Purity and Maturity – By John Wood

Chapter 3

Scripture Testimony I

Christian purity, as the great evangelical fact of holiness, — the extirpation of all sin in principle from the soul, or the absence of all pollution in the heart of a believer, stands forth prominently through all the Scriptures. In this, and the following chapter we shall give a few of the many passages teaching this truth, with brief comments on each. In the expositions given, we acknowledge assistance from Clarke, Benson, Henry, and the principal Biblical expositors of the Church.

1. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matt. v. 8.

To be pure, is literally to be clean,, clear, and unmixed. It is applied in the Scriptures to “linen,” to “water,” and to “gold.” “Pure and white linen” is untarnished and unstained linen. “Pure water” is that which is clean and clear. “Pure gold” is that which is unmixed and without alloy. — Heb. x. 22, Rev. xv. 6, Rev. xxi. 18.

A pure heart is one that is cleansed from all indwelling sin, and is morally cleansed and right before God. The heart is the seat of moral action — the seat of virtue or of vice, of sin or of holiness, It is that in man of which moral character, or moral quality may be predicated; and it cannot be clean until all inbred sin is removed by the cleansing blood of Christ. In the pure heart all the Christian virtues exist to the exclusion of their opposite vices as love without hatred, submission without rebellion, faith without unbelief, humility without pride, meekness without anger, patience without impatience, and peace with no strife.

Rev. Albert Barnes says in his notes on this passage, — “That is, whose minds, motives, and principles are pure. Who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are so.”

Richard Watson in his Exposition, says: In the heart lies the true fountain of evil; and there the sanctification of man must begin and be completed … It implies, also, the extirpation of all unholy desires, imaginations, tendencies, and affections … A nature, to use St. Paul’s words, ‘sanctified wholly,’ to effect which, entire sanctification of man, is the peculiar and glorious work of the Holy Ghost, through the Gospel.”

A heart in every thought renew’d, And full of love divine; Perfect and right, and pure, and good, A copy, Lord, of thine.

— C. Wesley

2. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.” Ps. xxiv. 3, 4

“Clean hands” indicate freedom from all bodily or outward sins; including all filthy conversation, all cross or dishonest acts, and all pollution of the flesh. A “pure heart” implies a cleansing further back and deeper down than outward purity; the soul itself washed from all defilement so as to be free from all impurity, resulting in an irreproachable conscience and a holy life.

This query of Solomon, Rev. John Fletcher evangelically answers thus:– “The man in whom thy father David’s prayer is answered — ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God’; the man who has regarded St. James’ direction to the primitive Solifidians, — ‘Cleanse your hearts, ye double-minded,’ the men who have obeyed God’s awful command, O Jerusalem, wash thy heart from iniquity, that thou mayest be saved,’ — the man who is interested in the sixth beatitude, ‘ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,’ — that man, I say, can testify to the honor of the blood which cleanseth from all sin, that he has made his heart clean.”

Purge me from every sinful blot, My idols all be cast aside, Cleanse me from every sinful thought, From all the filth of self and pride.

— C. Wesley

3. “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” — Ps. li. 2, 7

If one sin, or any sin can be washed away by the blood of Jesus, so can all. If this is not so, we ask, from how much sin can it cleanse, and how much can it not cleanse? Who can draw the line of demarcation? Certainly the Bible makes no limit. If one stain of depravity can be removed by the atonement, so can every one. The greater implies the less. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? — Rom. viii. 32.

Justification, regeneration, and adoption, all things considered, are much greater than purification. Mr. Watson says, — “Regeneration which accompanies justification is a large approach to this state of perfect holiness.”

Dr. Adam Clarke says, — “Justification is far greater than sanctification.” After this statement, and after describing sanctification, he adds — “Great as this work is, how little, humanly speaking, is it, when compared with what God has already done for thee.” — Clarke’s Theology, p. 206.

Justification and regeneration, including our change to the divine government and law, and the change wrought in us, are much greater than that of “perfecting holiness,” or entire sanctification. In a judicial point of view, no change can exceed that which occurs when God pardons our sins. The inward, conscious experience of those entirely sanctified sometimes appears much greater than in regeneration: nevertheless, with many even this is not the case.

We all know that valuable garments may become soiled and stained, and that there are substances which, when properly applied, will remove every spot, purge out every stain, and extract every impurity so that they become clean and beautiful again. This truth in natural things is analogous to God’s work in the economy of grace; whereby the immortal soul, stained with sin, can be washed and made “whiter than snow.”

