in the soul no one has a right to cover it up. Let it shine. Confess all that Divine grace does for you. No one can long retain this great blessing without letting it be known that God bestows it upon him. He would have others encouraged to come to Him for the fullness of grace, and so He would have those upon whom He bestows it declare His faithfulness.
"All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom." -- Ps. 145:10-12
A holy heart is pre-eminently the work of the Lord. It is a creation which His power alone can effect. It is the glory of His kingdom. Nothing demands a greater exercise of Omnipotence than to make a depraved human heart holy. Wherever this mighty act has been performed, the saints of God should make it known. They should freely and explicitly confess it, to the glory of His name.
But professions, of themselves, amount to nothing. Unfounded professions are common. They are probably not made, in many cases, willfully; but in general, once had a good foundation, and are kept up from habit, and from the vain hope that the blessing is not lost, but only the witness of it. These professors are aware that their strength is gone; but they still think it best to make as strong a show of resistance as possible; as Lee kept McClellan at bay by pointing long wooden cannon toward his camp. That there are those who really enjoy the blessing of holiness we have no doubt. Precious humble souls, they are walking in all lowliness before the Lord. May your numbers be multiplied, and your graces be strengthened and increased!
There are others whose professions are not well founded. This is evident from their fruits. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.
Some are wanting in temperance. Their appetites have the ascendency over them. They do not keep their bodies under. Deprive them of their tobacco for a single day and they are miserable. It does not seem to me that we have a right to profess holiness if the deprivation, in the providence of God, of any particular thing to eat or drink makes us wretched. If the Lord gives us enough to keep soul and body together, we should accept it with thankfulness, and go on our way rejoicing.
Temperance -- in the original "egkrateia" -- signifies self control, having the mastery over one's appetites, and if you have not this mastery, do not profess holiness until you obtain it. God can give it to you. Seek it earnestly. It may cost you a conflict, but the victory will be worth resistance even unto blood.
Some are wanting in self-denial. They profess to have renounced themselves -- their own righteousness and ease, and interests, and yet they seem to forget that this renunciation amounts to nothing, unless it embraces particulars. It would puzzle them to tell wherein they deny themselves of any coveted gratification for Christ's sake. We heard recently of some precious saints in affluent circumstances, who, after giving all they could for the relief of the starving Lancashire sufferers, deprived themselves of the use of butter, that they might have more to give. In some form or other, self-denial must be practiced daily if the blessing of holiness would be retained.
Some are wanting in non-conformity to the world. Satan has convinced them, and alas! they were but too easily convinced, that to gain an influence over worldly, gay professors, and lead them into the blessing of holiness, they must not be too strict, but must conform to worldly fashions to a degree that the Spirit of God would not allow, if they listened to His dictates. O, what a fearful mistake is this! To have God receive us we must come out and be separate. There is but one mediator between God and man, and none, that we read of, between the church and the world; and he who assumes to occupy that dubious position will, at the last day, notwithstanding all the wonderful works that he has done, hear Christ say, "Depart from me, I know you not." The heaviest blows that have been ever inflicted upon Christianity, have been given by this class of persons. Without designing it perhaps, they have, by little and little, lowered the standard of the Gospel, until the church has become deluged with a tide of worldliness that threatens to sweep away the last vestige of spiritual life. The Church grew strong and multiplied under the cruelties of Nero and Domitian; but from the effects of the patronage of Constantine it has never recovered unto this day.
It is distressing to hear persons professing holiness when decked out in "gold and pearls and costly array," and to hear them say with a show of great self-complacency when their inconsistency is hinted at, "O my conscience does not condemn me," just as if their conscience were a substitute for the explicit word of God.
Some are wanting in humility. They may be plain in their apparel, but there is about them an appearance of pride and self-conceit. They are forward and positive in expressing their opinions, and seem to think that nothing is done right in which they do not participate. Let us remember, beloved, that perfect love is never found only in connection with the deepest humility. Do not take up more time in meetings than belongs to you. If you are a minister, and occupy your hour in preaching, do give the people an opportunity to witness in the social meetings, and do not yourself occupy half the time. Such a course does not savor of humility. There may be others who have not the gift of utterance that you have, who have yet a much richer experience in the things of God; it would do you and others good to listen to them. If you have true humility, one effect will be to make you "swift to hear and slow to speak."
Others are wanting in love. They may be rooted and grounded in doctrine, but not in love. They cannot bear much. They are quick and sensitive. In their intercourse with their families there is what sounds and looks very much like fretfulness. Little things chafe, annoy and irritate. This cannot be where true holiness is enjoyed. It produces a calm quiet and evenness of temper that makes itself felt everywhere, and especially in the family circle. We may be firm and decided with our children without being cross. Anything like scolding will not only hurt us but hurt them. If necessary to use the rod of correction, do not spare to use it, but let it be in love.
Let us, beloved, search ourselves. We may be right. Whatever our trials, God is willing and desirous to give all needed grace. "Hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering," and then live up to your profession.
It is of no use to profess holiness unless you enjoy it in your life. That you had it once, is no evidence that you have it now. You may still be orthodox in your doctrines, strictly moral in your life, faithful in the performance of all the common, outward duties of religion, -- nay, you may even be devoted to the advocacy of holiness, without truly possessing this grace. "Were a man," says Wesley, "as harmless as a post, he might be as far from holiness as heaven from earth." Holiness is our complete renewal in the image of God, -- the perfect love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost given unto us, so that we love God with all our heart, and mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourself.
