Advice To Those Professing Perfect Love
187. What advice would you give those professing holiness?
1. Keep up a daily, or rather a perpetual, devotement of all to God. Search and surrender, and research and surrender again, and keep every vestige of self upon the altar under the consuming, sin-destroying flame. Entire sanctification cannot continue without continued submission to God. “Submit yourselves, therefore, to God.”
2. Remember the life of the Christian is a life of faith. We are justified by faith, sanctified by faith, and must stand by faith. There must be a continuous faith. Faith, in the entirely sanctified, becomes in a sense a state of mind — a habit of the soul. We must give up all idea of resisting temptation, or of acceptably performing any service for Christ, by the mere force of our own resolutions. This is to be your victory, “even your faith.” “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
3. You must acquire the habit of living by the minute. Take care of the present moment. Trust God now; do God’s will now do not offend God now. You are to act for the future but act by the minute. “Be careful for nothing but in every thing; by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”
4. Live in the constant use of all the ordinary and instituted means of grace — public and private prayer, meditation, searching the Scriptures, and the sacrament. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
5. Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, and to the glory of God. The Saviour expects you to eat, drink, dress, spend your time, talents, and property, and transact your business, with reference to the same objects for which you pray, read your Bible, and worship God. “Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
6. Avoid sinful lightness and levity on the one hand, or moroseness on the other. Be cheerful, but not frivolous and vain; sorrowful, but not sour or gloomy. Maintain the dignity, the purity, and the sanctity of the Christian character. “Be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith and charity.”
7. Cultivate the deepest humility and reverence in your approaches and addresses to God. Never allow yourself to use light or irreverent expressions of God, or of his great work, however joyful or ecstatic you may be. You are “a temple of the Holy Ghost;” therefore be careful, and walk softly before God. “I am the almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
8. Study the Bible. Be a Bible Christian in theory, in experience, and in practice. Make your honesty, justice veracity, and self-denial harmonize with the teaching of the Bible. Avoid seeking, or encouraging others to seek any mystical experience not explicitly taught in the Bible. Be satisfied with increasing love, power, and communion with God, and avoid all those mystical and unscriptural isms, which have wrought disastrously against the doctrine of holiness. “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.”
9. Redeem your time. Imitate the example of Christ: rise early in the morning, and while others are slumbering, pray, “search the Scriptures,” and commune with God. Make every day and hour tell upon your best interests and the cause of God; “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
10. Acquire the habit of constant watchfulness against sin. The tempter is vigilant and insidious, ever on the alert, and full of artifice. In an unguarded moment you may lose what has cost you years of toil, and what you may never be able to regain. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
11. You must absolutely refuse to comply with temptation, under any circumstances, or to any degree. In the strength of God you must say No to the tempter every time. In the fiercest temptation, a resolute No and a single look to CHRIST, will overcome the wicked one. Be careful and distinguish between temptation and sin. (See questions 41, 42. )
(1) A sinful impression, or suggestion, resisted till it disappears, is temptation, and only temptation — not sin.
(2) A sinful suggestion, courted or tolerated, or at length complied with, is sin. “RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you.”
12. Endeavor to preserve a perfect consistency between your profession and practice. Your profession will raise reasonable expectations which you must meet and vindicate by your life and the “fruit of the Spirit.” Be exemplary in all things, especially in small matters, and “abstain from all appearance of evil.” Mr. Wesley says, “He that neglects little things shall fall little by little.” “I beseech you that ye walk WORTHY of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
13. Be careful how you consider impulses and impressions as the teachings of the Spirit. We are to be “led by the Spirit,” but it is principally by its illuminations. The man who is led by the Spirit is filled, not with impulses and impressions, but with light. At least, never allow any impulse to lead you to any course not in perfect harmony with the Bible, enlightened reason, and the providence of God.
Mr. Wesley says: “Some charge their own imaginations, on the will of God, and that not written, but impressed on their hearts. If these impressions be received as the rule of action, instead of the written word, I know nothing so wicked or absurd but that we may fall into, and that without remedy.”When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you unto all truth.”
14. Read the best writers on Christian holiness. We mention Messrs. Wesley, Fletcher, and Clarke, Bishops Peck and Foster, Drs. Steele, Peck, McDonald, Mahan, Boardman and Finney. But the Bible should be first, last, and always. “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
15. Do not let the adversary lead you to dwell upon some one subject, to the exclusion of others, such as faith, dress, pride, worldliness, masonry, &c. Aim at symmetry of character, and give each item its proper attention. Make no hobby of any single item in particular, but of a symmetrical holiness in general. The Bible has no hobby but “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
16. Be careful and not underestimate or disparage justification and regeneration. This is unwittingly done sometimes, in speaking of sanctification, and is fruitful of injurious results. It is a great and glorious thing to become a child of God, and an heir of eternal life. Pardon, adoption, and regeneration constitute the principal items of personal salvation; they are inseparable from, and indispensable to entire sanctification. In speaking of perfect love we should never minimize the great foundation upon which the whole Christian character and life rest. “Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
17. Avoid an unwarrantable extreme in allowing this one subject to become entirely absorbing. The following are some of the indications of this extreme:
(1) A disrelish for any other theme, or the accessories of holiness.
(2) A desire to avoid hearing those discourses which dwell upon other Bible topics.
(3) A conscious aversion to that experience which falls short of the highest gospel standard.
(4) A distrust in the religion of those who make no special efforts for the promotion of’ holiness.
(5) Feelings of inaptitude and disqualification for labor that aims directly for the conversion of souls. “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in EVERY GOOD WORK, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
15. In the confession of holiness avoid all ostentation, display, and affectation. Let your testimony be artless, simple, easy; let it exalt Christ, and humble you. Cultivate a sense of unworthiness, and let every thought, and look, and word partake of the spirit of lowliness. “Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
19. Do not seek to be conspicuous. Seek no prominence because of your learning, talents, piety, person, or possessions. Avoid all display; keep a single eye. Your great business is to glorify God. Let your dress administer to your comfort, convenience, decency, and modesty. “Be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
20. On the other hand, do not (through a desire to avoid being conspicuous) neglect to “stand up for Jesus.” Wesley says: “Your holiness will make you as conspicuous as the sun in the midst of heaven.” While on the one hand you are not to seek it, on the other, do not think you can avoid it. “Ye are the light of the world.” A holy, active, zealous lover of God and man will be seen of men. Stand up for God; speak, pray, and live to please him. “Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”
21. Avoid all evil speaking. Never talk about the faults of an absent person. We are encompassed by this sin on every side, and are in great danger of being carried away by the torrent. Watch over your lips, and “speak evil of no man.” “Speak not evil one of another, brethren.”