“If the blood of Christ (says Mathew Henry), which cleanseth from all sin, cleanse us from our sin, then we shall be clean indeed. If we be washed in the ‘fountain opened,’ we shall be whiter than snow.” The prophet Isaiah said, the Lord saith, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Creation is God’s prerogative. Here is purity by creating power. He who created the world by the “word of his power,” as God of nature, can, as “the God of all grace,” by “the word of his power,” create in us clean hearts — “created anew in Christ Jesus.”

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.” This has reference to the cleansing of the leper by sprinkling water or blood upon him with a bunch of hyssop. The Apostle calls the blood of Christ “the blood of sprinkling,” which purges the “conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.”

Enter thyself and cast out sin; Thy spotless purity bestow; Touch me and make the leper clean, Wash me and I am white as snow.

— C. Wesley

4. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you … I will also save you from all your uncleannesses.” — Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 29

Here we have the influences and work of the Holy Spirit typified by water, whose property is to cleanse, whiten, purify, refresh, render healthy and fruitful. As water cleanses, its emblematic sense is often and chiefly that of purity. This was its ancient ritualistic sense in the Mosaic economy, when purifications were by water, or by blood. Expiation was by sacrifice, and purification by water and by blood. These were types of the atoning blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit’s most gracious operations — the New Testament privileges.

Believers receive pardon — justification — through the merits of Christ and purity — sanctification through the efficacious blood of Christ.

If under the blessing and presence of God, the waters of rivers and streams, as Jordan in the case of Naaman, and the Pool of Bethesda, could be made to cleanse from the most loathsome and incurable disease; shall not the precious blood of Christ cleanse from all sin?

God, in infinite mercy, has made ample provision for both our pardon and purity. He not only promises to forgive and remove the guilt of our sins; but to cleanse and remove the pollution of sin from our nature: to effect a good work in us, as well as to do a good work for us. “Ye shall be clean.”

“From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you,” from every sort of internal and external pollution. As Naaman was cleansed of his leprosy in Jordan, which leprosy was a type of indwelling sin, so Christ will “sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean,” that is, cleansed from all pollution of nature or spirit.

How strong and positive the declaration, “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses.”

Here is the salvation, which is the birthright of every Christian, — the complete destruction of all sin, — the removal of all impurity from the soul.

“I will sprinkle you with water, I will cleanse you from all sin; Sanctify and make you holy; I will dwell and reign within.”

5. “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” — Zech. xiii 1.

“In that day,” that is, in the Gospel day there shall be “a fountain opened” — provision made for the cleansing of the human soul. This fountain opened is the blood and atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed forth “both water and blood” for cleansing. He is the Rock smitten, which is to our race “the fountain of living waters.”

Blood and water as we have stated, were instruments of purification under the haw, which showed that man needs both pardon and purity in order to salvation. This was seen on the cross. The fountain of water and of blood was opened at the same time. St. John saw the soldier pierce our Lord’s side, and there came out “water and blood.” He refers to it in his Epistles. “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ, not by water only, but by water and blood.” Thus Christ opened the fountain for pardon and purity. This fountain is now open for us, and if we are not made clean it is our own fault. Mark, it is a “FOUNTAIN”! A FOUNTAIN OPENED;” ever flowing and overflowing! It is a fountain opened “for sin” and “for uncleanness” — for the removal of both guilt and pollution.

Bishop Simpson said in an address at Vineland: “Have you a single stain upon your heart? Come to the fountain. Have you trouble and sorrow? Come at once to the Saviour and receive joy and comfort; for, thank God, there is room in His heart for all. How many have stepped into the fountain already, and found it a Sovereign balm for every sorrow and defilement! Thank God, cleansing power is there still!”

Rev James Brainard Taylor wrote to his sister after God cleansed his heart, — “I have been in the fountain and am clean.”

All may come! It is inexhaustible! “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the UTTERMOST, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Though ten thousand times ten thousand thousands have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, the fountain is still open and infinitely efficacious.

“There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.

— Cowper

6. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” — Isaiah i. 18.

Scarlet is known to be one of the most indelible colors, so much so that many paper-makers do not purchase scarlet rags, because the color cannot be extricated. This color is here used to represent the fearful dye or stain of sin in the human soul. Original and actual sin have made a ruinous stain, taint, or pollution upon the human spirit, which nothing can remove but the blood of Christ. His blood can remove all the guilt of sin, original or actual, and cleanse the soul from the inbeing of every stain or pollution.

