LIFE AND SERVICE
COMMISSIONER T. H. HOWARD
THE SALVATION ARMY BOOK DEPARTMENT
LONDON: 79 & 81 Fortess Road, N.W. MELBOURNE: 69 Bourke Street NEW YORK: 120 West Fourteenth Street TORONTO: Albert Street CAPE TOWN: Loop Street
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., LTD. 4 STATIONERS' HALL COURT, LONDON, E.C.
THE SALVATION ARMY PRINTING WORKS, ST. ALBANS
The following pages contain reports of addresses delivered by Commissioner Howard, of our International Headquarters, during an important series of Holiness Meetings held in the Congress Hall, London, principally in 1908. Those Meetings were widely used by God, and at my request the Commissioner has revised the shorthand reports of his words for this volume. We now send forth his messages in the hope of still further extending their usefulness.
Christianity is a present-day call to a good life. If it be anything less than that, it is really not worth troubling about. It is, of course, rich in holy memories, and venerable in its association with all that is true and best in the past. But it is not only ancient in its origin and triumphs—it is intensely modern in its touch with human need, and in its demand that the spirit of righteousness should be the controlling force in human life—in the common life of to-day. It is the aim of the following addresses to bring that truth home to us, and to help us to go direct to JESUS CHRIST Himself for power to respond to that claim.
Cast in popular form, as was necessary for meeting such occasions as those which called them forth, these addresses do not attempt any comprehensive statements of the philosophy of Holiness. Anything of that kind, no matter how successful, would have been the undoing of the whole effort. Nevertheless, the diligent reader will, I think, find underlying these practical counsels certain valuable principles. In particular, he will find implied, when not actually expressed, an important distinction between the work of God in the justifying and purifying of the soul, and the work of man in walking in obedience to the laws of God. It is that obedience I am thinking of when I say that Christianity is a demand for righteousness. It is that obedience we mean when we talk of Holiness—in its practical aspects.
One of the dangers to which all deeply spiritual teaching is open, is a kind of antinomianism—a species of religious bargaining between the soul and God; and that is a thing which is, of course, totally alien to His will, and completely ruinous to true progress. The process of such thought is something like this: 'Christ has performed for me a work of infinite love and merit. If I confess and deplore evil, I may claim pardon for it and purifying from its guilt by faith in the Divine Sacrifice made for me. That will ease my burdened soul and free me from apprehension as to future peril—peril which would otherwise have proved very real. As to temptation to further evil, I must watch against it; but if by chance or evil impulse, or even wilful choice, I fall into it, let me not be too deeply concerned. I can easily obtain again what I have obtained before.'
Now, that is not only a false position, but it involves an extremely dangerous error—an error which in practice is ultimately destructive of real faith. Salvation—indeed, all spiritual experience, is entered into by faith, of course; but it can only be maintained by hearty, determined obedience on our part. Christ has died for us, but He has not obeyed for us. The 'new heart' is by faith in Him—but the new life can only be lived by watchful and often painful obedience to the law of love. 'I counsel thee to buy of Me', saith He that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, 'white raiment that thou mayest be clothed'; and 'Blessed', He says also, 'is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked'. Paul prayed for the saints of his day 'that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith'; but he prayed also that they 'might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, strengthened with all might unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness'.
It is towards standards for this life of rightly living that Commissioner Howard is working in the following chapters. May the blessing of the great Standard-Bearer rest upon his words, and give the light and grace which He alone can afford to every reader.
THE SALVATION ARMY, LONDON, April, 1909.
I wish that these Addresses could, in their present form, be marked by those personal experiences which made the thoughts so alive to me when the words were uttered in public Meetings. If the flashes of light, the intensity of conviction, and the sense of Divine help which were mine when speaking, could be reproduced in cold type, the impression upon the readers would be much more effective. That may not be fully possible, but I pray that in His own way God may use the book to the helping of many souls in the things which make for Holiness and happy service.
T. H. H.
Thou hidden love of God, whose height, Whose depth unfathomed no man knows; I see from far Thy beauteous light, Inly I sigh for Thy repose: My heart is pained, nor can it be At rest till it finds rest in Thee.
Is there a thing beneath the sun That strives with Thee my heart to share? Ah, tear it thence, and reign alone, The Lord of every motion there! Then shall my heart from earth be free, When it hath found repose in Thee.
Oh, hide this self from me, that I No more, but Christ in me, may live; My vile affections crucify, Nor let one darling lust survive! In all things nothing may I see, Nothing desire or seek, but Thee!
Each moment draw from earth away My heart, that lowly waits Thy call: Speak to my inmost soul, and say, 'I am thy Lord, thy God, thy All!' To feel Thy power, to hear Thy voice, To share Thy cross be all my choice.
I. GOD'S CALL 1
II. CONSECRATION COMPLETE 8
III. DIVINE FELLOWSHIP 15
IV. FINDING GOD 23
V. THE DOCTRINE ADORNED 31
VI. SURENESS 40
VII. THE PATHWAY OF THE HOLY 49
VIII. CIRCUMSTANCES AND CONSEQUENCES 58
IX. BOUND TO THE ALTAR 68
X. WHY SHOULD I? 77
XI. JUDGED BY FRUIT 87
XII. PERPETUAL COVENANTS 95
XIII. THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT 104
XIV. LOST EARNINGS 113
XV. FIGHTING HOLINESS 123
XVI. SANCTIFIED COMMONPLACES 132
XVII. SPIRITUAL GROWTH 141
XVIII. THE INWARD LAWS 151
XIX. WORRY VERSUS PEACE 159
XX. AN APPEAL AND A RESPONSE 168
'WE believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be "wholly sanctified", and that their "whole spirit and soul and body" may "be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". That is to say, we believe that after conversion there remain in the heart of the believer inclinations to evil, or roots of bitterness, which, unless overpowered by Divine grace, produce actual sin; but that these evil tendencies can be entirely taken away by the Spirit of God, and the whole heart, thus cleansed from everything contrary to the will of God, or entirely sanctified, will then produce the fruit of the Spirit only. And we believe that persons thus entirely sanctified may, by the power of God, be kept unblameable and unreprovable in His sight.'—The Doctrines of The Salvation Army.
STANDARDS OF LIFE AND SERVICE
'What manner of persons ought ye to be?' (2 Peter iii. 11.)
'As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.' (1 Peter i. 15, 16.)
When we set up standards for life and character we must be quite clear that our teaching fits in with God's purpose as revealed towards His people. Therefore, when we enforce the doctrine of personal Holiness, there is no reason more weighty than that which Peter gives us in the verses quoted, namely, that God calls us to Holiness.
The statement I have read seems to me to show that it is a mistake to suppose that personal Holiness is left optional. Many people go to Meetings, and, when they are shown the teachings of the Bible about Holiness, they recognize that it is a state of being cleansed, filled with the love of God, and kept by the indwelling Holy Ghost. They see it as a very desirable thing and a possible experience. But, somehow or other, they sit and listen, come and go, and seem to have the idea that it is quite left to themselves whether they should obey the call and claim this blessing or not.
Some talk as if there were two roads to Heaven; I mean the sinning and repenting life; falling down and getting up again; persevering in their journey with just enough religion to make them want to save their souls from going to Hell, in contradistinction to the experience of the saintly man or woman who says, 'By God's help I am going to live a life without sin! I am going to have my heart fully sanctified, and walk in the will of God.'
Some, I am afraid, even go so far as to deliberately say, 'Holiness is a very good thing if you want it; but I am not quite prepared for this, or to give up this, that, and the other. I think I shall get on very well as I am. If you want the blessing I am glad to see you go in for it.'
That is what I mean when I talk about people regarding the matter as if it were optional; and I like these words of Peter's because they show us a direct command: 'Be ye holy, for I am holy'. They fit in also with the other injunction: 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing'.
It is a grand and glorious privilege to have a clean heart; to have God Almighty coming and taking full possession of you; and to have His Holy Spirit day by day, filling your heart with love and keeping you in Divine fellowship. But I want you also to realize that it is a binding duty upon every follower of Jesus Christ to seek to become holy.
