Exaggeration In Testimony
Strict veracity in testimony honors God for the simple reason God, the Holy Ghost, only sets his seal to that which is truth. Perhaps not many in the “Sanctified Life” could truthfully testify like Mahan to fifty years walking with God without a break. All might if they walked lowly and obediently before God. We heard of a holiness Evangelist putting a test like the following to a great audience of holiness people: “Every one who can put his right hand on his heart and look up toward heaven and say (in the fear of God) I haven’t grieved the Holy Ghost since I was sanctified, stand up.” It is needless to say no one stood. All honor to their perfect honesty. Someone chimed in the Evangelist could not stand himself if he were not already on his feet.
We heard a man of mediocre attainments and usefulness testify to a twenty-five years walk with God without a break. We shall never forget the contrast and lesson of humility impressed on our mind at the time when immediately following this a man of vast learning, deep piety, eminent official position, and exceptional usefulness arose and with tears in eyes and voice said, “God pity me, I can’t say that.” Yet he had led his thousands to pardon and purity. Someone will say he reflected on the work and cause of holiness. By no means. He furthered it by honest truthful statement. Mr. Wesley said, “never dream putting things in their true light will ever hurt the cause of God.”
There is a tendency in testifying to and preaching on holiness to make it appear as glowing as possible. In fact many testimonies of sanctified people would lead others to believe they constantly lived on the mountain top, above temptation, and are constantly full of ecstatic joy, with complete victory over every trial and without failure. This procedure is sure to stumble hungry souls. Where this is true humble testimony may be given to that effect. But we are forced to the conclusion from observation in numerous instances this is not the case: to such we advise great humility and strict truthfulness in testimony. Where the testifier is conscious of breaks with God since he first entered the life of Perfect Love we submit the following suggestive example:
“Ten years ago, God, for Christ’s sake, graciously sanctified my soul and while I am grieved I cannot say with others since that happy day I have walked with sanctified me wholly; He perfected my soul in love; He perfected that which concerns me; He gave me a pure heart; He filled my soul with the Holy Ghost; as forms of testimony much preferable to saying, “I am sanctified,” “I am holy,” “I am perfect,” etc. “Not “I” but Christ.”
It is a sad mistake productive of much harm, to gauge one’s state by feelings. The soul should have no alarm whatever if conscious there has been no departure in heart allegiance from God’s known will, feeling or no feeling. The point which should occasion alarm is willful and deliberate disobedience.
God is using me, therefore I must be right. By no means the logical conclusion. Dr. Keen realized in his own experience a development of the power of Christ more than the mind of Christ. If he used only the perfectly developed he would use none. He uses us because our hearts are pureand we are in process of development. The Bible reveals it is possible to do many wonderful works and in the end be damned because not like Christ. We have met zealous and very liberal professors of holiness who were nevertheless very unlike Christ in spirit. Service is not a substitute for character.
Doing anything without acknowledging Him and doing it as unto the Lord. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him” — not a few of them.
Concerning How of Being Kept
God will not keep me from sin independent of my cooperation with Him. Keeping is man’s work as well as God’s. “Holy Father keep,” — is only half truth, “Keep thyself pure” is the other half of the truth of keeping power. He does not keep me unless I am willing to keep myself. “We keep and God keeps.” It is useless to expect God to keep me from an electric shock when I grasp the live wire or from being burnt if I touch the fire; or from being mangled if I step before the locomotive; or from sin if I trifle with it, do that, or go where, I am tempted to sin — “Keep thyself pure.”
Supposing no Effort Required to Advance
“The work of good government is not half done when anarchy is reduced to order; it remains that such measures be instituted as to preserve the restored harmony.”
If to gain is desirable, to keep must be even more so. It is not sufficient that we know how to obtain; it is not sufficient that we have obtained, we must know how also to keep when we have made the acquisition.
A greater mistake could not be committed than to suppose that the gracious life once implanted in the believer’s heart will be retained without effort.” — Christian Purity.
“In fact there seems to be a prevalent presumption that spiritual progression is automatic and that by its own vitality aided perhaps by the reflex action of Christian work the soul will prosper and advance without direct attention and ministry to the subjective state and the successive attainments of Christians.” — Jos. H. Smith.
Expecting Exemption from Trials
“No state of grace excludes trials, they are not occasions for doubt or unbelief.
“The more pure the heart the more sensitive it becomes and the keener the pang when wronged. ‘Perfect Love involves tender feelings and deep sympathies. It does not make stoics out of us so that we do not feel insults and injuries, but it affords power to patiently endure the trials, prejudice and wrongs we may have to pass through.
“If a soul has no trials he has no religion to be tried — Job was a perfect Christian though he had many and fiery trials. At times we find Elijah in great depression and grief; and Jeremiah was often in tears, and Paul was sorrowful and often sorely tried. Our Lord had trials and seasons of great and severe suffering, and endured all manner of tribulation, leaving us an example of patience and endurance amid opposition, persecution and fiery trials. An entirely sanctified state admits of heaviness of spirit at times) and of being grieved and sorely distressed; but it enables the soul to endure all things, and is never without comfort and peace.