It is not merely victory over sin, -- this is given to every pardoned soul, -- but it is deliverance from sinful tempers themselves. The old man is not simply bound, -- he is cast out with all his goods. There is not merely a calm, emotionless surrender of ourselves, -- a "laying of our all upon the altar," but there is a dying out of self which can no more take place without deep emotion, than can natural death come upon a strong man without painful struggles. The animal life does not contend more stoutly with the king of terrors, than does the sinful life with the King of grace. The old man does not die until compelled to. The death struggles, whether more or less protracted, are real, and not imaginary or figurative. Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ;" and so does every one say, who has experienced inward holiness. But crucifixion is death, and a painful death. No one can give up all his cherished plans, and dearest associations, to follow Christ fully in the path of humility, reproaches, persecutions and afflictions, without a pang. When he makes this surrender, he will know it. But it must be made, if the joys of full salvation would be experienced. When sinful self ceases to live, then Christ comes in and takes possession. The heart emptied of sin, is filled with the Spirit. A peace, which passeth all understanding, continually reigns. The ransomed believer now rejoices in Christ with "joy unspeakable, and full of glory." No words can express the rapture of his soul. Standing upon the tops of the mountains, where he is fanned by the breezes of Paradise, and ravished by a sight of the celestial city, he shouts aloud the praises of God; or, lying low in the valley of humility, he feels "A sacred awe that does not move, And all the silent heaven of love."
His heart is full of gratitude and praise, and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaketh.
There is, we are aware, an experience called holiness, very different from this. The professor, in nine cases out of ten, one who has lost his first love, and who, therefore, needs to repent like any other sinner, is persuaded that he needs the blessing of holiness. He is told to deliberately consecrate himself to the Lord, -- to "lay all upon the altar." When this is done, he is taught that he must believe, upon the authority of God's word, that the sacrifice is now accepted; that "the altar sanctifies the gift," and that he now enjoys the blessing of holiness. If he urges that he does not feel any different, -- that he has not experienced any change, he is assured that he must live by faith and not by feeling, that he must honor God by believing His word. The next and last step is to make a profession of holiness, and this must be kept up henceforth. Such a process, involving no mortification of pride, but rather gratifying it by giving one a reputation for piety, becomes popular wherever presented. Many pass through it, profess holiness, and deceive themselves to their soul's undoing. They say they are "rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; " when, in reality, they are "poor and miserable, and blind and naked." They are as full of self as ever, conformed to the world, willing to receive honor of men, and ready to compromise whenever fashion demands it. They wink at popular sins, or boldly apologize for them. We have seen such men, with their golden spectacles, and gold or silver beaded canes, shutting out of meetings for holiness all testimony against slavery in the church, -- and women adorned in "gold, or pearls, or costly array," pleading for worldly conformity, because their hearts are set upon these things!
Such persons enjoy holiness? Why, according to the Methodist standard, -- and such are found among Methodists, they are not scripturally awakened, much less converted or sanctified! The "General Rules" of Methodism say that "we know that God's Spirit writes on truly awakened hearts," the necessity of avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as "Laying up treasure on earth," -- but these would make gain of godliness; "Softness and needless self-indulgence," -- but these indulge self, in eating, drinking, dress, and conversation; "Reading those books that do not tend to the knowledge or love of God," such as novels, and the light literature of the day; "The putting on of gold and costly apparel," but these say their "conscience does not condemn them" for doing so. Yet, you profess holiness! Why, according to the standard of your own church, you are yet an unawakened sinner? You may occupy a high official or social position, may have written a book on the subject of holiness you may be justly entitled to the gratitude and respect of the church but all this does not prove that you are now in a state of salvation. If you do not "deny yourself and take up your cross daily, submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world, and looking that men should say all manner of evil of you falsely, for the Lord's sake," you have not, the Methodist Discipline says, "really fixed in your soul," even "a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from your sins!" This is the decision which Methodism pronounces upon your condition. And is it not the Bible view of the ease? Has not the light that was in thee become darkness? O, be honest with yourself! You confess to a loss of power. This is so striking that, blinded as you are, you cannot fail to perceive it. But if the power is gone, the purity is gone, the Holy Ghost, the sanctifier, is gone! Rouse from this state of stupid insensibility. Bewail your loss. Humble yourself deeply before God. Obtain pardon while you may. Then press on to full salvation. Remember that, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Resolve to have the real thing if it takes your life. There is an awful warning to those who have been living in the way of salvation, and have enjoyed many works of the Divine favor, and are full of honors, in the record that is given of one, once a favorite of heaven.
"It came to pass, that when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God." -- I Kings 11:4.
"Love envieth not." -- I Cor. 13:4.
"without which no man shall see the Lord." -- Heb. 12:14.
"They have provoked the Holy One of Israel." -Isa. 1:4. "But shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel." -Isa. 10:20.
The Messiah in like manner is called the Holy One.
"Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." -- Ps. 16:10. "I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God." -- Luke 4:34.
"Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." -- Eph. 4:24.
This implies that there is a false holiness -- that which passes for holiness though wanting in some of its essential properties.
"That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." -- Luke 1:74, 75.
"But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." -- Heb. 10:32-34.
"Sanctify them through thy truth." -- John 17:17.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." -- Matt. 7:20.
Some love the world. They do not attempt to conceal it.
"If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." -I John 2:15.
They seek the friendship of the world. For this purpose they enter into voluntary associations of a purely worldly character. They give these the preference over the Church of Christ. They are found at the lodge more frequently than at the prayer-meeting.
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." -- Jas. 4:4.
"And what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" -- Micah 6:8.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." -- Matt. 22:37.
This is plain. It is as reasonable as it is plain. "With all thy heart" --
not with the heart of an archangel -not even with the heart of a superior human
being -- but "with all thy heart." The weakest, the most ignorant can do that.
The strongest, the most gifted can do nothing more. This is what the Bible
means by our being sanctified. It is loving God with all our heart and soul
But, that sanctification is not merely a change in our condition or relation but also a change in our nature, in our character and conduct, the Scriptures plainly teach.
Take one plain passage,
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." -- I Thess. 5:23, 24.
"holiness without which no man shall see the Lord." -- Heb. 12:14.
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." -- I Tim. 6:12.
Our Lord says,
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." -- Matt. 10:34.
Wherever sin and true holiness come in contact there must be
All eminent saints have been great warriors. Paul describes his life at its close by saying, "I have fought a good fight." Luther and Wesley and Finney were mighty men of war.
But see to it that in the midst of all your fightings you keep filled with love.
We have a Presbyterian brother -- a devout man of God, and an able preacher -- who holds to the doctrine of sanctification. He says that, as a matter of fact, he finds that those professing holiness are generally "sanctified in streaks." Is there not too much ground for this observation?
