Purity and Maturity – By John Wood

Chapter 2

Theological Authorities

To be cleansed from all depravity, or inbred sin, as it is usually called, we understand to be the Bible idea and fact of Christian purity. We ask the reader’s careful attention to the quotations following, as given in proof of this position. They will be seen to harmonize, and are an essential unit on this subject.

Mr. Wesley’s views are scattered all through his writings. The following paragraphs from his works, present them:– “Certainly sanctification, (in the proper sense) is an instantaneous deliverance from all sin,” vol 7, p. 717. “Cleansed from all inbred pollution.” — “Nothing in the soul but pure love alone.” — “The evil nature, the body of sin destroyed.” — “To perfect health restored.” — “To sin entirely dead.” — “A clean heart.” — “Rooting out the seed of sin.” — “A heart entirely pure.” — “Delivered from the root of bitterness.” — “The second blessing.” — “Destruction of the roots of sin in a moment.” — “The soul pure from every spot, clean from all unrighteousness.” — “Nature entirely changed.” — “Nothing higher than pure love.” — “Full salvation now by simple faith.”

These and a thousand more like them are scattered through all his writings, from 1733 to 1790. There the reader sees the same terms, figures, and modes of expression used by the great and good man, which we use in this book, and which are in common use in his works on this subject.

Rev. John Fletcher, in his Last Check says: “The same Spirit of faith which initially purifies our hearts when we cordially believe the pardoning love of God, completely cleanses them when we fully believe his sanctifying love.” — P. 645.

“But when I speak of the purification of the heart (says Dr. Adam Clarke), or doctrine of Christian Perfection, I use sanctification in the sense in which it has been generally understood among Methodists.” — Everett’s Life of Dr. A. Clarke. “What then is this complete sanctification? It is the cleansing of the blood, that has not been cleansed; it is washing the soul of a the believer from the “remains of sin.” — Clarke’s Theology, p. 206. Rev. Richard Watson says, “We have already spoken of justification, adoption, regeneration, and the witness of the Holy Spirit, and we proceed to another AS DISTINCTLY MARKED, and as graciously promised in the Holy Scriptures. This is the entire sanctification, or the perfected holiness of believers.” … “Happily for us, a subject of so great importance IS NOT INVOLVED IN OBSCURITY.”

The reader will note the declaration of Mr. Watson, that this subject is not involved in obscurity.

Of the nature and extent of Christian purity, Mr. Watson says: “By which can only be meant our complete deliverance from all SPIRITUAL POLLUTION, all inward depravation of the heart, as well as that which, expressing itself outwardly by the indulgence of the senses, is called “filthiness of the flesh.” Institutes, vol. ii., p. 450. In speaking elsewhere of the work of the Holy Ghost in the soul, he says — “Nor terminates his sacred operations till it has purged from the heart of man all its stains of sin, all its debasing alloy of earthliness.”

Rev. Joseph Benson: “To sanctify you wholly is to complete the work of purification and renovation begun in your regeneration.” — Com. I. Thess. v. 23.

Bishop Hedding says: “The degree of original sin which remains in some believers, though not a transgression of a known law, is nevertheless sin, and must be removed before one goes to heaven, and the removal of this evil is what we mean by full sanctification.” “Regeneration is the beginning of purification. Entire sanctification is finishing that work.” — Sermon.

Bishop Hamline: “It (regeneration) is a mixed moral state. Sanctification is like weeding the soul, or gathering the tares and burning them, so that nothing remains to grow there but the good seed.” “Entire sanctification removes them — roots them out of the heart, and leaves it a pure moral soil.” — Beauty of Holiness, p. 234. 1862.

Bishop E. Thomson: “The first complete step in salvation, after forgiveness, which pardons past sins, must necessarily be deliverance from sin; and the soul that is not saved from sin, is not saved. The ROOT of sin must be extirpated from the heart.” — Editorial in Advocate.

Bishop Clarke says of sanctification — “This meets the essential requirements in order to salvation; the defilement that unfits for heaven is washed away.” — Repository for Holiness, Jan., 1865.

Bishop Foster says, of the person entirely sanctified, that he is in — “a state in which he will be entirely free from sin, properly so called, both inward and outward.” “The process of this work is in this order: beginning with pardon, by which one aspect of sin, that is actual guilt, is wholly removed, and proceeding in regeneration, by which another kind of sin, that is depravity, is in part removed, terminating with entire sanctification, by which the remainder of the second kind, or depravity, is ENTIRELY REMOVED.” — Christian Purity, p. 122.

This statement of Bishop Foster is most admirably expressed, and presents the truth with much clearness. Regeneration removes some sin or pollution, and entire sanctification removes the corruption which remains after regeneration. This will be seen, from the authorities given, to be the Wesleyan idea of entire sanctification.

Bishop J. T. Peck:– “In the merely justified state we are not entirely pure … But in the work of entire sanctification, these impurities are all washed away, so that we are wholly saved from sin, from its inward pollution.” … “Is the preparation for heaven nothing less than perfect holiness — the inward foes not only conquered, but slain and exterminated? We understand it so, — perfect in character, not in development. — Central Idea, p. 52.

