||delphia > Lectures on SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by Charles G. Finney (page 7 of 11)
Charles G. Finney
A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age
by Charles Grandison Finney
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Table of Contents
LECTURE LVIII. -- Sanctification.
Remind you of some points that have been settled in this course of study . .
Definition of the principal terms to be used in this discussion
LECTURE LIX. -- Sanctification.
Entire sanctification is attainable in this life
LECTURE LX. -- Sanctification.
LECTURE LXI. -- Sanctification.
Paul entirely sanctified
LECTURE LXII. -- Sanctification.
Condition of its attainment
LECTURE LXIII. -- Sanctification.
Condition of its attainment--continued . . Relations of Christ to the
LECTURE LXIV. -- Sanctification.
Relations of Christ to the believer--continued
LECTURE LXV. -- Sanctification.
Relations of Christ to the believer--continued
LECTURE LXVI. -- Sanctification.
Relations of Christ to the believer--continued
LECTURE LXVII. -- Sanctification.
Relations of Christ to the believer--continued
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LVIII. Back to Top
II. I am to remind you of some points that have been settled in this course of
- 1. The true intent and meaning of the law of God has been, as I trust, ascertained
in the lectures on moral government. Let this point, if need be, be examined by reference
to those lectures.
- 2. We have also seen, in those lectures, what is not, and what is implied in
entire obedience to the moral law.
- 3. In those lectures, and also in the lectures on justification and repentance,
it has been shown that nothing is acceptable to God, as a condition of justification,
and of consequent salvation, but a repentance that implies a return to full obedience
to the moral law.
- 4. It has also been shown, that nothing is holiness short of full obedience,
for the time being, to the moral law.
- 5. It has also been shown, that regeneration and repentance consist in the heart's
return to full obedience, for the time being, to this law.
- 6. We have also examined the doctrine of depravity, and seen, that moral depravity,
or sin, consists in selfishness, and not at all in the constitution of men; that
selfishness does not consist in the involuntary appetites, passions, and propensities,
but that it consists alone in the committal of the will to the gratification of the
- 7. We have seen that holiness consists, not at all in the constitution of body
or mind; but that it belongs, strictly, only to the will or heart, and consists in
obedience of will to the law of God, as it lies revealed in the intellect; that it
is expressed in one word, love; that this love is identical with the entire consecration
of the whole being to the glory of God, and to the highest well-being of the universe;
or in other words, that it consists in disinterested benevolence.
- 8. We have seen that all true saints, while in a state of acceptance with God,
do actually render, for the time being, full obedience to all the known requirements
of God; that is, that they do for the time being their whole duty--all that God,
at this time, requires of them.
- 9. We have seen that this obedience is not rendered independent of the grace
of God, but is induced by the indwelling spirit of Christ received by faith, and
reigning in the heart. This fact will be more fully elucidated in this discussion
than it has been in former lectures. A former lecture was devoted to it; but a fuller
consideration of it remains to be entered upon hereafter.
III. Define the principal terms to be used in this discussion.
Here let me remark, that a definition of terms in all discussions is of prime importance.
Especially is this true of this subject. I have observed that, almost without an
exception, those who have written on this subject dissenting from the views entertained
here, do so upon the ground that they understand and define the terms sanctification
and Christian perfection differently from what we do. Every one gives his own definition,
varying materially from others, and from what we understand by the terms; and then
he goes on professedly opposing the doctrine as inculcated here. Now this is not
only utterly unfair, but palpably absurd. If I oppose a doctrine inculcated by another
man, I am bound to oppose what he really holds. If I misrepresent his sentiments,
"I fight as one that beateth the air." I have been amazed at the diversity
of definitions that have been given to the terms Christian perfection, sanctification,
&c.; and to witness the diversity of opinion as to what is, and what is not,
implied in these terms. One objects wholly to the use of the term Christian perfection,
because, in his estimation, it implies this, and that, and the other thing, which
I do not suppose are at all implied in it. Another objects to our using the term
sanctification, because that implies, according to his understanding of it, certain
things that render its use improper. Now it is no part of my design to dispute about
the use of words. I must however use some terms; and I ought to be allowed to use
Bible language in its scriptural sense, as I understand it. And if I should sufficiently
explain my meaning, and define the sense in which I use the terms, and the sense
in which the Bible manifestly uses them, this ought to suffice. And I beg, that nothing
more or less may be understood by the language I use, than I profess to mean by it.
Others may, if they please, use the same terms, and give a different definition of
them. But I have a right to hope and expect, if they feel called upon to oppose what
I say, that they will bear in mind my definition of the terms, and not pretend, as
some have done, to oppose my views, while they have only differed from me in their
definition of the terms used, giving their own definition varying materially and,
I might say, infinitely from the sense in which I use the same terms, and then arraying
their arguments to prove, that according to their definition of it, sanctification
is not really attainable in this life, when no one here or anywhere else, that I
ever heard of, pretended that, in their sense of the term, it ever was or ever will
be, attainable in this life, and I might add, or in that which is to come.
Sanctification is a term of frequent use in the Bible. Its simple and primary meaning
is a state of consecration to God. To sanctify is to set apart to a holy use--to
consecrate a thing to the service of God. This is plainly both the Old and the New
Testament use of the term. The Greek word hagiazo means to sanctify, to consecrate,
or devote a person or thing to a particular, especially to a sacred, use. This word
is synonymous with the Hebrew kaudash. This last word is used in the Old Testament
to express the same thing that is intended by the Greek hagiazo, namely, to consecrate,
devote, set apart, sanctify, purify, make clean or pure. Hagiasmos, a substantive
from hagiazo, means sanctification, devotion, consecration, purity, holiness.
From the Bible use of these terms it is most manifest,--
- 1. That sanctification does not imply any constitutional change, either of soul
or body. It consists in the consecration or devotion of the constitutional powers
of body and soul to God, and not in any change wrought in the constitution itself.
- 2. It is also evident from the scriptural use of the term, that sanctification
is not a phenomenon, or state of the intellect. It belongs neither to the reason,
conscience, nor understanding. In short, it cannot consist in any state of the intellect
whatever. All the states of this faculty are purely passive states of mind; and of
course, as we have abundantly seen, holiness is not properly predicable of them.
- 3. It is just as evident that sanctification, in the scriptural and proper sense
of the term, is not a mere feeling of any kind. It is not a desire, an appetite,
a passion, a propensity, an emotion, nor indeed any kind or degree of feeling. It
is not a state or phenomenon of the sensibility. The states of the sensibility are,
like those of the intellect, purely passive states of mind, as has been repeatedly
shown. They of course can have no moral character in themselves.
- 4. The Bible use of the term, when applied to persons, forbids the understanding
of it, as consisting in any involuntary state or attitude of mind whatever.
- 5. The inspired writers evidently used the terms which are translated by the
English word sanctify, to designate a phenomenon of the will, or a voluntary state
of mind. They used the term hagiazo in Greek, and kaudash in Hebrew, to represent
the act of consecrating one's self, or anything else to the service of God, and to
the highest well-being of the universe. The term manifestly not only represents an
act of the will, but an ultimate act or choice, as distinguished from a mere volition,
or executive act of the will. Thus the terms rendered sanctified are used as synonymous
with loving God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. The Greek hagiasmos,
translated by the word sanctification, is evidently intended to express a state or
attitude of voluntary consecration to God, a continued act of consecration; or a
state of choice as distinct from a mere act of choice, an abiding act or state of
choice, a standing and controlling preference of mind, a continuous committal of
the will to the highest well-being of God and of the universe. Sanctification, as
a state differing from a holy act, is a standing, ultimate intention, and exactly
synonymous or identical with a state of obedience, or conformity to the law of God.
We have repeatedly seen, that the will is the executive or controlling faculty of
the mind. Sanctification consists in the will's devoting or consecrating itself and
the whole being, all we are and have, so far as powers, susceptibilities, possessions
are under the control of the will, to the service of God, or, which is the same thing,
to the highest interests of God and of being. Sanctification, then, is nothing more
nor less than entire obedience, for the time being, to the moral law.
- Sanctification may be entire in two senses: (1.) In the sense of present, full
obedience, or entire consecration to God; and, (2.) In the sense of continued, abiding
consecration or obedience to God. Entire sanctification, when the terms are used
in this sense, consists in being established, confirmed, preserved, continued in
a state of sanctification or of entire consecration to God.
In this discussion, then, I shall use the term entire sanctification to designate
a state of confirmed, and entire consecration of body, soul, and spirit, or of the
whole being to God--confirmed, not in the sense, (1.) That a soul entirely sanctified
cannot sin, but that as a matter of fact, he does not, and will not sin. (2.) Nor
do I use the term entire sanctification as implying that the entirely sanctified
soul is in no such danger of sinning as to need the thorough use and application
of all the means of grace to prevent him from sinning, and to secure his continued
sanctification. (3.) Nor, do I mean by entire sanctification, a state in which there
will be no further struggle or warfare with temptation, or in which the Christian
warfare will cease. This certainly did not cease in Christ to the end of life, nor
will it with any being in the flesh. (4.) Nor do I use the term as implying a state
in which no further progress in holiness is possible. No such state is, or ever will
be, possible to any creature, for the plain reason, that all creatures must increase
in knowledge; and increase of knowledge implies increase of holiness in a holy being.
The saints will doubtless grow in grace or holiness to all eternity. (5.) Nor do
I mean by the term entire sanctification, that the entirely sanctified soul will
no longer need the continual grace and indwelling Spirit of Christ to preserve it
from sin, and to secure its continuance in a state of consecration to God. It is
amazing that such men as Dr. Beecher and others should suppose, that a state of entire
consecration implies that the entirely sanctified soul no longer needs the grace
of Christ to preserve it. Entire sanctification, instead of implying no further dependence
on the grace of Christ, implies the constant appropriation of Christ by faith as
the sanctification of the soul.
But since entire sanctification, as I understand the term, is identical with entire
and continued obedience to the law of God, and since I have in lectures on moral
government fully shown what is not, and what is, implied in full obedience to the
law of God, to avoid much repetition in this place, I must refer you to what I have
there said upon the topics just named.
IV. Show what the real question now at issue is.
- 1. It is not whether a state of present full obedience to the divine law is attainable
in this life. For this has, I trust, been clearly established in former lectures.
- 2. It is not whether a state of permanent, full obedience has been attained by
all, or by any of the saints on earth.
- 3. But the true question at issue is: Is a state of entire, in the sense of permanent
sanctification, attainable in this life?
- If in this discussion I shall insist upon the fact, that this state has been
attained, let it be distinctly understood, that the fact that the attainment has
been made, is only adduced in proof of the attainability of this state; that it is
only one of the arguments by which the attainability of this state is proved. Let
it also be distinctly borne in mind, that if there should be in the estimation of
any one a defect in the proof, that this state has been attained, still the integrity
and conclusiveness of the other arguments in support of the attainability will not
thereby be shaken. It is no doubt true, that the attainability of this state in this
life may be abundantly established, entirely irrespective of the question whether
this state has ever been attained.
Let me, therefore, be distinctly understood as maintaining the attainability of this
state, as the true question at issue; and that I regard the fact, that this state
has been attained, only as one method of proving, or as a fact that demonstrates
its attainability. Dr. Woods admitted the attainability of a state of entire sanctification
in this life, and contested only the fact of its actual attainment. But he should
not have admitted the attainability, with his idea of what is implied in it, as has
been shown. For example, if, as he supposed, entire sanctification is a state in
which no further progress in grace or holiness is possible, or in which there is
and can be no Christian warfare or struggle with temptation, he had no right to admit
that any such state as this is attainable in this life. I do not admit, but utterly
deny, that any such state is at all attainable in this life, even if it is in any
state of existence whatever.
But again: While Dr. Woods admitted, that entire sanctification is
attainable in this life, he denied that it is attainable in any practical sense,
in such a sense, that it is rational to expect or hope to make the attainment. He
says we may attain it, but holds it to be dangerous error to expect to attain it.
We may or might attain it, but we must not hope to attain it in this life. But how
does he know? Does the Bible reveal the fact that we never shall? We shall see.
The true question is, Is a state of entire, established, abiding consecration to
God attainable in this life, in such a sense, that we may rationally expect or hope
to become thus established in this life? Are the conditions of attaining this established
state in the grace and love of God, such that we may rationally expect or hope to
fulfil them, and thus become established, or entirely sanctified in this life? This
is undoubtedly the true and the greatly important question to be settled.
Let no one throw fog and embarrassment over our inquiries, by doing as Dr. W. has
done; that is, by admitting and denying the attainability of this state at the same
breath; admitting it, to save his orthodoxy with the new school, who maintain the
doctrine of natural ability, and denying it as a practical or practicable thing,
to save himself from the charge of perfectionism. It is certainly a grave and most
important question, whether we may rationally hope or expect, ever in this life,
to attain to such an established state of grace, and faith, and love, or which is
the same thing, to such an established state of entire consecration, as to have done
with slipping, and falling, and sinning against the blessed God. Certainly, the bleeding,
yearning, agonized spirit of the saint recently recovered from a fall, ought not
to be tantalized with metaphysical or theological quibbles, when it asks with agonizing
interest, "How long, Lord? Is there no hope that I can or shall arrive, in this
life, at a state in which, through mighty reigning grace, I shall have done with
abusing thee?" It appears to me monstrous and barbarous to answer such a soul,
as some have done, by saying to him, You may attain such a state, but it is dangerous
error to expect ever to cease abusing God, while you live in this world.
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LIX. Back to Top
V. That entire sanctification is attainable in this life.
I will here introduce some things which I have said under this head in former lectures
on this subject.
- 1. It is self-evident, that entire obedience to God's law is possible on the
ground of natural ability. To deny this, is to deny that a man is able to do as well
as he can. The very language of the law is such as to level its claims to the capacity
of the subject, however great or small that capacity may be. "Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with
all thy strength." Here then it is plain, that all the law demands, is the exercise
of whatever strength we have, in the service of God. Now, as entire sanctification
consists in perfect obedience to the law of God, and as the law requires nothing
more than the right use of whatever strength we have, it is, of course, for ever
settled, that a state of entire sanctification is attainable in this life, on the
ground of natural ability.
- This is generally admitted by those who are called moderate Calvinists. Or, perhaps
I should say, it generally has been admitted by them, though at present some of them
seem inclined to give up the doctrine of natural ability, and to take refuge in constitutional
depravity, rather than admit the attainableness of a state of entire sanctification
in this life. But let men take refuge where they will, they can never escape from
the plain letter, and spirit, and meaning of the law of God. Mark with what solemn
emphasis it says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with
all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." This is its solemn
injunction, whether it be given to an angel, a man, or a child. An angel is bound
to exercise an angel's strength; a man, the strength of a man; and a child, the strength
of a child. It comes to every moral being in the universe, just as he is, and where
he is, and requires, not that he should create new powers, or possess other powers
than he has, but that such as his powers are, they should all be used with the utmost
perfection and constancy for God. And to use again the language of a respected brother:
"If we could conceive of a moral pigmy, the law levels its claims to his capacities,
and says to him, 'Love the Lord thy God with all THY heart, and with all THY strength.'"
And should a man by his own fault render himself unable to use one of his hands,
one eye, one foot, or any power of body or mind, the law does not say to him, in
such a case, use all the powers and all the strength you might have had, but only
use what powers and what strength remain. It holds him guilty, and condemns him for
that act or neglect which diminished his ability; but it no longer, in any instance,
requires the use of that power of body or mind which has been destroyed by that act.
For a fuller developement of this truth see Lectures on Ability, in this course.
Also Lectures on Moral Government.
- 2. The provisions of grace are such as to render its actual attainment in this
life, the object of reasonable pursuit. It is admitted, that the entire sanctification
of the church is to be accomplished. It is also admitted, that this work is to be
accomplished, "through the sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the
truth." It is also universally agreed, that this work must be begun here; and
also that it must be completed before the soul can enter heaven. This then is the
inquiry,--Is this state attainable as a matter of fact before death?
- It is easy to see, that this question can be settled only by a reference to the
word of God. And here it is of fundamental importance, that we understand the rules
by which scripture declarations and promises are to be interpreted. I have already
given several rules, in the light of which we have endeavoured to interpret the meaning
of the law. (See Lecture XVI. I.) I will now state several plain common-sense rules,
by which the promises are to be interpreted. The question, in regard to the rules
of biblical interpretation, is fundamental to all religious inquiries. Until the
church are agreed to interpret the scriptures in accordance with certain fixed and
undeniable principles, they can never be agreed in regard to what the Bible teaches.
I have often been amazed at the total disregard of all sober rules of biblical interpretation.
On the one hand, the threatenings, and on the other the promises, are either thrown
away, or made to mean something entirely different from that which was intended by
the Spirit of God. At present I will only mention a few plain, common-sense, and
self-evident rules for the interpretation of the promises. In the light of these,
we may be able to settle the inquiry before us, viz., whether the provisions of grace
are such as to render entire and permanent sanctification in this life an object
of reasonable pursuit.
(1.) The language of a promise is to be interpreted by a reference to the known character
of him who promises, where this character is known in other ways than by the promise
itself; for example,--
(i.) If the promisor is known to be of a very bountiful disposition, or the
opposite of this, these considerations should be taken into the account in interpreting
the language of his promise. If he is of a very bountiful disposition, he may be
expected to mean all that he seems to mean, in the language of his promise, and a
very liberal construction should be put upon his language. But if his character is
known to be the opposite of bountiful and generous, and it is known that whatever
he promised would be given with great reluctance, his language should be construed
(ii.) His character for hyperbole and extravagance in the use of language
should be taken into the account in interpreting his promises. If it be well understood
that the promisor is in the habit of using extravagant language--of saying much more
than he means, this circumstance should, in all justice, be taken into the account
in the interpretation of the language of his promises. But on the other hand, if
he be known to be an individual of great accuracy, and to use language with great
circumspection and propriety, we may freely understand him to mean what he says.
His promise may be in figurative language, and not to be understood literally, but
in this case even, he must be understood to mean what the figure naturally and fully
(iii.) The question should be considered, whether the promise was made deliberately,
or in circumstances of great, though temporary excitement. If the promise was made
deliberately, it should be interpreted to mean what it says. But if it was made under
great but temporary excitement, much allowance is to be made for the state of mind
which led to the use of such strong language.
(2.) The relation of the parties to each other should be duly considered, in the
interpretation of the language of a promise; for example, the promise of a father
to a son admits of a more liberal and full construction, than if the promise were
made to a stranger; as the father may be supposed to cherish a more liberal and bountiful
disposition to a son, than towards a person in whom he has no particular interest.
(3.) The design of the promisor, in relation to the necessities of the promisee or
person to whom the promise is made, should be taken into the account. If it be manifest,
that the design of the promisor was to meet the necessities of the promisee, then
the promise must be so understood as to meet these necessities.
(4.) If it be manifest, that the design of the promisor was to meet the necessities
of the promisee, then the extent of these necessities should be taken into the account,
in the interpretation of the promise.
(5.) The interest of the promisor in the accomplishment of his design, or in fully
meeting and relieving the necessities of the promisee, should be taken into the account.
If there is the most satisfactory proof, aside from that which is contained in the
promise itself, that the promisor feels the highest interest in the promisee, and
in fully meeting and relieving his necessities, then his promise must be understood
(6.) If it is known that the promisor has exercised the greatest self-denial, and
made the greatest sacrifice for the promisee, in order to render it proper or possible
for him to make and fulfil his promises, in relation to relieving his necessities,
the state of mind implied in this conduct should be fully recognized in interpreting
the language of the promise. It would be utterly unreasonable and absurd, in such
a case, to restrict and pare down the language of his promise, so as to make it fall
entirely short of what might reasonably be expected of the promisor, from those developements
of his character, feelings, and designs, which were made by the great self-denial
he has exercised, and the sacrifices he has made.
(7.) The bearing of the promise upon the interests of the promisor should also be
taken into the account. It is a general and correct rule of interpretation, that
when the thing promised has an injurious bearing upon the interests of the promisor,
and is something which he cannot well afford to do, and might therefore be supposed
to promise with reluctance, the language in such a case is to be strictly construed.
No more is to be understood by it than the strictest construction will demand.
(8.) But if on the other hand the thing promised will not impoverish, or in any way
be inimical to the interests of the promisor, no such construction is to be resorted
(9.) Whenever the thing promised is that which the promisor has the greatest delight
in doing or bestowing; and when he accounts it "more blessed to give than to
receive;" and where it is well known, by other revelations of his character,
and by his own express and often-repeated declarations, that he has the highest satisfaction,
and finds his own happiness, in bestowing favours upon the promisee, in this case,
the most liberal construction should be put upon the promise, and he is to be understood
to mean all that he says.
(10.) The resources and ability of the promisor to meet the necessities of the promisee,
without injury to himself, are to be considered. If a physician should promise to
restore a patient to perfect health, it might be unfair to understand him as meaning
all that he says. If he so far restored the patient, as that he recovered in a great
measure from his disease, it might be reasonable to suppose, that this was all he
really intended, as the known inability of a physician to restore an individual to
perfect health, might reasonably modify our understanding of the language of his
promise. But when there can be no doubt as to the ability, resources, and willingness
of the physician to restore his patient to perfect health, then we are, in all reason
and justice, required to believe he means all that he says. If God should promise
to restore a man to perfect health who was diseased, there can be no doubt that his
promise should be understood to mean what his language would import.
(11.) When commands and promises are given by one person to another in the same language,
in both cases it is to be understood alike, unless there be some manifest reason
to the contrary.
(12.) If neither the language, connexion, nor circumstances, demand a diverse interpretation,
we are bound to understand the same language alike in both cases.
(13.) I have said, we are to interpret the language of law so as to consist with
natural justice. I now say, that we are to interpret the language of the promises
so as to consist with the known greatness, resources, goodness, bountifulness, relations,
design, happiness, and glory of the promisor.
(14.) If his bountifulness is equal to his justice, his promises of grace must be
understood to mean as much as the requirements of his justice.
(15.) If he delights in giving as much as in receiving, his promises must mean as
much as the language of his requirements.
(16.) If he is as merciful as he is just, his promises of mercy must be as liberally
construed as the requirements of his justice.
(17.) If "he delighteth in mercy," if himself says "judgment is his
strange work," and mercy is that in which he has peculiar satisfaction, his
promises of grace and mercy are to be construed, even more liberally than the commands
and threatenings of his justice. The language, in this case, is to be understood
as meaning quite as much, as the same language would in any supposable circumstances.
(18.) Another rule of interpreting and applying the promises, which has been extensively
overlooked, is this, that the promises are all "yea and amen in Christ Jesus."
They are all founded upon great and immutable principles of God's government, and
expressive of them. God is no respecter of persons. He knows nothing of favouritism.
But when he makes a promise, he reveals a principle of universal application to all
persons in like circumstances. Therefore, the promises are not restricted, in their
application, to the individual or individuals to whom they were first given, but
may be claimed by all persons in similar circumstances. And what God is at one time,
he always is. What he has promised at one time or to one person, he promises at all
times, to all persons, under similar circumstances. That this is a correct view of
the subject, is manifest from the manner in which the New Testament writers understood
and applied the promises of the Old Testament. Let any person, with a reference Bible,
read the New Testament with a design to understand how its writers applied the promises
of the Old Testament, and he will see this principle brought out in all its fulness.
The promises made to Adam, Noah, Abraham, the patriarchs, and to the inspired men
of every age, together with the promises made to the church, and indeed all the promises
of spiritual blessings--it is true of them all that what God has said and promised
once, he always says and promises, to all persons, and at all times, and in all places,
where the circumstances are similar.
Having stated these rules, in the light of which we are to interpret the language
of the promises, I will say a few words in regard to the question, when a promise
becomes due, and on what conditions we may realize its fulfilment. I have said some
of the same things in the first volume of the "Oberlin Evangelist." But
I wish to repeat them in this connexion, and add something more.
(1.) All the promises of sanctification in the Bible, from their very nature,
necessarily imply the exercise of our own agency in receiving the thing promised.
As sanctification consists in the right exercise of our own agency, or in obedience
to the law of God, a promise of sanctification must necessarily be conditioned upon
the exercise of faith in the promise. And its fulfilment implies the exercise of
our own powers in receiving it.
(2.) It consequently follows, that a promise of sanctification, to be of any
avail to us, must be due at some certain time, expressed or implied in the promise;
that is, the time must be so fixed, either expressly or impliedly, as to put us into
the attitude of waiting for its fulfilment; for if the fulfilment of the promise
implies the exercise of our agency, the promise is a mere nullity to us, unless we
are able to understand when it becomes due, in such a sense, that we may wait for
and expect its fulfilment. The promise of Christ to the apostles, concerning the
outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, may illustrate my meaning. He had
promised, that they should receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit not many days hence.
This was sufficiently definite to bring them into an attitude of continual waiting
upon the Lord, with the expectation of receiving the fulfilment. And as the baptism
of the Holy Spirit involved the exercise of their own agency, it is easy to see that
this expectation was indispensable to their receiving the blessing. But had they
understood Christ to promise this blessing at a time so indefinitely future, as to
leave them without the daily expectation of receiving it, they might, and doubtless
would, have gone about their business until some further intimation on his part,
that he was about to bestow it, had brought them into an attitude of waiting for
(3.) A promise in the present tense is on demand. In other words, it is always
due, and its fulfilment may be pleaded and claimed by the promisee at any time.
(4.) A promise due at a future specified time, is after that time on demand,
and may at any time thereafter be pleaded as a promise in the present tense.
(5.) A great many of the Old Testament promises became due at the advent of
Christ. Since that time, they are to be considered and used as promises in the present
tense. The Old Testament saints could not plead their fulfilment to them; because
they were either expressly or impliedly informed, that they were not to be fulfilled
until the coming of Christ. All that class of promises, therefore, that became due
"in the last days," are to be regarded as now due, or as promises in the
(6.) Notwithstanding these promises are now due, yet they are expressly or
impliedly conditioned upon the exercise of faith, and the right use of the appropriate
means, by us, to receive their fulfilment.
(7.) When a promise is due, we may expect the fulfilment of it at once or
gradually, according to the nature of the blessing. The promise that the world shall
be converted in the latter day, does not imply that we are to expect the world to
be converted at any one moment of time; but that the Lord will hasten it in its time,
according to the faith and efforts of the church. On the other hand, when the thing
promised may in its nature be fulfilled at once, and when the nature of the case
makes it necessary that it should be, then its fulfilment may be expected whenever
we exercise faith.
(8.) There is a plain distinction between promises of grace and of glory.
Promises of glory are of course not to be fulfilled until we arrive in heaven. Promises
of grace, unless there be some express or implied reason to the contrary, are to
be understood as applicable to this life.
(9.) A promise also may be unconditional in one sense, and conditional in
another; for example, promises made to the church as a body may be absolute, and
their fulfilment be secure and certain, sooner or later, while their fulfilment to
any generation of the church, may be and must be, conditioned upon faith, and the
appropriate use of means. Thus the promise of God, that the church should possess
the land of Canaan, was absolute and unconditional, in such a sense as, that the
church, at some period, would, and certainly must, take possession of that land.