Some evidently love the world. They gain all they can, and save all they can, -- but they do not give all they can. They have enough, and more than enough, to make themselves and those dependent on them comfortable as long as they live. Still they go on laying up for themselves "treasures on earth." Some make a gain of godliness. Even "holiness camp-meetings" are so managed that a good deal of money is made out of them. The ground for tents to stand on is rented at a large profit; the tents and furniture are rented at a profit; and even the railroads -- grasping as are these corporations -- are made to share with the managers, the profits of carrying the worshipers to these great gatherings. If those who labor specially to promote holiness set such an example of money-making, is it to be wondered at if the same spirit should be imbibed by others?
Some are greatly wanting in meekness and humility. They put on style. In their dress, they violate the plain rules of Scripture. They mince their words, and affect a high degree of social refinement in their manner of speaking.
Others are too forward. They never know their place. If they cannot lead, they balk. They must be foremost, or they will not work at all. If you disagree with them in opinion, they take it that you are their enemy. An effort to correct anything that is really objectionable, they count as persecution. They are not "easy to be entreated."
Some are wanting in self-denial. They live in ease and self-indulgence. They do not seem to know what it is to deny themselves of anything for Jesus' sake.
Beloveds, the Gospel proposes to effect in each one of us a perfect cure. We are sanctified
"through the truth." -- John 17:17.
This cannot be too strongly impressed upon the mind. You will be sanctified only so far as you receive the truth. If your views of truth are defective or distorted, there will be a corresponding defect or distortion in your piety. Do not be rickety Christians, with a head disproportional to the rest of your body. SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES. Aim at a full and harmonious development of all the Christian graces. If you find you are defective in any respect, do not peevishly throw away the whole of your experience, and go over the same old, beaten road again, but come to God for that particular grace. Persevere in prayer until you get it. Insist upon it that it is your privilege to be right with God in all respects. Be willing to know your faults; for until you know them you will never seek deliverance from them. Welcome the light.
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity." -- II Pet. 1:5-7.
"The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." -- Luke 1:73-75.
"The earth also was corrupt before God." -- Gen. 6:11.
That is, it was thoroughly and generally corrupt. Of Zacharias and Elizabeth
it is said,
"They were both righteous before God." -Luke 1:6.
They were really and consistently righteous. So the phrase "holiness and
righteousness before the Lord" implies that there is a holiness that will not
bear the inspection of God's all-searching eye. The same idea is conveyed by
"Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." -- Eph. 4:24.
Why this qualifying word "true?" The inspired writers do not use such terms at random. "True holiness" implies that there is a false. This is evident. The Scriptures then put us on our guard. We must, therefore, examine carefully the holiness teachings which seek our approval. Are they in harmony with the teachings of the Bible? They may be in some respects and yet be radically wrong. The doctrines we receive are the invisible chains that bind us to a life of faith and obedience. But a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. So, much that passes for holiness will be found defective in the day when its strength is tested.
This defective holiness is rapidly on the increase. It is becoming popular. It excites little opposition, provokes little persecution.
1. Bible holiness implies a settled hatred of sin. A holy person puts away all sin. He gives it no countenance, either in himself or others. And he calls that sin which God calls sin. No one says, "I will go and commit some sin against God." But he does something which God says he must not do, or he neglects to do something which God says he must do. Talk about consecrating some favorite idol to the Lord! God says put it away. You may consecrate as much as you please, but God will have nothing to do with it. The goodly Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold he will not accept even if consecrated.
God says, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel." -- I Pet. 3:3. Many holiness teachers not only do not enforce this command, but they set the example of its open violation. We have seen gentlemen holiness teachers with ornaments of gold plainly in view; and lady teachers waving ostrich plumes upon their bonnets. Yet they make a very strong profession of being saved from sin. But the trouble is they do not call it sin to break a plain command of the Bible which it is popular to break. Their rule of conduct is, not the word of God, but the usages of what is called good society. According to their method of teaching, the Bible must be construed, no matter what violence is done to its language, so as not to offend the popular sentiment. This quality that aims to please, and never to give offense, that suppresses in religious gatherings all plain testimony against worldly conformity in dress or needless worldly associations, by joining secret societies, may appear amiable and attractive; but it is not Bible holiness. To call it so is misleading. Its proper name is politeness, and not holiness. Well-bred people of the world act in the same way when it does not conflict with their interests. Understand us. We do not say that this easy complacency is all wrong. In a worldly sense it may do good. It smoothes much of the asperity of daily life. It is as oil to lessen the friction which results from the intercourse of persons of opposite views and conflicting interests. But it is not Bible holiness. It is wanting in the fundamental element -- that love for God which leads one to obey all his commands. It fatally mistakes a love of popularity for the love of God. This is not the holiness of George Fox and John Wesley and Charles G. Finney. These men of God bore clear, ringing testimonies against popular sins. Theirs was not that complacent, man-pleasing spirit that fears to offend the world. They gave no quarters to popular sin.
2. Bible holiness implies that the heart is filled with love -genuine love to God and man. It reproves, but it does it in the spirit of meekness. It bears an out-and-out testimony against popular sins, but it does it in kindness and not in anger; for conscience sake and not to gratify a spirit of resentment.
The great skill of the deceiver is shown in pushing earnest souls into the one extreme or the other. Some of the zealous advocates of holiness not only reprove sin but they undertake to anathematize all who dare to disagree with them. To oppose their course they call fighting against God. Let one do it ever so mildly and he is assailed by the most opprobrious epithets they can use. This furious zeal they call holiness. And the strangest part of it is they get some honest souls to accept their leadership and indorse all they do and say. These fierce propagandists, with tongues and pens like a sharp two-edged sword, manifest a spirit that we would look for rather among the devotees of Islam than among the followers of Christ.
A holy person does not indulge in fierce vituperation and denunciation. He is uncompromising -- but at the same time gentle and kind.
Let us then see to it that we walk blameless in holiness "before the Lord." Deception can be of no avail. At the best it is short-lived. We shall soon enter upon a world of stern realities. We shall, whatever estimate we put upon ourselves, be weighed in the undeviating balances of God's sanctuary. Let us see to it that we be not found wanting.
