Purity and Maturity – By John Wood

Chapter 12


I trust, the reader has not found much on the foregoing pages that is objectionable, or that has not commended itself to his judgment, as truth, duty, or Christian privilege. This subject has been greatly misunderstood. When correctly presented, Christian purity is seen to possess none of the forbidding features, so often attributed to it by its mistaken opponents.

How clearly taught! how beautifully illustrated, and how amply sustained by the word of God, is purity of heart! The Bible is full of it.

As a Church, this has been our mission, our strength, and our glory! Our standards of doctrine are full of it! And how full our Hymn Book and Discipline! How persistently, patiently, and faithfully John Wesley preached it! How beautifully Charles Wesley incorporated it into his poetry, and how gloriously millions have sung it! How completely John Fletcher refuted those who wrote against it; and how fragrant his life with its sweetness and devotion to God!

O, that our hearts were filled with it! Having it nicely fixed in our creed, Hymn Book, Discipline, and Biographies; may God help us to have it wrought in our hearts; if it is not, these will rise in the judgment to condemn us, who are living so far beneath our acknowledged privilege and duty.

The Bible system of divine mercy and human salvation, makes no allowance for any sin, but ample provision for its destruction. Gospel salvation is salvation FROM SIN, never salvation IN SIN.

Nothing can answer as a substitute for personal purity; no able ministry, no imposing church architecture, no splendid music, no exterior appendages, or forms, or ceremonies can take its place. No measure of benevolence, no fasting or mortification can be its substitute. These have no intrinsic power in themselves to purify our hearts. They are valuable only as means of grace, to lead us to Christ, the fountain of cleansing.

It is not members, nor fine churches, nor ecclesiastical polity, nor theological schools, nor ritual, that constitutes the saving power of the Church. These may be well enough in their place; but after all, in her purity is her true power. Every Christian Church is powerful, (other circumstances being equal) proportioned to her internal purity. Simple goodness — purity of life and conversation will yield a power for God, with which genius, education and wealth without purity can never compete. All experience teaches that holiness and religious prosperity are joined together, and there can be no substitute for it.

We must be pure, and made “partakers of the divine nature.” We have been made partakers of the “earthly, sensual, and devilish;” and the design of the Gospel is to destroy this, and deliver us from all the impurities and sinfulness of our degenerate state. There are no wounds, defilement, or disease, made by sin in the soul of man, which grace cannot heal. Though ten thousand times ten thousand have washed away their pollutions in the blood of Christ, the fountain of cleansing has lost none of its purifying efficacy.

Dr. Guthrie most beautifully says — “Today the great sea, where go the ships, after receiving for long ages into its capacious bosom the mud and ruin, the decay and death of a thousand rivers, is as pure as when its billows first broke their snowy heads on the shores of our new born-world.”

The cleansing efficacy of the atoning blood remains forever the same, and it is at our option, whether we avail ourselves of it. If purified, it is because we choose to have it done, and trust Christ to do it; if not, it is because we choose not to embrace the provided remedy. This purification is to be secured in this life. It is the Christian’s business to be ready at any moment to enter heaven. We must be actually and positively holy. Before we can enter heaven, in nature, in purity we must be a complete, finished Christian, free from sin or depravity. This constitutes the only preparation for Paradise. The work is to be accomplished here, in this world, now, not in death, not in the grave, not in Heaven. Purity is to be wrought in the Church militant some time between regeneration and death. Regeneration not being of itself a complete deliverance from inbred sin, this purification must take place before we go hence.

We are all under the most imperative obligation to be holy. Our Christian name, our baptismal vows, our profession of faith in Christ, and belief in his word, all call us to be holy. In true repentance we forsake all sin, and in our Church relations a profession of real sanctity is proclaimed. If we are not pure in heart, it is our own fault and reproach. To make us holy is the great design of Christianity. For this the Son of God bled and died. For this he ever lives to make intercession for us. For this the Holy Spirit is given; and to cleanse and save us from sin, is the sum and substance of His most gracious work.