This passage teaches, as our duty and privilege, so complete a purification that not a stain is left. To be made “as white as snow,” and even “whiter than snow, is to be truly “cleansed from all sin.”

My heart, which now to thee I raise, I know thou canst this moment cleanse; The deepest stains of sin efface, And drive the evil spirit hence.

— C. Wesley

7. “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” — Deut. xxx. 6

Dr. Adam Clarke says, — “The circumcision of the heart implies the purification of the soul from all unrighteousness. Hence the apostle says — ‘Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not of the letter ‘ — ‘ in the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.’ The marginal reference refers to the passage in Ezekiel — “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean,” &c.

This passage stands correlated to the great commandment of both Testaments — “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Thus what God commands us to do, he will enable us to perform. No man can complain of inability to observe this commandment, on which hang all the law and the prophets, in view of the promise of God in this passage, and in the 30th chapter of Ezekiel, where he says, “I will put my spirit within you and cause you to keep my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.” Divinely provided, gracious ability, is the foundation of our obligation to obey God.

Lord, I believe thy power the same, The same thy truth and grace endure; And in thy blessed hands I am, And trust thee for a perfect cure.

— C. Wesley

8. “For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” — Mal. iii. 2, 3. Humanity is polluted. Christ is the great Refiner. For this end he gave himself for the Church, that he might “sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word,” and “purify unto himself a peculiar people.”

In this passage the most valuable metals are used to illustrate the purification of the human soul. God values the soul as man values gold and silver, and his process of purifying it is analogous, hence we are said to be “purged as gold.” Christ like a “refining fire” separates the dross from the gold, the precious from the vile; or like “fullers’ soap,” he extracts every spot or defilement from the garment.

He cleanses his people from all corruption, like refined gold, without alloy. He washes away every spot from without, and purges all the dross from within.

As a refiner he purges them with fire, as gold and silver are purged. Fire being more intensely searching and purifying than water, it goes through the soul, a sanctifying flame — as “The spirit of burning,” consuming all its curruptions.

He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” — that is, “with the Holy Ghost” working like fire. The silversmith, with his silver in the crucible, heats and melts it until the dross is separated and consumed; and until the pure silver presents a mirrored appearance. “When the refiner can clearly see his face in the silver, he knows the refining is complete.

Thus the mighty Spirit of Christ pervades and melts the soul, removes all its dross and makes it pure, so as to reflect fully his own precious image.

O that in me the sacred fire Might now begin to glow! Burn up the dross of base desire, And make the mountains flow!

— C. Wesley

9. “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? .. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?” — Mal. i. 7-8.

God will not accept corrupt service. With offerings of “polluted bread,” or with “the lame,” “the blind,” “the torn,” “the sick,” God is not pleased. Our bodies and souls, our services and praises must be offered from pure hearts, from correct motives, and in a right spirit. He will accept no service or offering “in unrighteousness.” “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

O grant that nothing in my soul May dwell, but thy pure love alone! O may thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure, and my crown! Strange flames far from my heart remove, My every act, word, thought, be love.

— C. Wesley

10. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” — Rom. xiv. 17.

The Apostle here gives the very essentials and essence of Christianity. The items named constitute its foundation and superstructure, its life and its soul. To produce them in the human heart and life is the great design and object of the Gospel.

Mr. Watson says, — “Holiness rather expresses the renewed state and habit of the soul; and righteousness, all those external fruits which spring from it, whether of piety, justice or mercy.

“In the Holy Ghost,” that is, produced by the Holy Ghost, as St. Luke says of the Gentiles Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” “He that in these things,” in “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” Dr. Adam Clarke says, “This is a genuine counterpart of heaven; righteousness without sin, peace without inward disturbance, joy without any kind of mental agony or distressing fear.”

Come in this accepted hour; Bring thy heavenly kingdom in; Fill us with thy glorious power, Rooting out the seeds of sin.

— J. Wesley

11. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” — John xvii. 17

Here our Lord prays for the purity of his disciples, and not only for them, but “for them also which shall believe on him through their word,” ALL CHRISTIANS. Those whom Christ prayed for, doubtless like all justified believers, are already saved in part, and he prayed that they might be sanctified — purified.

Mr. Wesley on this verse says, — “It means, perfect them in holiness by means of thy word.”