"He that committeth sin is of the devil." -- I John 3:8.
This we must insist on. And also
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." -- I John 3:9.
Those who are made to believe that they can be good Christians and at the same
time live in sin do not desire to become holy. Why should they, if they can at
the same time enjoy the pleasures of sin and reap the rewards of holiness? We
must remove this delusion from the minds of the people. We must show that the
popular religion of the day is not true Christianity. It takes courage to do
this in a proper manner. It must not be done in a way to create the impression
that we are making war upon the churches. This would stir up
There must be nothing belligerent or pharisaical in our manner. We must do it in the spirit in which Paul wrote of the carnal professors of his time.
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." -- Phil. 3:18, 19.
That this applies too generally to the members of popular churches, their
pastors practically acknowledge, by getting up festivals and appealing to their
appetites when they wish to raise money. There is a great difference in the
effect between saying this in a harsh, censorious, upbraiding spirit, or saying
it, as Paul did, with a tender heart, even weeping. It is a sad sight, -- one
to make angels weep, -- to see pulpits and pews of professedly Christian
churches filled with men and women who give the most unmistakable evidence of
"minding earthly things," of living in plain violation of the commands of God.
But instead of crying "peace and safety" and representing to them that "if they
go on they will finally get to Heaven," but they "need the blessing of holiness
to make them more useful," we must show them tenderly but plainly from the word
of God that the end of the course they are pursuing is
Where this is done in the Holy Ghost the work of holiness will go on in power. The people will be led to repent of their sins; and then go on "perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." They will get an experience that fills them with joy; and that will give them power over others.
But when in a church composed of backsliders and of those who never were converted, holiness is preached as a blessing that they may receive at once, by simply believing, the result is self-deception. Many profess entire holiness when at the utmost they have only obtained pardon. They are urged to profess the highest state of sanctification when they are in the lowest state of justification. And some even become the advocates of holiness when, according to the standard laid down in the Bible and in the M. E. Discipline, they are not fully awakened. The sad sight is witnessed of men preaching holiness who are so defiled by tobacco that the pure shrink from coming near them, and of women, waving their plumes and flaunting their jewelry professing to be saved to the uttermost! This makes sensible people mistrustful of the doctrine.
To promote the work of holiness then, we must not close our eyes to this state of things, and act as if it did not exist. A doctor never cures the cholera by treating it as if it were only a slight irregularity. We must acknowledge the desperate state of the case and apply the proper remedy. It will of course stir up conflict, but we must meet it in the name of Jesus.
It is cowardly and criminal for the advocates of holiness to encourage professors in self-delusion. It is treason to Christ to persuade those who know they love the world, that they are in a state of salvation -- weak it may be -- to be pitied and petted, when they need to break down before God and seek forgiveness. Let us do thorough work for God.
"Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully." -- Jer. 48:10.
"And we are his witnesses of these things: and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." -- Acts 5:32.
"But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one, no not to eat." -- I Cor 5:11.
Calling a man a "brother" does not make him a brother in Christ. When then,
Paul speaks of the church at Corinth as sanctified, he speaks of it in its
general character, and then points out the
2. Every Christian is sanctified. Before he is converted he sanctifies himself; that is, sets himself apart to do God's service, to abandon sin and lead a holy life. When converted he is sanctified by the Spirit -- is really made holy to that degree that he has victory over sin. He does not commit sin.
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." -- I John 3:9.
This is a high state of grace. But it is not entire
With the Thessalonians, Paul in his first epistle, finds no fault whatever. He speaks of them in terms of the highest commendation. Yet he prays for them.
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." -I Thess. 5:23.
They were already sanctified in part. He prays that the work may be done for
them by God -- and does not tell them to look for it by a process of gradual
development and growth. They already had a genuine Conversion. They were
active, zealous Christians, fit subjects for the blessing of
These two distinct works of grace are recognized also in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. They were converted -- sanctified in part -- babes in Christ. But as there were strifes and divisions among them, they were not spiritual -- not sanctified wholly -- but carnal, and walked as men. (I Cor. 3:1, 3.)
The same idea is also expressed in Titus 3:5, 6: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Here we have -- 1. The work of conversion expressed by "the washing of regeneration." 2. Of entire sanctification expressed by the "renewing of the Holy Ghost."
So also in II Peter 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Here is -- 1. Conversion -- "having escaped the corruption," and 2. Entire sanctification -- "partakers of the divine nature."
These two works are distinctly referred to in the Old as well as in the New Testament. Some get into perplexity by confounding sanctification with entire sanctification. We should be careful and not do it. By using Scriptural language in its proper connection, we avoid confusion and help to promulgate sound doctrine.
By seeking entire sanctification as a distinct blessing obtainable by faith we get it clear and definite, to the satisfying of the soul; while those who think they obtained all at conversion that God can give them, generally either go back, or go on in a manner unsatisfactory even to themselves. They very rarely can testify that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses them from all sin. Their experience and their language are indefinite. But let them make a definite consecration, and pray definitely to be sanctified wholly, and the work will be done.
These are not so far apart as many imagine. They bear about the same relation to each other, that a weed cut off, does to a weed pulled up by the roots. The one may be compared to a piece of land just cleared off with the stumps still remaining, the other to a field from which every root has been extracted. Both bear fruit of an equally good quality, but the latter is more easily cultivated, and yields the more abundant harvest. The justified soul does not commit sin, but he feels sin still remaining, against which he is compelled to fight that he may retain the mastery. The sanctified soul is delivered from all evil tempers -- no wrong temper -- none contrary to love remains in the soul. All his thoughts, words and actions are governed by pure love. The temptations of the sanctified, -- for they are often most fiercely assailed, -- are of external origin. A skillful general desires most the destruction of those forces that can harm him most. Satan is an able and artful warrior. He lays his deepest plots, and exerts his mightiest energies for the overthrow of those who are seeking to follow the Lord fully, knowing that through them his kingdom suffers its greatest losses. If any one in probation supposes himself beyond the reach of temptations, he is either already within the grasp of Satan, or he is most woefully deceived. But he whose "life is hid with Christ in God," feels secure, though Satan rages. The merely justified has to meet, not only the onsets of Satan, but is compelled to struggle against the remaining corruptions of his own heart. The one has both a civil and foreign war to carry on at once; the other has a foreign war alone. Beloved, hasten to the fountain that is opened for sin and uncleanness. This is the will of God, even your sanctification. Give yourself no rest until you know and feel that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin.
