Trials Of The Entirely Sanctified
168. Are trials and tribulations peculiar to the Christian life?
They are. Christianity is an antagonism to this wicked world. It always has been, and always will be. The more deep and thorough our piety, the more we are unlike the world, and the stronger its antagonism to us. Human depravity induces a dislike in wicked men to those who are holy, as their presence and sight is a rebuke to them. Bad men hate good men, though it is done against the gainsaying evidence of their own conscience. It is not true to fact or history that wicked men must love good men. The servant is not above his Lord; and in this world we shall have tribulation. This is not our paradise. We may have the smile of God, the peace of God, the grace of God, and the love and joy of God in this world, but not freedom from opposition, persecution, and tribulation.
There are a few things the Christian should not have long out of mind.
1. That all God’s saints, in all ages, under all dispensations, and in all countries, have been the subjects of severe trials and tribulations. In this respect there have been comparatively no exceptions. Any man that has no religious trials, has no religion to be tried. If a man is of the world, he is no saint, and of course the world will love its own.
2. Tribulation, to a faithful soul, is no occasion for doubt or unbelief. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you.”
3. We should never permit Satan to induce fretfulness in us, when passing through tribulation. Fretting is sinful, and should never be indulged and Christ can save us from the very inclination to fret. Blessed be His name!
4. Our trials are our most valuable blessings. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more and exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” In view of this, let us praise the Lord, and, like the apostle, “glory in tribulation.” Of nothing else under the heavens is it said, that it shall work out for us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Halleluiah! Let Satan do his worst.
5. Our trials are the greatest of our earthly safeguards. We are more in danger from flattery, adulation, and popularity, than from trials and tribulation. The love of esteem and popularity is one of the strongest passions of the human heart, and is working havoc in the Church of Christ.
6. The more severe or fiery our trials, the more rapidly they carry forward the ends of moral discipline. The hotter the furnace, the sooner its work, and the more effectually is it done. A certain amount of searching, crucifying trial every child of God must pass through. It makes little difference who heats the furnace, or how hot it is, if “the form of the fourth “is in the midst. If we are hated, and despised, and rejected of men, for other reasons than any wrongs of our own, let us not be disheartened, as though some strange thing had happened unto us, “but glorify God on this behalf.”
7. Our Lord Jesus Christ passed through the white-hot furnace of tribulation, and presents an example for our imitation. He suffered all manner of tribulation, and was tempted in all points like as we are. “He was despised and rejected of men,” — was spit upon, and endured all manner of bitter, vile, and cruel treatment. He bore it all meekly — leaving us an example of meekness, endurance, and patience. O blessed Christ! let it be our glory and our joy to follow the beautiful example thou hast set!
169. What trials are peculiar to those entirely sanctified?
1. They are frequently tempted to withhold a confession of the blessing. (See Question 124. ) Messrs. Bramwell, Stoner, Carvosso, Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, Rev. Asa Kent, and a multitude of others, have been severely tempted in this regard.
2. Their faith will be subject to severe trials. Faith is the direct point of union between the sanctified soul and Christ. This vital point will be early and artfully assailed. They are tempted to doubt whether they are sanctified wholly. Mr. Wesley says: “We find there is very frequently a kind of wilderness state, not only after justification, but even after deliverance from sin. The most frequent cause of this second darkness or distress, I believe, is evil reasoning. If this be the cause, is there any way to regain that deliverance but by resuming your confidence?
3. Their charity will be tried. Charity is one of the chief fruits of perfect love, which fill the Christian heart in entire sanctification, yet this very charity is subject to severe trials. Indifference, ignorance, and opposition to holiness in professors of religion will try their Christian charity. Bishop Peck says, “There is opposition to holiness of which its professors must become the direct objects.”
4. Their patience will be tried. In this world of sin this Christian grace must be severely tried. The rashness of friends and the violence of foes will attack it. Enfeebled and irritable nerves will try it. Unreasonable provocations from friends or enemies will try it. A thousand nameless ills will put it to a thorough test. Oh, how needful the inspired direction, “In your patience possess ye your souls!”
5. Their Christian firmness will be tried. The world is no friend to holiness; and multitudes, even in the church, through ignorance and prejudice, or the want of salvation, are unfriendly to holiness as a blessing distinct from regeneration, and will oppose any who preach or profess it. The wholly sanctified will have their firmness tried by neglect, indifference, opposition, and persecution. How many have entered the path of holiness, and, for the want of firmness, have finally abandoned it! There is a powerful opposition to holiness in the world, and to some extent in the church; and this opposition the friends of holiness must encounter. Just in proportion as Christians dissent from the fashionable sins of the world, and lifeless formalism in the church, they will provoke opposition. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.”
6. Their fidelity to God and man will be tried. They are in danger of compromising with the world, and of loosing their aversion to sin. Christians are to bear a decided and unflinching testimony against all sin, wherever it may be found, either in or out of the church.
Bishop Peck says: “To give even an implied approval or consent to the indifference or opposition of the church or individual, to the experience and spread of holiness, would bring evil upon your own conscience which you would be unable to bear.” — Central Idea, p. 308.
Every trial of the Christian tests his character, and helps him to ascertain how much moral integrity, or real solid worth he has.
170. What are the best helps to growth in grace?
“The best helps to growth in grace are the ill usage, the affronts, and the crosses which befall us.” — Wesley.
A greater than Wesley says: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY.” Therefore, “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
Man may trouble and distress me, ‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast; Life with trials hard may press me, Heaven will bring me sweeter rest. Oh! ’tis not in grief to harm me While Thy love is left to me Oh! ’twere not in joy to charm me, Were that joy unmixed with Thee. –H. F. Lyte