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ADAM CLARKE’S TREATISE ON ENTIRE SANTIFICATION, PART 2
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Many preachers, and multitudes of professing people, are studious to find out how many imperfections and infidelities, and how much inward sinfulness, are consistent with a safe state in religion; but how few, very few, are bringing out the fair gospel standard to try the height of the members of the church; whether they be fit for the heavenly army; whether their stature be such as qualifies them for the rank of the church militant! “the measure of the stature of the fullness” is seldom seen; the measure of the stature of littleness, dwarfishness, and emptiness, is often exhibited.
Some say “The body of sin in believers is, indeed, an enfeebled, conquered, and deposed tyrant, and the stroke of death finishes its destruction.” So, then, the death of Christ and the influences of the Holy Spirit were only sufficient to depose and enfeeble the tyrant sin; but our death must come in to effect his total destruction! Thus our death is, at least partially, our Savior, and thus that which was an effect of sin, (“for sin entered into the world, and death by sin,”) becomes the means of finally destroying it: that is, the effect of a cause can become so powerful as to react upon that cause and produce its annihilation! The divinity and philosophy of this sentiment are equally absurd. It is the blood of Christ alone that cleanses from all unrighteousness; and the sanctification of a believer is no more dependent on death than his justification. If it be said that “believers do not cease from sin till they die,” I have only to say they are such believers as do not make a proper use of their faith: and what can be said more of the whole herd of transgressors and infidels? They cease to sin when they cease to breathe. If the Christian religion bring no other privileges than this to its upright followers, well may we ask, “Wherein doth the wise man differ from the fool, for they have both one end!” But the whole gospel teaches a contrary doctrine.
It is strange there should be found a person believing the whole gospel system and yet living in sin! “Salvation from sin” is the long continued sound, as it is the spirit and design, of the gospel. Our Christian name, our baptismal covenant, our profession of faith in Christ, and avowed belief in his word, all call us to this: can it be said that we have any louder calls than they? Our self-interest, as it respects the happiness of a godly life, and the glories of eternal blessedness; the pains and wretchedness of a life of sin, leading to the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched; second, most powerfully, the above calls. Reader, lay these things to heart, and answer this question to God: “How shall I escape if I neglect so great salvation?” And then, as thy conscience shall answer, let thy mind and thy hand begin to act.
As there is no end to the merits of Christ incarnated and crucified; no bounds to the mercy and love of God; no let or hindrance to the almighty energy and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; no limits to the improvability of the human soul; so there can be no bounds to the saving influence which God will dispense to the heart of every genuine believer.
We may ask and receive, and our joy shall be full! Well may we bless and praise God, “who has called us into such a state of salvation;” a state in which we may be thus saved; and, by the grace of that state, continue in the same to the end of our lives!
As sin is the cause of the ruin of mankind, the gospel system, which exhibits it cure, is fitly called “good news, or glad tidings;” and it is good news, because it proclaims Him who saves his people from their sins; and it would indeed be dishonorable to that grace, and the infinite merit of Him who procured it, to suppose, much more to assert, that sin had made wounds which grace would not heal. Of such a triumph Satan shall ever be deprived. “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” Hear this, ye who plead for Baal, and cannot bear the thought of that doctrine that states believers are to be saved from all sin in this life! He who committeth sin is a child of the devil, and shows that he has still the nature of the devil in him; “for the devil sinneth from the beginning:” he was the father of sin,— brought sin into the world, and maintains sin in the world by living in the hearts of his own children, and thus leading them to transgression; and persuading others that they cannot be saved from their sins in this life, that he may secure a continual residence in their heart. He also knows that if he has a place throughout life, he will probably have it at death; and, if so, throughout eternity. “That is,” say some, “he does not sin habitually as he formerly did.” This is bringing the influence and privileges of the heavenly birth very low indeed. We have the most indubitable evidence that many of the heathen philosophers had acquired, by mental discipline and cultivation, an entire ascendancy over all their wonted vicious habits. Perhaps my reader will recollect the story of the physiognomist, who, coming into the place where Socrates was delivering a lecture, his pupils, wishing to put the principles of the man’s science to proof, desired him to examine the face of their master, and say what his moral character was. After a full contemplation of the philosopher’s visage, he pronounced him the “most gluttonous, drunken, brutal, and libidinous old man that he ever met.” As the character of Socrates was the reverse of all this, his disciples began to insult the physiognomist. Socrates interfered, and said, “The principles of his science may be very correct; for such I was, but I have conquered it by my philosophy.” O ye Christian divines! ye real or pretended gospel ministers! will ye allow the influence of the grace of Christ a sway not even so extensive as that of the philosophy of a heathen who never heard of the true God?