It is clear, they needed a further cleansing to complete their purity or sanctification. To accomplish this, Christ consecrated himself, and offered himself without spot to God that his people might be made holy. It is because Christ shed his blood; and died, that any soul can be made pure and fit for the Kingdom of God. While without “the shedding of blood” there is no remission — pardon of sins, so without the meritorious efficacy, (of atoning blood, there is no “cleansing from all unrighteousness.”

The primary signification of the term sanctification is purity. When applied to the body, or any physical object, such object may be said to be sanctified, when in a state wholly free from defilement or pollution. As the idea of purity in a sense still higher, attaches to anything pertaining to religion, any object is, in this sense said to be sanctified, when it is purified and consecrated to religious uses. In this sense God sanctified the Sabbath. In this sense, also, the ancient Temple, with all its vessels and appurtenances, was sanctified.

As holiness is purity in the highest sense, and depravity, impurity in the worst conceivable sense, a Christian may be said to be sanctified when in a state of separation from “all unrighteousness.”

Our moral voluntary powers are sanctified, when they are cleansed from all defilement and when their action is in complete harmony with the will of God. Our sensibility is sanctified, in a Bible sense, when washed in the blood of Christ, and brought by the grace of God into such relation to the action of sanctified will, as to harmonize in inclination or impulse with it, and not to oppose it. Any department of our nature is sanctified, when its action is in harmony with that of a will entirely sanctified to God. “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy.” This purity is through the truth. God’s truth is like fire. “Is not my word like fire? saith the Lord.” When correctly presented it searches, illuminates, quickens, melts, and refines and transforms like fire.

Thy sanctifying Spirit pour, To quench my thirst, and make me clean; Now, Father, let the gracious shower Descend, and make me pure from sin.

— C. Wesley

12. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” — Col. iii. 5

To mortify means to put to death. By “members,” we are to understand, all the lust and corruption of our heart and nature — all remains of the carnal mind unpurged from the soul.

The doctrine of this scripture is that of death to sin, illustrated by the process of mortification. It is clear that these Colossians, though in a state of grace, had the remains of corruption to be destroyed by mortification.

That the remains of the “carnal mind,” cleave to merely justified believers, runs through all the Epistles of St. Paul. The “perfecting of the saints” implies the extirpation and death of all remaining carnality — evil passions or propensities of our nature.

See, Lord, the travail of thy soul, Accomplish’d in the change of mine And plunge me, every whit made whole, In all the depths of love divine!

— C. Wesley

1. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” — I. Pet. ii. 24.

The work of grace in the soul is usually presented in the Scriptures as embracing two leading ideas. First, the death or destruction of sin, and second, the spiritual resurrection or life of grace. In this passage we have both these great items stated — the death of sin, and the life of righteousness. To be dead to a thing morally, is to have nothing to do with it; to be totally separated from it; to be free from or beyond its power, control or influence. “He that is dead is freed from sin” — that is, is free from its power, dominion, and inbeing.

Rev. Dr. Hodge’s comment on being “dead to sin,” is that, it is having no more to do with sin than the people buried in the Trinity Churchyard have to do with the life that rushes daily along Broadway.

“By whose stripes ye were healed.” The Apostle here refers to Isaiah liii., which has regard to the sacrificial death of Christ; by whose stripes the deep and inveterate wounds and disease inflicted by sin on the soul may be healed. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin; but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus, a word, a look from thee, Can turn my heart and make it clean; Purge out the inbred leprosy, And save me from my bosom sin.

— C. Wesley

14. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” — Rom. vi. 6, 7

The “old man” is our corrupt and depraved nature, derived from Adam, born and bred with us. This is to be crucified. The “body of sin” is the whole mass of our corruption, or vicious nature with its sinful passions and lusts. This is to be destroyed — “that the body of sin might be destroyed.” When our nature is fully sanctified, the remaining rudiments of the “old man which is corrupt,” is “put off with his deeds,” so that God causes our “iniquities to pass from us.” He who can raise the dead soul to life, can easily destroy all the interior antagonisms to that life.

Dr. Clarke says on this passage, “From all which we may learn that the design of God is to counterwork and destroy the very spirit and soul of sin, that we shall no longer serve it, no longer be its slaves … Our body of sin is destroyed by this quickening Spirit, that henceforth we should live unto Him who died and rose again.

I need the love, I need the blood, I need the grace, the cross, the grave, I need the resurrection power, A soul like mine to purge and save.

— Dr. Bonar

15. “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness … For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness … But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” — Rom. vi. 18, 20, 22.

