n previous chapters we have described holiness as that state of grace in which all sin is excluded from the heart, but there is always a positive as well as a negative aspect of spiritual life. This is true both of the new birth and entire sanctification. In conversion the negative aspect is pardon; the positive is regeneration, the impartation of the life of God to the soul. There are no degrees of pardon: it is full, perfect, and complete; but on the positive side perpetual increase is in order: there is “life,” and “more abundant life.” In like manner, while the negative aspect of holiness is the purging of the heart from all that is carnal—and this a full, complete, and entire work, without degrees and gradualism—there is also a positive aspect of holiness which is never separate from the negative; the one always implies the other. The positive blessing is the complete filling of the soul with the life of God. Justification is our coming to Christ; sanctification is Christ coming to us. Entire sanctification is to be entirely possessed by Christ—so filled with His life that sin and Satan are cast out. We must not simply possess life, but the life must possess us. Sin flies before the Divine presence as darkness flies before the light. All would be darkness but for the presence of the light; and all would be sin within us but for the presence of the life. [click to continue…]
he maintenance of a good conscience towards God from day to day is essential to the life of faith. True spirituality cannot exist unless accompanied by scrupulous conscientiousness, the purpose to do right at any cost. Archbishop Temple 1 has truly said, “It is always a duty to obey conscience; it is never a duty to disobey.” Conscience requires that we mean well, and do our best. It requires not only that we follow all the light we have, but all that we can obtain, and that we do this gladly. Conscience claims regency in everything that a man should aim to do or to be. “The word ought is the sovereign of all vocabularies.”
Conscience guarantees only good intentions.
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…God gives us His love to love with; He has made His love our property, absolutely given it to us, so that it is now ours.
n the New Testament there are two words for love. One is philos, which is the word used to express natural human affection. This exists in greater or less degree throughout the entire animal kingdom, including all natural affections of human nature apart from Divine grace. The other word, agape, is invariably used to express a Divine affection, imparted to the soul by the Holy Ghost. Natural love existed within us before we were regenerated, as it exists in human nature generally; but of Divine love we had none until we were born into the Kingdom of God. The love of God was then “shed abroad in our hearts” [Romans 5:5], and by this alone can we claim the title of children of God, as partakers of His nature. [Cf. 2 Peter 1:4] “The love of God here means not our love to God, nor exactly the sense of God’s love to us, but God’s love itself for us.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us” [1 John 3:1], not manifested or demonstrated, but bestowed, imparted, given to us as a gift. What a wonderful truth this is, that God’s love for us shall be in us, and become our love to others. Was this not what our Lord asked for when He prayed, “that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them” [John 17:26]? The truth declared is that God gives us His love to love with; He has made His love our property, absolutely given it to us, so that it is now ours. Who can tell all that this means? Inspiration itself can only find relief in adoring gratitude. “Behold what manner of love.” [click to continue…]
he Rev. John Fletcher once said to Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, “Come, my sister, we will covenant together to spread the sacred flame, and testify before men and angels ’the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’” 1 [1 John 1:7] With flowing tears Mrs. Rogers repled, “In the strength of Jesus I will”; and she did, until she went “sweeping through the gates washed in the blood of the Lamb.” 2 It seems to have been the custom among early Methodists to make humble, prudent, but frank acknowledgement of the work of entire sanctification, when it was wrought in their souls by the power of the Holy Ghost. We give a few testimonies which come first to hand:—
“The Lord for whom I waited came suddenly to the temple of my heart, and I had an immediate evidence that this was the blessing I had for some time been seeking.” [click to continue…]
he Scriptural terms “holiness,” “perfect love,” “perfection,” may be used synonymously, because they all point to the same state of grace. John Fletcher says: “We frequently use, as St. John, the phrase ‘perfect love’ instead of perfection; understanding by it the pure love of God shed abroad in the hearts of established believers by the Holy Ghost, which is abundantly given unto them under the fulness of the Christian dispensation.“ 1 But while these terms may be used indiscriminately in speaking of full salvation, each one indicates some essential characteristic and emphasises some different aspect of the truth. Perfect love is expressive of the spirit and temper, or the moral atmosphere in which the entirely sanctified Christian lives. Perfection signifies that spiritual completeness or wholeness into which the soul enters when the last inward foe is conquered, and the last distracting force is harmonised with the mighty love of Christ, every crevice of the nature filled with love, and every energy employed in the delightful service of our adorable Saviour. This implies not only complete deliverance from all spiritual pollution, but the possession of the unmixed graces of faith, humility, resignation, patience, meekness, self-denial, and all other graces of the Spirit. [click to continue…]
t the Council of Jerusalem (Acts xv. 8,9) Peter, in giving an account of his visit to Cornelius, and the work of God upon the hearts of those assembled, said: “And God, who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did to us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
Two facts are here stated:—
- That the same fulness of the Spirit which the apostles received at Pentecost was imparted to Cornelius and his household.
- That the work wrought was the purifying of their hearts by faith.
[The Holy Spirit] comes to the heart in sanctifying power, excluding the evil and filling it with Divine love… [click to continue…]
here were two kinds of sacrifice in the Levitical economy—of atonement and of acknowledgment. The former found their fulfilment and their end in the Lamb of Calvary, and are to be offered no more; but the sacrifice of acknowledgment is perpetual in the Church.