Many tell us that “no man can be saved from sin in this life.” Will these persons permit us to ask, How much sin may we be saved from in this life? Something must be ascertained on this subject:
1. That the soul may have some determinate object in view.
2. That it may not lose its time, or employ its faith and energy, in praying for what is impossible to be attained.
Now, as Christ was manifested to take away our sins, to destroy the works of the devil; and as his blood cleanseth from all sin and unrighteousness, is it not evident that God means that believers in Christ shall be saved from all sin? For if his blood cleanses from all sin, if he destroys the works of the devil, (and sin is the work of the devil,) and if he who is born of God does not commit sin, then he must be cleansed from all sin; and while he continues in that state, he lives without sinning against God, for the seed of God remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born, or begotten of God.
How strangely warped and blinded by prejudice and system must men be who, in the face of such evidence as this, will still dare to maintain that no man can be saved from his sin in this life; but must daily commit sin in thought, word, and deed, as the Westminster divines have asserted! that is, every man is laid under the fatal necessity of sinning as many ways against God as the devil does through his natural wickedness and malice; for even the devil himself can have no other way of sinning against God, except by thought, word, and deed. And yet, according to these and others of the same creed, “even the most regenerate sin against God as long as they live.” It is a miserable salvo to say “they do not sin so much as they used to do; and they do not sin habitually, only occasionally.” Alas for this system! Could not the grace that saved them partially save them perfectly? Could not that power of God that saved them from habitual sin save them from occasional or accidental sin? Shall we suppose that sin, how potent soever it may be, is as potent as the Spirit and grace of Christ?
And may we not ask, If it was for God’s glory and their good that they were partially saved, would it not have been more for God’s glory and their good if they had been perfectly saved? But the letter and spirit of God’s word, and the design and end of Christ’s coming, is to save his people from their sins.
The perfection of the gospel system is not that it makes allowances for sin, but that it makes an atonement for it; not that it tolerates sin, but that it destroys it.
However inveterate the disease of sin may be, the grace of the Lord Jesus can fully cure it.
God sets no bounds to the communications of his grace and Spirit to them that are faithful. And as there are no bounds to the graces, so there should be none to the exercise of those graces. No man can ever feel that he loves God too much, or that he loves man too much for God’s sake.