“Mr. Wesley says, we find there is very frequently a kind of wilderness state, not only after justification, but even after deliverance from sin — (i. e. entire sanctification). Nay, the mind itself may be deeply distressed, may be exceedingly sorrowful, may be perplexed, and pressed down by heaviness and anguish, even to agony, (as Jesus) while the heart cleaves to God by perfect love, and the will is wholly resigned to Him. Was it not so with the son of God himself?” — J. A. Wood
Victory of a sanctified soul under trial is illustrated in the following beautiful hymn.
A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing,
To Him who placed me here;
Well-pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.
Nought have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And He whom well I love to please
Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing,
But still He bends to hear me sing
Thou hast an ear to hear,
A heart to love and bless;
And though my notes were e’er so rude,
Thou wouldst not hear the less;
Because Thou knowest, as they fall,
That love, sweet love, inspires them all.
My cage confines me round,
Abroad I can not fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty.
My prison walls can not control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
Oh! it is good to soar
These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose Providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find,
The joy, the freedom of the mind.
— Madame Guyon
Lack of Wisdom in Dealing With Seekers
God will reveal all that must be yielded to obtain sanctification. Much more will be revealed after which must be yielded to retain the blessing. And the soul who has grace can more readily obey and easily comply with God’s will than without it. To work from the outside in is legalistic; but get grace in the heart and in most cases rather than lose that unspeakable joy the soul would do anything God required. Again I say, God will show everything essential to the seeking soul! Not according to our notions, but His own Sovereign and wise will. It is a serious thing to lay greater burdens on seeking souls than the Holy Ghost does (See Acts 15:28). This grieves those whom God has not grieved. We remember a bright young woman seeking holiness and an unwise worker saying to her, “supposing you were asked to work on Sunday.” The truth was she never had to work Sabbaths and was not remotely liable to. But the enemy seized on this bright suggestion(?) of the worker [who himself had been sanctified without facing such a suppositions condition, but afterwards through the great grace God gave, refused to work on Sunday) and so magnified it the poor girl in bewilderment turned away.
The thought of losing her living was too much with the measure of grace then possessed. It seems to us this course violates the Master’s admonitions about not living in the future, “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” Tomorrow shall take care of the things of itself. “Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” It is enough to tell the soul to surrender every known thing in the way and that the blessing will delay as long as the soul delays obedience here and as for the unknown things of the future do them up in a separate package and promise God as He reveals them you will obey.
This is not compromise, but sense. People burdened with a load of sin may be relieved, and are in thousands of cases, with the “trappings of pride on;” the burden for the innate corruption of the heart diverting from these things at the time. But mark you they do not go on with God and keep them on! By no means! If Jesus spoke to his disciples who had a measure of grace as they were able to bear it, it is not compromise but heavenly wisdom not to go ahead of the spirit in dealing with poor souls burdened for sin and pick at externals as a condition of salvation (as though they could buy God’s favor thus) when God is burdening them with the innate depravity of their hearts and thus divert them from their inside need to external things. It is a serious thing Mr. Wesley said to represent non-essentials as essential to salvation. God forbid anyone should get the idea we believe in superfluous adornment. We do not. Not a feather or flower adorns our wife’s hat; no jewelry do we wear, nor indulge in excess in dress or furniture or table. But what we are trying to make clear is, God may not make a condition of salvation or sanctification of these things in every case, though no doubt He does in many, and “here is danger of running ahead of Him and stumbling those who might be led to victory by a wiser course. The writer knows of a holiness preacher who accosted another preacher’s wife and nagged her about a modest trimming on her hat. It is needless to say he did not lead her into sanctification; but the writer was privileged to do so by going at the inside — heart first and not feathers first. She today has a face that shines like an angel, her ring has been laid aside, her adornment is modest, she is in touch with heaven and can pull fire down from the skies whenever called on to pray. Another similar case came under our observation. A young woman burdened for sin was nagged at (it often is this, in an unChristlike way) about externals; got her attention off her heart need, left the altar, and town, and God, a year later was converted and sanctified under a different course, laid aside with help of grace, what she could not do without grace. “Shoot the old bird (inbred sin) and the feathers will fall.” Finney was a high Mason when remarkably baptized with the Holy Ghost. But he went only a time or so after that experience.
Observe we are now writing of dealing with seekers and advising not to get in the Spirit’s way. What may be easy to us who have the blessing may seem mountainous to those seeking. We are not meaning to say unmistakable truth should not be preached against pride in adornment, secrecy, etc., but in dealing with seekers be careful not to go ahead of the Spirit and specify things He may not.
Mr. Wesley gives a precedent here. Someone held up a young lady’s hand, which was covered with diamonds, and interrogated Mr. W., “What do you think of this for a Methodist hand?” instead of saying she is on her way to hell as many of his zealous sons would do, he simply replied, “The hand is very beautiful.” The girl was reproved, laid aside the gems and became a zealous Christian. O, for a baptism of heavenly wisdom in dealing with souls that avoids compromise and faithless dealing on the one hand and fanaticism on the other.