Holiness, Entire Sanctification and Perfect Love are different Bible terms used to denote essentially the same state of grace. The same building may be called a house, a residence or a home. Each has its different shade of meaning. But whatever term is used to designate a state of conformity to the will of God, it must not be lost sight of for a single moment, that love constitutes an important element. Christ says,
"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." -- Matt. 5:44-45.
If one professes to be wholly sanctified to God, and manifests continually
towards those who do not indorse him a malignant spirit that loses no
opportunity to wound them with tongue or pen, we must not receive his
profession. Weighed in the balance of God's sanctuary he is found
But Perfect Love never gives its countenance to sin in any shape or guise. It loves the sinner, but it hates sin. It reproves it whenever found. It is not spared because it is fashionable or profitable. True holiness is not wanting in any of its parts. It does not "tithe mint and anise and cummin," and neglect weightier matters.
perfect." -- Matt. 5:48.
The phrase "even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," does not denote the degree to which we are to be perfect, but the reason why we should be perfect. Be perfect servants of a perfect God.
"I am the Almighty God: walk before me and be thou perfect." -- Gen. 17:1.
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom: that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." -- Col. 1:28.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." -- II Tim. 3:16, 17.
"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." -- Phil. 3:12.
Yet almost in the same breath he says, "Let us therefore as many as be
perfect." This implies that he counted himself among those that are
We never read in the Bible of any being made perfect by faith.* We read of persons being "justified by faith." -- Rom. 9:30; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 3:24: "sanctified by faith." -- Acts 15:9; Acts 26:18; but never once a person being made perfect by faith. Quite another element enters into the making of the saints perfect. "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Heb. 2:10. The perfection which the Gospel enjoins upon the saints can only be attained by fidelity in doing and patience in suffering all the will of God. A symmetrical, well-balanced, unswerving Christian character is not obtained at once. When Paul, and Barnabas would "confirm the souls of the disciples," they did it by
"exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." -- Acts 14:22.
"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded." -- Phil. 3:12-15.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." -- Matt. 5:48.
"love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us." -- Rom. 5:5.
When this is the case -- when we love God with all the heart, mind and
strength, and our neighbor as ourselves -- then have we perfect love. Not that
it is incapable of increase. As our capacities enlarge, our love will
increase, but as we now are we can do no better; and it is accepted according
to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not. If we have this
perfect love to God, it will be manifested -- not in words only, but in
We shall keep His commandments. Our study will be to know His will, with an honest intention of doing it, with whatever losses or crosses it may be attended. We shall ask, What does God require? -- not what is pleasing to self or popular with the world.
We shall manifest our love to God, by acts of kindness, just as far as we have the opportunity, to all of His creatures. We shall take the greatest delight in those who love Him most.
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" -- I John 4:20.
This is emphatic. It shows that our professions of love to God amount to absolutely nothing, unless we love our fellow-men especially those who are striving to keep His commandments. The charity that Paul speaks of in the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians, without which the strongest faith and the largest faith and the largest gifts, and even martyrdom for the truth, will profit us nothing, manifests itself in tender feelings and kind conduct towards our fellow-men.
Do not profess perfect love, if you are cross, unamiable, and unkind at home. If you have not natural affection, you certainly have not supernatural. If you do not do as well as the brutes, do not profess to be like the angels of God. If you are not kind to her whom you have sworn to cherish, or to those whose protector nature has constituted you, stop your professions at once. You have already sins enough to sink you to hell, without adding hypocrisy to them.
If you cannot treat your brother, whose opinion may not always coincide with yours, as civilly as men of the world treat each other, do not profess perfect love. It does not require any grace to love those who agree with our opinions, and who yield in willing deference to our authority. Common sinners do as well as that.
If you are injuring your brother's influence by unkind words and injurious insinuations, do not profess perfect love. Remember that
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbor." -- Rom. 13:10.
Therefore if you are doing him harm by talking against him when at the same
time you say that you love him, you show that at the best, you are
self-deceived. You are mistaken in your profession. You do not enjoy that
state of grace that you think you do. A little candid reflection would
convince you of this. There is always a care for the reputation of those that
we tenderly love.
"If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." -- I John 4:12
"Put off . . . the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." -- Eph. 4:22.
The modern interpretation is, "Sanctify him." So he makes an effort to get
sanctified, and professes that it is done. But he will not stay sanctified.
It is like putting a thin coating of silver on an iron spoon. A little wear
brings the base material to the surface. A few knocks, and the old nature is
apparent. The coating here and there comes off and he presents the appearance
of being sanctified in spots.
There is an experience which will enable us to stand true to God, and true to our own convictions everywhere. Job had it. Paul lived in this state till death. God's true saints have had it in all ages. Paul tells us in his own experience how it is obtained.
"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." -- Gal. 2:20.
"The Lord gave; and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord." -- Job 1:21.
He blessed the Lord in his affliction, and the Lord blessed him out of his
affliction. His latter state was better than his
The only way to life is through the valley of the shadow of death. The worm weaves its shroud to get its wings. It dies to the earth that it may live in the air. After the crucifixion of self comes the resurrection to life. As the old nature dies we are transformed into the divine nature. The change is real, and may be permanent. The whole being is changed. The intellect is stronger and more active. Truth is comprehended and retained more easily than before. The conscience is corrected, and invested with sovereign authority over the entire man. Truth is loved and sought after and embraced. There is a keen sensitiveness to right and wrong. The side of right may have but few adherents, and they despised; but it can never be so unpopular that it is not, when seen, espoused and defended.