Dr. John Dempster, in an admirable sermon on Christian Perfection before the Biblical Institute, said: “Do you then demand an exact expression of the difference? It is this: the one (regeneration) admits of controlled tendencies to sin, the other (entire sanctification) extirpates those tendencies. That is, the merely regenerate has remaining impurity; the fully sanctified has none.”

Rev. Dr. H. Bannister writes of holiness, — “This is being ‘cleansed from all sin,’ from ‘all unrighteousness;’ being proportionately holy as God is holy;” … “that is, being entirely devoted to God and saved from inbred sin.” — Guide. 1867.

Dr. Whedon, in his notes on “Blessed are the pure in heart,” — “Here is a trait of character which God’s Spirit can alone produce. This is sanctification.”

Rev. Dr. Lowrey: “Entire holiness is the extermination of all sin from the soul. It is a pure, unsullied heart; it is ‘death to sin,’ a ‘freedom from sin,’ a ‘cleansing from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.’ ” … “The fountain of thought, affection, desire, and impulse, is pure.” — Positive Theology, p. 241.

Rev. D. W. C. Huntington, D. D., says: “Entire sanctification is not only a definite subject, but an important one. It is not another name for progress, or some undefined point in religious improvement; it is inward purity — soul harmony — full salvation.” — Article in N. C. Advocate.

Rev. L. R. Dunn: “It is a separation from everything vile and sinful, unclean, and impure; in a word, it is separation from sin.” — Holiness to the Lord, p. 57

Rev. Dr. Curry, in the debate in the New York Preachers’ Meeting, said the believing, justified soul seeking purity, — “Looks by simple faith — a faith that recognizes Christ’s all-sufficiency, and which therefore seeks no kind nor degree of self-sufficiency — a faith wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit, and asks to be made clean. And according to that faith the work is done.”

Binney’s Theological Compend defines holiness as — “That participation of the Divine Nature, which excludes all original depravity, or inbred sin from the heart … Entire sanctification is that act of the Holy Ghost whereby the Justified soul is made holy.”

The Methodist Catechism teaches us:– “Sanctification is that act of Divine grace whereby we are made holy.” Catechism, No. 3, is still more explicit — “What is entire sanctification? The state of being entirely cleansed from sin, so as to love God with all our heart and mind, and soul and strength.” This catechism is official; it was endorsed by the General Conference, after having been revised by Elijah Hedding, Nathan Bangs, Stephen Olin and Joseph Holdich. In these Catechisms of the Methodist Episcopal Church, there is no want of clearness, nor is there any repression of “snake-heads.”

The great American Lexicographer defines sanctification — “The act of making holy … the state of being thus purified or sanctified.” “To sanctify, (he says,) in a general sense, is to cleanse, purify, or make holy … to cleanse from corruption, to purify from sin.”

Mathew Henry says: “True religion consists in heart purity. Those who are inwardly pure show themselves to be under the power of pure and undefiled religion. True Christianity lies in the heart, in the purity of the heart, in the washing of that from wickedness.” – Com. on Matt. v. 8.

Jacobus, in his Notes on John xvii.17: “This term, (sanctify) has the Old Testament sense of setting apart to a sacred service, and the New Testament sense of spiritual purification.”

Robert Hall, — “Sin is represented in the Scriptures as defilement, pollution, and the Holy Ghost is represented as effecting a purifying process in the soul.” — Sermon on Purity.

Rev. Dr. John Dick, of the Scotch Church, in his Lectures on Theology, said, — “When we say, that those who are justified by faith, are also sanctified, our meaning is, that they are made holy, not merely by consecration to the service of God, but by the infusion of His grace which purges them from the POLLUTION OF SIN.”

Sanctification (says Dr. Scott, the Commentator) is to have soul, body and spirit, every sense, member, organ, and faculty, COMPLETELY PURIFIED, and devoted to the service of God.”

Rev. George Burder, in his Village Sermons, — “Holiness is that purity of a man, in his nature, inclinations, and actions, which is an imitation and expression of the Divine image.”

Rev. Albert Barnes says: “To sanctify means to render pure, or to cleanse from sins.” … “Who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and are so.” The general meaning is, that in regard to any and every sin of which we may be conscious, there is efficacy in the blood to remove it, and to make us wholly pure. There is no stain that the blood of Christ cannot take it entirely away from the soul.” — Notes on John xvii. 7, Matt. v. 8, I. John i.7.

Rev. Dr. Watts, in his work on the World to Come, writes on holiness, — “It is not only a conscience purged from the guilt of sin, by the blood of Christ, but a soul washed also from the defiling power and taint of sin, by the sanctifying Spirit, that is necessary to make us meet for the heavenly inheritance.”