But the promise was conditional, in the sense that the entering into possession,
by any generation, depended entirely upon their own faith and the appropriate use
of means. So the promise of the world's conversion, and the sanctification of the
church under the reign of Christ, is unconditional in the sense, that it is certain
that those events will at some time occur, but when they will occur, what generation
of individuals shall receive this blessing, is necessarily conditioned upon their
faith. This principle is plainly recognized by Paul in Heb. iv. 6, 11. "Seeing
therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first
preached entered not in because of unbelief; let us labour therefore to enter into
that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LX. Back
I COME NOW to consider the question directly, and wholly as a Bible question, whether
entire sanctification is in such a sense attainable in this life, as to make its
attainment an object of rational pursuit.
- 1. It is evident from the fact, expressly stated, that abundant means are provided
for the accomplishment of this end. Eph. iv. 15-19. "He that descended is the
same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.
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; that we henceforth be no more children tossed to
and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and
cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in
love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom
the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase
of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love." Upon this passage I remark:--
- (1.) That what is here spoken of is plainly applicable only to this life. It
is in this life that the apostles, evangelists, prophets, and teachers, exercise
their ministry. These means therefore are applicable, and so far as we know, only
applicable to this life.
(2.) The apostle here manifestly teaches, that these means are designed and adequate
to perfecting the whole church as the body of Christ, "till we all come in the
unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ." Now observe,--
(3.) These means are for the perfecting of the saints, till the whole church, as
a perfect man, "has come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
If this is not entire sanctification, what is? That this is to take place in this
world is evident from what follows. For the apostle adds: "that we henceforth
be no more tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."
(4.) It should be observed, that this is a very strong passage in support of the
doctrine, inasmuch as it asserts that abundant means are provided for the sanctification
of the church in this life. And as the whole includes all its parts, there must be
sufficient provision for the sanctification of each individual.
(5.) If the work is ever to be effected, it is by these means. But these means are
used only in this life. Entire sanctification then must take place in this life.
(6.) If this passage does not teach a state of entire sanctification, such a state
is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. And if believers are not here said to be wholly
sanctified by these means, and of course in this life, I know not that it is anywhere
taught that they shall be sanctified at all.
(7.) But suppose this passage to be put into the language of a command, how should
we understand it? Suppose the saints commanded to be perfect, and to "grow up
to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," could anything less
than entire sanctification be understood by such requisitions? Then by what rule
of sober criticism, I would inquire, can this language, used in this connexion, mean
anything less than I have supposed it to mean?
- 2. But let us look into some of the promises. It is not my design to examine
a great number of scripture promises, but rather to show, that those which I do examine,
fully sustain the positions I have taken. One is sufficient, if it be full and its
application just, to settle this question for ever. I might occupy many pages in
the examination of the promises, for they are exceedingly numerous, and full, and
in point. But my design is at present to examine somewhat critically a few only out
of the many. This will enable you to apply the same principles to the examination
of the scripture promises generally.
- (1.) I begin by referring you to the law of God, as given in Deut. x. 12, "And
now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy
God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul?" Upon this passage I remark:--
(i.) It professedly sums up the whole duty of man to God--to fear and love
him with all the heart and all the soul.
(ii.) Although this is said of Israel, yet it is equally true of all men.
It is equally binding upon all, and is all that God requires of any man in regard
(iii.) Continued obedience to this requirement is entire sanctification, in
the sense in which I use those terms.
See Deut. xxx. 6. "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the
heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy
soul, that thou mayest live." Here we have a promise couched in the same language
as the command just quoted. Upon this passage I remark--
(a.) It promises just what the law requires. It promises all that the first
and great commandment anywhere demands.
(b.) Obedience to the first commandment always implies obedience to the second.
It is plainly impossible that we should "love God, whom we have not seen,"
and "not love our neighbour, whom we have seen."
(c.) This promise, on its very face, appears to mean just what the law means--to
promise just what the law requires.
(d.) If the law requires a state of entire sanctification, or if that which the law
requires is a state of entire sanctification, then this is a promise of entire sanctification.
(e.) As the command is universally binding upon all and applicable to all, so this
promise is universally applicable to all who will lay hold upon it.
(f.) Faith is an indispensable condition of the fulfilment of this promise. It is
entirely impossible that we should love God with all the heart, without confidence
in him. God begets love in man in no other way than by so revealing himself as to
inspire confidence, that confidence which works by love. In Rules 10 and 11, for
the interpretation of the promises, it is said, that "where a command and a
promise are given in the same language, we are bound to interpret the language alike
in both cases, unless there be some manifest reason for a different interpretation."
Now here there is no perceivable reason why we should not understand the language
of the promise as meaning as much as the language of the command. This promise appears
to have been designed to cover the whole ground of the requirement.
(g.) Suppose the language in this promise to be used in a command, or suppose
that the form of this promise were changed into that of a command;--suppose God should
say as he does elsewhere, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart
and with all thy soul: "who would doubt that God designed to require a state
of entire sanctification or consecration to himself. How then are we to understand
it when used in the form of a promise? See Rules 14 and 15: "If his bountifulness
equal his justice, his promises of grace must be understood to mean as much as the
requirements of his justice." "If he delights in giving as much as in receiving,
his promises must mean as much as the language of his requirements."
(h.) This promise is designed to be fulfilled in this life. The language and
connexion imply this: "I will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed,
to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." This in
some sense takes place in regeneration, but more than simple regeneration seems here
to be promised. It is plain, I think, that this promise relates to a state of mind,
and not merely to an exercise.
(i.) This promise as it respects the church, at some day, must be absolute and certain.
So that God will undoubtedly, at some period, beget this state of mind in the church.
But to what particular individuals and generation this promise will be fulfilled,
must depend upon their faith in the promise.
(j.) Since the promise is as full as the command, and since the law requires perpetual
obedience, we are to understand the promise as pledging a state of permanent obedience.
This also is implied in the language of the promise. To circumcise the heart, implies
establishing the soul in love.
(2.) See Jer. xxxi. 31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will
make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according
to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the
hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt, (which my covenant they brake, although
I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord;) but this shall be the covenant that I
will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put
my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from
the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their
iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Upon this passage, I remark:--
(i.) It was to become due, or the time when its fulfilment might be claimed
and expected, was at the advent of Christ. This is unequivocally settled in Heb.
viii. 8-12, where this passage is quoted at length, as being applicable to the gospel
(ii.) This is undeniably a promise of entire sanctification. It is a promise
that the "law shall be written in the heart." It means that the very temper
and spirit required by the law shall be begotten in the soul. Now, if the law requires
entire sanctification or perfect holiness, this is certainly a promise of it; for
it is a promise of all that the law requires. To say that this is not a promise of
entire sanctification, is the same absurdity as to say, that perfect obedience to
the law is not entire sanctification; and this last is the same absurdity as to say,
that something more is our duty than what the law requires; and this again is to
say, that the law is imperfect and unjust.
(iii.) A permanent state or entire sanctification is plainly implied in this
(a.) The reason for setting aside the first covenant was, that it was broken: "Which
my covenant they brake." One grand design of the new covenant is, that it shall
not be broken, for then it would be no better than the first.
(b.) Permanency is implied in the fact, that it is to be engraven in the heart.
(c.) Permanency is plainly implied in the assertion, that God will remember
their sin no more. In Jer. xxxii. 39, 40, where the same promise is in substance
repeated, you will find it expressly stated, that the covenant is to be "everlasting,"
and that he will so "put his fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart
from him." Here permanency is as expressly promised as it can be.
(d.) Suppose the language of this promise to be thrown into the form of a
command. Suppose God to say, "Let my law be within your hearts, and let it be
in your inward parts, and let my fear be so within your hearts, that you shall not
depart from me. Let your covenant with me be everlasting." If this language
were found in a command, would any man in his senses doubt that it meant to require
perfect and permanent sanctification? If not, by what rule of sober interpretation
does he make it mean anything else, when found in a promise? It appears to be profane
trifling, when such language is found in a promise, to make it mean less than it
does when found in a command. See Rule 17.
(e.) This promise as it respects the church, at some period of its history,
is unconditional, and its fulfilment certain. But in respect to any particular individuals
or generation of the church, its fulfilment is necessarily conditioned upon their
(f.) The church, as a body, have certainly never received this new covenant. Yet,
doubtless, multitudes in every age of the Christian dispensation have received it.
And God will hasten the time when it shall be so fully accomplished, that there shall
be no need for one man to say to his brother, "Know the Lord," for all
shall know him from the least to the greatest.
(g.) It should be understood, that this promise was made to the Christian
church, and not at all to the Jewish church. The saints under the old dispensation
had no reason to expect the fulfilment of this and kindred promises to themselves
because their fulfilment was expressly deferred until the commencement of the Christian
(h.) It has been said, that nothing more is here promised than regeneration.
But were not the Old Testament saints regenerated? Yet it is expressly said, that
they received not the promises. Heb. xi. 13, 39, 40: "These all died in faith,
not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded
of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on
the earth." "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith,
received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they
without us should not be made perfect." Here we see that these promises were
not received by the Old Testament saints. Yet they were regenerated.
(i.) It has also been said, that the promise implies no more than the final perseverance
of the saints. But I would inquire, did not the Old Testament saints persevere? And
yet we have just seen, that the Old Testament saints did not receive these promises
in their fulfilment.
(3.) I will next examine the promise in Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27: "Then will I sprinkle
clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all
your idols, will I 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 an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause
you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them. Upon this
(i.) It was written within nineteen years after that which we have just examined
in Jeremiah. It plainly refers to the same time, and is a promise of the same blessing.
(ii.) It seems to be admitted, nor can it be denied, that this is a promise
of entire sanctification. The language is very definite and full. "Then,"
referring to some future time, when it should become due, "will I sprinkle clean
water upon you, and ye shall be clean." Mark, the first promise is, "ye
shall be clean." If to be "clean" does not mean entire sanctification,
what does it mean?
The second promise is, "From all your filthiness and from all your idols will
I cleanse you." If to be cleansed "from all filthiness and all idols,"
be not a state of entire sanctification, what is?
The third promise is, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will
I put within you; I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give
you an heart of flesh." If to have a "clean heart," a "new heart,"
a "heart of flesh," in opposition to a "heart of stone," be not
entire sanctification, what is?
The fourth promise is, "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk
in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
(iii.) Let us turn the language of these promises into that of command, and
understand God as saying, "Make you a clean heart, a new heart, and a new spirit;
put away all your iniquities, all your filthiness, and all your idols; walk in my
statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them." Now what man, in the sober exercise
of his reason, would doubt whether God meant to require a state of entire sanctification
in such commands as these? The rules of legitimate interpretation would demand, that
we should so understand him. Rule 5, concerning the interpretation of promises, says,
"The interest of the promisor in the accomplishment of his design, or in fully
meeting and relieving the necessities of the promisee, should also be taken into
the account. If there is the most satisfactory proof, aside from that which is contained
in the promise itself, that the promisor feels the highest interest in the promisee,
and in fully meeting and relieving his necessities, then his promise must be understood
If this is so, what is the fair and proper construction of this language, when found
in a promise? I do not hesitate to say, that to me it is amazing, that any doubt
should be left on the mind of any man whether, in these promises, God means as much
as in his commands, couched in the same language; for example, see Ezek. xviii. 30,
31: "Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall
not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed
and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Now, that the language in the promise under consideration, should mean as much as
the language of this command, is demanded by every sober rule of interpretation.
And who ever dreamed, that when God required his people to put away all their iniquities,
he only meant that they should put away a part of them.
(iv.) This promise respects the church, and it cannot be pretended, that it
has ever been fulfilled, according to its proper import, in any past age of the church.
(v.) As it regards the church, at a future period of its history, this promise
is absolute, in the sense that it certainly will be fulfilled.
(vi.) It was manifestly designed to apply to Christians under the new dispensation,
rather than to the Jews under the old dispensation. The sprinkling of clean water,
and the outpouring of the Spirit, seem plainly to indicate, that the promise belonged
more particularly to the Christian dispensation. It undeniably belongs to the same
class of promises with that in Jer. xxxi. 31-34; Joel ii. 28, and many others, that
manifestly look forward to the gospel-day as the time when they shall become due.
As these promises have never been fulfilled, in their extent and meaning, their complete
fulfilment remains to be realized by the church as a body. And those individuals,
and that generation, will take possession of the blessing, who understand, and believe,
and appropriate them to their own case.
(4.) I will next examine the promise in 1 Thess. v. 23, 24: "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." Upon this I remark:--
(i.) It is admitted, that this is a prayer for, and a promise of, entire sanctification.
(ii.) The very language shows, that both the prayer and the promise refer
to this life, as it is a prayer for the sanctification of the body as well as the
soul; also that they might be preserved, not after, but unto the coming of our Lord
(iii.) This is a prayer of inspiration, to which is annexed an express promise
that God will do it.
(iv.) Its fulfilment is, from the nature of the case, conditioned upon our
faith, as sanctification without faith is naturally impossible.
(v.) Now, if this promise, with those that have already been examined, does
not, honestly interpreted, fully settle the question of the attainability of entire
sanctification in this life, it is difficult to understand how any thing can be settled
by an appeal to scripture.
There are great multitudes of promises of the same import, to which I might refer
you, and which, if examined in the light of the foregoing rules of interpretation,
would be seen to heap up demonstration upon demonstration, that this is a doctrine
of the Bible. Only examine them in the light of these plain, self-evident principles,
and it seems to me, that they cannot fail to produce conviction.
Having examined a few of the promises in proof of the position, that a state of entire
sanctification is attainable in this life, I will now proceed to mention other considerations,
in support of this doctrine.
- 3. Christ prayed for the entire sanctification of saints in this life. "I
pray not," he says, "that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but
that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." He did not pray that they should
be kept from persecution or from natural death, but he manifestly prayed, that they
should be kept from sin. Suppose Christ had commanded them to keep themselves from
the evil of the world; what should we understand him to mean by such a command?
- 4. Christ has taught us to pray for entire sanctification in this life: "Thy
will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Now, if there is entire sanctification
in heaven, Christ requires us to pray for its existence on earth. And is it probable
that he has taught us to pray for that which he knows never can be, or will be granted?
- 5. The apostles evidently expected Christians to attain this state in this life.
See Col. iii. 12. "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth
you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and
complete in all the will of God." Upon this passage I remark,--
- (1.) It was the object of the efforts of Epaphras, and a thing which he expected
to effect, to be instrumental in causing those Christians to be "perfect and
complete in all the will of God."
(2.) If this language does not describe a state of entire, in the sense of permanent,
sanctification, I know of none that would. If "to be perfect and complete in
all the will of God," be not Christian perfection, what is?
(3.) Paul knew that Epaphras was labouring to this end, and with this expectation;
and he informed the church of it, in a manner that evidently showed his approbation
of the views and conduct of Epaphras.
- 6. That the apostles expected Christians to attain this state is further manifest,
from 2 Cor. vii. 1: "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."
- Now, does not the apostle speak in this passage, as if he really expected those
to whom he wrote, "to perfect holiness in the fear of God?" Observe how
strong and full the language is: "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness
of the flesh and spirit." If "to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness
of the flesh, and all filthiness of the spirit, and to perfect holiness," be
not entire sanctification, what is? That he expected this to take place in this life,
is evident from the fact, that he requires them to be cleansed from all filthiness
of the flesh as well as of the spirit. This passage plainly contemplates a state
as distinguished from an act of consecration or sanctification, that is, it evidently
expresses the idea of entire, in this sense of continued, sanctification.
- 7. All the intermediate steps can be taken; therefore the end can be reached.
There is certainly no point in our progress towards entire sanctification, where
it can be said we can go no further. To this it has been objected, that though all
the intermediate steps can be taken, yet the goal can never be reached in this life,
just as five may be divided by three, ad infinitum, without exhausting the fraction.
Now this illustration deceives the mind that uses it, as it may the minds of those
who listen to it. It is true, that you can never exhaust the fraction in dividing
five by three, for the plain reason, that the division may be carried on ad infinitum.
There is no end. You cannot, in this case, take all the intermediate steps, because
they are infinite. But in the case of entire sanctification, all the intermediate
steps can be taken; for there is an end, or state of entire sanctification, and that
too at a point infinitely short of infinite.
- 8. That this state may be attained in this life, I argue from the fact, that
provision is made against all the occasions of sin. Men sin only when they are tempted,
either by the world, the flesh, or the devil. And it is expressly asserted, that,
in every temptation, provision is made for our escape. Certainly, if it is possible
for us to escape without sin, under every temptation, then a state of entire and
permanent sanctification is attainable.
- 9. Full provision is made for overcoming the three great enemies of our souls,
the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- (1.) The world--"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your
faith." "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that
Jesus is the Christ."
(2.) The flesh--"If ye walk in the Spirit, ye shall not fulfil the lusts of
(3.) Satan--"The shield of faith shall quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
And, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."
Now, all sober rules of biblical criticism require us to understand the passages
I have quoted in the sense in which I have used them.
- 10. God is able to perform this work in and for us. Eph. iii. 14-19: "For
this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole
family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you according to the riches
of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth,
and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might
be filled with all the fulness of God." Upon this passage I remark,--
- (1.) Paul evidently prays here for the entire sanctification of believers in
this life. It is implied in our being "rooted and grounded in love," and
being "filled with all the fulness of God," that we be as perfect in our
measure and according to our capacity, as he is. If to be filled with the fulness
of God, does not imply a state of entire sanctification, what does?
(2.) That Paul did not see any difficulty in the way of God's accomplishing this
work, is manifest from what he says in the twentieth verse--"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," &c.
- 11. The Bible nowhere represents death as the termination of sin in the saints,
which it could not fail to do, were it true, that they cease not to sin until death.
It has been the custom of the church for a long time, to console individuals, in
view of death, by the consideration, that it would be the termination of all their
sin. And how almost universal has been the custom in consoling the friends of deceased
saints, to mention this as a most important fact, that now they had ceased from sin!
Now, if death is the termination of sin in the saints, and if they never cease to
sin until they pass into eternity, too much stress never has been or can be laid
upon that circumstance; and it seems utterly incredible, that no inspired writer
should ever have noticed the fact. The representations of scripture are all directly
opposed to this idea. It is said, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,
for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." Here it is
not intimated that they rest from their sins, but from their good works in this life;
such works as shall follow, not to curse, but to bless them. The representations
of scripture are, that death is the termination of the saint's sufferings and labours
of love in this world, for the good of men and the glory of God. But nowhere in the
Bible is it intimated, that the death of a saint is the termination of his serving
- But if it be true that Christians continue to sin till they die, and death is
the termination, and the only termination of their sin, it seems to me impossible
that the scripture representations on the subject should be what they are.
- 12. The Bible representations of death are utterly inconsistent with its being
an indispensable means of sanctification. Death is represented in the Bible as an
enemy. But if death is the only condition upon which men are brought into a state
of entire sanctification, its agency is as important and as indispensable as the
influence of the Holy Ghost. When death is represented in the Bible as any thing
else than an enemy, it is because it cuts short the sufferings of the saints, and
introduces them into a state of eternal glory--not because it breaks them off from
communion with the devil! How striking is the contrast between the language of the
church and that of inspiration on this subject! The church is consoling the Christian
in view of death, that it will be the termination of his sins--that he will then
cease to serve the devil and his own lusts. The language of inspiration, on the other
hand, is, that he will cease, not from wicked, but from good works, and labours and
sufferings for God in this world. The language of the church is, that then he will
enter upon a life of unalterable holiness--that he shall then, and not till then,
be entirely sanctified. The language of inspiration is, that because he is sanctified,
death shall be an entrance into a state of eternal glory.
- 13. Ministers are certainly bound to set up some definite standard, to which,
as the ministers of God, they are to insist upon complete conformity. And now I would
ask, what other standard can they and dare they set up than this? To insist upon
any thing less than this, is to turn pope and grant an indulgence to sin. But to
set up this standard, and then inculcate that conformity to it is not, as a matter
of fact, attainable in this life, is as absolutely to take the part of sin against
God, as it would be to insist upon repentance in theory, and then avow that in practice
it is not attainable.
- And here let me ask Christians what they expect ministers to preach? Do you think
they have a right to connive at any sin in you, or to insist upon any thing else
as a practicable fact, than that you should abandon every iniquity? It is sometimes
said, that with us entire sanctification is a hobby. But I would humbly ask what
else can we preach? Is not every minister bound to insist in every sermon that men
shall wholly obey God? And because they will not make a compromise with any degree
or form of sin, are they to be reproached for making the subject of entire obedience
a hobby? I ask, by what authority can a minister preach any thing less? And how shall
any minister dare to inculcate the duty as a theory, and yet not insist upon it as
a practical matter, as something to be expected of every subject of God's kingdom.
- 14. A denial of this doctrine has the natural tendency to beget the very apathy
witnessed in the church. Professors of religion go on in sin, with out much conviction
of its wickedness. Sin unblushingly stalks abroad even in the church of God, and
does not fill Christians with horror, because they expect its existence as a thing
of course. Tell a young convert that he must expect to backslide, and he will do
so of course, and with comparatively little remorse, because he looks upon it as
a kind of necessity. And being led to expect it, you find him, in a few months after
his conversion, away from God, and not at all horrified with his state. Just so,
inculcate the idea among Christians, that they are not expected to abandon all sin,
and they will of course go on in sin with comparative indifference. Reprove them
for their sin, and they will say, "O, we are imperfect creatures; we do not
pretend to be perfect, nor do we expect we ever shall be in this world." Many
such answers as these will show you at once the God-dishonouring and soul-ruining
tendency of a denial of this doctrine.
- 15. A denial of this doctrine prepares the minds of ministers to temporize, and
wink at great iniquity in their churches. Feeling, as they certainly must, if they
disbelieve this doctrine, that a great amount of sin in all believers is to be expected
as a thing of course, their whole preaching, and spirit, and demeanour, will be such
as to beget a great degree of apathy among Christians, in regard to their abominable
- 16. If this doctrine is not true, how profane and blasphemous is the covenant
of every church of every evangelical denomination. Every church requires its members
to make a solemn covenant with God and with the church, in the presence of God and
angels, and with their hands upon the emblems of the broken body and shed blood of
the blessed Jesus, "to abstain from all ungodliness and every worldly lust,
to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Now, if the
doctrine of the attainability of entire sanctification in this life is not true,
what profane mockery is this covenant! It is a covenant to live in a state of entire
sanctification, made under the most solemn circumstances, enforced by the most awful
sanctions, and insisted upon by the minister of God distributing the bread and wine.
Now what right has any minister on earth to require less than this?
- And again: what right has any minister on earth to require this, unless
it is a practicable thing, and unless it is expected of him who makes the vow?
Suppose, when this covenant was proposed to a convert about to unite with the church,
he should take it to his closet, and spread it before the Lord, and inquire whether
it would be right for him to make such a covenant, and whether the grace of the gospel
can enable him to fulfil it? Do you suppose the Lord Jesus would reply, that if he
made that covenant, he certainly would, and must, as a matter of course, live in
the habitual violation of it as long as he lives, and that his grace was not sufficient
to enable him to keep it? Would he, in such a case, have any right to take upon himself
this covenant? No, no more than he would have a right to lie to the Holy Ghost.
- 17. It has long been maintained by orthodox divines, that a person is not a Christian
who does not aim at living without sin--that unless he aims at perfection, he manifestly
consents to live in sin; and is therefore impenitent. It has been said, and I think
truly, that if a man does not, in the fixed purpose of his heart, aim at total abstinence
from sin, and at being wholly conformed to the will of God, he is not yet regenerated,
and does not so much as mean to cease from abusing God. In Barnes' Notes upon 2 Cor.
viii. 1, we have the following:--
- "The unceasing and steady aim of every Christian should be perfection--perfection
in all things--in the love of God, of Christ, of man; perfection of heart, and feeling,
and emotion; perfection in his words, and plans, and dealings with men; perfection
in his prayers, and in his submission to the will of God. No man can be a Christian
who does not sincerely desire it, and who does not constantly aim at it. No man is
a friend of God who can acquiesce in a state of sin, and who is satisfied and contented
that he is not as holy as God is holy. And any man who has no desire to be perfect
as God is, and who does not make it his daily and constant aim to be as perfect as
God, may set it down as demonstrably certain that he has no true religion."
Now if this so, I would ask how a person can aim at, and intend to do, what he knows
to be impossible. Is it not a contradiction to say that a man can intend to do what
he knows he cannot do? To this it has been objected, that if true, it proves too
much--that it would prove that no man ever was a Christian who did not believe in
this doctrine. To this I reply:--
A man may believe in what is really a state of entire sanctification, and aim at
attaining it, although he may not call it by that name. This I believe to be the
real fact with Christians; and they would much more frequently attain what they aim
at, did they know how to appropriate the grace of Christ to their own circumstances.
Mrs. President Edwards, for example, firmly believed that she could attain a state
of entire consecration. She aimed at, and manifestly attained it, and yet, such were
her views of constitutional depravity, that she did not call her state one of entire
sanctification. It has been common for Christians to suppose, that a state of entire
consecration is attainable; but while they believe in the sinfulness of their natures,
they would not of course call even entire consecration, entire sanctification. Mrs.
Edwards believed in, aimed at, and attained, entire consecration. She aimed at what
she believed to be attainable, and she could aim at nothing more. She called it by
the same name with her husband, who was opposed to the doctrine of Christian perfection,
as held by the Wesleyan Methodists, manifestly on the ground of his notions of physical
depravity. I care not what this state is called, if the thing be fully explained
and insisted upon, together with the conditions of attaining it. Call it what you
please, Christian perfection, heavenly mindedness, the full assurance of faith or
hope, or a state of entire consecration; by all these I understand the same thing.
And it is certain, that by whatever name it is called, the thing must be aimed at
to be attained. The practicability of its attainment must be admitted, or it cannot
be aimed at.
And now I would humbly inquire, whether to preach any thing short of this is not
to give countenance to sin?
- 18. Another argument in favour of this doctrine is, that the gospel, as a matter
of fact, has often, not only temporarily, but permanently and perfectly overcome
every form of sin, in different individuals. Who has not seen the most beastly lusts,
drunkenness, lasciviousness, and every kind of abomination, long indulged and fully
ripe, entirely and for ever slain by the power of the grace of God? Now how was this
done? Only by bringing this sin fully into the light of the gospel, and showing the
individual the relation which the death of Christ sustained to that sin.