I think it was John Wesley who said something to the effect that professing Christians who had not got the blessing of a clean heart, or were not earnestly seeking to be delivered from sin, could not consistently be regarded as Christians at all. I do not put it as strongly as that; but I do, from deep conviction, say this to you, that every Salvationist, and other persons who, in Meetings of this kind, are taught that the will of God is that they shall be delivered from all sin, that they shall live a life of purity and Holiness, that they shall walk in the enjoyment of a Full Salvation, and yet are not willing to follow the light, and do what they know God wants them to do, are probably heart-backsliders, and in a fair way to backslide altogether.
I tell you, God has called you, not unto uncleanness, not to remain in a state of impurity, but to Holiness; and he that despiseth that calling despiseth not man, but God. Therefore, I beg of you not to imagine that, with clear light as to your duty, and the possibility of Full Salvation, you can either take it or leave it, and yet remain in the favour of God.
Then these verses are very useful because they set the standard for our personal spiritual condition. Need I explain what I mean by this? Let your minds turn to weights and measures, and you will see my meaning exactly. If you went to a draper's shop, and asked for so many yards of material, you would not be satisfied by his guessing the quantity—you would want it measured by the yard-stick, the proper standard of measurement. So with weights. If you ask for so many pounds of sugar or potatoes, it would not be for the shopman to say to you, 'Will that do for you? Put another in? All right! Will that do?' You would say, 'Please weigh them properly according to standard'.
Now it seems to me that in spiritual character we must have something by which we can measure and compare ourselves, and Peter gives us just such a standard when he says, 'As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy'. The standard is the character of God.
If Peter had said, 'As He is almighty, so be ye almighty', or, 'As He is infallible, so be ye infallible', then at once you would know that the standard was altogether out of your reach, and could not be realized. But, if you are a Christian at all, your inmost conviction tells you that to be holy is a reasonable requirement, and the law of consistency endorses it.
As you study your Bibles you will find many references to this standard of conformity with the Divine character, and will quickly see that nothing short of that can satisfy. It is not only the standard that exists in the Divine mind, but the world rightly expects that we, as Christian men and women, shall be holy. I know the world is very often disappointed, and that, unfortunately, the failures of some so-called Christian people are used as an excuse for disregarding the claims of God, but the world is right in expecting us to live holy lives.
That passage of Peter's contains a significant reminder in the sentence, 'Be ye holy in all manner of conversation'. Now, that word, 'conversation', has a much broader meaning in old English than the sense attached to our common use of it, generally limiting the word to mean intercourse between each other by speech. Here it really means the whole manner of living.
To me it is a matter of unspeakable joy to think that there is no right association, no duty, and no proper relationship in life that cannot be wholly sanctified and have God's smile upon it. Your eatings and drinkings, your speakings, your workings, your dressings, your courtings and marriages, also many other things, such as business and recreation, can all be sanctified, and the functions performed in harmony with the profession of Holiness and the maintenance of a clean heart.
But do not miss the true inwardness of this command: 'Be ye holy, for I am holy'. It is this—we cannot live up to the true standard, we cannot fulfil life's obligation, without a sanctified heart.
The General very frequently says, with reference to the failures of certain classes of people who call themselves Christians, that they make the mistake of supposing that they can keep the holy law of God with an unholy heart. The thing is absolutely impossible, and I should only be deluding you if I told you otherwise.
We sometimes say that in Heaven there is, and ever will be, an unwavering fulfilment of the highest will of God. But what secures that condition in Heaven? Do you think it is the absence of a personal Devil? Not only that—although the hope of it counts for a good deal with some of us. Do you think it is the absence of wicked surroundings and temptations from evil men and women? Not only that. Do you think it is the possession of things that produce unfailing pleasure and satisfaction? Not only that. It is just the fact that every heart is confirmed in its perfect acceptance of the Father's will, and is in the fullest conformity with the holy law of a holy God. There are many other things that go to make up Heaven, but without that there can be no Heaven at all.
Did you repeat the Lord's Prayer this morning? If so, you came to that little sentence, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven'. Now, I ask you, do you really mean that? Do you honestly want that for yourselves? Because, unless you can put yourselves in line with that petition, unless there is a compliance with these words of Peter's, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy', you can never get that prayer answered.
'Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.' (Romans xii. 1.)
Surely, amongst those who love God and desire His Kingdom to come, there can be no difference of opinion with regard to the duty of whole-hearted consecration to the service of God.
The rightness of God's claims is beyond dispute among His own people; and so it ought to be recognized as our absolute duty to yield fully to those claims. The feeling of every professed servant of Christ ought to be, nay, surely is, 'I am not my own; I am bought with a price: I should "therefore glorify God in my body and soul, which are God's"'.
Whilst, however, in so many words all this is acknowledged, when it comes to practically facing the question, with its personal responsibility, how few there are who respond to the claims of the Master, rendering Him that out-and-out devotion of which we hear and speak.
Of a consecration that consists in attending Holiness Meetings, singing hymns, and uniting in prayers full of the most sublime sentiment, we have an abundance. With eyes closed and hands upraised, many vow that henceforth they will live, not unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again; but when the Meetings are over, the surroundings changed, and the actual duty presents itself, how much of this consecration is found to be mere sentiment, for 'as the early cloud and morning dew' so it passeth!
1. Now, let it be understood that real consecration is a practical thing. I have a saying, which cannot be repeated too often—'that which I give away I no longer have'. If we can only persuade people to recognize that truth, and make their consecration on these lines, something practical will follow.
Men like to say, 'I am the Lord's!' but when the Lord wants to make practical use of His own, Oh, what backwardness to obey! What slowness of speech on the part of the tongue that was professedly given to the Lord! What weariness of body will sometimes be found when that body is demanded by the Master for some special service! A dumb devil seems to take possession of the tongue, and the fear of man brings a snare, and all this often results in a shameful compromise. The fact is, much of the popular consecration means, 'Everything in general and nothing in particular'—mere words, clouds without water, leaves without fruit—and the world is little better for the vows that have been made.
We may want to follow Jesus without denying ourselves; but He says plainly that we cannot. If any man will deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Christ, he, and he only, shall be a true disciple.
Real, true consecration is a plain, matter-of-fact piece of business; sublime, not so much because of the character of the work it does, as because of the constraining love that is the motive and the results flowing from it. The beautiful halo and glamour clinging round our vows and prayers and songs during a Meeting, are gratifying to our senses; but real consecration manifests itself in hard, self-denying labour, when no eye but His sees; often, perhaps, when no heart but His appreciates, and no voice but His commends. The halo no longer seen, the glamour no longer felt, the soul steps forward and meets its duty, and, in the strength of God, does it: that is the consecration which tells for God and the Kingdom.
2. Let us also understand that real consecration is an 'all-round' thing. Many recognize the claims of God in great things, but are not so particular in the ordinary matters of everyday life.
I recall a young man, who, in private Meetings, and on the platform, would go into rhapsodies as he spoke of his love for a perishing world, and his intense desire to be sent on some great mission. I spoke to him of the hundreds of recklessly godless men with whom he daily associated at his work, and who lived round about his house, and asked him what he did in reference to these. Need I tell you how suddenly this man collapsed? He did not think that consecration meant such a commonplace thing as being faithful in the ordinary duties and walks of life, for I had inquired as to what happened when the men gathered for meals or conversation in the intervals of work.
Does it seem to some of you an evidence of entire consecration that we stand on platforms and lead Meetings, or are doing some work which draws other eyes towards us in appreciation of—what is deemed—untiring devotion? Well, I trust that the appearance does not go beyond the spirit of the business; but I tell you, the real test lies elsewhere. It shows itself in such an abandonment to God and the interests of the Kingdom, that no duty is felt too small or trifling. The man is not found saying, 'I'll do this', or 'I won't do that', and 'that doesn't matter'; but whatsoever his hand findeth to do, he does with his might, and does it unto the Lord.