Dr. Worthington:– “Whoever loves God above all, and places his chief happiness and delight in him, is truly holy, not only will be so as to the effect, but really is so by the possession of this disposition … And when it is complete and triumphant, entirely free from the mixture of any baser passion, HE IS PERFECT IN HOLINESS.” … “But if, on the one hand, we suppose that nature shall by degrees be so refined by grace, as at length to be wholly recovered from its present disorders; then all difficulties immediately vanish, and we may easily apprehend what is meant by Christian Perfection in its full extent.” — Worthington on Redemption.

In Harnock’s Crucified Jesus, is the following strong and beautiful clause:– “Surely the blood of the Holy Jesus cleanseth from all sins, it ‘washes whiter than snow,’ Fuller’s earth is not to be compared with it, though the sinner wash himself with nitre, and take much soap to purify his soul, yet that will not take away one spot, still his iniquity will be marked before God, but the blood of Christ will make him clean, so CLEAN that no wrinkle shall appear in him.”

“To sanctify (says Berridge) in a general sense is to cleanse, purify or make holy. It is derived from the Latin sanctus, holy, and facio, to make. In particular, it implies to cleanse from corruption, to purify from sin.”

In Norris on the Love of God, is the following clear and evangelical description of Christian Purity: “And how pure and chaste must that soul be that is thoroughly purged from all created loves, and in whom the love of God reigns absolute and unrivaled, without any mixture or competition. How secure must he be from sin, when he has not that in him (inbred sin) which may betray him to it. The tempter may come, but he will find nothing in him to take hold of; the world may spread around about him a poisonous breath, but it will not hurt him, THE VERY CLEANNESS OF HIS CONSTITUTION will guard him from the infection.”

Dr. Leonard Woods, of the Andover Theological Seminary, asserts that devout Christians and orthodox divines have in all ages maintained this precious doctrine, and says for himself, that no truth has been more familiar to his mind or more zealously inculcated in his preaching or conversation than, “that the Saviour has made provision for the entire deliverance of his people from sin; that the Gospel contains a remedy for all our spiritual diseases; that there is a fullness in Christ adequate to supply all our needs.” — Bib. Repos., Jan., 1841.

The reader will see that all these quotations, however different their phraseology, are an essential unit: teaching that purity is a state of being “cleansed from all sin;” that sanctification is a work wrought in the justified believer, begins where regeneration terminates, and is the removal of the inherent corruption, or natural bias to sin consequent upon the fall of Adam.

Hence the simply regenerate believer finds in himself the natural propensity to sin, inherent from the fall, developing itself in his heart. The blood our Lord Jesus Christ was shed to cleanse away this inborn depravity. These truths lay the base for seeking purity in the blood of Jesus, which “cleanseth from all sin.”

Much of the confusion prevalent upon this subject, arises by removing it from the clear grounds of Scripture and common sense, into the dark regions of speculation and imagination. To many it is a dream of ecstasy, — of incessant rapture, or freedom from temptation and liability to sin, or exemption from infirmities and error, or the end of all progress and development.

Whereas, purity is simply a state which is now possible through grace, and harmonious with all the great facts of fallen human nature and probationship. Sanctification is no more mystical, to those who have experienced it, than regeneration. It is no more so than any other experience or state of consciousness.

Though the soul is redeemed, and freed from depravity; it is not on that account freed from trial and temptation, or liability to sin and fall. After the heart is fully cleansed, it is still in a world abounding with evil. It still possesses five senses which are avenues of temptation. Satan still goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom be may devour. Adam and Eve were tempted and fell in Paradise. Even our Holy Saviour was tempted.

If temptation is incompatible with purity, then the blessed Saviour was impure. He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” If temptation is incompatible with a holy nature, then Adam and Eve were unholy before their fall.

A liability to temptation is an essential condition of probation; and so long as we are in this world, whatever our moral state, we may expect to be tempted. Let it be borne in mind, however, it is no sin to be tempted, provided proper caution has been used to avoid unnecessary occasions of temptation. Sin consists in yielding to temptation. So long as the soul maintains its integrity, so that temptation finds no sympathy within, no sin is committed, and the soul remains unharmed, no matter how protracted or severe the fiery trial may prove.

As to ecstasy, it is clear that the human mind in its present condition, could not endure incessant rapture. Excessive or continuous ecstasy would soon rasp and shatter the nervous system and be injurious and unhealthful to soul and body. In heaven it will be otherwise, and eternity will be long enough for our enjoyment. We must be satisfied here with deep, constant “peace like a river.”

Possibly, it may please Christ, that we should have more or less, a mingled cup here, — that we should suffer with him here, that we may he glorified with him hereafter.

Reader, be holy! It is your richest inheritance. Young man, be holy! This is your joy, your strength, and your safety. Young ladies, be holy! This is the precious grace you most need. Sunday School Superintendent and Teacher, be holy! How can you do your whole duty without it?

Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Methodists, LET US ALL BE HOLY; then shall the Protestant Church be mighty through God to the “pulling down of strongholds,” and the setting up the Kingdom of Christ in all the Earth.