- Nothing is wanting to slay any and every form of sin, but for the mind to be
fully baptized into the death of Christ, and to see the bearings of one's own sins
upon the sufferings, and agonies, and death of the blessed Jesus. Let me state a
fact to illustrate my meaning. An habitual and most inveterate smoker of tobacco,
of my acquaintance, after having been plied with almost every argument to induce
him to break the power of the habit and relinquish its use in vain, on a certain
occasion lighted his pipe, and was about to put it to his mouth, when the inquiry
was started, Did Christ die to purchase this vile indulgence for me? The perceived
relation of the death of Christ to this sin instantly broke the power of the habit,
and from that day he has been free. I could relate many other facts more striking
than this, where a similar view of the relation of a particular sin to the atonement
of Christ, has, in a moment, not only broken the power of the habit, but destroyed
entirely and for ever, the appetite for similar indulgences. And in multitudes of
cases when the appetite has not been entirely slain, the will has been endowed with
abundant and abiding efficiency effectually to control it. If the most inveterate
habits of sin, and even those that involve physical consequences, and have deeply
debased the physical constitution, and rendered it a source of overpowering temptation
to the mind, can be, and often have been, utterly broken up, and for ever slain by
the grace of God, why should it be doubted, that by the same grace a man can triumph
over all sin, and that for ever?
- 19. If this doctrine is not true, what is true upon the subject? It is certainly
of great importance that ministers should be definite in their instructions; and
if Christians are not expected to be wholly conformed to the will of God in this
life, how much is expected of them? Who can say, Hitherto canst thou, must thou come,
but no farther? It is certainly absurd, not to say ridiculous, for ministers to be
for ever pressing Christians up to higher and higher attainments, saying at every
step, you can and must go higher, and yet all along informing them, that they are
expected to fall short of their whole duty, that they can as a matter of fact, be
better than they are, far better, indefinitely better; but still it is not expected
that they will do their whole duty. I have often been pained to hear men preach,
who were afraid to commit themselves in favour of the whole truth; and who were yet
evidently afraid of falling short in their instructions, of insisting that men should
stand "perfect and complete in all the will of God." To be consistent they
are evidently perplexed, and well they may be; for in truth there is no consistency
in their views and teachings. If they do not inculcate, as a matter of fact, that
men ought to do, and are expected to do, their whole duty, they are sadly at a loss
to know what to inculcate. They have evidently many misgivings about insisting upon
less than this, and still they fear to go to the full extent of apostolic teaching
on this subject. And in their attempts to throw in qualifying terms and caveats,
to avoid the impression, that they believe in the doctrine of entire sanctification,
they place themselves in a truly awkward position. Cases have occurred in which ministers
have been asked, how far we may go, must go, and are expected to go, in dependence
upon the grace of Christ, and how holy men may be, and are expected to be, and must
be, in this life. They could give no other answer to this, than that they can be
a great deal better than they are. Now this indefiniteness is a great stumbling-block
to the church. It cannot be according to the teachings of the Holy Ghost.
- 20. The tendency of a denial of this doctrine is, to my mind, conclusive proof
that the doctrine itself must be true. Many developements in the recent history of
the church throw light upon this subject. Who does not see that the facts developed
in the temperance reformation have a direct and powerful bearing upon this question?
It has been ascertained, that there is no possibility of completing the temperance
reformation, except by adopting the principle of total abstinence from all intoxicating
drinks. Let a temperance lecturer go forth as an evangelist, to promote revivals
on the subject of temperance--let him inveigh against drunkenness, while he admits
and defends the moderate use of alcohol, or insinuates, at least, that total abstinence
is not expected or practicable. In this stage of the temperance reformation, every
one can see that such a man could make no progress; that he would be employed like
a child in building dams of sand to obstruct the rushing of mighty waters. It is
as certain as that causes produce their effects, that no permanent reformation could
be effected, without adopting and insisting on the total abstinence principle.
- And now, if this is true, as it respects the temperance reformation, how much
more so when applied to the subjects of holiness and sin. A man might, by some possibility,
even in his own strength, overcome his habits of drunkenness, and retain what might
be called the temperate use of alcohol. But no such thing is possible in a reformation
from sin. There is no temperate indulgence in sin. Sin, as a matter of fact, is never
overcome by any man in his own strength. If he admits into his creed the necessity
of any degree of sin, or if he allows in practice any degree of sin, he becomes impenitent,
consents to live in sin, and of course grieves the Holy Spirit, the certain result
of which is a relapsing into a state of legal bondage to sin. And this is probably
a true history of many professed Christians in the church. It is just what might
be expected from the views and practice of the church upon this subject.
The secret of backsliding is, that reformations are not carried deep enough. Christians
are not set with all their hearts to aim at a speedy deliverance from all sin, but
on the contrary are left, and in many instances taught, to indulge the expectation
that they shall sin as long as they live. I probably never shall forget the effect
produced on my mind by reading, when a young convert, in the diary of David Brainerd,
that he never expected to make any considerable attainments in holiness in this life.
I can now easily see that this was a natural inference from the theory of physical
sinfulness which he held. But not perceiving this at the time, I doubt not that this
expression of his views had a very injurious effect upon me for many years. It led
me to reason thus: if such a man as David Brainerd did not expect to make much advancement
in holiness in this life, it is vain for me to expect such a thing.
The fact is, if there be anything that is important to high attainments in holiness,
and to the progress of the work of sanctification in this life, it is the adoption
of the principle of total abstinence from sin. Total abstinence from sin must be
every man's motto, or sin will certainly sweep him away as with a flood. That cannot
possibly be a true principle in temperance, that leaves the causes which produce
drunkenness to operate in their full strength. Nor can that be true in regard to
holiness which leaves the root unextracted, and the certain causes of spiritual decline
and backsliding at work in the very heart of the church. And I am fully convinced
that until evangelists and pastors adopt, and carry out in practice, the principle
of total abstinence from all sin, they will as certainly find themselves, every few
months, called to do their work over again, as a temperance lecturer would who should
admit the moderate use of alcohol.
- 21. Again, the tendency of the opposite view of this subject shows that
that cannot be true. Who does not know that to call upon sinners to repent, and at
the same time to inform them that they will not, and cannot, and are not expected
to repent, would for ever prevent their repentance? Suppose you say to a sinner,
"You are naturally able to repent; but it is certain that you never will repent
in this life, either with or without the Holy Spirit." Who does not see that
such teaching would prevent his repentance as surely as he believed it? To say to
a professor of religion, "You are naturally able to be wholly conformed to the
will of God; but it is certain that you never will be, in this life, either in your
own strength, or by the grace of God:" if this teaching be believed, it will
just as certainly prevent his sanctification, as the other teaching would the repentance
of the sinner. I can speak from experience on this subject. While I inculcated the
common views, I was often instrumental in bringing Christians under great conviction,
and into a state of temporary repentance and faith. But falling short of urging them
up to a point, where they would become so acquainted with Christ as to abide in him,
they would of course soon relapse again into their former state. I seldom saw, and
can now understand that I had no reason to expect to see, under the instructions
which I then gave, such a state of religious principle, such steady and confirmed
walking with God among Christians, as I have seen since the change in my views and
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXI. Back to Top
PAUL ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED.
I MIGHT urge a great many other considerations, and as I have said, fill a book with
scriptures, and arguments, and demonstrations, of the attainability of entire sanctification
in this life.
But I forbear, and will present only one more consideration--a consideration which
has great weight in some minds. It is a question of great importance, whether any
actually ever did attain this state. Some who believe it attainable, do not consider
it of much importance to show that it has actually been attained. Now I freely admit,
that it may be attainable, even if it never has been attained. Yet it appears to
me that as a source of encouragement to the church, it is of great importance whether,
as a matter of fact, a state of entire and continued holiness has been attained in
this life. This question covers much ground. But for the sake of brevity, I design
to examine but one case, and see whether there is not reason to believe that, in
one instance at least, it has been attained. The case to which I allude is that of
the apostle Paul. And I propose to take up and examine the passages that speak of
him, for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is evidence that he ever attained
to this state in this life.
And here let me say that, to my own mind, it seems plain, that Paul and John, to
say nothing of the other apostles, designed and expected the church to understand
them as speaking from experience, and as having received of that fulness which they
taught to be in Christ and in his gospel.
And I wish to say again and more expressly, that I do not rest the practicability
of attaining a state of entire and continued holiness at all upon the question, whether
any ever have attained it, any more than I would rest the question, whether the world
ever will be converted, upon the fact whether it ever has been converted. I have
been surprised, when the fact that a state of entire holiness has been attained,
is urged as one argument among a great many to prove its attainability, and that
too, merely as an encouragement to Christians to lay hold upon this blessing--that
objectors and reviewers fasten upon this, as the doctrine of sanctification, as if
by calling this particular question into doubt, they could overthrow all the other
proof of its attainability. Now this is utterly absurd. When, then, I examine the
character of Paul with this object in view, if it should not appear clear to you
that he did attain this state, you are not to overlook the fact, that its attainability
is settled by other arguments, on grounds entirely independent of the question, whether
it has been attained or not; and that I merely use this as an argument, simply because
to me it appears forcible, and fitted to afford great encouragement to Christians
to press after this state.
I will first make some remarks in regard to the manner in which the language of Paul,
when speaking of himself, should be understood; and then proceed to an examination
of the passages which speak of his Christian character.
- 1. His character, as revealed in his life, demands that we should understand
him to mean all that he says, when speaking in his own favour.
- 2. The spirit of inspiration would guard him against speaking too highly of himself.
- 3. No man ever seemed to possess greater modesty, and to feel more unwilling
to exalt his own attainments.
- 4. If he considered himself as not having attained a state of entire sanctification,
and as often, if not in all things, falling short of his duty, we may expect to find
him acknowledging this, in the deepest self-abasement.
- 5. If he is charged with living in sin, and with being wicked in anything, we
may expect him, when speaking under inspiration, not to justify, but unequivocally
to condemn himself in those things, if he was really guilty.
- Now, in view of these facts, let us examine those scriptures in which he speaks
of himself, and is spoken of by others.
(1.) 1 Thess. ii. 10: "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly,
and unblameably, we behaved ourselves among you that believe." Upon this text
(i.) Here he unqualifiedly asserts his own holiness. This language is very
strong, "How holily, justly, and unblameably." If to be holy, just, and
unblameable, be not entire sanctification, what is?
(ii.) He appeals to the heart-searching God for the truth of what he says,
and to their own observation; calling on God and on them also to bear witness, that
he had been holy and without blame.
(iii.) Here we have the testimony of an inspired apostle, in the most unqualified
language, asserting his own entire sanctification. Was he deceived?
Can it be that he knew himself all the time to have been living in sin? If such language
as this does not amount to an unqualified assertion, that he had lived among them
without sin, what can be known by the use of human language?
(2.) 2 Cor. vi. 3-7: "Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not
blamed; but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience,
in afflictions, in necessity, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults,
in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering,
by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power
of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left." Upon
these verses I remark: Paul asserts that he gave no offence in anything, but in all
things approved himself as a minister of God. Among other things, he did this, "by
pureness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned," and "by the armour of
righteousness on the right hand and on the left." How could so modest a man
as Paul speak of himself in this manner, unless he knew himself to be in a state
of entire sanctification, and thought it of great importance that the church should
(3.) 2 Cor. i. 12: "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,
that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace
of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to youward."
This passage plainly implies the same thing, and was manifestly said for the same
purpose--to declare the greatness of the grace of God as manifested in himself.
(4.) Acts xxiv. 16: "And herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience
void of offence toward God, and toward men." Paul doubtless at this time had
an enlightened conscience. If an inspired apostle could affirm, that he "exercised
himself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men,"
must he not have been in a state of entire sanctification?
(5.) 2 Tim. i. 3: "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure
conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and
day." Here again he affirms that he serves God with a pure conscience. Could
this be, if he was often, and perhaps every day, as some suppose, violating his conscience?
(6.) Gal. ii. 20: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not
I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by
the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." This does
not assert, but strongly implies, that he lived without sin, and also that he regarded
himself as dead to sin in the sense of being permanently sanctified.
(7.) Gal. vi. 14: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
This text also affords the same inference as above.
(8.) Phil. i. 21: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Here
the apostle affirms that for him to live was as if Christ lived in the church, that
is, by his doctrine illustrated by his life, it was as if Christ lived again and
preached his own gospel to sinners and to the church; or for him to live was to make
Christ known as if Christ lived to make himself known. How could he say this, unless
his example, and doctrine, and spirit, were those of Christ?
(9.) Acts xx. 26: "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from
the blood of all men." Upon this I remark--
(i.) This passage, taken in its connexion, shows clearly the impression that
Paul desired to make upon the minds of those to whom he spake.
(ii.) It is certain that he could in no proper sense be "pure from the
blood of all men," unless he had done his whole duty. If he had been sinfully
lacking in any grace, or virtue, or labour, could he have said this? Certainly not.
(10.) 1 Cor. ii. 16, 17: "Wherefore, I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For
this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in
the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as
I teach everywhere in every church." I remark--
(i.) Here Paul manifestly sets himself up as an example to the church. How
could he do this if he were living in sin?
(ii.) He sent Timotheus to them to refresh their memories in regard to his
doctrine and practice; implying that what he taught in every church he himself practised.
(11.) 1 Cor. xi. 1: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Here Paul commands them to follow him "as he followed Christ;" not so far
as he followed Christ, as some seem to understand it, but to follow him because he
followed Christ. How could he, in this unqualified manner, command the church to
copy his example, unless he knew himself to be blameless?
(12.) Phil. iii, 17, 20: "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them
which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For our conversation is in heaven, from
whence we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Here again, Paul
calls upon the church to follow him, and particularly to notice those that copied
his example, and assigns as the reason, "for our conversation is in heaven."
(13.) Phil. iii. 9: "Those things, which ye have both learned and received,
and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you." The
Philippians were commanded to "do those things which they had learned, and received,
and seen in him." And then he adds, that if they "do those things, the
God of peace shall be with them." Now can it be, that he meant that they should
understand anything less, than that he lived without sin among them?
I will next examine those passages which are supposed by some to imply that Paul
was not in a state of entire sanctification.
(14.) Acts xv. 36-40: "And some days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us
go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of
the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John whose
surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from
them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so
sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other; and so Barnabas
took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended
by the brethren unto the grace of God." Upon this passage I remark--
(i.) This contention between Paul and Barnabas arose out of the fact, that
John, who was a nephew of Barnabas, had once abruptly left them in their travels,
it would seem, without any justifiable reason, and had returned home.
(ii.) It appears that the confidence of Barnabas in his nephew was restored.
(iii.) That Paul was not as yet satisfied of the stability of his character,
and thought it dangerous to trust him as a travelling companion and fellow labourer.
It is not intimated, nor can it fairly be inferred, that either of them sinned in
(iv.) Being men of principle, neither of them felt it to be his duty to yield
to the opinion of the other.
(v.) If either was to be blamed, it seems that Barnabas was in fault, rather
than Paul, inasmuch as he determined to take John with him, without having consulted
Paul. And he persisted in this determination until he met with such firm resistance
on the part of Paul, that he took John and sailed abruptly for Cyprus; while Paul
choosing Silas as his companion, was recommended by the brethren to the grace of
God, and departed. Now certainly there is nothing that we can discover in this transaction,
that Paul, or any good man, or an angel, under the circumstances, needs to have been
ashamed of. It does not appear, that Paul ever acted more from a regard to the glory
of God and the good of religion, than in this transaction. And I would humbly inquire,
what spirit is that which finds sufficient evidence in this case to charge an inspired
apostle with rebellion against God? But even admitting that he did sin in this case,
where is the evidence that he was not afterwards sanctified, when he wrote the epistle?
for this was before the writing of any of his epistles.
(15.) Acts xxiii. 1-5: "And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men
and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And
the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou
to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And
they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist
not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak
evil of the ruler of thy people." In this case sinful anger has been imputed
to Paul; but, so far as I can see, without any just reason. To my mind it seems plain,
that the contrary is to be inferred. It appears, that Paul was not personally acquainted
with the then officiating high priest. And he manifested the utmost regard to the
authority of God in quoting from the Old Testament, "Thou shalt not speak evil
of the ruler of thy people;" implying, that notwithstanding the abuse he had
received, he should not have made the reply, had he known him to be the high priest.
(16.) Rom. vii. from the fourteenth to the twenty-fifth verse, has by many been supposed
to be an epitome of Paul's experience at the time he wrote the epistle. Upon this
(i.) The connexion and drift of Paul's reasoning show, that the case of which
he was speaking, whether his own or the case of some one else, was adduced by him
to illustrate the influence of the law upon the carnal mind.
(ii.) This is a case in which sin had the entire dominion, and overcame all
his resolutions of obedience.
(iii.) That his use of the singular pronoun, and in the first person, proves
nothing in regard to the point, whether or not he was speaking of himself, for this
is common with him, and with other writers, when using illustrations.
(iv.) He keeps up the personal pronoun, and passes into the eighth chapter;
at the beginning of which, he represents himself, or the person of whom he is speaking,
as being not only in a different, but in an exactly opposite state of mind. Now,
if the seventh chapter contains Paul's experience, whose experience is this in the
eighth chapter? Are we to understand them both as the experience of Paul? If so,
we must understand him as first speaking of his experience before, and then after
he was sanctified. He begins the eighth chapter by saying, "There is therefore
now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit;" and assigns as a reason, that "The law of the Spirit
of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." The
law of sin and death was that law in his members, or the influence of the flesh,
of which he had so bitterly complained in the seventh chapter. But now, it appears,
that he has passed into a state in which he is made free from this influence of the
flesh,--is emancipated and dead to the world and to the flesh, and in a state in
which "there is no condemnation." Now, if there was no condemnation in
the state in which he then was, it must have been, either because he did not sin,
or, if he did sin, because the law did not condemn him; or because the law of God
was repealed or abrogated. Now, if the penalty of the law was so set aside in his
case, that he could sin without condemnation, this is a real abrogation of the law.
For a law without a penalty is no law, and if the law is set aside, there is no longer
any standard, and he was neither sinful nor holy. But as the law was not, and could
not be set aside, its penalty was not and could not be so abrogated, as not to condemn
every sin. If Paul lived without condemnation, it must be because he lived without
To me it does not appear as if Paul speaks of his own experience in the seventh chapter
of Romans, but that he merely supposes a case by way of illustration, and speaks
in the first person, and in the present tense, simply because it was convenient and
suitable to his purpose. His object manifestly was, in this and in the beginning
of the eighth chapter, to contrast the influence of the law and of the gospel--to
describe in the seventh chapter the state of a man who was living in sin, and every
day condemned by the law, convicted and constantly struggling with his own corruptions,
but continually overcome,--and in the eighth chapter to exhibit a person in the enjoyment
of gospel liberty, where the righteousness of the law was fulfilled in the heart
by the grace of Christ. The seventh chapter may well apply either to a person in
a backslidden state, or to a convicted person who had never been converted. The eighth
chapter can clearly be applicable to none but to those who are in a state of entire
I have already said, that the seventh chapter contains the history of one over whom
sin has dominion. Now, to suppose that this was the experience of Paul when he wrote
the epistle, or of any one who was in the liberty of the gospel, is absurd, and contrary
to the experience of every person who ever enjoyed gospel liberty. And further, this
is as expressly contradicted in the sixth chapter as it can be. As I said, the seventh
chapter exhibits one over whom sin has dominion; but God says, in the sixth chapter
and fourteenth verse, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are
not under the law, but under grace." I remark finally upon this passage, that
if Paul was speaking of himself in the seventh chapter of Romans, and really giving
a history of his own experience, it proves nothing at all in regard to his subsequent
(i.) If this was his experience at the time he wrote the epistle, it would
prove nothing in regard to what afterwards occurred in his own experience.
(ii.) The eighth chapter shows conclusively, that it was not his experience
at the time he wrote the epistle. The fact that the seventh and eighth chapters have
been separated since the translation was made, as I have before said, has led to
much error in the understanding of this passage. Nothing is more certain, than that
the two chapters were designed to describe not only different experiences, but experiences
opposite to each other. And that both these experiences should belong to the same
person at the same time, is manifestly impossible. If therefore Paul is speaking
in this connexion of his own experience, we are bound to understand the eighth chapter
as describing his experience at the time he wrote the epistle; and the seventh chapter
as descriptive of a former experience.
Now, therefore, if any one understands the seventh chapter as describing a Christian
experience, he must understand it as giving the exercises of one in a very imperfect
state; and the eighth chapter as descriptive of a soul in a state of entire sanctification.
So that this epistle, instead of militating against the idea of Paul's entire sanctification,
upon the supposition that he was speaking of himself, fully establishes the fact
that he was in that state. What do those brethren mean who take the latter part of
the seventh chapter as entirely disconnected from that which precedes and follows
it, and make it tell a sad story on the subject of the legal and sinful bondage of
an inspired apostle? What cannot be proved from the Bible in this way? Is it not
a sound and indispensable rule of biblical interpretation, that a passage is to be
taken in its connexion, and that the scope and leading intention of the writer is
to be continually borne in mind, in deciding upon the meaning of any passage? Why
then, I pray, are the verses that precede, and those that immediately follow in the
eighth chapter, entirely overlooked in the examination of this important passage?
(17.) Phil. iii. 10-15. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by
any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 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: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall
reveal even this unto you." Upon this passage I remark:--
(i.) Here is a plain allusion to the Olympic games, in which men ran for a
prize, and were not crowned until the end of the race, however well they might run.
(ii.) Paul speaks of two kinds of perfection here, one of which he claims
to have attained, and the other he had not. The perfection which he had not attained,
was that which he did not expect to attain until the end of his race, nor indeed
until he had attained the resurrection from the dead. Until then he was not, and
did not expect to be perfect, in the sense that he should "apprehend all that
for which he was apprehended of Christ Jesus." But all this does not imply that
he was not living without sin, any more than it implies that Christ was living in
sin when he said, "I must walk to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall
be perfected." Here Christ speaks of a perfection which he had not attained.
Now it is manifest, that it was the glorified state to which Paul had not attained,
and which perfection he was pressing after. But in the fifteenth verse, he speaks
of another kind of perfection, which he professed to have attained. "Let us
therefore," he says, "as many as be perfect, be thus minded;" that
is, let us be pressing after this high state of perfection in glory, "if by
any means we may attain unto the resurrection of the dead." The figure of the
games should be kept continually in mind, in the interpretation of this passage.
The prize in those races was the crown. This was given only at the end of the race.
And besides, a man was "not crowned except he ran lawfully," that is, according
to rule. Paul was running for the prize, that is, the crown, not, as some suppose,
for entire sanctification, but for a crown of glory. This he did not expect until
he had completed his race. He exhorts those who were perfect, that is, those who
were running lawfully or according to rule, to forget the things that were behind,
and press to the mark, that is, the goal, for the prize, or the crown of glory, which
the Lord, the righteous judge, who was witnessing his race to award the crown to
the victor, would give him at that day.
Now it is manifest to my mind, that Paul does not in this passage, teach expressly
nor impliedly, that he was living in sin, but the direct opposite--that he meant
to say, as he had said in many other places, that he was unblameable in respect to
sin, but that he was aspiring after higher attainments, and meant to be satisfied
with nothing short of eternal glory.
Again, Phil. iv. 11-13: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have
learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be
abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed,
both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all
things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Here Paul undoubtedly meant to
affirm, not merely his abstract ability to do all his duty, but that he had learned
by experience, that as a matter of fact and reality, he found himself able to do
all things required of him.
In relation to the character of Paul, let me say:--
(a.) If Paul was not sinless, he was an extravagant boaster, and such language
used by any minister in these days would be considered as the language of an extravagant
(b.) This setting himself up as an example so frequently and fully, without any caution
or qualification, was highly dangerous to the interests of the church, if he was
not in a state of entire sanctification.
(c.) It was as wicked as it was dangerous.
(d.) His language in appealing to God, that in life and heart he was blameless, was
blasphemous, unless he was really what he professed to be; and if he was what he
professed to be, he was in a state of entire sanctification.
(e.) There is no reason for doubting his having attained this state.
(f.) It is doing dishonour to God, to maintain, under these circumstances,
that Paul had not attained the blessing of entire sanctification.
(g.) He nowhere confesses sin after he became an apostle, but invariably justifies
himself, appealing to man and to God, for his entire integrity and blamelessness
of heart and life.
(h.) To accuse him of sin in these circumstances, without evidence, is not only highly
injurious to him, but disgraceful to the cause of religion.
(i.) To charge him with sin, when he claims to have been blameless, is either to
accuse him of falsehood or delusion.
(j.) To maintain the sinfulness of this apostle, is to deny the grace of the gospel,
and charge God foolishly. And I cannot but inquire, why is this great effort in the
church to maintain that Paul lived in sin, and was never wholly sanctified till death?
Two things have appeared wonderful to me--
1. That so many professed Christians should seem to think themselves highly honouring
God in extending the claims of the law, and yet denying that the grace of the gospel
is equal to the demands of the law.
2. That so many persons seem to have an entirely self-righteous view of the subject
of sanctification. With respect to the first of these opinions, much pains has been
taken to extend to the utmost the claims of the law of God. Much has been said of
its exceeding and infinite strictness, and the great length, and breadth, and height,
and depth of its claims. Multitudes are engaged in defending the claims of the law,
as if they greatly feared that the purity of the law would be defiled, its strictness
and spirituality overlooked, and its high and holy claims set aside, or frittered
down somehow to the level of human passion and selfishness. But while engaged in
their zeal to defend the law, they talk, and preach, and write, as if they supposed
it indispensable, in order to sustain the high claims of the law, to deny the grace
and power of the gospel, and its sufficiency to enable human beings to comply with
the requisitions of the law. Thus they seem to me, unwittingly, to enter the lists
against the grace of Christ, and with the utmost earnestness and even vehemence,
to deny that the grace of Christ is sufficient to overcome sin, and to fulfil in
us the righteousness of the law. Yes, in their zeal for the law they appear to me
either to overlook, or flatly to deny, the grace of the gospel.
Now let the law be exalted. Let it be magnified and made honourable. Let it be shown
to be strict, and pure, and perfect, as its Author; spread its claims over the whole
field of human and angelic accountability; carry it like a blaze of fire to the deepest
recess of every human heart; exalt it as high as heaven; and thunder its authority
and claims to the depths of hell; stretch out its line upon the universe of mind;
and let it, as it well may, and as it ought, thunder death and terrible damnation
against every kind and degree of iniquity. Yet let it be remembered for ever, that
the grace of the gospel is co-extensive with the claims of the law. Let no man, therefore,
in his strife to maintain the authority of the law, insult the Saviour, exercise
unbelief himself, or fritter away and drown the faith of the church, by holding out
the profane idea, that the glorious gospel of the blessed God, sent home and rendered
powerful by the efficacious application of the Holy Spirit, is not sufficient to
fulfil in us "the righteousness of the law," and cause us "to stand
perfect and complete in all the will of God."
With respect to the second thing which appears wonderful to me, namely, that so many
seem to have an entirely self-righteous view of the doctrine of sanctification, let
me say, that they seem afraid to admit, that any are entirely and perfectly sanctified
in this life, lest they should flatter human pride, seeming to take it for granted,
that, if any are entirely sanctified, they have whereof to glory, as if they had
done something, and were in themselves better than others. Whereas, the doctrine
of entire sanctification utterly abhors the idea of human merit, disclaims and repudiates
it as altogether an abomination to God, and to the sanctified soul. This doctrine,
as taught in the Bible, and as I understand it, is as far as possible from conniving
in the least degree at the idea of anything naturally good in saints or sinners.