Be not deceived, my friends. Consecration in great things will not atone for neglect in smaller and more trifling matters, and that only is a perfect consecration which is real and all round in its application. In little things and great things self is to be denied, ignored, and God and His glory to be the one end from attaining which the consecrated soul never swerves.
Let this be faced at the commencement, and it will save endless controversy later on. It is because so many do not take all this in at the beginning, that disappointments come, and very often breakdowns. Let your consecration take in all time and circumstances, and remember that the soul's responsibility is only limited by its opportunities. 'All for Jesus' should mean 'nothing left out'.
3. Whole-hearted consecration is a joyous thing. I don't know how the delusion has become so popular that entire devotion to the service of God means melancholy and sadness, and irksome duties and burdens. It may have only come by a roundabout road, but it is a doctrine of the Devil, who is a liar from the beginning, and the fully consecrated soul hurls the lie back to its father, proclaiming, with a heart full of gladness, 'I delight to do Thy will, my God'; 'My meat and my drink is to do the will of my Father', and 'His fruit is sweet to my taste'.
Singleness of purpose and simplicity of intention soon clear discontent and unhappiness out of a man's heart. When the soul has cut loose from all self-considerations, and has put an end to such wretched questions as, 'Will it pay to follow the Master?' or such thoughts as, 'If I give myself fully to God, perhaps I shall have to suffer the loss of many things I hold dear; people will be down upon me, and chaff me, and, perhaps, persecute me; and, besides, I really do want to make a little money for myself and my family, and I must not be righteous over-much'; when, I say, men or women have cast aside all such thoughts, and come to the determination to live for God and for God alone, then indeed are they freed from many things which cause sadness and bitterness. It is the double-minded who are strangers to true lasting joy and peace.
The great sorrows of most lives spring from disappointed ambitions, covetousness, or from love of praise, fear of man, or similar things; but when this life of selfishness is crucified, and a man is alive only unto God, none can deprive him of that which he most values. Whilst others may be saying, 'We know thy poverty', he hears the Lord say, 'But thou art rich'. Christ has been revealed to him as a living Friend, and though by the outward eye he sees Him not, 'yet believing, he rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory'.
Do you remember what John said about that white stone which will be given to him that overcometh? It had 'written in it a new name which no man knoweth save he who receiveth it'. The joy of whole-hearted service for God is like that; no man really understands it save he who possesses it, but of its reality thousands daily testify.
Are you fully consecrated? Not after the fashion we spoke of at the beginning, but practically, and in a whole-hearted, all-round way? Have you settled it to go all lengths for God? If not, 'I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies—yourselves—a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service'.
'That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.'. (1 John i. 3.)
My mind and heart have been dwelling upon that sweet word 'fellowship'. We all know what it means in ordinary social intercourse—it means acquaintance, friendship, communion of spirit, interchange of thought and feeling. But I want you to see that all this marks the fellowship prevailing between the Lord and His sanctified saints.
There is a chorus we sometimes sing, which expresses something of what I mean:—
_Friendship with Jesus,_ Fellowship Divine; Oh, what blessed, sweet communion, Jesus is a Friend of mine!_
I have been reflecting on this principle as it works itself out in the current everyday life of the sanctified. I will not now try to exhaust all the wonderful things in the vision which has come to me in relation to this matter, for I really could not explain to you all that has been in my mind and heart, but the thing has come to me somewhat in this fashion:—
1. First of all, I have thought of the fellowship of Salvation. That may sound rather low down for a Holiness Meeting, and yet that is just where true fellowship began, so far as I was concerned. There had to be a co-operation, a uniting of God and myself before my soul could be saved at all. Two words were in my mind—'He' and 'I'; He doing His part, and I doing my part. His heart; my heart; His approaches to me by the power and influence of His Holy Spirit; my approaches to Him. Jesus died; I believed. He called; I answered. He gave; I accepted. I trusted, and Jesus saved me.
I want you to see what I mean, because it was that union of the Lord Jesus Christ and my own heart which brought life, and light, and peace to my soul. My Salvation life began at that point, and I was able to say, as we often sing:—
'Tis done, the great transaction's done, I am my Lord's, and He is mine; He drew me, and I followed on, Charmed to confess the Voice Divine.
2. Then, pursuing this line, my reflection brings me up to this: there is a fellowship of love. 'He loved me, and He gave Himself for me'. We love Him because He first loved us. So, you see, our relationship has been built up, and is to be built up, upon that double plank. It is all in that. I do not suppose there is anybody in this Hall who does not know something of the power of love. You not only know the power of loving, but the sweetness of being loved. I am not quite sure which is the better side of the two, but they are two beautiful sides of fellowship.
Do we not see it in our family life? At any rate, I do. I can speak for myself in this matter because my family always has been a very affectionate one, and this loving and expressing our love to one another has brought us very close together. I think about the children. I go back to the time when they were little, and remember how they would climb upon my knee, and how they used to press their little faces against mine, and their little hearts, as it were, against my breast; and how, with more feeling than their words could express, they used to say, Dadda, papa, father, you are a dear! I do love you!' You would readily imagine what I should say back to them.
It has been just the same with my wife. She has sweetened my life very much with her expressions of love. She has done it by responding to my appeals, and by sharing my sorrows and joys. And I have no doubt that were she here to speak for herself, she would say she has equally felt the force and sweetness of my expressions of affection during the many years we have loved and lived together.
I have only told you these things because I want you to see that the fellowship of love is just as real between the Lord Jesus Christ and the soul that is set upon Him, as it is in these sacred human relationships.
3. Then there is the fellowship of service. Now, it follows that, if we are fully saved, we are and we should be workers together with God, not simply going out on 'our own', as you young people say sometimes, trying to do people good; but really, if it is as it ought to be, your relations are expressed in those words, 'We are workers together with God'.
There are several particulars about that fellowship of service which I want you to note. For instance, there is the union of purpose. You cannot have fellowship with God in service without a union of purpose. Are you in for that? Perhaps it may give my words a closer application if I glance at two or three references: 'For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil'. Are you in union with Him for that purpose? There is the reason round about us, plain and visible enough.
Take another: 'To this end came I into the world that I might bear witness of the truth'. Are you in union with Him in that witness-bearing? I assure you there is a great need of it.
Take still another: 'As the Father hath sent Me, even so'—that is a very powerful little link—'even so send I you'. There is not only the sender and the one sent, but the same purpose in both minds.
There is the unity of effort; that is, being yoked together for the work. It is a beautiful thing to be yoked with loving comrades in service, so that when there is a difficulty to face, some burden to be carried, or something to be moved, then you can go in for a good pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together. But this fellowship with Christ really means having Jesus Christ as a yoke-fellow in your work for God; that as you are not your own, you are not left to yourselves, but find that He is yoked up with you, and when the pull comes it is pulling together—He pulls and you pull.
4. Then this service sometimes goes so far as to become the fellowship of suffering. Jesus Christ could only redeem men by the sacrifice of Himself. There was no other way, and if He had not done that man would not have been redeemed, and the whole world would have remained under the ban of condemnation and without hope. It is on the same track that we must work out our union with Him in the service of God and humanity.
When I was meditating on this Divine union a picture imaged itself before my mind. The scene was a prison in Rome, where was seated a prisoner for Christ's sake; his name was Paul. During a visit to Rome they showed me the place where this was supposed to have occurred. There is Paul, in this prison-cell, writing a letter which he wants to send by one who, having visited him in prison, is now returning to his own people at Philippi.
The prisoner is reviewing his life. He writes that he was well-born, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and that he became very zealous, and persecuted the Christians until the Lord met him and converted him. He went on, 'But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.... That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.' And on the same page of his letter Paul says: 'Brethren, be followers together of me'. It is one of the plainest things which the Bible and Christian history confirm, that the union of service does very often include the fellowship of suffering.
5. The last feature of this relationship which I want to name is fellowship of victory and glory. Thank God, we are in for that fellowship!