Being “free from righteousness” is the finished character of a sinner; so “freedom from sin” is the finished character of a true Christian.

The doctrine taught by the Apostle here, is, that as believers have been universally polluted — “free from righteousness,” so God would have them entirely cleansed — “free from sin.” Their holiness is to be as universal as their former sinfulness; their obedience us entire as their former disobedience, and their purity as deep and complete as their depravity. Their depravity and sinfulness were both internal and external, and their freedom from sin and pollution must be both inward and outward — the vessel must be cleansed both inside and outside.

No safe interpretation of these Scriptures can render doubtful our obligation to be entirely cleansed from sin; nor can we neglect this with impunity, as God commands and requires immediate obedience.

Salvation from sin; from all sin! This is the grand design of the Gospel.

I ask no higher state; Indulge me but in this, And soon or later then translate To my eternal bliss.

— C. Wesley

16. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” — Titus ii. 14

In this passage we have the author and price of personal holiness. “He gave himself a ransom for all.” “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold … But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Christ “gave himself for us.” That is, the great object and end of his death was to “redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people.”

BLESSED BE HIS NAME! Myriads have proved that he redeems from all iniquity and purifies from all uncleanness, so that his saints — holy ones, are a purified, “peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Christ gave himself — died, as much to purify his people, as to pardon them; as much to free them from all pollution, as from all guilt; and he can accomplish their purification as easily and perfectly as their justification.

The peculiarity of his people spoken of is their purity and consequent unlikeness to the world. They are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” God’s true people are separate from the world, are cleansed from all unrighteousness, are purified unto himself, and made fervent and abundant in good works. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”

I want the witness, Lord, That all I do is right, — According to thy will and word, — Well pleasing in thy sight.

— C. Wesley

17. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” — I. Thess. iv. 3.

God’s will as revealed in his word, is that his people should be holy — pure, chaste, clean — cleansed from all filthy lusts of the flesh, and all manner of uncleanness both of heart and life, of soul and of body. To assert that there is any sin of which the human heart is possessed, from which our God can not, or will not deliver us, is to say that either the devil is stronger than he, or that our sanctification is not his will.

This passage may have special regard to bodily purity and chastity; and stands against all bodily uncleanness. Strictly speaking, the body is not the subject of sanctification, because, being a material substance, it is susceptible of neither virtue nor vice. But it may be sanctified in the sense of being dedicated to the service of God, and its organs and members, which were formerly employed in sinful actions, and were excitements to them, are changed into “instruments of righteousness.”

The body of the Christian is “a temple of the Holy Ghost,” and is to be “preserved in sanctification and honor” — kept free from lust or concupiscence — SACRED TO GOD. “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

Our sanctification or purification, is God’s will in both the permissive and authoritative sense. He is willing we should be holy, and he commands and requires us to be holy. Duty and privilege are bound together in religious things; duty is privilege, and privilege is duty. We can put it either I must, or I may. And duty is not more prominent than privilege.

He wills that I should holy be! What can withstand his will? The counsel of his grace in me He surely shall fulfill.

— C. Wesley

18. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor.” Luke iii. 16, 17

Dr. F. G. Hibbard says:– “In the time of Christ, through the prevalent influence of the Greek language and culture, baptism in a religious sense had come to be synonymous with purification.”

The baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire teaches the purification of the soul, which like fire in its operations purifies the heart from sin, consuming its lusts and corruptions. The metaphor is very expressive. Fire, as we have seen, is enlightening and illuminating. It is warming and melting. It is also pervading, consuming and transforming. Thus the blessed Holy Ghost works in the heart as a, “refiner’s fire,” penetrating, melting, illuminating, and purging its corruption.

“Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost,” that is, the work is wrought in the believer’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, enlightening the understanding, rectifying the will, melting the sensibilities, purging the conscience, subduing the propensities, regulating and warming the affections, and thus renewing the whole soul “in righteousness and true holiness.”

That this is possible, no one will doubt who believes in the supreme Divinity of the Holy Ghost, as the third person in the adorable Trinity; whose office it is, to possess, enlighten, renew, strengthen, comfort, and sanctify the human soul. This is the blessed work of the Holy Spirit, and of it alone. He can pervade every part of the soul, and assimilate the whole to the image of God.

Refining fire, go through my heart; Illuminate my soul; Scatter thy life through every part, And sanctify the whole.

— C. Wesley —