It ascribes the whole of salvation and sanctification from first to last, not only
till the soul is sanctified, but at every moment while it remains in that state,
to the indwelling Spirit, and influence, and grace of Christ.
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXII. Back to Top
Special Annotated Version of
RELATIONS OF CHRIST TO THE BELIEVER" ---New Window
Scripture Additions by Tom Stewart
"Understanding Charles G. Finney's Entire Sanctification"
Or, "An Introduction to Finney's 'The Relations
of Christ to the Believer'"
by Tom Stewart
VI. POINT OUT THE CONDITIONS OF THIS ATTAINMENT.
- 1. A state of entire sanctification can never be attained by an indifferent waiting
of God's time.
- 2. Nor by any works of law, or works of any kind, performed in your own strength,
irrespective of the grace of God. By this I do not mean, that, were you disposed
to exert your natural powers aright, you could not at once obey the law in the exercise
of your natural strength, and continue to do so. But I do mean, that as you are wholly
indisposed to use your natural powers aright, without the grace of God, no efforts
that you will actually make in your own strength, or independent of his grace, will
ever result in your entire sanctification.
- 3. Not by any direct efforts to feel right. Many spend their time in vain efforts
to force themselves into a right state of feeling. Now, it should be for ever understood,
that religion does not consist in a mere feeling, emotion, or involuntary affection
of any kind. Feelings do not result from a direct effort to feel. But, on the contrary,
they are the spontaneous actings of the mind, when it has under its direct and deep
consideration the objects, truths, facts, or realities, that are correlated to these
involuntary emotions. They are the most easy and natural state of mind possible under
such circumstances. So far from its requiring an effort to put them forth, it would
rather require an effort to prevent them, when the mind is intensely considering
those objects and considerations which have a natural tendency to produce them. This
is so true, that when persons are in the exercise of such affections, they feel no
difficulty at all in their exercise, but wonder how any one can help feeling as they
do. It seems to them so natural, so easy, and, I may say, so almost unavoidable,
that they often feel and express astonishment, that any one should find it difficult
to exercise the feelings of which they are conscious. The course that many persons
take on the subject of religion, has often appeared wonderful to me. They make themselves,
their own state and interests, the central point, around which their own minds are
continually revolving. Their selfishness is so great, that their own interests, happiness,
and salvation, fill their whole field of vision. And with their thoughts and anxieties,
and whole souls, clustering around their own salvation, they complain of a hard heart,
that they cannot love God, that they do not repent, and cannot believe. They manifestly
regard love to God, repentance, faith, and all religion, as consisting in mere feelings.
Being conscious that they do not feel right, as they express it, they are the more
concerned about themselves, which concern but increases their embarrassment, and
the difficulty of exercising what they call right affections. The less they feel,
the more they try to feel--the greater efforts they make to feel right without success,
the more are they confirmed in their selfishness, and the more are their thoughts
glued to their own interests; and they are, of course, at a greater and greater distance
from any right state of mind. And thus their selfish anxieties beget ineffectual
efforts, and these efforts but deepen their anxieties. And if, in this state, death
should appear in a visible form before them, or the last trumpet sound, and they
should be summoned to the solemn judgment, it would but increase their distraction,
confirm, and almost give omnipotence to their selfishness, and render their sanctification
morally impossible. It should never be forgotten, that all true religion consists
in voluntary states of mind, and that the true and only way to attain to true religion,
is to look at and understand the exact thing to be done, and then to put forth at
once the voluntary exercise required.
- 4. Not by any efforts to obtain grace by works of law. In my lecture on faith,
in the first volume of the Evangelist, I said the following things:--
- (1.) Should the question be proposed to a Jew, "What shall I do that I may
work the work of God?" he would answer, Keep the law, both moral and ceremonial,
that is, keep the commandments.
(2.) To the same inquiry an Arminian would answer, Improve common grace, and you
will obtain converting grace, that is, use the means of grace according to the best
light you have, and you will obtain the grace of salvation. In this answer it is
not supposed, that the inquirer already has faith; but that he is in a state of unbelief,
and is inquiring after converting grace. The answer, therefore, amounts to this;
you must get converting grace by your impenitent works; you must become holy by your
hypocrisy; you must work out sanctification by sin.
(3.) To this question, most professed Calvinists would make in substance the same
reply. They would reject the language, while they retained the idea. Their direction
would imply, either that the inquirer already has faith, or that he must perform
some works to obtain it, that is, that he must obtain grace by works of law.
A late Calvinistic writer admits that entire and permanent sanctification is attainable,
although he rejects the idea of the actual attainment of such a state in this life.
He supposes the condition of attaining this state or the way to attain it, is by
a diligent use of the means of grace, and that the saints are sanctified just so
far as they make a diligent use of the means of sanctification. But as he denies,
that any saints ever did or will use all the means with suitable diligence, he denies
also, of course, that entire sanctification ever is attained in this life. The way
of attaining it, according to his teaching, is by the diligent use of means. If then
this writer were asked, "what shall I do that I may work the works of God?"--or,
in other words, what shall I do to obtain entire and permanent sanctification? his
answer, it seems, would be: "Use diligently all the means of grace," that
is, you must get grace by works, or, with the Arminian, improve common grace, and
you will secure sanctifying grace. Neither an Arminian, nor a Calvinist, would formally
direct the inquirer to the law, as the ground of justification. But nearly the whole
church would give directions that would amount to the same thing. Their answer would
be a legal, and not a gospel answer. For whatever answer is given to this question,
that does not distinctly recognize faith as the condition of abiding holiness in
Christians, is legal. Unless the inquirer is made to understand, that this is the
first, grand, fundamental duty, without the performance of which all virtue, all
giving up of sin, all acceptable obedience, is impossible, he is misdirected. He
is led to believe, that it is possible to please God without faith, and to obtain
grace by works of law. There are but two kinds of works--works of law, and works
of faith. Now, if the inquirer has not the "faith that works by love,"
to set him upon any course of works to get it, is certainly to set him to get faith
by works of law. Whatever is said to him that does not clearly convey the truth,
that both justification and sanctification are by faith, without works of law, is
law, and not gospel. Nothing before or without faith, can possibly be done by any
one, but works of law. His first duty, therefore, is faith; and every attempt to
obtain faith by unbelieving works, is to lay works at the foundation, and make grace
a result. It is the direct opposite of gospel truth.
Take facts as they arise in every day's experience, to show that what I have stated
is true of almost all professors and non-professors. Whenever a sinner begins in
good earnest to agitate the question, "What shall I do to be saved?" he
resolves as a first duty, to break off from his sins, that is, in unbelief. Of course,
his reformation is only outward. He determines to do better--to reform in this, that,
and the other thing, and thus prepare himself to be converted. He does not expect
to be saved without grace and faith, but he attempts to get grace by works of law.
The same is true of multitudes of anxious Christians, who are inquiring what they
shall do to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. They overlook the fact,
that "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," that
it is with "the shield of faith" they are "to quench all the fiery
darts of the wicked." They ask, Why am I overcome by sin? Why can I not get
above its power? Why am I thus the slave of my appetites and passions, and the sport
of the devil? They cast about for the cause of all this spiritual wretchedness and
death. At one time, they think they have discovered it in the neglect of one duty;
and at another time in the neglect of another. Sometimes they imagine they have found
the cause to lie in yielding to one temptation, and sometimes yielding to another.
They put forth efforts in this direction, and in that direction, and patch up their
righteousness on one side, while they make a rent in the other side. Thus they spend
years in running round in a circle, and making dams of sand across the current of
their own habitudes and tendencies. Instead of at once purifying their hearts by
faith, they are engaged in trying to arrest the overflowing of the bitter waters
of their own propensities. Why do I sin? they inquire; and casting about for the
cause, they come to the sage conclusion, It is because I neglect such a duty, that
is, because I do sin. But how shall I get rid of sin? Answer: By doing my duty, that
is, by ceasing from sin. Now the real inquiry is, Why do they neglect their duty?
Why do they commit sin at all? Where is the foundation of all this mischief? Will
it be replied, the foundation of all this wickedness is in the force of temptation--in
the weakness of our hearts--in the strength of our evil propensities and habits?
But all this only brings us back to the real inquiry again, How are these things
to be overcome? I answer, by faith alone. No works of law have the least tendency
to overcome our sins; but rather to confirm the soul in self-righteousness and unbelief.
The great and fundamental sin, which is at the foundation of all other sin, is unbelief.
The first thing is, to give up that--to believe the word of God. There is no breaking
off from one sin without this. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." "Without
faith it is impossible to please God." Thus we see, that the backslider and
convicted sinner, when agonizing to overcome sin, will almost always betake themselves
to works of law to obtain faith. They will fast, and pray, and read, and struggle,
and outwardly reform, and thus endeavour to obtain grace. Now all this is in vain
and wrong. Do you ask, shall we not fast, and pray, and read, and struggle? Shall
we do nothing but sit down in antinomian security and inaction? I answer, you must
do all that God commands you to do: but begin where he tells you to begin, and do
it in the manner in which he commands you to do it; that is, in the exercise of that
faith that works by love. Purify your hearts by faith. Believe in the Son of God.
And say not in your heart, "Who shall ascend into heaven, that is to bring Christ
down from above; or who shall descend into the deep, that is, to bring up Christ
again from the dead. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth,
and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach." Now these facts
show, that even under the gospel, almost all professors of religion, while they reject
the Jewish notion of justification by works of law, have after all adopted a ruinous
substitute for it, and suppose, that in some way they are to obtain grace by their
- 5. A state of entire sanctification cannot be attained by attempting to copy
the experience of others. It is very common for convicted sinners, or for Christians
inquiring after entire sanctification, in their blindness, to ask others to relate
their experience, to mark minutely the detail of all their exercises, and then set
themselves to pray for, and make direct efforts to attain the same class of exercises,
not seeming to understand, that they can no more exercise feelings in the detail
like others, than they can look like others. Human experiences differ as human countenances
differ. The whole history of a man's former state of mind, comes in of course to
modify his present and future experience; so that the precise train of feelings which
may be requisite in your case, and which will actually occur, if you are ever sanctified,
will not in all its details coincide with the exercises of any other human being.
It is of vast importance for you to understand, that you can be no copyist in any
true religious experience; and that you are in great danger of being deceived by
Satan, whenever you attempt to copy the experience of others. I beseech you therefore
to cease from praying for, or trying to obtain, the precise experience of any person
whatever. All truly Christian experiences are, like human countenances, in their
outline so much alike as to be readily known as the lineaments of the religion of
Jesus Christ. But no further than this are they alike, any more than human countenances
- But here let it be remembered, that sanctification does not consist in the various
affections or emotions of which Christians speak, and which are often mistaken for,
or confounded with, true religion; but that sanctification consists in entire consecration,
and consequently it is all out of place for any one to attempt to copy the feelings
of another, inasmuch as feelings do not constitute religion. The feelings of which
Christians speak do not constitute true religion, but often result from a right state
of heart. These feelings may properly enough be spoken of as Christian experience,
for although involuntary states of mind, they are experienced by true Christians.
The only way to secure them is to set the will right, and the emotions will be a
- 6. Not by waiting to make preparations before you come into this state. Observe,
that the thing about which you are inquiring, is a state of entire consecration to
God. Now do not imagine that this state of mind must be prefaced by a long introduction
of preparatory exercises. It is common for persons, when inquiring upon this subject
with earnestness, to think themselves hindered in their progress by a want of this,
or that, or the other exercise or state of mind. They look everywhere else but at
the real difficulty. They assign any other, and every other but the true reason,
for their not being already in a state of sanctification. The true difficulty is
voluntary selfishness, or voluntary consecration to self-interest and self-gratification.
This is the difficulty, and the only difficulty, to be overcome.
- 7. Not by attending meetings, asking the prayers of other Christians, or depending
in any way upon the means of getting into this state. By this I do not intend to
say, that means are unnecessary, or that it is not through the instrumentality of
truth, that this state of mind is induced. But I do mean, that while you are depending
upon any instrumentality whatever, your mind is diverted from the real point before
you, and you are never likely to make this attainment.
- 8. Not by waiting for any particular views of Christ. When persons, in the state
of mind of which I have been speaking, hear those who live in faith describe their
views of Christ, they say, Oh, if I had such views, I could believe: I must have
these before I can believe. Now you should understand, that these views are the result
and effect of faith in the promise of the Spirit, to take of the things of Christ
and show them to you. Lay hold of this class of promises, and the Holy Spirit will
reveal Christ to you, in the relations in which you need him from time to time. Take
hold, then, on the simple promise of God. Take God at his word. Believe that he means
just what he says; and this will at once bring you into the state of mind after which
- 9. Not in any way which you may mark out for yourself. Persons in an inquiring
state are very apt, without seeming to be aware of it, to send imagination on before
them, to stake out the way, and set up a flag where they intend to come out. They
expect to be thus and thus exercised--to have such and such peculiar views and feelings
when they have attained their object. Now, there probably never was a person who
did not find himself disappointed in these respects. God says, "I will bring
the blind by a way that they know not. I will lead them in paths that they have not
known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These
things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." This suffering your imagination
to mark out your path is a great hindrance to you, as it sets you upon making many
fruitless, and worse than fruitless attempts to attain this imaginary state of mind,
wastes much of your time, and greatly wearies the patience and grieves the Spirit
of God. While he is trying to lead you right to the point, you are hauling off from
the course, and insisting, that this which your imagination has marked out is the
way, instead of that in which he is trying to lead you. And thus in your pride and
ignorance you are causing much delay, and abusing the long-suffering of God. He says,
"This is the way, walk ye in it." But you say, no--this is the way. And
thus you stand and parley and banter, while you are every moment in danger of grieving
the Spirit of God away from you, and of losing your soul.
- 10. Not in any manner, or at any time or place, upon which you may in your own
mind lay any stress. If there is anything in your imagination that has fixed definitely
upon any particular manner, time, or place, or circumstance, you will, in all probability,
either be deceived by the devil, or be entirely disappointed in the result. You will
find, in all these particular items on which you had laid any stress, that the wisdom
of man is foolishness with God--that your ways are not his ways, nor your thoughts
his thoughts. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways
higher than your ways, and his thoughts higher than your thoughts." But,--
- 11. This state is to be attained by faith alone. Let it be for ever remembered,
that "without faith it is impossible to please God," and "whatsoever
is not of faith, is sin." Both justification and sanctification are by faith
alone. Rom. iii. 30: "Seeing it is one God who shall justify the circumcision
by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith;" and ch. v. 1: "Therefore,
being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Also, ch. ix. 30, 31: "What shall we say then? that the Gentiles, who followed
not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which
is of faith. But Israel, who followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained
to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but,
as it were, by the works of the law."
- 12. But let me by no means be understood as teaching sanctification by faith,
as distinct from and opposed to sanctification by the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ,
or which is the same thing, by Christ our sanctification, living and reigning in
the heart. Faith is rather the instrument or condition, than the efficient agent
that induces a state of present and permanent sanctification. Faith simply receives
Christ, as king, to live and reign in the soul. It is Christ, in the exercise of
his different offices, and appropriated in his different relations to the wants of
the soul, by faith, who secures our sanctification. This he does by Divine discoveries
to the soul of his Divine perfections and fulness. The condition of these discoveries
is faith and obedience. He says, John xiv. 21-23: "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. Judas saith unto
him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and
not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep
my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode
with him." But I must call your attention to Christ as our sanctification more
at large hereafter.
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXIII. Back to Top
CONDITIONS OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.--Continued.
To ascertain the conditions of entire sanctification in this life, we must consider
what the temptations are that overcome us. When first converted, we have seen, that
the heart or will consecrates itself and the whole being to God. We have also seen,
that this is a state of disinterested benevolence, or a committal of the whole being
to the promotion of the highest good of being. We have also seen, that all sin is
selfishness, or that all sin consists in the will's seeking the indulgence or gratification
of self; that it consists in the will's yielding obedience to the propensities, instead
of obeying God, as his law is revealed in the reason. Now, who cannot see what needs
to be done to break the power of temptation, and let the soul go free? The fact is,
that the department of our sensibility that is related to objects of time and sense,
has received an enormous developement, and is tremblingly alive to all its correlated
objects, while, by reason of the blindness of the mind to spiritual objects, it is
scarcely developed at all in its relations to them. Those objects are seldom thought
of by the carnal mind, and when they are, they are only thought of. They are not
clearly seen, and of course they are not felt.
The thought of God, of Christ, of sin, of holiness, of heaven, and hell, excites
little or no emotion in the carnal mind. The carnal mind is alive and awake to earthly
and sensible objects, but dead to spiritual realities. The spiritual world needs
to be revealed to the soul. The soul needs to see and clearly apprehend its own spiritual
condition, relations, wants. It needs to become acquainted with God and Christ, to
have spiritual and eternal realities made plain, and present, and all-absorbing realities
to the soul. It needs such discoveries of the eternal world, of the nature and guilt
of sin, and of Christ, the remedy of the soul, as to kill or greatly mortify lust,
or the appetites and passions in their relations to objects of time and sense, and
thoroughly to develope the sensibility, in its relations to sin and to God, and to
the whole circle of spiritual realities. This will greatly abate the frequency and
power of temptation to self-gratification, and break up the voluntary slavery of
the will. The developements of the sensibility need to be thoroughly corrected. This
can only be done by the revelation to the inward man, by the Holy Spirit, of those
great, and solemn, and overpowering realities of the "spirit land," that
lie concealed from the eye of flesh.
We often see those around us whose sensibility is so developed, in some one direction,
that they are led captive by appetite and passion in that direction, in spite of
reason and of God. The inebriate is an example of this. The glutton, the licentious,
the avaricious man, &c., are examples of this kind. We sometimes, on the other
hand, see, by some striking providence, such a counter developement of the sensibility
produced, as to slay and put down those particular tendencies, and the whole direction
of the man's life seems to be changed; and outwardly, at least, it is so. From being
a perfect slave to his appetite for strong drink, he cannot, without the utmost loathing
and disgust, so much as hear the name of his once loved beverage mentioned. From
being a most avaricious man he becomes deeply disgusted with wealth, and spurns and
despises it. Now, this has been effected by a counter developement of the sensibility;
for, in the case supposed, religion has nothing to do with it. Religion does not
consist in the states of the sensibility, nor in the will's being influenced by the
sensibility; but sin consists in the will's being thus influenced. One great thing
that needs to be done, to confirm and settle the will in the attitude of entire consecration
to God, is to bring about a counter developement of the sensibility, so that it will
not draw the will away from God. It needs to be mortified or crucified to the world,
to objects of time and sense, by so deep, and clear, and powerful a revelation of
self to self, and of Christ to the soul, as to awaken and develope all its susceptibilities
in their relations to him, and to spiritual and divine realities. This can easily
be done through and by the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and shows
them to us. He so reveals Christ, that the soul receives him to the throne of the
heart, and to reign throughout the whole being. When the will, the intellect, and
the sensibility are yielded to him, he developes the intelligence and the sensibility
by clear revelations of himself, in all his offices and relations to the soul, confirms
the will, mellows and chastens the sensibility, by these divine revelations to the
It is plain, that men are naturally able to be entirely sanctified, in the sense
of rendering entire and continual obedience to God; for the ability is the condition
of the obligation to do so. But what is implied in ability to be as holy as God requires
us to be?
The ready and plain answer to this question is--
- 1. The possession of the powers and susceptibilities of moral agents.
- 2. Sufficient knowledge or light to reveal to us the whole of duty.
- 3. And also to reveal to us clearly the way and means of overcoming any and every
difficulty or temptation that lies in our way.
- The first we all possess. The second we also possess, for nothing strictly is
or can be duty, that is not revealed or made known to us. The third is proffered
to us upon condition that we receive the Holy Spirit, who offers himself as an indwelling
light and guide, and who is received by simple faith.
The light and grace which we need, and which it is the office of the Holy Spirit
to supply, respects mainly the following things:--
(1.) Knowledge of ourselves, our past sins, their nature, aggravation, guilt, and
desert of dire damnation.
(2.) Knowledge of our spiritual helplessness or weakness, in consequence of--
(i.) The physical depravity or morbid developement of our natures. (See the
distinction between moral and physical depravity, Lecture XXXVIII, II.)
(ii.) Of the strength of selfish habit.
(iii.) Because of the power of temptation from the world, the flesh, and Satan.
(3.) We need the light of the Holy Spirit to teach us the character of God, the nature
of his government, the purity of his law, the necessity and fact of atonement.
(4.) To teach us our need of Christ in all his offices and relations, governmental,
spiritual, and mixed.
(5.) We need the revelation of Christ to our souls in all these relations, and in
such power as to induce in us that appropriating faith, without which Christ is not,
and cannot be, our salvation.
(6.) We need to know Christ, for example, in such relations as the following:--
(i.) As King, to set up his government and write his law in our hearts; to
establish his kingdom within us; to sway his sceptre over our whole being. As King
he must be spiritually revealed and received.
(ii.) As our Mediator, to stand between the offended justice of God and our
guilty souls, to bring about a reconciliation between our souls and God. As Mediator
he must be known and received.
(iii.) As our Advocate or Paracletos, our next or best friend, to plead our
cause with the Father, our righteous and all-prevailing advocate to secure the triumph
of our cause at the bar of God. In this relation he must be apprehended and embraced.
(iv.) As our Redeemer, to redeem us from the curse of the law, and from the
power and dominion of sin; to pay the price demanded by public justice for our release,
and to overcome and break up for ever our spiritual bondage. In this relation also
we must know and appreciate him by faith.
(v.) As our Justification, to procure our pardon and acceptance with God.
To know him and embrace him in this relation is indispensable to peace of mind and
to release from the condemnation of the law.
(vi.) As our Judge, to pronounce sentence of acceptance, and to award to us
the victor's crown.
(vii.) As the Repairer of the breach, or as the one who makes good to the
government of God our default, or in other words, who, by his obedience unto death,
rendered to the public justice of God a full governmental equivalent for the infliction
of the penalty of the law upon us.
(viii.) As the Propitiation for our sins, to offer himself as a propitiatory
or offering for our sins. The apprehension of Christ as making an atonement for our
sins seems to be indispensable to the entertaining of a healthy hope of eternal life.
It certainly is not healthy for the soul to apprehend the mercy of God, without regarding
the conditions of its exercise. It does not sufficiently impress the soul with a
sense of the justice and holiness of God, with the guilt and desert of sin. It does
not sufficiently awe the soul and humble it in the deepest dust, to regard God as
extending pardon, without regard to the sternness of his justice, as evinced in requiring
that sin should be recognized in the universe, as worthy of the wrath and curse of
God, as a condition of its forgiveness. It is remarkable, and well worthy of all
consideration, that those who deny the atonement make sin a comparative trifle, and
seem to regard God's benevolence or love as good nature, rather than, as it is, "a
consuming fire" to all the workers of iniquity. Nothing does or can produce
that awe of God, that fear and holy dread of sin, that self-abasing, God-justifying
spirit, that a thorough apprehension of the atonement of Christ will do. Nothing
like this can beget that spirit of self-renunciation, of cleaving to Christ, of taking
refuge in his blood. In these relations Christ must be revealed to us, and apprehended
and embraced by us, as the condition of our entire sanctification.
(ix.) As the Surety of a better than the first covenant, that is, as surety
of a gracious covenant founded on better promises; as an underwriter or endorser
of our obligation: as one who undertakes for us, and pledges himself as our security,
to fulfil for and in us all the conditions of our salvation. To apprehend and appropriate
Christ by faith in this relation, is no doubt, a condition of our entire sanctification.
I should greatly delight to enlarge, and write a whole course of lectures on the
offices and relations of Christ, the necessity of knowing and appropriating him in
these relations, as the condition of our entire, in the sense of continued sanctification.
This would require a large volume. All that I can do is merely to suggest a skeleton
outline of this subject in this place.
(x.) We need to apprehend and appropriate Christ as dying for our sins. It
is the work of the Holy Spirit thus to reveal his death in its relations to our individual
sins, and as related to our sins as individuals. The soul needs to apprehend Christ
as crucified for us. It is one thing for the soul to regard the death of Christ merely
as the death of a martyr, and an infinitely different thing, as every one knows,
who has had the experience, to apprehend his death as a real and veritable vicarious
sacrifice for our sins, as being truly a substitute for our death. The soul needs
to apprehend Christ as suffering on the cross for it, or as its substitute; so that
it can say, That sacrifice is for me, that suffering and that death are for my sins;
that blessed Lamb is slain for my sins. If thus fully to apprehend and to appropriate
Christ cannot kill sin in us, what can?
(xi.) We also need to know Christ as risen for our justification. He arose
and lives to procure our certain acquittal, or our complete pardon and acceptance
with God. That he lives, and is our justification we need to know, to break the bondage
of legal motives, and to slay all selfish fear; to break and destroy the power of
temptation from this source. The clearly convinced soul is often tempted to despondency
and unbelief, to despair of its own acceptance with God, and it would surely fall
into the bondage of fear, were it not for the faith of Christ as a risen, living,
justifying Saviour. In this relation, the soul needs clearly to apprehend and fully
to appropriate Christ in his completeness, as a condition of abiding in a state of
disinterested consecration to God.
(xii.) We need also to have Christ revealed to us as bearing our griefs and
as carrying our sorrows. The clear apprehension of Christ, as being made sorrowful
for us, and as bending under sorrows and griefs which in justice belonged to us,
tends at once to render sin unspeakably odious, and Christ infinitely precious to
our souls. The idea of Christ our substitute, needs to be thoroughly developed in
our minds. And this relation of Christ needs to be so clearly revealed to us, as
to become an everywhere present reality to us. We need to have Christ so revealed
as to so completely ravish and engross our affections, that we would sooner die at
once than sin against him. Is such a thing impossible? Indeed it is not. Is not the
Holy Spirit able, and willing, and ready thus to reveal him, upon condition of our
asking it in faith? Surely he is.
(xiii.) We also need to apprehend Christ as the one by whose stripes we are
healed. We need to know him as relieving our pains and sufferings by his own, as
preventing our death by his own, as sorrowing that we might eternally rejoice, as
grieving that we might be unspeakably and eternally glad, as dying in unspeakable
agony that we might die in deep peace and in unspeakable triumph.
(xiv.) "As being made sin for us." We need to apprehend him as being
treated as a sinner, and even as the chief of sinners on our account, or for us.
This is the representation of scripture, that Christ on our account was treated as
if he were a sinner. He was made sin for us, that is, he was treated as a sinner,
or rather as being the representative, or as it were the embodiment of sin for us.
O! this the soul needs to apprehend--the holy Jesus treated as a sinner, and as if
all sin were concentrated in him, on our account! We procured this treatment of him.
He consented to take our place in such a sense as to endure the cross, and the curse
of the law for us. When the soul apprehends this, it is ready to die with grief and
love. O how infinitely it loathes self under such an apprehension as this! In this
relation he must not only be apprehended, but appropriated by faith.