We all know that a great victory will crown our Blessed Lord's sacrificial life and service; that the great Victor over death and the grave shall not only see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, but as He sits upon His throne there will be many crowns of glory. But the blessedness of that knowledge is the fact that if we suffer with Christ we are also to reign with Him—glorified together—not only workers and victors, but 'more than conquerors'. We are to sit down among that company who are able to say that they overcame by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony. We may have to go on with the service and suffering, but we know that we shall be transformed into His blessed likeness, and be sharers of His glory.
Salvation, love, service, victory, glory! These are the things which we share with our Lord, and that is what I mean by Divine fellowship.
I do not think, however, I can leave this soul-entrancing vision of fellowship without specially indicating how men may enter into it. How shall I do this? By reading to you these words from the First Epistle of John: 'This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, 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.' Who shall participate in the joy of this experience? The people who walk in the light; the people who are cleansed from all sin in the Blood of Jesus.
'Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.' (Jeremiah xxix. 13.)
The words of Jeremiah in their relation to God are very appropriate for men and women in whose hearts there is any longing after personal Holiness. Look at them: 'Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart'. I like this word, because it turns our minds to the true and only source of light and life and power. We speak of seeking and getting the blessing; but, in reality, the object is to find God, and that deliverance and blessing which can be secured only from Him.
In our prayers and songs we express a great fact when we say, 'Thy gifts, alas! cannot suffice unless Thyself be given'.
Less than Thyself, Oh, do not give, In might Thyself within me live, Come, all Thou hast and art.
I want to make it plain that Holiness is an aspect of religion in which the personality of God is very real. We must find God, and have Him possessing and dwelling within us if we are to live the life and do the work which Full Salvation implies. To realize this Divine union is as essential as to experience the forgiveness of sin. We must know God as well as worship Him, and the text I have read indicates to us that the discovery of a personal God belongs to the heart: 'Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart'.
God's power displayed in Nature may be perceived by the eye, the ear, and other organs of the senses. On the lines of the Psalmist, we may walk out at night, and consider the heavens the work of His fingers, and exclaim, 'All Thy works praise Thee'; 'The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork'. The mind also by reflection and deduction may clothe the Creator with attributes or qualities of character, such as Almighty skill and benevolence; but 'spiritual things are spiritually discerned'; and it is only when God reveals Himself to the heart that He is truly known as a personal Father, Friend, and Saviour.
To the formal religionist or the casual dealer in pious phrases and occasional prayers, these revelations do not come. It is when the heart is set upon finding God that realizing faith makes—
The clouds disperse, the shadows fly, The invisible appears in sight, And God is seen by mortal eye.
We urge men and women to thus seek God, because He alone can meet their need; He alone can save after the fashion that they need a Saviour; He alone, having forgiven, can break the power of sin, and cleanse from natural impurity.
But the real trouble with some is that they do not seek Full Salvation with that full purpose of heart which the prophet's words imply. In a sense they want the blessing, but I fear they do not want it enough to make them put their whole heart into seeking God's sanctifying power.
Turn to the Garden of Gethsemane, on that final night when certain men came to take Jesus. When they fain would have included and taken others, His words, you remember, were, 'If ye seek Me, let these go their way'. Now, may I not reasonably apply these words to some who regularly attend our Meetings, but do not obtain the blessing? You are holding on to things about which it requires no stretch of imagination to hear Christ say, 'If ye seek Me, let these go their way'. He desires to be your Saviour and Sanctifier, but cannot until you drop the things which hinder and which come between you and Him.
Some of these things may not be positively evil in themselves, but they are associated with things which are evil or questionable; doubtful pursuits, questionable friendships or conduct. Do you care enough about God and Holiness to drop all such? Some have not done so up to the present, and it is about these very things which hinder that Jesus says to you, 'If ye seek Me, let these things go'.
Then, again, some have not found God as a perfect Sanctifier, because their minds are not fully made up as to the lines of service and duty. The general meaning of our various topics may be put thus, 'Holiness, and what comes out of it'. Not simply spiritual blessings as an inward experience, but a gift to be lived out in daily toil and effort to spread the Kingdom. We must have that or our teaching will be rightly regarded as 'goody-goody', and be of little real use.
A very fine young woman, on the occasion of my visit to a certain town, offered herself as a Candidate for Army Officership. Hearing that the case did not mature, I inquired a little later, from an Officer who had seen her, what the difficulty was, and he repeated to me the explanation she had given him: 'Well, Colonel, I have changed my mind; I have left The Army and become a Christian'. That seems a strange putting of the position; but I fear that it was with her, as with some of you who have sought to dodge the cross, escape the toil, and evade the testimony, the sacrifice, and the service which are indispensable to the maintenance of Holiness. Instead of trying to escape from duty as it is revealed to us from day to day, our hearts should be tuned up to the idea in the song, which says—
For thee delightfully employ What e'er Thy bounteous grace hath given; And run my course with even joy, And closely walk with Thee to Heaven.
The central thought of Jeremiah's text is beautifully illustrated in the Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver. Look at this woman's anxious concern and corresponding action; she lights the candle—that is, uses what light she has; she sweeps the house—turns everything over; she searches diligently—keeps at it, not giving up at the first disappointment. Observe also the effect upon herself when her search is successful. Full of satisfaction she calls in her neighbours and friends—'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost'. Loud in her testimony, she delights in making her blessing known. You see, this woman so valued the piece of silver, that she gave herself up to the search for it, and nothing satisfied her until she found it. When men appreciate the importance of having a clean heart and the blessing of God like that, they will not seek long without result.
There are two or three things implied in this whole-hearted search after God which need to be emphasized. Of these I will name, first, intensity of desire. There are blessings that come like God's rain and sunshine, sought or unsought; but no man ever got a clean heart who did not badly want it; and if God is to sanctify and keep you in the enjoyment of the blessing, your heart will have to be moved by strong desire.
Jesus put it clearly when He talked about 'hungering and thirsting'. Even prayer, without strong desire, does not accomplish much. 'What things soever ye desire'; it is that which gives intensity to your prayers, as well as 'believing that ye receive'. The Psalmist's words are equally fitting—'As the hart panteth after the water brooks'—as the hunted deer longs for the stream—'so panteth my soul after Thee, O God'. That means more than a contention for the doctrine, more than a sentimental admiration of Holiness. It implies the deep stirrings of conviction, the heart moved by strong cravings, the crying out, 'Oh, that I might find Him whom my soul desireth'!
This whole-hearted seeking the blessing also implies fullness of intention. How often I have spoken of the relation of the will; the choice, the setting of the mind in strong purpose, the decision—'I ought, I must, I will secure God's sanctifying blessing'; all this counts for much. People speak of their desires and hopes, but how slow they are to make up their minds that, at all costs, they will seek and find a Saviour, by whose power they shall be fully delivered, and kept in purity and fellowship with God. I like those Bible words about 'sincerity', 'following the Lord fully', 'cleaving unto Him with full purpose of heart', for it is to people in that state of mind that God reveals Himself.
Finally, compliance with God's conditions is included in whole-heartedly seeking Holiness. The revealed conditions of entire Sanctification have often been stated, but may be repeated once more: a turning from all things known to be evil or doubtful; a full surrender and dedication of ourselves to God's service; and a simple trust in the all-cleansing Blood of Jesus Christ.
The real tests are different with different people, but all who seek this blessing must face God's conditions, and pay the price by complying with them, not only as I have stated the conditions in general terms, but as the Holy Spirit reveals them to each one personally. To one it is, 'Do this', to another 'Do that'; 'Give up this', or 'Give up that'; 'Trust Me for this', 'Trust Me for that'. But all who cast themselves fully into God's hands, letting Him have His own way with them, shall find the truth of Jeremiah's message, 'Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart'.
The Doctrine Adorned
'But shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.' (Titus ii. 10.)
Those of us who are specially interested in this great work often seek for plans by which the knowledge and enjoyment of a Full Salvation may be extended. I think I have found a good plan for helping the Kingdom forward, and I see it in this little sentence which Paul wrote to Titus: 'That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things'.