Be so purified and refined in your souls, by the indwelling Spirit, that even the light of God shining into your hearts shall not be able to discover a fault that the love of God has not purged away. “Be thou perfect, and thou shalt be perfection,” that is, altogether perfect: be just such as the holy God would have thee to be, as the Almighty God can make thee, and live as the sufficient God shall support thee; for He alone who makes the soul holy can preserve it in holiness. Our blessed Lord appears to have these word pointedly in view, “Ye shall be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect,” Matthew 5:48. But what does this imply? Why, to be saved from all the power, the guilt, and the contamination of sin. This is only the negative part of salvation, but it has also a positive part; to be made perfect —to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, to be filled with the fullness of God, to have Christ dwelling continually in the heart by faith, and to be rooted and grounded in love. This is the state in which man was created; for he was made in the image and likeness of God. This is the state from which man fell; for he broke the command of God. And this is the state into which every human soul must be raised who would dwell with God in glory; for Christ was incarnated and died to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. What a glorious privilege! And who can doubt the possibility of its attainment who believes in the omnipotent love of God, the infinite merit of the blood of the atonement, and the all-pervading and all-purifying energy of the Holy Ghost? How many miserable souls employ that time to dispute and cavil against the possibility of being saved from their sins, which they should devote to praying and believing that they might be saved out of the hands of their enemies! But some may say, “You overstrain the meaning of the term; it signifies only, Be sincere; for, a perfect obedience is impossible, God accepts of sincere obedience.” If by sincerity the objection means “good desires, and generally good purposes, with an impure heart and spotted life,” then I assert that no such thing is implied in the text, nor in the original word. But if the word sincerity be taken in its proper and literal sense, I have no objection to it. Sincere is compounded of sine cera, “without wax;” and, applied to moral subjects, is a metaphor taken from clarified honey, from which every atom of the comb or wax is separated. Then let it be proclaimed from heaven, “Walk before me, and be sincere! Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump unto God; and thus ye shall be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” This is sincerity. Reader, remember that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. Ten thousand quibbles on insulated texts can never lessen, much less destroy, the merit and efficacy of the great atonement.
God never gives a precept but he offers sufficient grace to enable thee to perform it. Believe as he would have thee, and act as he shall strengthen thee, and thou wilt believe all things savingly, and do all things well.
God is holy; and this is the eternal reason why all his people should be holy—should be purified from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. No faith in any particular creed, no religious observance, no acts of benevolence and charity, no mortification, attrition, or contrition can be a substitute for this. We must be made partakers of the divine nature. We must be saved from our sins—from the corruption that is in the world, and be holy within and righteous without, or never see God. For this very purpose Jesus Christ lived, died, and revived, that he might purify us unto himself; that through faith in his blood our sins might be blotted out, and our souls restored to the image of God. Reader, art thou hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then, blessed art thou, for thou shalt be filled.
God is ever ready, by the power of his Spirit, to carry us forward to every degree of life, light, and love, necessary to prepare us for an eternal weight of glory. There can be little difficulty in attaining the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls from all sin, if God carry us forward to it; and this he will do, if we submit to be saved in his own way, and on his own terms.
Many make a violent outcry against the doctrine of perfection; that is, against the heart being cleansed from all sin in this life, and filled with love to God and man; because they judge it to be impossible! Is it too much to say of these, that they know neither the Scripture nor the power of God?
Surely, the Scripture promises the thing, and the power of God can carry us on to the possession of it.
The object of all God’s promises and dispensations was to bring fallen man back to the image of God, which he had lost. This, indeed, is the sum and substance of the religion of Christ. We have partaken of an earthly, sensual, and devilish nature; the design of God, by Christ, is to remove this, and to make us partakers of the divine nature, and save us from all the corruption, in principle and fact, which is in the world.
It is said that Enoch not only “walked with God,” setting him always before his eyes—beginning, continuing, and ending every work to His glory—but also that “he pleased God,” and had “the testimony that he did please God.” Hence we learn that it was then possible to live so as not to offend God: consequently so as not to commit sin against him, and to have the continual evidence or testimony that all that a man did and purposed was pleasing in the sight of Him who searches the heart, and by whom devices are weighed: and if it was possible then, it is surely, through the same source, possible now; for God, and Christ, and faith are still the same.
The petition “Thy will be done in earth, as is in heaven,” certainly points out a deliverance from all sin; for nothing that is unholy can consist with the divine will; and, if this be fulfilled in man, surely sin shall be banished from his soul. Again: the holy angels never mingle iniquity with their loving obedience; and, as our Lord teaches us to pray that we do his will here as they do in heaven, can it be thought he would put a petition into our mouths the fulfillment of which was impossible?