(xv.) We also need to apprehend the fact that "he was made sin for us,
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;" that Christ was treated
as a sinner, that we might be treated as righteous; that we might also be made personally
righteous by faith in him; that we might be made the "righteousness of God in
him;" that we might inherit and be made partakers of God's righteousness, as
that righteousness exists and is revealed in Christ; that we might in and by him
be made righteous as God is righteous. The soul needs to see, that his being made
sin for us, was in order that we might be "made the righteousness of God in
him." It needs to embrace and lay hold by faith upon that righteousness of God,
which is brought home to saints in Christ, through the atonement and indwelling Spirit.
(xvi.) We also need him revealed to the soul, as one upon whose shoulders
is the government of the world; who administers the government, moral and providential,
of this world, for the protection, discipline, and benefit of believers. This revelation
has a most sin-subduing tendency. That all events are directly or indirectly controlled
by him who has so loved us as to die for us; that all things absolutely are designed
for, and will surely result in our good. These and such like considerations, when
revealed to the soul and made living realities by the Holy Spirit, tend to kill selfishness
and confirm the love of God in the soul.
(xvii.) We also need Christ revealed to the inward being, as "head over
all things to the church." All these relations are of no avail to our sanctification,
only in so far forth as they are directly, and inwardly, and personally revealed
to the soul by the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to have thoughts, and ideas, and
opinions concerning Christ, and an entirely different thing to know Christ, as he
is revealed by the Holy Spirit. All the relations of Christ imply corresponding necessities
in us. When the Holy Spirit has revealed to us the necessity, and Christ as exactly
suited to fully meet that necessity, and urged his acceptance in that relation, until
we have appropriated him by faith, a great work is done. But until we are thus revealed
to ourselves, and Christ is thus revealed to us and accepted by us, nothing is done
more than to store our heads with notions or opinions and theories, while our hearts
are becoming more and more, at every moment, like an adamant stone.
I have often feared, that many professed Christians knew Christ only after the flesh,
that is, they have no other knowledge of Christ than what they obtain by reading
and hearing about him, without any special revelation of him to the inward being
by the Holy Spirit. I do not wonder, that such professors and ministers should be
totally in the dark, upon the subject of entire sanctification in this life. They
regard sanctification as brought about by the formation of holy habits, instead of
resulting from the revelation of Christ to the soul in all his fulness and relations,
and the soul's renunciation of self and appropriation of Christ in these relations.
Christ is represented in the Bible as the head of the church. The church is represented
as his body. He is to the church what the head is to the body. The head is the seat
of the intellect, the will, and in short, of the living soul. Consider what the body
would be without the head, and you may understand what the church would be without
Christ. But as the church would be without Christ, so each believer would be without
Christ. But we need to have our necessities in this respect clearly revealed to us
by the Holy Spirit, and this relation of Christ made plain to our apprehension. The
utter darkness of the human mind in regard to its own spiritual state and wants,
and in regard to the relations and fulness of Christ, is truly wonderful. His relations,
as mentioned in the Bible, are overlooked almost entirely until our wants are discovered.
When these are made known, and the soul begins in earnest to inquire after a remedy,
it needs not inquire in vain. "Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend up to
heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above; or who shall descend into the deep?
that is, to bring Christ again from the dead. But what saith it? The word is nigh
thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart."
(xviii.) Christ, as having all power or authority in heaven and earth, needs
also to be revealed to the soul, and received by faith, to dwell in and rule over
it. The corresponding want must of necessity be first known to the mind, before it
can apprehend and appropriate Christ by faith, in this or any other relation. The
soul needs to see and feel its weakness, its need of protection, of being defended,
and watched over, and controlled. It needs to see this, and also the power of its
spiritual enemies, its besetments, its dangers, and its certain ruin, unless the
Almighty One interpose in its behalf. It needs thus truly and deeply to know itself;
and then, to inspire it with confidence, it needs a revelation of Christ as God,
as the Almighty God, to the soul, as one who possesses absolute and infinite power,
and as presented to the soul to be accepted as its strength, and as all it needs
O how infinitely blind he is to the fulness and glory of Christ, who does not know
himself and Christ as both are revealed by the Holy Spirit. When we are led by the
Holy Spirit to look down into the abyss of our own emptiness--to behold the horrible
pit and miry clay of our own habits, and fleshly, and worldly, and infernal entanglements;
when we see in the light of God, that our emptiness and necessities are infinite;
then, and not till then, are we prepared wholly to cast off self, and to put on Christ.
The glory and fulness of Christ are not discovered to the soul, until it discovers
its need of him. But when self, in all its loathsomeness and helplessness, is fully
revealed, until hope is utterly extinct, as it respects every kind and degree of
help in ourselves; and when Christ, the all and in all, is revealed to the soul as
its all-sufficient portion and salvation, then, and not until then, does the soul
know its salvation. This knowledge is the indispensable condition of appropriating
faith, or of that act of receiving Christ, or that committal of all to him, that
takes Christ home to dwell in the heart by faith, and to preside over all its states
and actions. O, such a knowledge and such a reception and putting on of Christ is
blessed. Happy is he who knows it by his own experience.
It is indispensable to a steady and implicit faith, that the soul should have a spiritual
apprehension of what is implied in the saying of Christ, that all power was delivered
unto him. The ability of Christ to do all, and even exceeding abundantly above all
that we ask or think, is what the soul needs clearly to apprehend in a spiritual
sense, that is, to apprehend it, not merely as a theory or as a proposition, but
to see the true spiritual import of this saying. This is also equally true of all
that is said in the Bible about Christ, of all his offices and relations. It is one
thing to theorize, and speculate, and opine, about Christ, and an infinitely different
thing to know him as he is revealed by the Holy Spirit. When Christ is fully revealed
to the soul by the Comforter, it will never again doubt the attainability and reality
of entire sanctification in this life.
(xix.) Another necessity of the soul is to know Christ spiritually, as the
Prince of Peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you," said
Christ. What is this peace? And who is Christ, in the relation of the Prince of Peace?
What is it to possess the peace of Christ--to have the peace of God rule in our hearts?
Without the revelation of Christ to the soul by the Holy Spirit, it has no spiritual
apprehension of the meaning of this language. Nor can it lay hold on and appropriate
Christ as its peace, as the Prince of Peace. Whoever knows and has embraced Christ
as his peace, and as the Prince of Peace, knows what it is to have the peace of God
rule in his heart. But none else at all understand the true spiritual import of this
language, nor can it be so explained to them as that they will apprehend it, unless
it be explained by the Holy Spirit.
(xx.) The soul needs also to know Christ as the Captain of salvation, as the
skilful conductor, guide, and captain of the soul in all its conflicts with its spiritual
enemies, as one who is ever at hand to lead the soul on to victory, and make it more
than a conqueror in all its conflicts with the world, the flesh, and Satan. How indispensable
to a living and efficient faith it is and must be, for the soul clearly to apprehend
by the Holy Spirit this relation of Captain of Salvation, and Captain of the Lord's
Host. Without confidence in the Leader and Captain, how shall the soul put itself
under his guidance and protection in the hour of conflict? It cannot.
The fact is, that when the soul is ignorant of Christ as a Captain or Leader, it
will surely fall in battle. If the church, as a body, but knew Christ as the Captain
of the Lord's Host; if he were but truly and spiritually known to them in that relation,
no more confusion would be seen in the ranks of God's elect. All would be order,
and strength, and conquest. They would soon go up and take possession of the whole
territory that has been promised to Christ. The heathen would soon be given to him
for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the world for a possession. Joshua
knew Christ as the Captain of the Lord's host. Consequently he had more courage,
and efficiency, and prowess, than all Israel besides. Even so it is now. When a soul
can be found who thoroughly knows, and has embraced, and appropriated Christ, he
is a host of himself. That is, he has appropriated the attributes of Christ to himself;
and his influence is felt in heaven, and earth, and hell.
(xxi.) Another affecting and important relation in which the soul needs to
know Christ, is that of our Passover. It needs to understand, that the only reason
why it has not been, or will not assuredly be, slain for sin is, that Christ has
sprinkled, as our Paschal Lamb, the lintel and door-posts of our souls with his own
blood, and that therefore the destroying angel passes us by. There is a most deep
and sin-subduing, or rather temptation-subduing spirituality in this relation of
Christ to the soul, when revealed by the Holy Spirit. We must apprehend our sins
as slaying the Lamb, and apply his blood to our souls by faith--his blood as being
our protection and our only trust. We need to know the security there is in this
being sprinkled with his blood, and the certain and speedy destruction of all who
have not taken refuge under it. We need to know also, that it will not do for a moment
to venture out into the streets, and from under its protection, lest we be slain
(xxii.) To know Christ as our Wisdom, in the true spiritual sense, is doubtless
indispensable to our entire, in the sense of continued, sanctification. He is our
wisdom, in the sense of being the whole of our religion. That is, when separated
from him, we have no spiritual life whatever. He is at the bottom of, or the inducing
cause of all our obedience. This we need clearly to apprehend. Until the soul clearly
understands this, it has learned nothing to the purpose of its helplessness, and
of Christ's spiritual relations to it.
(xxiii.) Very nearly allied to this is Christ's relation to the soul as its
Sanctification. I have been amazed at the ignorance of the church and of the ministry,
respecting Christ as its Sanctification. He is not its Sanctifier in the sense that
he does something to the soul that enables it to stand and persevere in holiness
in its own strength. He does not change the structure of the soul, but he watches
over, and works in it to will and to do continually, and thus becomes its Sanctification.
His influence is not exerted once for all, but constantly. When he is apprehended
and embraced as the soul's Sanctification, he rules in, and reigns over the soul
in so high a sense, that he, as it were, developes his own holiness in us. He, as
it were, swallows us up, so enfolds, if I may so say, our wills and our souls in
his, that we are willingly led captive by him. We will and do as he wills within
us. He charms the will into a universal bending to his will. He so establishes his
throne in, and his authority over us, that he subdues us to himself. He becomes our
sanctification only in so far forth as we are revealed to ourselves, and he revealed
to us, and as we receive him and put him on. What! has it come to this, that the
church doubts and rejects the doctrine of entire sanctification in this life? Then,
it must be that it has lost sight of Christ as its sanctification. Is not Christ
perfect in all his relations? Is there not a completeness and fulness in him? When
embraced by us, are we not complete in him? The secret of all this doubting about,
and opposition to, the doctrine of entire sanctification, is to be found in the fact,
that Christ is not apprehended and embraced as our sanctification. The Holy Spirit
sanctifies only by revealing Christ to us as our sanctification. He does not speak
of himself, but takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us. Two among the
most prominent ministers in the presbyterian church have said to me within a few
years, that they had never heard of Christ as the sanctification of the soul. O,
how many of the ministry of the present day overlook the true spiritual gospel of
(xxiv.) Another of Christ's spiritual relations is that of the Redemption
of the soul; not merely as the Redeemer considered in his governmental relation,
but as a present Redemption. To apprehend and receive Christ in this relation, the
soul needs to apprehend itself as sold under sin; as being the voluntary but real
slave of lust and appetite, except as Christ continually delivers us from its power,
by strengthening and confirming our wills in resisting and overcoming the flesh.
(xxv.) Christ our Prophet is another important spiritual relation in which
we need to apprehend Christ by the Holy Spirit, as a condition of entire sanctification.
He must be received as the great teacher of our souls, so that every word of his
will be received as God speaking to us. This will render the Bible precious, and
all the words of life efficient to the sanctification of our souls.
(xxvi.) As our High Priest, we need also to know Christ. I say we need to
know him in this relation, as really ever living and ever sustaining this relation
to us, offering up, as it were, by a continual offering, his own blood, and himself
as a propitiation for our sins; as being entered within the veil, and as ever living
to make intercession for us. Much precious instruction is to be gathered from this
relation of Christ. We need, perishingly need, to know Christ in this relation, as
a condition of a right dependence upon him. I all the while feel embarrassed with
the consideration that I am not able, in this course of instruction, to give a fuller
account of Christ in these relations. We need a distinct revelation of him in each
of these relations, in order to a thorough understanding and clear apprehension of
that which is implied in each and all of the relations of Christ.
When we sin, it is because of our ignorance of Christ. That is, whenever temptation
overcomes us, it is because we do not know and avail ourselves of the relation of
Christ that would meet our necessities. One great thing that needs to be done is,
to correct the developements of our sensibility. The appetites and passions are enormously
developed in their relations to earthly objects. In relation to things of time and
sense, our propensities are greatly developed and are alive; but in relation to spiritual
truths and objects, and eternal realities, we are naturally as dead as stones. When
first converted, if we knew enough of ourselves and of Christ thoroughly to develope
and correct the action of the sensibility, and confirm our wills in a state of entire
consecration, we should not fall. In proportion as the law-work preceding conversion
has been thorough, and the revelation of Christ at, or immediately subsequent to,
conversion, full and clear, just in that proportion do we witness stability in converts.
In most, if not in all instances, however, the convert is too ignorant of himself,
and of course knows too little about Christ, to be established in permanent obedience.
He needs renewed conviction of sin, to be revealed to himself, and to have Christ
revealed to him, and be formed in him the hope of glory, before he will be steadfast,
always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Before I close this lecture, I must remark, and shall have occasion to repeat the
remark, that from what has been said, it must not be inferred, that the knowledge
of Christ in all these relations is a condition of our coming into a state of entire
consecration to God, or of present sanctification. The thing insisted on is, that
the soul will abide in this state in the hour of temptation only so far forth as
it betakes itself to Christ in such circumstances of trial, and apprehends and appropriates
him by faith from time to time in those relations that meet the present and pressing
necessities of the soul. The temptation is the occasion of revealing the necessity,
and the Holy Spirit is always ready to reveal Christ in the particular relation suited
to the newly-developed necessity. The perception and appropriation of him in this
relation, under these circumstances of trial, is the sine quà non of our remaining
in the state of entire consecration.
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXIV. Back to Top
CONDITIONS OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.--Continued.
- (xxvii.) We need also to know ourselves as starving souls, and Christ
as the "bread of life," as "the bread that came down from heaven."
We need to know spiritually and experimentally what it is to "eat of his flesh,
and to drink of his blood," to receive him as the bread of life, to appropriate
him to the nourishment of our souls as really as we appropriate bread, by digestion,
to the nourishment of our bodies. This I know is mysticism to the carnal professor.
But to the truly spiritually-minded, "this is the bread of God that came down
from heaven, of which if a man eat he shall never die." To hear Christ talk
of eating his flesh, and of drinking his blood, was a great stumbling-block to the
carnal Jews, as it now is to carnal professors. Nevertheless, this is a glorious
truth, that Christ is the constant sustenance of the spiritual life, as truly and
as literally as food is the sustenance of the body. But the soul will never eat this
bread until it has ceased to attempt to fill itself with the husks of its own doings,
or with any provision this world can furnish. Do you know, Christian, what it is
to eat of this bread? If so, then you shall never die.
(xxviii.) Christ also needs to be revealed to the soul as the fountain of
the water of life. "If any man thirst," says he, "let him come unto
me and drink." "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To him
that is athirst, I will give unto him of the fountain of the water of life freely."
The soul needs to have such discoveries made to it, as to beget a thirst after God
that cannot be allayed, except by a copious draught at the fountain of the water
of life. It is indispensable to the establishing of the soul in perfect love, that
its hungering after the bread, and its thirsting for the water of life, should be
duly excited, and that the spirit should pant and struggle after God, and "cry
out for the living God," that it should be able to say with truth: "My
soul panteth for God as the hart panteth for the water-brooks; My heart and my flesh
crieth out for the living God;" "My soul breaketh for the longing that
it hath after thee at all times." When this state of mind is induced by the
Holy Spirit, so that the longing of the soul after perpetual holiness is irrepressible,
it is prepared for a revelation of Christ, in all those offices and relations that
are necessary to secure its establishment in love. Especially is it then prepared
to apprehend, appreciate, and appropriate Christ, as the bread and water of life,
to understand what it is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God.
It is then in a state to understand what Christ meant when he said, "Blessed
are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
They not only understand what it is to hunger and thirst, but also what it is to
be filled; to have the hunger and thirst allayed, and the largest desire fully satisfied.
The soul then realizes in its own experience the truthfulness of the apostle's saying,
that Christ "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."
Many stop short even of anything like intense hunger and thirst; others hunger and
thirst, but have not the idea of the perfect fulness and adaptedness of Christ to
meet and satisfy the longing of their souls. They therefore do not plead and look
for the soul-satisfying revelation of Christ. They expect no such divine fulness
and satisfaction of soul. They are ignorant of the fulness and perfection of the
provisions of the "glorious gospel of the blessed God;" and consequently
they are not encouraged to hope from the fact, that they hunger and thirst after
righteousness, that they shall be filled; but they remain unfed, unfilled, unsatisfied,
and after a season, through unbelief, fall into indifference, and remain in bondage
(xxix.) The soul needs also to know Christ as the true God, and the eternal
life. "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, save by the Holy Spirit."
The proper divinity of Christ is never, and never can be, held otherwise than as
a mere opinion, a tenet, a speculation, an article of creed, until he is revealed
to the inner man by the Holy Spirit. But nothing short of an apprehension of Christ,
as the supreme and living God to the soul, can inspire that confidence in him that
is essential to its established sanctification. The soul can have no apprehension
of what is intended by his being the "eternal life," until it spiritually
knows him as the true God. When he is spiritually revealed as the true and living
God, the way is prepared for the spiritual apprehension of him as the eternal life.
"As the living Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have
life in himself." "In him was life, and the life was the light of men."
"I give unto them eternal life." "I am the way, the truth, and the
life." "I am the resurrection and the life." These and similar passages
the soul needs spiritually to apprehend, to have a spiritual and personal revelation
of them within. Most professors seem to me to have no right idea of the condition
upon which the Bible can be made of spiritual use to them. They seem not to understand,
that in its letter it is only a history of things formerly revealed to men; that
it is, in fact, a revelation to no man, except upon the condition of its being personally
revealed, or revealed to us in particular by the Holy Spirit. The mere fact, that
we have in the gospel the history of the birth, the life, the death of Christ, is
no such revelation of Christ to any man as meets his necessities; and as will secure
his salvation. Christ and his doctrine, his life, and death, and resurrection, need
to be revealed personally by the Holy Spirit, to each and every soul of man, to effect
his salvation. So it is with every spiritual truth; without an inward revelation
of it to the soul, it is only a savour of death unto death. It is in vain to hold
to the proper divinity of Christ, as a speculation, a doctrine, a theory, an opinion,
without the revelation of his divine nature and character to the soul, by the Holy
Spirit. But let the soul know him, and walk with him as the true God, and then it
will no longer question whether, as our sanctification, he is all-sufficient and
complete. Let no one object to this, that if this is true, men are under no obligation
to believe in Christ, and to obey the gospel, without or until they are enlightened
by the Holy Spirit. To such an objection, should it be made, I would answer,--
(a.) Men are under an obligation to believe every truth so far as they can
understand or apprehend it, but no further. So far as they can apprehend the spiritual
truths of the gospel without the Holy Spirit, so far, without his aid, they are bound
to believe it. But Christ has himself taught us, that no man can come to him except
the Father draw him. That this drawing means teaching is evident, from what Christ
proceeds to say. "For it is written," said he, "they shall all be
taught of God. Every one therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father
cometh unto me." That this learning of the Father is something different from
the mere oral or written instructions of Christ and the apostles, is evident from
the fact, that Christ assured those to whom he preached, with all the plainness with
which he was able, that they still could not come to him except drawn, that is taught,
of the Father. As the Father teaches by the Holy Spirit, Christ's plain teaching,
in the passage under consideration is, that no man can come to him except he be specially
enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Paul unequivocally teaches the same thing. "No
man," says he, "can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit."
Notwithstanding all the teaching of the apostles, no man by merely listening to their
instruction could so apprehend the true divinity of Christ, as honestly and with
spiritual understanding to say, that Jesus is the Lord. But what spiritual or true
Christian does not know the radical difference between being taught of man and of
God, between the opinions that we form from reading, hearing, and study, and the
clear apprehensions of truths that are communicated by the direct and inward illuminations
of the Holy Spirit.
(b.) I answer, that men under the gospel are entirely without excuse for not
enjoying all the light they need from the Holy Spirit, since he is in the world,
has been sent for the very purpose of giving to men all the knowledge of themselves
and of Christ which they need. His aid is freely proffered to all, and Christ has
assured us, that the Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that
ask him, than parents are to give good gifts to their children. All men under the
gospel know this, and all men have light enough to ask in faith for the Holy Spirit,
and of course all men may know of themselves and of Christ all that they need to
know. They are therefore able to know and to embrace Christ as fully and as fast
as it is their duty to embrace him. They are able to know Christ in his governmental
and spiritual relations, just as fast as they come into circumstances to need to
know him in these various relations. The Holy Spirit, if he is not quenched and resisted,
will surely reveal Christ in all his relations in due time, so that, in every temptation
a way of escape will be open, so that we shall be able to bear it. This is expressly
promised, 1 Cor. x. 13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common
to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye
are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be
able to bear it." Men are able to know what God offers to teach them, upon a
condition within the compass of their ability. The Holy Spirit offers, upon condition
of faith in the express promise of God, to lead every man into all truth. Every man
is, therefore, under obligation to know and do the whole truth, so far and so fast
as it is possible for him to do so, with the light of the Holy Spirit.
(xxx.) But be it remembered, that it is not enough for
us to apprehend Christ as the true God and the eternal life, but we need also to
lay hold upon him as our life. It cannot be too distinctly understood, that a particular
and personal appropriation of Christ, in such relations, is indispensable to our
being rooted and grounded, established and perfected in love. When our utter deficiency
and emptiness in any one respect or direction, is deeply revealed to us by the Holy
Spirit, with the corresponding remedy and perfect fulness in Christ, it then remains
for the soul, in this respect and direction, to cast off self, and put on Christ.
When this is done, when self in that respect and direction is dead, and Christ is
risen, and lives and reigns in the heart in that relation, all is strong, and whole,
and complete, in that department of our life and experience. For example, suppose
we find ourselves constitutionally, or by reason of our relations and circumstances,
exposed to certain besetments and temptations that overcome us. Our weakness in this
respect we observe in our experience. But upon observing our exposedness, and experiencing
something of our weakness, we begin with piling resolution upon resolution. We bind
ourselves with oaths and promises, and covenants, but all in vain. When we purpose
to stand, we invariably, in the presence of the temptation, fall. This process of
resolving and falling brings the soul into great discouragement and perplexity, until
at last the Holy Spirit reveals to us fully, that we are attempting to stand and
to build upon nothing. The utter emptiness and worse than uselessness of our resolutions
and self-originated efforts, is so clearly seen by us, as to annihilate for ever
self-dependence in this respect. Now the soul is prepared for the revelation of Christ
to meet this particular want. Christ is revealed and apprehended as the soul's substitute,
surety, life, and salvation, in respect to the particular besetment and weakness
of which it has had so full and so humiliating a revelation. Now, if the soul utterly
and for ever casts off and renounces self, and puts on the Lord Jesus Christ, as
he is seen to be needed to meet his necessity, then all is complete in him. Thus
far Christ is reigning within us. Thus far we know what is the power of his resurrection,
and are made conformable to his death.
But I said, that we need to know and to lay hold upon Christ as our life. Too much
stress cannot be laid upon our personal responsibility to Christ, our individual
relation to him, our personal interest in him, and obligation to him. To sanctify
our own souls, we need to make every department of religion a personal matter between
us and God, to regard every precept of the Bible, and every promise, saying, exhortation,
threatening, and in short, we need to regard the whole Bible as given to us, and
earnestly seek the personal revelation of every truth it contains to our own souls.
No one can too fully understand, or too deeply feel, the necessity of taking home
the Bible with all it contains, as a message sent from Heaven to him; nor can too
earnestly desire or seek the promised Spirit to teach him the true spiritual import
of all its contents. He must have the Bible made a personal revelation of God to
his own soul. It must become his own book. He must know Christ for himself. He must
know him in his different relations. He must know him in his blessed and infinite
fulness, or he cannot abide in him, and unless he abide in Christ, he can bring forth
none of the fruits of holiness. "Except a man abide in me, he is cast forth
as a branch, and is withered."
Apprehending and embracing Christ as our life implies the apprehension of the fact,
that we of ourselves are dead in trespasses and in sins, that we have no life in
ourselves, that death has reigned, and will eternally reign in and over us, unless
Christ become our life. Until man knows himself to be dead, and that he is wholly
destitute of spiritual life in himself, he will never know Christ as his life. It
is not enough to hold the opinion, that all men are by nature dead in trespasses
and sins. It is not enough to hold the opinion, that we are, in common with all men,
in this condition in and of ourselves. We must see it. We must know what such language
means. It must be made a matter of personal revelation to us. We must be made fully
to apprehend our own death, and Christ as our life; and we must fully recognize our
death and him as our life, by personally renouncing self, in this respect, and laying
hold on him as our own spiritual and eternal life. Many persons, and, strange to
say, some eminent ministers, are so blinded as to suppose, that a soul entirely sanctified
does not any longer need Christ, assuming that such a soul has spiritual life in
and of himself; that there is in him some foundation or efficient occasion of continued
holiness, as if the Holy Spirit had changed his nature, or infused physical holiness
or an independent holy principle into him, in such a sense that they have an independent
well-spring of holiness within, as a part of themselves. Oh, when will such men cease
to darken counsel by words without knowledge, upon the infinitely important subject
of sanctification! When will such men--when will the church, understand that Christ
is our sanctification; that we have no life, no holiness, no sanctification, except
as we abide in Christ, and he in us; that, separate from Christ, there never is any
moral excellence in any man; that Christ does not change the constitution of man
in sanctification, but that he only, by our own consent, gains and keeps the heart;
that he enthrones himself, with our consent, in the heart, and through the heart
extends his influence and his life to all our spiritual being; that he lives in us
as really and truly as we live in our own bodies; that he as really reigns in our
will, and consequently in our emotions, by our own free consent, as our wills reign
in our bodies? Cannot our brethren understand, that this is sanctification, and that
nothing else is? that there is no degree of sanctification that is not to be thus
ascribed to Christ? and that entire sanctification is nothing else than the reign
of Jesus in the soul? nothing more nor less than Christ, the resurrection and the
life, raising the soul from spiritual death, and reigning in it through righteousness
unto eternal life? I must know and embrace Christ as my life; I must abide in him
as a branch abides in the vine; I must not only hold this as an opinion; I must know
and act on it in practice. Oh, when the ministry of reconciliation all know and embrace
a whole Christ for themselves; when they preach Jesus in all his fulness and present
vital power to the church; when they testify what they have seen, and their hands
have handled of the word of life--then, and not till then, will there be a general
resurrection of the dry bones of the house of Israel. Amen. Lord, hasten the day!