When I say that is a plan for spreading Salvation, I mean simply this: as there is nothing which commends an apple-tree so much as the sight of the ripened fruit hanging from the branches, so nothing sets people longing for Holiness like the living exhibition of it.
First of all, I want you to see the force of that little word 'adorn'. In speaking about adornment we usually mean something more than necessary dress. The word in our minds usually expresses the idea of clothing or covering, with the addition of decorations or ornaments.
If you fathers and mothers ask your boy or girl the meaning of the word, they will probably turn to the dictionary, and tell you something like this: 'To "adorn" is to set off to advantage, to add to the attractiveness, to beautify, to decorate as with ornaments'. Now that is exactly what the Apostle meant, and the application is that you and I must set off to advantage, add to the attractiveness of the Gospel which we profess to believe.
Jesus Christ meant that when He said, 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works'—and be so influenced that they shall 'glorify your Father which is in Heaven'. That also was the idea in Paul's mind in that verse to the Philippians, 'Shine as lights', or luminaries, 'in the world'.
Will you also look at that word 'doctrine'? It is not an acceptable word at public meetings, generally implying some system of theology, some stated creed, some definition of religious belief. But whilst that may be the general application, the Apostle had no such idea in his mind when he wrote these words.
He was now writing about persons many of whom were of very humble position, servants in the houses of the ungodly, often mere slaves in some pagan household. They had never heard about formulated creeds or theologies, but they did understand the duty of living up to their profession. They knew the importance of showing in their daily lives the power of the things which they believed, and thus commending their religious faith and teaching to all observers.
There are people who know very little of what you call 'the body of doctrine', who yet in all simplicity hold the truth of God, and live up to it. Tens of thousands have crossed the River who could never give you a definition of any doctrine; but they accepted the simple truths in their hearts, were ornaments to their profession, and are now in Glory.
Now take the two words together—'adorn' and 'doctrine'—and then you will see your duty.
There are many doctrines to which this duty of adorning may be made to apply. I might talk to you about the doctrine relating to God's government, and bring in the truth about His good guiding providence. We profess to believe in that. But the question is, Does your regular practice, your daily trust, your hourly following and accepting what God's providence sends you, adorn the doctrine?
Then I might also speak to you about the doctrine of prayer and its result. Surely you believe that God 'hears and answers prayer'. But can you say that your life of faith and victory is such that all who know you believe it, because they see you living a life of faith and victory such as can only come to the men and women whose prayers God does answer? That is, do you adorn the doctrine?
For the present purpose, however, I want to apply the principle to the doctrine of Holiness. The great object of these Addresses is to help men and women into the enjoyment of the blessing of Holiness. We hear about that; sing about that; most of you believe in it, and some of you proclaim it; but do you know what is really wanted? It is that you shall so manifest the spirit of Holiness, give such illustrations of it as to adorn the truth, and make people around you say, 'We are bound to believe the doctrine when we look at these people, for they live the blessing'.
You cannot but know what we teach as the doctrine of Holiness. Our trumpet has no uncertain sound. We not only talk about the pardoning mercy of God, but about the all-cleansing Blood of Jesus Christ. We not only point out how the rebel can be transformed into a child, but we show how a man's heart can be made pure, and his nature renewed by the indwelling Spirit. Delivered from the love of sin and from its pollution in his heart, he can be kept from sin and sinning, and be enabled to rejoice evermore, to pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks.
A clean heart, filled with love, possessed and directed by the Holy Ghost—that is the experience which we call Holiness, and the truth which we are exhorted to adorn.
Only think what a recommendation of the doctrine it would be if you all adorned the truth, and showed in your daily lives the power to live in that Holiness and righteousness of which I am speaking.
I am not now asking whether you have an intelligent comprehension of the doctrine, or that you should say what is possible, and what is not. Some of you could probably define the blessing as well as I can; but your duty is not simply to define or defend or explain Holiness, but to adorn the teaching, give exhibitions of it, make everybody see what it means in living flesh and blood amidst the hurly-burly of life.
1. And now, what are the means by which you and I can fulfil this exhortation of Paul? First, you can adorn the doctrine by personal testimony. Personal testimony, coming from the heart, is always good and helpful; that is, to be able to say about any definite experience, 'Oh, glory! He has done it for me!' But this is especially valuable about a clean heart, and in relation to a Full Salvation.
When I was a boy I sometimes heard the doctrine of Entire Sanctification discussed over pipes and ale; but those discussions, which were merely theological disputes, had little or no relation to the personal experience of the people who were debating and contending and losing their tempers over the doctrine, and so it made no impression on me. Years after, my own heart was awakened, and desires arose in my soul. I began to search for the truth about it, and to listen for references to it, and most of all to rejoice if I could find or hear a clear testimony about it, for then I saw the possibility of the blessing for myself.
I frequently throw my Meetings open for testimony, because I know the helpful power of such words. Sometimes the wording may be a little upside down, or some qualifying term be left out, or some exaggerating word put in; but in spite of all, great is the power of testimony to encourage other hearts.
I fear, however, that many people are silent who ought to speak, and I touch some very closely when I say that owing to this silence the power of your experience has declined and become like a faded flower or a moth-eaten garment, and then when you would fain speak you find the assurance about the blessing has waned. My word, therefore, to you is, first of all get the blessing, then at every suitable opportunity, profess it openly and boldly for God, and by your happy testimony you will adorn the doctrine of Holiness.
2. Again, you can adorn the doctrine by your consistent living. To profess one thing and practise another is a blot on the profession, and a despicable thing. What I may call mere Meeting piety, platform or parlour Holiness, will not stand the weather. It is too much like the painted sparrows sold as canaries—the paint comes off and the real nature of the bird is revealed. For instance, how can you ornament the truth if, after testifying here, you go out to gossip and slander and injure your neighbour? The word lived out is more powerful than its mere repetition. The teaching may be good and powerful, the testimony still more so; but the evidence of the life and spirit is the most powerful of all.
I heard somebody tell a story about a man who was too pious to shave himself on Sunday, and yet he was pretty keen during the other six days trying, in his business, to 'shave' other people. I hope you are not among that sort.
If you want to adorn this doctrine, there must be the beauties of a happy, consistent character and life, otherwise it goes for nothing.
I do not ask the adornment of education, nor the polish of culture, so-called; neither do I ask a sanctimonious attitude; I only claim from you professors of the blessing the beauties of grace in your personal character and conduct. The endorsement of the lip by the life is only equalled by the discount to the teaching caused by some inconsistent action or unfaithfulness in the teacher or professor. An angry word, even a flash of the eye, has been known to take the point off some well-given talk or testimony. A lack of kindly consideration, which looks like selfish indulgence, is not easily atoned for, even by illuminating speeches. As one has said, 'The words ever go to the level of the life—up or down'.
Talking about Holiness has small effect unless it is to be seen in your disposition, in your ordinary life, in your loving consideration for other people, or in your patient endurance of injury, real or imaginary. Without that your profession of Holiness is mere talk without adorning.
3. You must also adorn the doctrine by your zeal for God and souls. Holiness means the possession of the Christ-spirit, the passion for saving others, with reasonable efforts to secure what you seek.
When God sanctifies your soul He makes a great inward light; the purpose is not to be your own selfish enjoyment, but that you may be better qualified as a minister of blessing and Salvation to the poor dark souls around you. The love of souls is an essential feature of inward Holiness, and if this is exhibited in practical effort you will adorn your profession and compel people to believe in your doctrine.
There is just one other word of importance in that verse, 'that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour'. I mean the word, 'Saviour'. I am so glad that is there to meet those who say, 'Ah! you talk about adornments, but I am distressed because I see so many things about me that disfigure and discredit the doctrine'. You feel that you need a power which can give deliverance from the worldly spirit, the light and frivolous disposition, bad tempers, resentments, and other selfish and sinful things which hold you more or less in bondage; but in that beautiful word, 'Saviour', you have a pledge, a guarantee that it can be made all right, for He is able to deliver you and save you fully.
