Grace Does Not Necessitate Perfect Knowledge..
“Only remember, much grace does not imply much light.” — Wesley.
The heart may be as pure as heaven can make it, while the possessor remains ignorant of many fine traits of character. If the life of the just is as shining light which shines “more and more,” it is evident much new light will be unfolded to the soul even after the day “dawns” and the day star “arises” in the heart. New light will constantly be shining on the pathway of the just.
Dr. Watson, writing on the Stages in the Heavenly Life, said, “There is a field of experience in the out working and maturing of the life of sanctification that has been comparatively neglected by spiritual writers.” In the same chapter, commenting on Rom. 5:1-5, he said, “No flower ever unfolded to the light of the sun more beautifully than these various words describe the unfolding of the successive forms of experience in the sanctified life. The saints of the Lord will be astonished to find a perfect photograph depicted in the order of these various words, of the lights and shadows, the joys and sorrows, the conflicts and conquests, and all the various problems in their hidden lives. Let us take time to examine each of these words separately, and see how precisely they find an echo in our experiences.
“Tribulation.” The word signifies a flail, or threshing instrument, for beating the chaff from the pure, ripened grain. Remember, chaff is not a type of inbred sin for it is something that is essential to grain in its milk state, and when growing. In a field of growing corn, Scripture compares the heart to the ground, and the growing grain to Christian life, and weeds and briers to carnal affections; but the chaff, or husk, that envelopes the grain, represents those things in us which are essential in the infant stages of grace, but are found useless, and can be threshed away when the believer has reached Christian perfection. When the soul is first sanctified it lives for a period in a sort of heavenly honeymoon, which is distinctly set forth in the old Jewish law, providing that when a man married a wife, he was to be exempt from all public and military duties and hard ships one year, that he might live in undisturbed domestic joy. But after that he must expect to take up the toils and trials of warfare, and, as Paul says, “endure hardness as a good soldier.” That old Levitical law is the exact thought of this passage; that after the marvelous joys and bounding heavenly delights that come with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that in due time the soul will be led by one way or another, under the tribulum, or flail, that its chaff, which is now no longer needed; may be threshed away. After men grow the grain, and the baptism of warm sunshine has ripened and hardened it, then the husks, the straw, the chaff, is threshed from it, (i. e. perfect grain) that it may be exported to distant markets.
In like manner, when the believer has been purified and solidified by the warm baptism of the Holy Ghost, there are many religious or mental infirmities, which need to be threshed out of him. Please notice the following things as indicating what we may put down as chaff, which many Christians have to get cured of after their sanctification. They are not in the nature of inbred sin, but of human weakness or ignorance: Human theology. There never was a sanctified Christian that did not have to cast off some old narrow theology for broader truth. Rash judgments. Almost invariably souls, young in sanctification, form judgments of things and people too quickly. False zeal. Every old saint on looking back, can see how he used to let his pious zeal run ahead of his knowledge. Using slang. How many hundreds of good, sanctified people have the habit of using slang, and punning on words and names that often is like dead flies in the ointment. Vacillation. This is a weakness in the will power, and often lingers with good people after sanctification.
Multitudes of souls who are sanctified have a harshness in their words and manners, to the great detriment of their usefulness. Imprudence. Many sanctified people lack sense and discretion, and have to learn many things by hard thumps. Precipitation, going too fast, or indolence, going too slow, have hindered many. These and many other things of a similar nature are to be corrected by trials and rebukings, and humiliations, and hardships. The heart is washed from sin by the blood of Jesus, but the head is chastised from its narrowness and foolishness by a rod. You must not confound the washing of the heart with the teaching of the head.
Divine Providence can always find an appropriate thing to serve as a flail. He may use loss of property, or loss of friends, or health, or sore temptations, or persecution, or ostracism, or sore disappointment, or the misunderstanding of good people, or the bitter hatred of had people, or things in the outer life, or things in the inner life, to become a flail, that beats away either steadily or by spells, day after day, or week after week, or month after month, and some times for years, till all the graces are inured to trial.
Sooner or later, all the principles that were involved in our entire consecration, have to be brought out and tested in some furnace.
Separating the elements of chaff is not cleansing, but a threshing, and, mark you, men never thresh grain while it is in the green, milk state, but only when the grain is grown and pure and able to bear it
“Tribulation worketh patience.” This word patience should be more properly “endure.” Tribulation, or threshing, produces in the soul a hardihood, a toughness of fiber, so that it can endure all sorts of things with ease and calmness and sweetness of spirit. When the threshing first begins, the soul, though pure, is tender, and not accustomed to hard usage; but tribulation produces a heroic toughness. There is youthfulness, a tender childhood, in the sanctified experience, just as truly as in the early days of our conversion.
Holding the Standard too High:
The founder of Methodism said, “If we hold the standard ‘too high’ we drive men to despair, if we hold it ‘too low’ we drive them to hellfire.
“Two Kinds of Sensitiveness”
Occasionally, we come across some well-meaning preacher, or evangelist, who lacks knowledge in expounding Divine things, and such persons unwisely present the first entrance into sanctification as being so perfect as to make it appear that every one who is pure in heart will be strong enough never to get wounded or to get their feelings hurt, or keenly feel the thrusts of the adversary. This, says Mr. Wesley, is too strong. It is unscriptural. The passage we are considering (Rom. 5:1-5) teaches us that it is not the cleansing of the heart that makes the soul tough, but that it is a result of tribulation. Many a purified Christian has keenly felt the mean, unkind thrusts of dear relatives, of carnal preachers, and of those from whom they had a right to expect better treatment, and while they were free from resentment of bitterness, (they could easily serve those who wounded them) they have bled from many a stab, and in their secret chamber have poured out their feelings of loneliness, and perplexity, and distress, to the blessed Jesus, who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
There are two kinds of sensitiveness: One is that mean trait of “touchiness,” which takes offense at every slight or rebuke, and can not bear to be corrected; (this is wrong). But there is another kind which is simply a sense of injustice, and unkindness, (or unfairness and unreasonableness) which is normal in any pure nature. [This kind feels the thrust but no disposition to retaliate or return evil for evil — no desire for revenge, or to use a common expression: “get even.”]