The reader is probably amazed at the paucity of large stars in the whole firmament of heaven. Will he permit me to carry his mind a little farther, and either stand astonished at, or deplore with me the fact that, out of the millions of Christians in the vicinity and splendor of the eternal Sun of Righteousness, how very few are found of the first order! How very few can stand examination by the test laid down in 1 Corinthians 13! How very few love God with all their heart, soul mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves! How few mature Christians are found in the church! How few are, in all things, living for eternity! How little light, how little heat, and how little influence and activity, are to be found among them that bear the name of Christ! How few stars of the first magnitude will the Son of God have to deck the crown of His glory! Few are striving to excel in righteousness; and it seems to be a principal concern with many, to find out how little grace they may have, and yet escape hell; how little conformity to the will of God they may have, and yet get to heaven.
In the fear of God I register this testimony, that I have perceived it to be the labor of many to lower the standard of Christianity, and to soften down, or explain away, those promises of God that Himself has linked with duties; and because they know they cannot be saved by their good works, they are contented to have no good works at all; and thus the necessity of Christian obedience, and Christian holiness, makes no prominent part of some modern creeds. Let all those who retain the apostolic doctrine, that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin in this life, press every believer to go on to perfection, and expect to be saved, while here below, into the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Jesus.
To all such my soul says, Labor to show yourselves approved unto God; workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; and may the pleasure of the Lord prosper in your hands! Amen.
Many employ that time in brooding and mourning over their impure hearts, which should be spent in prayer and faith before God, that their impurities might be washed away. In what a state of nonage are many members of the Christian church!
I am afraid that what some persons call their infirmities may rather be called their strengths; the prevailing and frequently ruling power of pride, anger, ill will, etc.; for how few think evil tempers to be sins! The gentle term “infirmity” softens down the iniquity; and as St. Paul, so great and so holy a man, say they, had his infirmities, how can they expect to be without theirs? These should know that they are in a dangerous error; that St. Paul means nothing of the kind; for he speaks of his sufferings, and of these alone. One word more: would not the grace and power of Christ appear more conspicuous in slaying the lion than in keeping him chained? in destroying sin, root and branch, and filling the soul with his own holiness, with love to God and man, with the mind, all the holy, heavenly tempers that were in himself, than in leaving these impure and unholy tempers ever to live, and often to reign, in the heart? The doctrine is discreditable to the gospel, and wholly antichristian. “If they sin against thee, for there is no man that sinneth not,” 1 Kings 8:46. On this verse we may observe that the second clause, as it is here translated, renders the supposition in the first clause entirely nugatory; for if there be no man that sinneth not, it is useless to say, “If they sin;” but this contradiction is taken away by reference to the original, which should be translated, “If they shall sin against thee;” or, “Should they sin against thee; for there is no man that may not sin;” that is, There is no man impeccable; none infallible; none that is not liable to transgress. This is the true meaning of the phrase in various parts of the Bible, and so our translators have understood the original; for, even in the thirty-first verse of this chapter, they have translated yecheta, “If a man trespass;” which certainly implies he might or might not do it; and in this way they have translated the same word, “If a soul sin” in Leviticus 5:1; 6:2; Samuel 2:25; 2 Chronicles 6:22; and in several other places. The truth is, the Hebrew has no mood to express words in the permissive or optative way; but to express this sense, it uses the future tense of the conjugation kal. This text has been a wonderful stronghold for all who believe that there is no redemption from sin in this life; that no man can live without committing sin; and that we cannot be entirely freed from it till we die.
1. The text speaks no such doctrine; it only speaks of the possibility of every man sinning; and this must be true of a state of probation.
2. There is not another text in the divine records that is more to the purpose than this.
3. The doctrine is flatly in opposition to the design of the gospel; for Jesus came to save his people from their sin, and to destroy the work of the devil.
4. It is a dangerous and destructive doctrine, and should be blotted out of every Christian’s creed.
There are too many who are seeking to excuse their crimes by all means in their power; and we need not embody their excuses in a creed, to complete their deception, by stating that their sins are unavoidable.
The soul was made for God, and can never be united to him, nor be happy, till saved from sin. He who is saved from his sin, and united to God, possesses the utmost felicity that the human soul can enjoy, either in this or the coming world.