(xxxi.) We need especially to know Christ as the "All in all." Col.
iii. 11: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision,
Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all." Before the
soul will cease to be overcome by temptation, it must renounce self-dependence in
all things. It must be as it were self-annihilated. It must cease to think of self,
as having in it any ground of dependence in the hour of trial. It must wholly and
in all things renounce self, and put on Christ. It must know self as nothing in the
matter of spiritual life, and Christ as all. The Psalmist could say, "All my
springs are in thee." He is the fountain of life. Whatever of life is in us
flows directly from him, as the sap flows from the vine to the branch; or as a rivulet
flows from its fountain. The spiritual life that is in us is really Christ's life
flowing through us. Our activity, though properly our own, is nevertheless stimulated
and directed by his presence and agency within us. So that we can and must say with
Paul, "yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Gal. ii. 20. It is a great
thing for a self-conceited sinner to suffer even in his own view, self-annihilation,
as it respects the origination of any spiritual obedience to God, or any spiritual
good whatever. But this must be before he will learn, on all occasions and in all
things, to stand in Christ, to abide in him as his "ALL." O, the infinite
folly and madness of the carnal mind! It would seem, that it will always make trial
of its own strength before it will depend on Christ. It will look first for resources
and help within itself, before it will renounce self, and make Christ its "all
in all." It will betake itself to its own wisdom, righteousness, sanctification,
and redemption. In short, there is not an office or relation of Christ, that will
be recognized and embraced, until the soul has first come into circumstances to have
its wants, in relation to that office of Christ, developed by some trial, and often
by some fall under temptation; then, and not until, in addition to this, Christ is
clearly and prevailingly revealed by the Holy Spirit, insomuch that self is put down,
and Christ is exalted in the heart. Sin has so becrazed and befooled mankind, that
when Christ tells them, "without me ye can do nothing," "and if any
man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered," they neither
apprehend what or how much he means, and how much is really implied in these and
similar sayings, until one trial after another fully developes the appalling fact,
that they are nothing, so far as spiritual good is concerned, and that Christ is
"all and in all."
(xxxii.) Another relation in which the soul must know Christ, before it will
steadily abide in him, is that of "the Resurrection and the Life." Through
and by Christ the soul is raised from spiritual death. Christ as the resurrection
and the life, is raised in the soul. He arises or revives the Divine image out of
the spiritual death that reigns within us. He is begotten by the Holy Spirit, and
born within us. He arises through the death that is within us, and developes his
own life within our own being. Will any one say, "this is a hard saying, who
can hear it?" Until we know by our own experience the power of this resurrection
within us, we shall never understand "the fellowship of his sufferings and be
made conformable to his death." He raises our will from its fallen state of
death in trespasses and sins, or from its state of committal and voluntary enslavement
to lust and to self, to a state of conformity to the will of God. Through the intellect,
he pours a stream of quickening truth upon the soul. He thus quickens the will into
obedience. By making fresh discoveries to the soul, he strengthens and confirms the
will in obedience. By thus raising, and sustaining, and quickening the will, he rectifies
the sensibility, and quickens and raises the whole man from the dead, or rather builds
up a new and spiritual man upon the death and ruins of the old and carnal man. He
raises the same powers and faculties that were dead in trespasses and sins to a spiritual
life. He overcomes their death, and inspires them with life. He lives in saints and
works in them to will and to do; and they live in him, according to the saying of
Christ in his address to his Father, John xvii. 21: "As thou, Father, art in
me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;" and again, ver. 23: "I
in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." He does not raise
the soul to spiritual life, in any such sense that it has life separate from him
for one moment. The spiritual resurrection is a continual one. Christ is the resurrection
in the sense that he is at the foundation of all our obedience at every moment. He,
as it were, raises the soul or the will from the slavery of lust to a conformity
to the will of God, in every instance and at every moment of its consecration to
the will of God. But this he does only upon condition of our apprehending and embracing
him in this relation. In reading the Bible, I have often been struck with the fact,
that the inspired writers were so far ahead of the great mass of professed believers.
They write of the relations in which Christ had been spiritually revealed to them.
All the names, and titles, and official relations of Christ, must have had great
significancy with them. They spoke not from theory, or from what man had taught them,
but from experience, from what the Holy Spirit taught them. As the risen Christ is
risen and lives, and is developed in one relation after another, in the experience
of believers, how striking the writings of inspiration appear! As the necessities
of our being are developed in experience, and as Christ is revealed, as in all new
circumstances and relations, just that and all that we need, who has not marvelled
to find in the Bible, way-marks, and guide-boards, and milestones, and all the evidences
that we could ask or desire, that inspired men have gone this way, and have had substantially
the same experiences that we have. We are often also struck with the fact, that they
are so far ahead of us. At every stage in our progress we seem to have, as it were,
a new and improved edition of the Bible. We discover worlds of truth before unnoticed
by us--come to know Christ in precious relations in which we had known nothing of
him before. And ever, as our real wants are discovered, Christ is seen to be all
that we need, just the thing that exactly and fully meets the necessities of our
souls. This is indeed "the glorious gospel of the blessed God."
(xxxiii.) Another precious and most influential relation of Christ in the
affair of our sanctification, is that of the Bridegroom or Husband of the soul. The
individual soul needs to be espoused to Christ, to enter into this relation personally
by its own consent. Mere earthly and outward marriages are nothing but sin, unless
the hearts are married. True marriage is of the heart, and the outward ceremony is
only a public manifestation or profession of the union or marriage of the souls or
hearts. All marriage may be regarded as typical of that union into which the spiritual
soul enters with Christ. This relation of Christ to the soul is frequently recognized,
both in the Old and the New Testament. It is treated of by Paul as a great mystery.
The seventh and eighth chapters of Romans present a striking illustration of the
results of the soul's remaining under the law, on the one hand, and of its being
married to Christ on the other. The seventh chapter begins thus, "Know ye not,
brethren, for I speak to them that know the law, how that the law hath dominion over
a man so long as he liveth. For the woman who hath a husband is bound by the law
to her husband so long as he liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is loosed from
the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another
man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead she is free from
that law, so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man. Therefore,
my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should
be married to another, even to Christ who is raised from the dead, that we should
bring forth fruit unto God." The apostle then proceeds to show the results of
these two marriages, or relations of the soul. When married to the law, he says of
it, "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law,
did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." But when married to
Christ, he proceeds to say, "we are delivered from the law, that being dead
wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness
of the letter." The remaining part of this chapter is occupied with an account
of the soul's bondage while married to the law, of its efforts to please its husband,
with its continual failures, its deep convictions, its selfish efforts, its consciousness
of failures, and its consequent self-condemnation and despondency. It is perfectly
obvious, when the allegory with which the apostle commences this chapter is considered,
that he is portraying a legal experience, for the purpose of contrasting it with
the experience of one who has attained to the true liberty of perfect love.
The eighth chapter represents the results of the marriage of the soul to Christ.
It is delivered from its bondage to the law, and from the power of the law of sin
in the members. It brings forth fruit unto God. Christ has succeeded in gaining the
affections of the soul. What the law could not do Christ has done, and the righteousness
of the law is now fulfilled in the soul. The representation is as follows: The soul
is married to the law, and acknowledges its obligation to obey its husband. The husband
requires perfect love to God and man. This love is wanting, the soul is selfish.
This displeases the husband, and he denounces death against her, if she does not
love. She recognizes the reasonableness of both the requisition and the threatening,
and resolves upon full obedience. But being selfish, the command and threatening
but increase the difficulty. All her efforts at obedience are for selfish reasons.
The husband is justly firm and imperative in his demands. The wife trembles, and
promises, and resolves upon obedience. But all in vain. Her obedience is only feigned,
outward, and not love. She becomes disheartened and gives up in despair. As sentence
is about to be executed, Christ appears. He witnesses the dilemma. He reveres, and
honours, and loves the husband. He entirely approves his requisition and the course
he has taken. He condemns, in most unqualified terms, the wife. Still he pities and
loves her with deep benevolence. He will consent to nothing which shall have the
appearance of disapproving the claims or the course of her husband. His rectitude
must be openly acknowledged. Her husband must not be dishonoured. But, on the contrary,
he must be "magnified and made honourable." Still Christ so much pities
the wife, as to be willing to die as her substitute. This he does, and the wife is
regarded as dying in and by him her substitute. Now, since the death of either of
the parties is a dissolution of the marriage covenant, and since the wife in the
person of her substitute has died under and to the law her husband, she is now at
liberty to marry again. Christ rises from the dead. This striking and overpowering
manifestation of disinterested benevolence, on the part of Christ, in dying for her,
subdues her selfishness and wins her whole heart. He proposes marriage, and she consents
with her whole soul. Now she finds the law of selfishness, or of self-gratification,
broken, and the righteousness of the law of love fulfilled in her heart. The last
husband requires just what the first required, but having won her whole heart, she
no longer needs to resolve to love, for love is as natural and spontaneous as her
breath. Before the seventh of Romans was the language of her complaint. Now the eighth
is the language of her triumph. Before she found herself unable to meet the demands
of her husband, and equally unable to satisfy her own conscience. Now she finds it
easy to obey her husband, and that his commandments are not grievous, although they
are identical with those of the first husband. Now this allegory of the apostle is
not a mere rhetorical flourish. It represents a reality, and one of the most important
and glorious realities in existence, namely, the real spiritual union of the soul
to Christ, and the blessed results of this union, the bringing forth of fruit unto
God. This union is, as the apostle says, a great mystery; nevertheless, it is a glorious
reality. "He that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit." 1 Cor. vi. 17.
Now until the soul knows what it is to be married to the law, and is able to adopt
the language of the seventh of Romans, it is not prepared to see, and appreciate,
and be properly affected by, the death and the love of Christ. Great multitudes rest
in this first marriage, and do not consent to die and rise again in Christ. They
are not married to Christ, and do not know that there is such a thing, and expect
to live and die in this bondage, crying out, "O wretched man that I am?"
They need to die and rise again in Christ to a new life, founded in and growing out
of a new relation to Christ. Christ becomes the living head or husband of the soul,
its surety, its life. He gains and retains the deepest affection of the soul, thus
writing his law in the heart, and engraving it in the inward parts.
But not only must the soul know what it is to be married to the law, with its consequent
thraldom and death, but it must also for itself enter into the marriage relation
with a risen, living Christ. This must not be a theory, an opinion, a tenet; nor
must it be an imagination, a mysticism, a notion, a dream. It must be a living, personal,
real entering into a personal and living union with Christ, a most entire and universal
giving of self to him, and receiving of him in the relation of spiritual husband
and head. The spirit of Christ and our spirit must embrace each other, and enter
into an everlasting covenant with each other. There must be a mutual giving of self,
and receiving of each other, a blending of spirits, in such a sense as is intended
by Paul in the passage already quoted: "He that is joined to the Lord is one
My brother, my sister, do you understand this? Do you know what both these
marriages are, with their diverse results? If you do not, make no longer pretence
to being sanctified, for you are still in the gall of bitterness and in the bond
of iniquity. "Escape for thy life."
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXV. Back to Top
CONDITIONS OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.-- Continued.
- (xxxiv.) Another interesting and highly important relation which Christ
sustains to his people is that of Shepherd. This relation presupposes the helpless
and defenceless condition of Christians in this life, and the indispensable necessity
of guardianship and protection. Christ was revealed to the psalmist in this relation,
and when on earth he revealed himself to his disciples in this relation. It is not
enough, however, that he should be revealed merely in the letter, or in words as
sustaining this relation. The real spiritual import of this relation, and what is
implied in it, needs to be revealed by the Holy Spirit, to give it efficiency, and
inspire that universal trust in the presence, care, and protection of Christ that
is often essential to preventing a fall in the hour of temptation. Christ meant all
that he said, when he professed to be the Good Shepherd that cared for his sheep,
that would not flee, but that would lay down his life for them. In this relation,
as in all others, there is infinite fulness and perfection. If the sheep do thoroughly
know and confide in the shepherd, they will follow him, will flee to him for protection
in every hour of danger, will at all times depend on him for all things. Now all
this is received and professed in theory by all professors of religion. And yet how
few, comparatively, seem to have had Christ so revealed to them, as to have secured
the actual embracing of him in this relation, and a continual dependence on him for
all that is implied in it. Now, either this is a vain boast of Christ, or else he
may be, and ought to be depended upon, and the soul has a right to throw itself upon
him for all that is implied in the relation of Good Shepherd. But this relation,
with all the other relations of Christ, implies a corresponding necessity in us.
This necessity we must see and feel, or this relation of Christ will have no impressive
significancy. We need, then, in this case, as in all others, the revelation of the
Holy Spirit, to make us thoroughly to apprehend our dependence, and to reveal Christ
in the spirit and fulness of this relation, until our souls have thoroughly closed
with him. Some persons fall into the mistake of supposing, that when their necessities
and the fulness of Christ have been revealed to their mind by the Spirit, the work
is done. But unless they actually receive him, and commit themselves to him in this
relation, they will soon find to their shame that nothing has been done to purpose,
so far as their standing in the hour of temptation is concerned. He may be clearly
revealed in any of his relations, the soul may see both its necessities and his fulness,
and yet forget or neglect actively and personally to receive him in these relations.
It should never be forgotten, that this is in every case indispensable. The revelation
is designed to secure our acceptance of him; if it does not do this, it has only
greatly aggravated our guilt, without at all securing to us the benefits of these
relations. It is amazing to see how common it is, and has been, for ministers to
overlook this truth, and, of course, neither to practise it themselves, nor urge
it upon their hearers. Hence Christ is not known to multitudes, and is not in many
cases received even when he is revealed by the Holy Spirit. If I am not greatly mistaken,
thorough inquiry would show that error upon this subject exists to a most appalling
extent. The personal and individual acceptance of Christ in all his offices and relations,
as the sine quà non of entire sanctification, seems to me to be seldom either
understood or insisted on by ministers of the present day, and of course little thought
of by the church. The idea of accepting for ourselves a whole Saviour, of appropriating
to our own individual selves all the offices and relations of Jesus, seems to be
a rare idea in this age of the church. But for what purpose does he sustain these
relations? Is the bare apprehension of these truths, and of Christ in these relations
enough, without our own activity being duly excited by the apprehension, to lay hold
and avail ourselves of his fulness? What folly and madness for the church to expect
to be saved by a neglected Saviour! To what purpose is it for the Spirit to make
him known to us, unless we as individuals embrace him and make him our own? Let the
soul but truly and fully apprehend and embrace Christ in this relation of Shepherd,
and it shall never perish, neither shall any pluck it out of his hand. The knowing
of Christ in this relation secures the soul against following strangers. But thus
knowing him is indispensable to securing this result. If we know him as Shepherd
we shall follow him, but not else. Let this be well considered.
(xxxv.) Christ is also the Door, by and through which the soul enters the
fold, and finds security and protection among the sheep. This needs also to be spiritually
apprehended, and the Door needs to be spiritually and personally entered, to secure
the guardianship of the Good Shepherd. Those who do not spiritually and truly apprehend
Christ as the Door, and enter by and through him, and yet hope for salvation, are
surely attempting to climb up some other way, and are therefore thieves and robbers.
This is a familiar and well-known truth, in the mouth, not only of every minister
and Christian, but of every sabbath school child. Yet how few really apprehend and
embrace its spiritual import. That there is no other means or way of access to the
fold of God, is admitted by all the orthodox; but who really perceives and knows,
through the personal revelation of the Holy Spirit, what, and all that Christ meant
in the very significant words, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door
of the sheep;" "I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture?" He who truly discovers this Door,
and gains access by it, will surely realize in his own experience the faithfulness
of the Good Shepherd, and will go in and out, and find pasture. That is, he will
surely be fed, be led into green pastures, and beside the still waters.
But it is well to inquire, what is implied in this relation of Christ.
(a.) It implies, that we are shut out from the protection and favour of God, except
as we approach him through and by Christ.
(b.) It implies that we need to know, and clearly to apprehend and appreciate this
(c.) That we need to discover the Door, and what is implied both in the Door,
and in entering it.
(d.) That entering it implies the utter renunciation of self, of self-righteousness,
self-protection and support, and a putting ourselves entirely under the control and
protection of the Shepherd.
(e.) That we need the revelation of the Holy Spirit to make us clearly apprehend
the true spiritual import of this relation, and what is implied in it.
(f.) That when Christ is revealed in this relation, we need to embrace him,
and for ourselves to enter, by and through him, into the enclosure that everywhere
surrounds the children of God.
It is an inward, and not a mere outward revelation that we need. A heart-entering
revelation, and not a mere notion, idea, theory, dream of the imagination. It is
really an intelligent act of the mind; as real an entering into the fold or favour
of God, by and through Christ, as to enter the house of God on the sabbath-day by
the door. When the soul enters by the door, it finds an infinitely different reception
and treatment from that of those who climb up into the church upon a ladder of mere
opinion, a scaling ladder of mere orthodoxy. This last class are not fed. They find
no protection from the Good Shepherd. They do not know the Shepherd, or follow him,
because they have climbed up another way. They have not confidence in him, cannot
approach him with boldness, and claim his guardianship and protection. Their knowledge
of Christ is but an opinion, a theory, a heartless and fruitless speculation. How
many give the saddest proof that they have never entered by the door, and consequently
have no realization, in their own life and experience, of the blessed and efficient
protection and support of the Good Shepherd. Here I must not forget again to insist
upon the necessity of a personal revelation of our relations to God, as being naturally
excluded from all access to him and his favour, save through Christ the door; and
also the necessity of the personal revelation to us, by the Holy Spirit, of Christ
as the door, and of what is implied in this; and lastly and emphatically, upon the
indispensable necessity of a personal, responsible, active, and full entering in
at this door, and gaining access for ourselves to the enclosure of the love and favour
of God. Let this never for one moment be forgotten or overlooked. I must enter for
and by myself. I must truly enter. I must be conscious that I enter. I must be sure
that I do not misapprehend what is implied on entering; and at my peril I must not
forget or neglect to enter.
And here it is important to inquire, Have you had this personal and spiritual revelation?
Have you clearly seen yourself without the fold, exposed to all the unrelenting cruelty
of your spiritual enemies, and shut out for ever by your sin from the favour and
protection of God? When this has been revealed, have you clearly apprehended Christ
as the door? Have you understood what is implied in his sustaining this relation?
And last, but not least, have you entered this door by faith? Have you seen the door
open, and have you entered for yourself, and have you daily this evidence, that you
follow the Shepherd, and find all you need?
(xxxvi.) Christ is also the Way of salvation.
Observe, he is not a mere teacher of the way, as some vainly imagine and teach. Christ
is truly "the way" itself, or he is himself "the way." Works
are not the way, whether these works are legal or gospel works, whether works of
law or works of faith. Works of faith are a condition of salvation; but they are
not "the way." Faith is not the way; faith is a condition of entering and
abiding in this way, but it is not "the way." Christ is himself "the
way." Faith receives him to reign in the soul, and to be its salvation; but
it is Christ himself who is "the way." The soul is saved by Christ himself,
not by doctrine, not by the Holy Spirit, not by works of any kind, not by faith,
or love, or by anything whatever, but by Christ himself. The Holy Spirit reveals
and introduces Christ to the soul, and the soul to Christ. He takes of the things
of Christ and shows them to us. But he leaves it to Christ to save us. He urges and
induces us to accept of Christ, to receive him by appropriating faith, as he reveals
him to us. But Christ is the way. It is his being received by us, that saves the
soul. But we must perceive the way; we must enter this way by our own act. We must
proceed in this way. We must continue in this way to the end of life, and to all
eternity, as the indispensable condition of our salvation. "Whither I go ye
know, and the way ye know," said Christ. "Thomas said unto him, Lord, we
know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?" "Jesus saith
unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father,
but by me. If ye had known me ye should have known my Father also, and from henceforth
ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father,
and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and
yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and
how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father,
and the Father in me?" Here Christ so identifies himself with the Father as
to insist, that he who had seen one had seen the other. When therefore he says, no
man cometh to the Father but by him, we are to understand, that no man need expect
to find the true God elsewhere than in him. The visible Christ embodied the true
Godhead. He is the way to God, for and because he is the true God, and the eternal
life, and salvation of the soul. Many seem to understand Christ in this relation
as nothing more than a teacher of a system of morality, by the observance of which
we may be saved. Others regard this relation as only implying, that he is the way,
in the sense of making an atonement, and thus rendering it possible for us to be
forgiven. Others still understand this language as implying, not only that Christ
made an atonement, and opened up a way of access, through his death and mediation,
to God; but also that he teaches us the great truths essential to our salvation.
Now all this, in my apprehension, falls entirely, and I may say, infinitely short
of the true spiritual meaning of Christ, and the true spiritual import of this relation.
The above is implied and included in this relation, no doubt, but this is not all,
nor the essential truth intended in Christ's declaration. He did not say, I came
to open the way, nor to teach the way, nor to call you into the way, but "I
am the way." Suppose he had intended merely, that his instructions pointed out
the way, or that his death was to open the way, and his teaching point it out, would
he not have said,--What! have I so long taught you, and have you not understood my
doctrine? Would he not have said, I have taught you the way, instead of saying, I
am the way? The fact is, there is a meaning in these words, more profoundly spiritual
than his disciples then perceived, and than many now seem capable of understanding.
He is himself the way of salvation, because he is the salvation of the soul. He is
the way to the Father, because he is in the Father, and the Father in him. He is
the way to eternal life, because he is himself the very essence and substance of
eternal life. The soul that finds him needs not to look for eternal life, for it
has found it already. These questions of Thomas and Philip show how little they really
knew of Christ, previous to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Vast multitudes of the
professed disciples of the present day seem not to know Christ as "the way."
They seem not to have known Christ in this relation as he is revealed by the Holy
Spirit. This revelation of Christ as "the way" by the Comforter is indispensable
to our so knowing him as to retain our standing in the hour of temptation. We must
know, and enter, and walk, and abide in this true and living way for ourselves. It
is a living way, and not a mere speculation.
Do you, my brother, know Christ by the Holy Spirit as the "living way?"
Do you know Christ for yourself, by a personal acquaintance? Or do you know him only
by report, by hearsay, by preaching, by reading, and by study? Do you know him as
in the Father, and the Father as in him? Philip seemed not to have had a spiritual
and personal revelation of the proper deity of Christ to his own soul. Have you had
this revelation? And when he has been revealed to you, as the true and living way,
have you by faith personally entered this way? Do you abide steadfast in it? Do you
know by experience what it is to live, and move, and have your very being in God?
Be ye not deceived; he that does not spiritually discern, and enter this way, and
abide in it unto the end, cannot be saved. Do see to it, then, that you know the
way to be sanctified, to be justified, to be saved. See to it that you do not mistake
the way, and betake yourself to some other way. Remember, works are not the way.
Faith is not the way. Doctrine is not the way. All these are conditions of salvation,
but Christ in his own person, is "the way." His own life, living in and
united to you, is the way, and the only way. You enter this way by faith; works of
faith result from, and are a condition of, abiding in this way; but the way itself
is the indwelling, living, personally embraced and appropriated Christ, the true
God and the eternal life. Amen, Lord Jesus! the way is pleasant, and all its paths
(xxxvii.) Christ is also "the Truth," and as such he must be apprehended
and embraced, to secure the soul from falling in the hour of trial. In this relation
many have known Christ merely as one who declared the truth, as one who revealed
the true God and the way of salvation. This is all they understand by this assertion
of Christ, that he is the truth.
But if this is all, why may not the same with equal truth be said of Moses, and of
Paul, and John? They taught the truth. They revealed the true God, so far as holy
lives and true doctrine are concerned; and yet who ever heard of John, or Paul, or
Moses, as being the way or the truth? They taught the way and the truth, but they
were neither the way nor the truth, while Christ is truth. What then, is truth? Why,
Christ is the truth. Whoever knows Christ spiritually knows the truth. Words are
not the truth. Ideas are not the truth. Both words and ideas may be signs or representatives
of the truth. But the truth lives, and has a being and a home in Christ. He is the
embodiment and the essence of truth. He is reality. He is substance, and not shadow.
He is truth revealed. He is elementary, essential, eternal, immutable, necessary,
absolute, self-existent, infinite truth. When the Holy Spirit reveals truth, he reveals
Christ. When Christ reveals truth, he reveals himself. Philosophers have found it
difficult to define truth. Pilate asked Christ, "What is truth?" but did
not wait for an answer. The term is doubtless used in a double sense. Sometimes the
mere reflection or representation of things in signs, such as words, actions, writings,
pictures, and diagrams, &c., is called truth; and this is the popular understanding
of it. But all things that exist are only signs, reflections, symbols, representations,
or types, of the Author of all things. That is, the universe is only the objective
representation of the subjective truth, or is the reflection or reflector of God.
It is the mirror that reflects the essential truth, or the true and living God.
But I am aware that none but the Holy Spirit can possess the mind of the import of
this assertion of Christ. It is full of mystery and darkness, and is a mere figure
of speech to one unenlightened by the Holy Spirit, in respect to its true spiritual
import. The Holy Spirit does not reveal all the relations of Christ to the soul at
once. Hence there are many to whom Christ has been revealed in some of his relations,
while others are yet veiled from the view. Each distinct name, and office, and relation
needs to be made the subject of a special and personal revelation to the soul, to
meet its necessities, and to confirm it in obedience under all circumstances. When
Christ is revealed and apprehended as the essential, eternal, immutable truth, and
the soul has embraced him as such, as he of whom all that is popularly called truth
is only the reflection, as he of whom all truth in doctrine, whether of philosophy
in any of its branches, or revelation in any of its departments; I say, when the
mind apprehends him as that essential truth of which all that men call truth is only
the reflection, it finds a rock, a resting-place, a foundation, a stability, a reality,
a power in truth, of which before it had no conception. If this is unintelligible
to you, I cannot help it. The Holy Spirit can explain and make you see it; I cannot.
Christ is not truth in the sense of mere doctrine, nor in the sense of a teacher
of true doctrine, but as the substance or essence of truth. He is that of which all
truth in doctrine treats. True doctrine treats of him, but is not identical with
him. Truth in doctrine is only the sign, or declaration, or representation of truth
in essence, of living, absolute, self-existent truth in the Godhead. Truth in doctrine,
or true doctrine, is a medium through which substantial or essential truth is revealed.
But the doctrine or medium is no more identical with truth than light is identical
with the objects which it reveals. Truth in doctrine is called light, and is to essential
truth what light is to the objects that radiate or reflect it. Light coming from
objects is at once the condition of their revelation, and the medium through which
they are revealed. So true doctrine is the condition and the means of knowing Christ
the essential truth. All truth in doctrine is only a reflection of Christ, or is
a radiation upon the intelligence from Christ. When we learn this spiritually, we
shall learn to distinguish between doctrine and Him whose radiance it is--to worship
Christ as the essential truth, and not the doctrine that reveals him--to worship
God instead of the Bible. We shall then find our way through the shadow to the substance.
Many, no doubt, mistake and fall down and worship the doctrine, the preacher, the
Bible, the shadow, and do not look for the ineffably glorious substance, of which
this bright and sparkling truth is only the sweet and mild reflection or radiation.