'The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.' (Isaiah xxxii. 17.)
One reason why I glory in teaching Full Salvation is that it includes a religion of certainty. It brings a man to a place of sureness as to his religious relationships. A soul just awakened to a sense of responsibility is naturally full of wonderment and anxiety, and this must be disposed of. So that when we speak of a man obtaining Salvation, we say 'he found peace'.
Doubt is torment, and torment is the opposite of peace. The soul cannot rest if it is perpetually on the string. To enjoy religion the mind must be settled about the main facts of the case; there must be a feeling of sureness as to one's acceptance with God and His approval of our spiritual condition.
We have a wily old Devil to deal with, and I believe that nothing gives him more malicious delight than to get sincere souls into the bondage of fear as to their state and standing. I believe many sincere souls hesitate to claim the blessing, and say they have it, because they are afraid of deluding themselves or deceiving others by their testimonies.
Afraid to do right for fear of doing wrong, they go on, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, falling into discouragement and doubt, and allowing the Devil to get an advantage over them in this respect.
Now, we cannot dispute the fact that in the experiences of good people there are many points of difference. Temptations, surroundings, position, and work are the cause of these differences. But in the midst of all, there is the possibility and blessed privilege of being sure about one's own rightness before God.
I saw a reference the other day to Charles Spurgeon's method of treating this matter. He showed how disturbing and distressing it would be if, in our domestic life, we had elements of uncertainty such as many people have in regard to their spiritual relationships.
After quoting the old verse:—
'Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought; Do I love the Lord or no, Am I His or am I not?
Mr. Spurgeon made a humorous parody of the verse by making it read:—
'Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought; Do I love my wife or no, Am I hers or am I not?
Uncertainty about our religious condition is quite as unsatisfactory as any doubt about our most sacred domestic relationships. Sureness is vital to peace, and the truly sanctified soul will live in the region of certainty, Divine things and Divine revelations becoming definite and real to him. Temptations to doubt and fear will arise; but, in spite of them, those who are sanctified realize that the Blood cleanses and the Holy Spirit dwells within.
I will not ask whether you have any religion or not, because most of you are professors of religion, but I do ask, Has your religion got this element of 'sureness' in it? We must settle that point. You may say, 'If I am to be sure, I must have evidence'. Quite so. We will, therefore, glance together at several things about which you can either say, 'It is so', or 'It is not so', and thus arrive at a reasonable conclusion as to where you are. I will classify the evidence in this way:—
First, there is the testimony of one's own consciousness, or one's own spirit, as Paul puts it.
Second, there is the testimony of the Spirit of God—the Holy Ghost.
Third, there will be the results manifest to ourselves and to others; effects which testify just as reliably as the hanging fruit indicates the character and condition of any particular tree.
1. By the first class of evidence I do not mean a set of fanciful sensations, or frames of feeling, but such an exercise of our judgment, when we examine the facts before us, as will enable us to come to a sound and reasonable conclusion.
The witness of one's own spirit is largely a matter of consciousness and faith, and it works like this: 'I am not only conscious of God's revealed claims upon me, and my own duty to Him; but, as far as I understand, I have put myself in line with what He wants me to be and do. For instance, I am told that whilst God will sanctify me I am able to sanctify myself. I therefore ask, "Have I so far co-operated with Him as to come out and separate myself from evil?" If I am right I can say, "Yes, I have"; and as a further evidence of my sincerity I seek to abstain from all appearance of evil.'
I am also commanded to present myself for practical and joyful service, and I am told that I must believe such a sacrifice is acceptable because whatever touches the Divine altar is holy. Now, I can be quite sure as to my compliance with these demands, and my willingness to live as a sanctified soul ought to live. I know whether or not in these things I have done my part; and, if I know that I have, I can then reasonably trust God or reckon on Him to do His part. That is what Paul calls 'a good conscience toward God', and there is no presumption in such a conclusion.
If we turn to John's Epistle we shall see how plainly he puts the truth about assurance. 'If', says the Apostle, 'our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things'; but 'if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God'. Without this conscious sincerity it is useless to pray for the blessing, for God cannot sanctify us whilst we are clinging to any known wrong or compounding with some doubtful habit or folly. If, on the other hand, we are conscious that we have no reserves, and accept by faith the cleansing Blood as the cure for our heart's plague, we may with all reasonableness say, 'I have the testimony of my own spirit'.
2. Let us look at the second class of evidence, namely, the testimony of the Spirit of God—the assurance of the Holy Ghost.
If we are to be quite certain about the important things in relation to the soul, we must have the expression of God's mind and approval. Nothing is made clearer in the Apostolic writings than the fact that it is our blessed privilege to have this Divine testimony. Paul not only tells us that 'the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God', but speaks of the marvellous manifestations of God in saved souls in subsequent revelations: 'We have received the Spirit, which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.'
On first thought we might say, perhaps, that the gift would speak for itself. But the Lord goes beyond that by giving us not only the blessing itself, but also the Spirit to assure us that we have got the blessing. John is on the same line when he says repeatedly about those spiritual blessings, 'we know', 'we know that we know', and the secret of sureness is made clear, 'we know by the Spirit which He hath given unto us'.
When we speak of the witness of the Spirit, either to our conversion or our sanctification, we do not mean some audible voice or some miraculous demonstration, but an inwrought conviction as to the correctness of our words when, in all sincerity, and to the glory of God, we profess to have arrived at a certain point, or obtained a certain blessing. It is a conviction which removes doubt, and satisfies the soul on the question. The mode of this—the way in which the Holy Ghost does it—may be quite beyond our comprehension; but the fact is there, as far beyond dispute as with the assurance of the blind man, who said, 'This one thing I know, that whereas once I was blind, now I see'.
3. Then I also used the word 'results', as indicating a class of evidence without which all other professed experiences are but passing sentiments and sensations. In the character and life there must be results in the shape of those holy fruits of which I have so frequently spoken.
In a sense often described, and well understood, every child of God becomes at conversion the temple of the Holy Ghost; we are born of the Spirit; enlightened by the Spirit; our spiritual life is sustained by the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are therefore manifest in a greater or lesser degree, but the advantage to the entirely sanctified is that not only is the fruit-bearing power increased, but fruits of an opposite character are absent. In other words, the fully sanctified man is 'filled with the Spirit'. The fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, are abundant in him.
To illustrate my meaning, take one passage relating to that spiritual fruit described by the word love. 'We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.' Now, of course, that comes into operation at conversion; but in the fully sanctified this is love without admixture, pure love, without any feeling opposed to love. We can soon test ourselves. Think of love in the forgiveness of injury; the love which 'thinketh no evil', 'envieth not', the love which 'worketh no ill to his neighbour'. Where does grudge-bearing, backbiting, or uncharitableness come in? Pride, passion, self-assertion, and such things belong not to the results of sanctification; the opposites are found in those who bring forth 'fruits unto Holiness'.
I heard a good woman quote a passage with an application of her own which is true in point of fact, even if not the precise meaning of the original writer. 'Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them.' She meant, literally, that, however she might be pained by the words or actions of those about her, she would not be 'offended'. This is a pretty high class of result, for nothing is more common than the readiness to take offence. But this refusal to take offence is, with the other fruits, clear proof that the heart and life are sanctified. So I might work out this law of results. These samples will, however, indicate my line of teaching.
Now, coming back to my thought at the beginning—the necessity for 'Sureness' in regard to religion, and especially in the experience of Holiness—let me ask, Where are we found? Have the testings confirmed that certainty of heart, or have my words disturbed self-satisfaction? Do not be afraid of facing the direct issue. If you have the evidences referred to, then be sure to go about proclaiming what God has done. But if not, then this unsatisfied and unsatisfactory condition cannot be persisted in when the Fountain which cleanses is open for all, and when the Holy Spirit is here to apply the Blood, and to take full possession of every soul. Let this be the hour when you come to the altar round which the cleansing stream so freely flows.
The Pathway of the Holy
' An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness.' (Isaiah xxxv. 8.)