Where a soul is saved from all sin, it is capable of being fully employed in the work of the Lord: it is then, and not till then, fully fitted for the Master’s use.
All who are taught of Christ are not only saved, but their understandings are much improved. True religion, civilization, mental improvement, common sense, and orderly behavior, go hand in hand.
When the light of Christ dwells fully in the heart, it extends its influence to every thought, word, and action; and directs its possessor how he is to act in all places and circumstances.
Our souls can never be truly happy till our wills be entirely subjected to, and become one with, the will of God.
While there is an empty, longing heart, there is a continual overflowing fountain of salvation. If we find, in any place, or at any time, that the oil ceases to flow, it is because there are no empty vessels there; no souls hungering and thirsting for righteousness. We find fault with the dispensations of God’s mercy, and ask, “Why were the former days better than these?” Were we as much in earnest for our salvation as our forefathers were for theirs, we should have equal supplies, and as much reason to sing aloud of divine mercy. “Be ye holy,” saith the Lord, “for I am holy.” He who can give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness is one who loves holiness; who hates sin; who longs to be saved from it, and takes encouragement at the recollection of God’s holiness, as he seeth in this the holy nature which he is to share; and the perfection which he is here to attain. But most who call themselves Christians hate the doctrine of holiness, never hear it inculcated without pain; and the principal part of their studies and those of their pastors, is to find out with how little holiness they can rationally expect to enter into the kingdom of heaven. O fatal and soul-destroying delusion!
How long will a holy God suffer such abominable doctrines to pollute his church, and destroy the souls of men.
Increase in the image and favor of God. Every grace and divine influence which ye have received is a seed, a heavenly seed, which, if it be watered with the dew of heaven from above, will endlessly increase and multiply itself. He who continues to believe, love, and obey, will grow in grace, and continually increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, his Sacrifice, Sanctifier, Counsellor, Preserver, and final Savior. The life of a Christian is growth: he is at first born of God, and is a little child: becomes a young man and a father in Christ. Every father was once an infant; and had he not grown, he would never have been a man. Those who content themselves with the grace they received when converted to God, are, at best, in continual state of infancy; but we find, in the order of nature, that the infant that does not grow, and grow daily too, is sickly, and soon dies: so, in the order of grace, those who do not grow up into Jesus Christ are sickly and will soon die—die to all sense and influence of heavenly things.
There are many who boast of the grace of their conversion; persons who were never more than babes, and have long since lost even that grace, because they did not grow in it. Let him that readeth understand.
In order to get a clean heart, a man must know and feel its depravity, acknowledge and deplore it before God, in order to be fully sanctified. Few are pardoned, because they do not feel and confess their sins; and few are sanctified and cleansed from all sin, because they do not feel and confess their own sore and the plague of their hearts. As the blood of Jesus Christ, the merit of his passion and death, applied by faith, purges the conscience from all dead works, so the same cleanses the heart from all unrighteousness. As all unrighteousness is sin, so he that is cleansed from all unrighteousness is cleansed from all sin. To attempt to evade this, and plead for the continuance of sin in the heart through life, is ungrateful, wicked, and blasphemous; for, as he who says he has not sinned, makes God a liar, who has declared the contrary through every part of His revelation, so he that says the blood of Christ either cannot or will not cleanse us from all sin in this life, gives also the lie to his Maker, who has declared the contrary, and thus shows that the word, the doctrine of God, is not in him. Reader, it is the birthright of every child of God to be cleansed from all sin, to keep himself unspotted from the world, and so to live as never more to offend his Maker. All things are possible to him that believeth, because all things are possible to the infinitely meritorious blood and energetic Spirit of the Lord Jesus.