Dearly beloved, do not mistake the doctrine for the thing treated of by the doctrine.
When you find your intellect enlightened, and your sensibility quickened by the contemplation
of doctrine, do not confound this with Christ. Look steadily in the direction from
which the light emanates, until the Holy Spirit enables you to apprehend the essential
truth, and the true light that enlighteneth every man. Do not mistake a dim reflection
of the sun for the sun himself. Do not fall down at a pool and worship the sun dimly
reflected from its surface, but lift your eye and see where he stands glorious in
essential, and eternal, and ineffable brightness. It is beyond question, that multitudes
of professed Christians know nothing further than the doctrine of Christ; they never
had Christ himself personally revealed or manifested to them. The doctrine of Christ,
as taught in the gospel, is intended to direct and draw the mind to him. The soul
must not rest in the doctrine, but receive the living, essential person and substance
of Christ. The doctrine makes us acquainted with the facts concerning Christ, and
presents him for acceptance. But do not rest in the story of Christ crucified, and
risen, and standing at the door, but open the door, and receive the risen, living,
and divine Saviour, as the essential and all-powerful truth to dwell within you for
(xxxviii.) Christ is "the TRUE LIGHT." John says of him, "In
him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness,
and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God whose name was
John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through
him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.
That was the TRUE LIGHT, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
Jesus says, "I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk
in darkness, but shall have the light of life." And again, "While ye have
the light, believe in the light." "I am come a light into the world."
Again, it is said of Saul on his way to Damascus, "And there shined around him
a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun." It is said of Christ,
in his transfiguration on the mount, "that his raiment became white as the light."
Paul speaks of Christ as dwelling in light which no man can approach unto. Peter
says of him, "who called you into his marvellous light." John says, "God
is light, and in him is no darkness at all." Of the New Jerusalem it is said,
that the inhabitants have no need of the sun, nor of the moon, "for the glory
of God and the Lamb are the light thereof."
Light certainly appears to be of two kinds, as every spiritual mind knows, physical
and spiritual. Physical, or natural light, reveals or makes manifest physical objects,
through the fleshly organ, the eye. Spiritual light is no less real light than physical.
In the presence of spiritual light the mind directly sees spiritual truths and objects,
as, in the presence of material or natural light, it distinctly sees material objects.
The mind has an eye, or seeing faculty, which uses the material eye and natural light,
to discern material objects. It is not the eye that sees. It is always the mind that
sees. It uses the eye merely as an instrument of vision, by which it discerns material
objects. The eye and the light are conditions of seeing the material universe, but
it is always the mind that sees. So the mind directly sees spiritual realities in
the presence of spiritual light. But what is light? What is natural, and what is
spiritual light? Are they really identical, or are they essentially different? It
is not my purpose here to enter into any philosophical speculations upon this subject;
but I must observe, that, whatever spiritual light is, the mind, under certain circumstances,
cannot discern the difference, if difference there is, between them. Was that spiritual
or physical light which the disciples saw on the mount of transfiguration? Was that
spiritual or physical light which Paul and his companions saw on their way to Damascus?
What light is that which falls upon the mental eye of the believer when he draws
so near to God, as not at all to distinguish at the moment the glory that surrounds
him from material light? What was that light which made the face of Moses shine with
such brightness, that the people were unable to look upon it? And what is that light
which lights up the countenance of a believer, when he comes direct and fresh from
the mount of communion with God? There is often a visible light in his countenance.
What is that light which often shines upon the pages of the Bible, making its spiritual
meaning as manifest to the mind, as the letters and words are? In such seasons the
obscurity is removed from the spirit of the Bible, just as really and as visibly,
as the rising sun would remove the obscurity of midnight from the letter. In one
case you perceive the letter clearly in the presence of natural light. You have no
doubt, you can have no doubt, that you see the letters and words as they are. In
the other, you apprehend the spirit of the Bible, just as clearly as you see the
letter. You can no more doubt, at the time, that you see the true spiritual import
of the words, than that you see the words themselves. Both the letter and the spirit
seem to be set in so strong a light, that you know that you see both. Now what light
is this in which the spirit of the Bible is seen? That it is light, every spiritual
man knows. He calls it light. He can call it nothing else. At other times the letter
is as distinctly visible as before, and yet there is no possibility of discerning
the spirit of the Bible. It is then only known in the letter. We are then left to
philologize, and philosophize, and theorize, and theologize, and are really all in
the dark, as to the true spiritual import of the Bible. But when "the true light
that lighteth every man" shines upon the word, we get at once a deeper insight
into the real spiritual import of the word, than we could have gotten in a life-time
without it. Indeed, the true spiritual import of the Bible is hid from the learning
of this world, and revealed to the babes who are in the light of Christ. I have often
been afflicted with the fact, that true spiritual light is rejected and condemned,
and the very idea of its existence scouted by many men who are wise in the wisdom
of this world. But the Bible everywhere abounds with evidence, that spiritual light
exists, and that its presence is a condition of apprehending the reality and presence
of spiritual objects. It has been generally supposed, that the natural sun is the
source of natural light. Sure it is, that light is a condition of our beholding the
objects of the material universe. But what is the source of spiritual light? The
Bible says Christ is. But what does this mean? When it is said, that he is the true
light, does it mean only, that he is the teacher of true doctrine? or does it mean,
that he is the light in which true doctrine is apprehended, or its spiritual import
understood, that he shines through and upon all spiritual doctrine, and causes its
spiritual import to be apprehended, and that the presence of his light, or, in other
words, his own presence, is a condition of any doctrine being spiritually understood?
He is no doubt the essential light. That is, light is an attribute of his divinity.
Essential, uncreated light is one of the attributes of Christ as God. It is a spiritual
attribute of course; but it is an essential and a natural attribute of Christ, and
whoever knows Christ after the Spirit, or whoever has a true, spiritual, and personal
acquaintance with Christ as God, knows that Christ is light, that his being called
light is not a mere figure of speech; that his "covering himself with light
as with a garment;" his enlightening the heavenly world with so ineffable a
light, that no man can approach thereunto and live, that the strongest seraphim are
unable to look with unveiled face upon his overpowering effulgence. I say, to a spiritual
mind these are not mere figures of speech; they are understood by those who walk
in the light, or who walk in the light of Christ, to mean what they say.
I dwell upon this particular relation of Christ, because of the importance of its
being understood, that Christ is the real and true light who alone can cause us to
see spiritual things as they are. Without his light we walk in the midst of the most
overpowering realities, without being at all aware of their presence. Like one surrounded
with natural darkness, or as one deprived of sight gropes his way and knows not at
what he stumbles, so one deprived of the presence and light of Christ, gropes his
way and stumbles at he knows not what. To attain to true spiritual illumination,
and to continue and walk in this light, is indispensable to entire sanctification.
O, that this were understood! Christ must be known as the true and only light of
the soul. This must not be held merely as a tenet. It must be understood and spiritually
experienced and known. That Christ is in some undeterminate sense the light of the
soul and the true light, is generally admitted, just as multitudes of other things
are admitted, without being at all spiritually and experimentally understood. But
this relation or attribute of Christ must be spiritually known by experience, as
a condition of abiding in him. John says, "this then is the message which we
have heard of him, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say
that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.
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." This light
is come into the world, and if men do not love darkness rather than light, they will
know Christ as the true light of the soul, and will so walk in the light as not to
I desire much to amplify upon this relation of Christ, but must forbear, or I shall
too much enlarge this course of instruction. I would only endeavour to impress you
deeply with the conviction that Christ is light, and that this is no figure of speech.
Rest not, my brother, until you truly and experimentally know him as such. Bathe
your soul daily in his light, so that when you come from your closet to your pulpit,
your people shall behold your face shining as if it were the face of an angel.
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXVI. Back to Top
CONDITIONS OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION-- Continued.
- (xxxix.) Another relation which Christ sustains to the believer, and which
it is indispensable that he should recognize and spiritually apprehend, as a condition
of entire sanctification, is that of "Christ within us."
"Know ye not," says the apostle, "that Jesus Christ is in you, except
ye be reprobates."--2 Cor. xiii. 5. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in
the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit
of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of
sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."--Rom. viii. 9, 10. "My
little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."--Gal.
iv. 19. "Yet not I but Christ liveth in me."--Gal. ii. 20. Now it has often
appeared to me, that many know Christ only as an outward Christ, as one who lived
many hundred years ago, who died, and arose, and ascended on high, and who now lives
in heaven. They read all this in the Bible, and in a certain sense they believe it.
That is, they admit it to be true historically. But have they Christ risen within
them? Living within the veil of their own flesh, and there ever making intercession
for them and in them? This is quite another thing. Christ in heaven making intercession
is one thing; this is a great and glorious truth. But Christ in the soul, there also
living "to make intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered,"
is another thing. The Spirit that dwells in the saints is frequently in the Bible
represented as the Spirit of Christ, and as Christ himself. Thus in the passage just
quoted from the eighth of Romans, the apostle represents the Spirit of God that dwells
in the saints as the Spirit of Christ, and as Christ himself.--Rom. viii. 9, 10:
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of
God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life
because of righteousness." This is common in the Bible. The Spirit of Christ
then, or the real Deity of Christ, dwells in the truly spiritual believer. But this
fact needs to be spiritually apprehended, and kept distinctly and continually in
view. Christ not only in heaven, but Christ within us, as really and truly inhabiting
our bodies as we do, as really in us as we are in ourselves, is the teaching of the
Bible, and must be spiritually apprehended by a divine, personal, and inward revelation,
to secure our abiding in him. We not only need the real presence of Christ within
us, but we need his manifested presence to sustain us in hours of conflict. Christ
may be really present within us as he is without us, without our apprehending his
presence. His manifesting himself to us as with and in us, is by himself conditionated
upon our faith and obedience. His manifesting himself within us, and thus assuring
us of his constant and real presence, confirms and establishes the confidence and
obedience of the soul. To know Christ after the flesh, or merely historically as
an outward Saviour, is of no spiritual avail. We must know him as an inward Saviour,
as Jesus risen and reigning in us, as having arisen and established his throne in
our hearts, and as having written and established the authority of his law there.
The old man dethroned and crucified, Christ risen within us and united to us, in
such a sense that we "twain are one spirit," is the true and only condition
and secret of entire sanctification. O that this were understood! Why, many ministers
talk and write about sanctification, just as if they supposed, that it consisted
in, and resulted from, a mere self-originated formation of holy habits. What blindness
is this in spiritual guides! True sanctification consists in entire consecration
to God; but be it ever remembered, that this consecration is induced and perpetuated
by the Spirit of Christ. The fact, that Christ is in us, needs to be so clearly apprehended
by us as to annihilate the conception of Christ as only afar off, in heaven. The
soul needs so to apprehend this truth, as to turn within, and not look without for
Christ, so that it will naturally seek communion with him in the closet of the soul,
or within, and not let the thoughts go in search of him without. Christ promised
to come and take up his abode with his people, to manifest himself unto them, &c.,
that the Spirit whom he would send, (which was his own Spirit, as abundantly appears
from the Bible,) should abide with them for ever, that he should be with them and
in them. Now all this language needs to be spiritually apprehended, and Christ needs
to be recognized by his Spirit, as really present with us as we are with ourselves,
and really as near to us as we are to ourselves, and as infinitely more interested
in us than we are in ourselves. This spiritual recognition of Christ present with
and in us, has an overpowering charm in it. The soul rests in him, and lives, and
walks, and has its being in his light, and drinks at the fountain of his love. It
drinks also of the river of his pleasures. It enjoys his peace, and leans upon his
Many professors have not Christ formed within them. The Galatian Christians had fallen
from Christ. Hence the apostle says: "My little children, of whom I travail
in birth again until Christ be formed in you." Have you a spiritual apprehension
of what this means?
(xl.) We must spiritually know Christ as "our strength," as a condition
of entire sanctification. Says the Psalmist, Ps. xviii. 1: "I will love thee,
O Lord, my strength;" and again, Ps. xix. 14: "O Lord my strength;"
and again, Ps. xxxi. 4: "Pull me out of the net, for thou art my strength;"
and again, Ps. xliii. 2: "Thou art the God of my strength:" and again,
Ps. lix. 17: "To thee, O my strength, will I sing;" and again, Ps. cxliv.
1: "Blessed be the Lord my strength." In Is. xxvii. 5: "The Lord says,
Let him take hold of my strength, and he shall make peace with me." Jeremiah
says, ch. xvi. 19: "O Lord, my strength." Hab. iii. 9: "God is my
strength." In 2 Cor. xii. 9, Christ says to Paul, "My strength is made
perfect in weakness." We are commanded to be strong in the Lord, and in the
power of his might, that is, to appropriate his strength by faith. We are exhorted
to take hold of his strength, and doing this is made a condition of making peace
with God. That God is in some sense our strength, is generally admitted. But I fear
it is rare to apprehend the true spiritual sense in which he is our strength. Many
take refuge not in his strength by faith, but in the plea, that he is their strength,
and that they have none of their own, while they continue in sin. But this class
of persons neither truly understand nor believe, that God is their strength. It is
with all who hold this language and yet live in sin, an opinion, a tenet, a say-so,
but by no means a spiritually apprehended and embraced truth. If the real meaning
of this language were spiritually apprehended and embraced with the heart, the soul
would no more live in sin. It could no more be overcome with temptation, while appropriating
Christ, than God could be overcome.
The conditions of spiritually apprehending Christ as our strength are,--
(a.) The spiritual apprehension of our own weakness, its nature and degree.
(b.) The revelation of Christ to us as our strength by the Holy Spirit.
When these revelations are truly made, and self-dependence is, therefore, for ever
annihilated, the soul comes to understand wherein its strength lies. It renounces
for ever its own strength, and relies wholly on the strength of Christ. This it does
not in the antinomian, do-nothing, sit-still sense of the term; but, on the contrary,
it actively takes hold of Christ's strength, and uses it in doing all the will of
God. It does not sit down and do nothing, but, on the contrary, it takes hold of
Christ's strength, and sets about every good word and work as one might lean upon
the strength of another, and go about doing good. The soul that understands and does
this, as really holds on to and leans upon Christ, as a helpless man would lean upon
the arm or shoulder of a strong man, to be borne about in some benevolent enterprise.
It is not a state of quietism. It is not a mere opinion, a sentiment, a fancy. It
is, with the sanctified soul, one of the clearest realities in existence, that he
leans upon and uses the strength of Christ. He knows himself to be constantly and
perseveringly active, in thus availing himself of the strength of Christ; and being
perfectly weak in himself, or perfectly emptied of his own strength, Christ's strength
is made perfect in his weakness. This renunciation of his own strength is not a denial
of his natural ability, in any such sense as virtually to charge God with requiring
what he is unable to perform. It is a complete recognition of his ability, were he
disposed to do all that God requires of him, and implies a thorough and honest condemnation
of himself for not using his powers as God requires. But while it recognizes its
natural liberty or ability, and its consequent obligation, it at the same time clearly
and spiritually sees, that it has been too long the slave of lust ever to assert
or to maintain its spiritual supremacy, as the master instead of the slave of appetite.
It sees so clearly and affectingly, that the will or heart is so weak in the presence
of temptation, that there is no hope of its maintaining its integrity, unsupported
by strength from Christ, that it renounces for ever its dependence on its own strength,
and casts itself wholly and for ever on the strength of Christ. Christ's strength
is appropriated only upon condition of a full renunciation of one's own. And Christ's
strength is made perfect in the soul of man only in its entire weakness; that is,
only in the absence of all dependence on its own strength. Self must be renounced
in every respect in which we appropriate Christ. He will not share the throne of
the heart with us, nor will he be put on by us, except in so far as we put off ourselves.
Lay aside all dependence on yourself, in every respect in which you would have Christ.
Many reject Christ by depending on self, and seem not to be aware of their error.
Now, let it be understood and constantly borne in mind, that this self-renunciation
and taking hold on Christ as our strength, is not a mere speculation, an opinion,
an article of faith, a profession, but must be one of the most practical realities
in the world. It must become to the mind an omnipresent reality, insomuch that you
shall no more attempt any thing in your own strength than a man who never could walk
without crutches would attempt to arise and walk without thinking of them. To such
a one his crutches become a part of himself. They are his legs. He as naturally uses
them as we do the members of our body. He no more forgets them, or attempts to walk
without them, than we attempt to walk without our feet. Now just so it is with one
who spiritually understands his dependence on Christ. He knows he can walk, and that
he must walk, but he as naturally uses the strength of Christ in all his duties,
as the lame man uses his crutches. It is as really an omnipresent reality to him,
that he must lean upon Christ, as it is to the lame man that he must lean upon his
crutch. He learns on all occasions to keep hold of the strength of Christ, and does
not even think of doing any thing without him. He knows that he need not attempt
any thing in his own strength; and that if he should, it will result in failure and
disgrace, just as really and as well as the man without feet or legs knows that for
him to attempt to walk without his crutch would ensure a fall. This is a great, and,
I fear, a rarely learned lesson with professed Christians, and yet how strange that
it should be so, since, in every instance, attempts to walk without Christ have resulted
in complete and instantaneous failure. All profess to know their own weakness and
their remedy, and yet how few give evidence of knowing either.
(xli.) Christ is also the Keeper of the soul; and in this relation he must
be revealed to, and embraced by, each soul as the condition of its abiding in Christ,
or, which is the same thing, as a condition of entire sanctification. Ps. cxxi. "I
will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh
from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved;
he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither
slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve
thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going
out, and thy coming in, from this time forth, and even for evermore." This Psalm,
with a great many other passages of scripture, represents God as exerting an efficient
influence in preserving the soul from falling. This influence he exerts, of course
not physically or by compulsion, but it is and must be a moral influence, that is,
an influence entirely consistent with our own free agency. But it is efficient in
the sense of being a prevailing influence.
But in this relation, as in all others, Christ must be apprehended and embraced.
The soul must see and well appreciate its dependence in this respect, and commit
itself to Christ in this relation. It must cease from its own works, and from expecting
to keep itself, and commit itself to Christ, and abide in this state of committal.
Keeping the soul implies watching over it to guard it against being overcome with
temptation. This is exactly what the Christian needs. His enemies are the world,
the flesh, and Satan. By these he has been enslaved. To them he has been consecrated.
In their presence he is all weakness in himself. He needs a keeper to accompany him,
just as a reformed inebriate sometimes needs one to accompany and strengthen him
in scenes of temptation. The long established habitudes of the drunkard render him
weak in the presence of his enemy, the intoxicating bowl. So the Christian's long-cherished
habits of self-indulgence render him all weakness and irresolution, if left to himself
in the presence of excited appetite or passion. As the inebriate needs a friend and
brother to warn and expostulate, to suggest considerations to strengthen his purposes,
so the sinner needs the Parakletos to warn and suggest considerations to sustain
his fainting resolutions. This Christ has promised to do; but this, like all the
promises, is conditionated upon our appropriating it to our own use by faith. Let
it then be ever borne in mind, that as our keeper, the Lord must be spiritually apprehended
and cordially embraced and depended upon, as a condition of entire sanctification.
This must not be a mere opinion. It must be a thorough and honest closing in with
Christ in this relation.
Brother, do you know what it is to depend on Christ in this relation, in such a sense,
that you as naturally hold fast to him, as a child would cling to the hand or the
neck of a father, when in the midst of perceived danger? Have you seen your need
of a keeper? If so, have you fled to Christ in this relation? As ye have received
Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him, that is, abide in him, and he will abide
in you, and keep you from falling. The apostle certifies, or rather assumes, that
he is able to keep you from falling. "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--to the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion
and power, both now and ever. Amen."--Jude 24, 25. Paul also says: "I know
in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have
committed to him against that day."
(xlii.) The soul also needs to know Christ, not merely as a master, but as
a Friend. John xv. 13-15: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth;
but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have
made known unto you."
Christ took the utmost pains to inspire his disciples with the most implicit confidence
in himself. He does the same still. Most Christians seem not to have apprehended
the condescension of Christ sufficiently to appreciate fully, not to say at all,
his most sincere regard for them. They seem afraid to regard him in the light of
a friend, one whom they may approach on all occasions with the utmost confidence
and holy familiarity, one who takes a lively interest in everything that concerns
them, one who sympathizes with them in all their trials, and feels more tenderly
for them than they do for their nearest earthly friends. Observe, what emphasis he
gives to this relation, or to the strength of his friendship. He lays down his life
for his friends. Now, imagine yourself to have an earthly friend who loved you so
much as to lay down his life for you; to die too for a crime which you had committed
against himself. Were you assured of the strength of his friendship, and did you
know withal his ability to help you in all circumstances to be absolutely unlimited,
with what confidence would you unbosom yourself to him! How would you rest in his
friendship and protection! How slow even Christians are to apprehend Christ in the
relation of a friend. They stand in so much awe of him, that they fear to take home
to their hearts the full import and reality of the relation when applied to Christ.
Yet Christ takes the greatest pains to inspire them with the fullest confidence in
his undying and most exalted friendship.
I have often thought that many professed Christians had never really and spiritually
apprehended Christ in this relation. This accounts for their depending upon him so
little in seasons of trial. They do not realize that he truly feels for and sympathizes
with them, that is, his feeling for and sympathy with them, his deep interest in
and pity for them, are not apprehended spiritually as a reality. Hence they stand
aloof, or approach him only in words, or at most, with deep feeling and desire, but
not in the unwavering confidence that they shall receive the things which they ask
of him. But to prevail they must believe. "For he that wavereth is like a wave
of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall
receive anything of the Lord." The real, and deep, and abiding affection of
Christ for us, and his undying interest in us personally, must come to be a living
and an omnipresent reality to our souls, to secure our own abiding in faith and love
in all circumstances. There is, perhaps, no relation of Christ in which we need more
thoroughly to know him than this.
This relation is admitted in words by almost everybody, yet duly realized and believed
by almost nobody. Yet how infinitely strange, that Christ should have given so high
evidence of his love to, and friendship for us, and that we should be so slow of
heart to believe and realize it! But until this truth is really and spiritually apprehended
and embraced, the soul will find it impossible to fly to him in seasons of trial,
with implicit confidence in his favour and protection. But let Christ be really apprehended
and embraced, as a friend who has laid down his life for us, and would not hesitate
to do it again were it needful, and rely upon it, our confidence in him will secure
our abiding in him.
(xliii.) Christ is also to be regarded and embraced in the relation of an
Elder Brother. Heb. ii. 10-18: "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. For both he that sanctifieth and they
who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them
brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church
will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold
I, and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers
of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same: that through
death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver
them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily
he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he
might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make
reconciliation for the sins of the people: for in that he himself hath suffered,
being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Matt. xxviii. 10:
"Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren, that they go
into Galilee, and there shall they see me." John xx. 17: "Jesus saith unto
her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren,
and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your
God." Rom. viii. 29: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate
to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many
brethren." These and other passages present Christ in the relation of a brother.
So he is not merely a friend, but a brother. He is a brother possessing the attributes
of God. And is it not of great importance, that in this relation we should know and
embrace him? It would seem as if all possible pains were taken by him to inspire
us with the most implicit confidence in him. He is not ashamed to call us brethren;
and shall we refuse or neglect to embrace him in this relation, and avail ourselves
of all that is implied in it? I have often thought that many professed Christians
really regard the relations of Christ as only existing in name, and not at all in
reality and fact. Am I not a man and a brother? he says to the desponding and tempted
soul. Himself hath said, A brother is made for adversity. He is the first-born among
many brethren, and yet we are to be heirs with him, heirs of God, and joint heirs
with him of all the infinite riches of the Godhead. "O fools and slow of heart,"
not to believe and receive this brother to our most implicit and eternal confidence.
He must be spiritually revealed, apprehended, and embraced in this relation, as a
condition of our experiencing his fraternal truthfulness.
Do let me inquire whether many Christians do not regard such language as pathetic
and touching, but after all as only a figure of speech, as a pretence, rather than
as a serious and infinitely important fact. Is the Father really our Father? Then
Christ is our Brother, not in a figurative sense merely, but literally and truly
our brother. My brother? Ah truly, and a brother made for adversity. O Lord, reveal
thyself fully to our souls in this relation!
(xliv.) Christ is the true Vine, and we are the branches. And do we know him
in this relation, as our parent stock, as the fountain from whom we receive our momentary
nourishment and life? This union between Christ and our souls is formed by implicit
faith in him. By faith the soul leans on him, feeds upon him, and receives a constantly
sustaining influence from him. John xv. 1-8: "I am the true vine, and my Father
is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and
every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and
I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine;
no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that
abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye
can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered;
and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide
in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done
unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be
my disciples." Now, it is important for us to understand what it is to be in
Christ, in the sense of this passage. It certainly is to be so united to him, as
to receive as real and as constant spiritual support and nourishment from him, as
the branch does natural nourishment from the vine. "If a man abide not in me,"
he says, "he is cast forth as a branch and is withered." Now, to be in
him, implies such a union as to keep us spiritually alive and fresh. There are many
withered professors in the church. They abide not in Christ. Their religion is stale.
They can speak of former experience. They can tell how they once knew Christ, but
every spiritual mind can see, that they are branches fallen off. They have no fruit.
Their leaves are withered, their bark is dried; and they are just fit to be gathered
and cast into the fire. O, this stale, last year's religion! Why will not professors
that live on an old experience, understand that they are cast off branches, and that
their withered, fruitless, lifeless, loveless, faithless, powerless condition testifies
to their faces, and before all men, that they are fit fuel for the flames?
It is also of infinite importance, that we should know and spiritually apprehend
the conditions of abiding in Christ, in the relation of a branch to a vine. We must
apprehend our various necessities and his infinite fulness, and lay hold upon, and
appropriate the whole that is implied in these relations, to our own souls and wants,
as fast as he is revealed. Thus we shall abide in him, and receive all the spiritual
nourishment we need. But unless we are thus taught by the Spirit, and unless we thus
believe, we shall not abide in him, nor he in us. If we do thus abide in him, he
says, we shall bear much fruit. Much fruit then is evidence that we do abide in him,
and fruitlessness is positive evidence that we do not abide in him. "If ye abide
in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done
unto you." Great prevalence in prayer, then, is an evidence that we abide in
him. But a want of prevalence in prayer is conclusive evidence that we do not abide
in him. No man sins while he properly abides in Christ. "If any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, and behold all things are become
But let it not be forgotten that we have something to do to abide in Christ. "Abide
in me," says Christ: this is required of us. We neither at first come to sustain
the relation of a branch to Christ without our own activity, nor do or can we abide
in him without a constant cleaving to him by faith. The will must of necessity be
ever active. It must cleave to Christ or to something else. It is one thing to hold
this relation in theory, and an infinitely different thing to understand it spiritually,
and really cleave to Christ in the relation of the constant fountain of spiritual
(xlv.) Christ is also the "Fountain opened in the house of David for
sin and uncleanness;"--Zec. xiii. 1. Christ, let it be ever remembered, and
spiritually understood and embraced, is not only a justifying, but also a purifying
Saviour. His name is Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins.