One would think that Isaiah was speaking of two separate roads, for his prophetic eye sees 'a highway and a way' along which the course of God's people runs.
Perhaps we may interpret the prophet's distinction as referring to the higher and lower paths along some of the roadways in the Holy City; but he makes it quite plain that the course of the truly godly may be correctly described as 'The way of Holiness'.
Nobody here would like to say there are two separate roads to Heaven, but as we note the lives and experiences of many Christian professors it really does appear that there are two levels on which they run their various religious courses—one the lower, the other the higher path; one lying oft in shadow, the other up in the open sunshine of Heaven; one largely a profession of faith and repeated religious observances, the other full of rich experiences and realizations of God's favour and spiritual gifts.
Some people appear to step up and down according to seasons and inclinations, when, for instance, Holiness Conventions and Higher Life Conferences are on or off—like the man we heard testifying, who thanked God that he had had no ins and outs, but admitted many ups and downs. We want to help you to walk in what Isaiah calls 'The way of Holiness', or in modern terms, the pathway of the holy.
There are three things about a way. There is a beginning; a finishing place; and the course between the two points.
This pathway of the holy may be said to have its beginning at the cleansing Fountain; it finishes, if it finishes at all, amid the glories of the Heavenly World; but between these two points lies the road which must be trodden, the journey which has to be made.
We often dwell upon that moment where the soul, by an act of submission and trust, enters upon the highway, or 'gets the blessing', as we say; but Holiness is, after all, a state, a continuous experience, a set course or way in life where the will of the Lord is supreme, and the full-hearted love of God is the great moving force. It is in that course and along that path that you and I ought to travel continually.
We like testimonies from any who are in the way, but we appreciate and are helped still more by the words of those who have walked on in patient faith and obedience for long periods. Reading lately the life of William Bramwell, I was encouraged by his testimony as to obtaining the blessing of Holiness and its enjoyment for many long years. But I was the more delighted to find his words supported by his acquaintances, who bore testimony that Bramwell adorned the doctrine so beautifully. Of himself this good man said, 'The Lord came suddenly to His temple, and I had an immediate evidence that this was the blessing; my soul was then all wonder, love, and praise. It is now twenty-six years ago—I have walked in that liberty ever since.' You see, he went on in the way of Holiness because it had become his way of life.
One who was closely associated with this man said, 'I knew him intimately for twenty years. I lived in the same house with him in his seasons of relaxation as well as occupation, but never saw him in such a temper that I could reprove. His soul was like a spring, continually overflowing with the most amiable, benevolent emotion. In his last years, in particular, he was like a shock of corn fully ripe and fit for the heavenly garner, or like a beautiful tree whose vigorous and luxuriant branches were weighted with a diversity of the richest fruit.' Bramwell trod consistently the pathway of the holy, a worthy successor of Enoch, who 'walked with God', and was translated after receiving the testimony that his way pleased God.
I would like to refer to several features of this pathway of the holy which appeal strongly to me.
1. The way of Holiness is a pathway of the purified. The prophet intimates plainly that nothing unclean can pass that way. The hearts of men and women who are to walk there must be washed from their moral defilements. I heard of a good man who said, 'Many years ago the Lord took me out of the mire; some years after, He took the mire out of me'. I think you quite understand his meaning. Sin is a foul, slimy, miry thing, defiling whoever it touches. This must be purged away if you are to walk in the way of Holiness; and it can only be purged by the 'Blood of Jesus Christ which cleanseth us from all sin'.
2. The way of Holiness is a pathway of light and learning. It is a way of advancing knowledge. There is a point where the path commences, when one knows for the first time that the Blood cleanses, and the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in the heart; but each succeeding step brings fuller light, and things unknown are revealed.
Familiar intercourse with God brings deeper realizations and knowledge of Divine and spiritual things, so that yours does indeed become the path of the just 'which shineth more and more unto the perfect day'. As a result, your own heart is enlarged, your spiritual capacities increased, and, growing in grace, you advance in knowledge and favour with God. Those who walk this pathway are they to whom the Lord whispers His secrets, and whose souls He fills with heavenly delights. Oh, that we could induce you to step up from the lower to this higher and better pathway!
Let me give you a note from the personal experience of another of God's saints who walked the higher way, one who habitually lived on that level, and who expressed himself thus: 'Let me say that my spiritual life is no longer like a leaky suction pump, half the time dry, and affording scanty water only by desperate tugging of the handle, but it is like an artesian well of water springing up unto everlasting life. The Scriptures are sweeter than honey. Prayer and praise are a delight, and it is like Paradise regained; the glory of Christ has become the all-absorbing passion of my soul.'
The sanctified life is not only a lengthening of the spiritual experience, but a growth or advance in the knowledge of Divine realities.
3. Then, further, the way of Holiness is a path of duty, not a pathway of ease and indulgence. We can never leave this practical thought out, whatever our topic may be, for Holiness and hard work are inseparable. The eyes being open to see the need, the hand is ever ready to take up its task; and the labour of love being the sweetest of all occupations, work for God and souls becomes a delight.
He who is too holy to work for others will soon step to the lower path. The willing soul will ever be crying, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?' and the answer will come, 'Do this, do that, come here, go there'.
The way of Holiness is not free from temptation and suffering; but, thank God, it can be the way of victory and safety.
Even the ordinary workaday life is full of circumstances which try and tempt and test you. The more you struggle towards living in God's way the more the Devil will attack you. The path which the holy Saviour trod was the way of the cross, and they who follow Him must share the cross-bearing. The ultimate crown is for the overcomer, and not for the untempted one.
Christ leads us through no darker rooms Than He went through before; He who into God's Kingdom comes Must enter by this door.
There is no crown without a previous cross; but with trials and temptations comes the way of escape and victory, 'these light afflictions ... work out an exceeding weight of glory'. The Book says, 'All who will live godly ... shall suffer persecution'. And this will be specially so with those who openly profess and live on the lines of a Full Salvation.
Here is a page from the personal experience of one who was determined to walk the King's highway:—
'Perfect love', he says, 'will not go long untested. For a time I was not called to suffer distinctly for Christ from that hostile spirit which nailed Him to the cross. The lion, however, was not dead, but asleep, and presently he awoke and glared at me. My soul was calm as a summer's evening. When it pleased the Blessed Master that I should suffer reproach and vilification for my testimony, then it was that the river of joy which flows from the Throne flowed through my heart as never before. It was a new experience—a quintessence of joy. The shouts of burning martyrs were no longer a mystery. I stagger no more at the account of the saints who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. My soul is bathed in an ocean of balm and ineffable joy.'
4. But I spoke also of the safety of the way of Holiness. I must speak of that more fully another time, but what I mean is this: So long as you have the remains of sin in your heart you are exposed to a double danger—the enemy without and the responding traitor within. One reason why religion is so unsatisfactory to some people is that they persist in walking on the low level where doubts often spoil their worship and the allurements of the world pull very hard, and its siren song makes discord in their hallelujahs. It is, of course, possible to backslide from any level; but, believe me, the prospect of stability is infinitely greater if you get a clean heart, and determine to walk in the pathway of the holy.
In closing, let me quote a short prayer. David cried: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting'. If, in sincerity and simplicity of intention to follow Christ fully, you offer that prayer, God will not only lead you along the way, but to the Home of the holy.
There are, however, two little notes which you should compare in this connexion. One refers to the passage now before us, 'The way of Holiness'. It is said, 'The unclean shall not pass over it'. The other refers to Heaven, and says, 'There shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth or maketh a lie'. By connecting these two you see that you need to be not only led along the heavenly way, but to be made fit for the heavenly courts; and David's prayer, sincerely offered, brings that fitness—that purity of heart which sees God and delights in the completion of His holy will.
Circumstances and Consequences
'And fears shall be in the way.' (Ecclesiastes xii. 5.)
The man who wrote these words was specially emphasizing the importance of settling one's relationships to the great Creator before the coming of days when infirmities increase, and decay of natural powers sets in. The practical outcome of that thought is, that postponement only adds to one's difficulties when the battle really has to be fought.