The body appetites undergo a great transformation. Those that are unnatural are removed. Those that are natural and right within proper limits are subdued and brought into subjection to reason and conscience. The reins of government have passed from the carnal to the spiritual. He is still in the body, but not in the flesh. The flesh no longer dominates and controls. A blessed harmony prevails throughout his entire being. One thus saved is no longer at war with himself. The rebel is dead. The "I" that made trouble is crucified. It no longer lives. Christ has taken possession. He sits upon the throne of the affections. The words and actions prompted by His Spirit are in harmony with His teachings,
"It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him he also will deny us." -- II Tim. 2:11,12.
"diligently, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." -- Heb. 12:15.
"For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." -- 1 John 5:3.
Or, on the contrary, are they conformed to this world? If not, if they are
simple and plain, are they bitter in their spirit and denunciatory in their
Christ said of the Pharisees,
"Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves." -- Matt. 23:15.
We must see to it that we are not of that sort, and that our converts are not
of that sort. Zeal and success in making converts and in getting them into the
church are not evidence that those who have the zeal and meet with the success
are children of God. Both those who lead and those who follow may be blind.
The church and the world greatly need those who can and will do true work for
God. Many who seem willing to do it are not in a spiritual condition to do it.
They are either too complaisant or too bitter. Their converts are either
baptized worldlings or self-complacent
Who will have true charity and will do faithful work for God?
"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." -- I Pet. 1:15.
This is not an isolated command. It is found in varied forms in every portion of the Bible. It stands out prominently in every dispensation. Some of the early patriarchs furnish bright examples of obedience to its requirements. "Enoch walked with God" so closely that he was taken up bodily to the abode of the blessed without ever tasting death. Job demonstrated to the world that it is possible for a man to keep holiness, though he loses everything else. Daniel proved that a man can live a holy life in the courts of kings, surrounded by every temptation that pleasure and ambition can furnish. No command of the Bible is stated more clearly, and few more frequently, than the requirement to be holy.
It is an important command. Viewed in whatever light it may be, it is one of the most weighty of all the requirements which God has made of man. Obedience to it is crowned with the greatest blessings God can bestow, disobedience to it makes the transgressor wretched for time and for eternity.
You who have been accustomed to look upon holiness as simply a privilege which can be neglected with impunity; be convinced of your mistake. If you neglect it, you neglect it at no less a peril than the loss of Heaven.
"And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." -- Rev. 21:27. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." -- Heb. 12:14.
"We, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life." -- Luke 1:74, 75.
Our sins are our greatest and most dangerous enemies. The angel who announced
the coming of Christ said,
"Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." -- Matt. 1:21.
Then ask the Lord, for Christ's sake, to save you from all your sins, and make
you holy. All admit that he can save from the greater and grosser sins -- from
murder and theft and profanity. Why can He not then save from the more subtle
and refined sins, from envy and pride and discontent? What reason is there that
He cannot? What text of Scripture is it which goes to prove that Christ cannot
save from every sin, to which man is subject, those who obey Him? When God
makes a requirement, He gives the ability to meet it. The two go together. He
is not a hard master. He does not attempt to reap where He has not
All that is said about the natural weakness and depravity of our natures is true. But the Gospel proposes to make us new creatures. So the bare fact that God commands us to be holy is proof conclusive that He has made ample provision for us to be holy. Exceeding great and precious promises are given, on purpose that we may avail ourselves of them, and thus become "partakers of the divine nature " -- that is, become holy. (II Pet. 1:4.)
The command we are considering requires us to be holy in our whole manner of living. Our holiness must be not only experimental but practical. It must manifest itself in all the ordinary affairs of life. The word "conversation" is one of the few words which have changed their meaning since King James' translation of the Bible was made. Then, it meant one's general conduct, or behavior. Now, we restrict its meaning to familiar discourse with each other by word of mouth. In both senses God requires us to be holy.
Our language must be on all occasions chaste and pure. Here is a general rule for all Christians:
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." -- Eph. 4:29.
A holy heart employs a holy tongue He is deceived who thinks his heart is holy while his conversation is unholy. The state of the heart determines the character of the language. Corrupt communication proceeds from a corrupt heart.
If we are holy in conversation we shall be careful not to say anything to the injury of anyone, unless the law of love requires it, in order to prevent him from injuring others. He that shall dwell in God's holy hill
"backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor." Ps. 15:3.
A holiness that does not save from evil speaking is of little worth. As a rule, if you cannot say something good of the absent, then say nothing at all. When tempted to cast some reflections upon those who are not where they can explain what is calculated to lower them in the estimation of others, then resist the temptation and find something good to say of them and you will find a blessing to your soul.
The holiness required must manifest itself in all our business matters. It demands the strictest honesty; but it goes beyond that. Men who borrow money through the influence of representations which they know are not strictly true, should not make any profession of holiness, nor even of justifying grace. A religion devoid of honesty is utterly worthless. No pains should be taken to keep it; for it is not worth keeping. We must exercise a good conscience in every business transaction with which we are connected. The directions which Paul gives to Christian servants, if carried out, would make their services in good demand by all who have need of service.
"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, us unto Christ; not with eye-service, as menpleasers: but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." -- Eph. 6:58.
There are two remarkable things in this passage. What we do for others
conscientiously, those for whom we do it stand to us in the place of Christ.
That for service thus rendered God will reward
This is the holiness that God requires of us. It must be professed by word of mouth. It must manifest itself in our love for the saints, in our love for the Bible and for communion with God in prayer. It must take on the most thoroughly practical character before the world, and show its influence in the bargains we make, in the fidelity with which we discharge every trust committed to us, in the dress we wear, in the manner in which we walk and talk in our families and in the various relations of life. It will carry an element of sincerity and honesty into the smallest, as well as into the largest transactions of life. "Is this right?" will be a question that will come up repeatedly before the mind; and if the answer is in the negative, no matter what pleasure or profit the proposed action may promise, it goes no farther.
One who is thus holy will be persecuted, -- there is no help for that -- but he will be respected.
"For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men." Rom. 14:18.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." -- I John 1:9.