(xlvi.) As Jesus, therefore, he must be spiritually known and embraced. Jesus,
Saviour! He is called Jesus, or Saviour, we are informed, because he saves his people,
not only from hell, but also from their sins. He saves from hell only upon condition
of his saving from sin. He has no Saviour, who is not in his own experience saved
from sin. Of what use is it to call Jesus, Lord and Saviour, unless he is really
and practically acknowledged as our Lord and as our Saviour from sin? Shall we call
him Lord, Lord, and do not the things which he says? Shall we call him Saviour, and
refuse so to embrace him as to be saved from our sins?
(xlvii.) We must know him as one whose blood cleanses us from all sin. Heb.
ix. 14.--"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve
the living God!" 1 Peter i. 19.--"But with the precious blood of Christ,
as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter i. 2.--"Elect according
to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto
obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Rev. i. 5.--"Unto
him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." When the shedding
of Christ's blood is rightly apprehended and embraced, when his atonement is properly
understood and received by faith, it cleanses the soul from all sin; or rather, I
should say, that when Christ is received as one to cleanse us from sin by his blood,
we shall know what James B. Taylor meant when he said, "I have been into the
fountain, and am clean;" and what Christ meant when he said, "Now ye are
clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." "Who hath loved us,
and washed us from our sins in his own blood." "Then will I sprinkle clean
water upon you and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness and from all your
idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will
I put within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you
a heart of flesh." It is of the last importance that language like this, relating
to our being cleansed from sin by Christ, should be elucidated to our souls by the
Holy Spirit, and embraced by faith, and Christ truly revealed in this relation. Nothing
but this can save us from sin. But this will fully and effectually do the work. It
will cleanse us from all sin. It will cleanse us from all our filthiness, and from
all our idols. It will make us "clean."
(xlviii.) "His name shall be called Wonderful." No inward or audible
exclamation is more common to me of late years, than the term Wonderful. When contemplating
the nature, the character, the offices, the relations, the salvation of Christ, I
find myself often mentally, and frequently audibly exclaiming, WONDERFUL! My soul
is filled with wonder, love, and praise, as I am led by the Holy Spirit to apprehend
Christ, sometimes in one and sometimes in another relation, as circumstances and
trials develope the need I have of him. I am more and more "astonished at the
doctrine of the Lord," and at the Lord himself from year to year. I have come
to the conclusion, that there is no end to this, either in time or in eternity. He
will no doubt to all eternity continue to make discoveries of himself to his intelligent
creatures, that shall cause them to exclaim "WONDERFUL!" I find my wonder
more and more excited from one stage of Christian experience to another. Christ is
indeed wonderful, contemplated in every point of view, as God, as man, as God-man,
mediator. Indeed, I hardly know in which of his many relations he appears most wonderful,
when in that relation he is revealed by the Holy Spirit. All, all is wonderful, when
he stands revealed to the soul in any of his relations. The soul needs to be so acquainted
with him as to excite and constantly keep awake its wonder and adoration. Contemplate
Christ in any point of view, and the wonder of the soul is excited. Look at any feature
of his character, at any department of the plan of salvation, at any part that he
takes in the glorious work of man's redemption; look steadfastly at him as he is
revealed through the gospel by the Holy Spirit, at any time and place, in any of
his works or ways, and the soul will instantly exclaim--WONDERFUL! Yes, he shall
be called Wonderful!
(xlix.) "Counsellor." Who that has made Jesus his wisdom, does not
and has not often recognized the fitness of calling him "Counsellor?" Until
he is known and embraced in this relation, it is not natural or possible for the
soul to go to him with implicit confidence in every case of doubt. Almost everybody
holds in theory the propriety and necessity of consulting Christ, in respect to the
affairs that concern ourselves and his church. But it is one thing to hold this opinion,
and quite another to apprehend and embrace Christ so spiritually in the relation
of counsellor, as naturally to call him counsellor when approaching him in secret,
and as naturally to turn and consult him on all occasions and in respect to everything
that concerns us; and to consult him too with implicit confidence in his ability
and willingness to give us the direction we need. Thoroughly and spiritually to know
Christ in this relation is undoubtedly a condition of abiding steadfast in him. Unless
the soul knows and duly appreciates its dependence upon him in this relation, and
unless it renounces its own wisdom, and substitutes his in the place of it, by laying
hold of Christ by faith as the counsellor of the soul, it will not continue to walk
in his counsel, and consequently will not abide in his love.
(l.) The Mighty God. "My Lord and my God,"
exclaimed Thomas, when Christ stood spiritually revealed to him. It was not merely
what Christ said to Thomas on that occasion, that caused him to utter the exclamation
just quoted. Thomas saw indeed that Christ was raised from the dead, but so had Lazarus
been raised from the dead. The mere fact, therefore, that Christ stood before him
as one raised from the dead, could not have been proof that he was God. No doubt
the Holy Spirit discovered to Thomas at the moment the true Divinity of Christ, just
as the saints in all ages have had him spiritually revealed to them as the Mighty
God. I have long been convinced, that it is in vain, so far as any spiritual benefit
is concerned, to attempt to convince Unitarians of the proper Divinity of Christ.
The scriptures are as plain as they can be upon this subject, and yet it is true,
that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit. As I have said
in substance often, the personal revelation of Christ to the inward man by the Holy
Spirit, is a condition of his being known as the "Mighty God." What is
Christ to any one who does not know him as God? To such a soul, he cannot be a Saviour.
It is impossible that the soul should intelligently, and without idolatry, commit
itself to him as a Saviour, unless it knows him to be the true God. It cannot innocently
pray to him nor worship him, nor commit the soul to his keeping and protection, until
it knows him as the Mighty God. To be orthodox merely in theory, in opinion, is nothing
to the purpose of salvation. The soul must know Christ as God--must believe in or
receive him as such. To receive him as anything else is an infinitely different thing
from coming and submitting to him as the true, and living, and mighty God.
This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.
LECTURE LXVII. Back to Top
CONDITIONS OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.-- Continued.
- (li.) Christ is our Shield. By this name, or in this relation, he has
always been known to the saints. God said to Abraham, "I am thy shield."--Gen.
xv. 1. Ps. xxxiii. 20: "The Lord is my shield." Prov. xxx. 5: "He
is a shield to them that put their trust in him." A shield is a piece of defensive
armour used in war. It is a broad plate made of wood or metal, and borne upon the
arm and hand, and in conflict presented between the body and the enemy to protect
it against his arrows or his blows. God is the Christian's shield in the spiritual
warfare. This is a most interesting and important relation. He who does not know
Christ in this relation, and has not embraced and put him on, as one would buckle
on a shield, is all exposed to the assaults of the enemy, and will surely be wounded
if not slain by his fiery darts. This is more than a figure of speech. No fact or
reality is of more importance to the Christian, than to know how to hide himself
behind and in Christ in the hour of conflict. Unless the Christian has on his shield,
and knows how to use it, he will surely fall in battle. When Satan appears, the soul
must present its shield, must take refuge behind and in Christ, or all will be defeat
and disgrace. When faith presents Christ as the shield, Satan retires vanquished
from the field in every instance. Christ always makes way for our escape; and never
did a soul get wounded in conflict who made the proper use of this shield. But Christ
needs to be known as our protection, as ready on all occasions to shield us from
the curse of the law, and from the artillery of the enemy of our souls. Be sure to
truly know him, and put him on in this relation, and then you may always sing of
(lii.) The Lord is "the Portion" of his people. "I am thy shield
and thy exceeding great reward," said God to Abraham. As the reward or portion
of the soul, we need to know and embrace Christ as the condition of abiding in him.
We need to know him as "our exceeding great portion,"--a present, all-satisfying
portion. Unless we so know Christ as to be satisfied with him, as all we can ask
or desire, we shall not of course abstain from all forbidden sources of enjoyment.
Nothing is more indispensable to our entire sanctification, than to apprehend the
fulness there is in Christ in this relation. When the soul finds in him all its desires
and all its wants fully met, when it sees in him all that it can conceive of as excellent
and desirable, and that he is its portion, it remains at rest. It has little temptation
to go after other lovers, or after other sources of enjoyment. It is full. It has
enough. It has an infinitely rich and glorious inheritance. What more can it ask
or think? The soul that understands what it is to have Christ as its portion, knows
that he is an infinite portion; that eternity can never exhaust, or even diminish
it in the least degree; that the mind shall to all eternity increase in the capacity
of enjoying this portion; but that no increase of capacity and enjoyment can diminish
ought of the infinite fulness of the Divine Portion of our souls.
(liii.) Christ is our Hope. 1 Tim. i. 1: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope."
Col. i. 27: "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of
this mystery among the gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory."
Our only rational expectation is from him. Christ in us is our hope of glory. Without
Christ in us we have no good or well-grounded hope of glory. Christ in the gospel,
Christ on the cross, Christ risen, Christ in heaven, is not our hope; but Christ
in us, Christ actually present, living, and reigning in us, as really as he lives
and reigns in glory, is our only well-grounded hope. We cannot be too certain of
this, for unless we despair of salvation in ourselves or in any other, we do not
truly make Christ our hope. The soul that does not know, and spiritually know Christ
in this relation has no well-grounded hope. He may hope that he is a Christian. He
may hope that his sins are forgiven, that he shall be saved. But he can have no good
hope of glory. It cannot be too fully understood, or too deeply realized, that absolute
despair of help and salvation in any other possible way, except by Christ in us,
is an unalterable condition of our knowing and embracing Christ as our hope. Many
seem to have conceived of Christ as their hope, only in his outward relation, that
is, as an atoning Saviour, as a risen and ascended Saviour. But the indispensable
necessity of having Christ within them, ruling in their hearts, and establishing
his government over their whole being, is a condition of salvation of which they
have not thought. Christ cannot be truly and savingly our hope, any farther than
he is received into and reigns in our souls. To hope in merely an outward Christ
is to hope in vain. To hope in Christ with the true Christian hope, implies:--
(a.) The ripe and spiritual apprehension of our hopeless condition without him. It
implies such an apprehension of our sins and governmental relations, as to annihilate
all hope of salvation upon legal grounds.
(b.) Such a perception of our spiritual bondage to sin, as to annihilate all hope
of salvation without his constant influence and strength to keep us from sin.
(c.) Such a knowledge of our circumstances of temptation, as to empty us of all expectation
of fighting our own battles, or of, in the least degree, making headway against our
spiritual foes, in our own wisdom and strength.
(d.) A complete annihilation of all hope from any other source.
(e.) The revelation of Christ to our souls as our hope by the Holy Spirit.
(f.) The apprehension of him as one to dwell in us, and to be received by
faith to the supreme control of our souls.
(g.) The hearty and joyful reception of him in this relation. The dethroning
of self, or the utter denial or rejection of self, and the enthroning and crowning
of Christ in the inner man. When Christ is clearly seen to be the only hope of the
soul, and when he is spiritually received in this relation, the soul learns habitually
and constantly to lean upon him, to rest in him, and make no efforts without him.
(liv.) Christ is also our Salvation. Ex. xv. 2: "The Lord is my strength
and song, and he is become my salvation, he is my God, and I will prepare him an
habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him." Ps. xxvii. 1: "The
Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my
life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Ps. xxxviii. 22: "Make haste to help
me, O Lord my salvation." Ps. lxii. 7: "In God is my salvation and my glory;
the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." Ps. cxiv. "The Lord
is my strength and song, and is become my salvation." Isa. xii. 2: "Behold,
God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my
strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." Isa. xlix. 6: "And
he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes
of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light
to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth."
Luke ii. 30: "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation." These and multitudes
of similar passages present Christ, not only as our Saviour, but as our salvation.
That is, he saves us by becoming himself our salvation. Becoming our salvation includes
and implies the following things:--
(a.) Atonement for our sins.
(b.) Convincing us of and converting us from our sins.
(c.) Sanctifying our souls.
(d.) Justifying, or pardoning and accepting, or receiving us to favour.
(e.) Giving us eternal life and happiness.
(f.) The bestowment of himself upon us as the portion of our souls.
(g.) The everlasting union of our souls with God.
All this Christ is to us, and well he may be regarded not only as our Saviour, but
as our salvation. Nothing is or can be more important, than for us to apprehend Christ
in the fulness of his relations to us. Many seem to have but extremely superficial
apprehensions of Christ. They seem in a great measure blind to the length, and breadth,
and height, and depth of their infinite necessities. Hence they have never sought
for such a remedy as is found in Christ. The great mass of Christian professors seem
to conceive of the salvation of Christ, as consisting in a state of mind resulting
not from a real union of the soul with Christ, but resulting merely from understanding
and believing the doctrines of Christ. The doctrine of Christ, as taught in the Bible,
was designed to gain for Christ a personal reception to dwell within, and to rule
over us. He that truly believes the gospel, will receive Christ as he is presented
in the gospel, that is, for what he is there asserted to be to his people, in all
the relations he sustains to our souls, as fast as these relations are revealed to
him by the Holy Spirit.
The newly converted soul knows Christ in but few relations. He needs trials and experience
to develope his weakness, and to reveal to him his multiplied necessities, and thus
lead him to a fuller knowledge of Christ. The new convert embraces Christ, so far
as he knows him; but at first he knows but little of his need of him, except in his
governmental relations. Subsequent experience is a condition of his knowing Christ
in all his fulness. Nor can he be effectually taught the fulness there is in Christ,
any faster than his trials develope his real necessities. If he embraces all he understands
of Christ, this is the whole of present duty in respect to him; but, as trials are
in his way, he will learn more of his own necessities, and must learn more of Christ,
and appropriate him in new relations, or he will surely fall.
(lv.) Christ is also the Rock of our Salvation:--
Ps. xix. 14. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be
acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, [margin Rock] and my Redeemer. xxviii.
1. Unto, thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me; lest if thou be silent
to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. xxxi. 2. Bow down thine ear
to me, deliver me speedily, be thou my strong rock, for a house of defence to save
me. 3. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore, for thy name's sake, lead
me and guide me."
It is deeply interesting and affecting to contemplate the relations in which Christ
revealed himself to the Old Testament saints. He is a rock of salvation, a strong-hold
or place of refuge. In this relation the soul must know him, and must take hold of
him, or take shelter in him.
(lvi.) He is also a Rock cleft from which the waters of life flow. 1 Cor.
x. 14. "And did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual
Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." As such the soul must know
and embrace him.
(lvii.) He is a Great Rock that is higher than we, rising amid the burning
sands of our pilgrimage, under the cooling shadow of which the soul can find repose
and comfort. He is like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. To apprehend
Christ in this relation, the soul needs to be brought into sharp and protracted trials,
until it is faint and ready to sink in discouragement. When the struggle is too severe
for longer endurance, and the soul is on the point of giving up in despair, then
when Christ is revealed as a great rock standing for its defence against the heat
of its trials, and throwing over it the cooling, soothing influence of his protection,
it finds itself refreshed and at rest, and readily adopts the language of a numerous
class of passages of scripture, and finds itself to have apprehended Christ, as inspired
men apprehended and embraced him. It is truly remarkable, that in all our experiences,
we can find that inspired writers have had the like; and in every trial, and in every
deliverance, in every new discovery of our emptiness, and of Christ's fulness, we
find the language of our hearts most fully and aptly expressed in the language of
the living oracles. We readily discover, that inspired men had fallen into like trials,
had Christ revealed to them in the same relations, and had similar exercises of mind;
insomuch, that no language of our own can so readily express all that we think, and
feel, and see.
(lviii.) He is the Rock from which the soul is satisfied with honey. Ps. lxxxi.
16. "He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat; and with honey
out of the rock should I have satisfied thee." The spiritual mind apprehends
this language spiritually, as it is doubtless really intended to be understood. It
knows what it is to be satisfied with honey from the Rock, Christ. The divine sweetness
that often refreshes the spiritual mind, when it betakes itself to the Rock Christ,
reminds it of the words of this passage of scripture.
(lix.) He is the Rock or Foundation upon which the church, as the temple of
the living God, is built.
Matt. xvi. 18: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this
rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Rom. ix. 33: "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and
a rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." 1 Peter
ii. 8. "And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which
stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed."
He is a sure foundation. He is an eternal rock, or the rock of ages--the corner-stone
of the whole spiritual edifice. But we must build for ourselves upon this rock. It
is not enough to understand as a tenet, a theory, an opinion, an article of our creed,
that Christ is the rock in this sense. We must see that we do not build upon the
sand. Matt. vii. 26, 27: "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine,
and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon
the sand; And the rain descended, and the floods came, and beat upon that house;
and it fell; and great was the fall of it."
(lx.) He is the "Strength of our heart." He is not only our refuge
and strength in our conflicts with outward temptations and trials, in the sense expressed
in Psalm xlvi. 1: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble;"
but he is also the strength of our heart and our portion for ever, in the sense of
Psalm lxxiii. 26: "My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of
my heart, and my portion for ever." He braces up and confirms the whole inner-man
in the way of holiness. What Christian has not at times found himself ready to halt,
and faint by the way. Temptation seems to steal upon him like a charm. He finds his
spiritual strength very low, his resolution weak, and he feels as if he should give
way to the slightest temptation. He is afraid to expose himself out of his closet,
or even to remain within it lest he should sin. He says with David, "I shall
fall by the hand of Saul." He finds himself empty, all weakness and trembling.
Were it not that the strength of his heart interposes in time, he would doubtless
realize in his experience his worst fears. But who that knows Christ, has not often
experienced his faithfulness under such circumstances, and felt an immortal awaking,
reviving, and strength, taking possession of his whole being? What spiritual minister
has not often dragged himself into the pulpit, so discouraged and faint as to be
hardly able to stand, or to hold up his head? He is so weak that his spiritual knees
smite one against the other. He is truly empty, and feels as if he could not open
his mouth. He sees himself to be an empty vine, an empty vessel, a poor helpless,
strengthless infant, lying in the dust before the Lord, unable to stand, or go, or
preach, or pray, or do the least thing for Christ. But lo! at this juncture his spiritual
strength is renewed. Christ the strength of his heart developes his own almightiness
within him. His mouth is open. He is strong in faith, giving glory to God. He is
made at once a sharp threshing instrument, to beat down the mountains of opposition
to Christ and his gospel. His bow is renewed in his hand and abides in strength.
His mouth is opened, and Christ fills it with arguments. Christ has girded him to
the battle, and made strong the arms of his hands, with the strength of the mighty
God of Jacob.
The same in substance is true of every Christian. He has his seasons of being empty,
that he may feel his dependence; and anon he is girded with strength from on high,
and an immortal and superhuman strength takes possession of his soul. The enemy gives
way before him. In Christ he can run through a troop, and in his strength he can
leap over a wall. Every difficulty gives way before him, and he is conscious that
Christ has strengthened him with strength in his soul. The will seems to have the
utmost decision, so that temptation gets an emphatic no! without a moment's parley.
(lxi.) It is through Christ that we may reckon ourselves dead indeed unto
sin, and alive unto God. This we are exhorted and commanded to do. That is, we may
and ought to account or reckon ourselves, through him, as dead unto sin and alive
unto God. But what is implied in this liberty to reckon ourselves dead unto sin,
and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord? Why certainly:--
(a.) That through and in him we have all the provision we need, to keep us
(b.) That we may expect, and ought to expect, to live without sin.
(c.) That we ought to account ourselves as having nothing more to do with sin, than
a dead man has with the affairs of this world.
(d.) That we may and ought to lay hold of Christ for this full and present
death unto sin and life unto God.
(e.) That if we do thus reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God, in the
true spiritual sense of this text, we shall find Christ unto our souls all we expect
of him in this relation. If Christ cannot or will not save us from sin, upon condition
of our laying hold of him, and reckoning ourselves dead unto sin, and alive unto
God through him, what right had the apostle to say, "Reckon yourselves indeed
dead unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord?" What! does
the apostle tell us to account or reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and shall
ministers tell us that such reckoning or expectation is a dangerous delusion?
Now, certainly nothing less can be meant, by reckoning ourselves dead unto sin and
alive unto God through Jesus Christ, than that, through Christ we should expect to
live without sin. And not to expect to live without sin through Christ is unbelief.
It is a rejection of Christ in this relation. Through Christ we ought to expect to
live to God, as much as we expect to live at all. He that does not expect this, rejects
Christ as his sanctification, and as Jesus who saves his people from their sins.
The foregoing are some of the relations which Christ sustains to us as to our salvation.
I could have enlarged greatly, as you perceive, upon each of these, and easily have
swelled this part of our course of study to a large volume. I have only touched upon
these sixty-one relations, as specimens of the manner in which he is presented for
our acceptance in the Bible, and by the Holy Spirit. Do not understand me as teaching,
that we must first know Christ in all these relations, before we can be sanctified.
The thing intended is that coming to know Christ in these relations is a condition,
or is the indispensable means, of our steadfastness or perseverance in holiness under
temptation--that, when we are tempted, from time to time nothing can secure us against
a fall, but the revelation of Christ to the soul in these relations one after another,
and our appropriation of him to ourselves by faith. The gospel has directly promised,
in every temptation to open a way of escape, so that we shall be able to bear it.
The spirit of this promise pledges to us such a revelation of Christ, as to secure
our standing, if we will lay hold upon him by faith, as revealed. Our circumstances
of temptation render it necessary, that at one time we should apprehend Christ in
one relation, and at another time in another. For example, at one time we are tempted
to despair by Satan's accusing us of sin, and suggesting that our sins are too great
to be forgiven. In this case we need a revelation and an appropriation of Christ,
as having been made sin for us; that is, as having atoned for our sins--as being
our justification or righteousness. This will sustain the soul's confidence and preserve
At another time we are tempted to despair of ever overcoming our tendencies to sin,
and to give up our sanctification as a hopeless thing. Now we need a revelation of
Christ as our sanctification, &c.
At another time the soul is harassed with the view of the great subtlety and sagacity
of its spiritual enemies, and greatly tempted to despair on that account. Now it
needs to know Christ as its wisdom.
Again, it is tempted to discouragement on account of the great number and
strength of its adversaries. On such occasions it needs Christ revealed as the Mighty
God, as its strong tower, its hiding place, its munition of rocks.
Again, the soul is oppressed with a sense of the infinite holiness of God,
and the infinite distance there is between us and God, on account of our sinfulness
and his infinite holiness, and on account of his infinite abhorrence of sin and sinners.
Now the soul needs to know Christ as its righteousness, and as a mediator between
God and man.
Again, the Christian's mouth is closed with a sense of guilt, so that he cannot
look up, nor speak to God of pardon and acceptance. He trembles and is confounded
before God. He lies along on his face, and despairing thoughts roll a tide of agony
through his soul. He is speechless, and can only groan out his self-accusations before
the Lord. Now as a condition of rising above this temptation to despair, he needs
a revelation of Christ as his advocate, as his high priest, as ever living to make
intercession for him. This view of Christ will enable the soul to commit all to him
in this relation, and maintain its peace and hold on to its steadfastness.
Again, the soul is led to tremble in view of its constant exposedness to besetments
on every side, oppressed with such a sense of its own utter helplessness in the presence
of its enemies, as almost to despair. Now it needs to know Christ as the Good Shepherd,
who keeps a constant watch over the sheep, and carries the lambs in his bosom. He
needs to know him as a watchman and a keeper.
Again, it is oppressed with a sense of its own utter emptiness, and is forced
to exclaim, I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. It sees
that it has no life, or unction, or power, or spirituality in itself. Now it needs
to know Christ as the true vine, from which it may receive constant and abundant
spiritual nourishment. It needs to know him as the fountain of the water of life,
and in those relations that will meet its necessities in this direction. Let these
suffice, as specimens to illustrate what is intended by entire or permanent sanctification
being conditioned on the revelation and appropriation of Christ in all the fulness
of his official relations.
It is not intended, as has been said, that Christ must previously be known in all
these relations before a soul can be sanctified at all; but that, when tried from
time to time, a new revelation of Christ to the soul, corresponding to the temptation,
or as the help of the soul in such circumstances, is a condition of its remaining
steadfast. This gracious aid or revelation is abundantly promised in the Bible, and
will be made in time, so that by laying hold on Christ in the present revealed relation,
the soul may be preserved blameless, though the furnace of temptation be heated seven
times hotter than it is wont to be.
In my estimation, the church, as a body--I mean the nominal church--have entirely
mistaken the nature and means or conditions of sanctification. They have not regarded
it as consisting in a state of entire consecration, nor understood that continual
entire consecration was entire sanctification. They have regarded sanctification
as consisting in the annihilation of the constitutional propensities, instead of
the controlling of them. They have erred equally in regard to the means or conditions
of entire sanctification. They seem to have regarded sanctification as brought about
by a physical cleansing in which man was passive; or to have gone over to the opposite
extreme, and regarded sanctification as consisting in the formation of habits of
obedience. The old school have seemed to be waiting for a physical sanctification,
in which they are to be, in a great measure, passive, and which they have not expected
to take place in this life. Holding, as they do, that the constitution of both soul
and body is defiled or sinful in every power and faculty, they of course cannot hold
to entire sanctification in this life. If the constitutional appetites, passions,
and propensities are in fact, as they hold, sinful in themselves, why then the question
is settled, that entire sanctification cannot take place in this world, nor in the
next, except as the constitution is radically changed, and that of course by the
creative power of God. The new school, rejecting the doctrine of constitutional moral
depravity, and physical regeneration and sanctification, and losing sight of Christ
as our sanctification, have fallen into a self-righteous view of sanctification,
and have held that sanctification is effected by works, or by forming holy habits,
&c. Both the old and the new school have fallen into egregious errors upon this
fundamentally important subject.
The truth is, beyond all question, that sanctification is by faith as opposed to
works. That is, faith receives Christ in all his offices, and in all the fulness
of his relations to the soul; and Christ, when received, works in the soul to will
and to do of all his good pleasure, not by a physical, but by a moral or persuasive
working. Observe, he influences the will. This must be by a moral influence, if its
actings are intelligent and free, as they must be to be holy. That is, if he influences
the will to obey God, it must be by a divine moral suasion. The soul never in any
instance obeys in a spiritual and true sense, except it be thus influenced by the
indwelling Spirit of Christ. But whenever Christ is apprehended and received in any
relation, in that relation he is full and perfect; so that we are complete in him.
For it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and that we
might all receive of his fulness until we have grown up into him in all things, "Until
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."
Introduction ---New Window
LECTURES 1-7 of page 1
LECTURES 8-16 of page 2 ---New Window
LECTURES 17-30 of page 3 ---New Window
LECTURES 31-38 of page 4 ---New Window
LECTURES 39-47 of page 5 ---New Window
LECTURES 48-57 of page 6 ---New Window
LECTURES 58-67 of page 7 (this page)
LECTURES 68-74 of page 8 ---New Window
LECTURES 75-80 of page 9 ---New Window
LECTURES 81-83 of page 10 ---New Window
APPENDIX on page 11 ---New Window
RELATED STUDY AIDS:
Section Sub-Index for Finney: Voices