We have no louder, no more imperative call, than to holiness. By far the greater portion of the admonitions, warnings, and exhortations of the Bible are addressed to the professed children of God, enforcing this duty and privilege.

Rev. Albert Barnes says, — “A man who has been redeemed by the blood of the Son of God should be pure. He who is an heir of life should be holy. He who is attended by celestial beings, and is soon — he knows not how soon — to be translated to heaven, should be holy. Are angels my attendants? Then I should walk worthy of my companions. Am I soon to go and dwell with angels? Then I should be pure. Are these feet soon to tread the courts of heaven? Is this tongue soon to unite with holy beings in praising God? Are these eyes soon to look on the throne of eternal glory, and on the ascended Redeemer? Then these feet, and eyes, and lips should be pure and holy, and I should be dead to the world and live for heaven!”

“HOLINESS TO THE LORD” — should be our MOTTO! It should be inscribed on our understanding, reason, judgment, memory, conscience, affections, tempers, dispositions, desires, will, actions — every thing. Every thing should be done purely, religiously, as our duty to God, and to man, and to ourselves. Eating, drinking, buying, selling, reading, writing, study, recreation, society, conversation, employment, giving, receiving, voting, and legislating all must be done to the glory of God. “And whatsoever ye do, in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

To be really holy, is to be relatively holy, as husbands and wives, as parents and children, as masters and mistresses, as servants and subjects. Purity of heart, being a state pervasive of all our activities, will develop itself to the extent of its opportunity in every direction. Hence, to be really holy, is to be universally holy.

To simply retain the grace received at justification is not enough. We often hear persons praising God that they still retain a sense of his favor after having been converted ten or twenty years. This is right, but should this satisfy? Ten or twenty years of privileges, means, and spiritual culture, and no result but bare existence!

The Church must have aggressive power. This is the very condition of her life; the fact upon which hangs the perpetuity of her existence. She must live by aggression if she live at all. She must encounter enemies, and live by conflict and victory, AND MUST CONTINUE TO CONQUER OR DIE!

There must be regenerating and saving power exerted, and converts received, as she perpetuates herself only in this way. Therefore, there is an intimate connection between the purification of the Church and the conversion of the world.

This grace is the great antidote to Catholicism. When the blood of Christ is applied through faith, and the soul is cleansed, then farewell to penances, pilgrimages, purgatory, indulgences, ablutions, masses, and the like. In the absence of purity the Church has always run into forms and ceremonies, into ignorance, superstition and death. It is no wonder Alphonsus Liquori, a Catholic writer, says that this doctrine of purity is “the trunk whence almost all the errors of the modern heretics spring.”

Christian Purity, is what the Church needs to qualify her to carry forward her great work of regenerating the world, in a manner commensurate with her numbers, her vast wealth, and her multiplied and increasing facilities and opportunities. It is needed to clothe our learned ministry with spiritual power, and fill our commodious and costly churches with sanctified believers and converted sinners.

The Church numerically ought to duplicate herself every year; and she would, if she were fully sanctified to God. Did each member of the Church secure the salvation of but one soul a year, in one year the Church would be doubled, in two years she would stand four to one, in three years eight to one, in four years sixteen to one, in five years thirty-two to one, and in six years sixty-four to one; and in less than seven years the WORLD WOULD BE CONVERTED, and the millennial glory cover the whole earth.

Bishop Janes asserts — “A holy Church would soon make a holy world;” and Bishop Foster — “Let the Church attain to this, let Christians claim their privilege, and come up to the standard, and the world would be a speedy and easy conquest.”

Then, we say in all humanity! and in all mercy! for God’s and for Christ’s sake! let the whole Church, ministry and laity, Bishops, Editors, Doctors of divinity and all, HASTEN TO THE CLEANSING FOUNTAIN. Then for the world’s sake! let us dismiss our fears of making holiness a SPECIALTY — “a favorite object of pursuit” (Webster), and let the whole Church of God claim their privilege in Jesus, and DO THEIR DUTY AT ONCE!

For this cause, dear reader, “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end.” And “the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Glory and dominion be unto the Lord Jesus Christ, For-ever and ever: Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come: The Almighty. Amen.