Who forgives sin? God only. Who cleanses us from all unrighteousness? The same
Almighty Being. None, then, need despair. Do not limit the Holy One of
Israel. If you meet the conditions, God will make even you holy. If holiness
be God's work, try ever so long and earnestly, and you cannot grow up into it.
Ask Him now to "sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean;" to put
His Spirit within you, and to cause you to walk in His statutes. As Dr. Adam
Clarke says: "In no part of the Scriptures are we directed to seek holiness
gradatim (that is, step by step, gradually). We are to come to God as well for
an instantaneous and complete purification from all sin as for an instantaneous
Neither the seriatim pardon nor the gradatim purification exists in the Bible." It is when the soul is purified from all sin that it can properly grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! -- as the field may be expected to produce a good crop, and all the seed vegetate, when the thorns, thistles, and briars, and noxious weeds of every kind are grubbed out of it. Come to God, then, in faith to make you holy; and soon exulting, you will sing:
"Rejoicing now in earnest hope I stand, and from the mountain top See all the land below."
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness." -- John 3:11.
Those who know least about how food builds up the body, often have the keenest
appetites, and the best blood. So those who are least inquisitive about the
manner in which the Holy Spirit operates upon the mind to sanctify it, often
have the greatest degree of the Spirit's influence upon their hearts. He who
receives the kingdom of God receives it, not as a philosopher after all his
questions have been answered and his doubts removed, but as a little child, who
takes it on trust, and asks no questions.
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." -- Luke 18:17.
"But without thy mind would I do nothing." -- Philemon, 14. "These have one mind." -- Rev. 17:13. "He purposed [literally it was his purpose] to return." -- Acts 20:3. "Yet I give my judgment." -- I Cor. 7:25, etc.
''Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind." -- I Pet. 4:1.
"God gave them over to a reprobate mind." -- Rom. 1:28. "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind." -- Rom. 7:23. "Then opened he their understanding." -- Luke 24:45. "I will pray with the understanding also." -- I Cor. 14:15.
"Made their minds evil affected." -- Acts 14:2. "With one mind striving together." -- Philippians 1:27. "Take no thought for your life." -- Matt. 6:25. "But are not able to kill the soul." -- Matt. 10:28.
"Their minds were blinded." -- II Cor. 3:14. "Shall keep your hearts and minds." -- Phil. 4:7. "We are not ignorant of his devices." -- II Cor. 2:11. "Bringing into captivity every thought." -- II Cor. 10:5
"With all thy soul, and with all thy mind." -- Matt. 22:37. "I will put my laws into their mind." -Heb. 8:10. "Having the understanding darkened." -- Eph. 4:18. "Hath given us an understanding." -- John 5:20.
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God." -- Rom. 8:7. "Knoweth what (is) the mind of the Spirit." Rom. 8:27. "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." -- Rom. 8:6.
"And I, brethren. could not speak unto you us unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" -- I Cor. 3:1, 3.
But as they were not wholly given up to this spirit of strife and division, they had not yet reached the state of being carnally minded -- that is, a state of death, though they were on their way to it.
If one is sanctified wholly, his mind, his will, is so changed that earthly things lose their attractions, and he sets his affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. Such persons follow the Lord fully. But their minds are not destroyed. The "carnal mind" is never so destroyed as to do away with the freedom of the will. There is need to constantly watch and pray. Things that may be lawful in themselves may be easily run to sinful excess: The love that begins in the Spirit may end in the flesh. Eating "their meat with gladness" may degenerate into a desire for luxuries. "Diligence in business" may easily run into a love of the world. Even a fixed determination "to follow the Lord fully" may unconsciously slide into a consecration to one's own will, so that those will be fellowshipped who indorse us and our methods, and those who do not will he unChristianized.
The Sun of Righteousness may shine with cloudless splendor into our souls; but we must keep the soul constantly open to its influences. We cannot lay up in one hour a stock of light and heat for the next. We may in faith pray, "Give us this day our daily bread;" but we shall need to pray the same prayer tomorrow. Our dependence upon God is absolute and unremitting. As the law of gravity draws the earth toward the sun every moment, so does the law of love draw a saved soul toward God.
"Cleanse yourselves." -- James 4:8; II Cor. 7:1.
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." -- I John 5:14, 15.
"Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." -- Heb. 12:14.
How shall we seek holiness? Permit us to answer in the words of C. Larew, written quarter of a century ago.
"First of all, you will dedicate all to Him. Not but what all you have is His, and has been from the beginning, but you have not so regarded it. You have taken your portion and gone your way heretofore, wasting your Father's gifts in selfish living. Let all this cease at once; and let it be your language, the language of your heart, 'What wilt Thou have me to do?' In word, consecrate all to your Heavenly Father. How will you do this? We answer, -- consent and decide, that all, whether act, word, thought, desire or possessions shall be not as self, or men may will, but as God wills. This, you say, I have tried to do again and again. Doubtless you have, and done it acceptably, too. But here you halted; you did not believe. Believe what? you ask. I answer, -- the word of God to you at that point. That word is that He 'accepted' and 'received' you. Hear Him, -- 'Be ye separate and I will receive you.' You separated yourself, 'presented yourself a living sacrifice;' but did not believe on the assurance of His word, that you were accepted. No, you waited for some sign, some sensible manifestation, to come up in your feelings, to assure you that all was received, thus making some preconceived emotion the ground of faith. God does not say, faith cometh by feeling, joyous, peaceful, or otherwise, else you would be right in expecting it to rise and inspire you with faith. Nay, 'FAITH COMETH BY HEARING, and hearing by the word of God.' Therefore, when you consecrate all, as well as you are enabled, you have God's word for the fact that he 'RECEIVES YOU.' This faith will inspire you with feelings of peace, gladness, and great quiet of soul. In God's order, faith gives rise to feelings, and not feelings to faith, as you have erroneously supposed. Hence, you may take God's word and rest upon that. There is no error in this. It is the only way of success; as has been tried and proved by hundreds, after having struggled and floundered in this same error.