Amongst those difficulties the sacred writer places that natural foreboding, physical shrinking and hesitation which paralyse men when, after lives spent in sin and selfish indulgence, they desire to make their peace with God; for, says he, 'They shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way'. The imaginary obstacles which arise in people's minds, seeming to make holy living impossible, are varied in character, but I see that many are influenced by fears and feelings concerning things which I class under the headings of 'Circumstances and Consequences'.
How often, when giving earnest advice, one gets the response, 'My circumstances are against me', 'Placed as I am, it cannot be', or 'The consequences are too serious', 'The price of the blessing is too high'. Even with persons who have no doubt as to the possibility of a clean heart and sanctification of life, these thoughts operate; and we find the fear of circumstances hindering one, and the fear of consequences influencing another, so that they are held back from definitely seeking the blessing. True, in many instances, the idea is a delusion, a snare of the Devil, by which souls are kept out of God's Full Salvation; but, there is the fact—'fears are in the way'.
Fear is like a great magnifying-glass; or one of those mirrors which give a distorted image of things reflected in them. This effect is often produced in persons both as regards their own circumstances and the consequences of following the leadings of God's Spirit.
You may remember how Bunyan, in his 'Pilgrim's Progress', represents Christian desiring to enter the House Beautiful, but suddenly he espied two lions in the way, and was almost frightened out of his purpose until some one told him that, if he went boldly on, and kept in the middle of the path, he need not fear, seeing the lions were securely chained. What an illustration of the quaking fears which hinder definite action in regard to spiritual blessings!
1. A few words as to circumstances may be helpful to some one. Let me, however, first make one thing clear. With some people circumstances exist which are insurmountable barriers; there are positions in the world which could not be held by a fully sanctified person any more than fire can be carried in a man's bosom and he not be burned; situations involving the practice of evil or resulting in gain through the unjust sufferings of others. Such positions must be given up, if men wish to enjoy God's sanctifying power. I am not, however, dealing now with such positions or the circumstances connected with them; I am referring to circumstances or conditions of life which are lawful in themselves and in the light of the Word of God, but which may present difficulties and involve serious trial to those determined to live purely and serve God faithfully.
The fear in some instances is that if they obtain the blessing the strain of temptation would be such as to render a fall probable. 'I could not keep the blessing if I got it'; 'If I could change my position, or surroundings, or connexions, then I would take the necessary steps'. These are words we frequently hear. A married man or woman says, 'Ah! if only I were single, then I could live a life of full consecration'. With equal seriousness the single person says, 'Ah! if only I were married, then the life of purity and Holiness would be possible to me'. The mother, fearful about the strain which the care of the children brings, often speaks in the same way. So it is with business relationships and many other matters in which the circumstances are presented as things making Holiness an impossibility.
When I was a young man in business I yearned for a position in which I could be separate from all worldly entanglements, so that I could obtain and enjoy the blessing. But, do you know, since I have been a Salvation Army Officer, I have often been tempted to think that the sanctified life is easier in the circumstances of commercial life, and that if I was so placed the spiritual things would be more appreciated, and I should be able to live nearer to God. You see, it is the same old temptation, 'My circumstances, my conditions of life, my work, my home', and the fear of these things often becomes a snare.
That is a pathetic picture which the Psalmist gives us of these poor Jews by the waters of Babylon, who, when urged to sing the songs of Zion, answered, 'How shall we sing the Lord's songs in a strange land?' Is not that the feeling which bursts from many lips and many more hearts, 'How can you expect me, in my circumstances, to get sanctified and live a holy life?'
But is not that just the point where the triumph of faith comes in? It is there that we see the value of those exceeding great and precious promises by which you are to become a partaker of the Divine nature, and on which your faith is to build. 'As thy days, so shall thy strength be'; 'My God shall supply all your need'; and that includes your need in cleansing, your need in keeping, and your need in blessing adapted to your circumstances. Remember, the Lord is the Master of circumstances, and you must put yours into His hands, and trust Him not only to sanctify you wholly, but to preserve you blameless unto the end. You must trust God to make you equal to your circumstances.
2. But there is that second class of anxious persons to whom I referred: those who are held back by the fear of consequences.
Oh, what crowds of enlightened souls might be walking triumphantly along the King's highway, who are yet tramping on amidst doubts and fears and frequent condemnation, all because they dread the pressure of God's claims upon them, and fear the consequences of making a whole-hearted surrender to Him.
There is another point of view about which I must speak a word in passing. When looking at the consequences of fully yielding to God's claims, and perhaps trembling and hesitating, do you ever think of the results of holding back what you know God wants? Do not forget that there are some consequences of saying 'No' to the Lord. When a child knows his father's wish, but, in answer to a reasonable request, says, 'No', you call it disobedience. Is it not a still more serious thing to be disobedient in the presence of more than a father's love? You must count the cost of that, when resisting the light and influence of God's Spirit.
Surely, you will not choose to be numbered among those who 'knew their Lord's will, but did it not'. In the Gospel story such were 'beaten with many stripes'; that means stripes of loss, stripes of pain, stripes of sorrow, perhaps even stripes of death. If we are to suffer, let it be the result of following Him, rather than the consequence of denying our Lord.
Now, I do not want to mislead anybody, for, of course, there are consequences of surrender and determination to live the holy life; but, unfortunately, these fearful ones look at the wrong side of the list. They think of the separateness from the world involved in a life of Holiness; they think of the cold shoulder which some, even Christian friends, would give them; they think of the toil after souls which the sanctified must maintain; of the money that they may have to give; of the partnership in Christ's sufferings, and other self-denying expressions of devotion to God and the Kingdom. 'Oh, I shall have to wear uniform!' or 'go to the Open-Air', or 'perhaps become an Army Officer', and, as an Officer, 'may have to leave my native land'. The enemy holds these and many similar things before the eyes of a convicted soul, very often magnifying the facts until the word difficulty is changed to impossibility, and, like the young ruler of the Gospel story, they 'go away sorrowful'.
A man came across London to be present at one of our Thursday Meetings. When spoken to by an Officer, he admitted the force of all that had been said, but he found an insurmountable difficulty in his business as a shopkeeper. He saw that the goods on his shelves and sold over the counter were mixed, including what he realized to be bad and damaging to many others. His heart was full of conviction and desire, but anxiety about his wife and family prevented him closing down, while his conscience prevented him selling a business which he knew had wrong and doubtful things connected with it. 'What is wrong for me', he said, 'would be wrong for another'; and so he could not pay the price, and, like the young ruler referred to, he has gone away sorrowful.
In the Meeting of the following week a man came to the table seeking the blessing, and he cried out aloud, 'O Lord, give me a clean heart! Take the malice out which I have had towards these two persons! O Lord, I will go straight to them, and confess, and ask them to forgive me!' Needless to add, the blessing came, and, rejoicing, he went off to his home, fifty miles out of London, to fulfil his word. The contrast between this and the man previously mentioned teaches its own lesson.
Now, it is quite right that seekers of Full Salvation should look at the cost, and count it well; but, Oh, that they would also think of the tremendous balance of joy and peace and blessing which more than makes up for what has to be borne or done or given up! Instead of dim twilight, or hazy doubts or forebodings, the sunshine of the Divine Presence makes all things bright and gladsome. Instead of depending for light and peace on 'suns' which 'go down' and 'moons' which 'withdraw' themselves, the fully sanctified man finds that God has become his 'everlasting light, and the days of his mourning are ended'. As I have said, there will be sacrifice, but there also will be satisfaction; and, as with the mother in regard to her new-born babe, the fully saved soul forgets the suffering and the sacrifice which has been made.
Sometimes we are tempted to look at sacrifice apart from love. I heard Mr. Bramwell Booth say in a Meeting, 'Sacrifice is the flower of love'; and you know full well that things which are otherwise impossible become comparatively easy to true love and faith. Men do not talk about sacrifices when they realize that they have received more—much more—than that which they gave up.