The Beauty Of Holiness Is The Beauty Of Purity
As pure Light is composed of seven colors, so the holiness of the perfect Christian character is composed of a number of distinct and beautiful virtues and purity is not the least among them. “Blessed are the pure in heart. ”
“I wait till he shall touch me clean, Shall life and power impart, Give me the faith that casts out sin And purifies the heart. ”
The purification of the soul from sin’s defilement is a distinct and definite act of God’s grace wrought for the believer. Peter, in Acts 15:9, describing the outflowing of the Spirit in the house of Cornelius, said, “And God which knoweth the hearts bare them witness giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. ”
The mystic writers on the deeper life in God trace the stages whereby the chosen soul is gradually invaded and absorbed by God thus: First, the long climb of purgation when the first renunciation is effected; secondly, the hilltop of supernatural illumination; thirdly, the vale of purging drought when all spiritual life seems withdrawn, and the world loses all of its attachments and all spell of its allurements is broken and no taste for worldly things remain.
Pureness of soul is solely a matter of God’s grace through the precious blood. The question arises, how pure may we become? How clean of sin? To what depths of the soul can purification through the blood go?
Perhaps we cannot do better than present a concrete case of heart purity from the Reflections of Albin Peyron, of France, in which he tells of his complete deliverance from
indwelling sin which took place quite sometime after his notable conversion; his testimony is as follows:
“I can fix precisely the day when kneeling beside a Salvationist who for years had traveled the way of holiness, I had the distinct impression that the Lord had taken from my soul the roots of sin, that He had purified me from all my stains, all my idolatries. I besought Him for this blessing of entire deliverance as I prayed long for the grace of forgiveness. “. The sister who knelt beside me interrupted with: ‘Bless the Lord, because He has granted your prayer. ‘ But ought I not to wait until I realize it before thanking Him for it?”
“No, ” came the answer, “believe that He has given it. This mercy is obtained by faith. ”
“Well, then, ” I cried, “bless thee, my Saviour, be cause thou hast taken sin out of my heart and hast now given me a new heart and a pure heart. ”
“And he did it. He freed me from evil. He made me literally free. That was nine years ago and I can say here to the glory of God that the sin which He took out of my heart has never returned. I do not mean to say that since that time I have never been tempted; on the contrary, I have been the mark of the adversary and attacked far more than before, and at times these attacks have been terrible. But if Satan has come — and he has — he has had nothing in me. The Saviour has removed that inner correspondence with him which formerly existed, that traitor hidden within who opened the gate to the enemy. Satan still prowls around. I must watch. But thanks to God, he prowls around and not within. Jesus guards the gates. ”
It will be noticed in Paul’s writings that he uses some special phrases in setting forth the state of soul purity. He uses negatives namely,
“without offence, ” Acts 24:16;
“Without rebuke, “Phil. 2:15;
“Without blame, ” Eph. 1 :4;
“Free from sin, ” Rom. 6:22.
Let it be remembered sin is cleansed, not outgrown. The remains of depravity must be removed from the soul by faith in the atonement and not supplanted by a new nature. In fact, the weeds will choke the growth of the wheat. The remains of the carnal mind will hinder the development of the spiritual nature. The energies which should be spent in working for Christ are used in watching, and chaining, and keeping the old self subdued and in prison, when he ought to be slain and buried, and then these guards could do active duty for God and humanity. The soul is exhausted in this dreadful struggle with self. The inner poverty and emptiness have no over flowing streams for the thirsty souls of others. Self-environed and self-absorbed, they do not move as a living force, an inspiration and courage to their fellowmen. They need the cleansing of the blood of Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost which always follows, and then they will grow. “Having the hindrances removed, and the vital force of the spiritual organism increased by this Holy Ghost power, they will grow naturally and symmetrically from within and not from accretion without. A few Greek soldiers, concealed within the prodigious horse, which the Greeks made and which the Trojans captured as a prize and took within the city’s gates, opened the gates of Troy to the Greek army, and Troy fell. Traitors within the heart are more to be feared than the foes without. ”
Martin Luther has said:
“The Holiness of common Christianity is this: that the Holy Spirit gives the people faith in Christ and sanctifies them thereby; that is, makes a new heart, soul, body, work, and being and writes the law of God, not on tables of stone, but in fleshly hearts. He sanctifies them, not only by the forgiveness of sin, but also by the laying aside, expelling and destroying of sin. ”
How To Attain Christian Purity
“An error has gained considerable prevalence, and has wrought not a little evil, in relation to this very subject — the faith which brings the sanctifying grace. ”
It has been indiscreetly said, “We are to believe the work is done, and it will be done. “Persons seeking the blessing have been told that they must believe they are sanctified, and they will be sanctified. What a misfortune that so great, so dangerous an error should be taught in connection with so important a subject! What a manifest absurdity! Making our sanctification to depend upon the belief of an untruth; namely, a belief that it is now wrought, in order that it may be wrought! This is a great delusion. It is not the doctrine of the Bible. It is not, and never was, the doctrine of any branch of the Church. Some sincere and honest Christians have fallen into this delusion without perceiving its absurdity; and it has gained considerable currency. We trust it will no more find place in the language of the friends of this glorious doctrine.
The stages of faith immediately at the point of entire sanctification, and just before, and right after it, may thus be described. And let it be remembered, that when this exercise of faith takes place, it is not a mere intellectual calculation; it occurs when the soul is travailing for sanctifying power; when it is groaning for deliverance from distressing sinfulness; when it is giving up all to Christ; when it is feeling that “it is worse than death its God to love, and not its God alone;” when it is purposing to claim and obtain holiness, at all hazards. This is the state of the soul: it is now agonizing at God’s altar; it is pleading for salvation, looking at the promises; the Holy Spirit is helping, imparting, illuminating, and strengthening the faltering faith. Now comes the moment when sanctification is about to be imparted. Now the soul believes it will be done; taking firmer hold of the promises, and looking steadfastly upon the atoning sacrifice, it believes it is being done; the refining fire touches it, “as the coal Isaiah’s lips;” it yields, it trusts — the work is done; and now the soul, sanctified, believes it is done, and rejoices in the rest of faith. The belief that it will be done, that it is being done, is the trust which brings the blessing; the belief that it is done follows after. They are each distinct, though all may occur in the interval of a moment. ” –Bishop Foster.