Every man whose heart is full of the love of God, is full of humility; for there is no man so humble as he whose heart is cleansed from all sin. It has been said that indwelling sin humbles us; never was there a greater falsity: pride is the very essence of sin; he who has sin has pride; and pride, too, in proportion to his sin: this is a mere popish doctrine; and, strange to tell, the doctrine on which their doctrine of merit is founded! They say, God leaves concupiscence in the heart of every Christian, that, in striving with and overcoming it from time to time, he may have an accumulation of meritorious acts. Certain Protestants say, “It is a true sign of a very gracious state when man feels and deplores his inbred corruption.” How near do these come to the Papists, whose doctrine they profess to detest and abhor! The truth is, it is no sign of grace whatever; it only argues, as they use it, that the man has got light to show him his corruptions, but he has not yet got grace to destroy them. He is convinced that he should have the mind of Christ, but he feels that he has the mind of Satan; he deplores it; and, if his bad doctrine do not prevent him, he will not rest till he feels the blood of Christ cleansing him from all sin.
Can any man expect to be saved from his inward sin in the other world?
None, except such as hold the popish, anti-scriptural doctrine of purgatory. “But this deliverance is expected at death.” Where is the promise that it shall then be given? There is not one such in the whole Bible! And to believe for a thing essential to our glorification, without any promise to support that faith in reference to the point on which it is exercised, is a desperation that argues as well the absence of true faith as it does of right reason. Multitudes of such persons are continually deploring their want of faith, even where they have the clearest and most explicit promises; and yet, strange to tell, risk their salvation at the hour of death on a deliverance that is nowhere promised in the sacred oracles! “But who has got this blessing?” Every one who has come to God in the right way for it. “Where is such a one?” Seek the blessing as you should do, and you will soon be able to answer the question. “But it is too great a blessing to be expected.” Nothing is too great for a believer to expect, which God has promised, and Christ has purchased with his blood. “If I had such a blessing, I should not be able to retain it.” All things are possible to him that believeth. Besides, like all other gifts of God, it comes with a principle of preservation with it; “and upon all thy glory there shall be a defense.” “Still, such an unfaithful person as I cannot expect it.” Perhaps the infidelity you deplore came through the want of this blessing: and as to worthlessness, no soul under heaven deserves the least of God’s mercies.
It is not for thy worthiness that He has given thee any thing, but for the sake of his Son. You can say, “When I felt myself a sinner, sinking into perdition, I did then flee to the atoning blood, and found pardon: but this sanctification is a far greater work.” No; speaking after the manner of men, justification is far greater than sanctification. When thou wert a sinner, ungodly, an enemy in thy mind, by wicked works, a child of the devil, an heir of hell, God pardoned thee on thy casting thy soul on the merit of the great sacrificial offering: thy sentence was reversed, thy state was changed, thou wert put among the children, and God’s Spirit witnessed with thine that thou wert His child. What a change! and what a blessing! What then is this complete sanctification? It is the cleansing of the blood that has not been cleansed; it is washing the soul of a true believer from the remains of sin; it is the making one, who is already a child of God, more holy, that he may be more happy, more useful in the world, and bring more glory to his heavenly Father. Great as this work is, how little, humanly speaking, is it when compared with what God has already done for thee? But suppose it were ten thousand times greater, is any thing too hard for God? Are not all things possible to him that believes? And does not the blood of Christ cleanse from all unrighteousness? Arise, then, and be baptized with a greater effusion of the Holy Ghost, and wash away thy sin, calling on the name of the Lord.
Art thou weary of that carnal mind which is enmity to God? Canst thou be happy while thou art unholy? Dost thou know anything of God’s love to thee? Dost thou not know that he has given his Son to die for thee?
Dost thou love him in return for his love? Hast thou even a little love to him? And canst thou love him a little, without desiring to love him more?
Dost thou not feel that thy happiness grows in proportion to thy love and subjection to him? Dost thou not wish to be happy? And dost thou not know that holiness and happiness are as inseparable as sin and misery?