Having clearly demonstrated, in the Epistle to the Romans, that justification could not come by the law, the apostle shows that the Gospel absorbs into itself the sacrificial ideas of the law, spiritualises them, and in their most perfect form re-issues them as the rule for the Church in succeeding ages. “Present,” he says, “your bodies” [Romans 12:1], not your oxen, and sheep, and goats—the one great sacrifice on Calvary hath swept these away for ever. The sacrifice required now is not blood but service, not death but noblest life. “A living sacrifice” refers to the contrast between the death of the victim under the law and the life which is now to be presented to God; and to be consumed not by fire, but in doing God’s will, and in the service of humanity. Just as the Jew brought the body of the dead sheep and laid it on the altar to be consumed, “a whole burnt offering,” so we are invited to bring our living bodies, and present them to God to be consumed in a life of perfect deeds and continual self-denial and devotion. [click to continue…]
oliness is not only a state but a way, and not only a way, but a highway, wherein the redeemed are to walk; and walking along that highway we shall always have Christ at our side.
We get into the highway of holiness by a definite act of consecration and faith, and walk upon that highway by continuous surrender and trust. Christ is the door, and He is the way. Walking with Him, we shall grow more and more unworldly and heavenly-minded, more transformed, more like Christ, until our very faces shall be radiant with Divine glory. As with Moses, who “wist not that the skin of his face shone” [Exodus 34:29-30] with the reflected radiance which it had received when he was in the presence of Jehovah, so from those who walk with God there emanates an unconscious influence which makes the ungodly tremble before them just as Satan in “Paradise Lost,” 1 when he saw the sinless pair in Eden, “trembled to behold how awful goodness is.” [click to continue…]
hose who have read Bunyan’s immortal allegory will remember how he brings his pilgrims, before they crossed the river of death, into the land of Beulah. In that region they were “clear out of sight of Doubting Castle”; the gates of the Celestial City were full in view, the sun shone by night as well as by day. They heard continually the singing of birds, and in their walks they encountered several groups of the shining ones. As they walked to and fro in this goodly land they found it to be “a most pleasant, mountainous country, beautiful with woods, vineyards, fruits of all sorts, flowers also, with springs and fountains, very delectable to behold.” 1 It may seem at first sadly at variance with facts to describe Christian experience on earth in such glowing colours, but there is a high and serene inheritance “common to and for all the pilgrims,” a promised land, towards which we are beckoned, where, as Dean Alford would say, “Materially we are yet in the body, but in the spirit we are already in heaven—only waiting for the redemption of the body to be entirely and literally there.” [click to continue…]
hen all our powers are harmonised, each with each, and all with God, the soul enters upon a condition of undisturbed rest which is beyond the reach of doubt and fear. Among the many characteristics of the spirit-filled life there is none more marked than this feeling of rest which is developed in our personal consciousness. We sing of rest beyond the river, but we must not transport to the other shore the things which God has prepared for those who love Him on this side of the river. “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9]. These words are often quoted as though they had reference to the heavenly world. “But,” says the Apostle, “God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit” [verse 10], indicating clearly that the believer’s heaven on earth is meant, not some experience beyond the grave. “We which have believed do enter into rest” [Hebrews 4:3]. This rest is described in the Epistle to the Hebrews as “God’s rest” (Heb. iii. 11), “My rest” (Heb. iv. 1), “His rest,” “Christ’s rest” (Heb. iv. 10), “a Sabbath rest” (Hebrews iv. 4, 9). In the same Epistle we are taught that…
I. Soul rest implies cessation from our own works.
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atthew Henry says “that when Christ died He left a will, in which He bequeathed His soul to His Father, his body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes fell to the soldiers, His mother He gave to John, but to His disciples, who had left all for Him, He left not silver and gold, but something that was infinitely better — His peace.” 1 “My peace I give unto you” [John 14:27]. Elsewhere this peace is described as the peace of God [Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15], because He is its source and origin. It is the peace which Christ had with the Father from the beginning, the peace in the heart of the Eternal, the stillness of eternity entering the spirit, causing a waveless, breathless calm. It lies not in the emotions, nor in the absence of the emotions. It is a peace not springing up in the course of nature, but handed down from heaven, and implanted in the believing soul. [click to continue…]
. H. Spurgeon once wrote as follows: “There is a point of grace as much above the ordinary Christian as the ordinary Christian is above the world.” Of such he says: “Their place is with the eagle in his eyrie, high aloft. They are rejoicing Christians, holy and devout men doing service for the Master all over the world, and everywhere conquerors through Him that loved them.” The experience to which Mr. Spurgeon refers has been described as the higher life, entire sanctification, Christian perfection, perfect love, the rest of faith, and by numerous other names or terms. Modes of expression have been selected by various Christians which have best coincided with their theological views. There may be shades of difference in their import, but, generally speaking, the terms mean one and the same thing. [click to continue…]
The Christian must have a music in his own soul far sweeter than any Siren-song of this delusive world.
he question is often asked, “How are we to keep our converts from lusting for the flesh-pots of Egypt, the leeks, the onions, and garlic of their former life?” [Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4-5] There is but one answer, the joy they have in God must surpass all the pleasures of sense. We read in the old myth that the Sirens sang men to death, but died themselves if they failed. When the Argonauts passed by them, Jason ordered Orpheus to strike his lyre. The enchantment of his singing and music surpassed theirs, and the Argonauts sailed safely by; whereupon the Sirens cast themselves into the sea and became transformed into rocks. We cannot make the Sirens fail unless we carry a charm with us greater than theirs. Joy must conquer joy, and music must conquer music; the Christian must have a music in his own soul far sweeter than any Siren-song of this delusive world. [click to continue…]
t is a mistake to suppose that there is any state of grace this side of heaven which puts a Christian where he is exempt from temptation. So long as a soul is on probation, it will be tested by solicitations to sin.
…temptation cannot be inconsistent with holiness, because Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” [click to continue…]