"To illustrate: suppose the Lord had said, in His abiding word, 'If any man will place twelve stones upon the earth, and put a lamb thereon, and burn it to ashes, I will receive him, and be a Father unto him, and he shall be my son.' Now, I ask, if you should do this, and the lamb be consumed to ashes, would you not have God's word for your assurance? Yea, as convincingly as if heard audibly from Heaven, -- that He 'received you.'
"The Lord has not said this; but He has said, as shown above, that if we 'come out from among them, and BE SEPARATE, and touch not the unclean thing, He WILL RECEIVE US.' Now, I ask, if we thus do, have we not the testimony of the Spirit, written in the word, that we are accepted? Do not fall into the common error of separating the letter of the word from the spirit of the word. You must by faith, regard the letter as the testimony and expression of the mind and spirit of God to you; just as you believe the letter of a friend to be the expression of his mind and spirit. It is through this written word, directly or indirectly, that the Spirit speaks, testifies, or witnesses to us. To regard the word as a dead letter, is to remain in darkness and unbelief. To faith, 'these words are spirit and they are life.' Let us, therefore, 'believe, nothing doubting.'
"But, says one, 'How am I to know that the consecration is complete!' I answer, if you see nothing to the contrary, it is; for the Lord has said, 'If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.' The question is not, what will come up in the future to sacrifice and to suffer. In this, 'Take no thought for the morrow,' applies as well as in anything else. But do you not accept of the will of God as it is made to appear at the present moment? If this is so, this is all that the King requires. Only let this continue, moment by moment, and all will continue acceptable to Him. How great the rest of soul gained by him who thus comes into the truth.
"But, you ask, into what state, or degree of godliness may I now apprehend the Lord has brought me? Are my inward foes all dead? Shall I feel the roots of sin no more from this time?
"This is an important question -- one, the understanding of which, may have much to do with your future peace and success in the way of holiness. Many, who have dedicated all, and believed, have been disappointed in finding, after a little while, the old self-nature stir within them, and either took it as an evidence that they were deceived, or soothingly called it 'only temptation;' and have continued to try to believe that all was entirely pure within.
"We forget that there are two parts, or elements, in entire sanctification. The one is the placing of the creature, or sacrifice, upon the altar, -- Consecration. The other is the consuming of it to ashes, or to its primitive elements, by God's own fire. The gold must first be put into the crucible; and then melted, and purified, by separating all its inner dross.
"We must first consent and covenant to give up 'all things,' and then suffer the loss of all. First be nailed to the cross and then 'die daily,' till 'the world is crucified to us,' and we live not, but Christ in us.'
"With the first, you have now complied, I trust. If so, you are 'sanctified,' but perhaps not 'wholly;' you are 'holy,' but perhaps not yet 'perfected.' You are now as the gold in the crucible, and can begin to say, 'though he slay me yet will I trust in him;' and hence ready to 'abide the fire.' 'Abide his coming,' as a refiner and purifier. If so, you are fully in the hands of the 'potter,' and He can now begin to mold you as He will, for you will now be able to 'abide,' and not 'draw back,' as you once did when trial came, erroneously considering it an evidence that God was displeased, and no longer accepted you.
"We often make a joyous and gladsome state of the mind, the only evidence of our acceptance with the Father. This is a very mischievous error. To do this, is to make the faith of our acceptance depend upon our emotions or feelings, as we saw above; whereas 'the word' is the only true basis of faith; on compliance with which all the promises become ours. We forget the Saviour endured this, and yet was just as acceptable to the Father as when His emotion were the opposite. And now, as we are called to 'endure hardness,' and it is given us 'to suffer with Christ,' and also to bear some 'afflictions for a moment,' we must certainly not consider any one state of feeling the only acceptable one. For if, 'when need be,' we are in heaviness, then heaviness must be felt. If to endure hardness, then hardness must be felt. And if we are to have 'afflictions' then we must sometimes feel 'afflicted.' You therefore see that if you take one class of emotions to be the evidence of your acceptance, when you feel thus, your faith in God will abound. But, since our feelings necessarily change and vary, as we have seen above, our faith in this case will sometimes be lost, and we fall into consequent weakness and sadness, if not into gloom and discouragement. Nay, such anchor-ground is too unstable. We need the immovable promise of God, which holds both 'sure and steadfast,' amid all the varying storms, winds, and rolling billows that come upon us.
"The only true test point required of us is in the will. If this be true, -- if it be in the heart to say, 'Thy will be done,' we are accepted, let our feelings be what they may; 'for where there is a willing mind, it is accepted.' Ah, this living by feeling, instead of by faith, has made sad havoc of many a promising disciple. It reverses the order of God, and keeps the soul off its only true foundation -the promise of the Father. It is being much as the spoiled child, who, because it is not permitted constantly to feed upon sweetmeats, but is called by its parent to partake of substantial fare, and sometime to take that which is bitter, and also to go forth and endure that which is 'hard and afflicting' loses confidence in the love and wisdom of its father, and sadly refuses to do his will.
"Oh! my brother, let your motto be, -- 'Not my will but thine be done.' 'Do unto me as seemeth unto thee good,' and all will be well.
"Remember, 'He sitteth as a refiner and purifier of silver, whose business it is, not to see there is no fire to try us, and no dross revealed, but to see that the fire gets not too hot, lest it injure and destroy; nor too cool, lest it do not accomplish its end, the purification of the heart from all its selfish nature.
"Neither is He at a loss for fuel from which to make these purging fires. They come from any and every circumstance around us, that is needful to cross our wills; from many little things connected with ourselves, our families, our tenderest friends, and the common business of life, and even from our religious services. He will cause a fire to glow forth, giving us a sense of the cross, mortification and death which are necessary to the perfect submission of our wills, and entire acquiescence with God. And if these fiery trials which are to try you, reveal hidden selfishness and sin, as the lance reveals offensive matter not before seen, because lying hid deep within, be not disheartened. It is your physician at work wisely, and accomplishing the object of your desire, a perfect cure. Courage brother! Keep your confidence! The ore must be fused before the dross can separate and pass off. We must die in order to live. And His soothing encouragement to you is, 'And after you have suffered awhile, I will strengthen, establish and perfect you.' "
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."