Canst thou have too much happiness or too much holiness? Canst thou be made holy and happy too soon? Art thou not weary of a sinful heart? Are not thy bad tempers, pride, anger, peevishness, fretfulness, covetousness, and the various unholy passion that too often agitate thy soul, a source of misery and woe to thee? And canst thou be unwilling to have them destroyed? Arise, then, and shake thyself from the dust, and call upon thy God! His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear; his hand is not shortened that it cannot save. Behold, now is the accepted time! Now is the day of salvation! It was necessary that Jesus Christ should die for thee, that thou mightest be saved; but he gave up his life for thee eighteen hundred years ago! and himself invites thee to come, for all things are now ready. Such is the nature of God that he cannot be more willing to save thee in any future time than he is now. He wills that thou shouldst love him now with all thy heart; but he knows that thou canst not thus love him till the enmity of the carnal mind is removed; and this he is willing this moment to destroy. The power of the Lord is therefore present to heal. Turn from every sin; give up every idol; cut off every right hand; pluck out every right eye. Be willing to part with thy enemies that thou mayest receive thy chief friend.
Thy day is far spent, the night is at hand, the graves are ready for thee, and here thou hast no abiding city. A month, a week, a day, an hour, yea, even a moment, may send thee into eternity. And if thou die in thy sins, where God is thou shalt never come. Do not expect redemption in death: it can do nothing for thee even under the best consideration: it is thy last enemy. Remember then that nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse thee from all unrighteousness. Lay hold, therefore, on the hope that is set before thee. The gate may appear strait; but strive, and thou shalt pass through! “Come unto me,” says Jesus. Hear His voice, believe at all risks, and struggle into God. Amen and Amen!
In no part of the Scriptures are we directed to seek holiness gradatim. We are to come to God as well for an instantaneous and complete purification from all sin, as for an instantaneous pardon. 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, briers, and noxious weeds of every kind are grubbed out of it.
From every view of the subject, it appears that the blessing of a clean heart, and the happiness consequent on it, may be obtained in this life; because here, not in the future world, are we to be saved. Whenever, therefore, such blessings are offered, they may be received; but all the graces and blessings of the gospel are offered at all times; and when they are offered, they may be received. Every sinner is exhorted to turn from the evil of his way, to repent of sin, and supplicate the throne of grace for pardon. In the same moment in which he is commanded to turn, in that moment he may and should return. He does not receive the exhortation to repentance today that he may become a penitent at some future time.
Every penitent is exhorted to believe on the Lord Jesus, that he may receive remission of sins:—he does not, he cannot, understand that the blessing thus promised is not to be received today, but at some future time. In like manner, to every believer the new heart and the right spirit are offered in the present moment; that they may in that moment, be received.
For as the work of cleansing and renewing the heart is the work of God, his almighty power can perform it in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
And as it is this moment our duty to love God with all our heart, and we cannot do this till he cleanse our hearts, consequently he is ready to do it this moment, because he wills that we should in this moment love him.
Therefore we may justly say, “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” He who in the beginning caused light in a moment to shine out of darkness, can in a moment shine into our hearts, and give us to see the light of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. This moment, therefore, we may be emptied of sin, filled with holiness, and become truly happy.
Such cleansed people never forget the horrible pit and miry clay out of which they have been brought. And can they then be proud? No! they loathe themselves in their own sight. They can never forgive themselves for having sinned against so good a God and so loving a Savior. And can they undervalue Him by whose blood they were bought, and by whose blood they were cleansed? No! That is impossible: they now see Jesus as they ought to see him; they see him in his splendor, because they feel him in his victory and triumph over sin. To them that thus believe he is precious; and he was never so precious as now. As to their not needing him when thus saved from their sins, we may as well say, as soon may the creation not need the sustaining hand of God, because the works are finished! Learn this, that as it requires the same power to sustain creation as to produce it; so it requires the same Jesus who cleansed to keep clean.
They feel that it is only through his continued indwelling that they are kept holy, and happy, and useful. Were he to leave them, the original darkness and kingdom of death would soon be restored. —From “Holiness Miscellany and Experiences” By John S. Inskip
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