Perfect Love – By John Wood

Chapter 15

Holiness Identified With The Promotion Of The General Work Of God

165. Is the general work of God identified with the preaching and the promotion of holiness?

It is in every respect. This must be so in the very nature of the case, and it cannot be permanently promoted in any other way. We give the following authorities on this question:

1. Mr. Wesley says: “I examined the society at Bristol, and was surprised to find fifty members fewer than I left in it last October. One reason is, Christian perfection has been little insisted on; and wherever this is not done, be the preachers ever so eloquent, there is little increase, either in number or in the grace of the hearers.” — Works, vol iv. p. 220.

“I preached at Bradford, where the people are all alive. Many here have lately experienced the great salvation, and their zeal has been a general blessing. Indeed, this I always observe, wherever a work of sanctification breaks out, the whole work of God prospers. Some are convinced of sin, others justified, and all stirred up to greater earnestness for salvation.” — Vol. iv. p. 437.

“I found the plain reason why the work of God had gained no ground in this [Launceston] circuit in all the year. The preachers had given up the Methodist testimony. Either they did not speak of perfection at all (the peculiar doctrine committed to our trust), or they spoke of it only in GENERAL TERMS, without urging the believers to go on unto perfection, and to expect it every moment. And wherever this is not done, the work of God does not prosper.” — VoL iv. p. 459

“Here began that glorious work of sanctification which had been nearly at a stand for twenty years. But from time to time it spread; and wherever the work of sanctification increased, the whole work of God increased in all its branches.” — Vol. vii. p. 376.

“The more I converse with the believers in Cornwall, the more I am convinced that they have sustained great loss for want of hearing the doctrine of Christian perfection clearly and strongly enforced. I see, wherever this is not done, the believers grow dead and cold. Nor can this be prevented but by keeping up in them an hourly expectation of being perfected in love.” Vol. iv. p. 137.

Where Christian perfection is not strongly and explicitly preached, there is seldom any remarkable blessing from God: and consequently little addition to the society, and little life in the members of it. Therefore if Jacob Rowell is grown faint, and says but little about it, do you supply his lack of service. Speak, and spare not. Let not regard for any man induce you to betray the truth of God. Till you press the believers to expect full salvation now, you must not look for any revival.” — Vol. vi. p. 721.

These declarations come from a minister of Christ, whose life, labors, and usefulness have not been equaled since the days of the apostles, and whom Macaulay declared “The greatest church organizer of the last thousand years.” Dean Stanley said, in his address at St. Paul’s, “It is no disrespect to say that no one has arisen in the Methodist society equal to their great founder, John Wesley.”

2. Dr. Lovick Pierce, in his sermon before the General Conference of the Methodist Church, South, said: “Just so far as our church has ceased to believe in entire sanctification, and to seek after it as the only phase of religion, revealed to us in the New Testament edition of it, that saves us from all sin, just so far we are a corrupted and a God-forsaken church, and it is useless to try to sustain ourselves by eulogies or what we have been. — Sermon.

8. Dr. Olin says: “For nearly the last half century little has been said about it in this country. Now the doctrine is reviving again. With it will come many blessings — great power and grace.”

4. Bishop McKendree said to Summerfield: “Never forget that no doctrine which we have ever preached has been more owned by the Head of the Church; and I doubt not the success of your mission may mainly depend upon your zealously holding forth this great salvation.” — Letter to Summerfield.

5. Rev. William Bramwell writes to Mr. Sigston: “But I am certain the doctrine of ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION is upon the decline and if it is not enforced, there will follow a declension in the work among the people. I do not see how this is to be restored among us because the greater part of the persons in authority, arising from riches, &c., are much averse to this in their minds. And as the number of such authorities increases, the doctrine will decrease and this from fear of displeasing such authorities. Here the glory is departing, and, I fear, will depart. We have to pray that the number of those may be increased who boldly, as at THE FIRST, declare the whole counsel of God.” — Life of Bramwell.

6. Dr. Stevens, in his “History of Methodism,” says of the early Methodist preachers: “Every one of them, at his reception into the traveling ministry, avowed his belief in the doctrine, and that he was ‘groaning’ after, if he had not already attained, this exalted grace. Perhaps no single fact affords a better explanation of the marvelous success of Methodism.

“Wesley observed and declared that wherever it was preached revivals usually prevailed. ‘It is,’ he said, ‘the grand depositum which God has given to the people called Methodist, and chiefly to propagate this, it appears, God raised them up. Their mission was not to form a religious party, but to spread holiness over these lands.’ The doctrine of personal sanctification was, in fine, the great potential idea of Methodism … These holy men, in making an entire public sacrifice of themselves, did so as a part of an entire consecration to God, for the purpose of their own entire sanctification as well as their usefulness to others — History of Methodism, vol. ii. p. 406.

7. Rev. William Arthur says, in an address in London: “The doctrine of holiness is opening the way for that of conversion, and that of conversion preparing subjects for that of holiness and both knock at the door of all Methodists, saying, This is your work.”

8. Rev. L. Tyreman, author of “Life and Times of Wesley,” says, in a letter to E. C. Estes, Esq.: “All who are acquainted with Methodist history are well aware that Methodism has always prospered most when the doctrine of entire sanctification has been most popular.”

9. Bishop Soule writes to Rev. Timothy Merritt in 1841: “It should be an occasion of gratitude and joy to the whole ‘household of faith’ this blessed doctrine of scriptural holiness is reviving in the churches, — that Christians and Christian ministers of different denominations are waking up to this great concern.”

10. “The calm voice of history will persistently declare,” says Rev. Alexander McLean, “that when from within the denomination, this doctrine and experience was assailed by argument or innuendo; or by its being placed in a light so false as to make it repellent, the spiritual and temporal interests of the church correspondently suffered.” — Address at Holiness Conference.

11. The following is from the pastoral address of the General Conference of 1840:

“The doctrine of entire sanctification constitutes a leading feature of original Methodism. But let us not suppose it enough to have it in our standards; let us labor to have the experience and the power of it in our hearts. Be assured, brethren, that if our influence and usefulness, as a religious community, depend upon one thing more than any other, it is upon our carrying out the great doctrine of sanctification in our life and conversation. When we fail to do this, then shall we lose our pre-eminence; and the halo of glory which surrounded the heads and lit up the path of our sainted fathers, will have departed from their unworthy sons. O brethren, let your motto be, ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD.’