A religion not in harmony with common sense cannot be from God. God is the Author both of common sense and of true religion and His works never conflict. Hence the religion that cannot stand the test of common sense is good for nothing either in this world or in the world to come.
It is currently objected to the doctrine of holiness, as an experience of this life, that it is fanaticism. We propose to show that far from being fanaticism it is the purest common sense, and that the objector is the fanatic.
In fact the real fanaticism is contained in that religion that does not save us from all sin. It is the most absurd thing in the world, to be religious when our religion does not save us from that which ails us-sin.
It is often the case that Satan throws the blame of his own crowd upon the Lord’s people. And this is the case in the matter of holiness. He would take the eyes of men off the unreasonableness of a sinning religion and make a holy religion appear unreasonable. A sinning religion or a religion that would permit sin is of the devil, because he is the author and inspirer of all sin.
A holy religion is of God because God is holy and can never tolerate or encourage sin and especially not among His own people.
It is therefore time that we “carried the war into Africa” and that we charge home on the devil and his folks fanaticism and unreasonableness. We have allowed the charge of fanaticism to be made against God’s holy religion long enough.
Reader, which do you choose, a religion that permits sin, which is the work of Satan or the divine religion that saves from sin? Down in your heart you know which religion you prefer and your preference shows what manner of man you are. This book is written to show the reasonableness of the experience of holiness in this life and to show at the same time, the unreasonableness of the opposite not being saved from sin in this life.
Common Sense in Religion
We propose in showing than it is in harmony with good common sense that supernatural religion should save us from all sin, to take the negative side, and show the folly and absurdity of a religion that does not save from all sin. In other words, a religion that does not save from all sin is a sinning religion. And for people to call themselves Christians and yet declare that they cannot, and are not, saved from all sin is grotesque and ridiculous. See what follows if the religion of Jesus does not save from all sin.
A religion that permits sin is ridiculous; because it represents God as pleased with sin. The system of religion revealed in the Bible has God as its Author. God is pleased with His religion and if He has given a religion that permits sin, then God is pleased with a system that permits sin. If He is pleased with such a system, then He is pleased with sin. There can be no escape from this conclusion. If God is pleased with sin, then He is not holy. Consequently those who deny that we can be saved from sin, really attack the holiness of God. There is no escape from this conclusion. A sinning religion is therefore a contradiction of a holy God. For whatever God does is good and His plan of salvation is therefore good. But to call it good when it permits evil is a contradiction.
A religion that permits sin encourages sin. It encourages men to remain sinful. For why should man seek for purity if he can get along without it? Why should he seek to be free from sin when the highest standard of his religion allows it? Why should he seek to be free from sin when his religion permits it? Why should he cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye of his darling lusts if there is no need of it? Why should he try to be free from sin if his religion does not promise divine help in achieving freedom from sin? Men do not earnestly seek what they think is an impossibility. When George Fox was preaching the glorious gospel in England in one place, a man remonstrated saying, “You put it too strong.” George Fox replied, “The Scripture says, ” “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin. , “The man replied, “To be sure, but all we can do is to keep striving.” Fox replied, “What is the use to keep striving if we cannot do it?” It cuts the nerve of all effort if a man believes he can not accomplish the thing he is seeking to do. They, who deny that we can be saved from all sin, really make the Author of Christianity an encourager of sin.
A religion that permits sin makes the author of that religion a partner in the sins of his followers. This is severe logic but there is no escape from this conclusion. He who encourages others in any enterprise becomes a partner in it, as far as his influence, at least, is concerned. Whatever we encourage others to do is our own enterprise as far as our influence is concerned. A father, who does not discourage the disposition to dishonesty in his children, becomes responsible for their dishonesty. He is responsible because he did not encourage them to be honest. The professed Christians, who declare that they cannot be saved from all sin are really publishing to the world that God has made no provision to save from sin. And if He has made no provision, in His plan of salvation, to save from sin, then He does not discourage sin. And if He does not discourage it, His silence on the subject is an encouragement of it.
A religion that does not save from sin breaks down at the point where it is most needed. If man does not need to be saved from sin, what does he need to be saved from? Sin is the worst thing in the world. It is the great source of all our trouble. It is the cause of all the woes of mankind. It is our great hindrance in serving God. It is the only thing that can shut us out of heaven. If we need religion at all, we need it at this point, for if we are saved from sin we are saved from hell, for hell is but the result of sin. Therefore a religion that will not save us from sin is not needed for it breaks down at the vital point. A doctor that cannot cure disease fails at the very point where a doctor is needed. And so does a sinning religion.
On the other hand it is reasonable and probable that God would give us a plan of salvation that saves from sin. We have been showing the absurdity of a sinning religion. We now wish to show the reasonableness of a religion that saves from sin, or at least we wish to show that the Christian religion reasonably must save us from sin in this present life. It is reasonable to expect that God would give a religion that will save from all sin because no other religion can glorify God. He is holy and His plan of salvation glorifies Him in making His people like Him. It is the glory of an honest man to have honest children. It is the glory of a holy God to have holy children. Does this seem unreasonable? It is not unreasonable for a man to have children like him. No one objects to a child being like his parents. If we are the children of God it would be most unreasonable if we were not like Him.
Holiness glorifies God, for He is the Author of holiness and sin glorifies Satan, because he is the author of sin. Everybody in the world is glorifying either God or Satan.
A religion that saves from sin proves that the grace of God is mightier than sin. It puts a premium on divine grace. People who are saved from sin are samples of what God can do and people who are not saved from sin are samples of what Satan can do. There has been a great contest between God and Satan in all ages of the world. And it is still going on. The battle never was hotter in any age than today. When God would save Israel from its backsliding, He took Joshua, the high priest, and his fellow priests and made them symbols of His saving grace and declared they were types of what He could do in saving men from sin. (See Zechariah 3:7.) There are plenty of people who preach up the power of Satan and declare that he can make sinners but deny that our God can make saints. Let them preach up the power of Satan if they will, but we will magnify the grace of God and declare that the divine remedy is more than a match for the disease of sin.
A religion that saves from sin is necessary to prove that the Bible is true. Either our Bible is “a cunningly devised fable” or it is the Word of God. If it does not produce holy character then the infidel has the best of the argument. The infidel knows it teaches a holy life and he says, “But no one has ever lived such a life.” And when professed Christians deny that it is their privilege to be saved from all sin, they join hands with infidels. They help tear down the temple of Christianity. Christlieb many years ago said, “The Christian is the world’s Bible. They read us instead of the Bible.” This was considered a very pretty sentiment and was voiced by the pulpit and religious press. But it means still more. It means that the Bible is a holy book. It is a treatise on holiness. It professes holiness on the outside when it carries the title, “Holy Bible.” It has holiness on the inside. And in that sense the real Christian is the world’s Bible. He has the profession of holiness on the outside and the experience of holiness on the inside.
Bishop Taylor in his evangelistic work in India had a remarkable convert, who gave his experience like this. He came across a New Testament somewhere and read it. He was filled with delight and amazement. He said to somebody, “It is a wonderful book. But of course there are no people that live as that book teaches.” The reply was, “Oh, yes. There are many of them in Bombay.” He said “Show them to me.” He began to mingle with and watch the professed Christians of a nominal church of Bombay. He saw how they did business; how they treated their servants and families and came away sick at heart, saying, “Alas! the book is not true. I am disappointed.” And he gave the matter up. When the great revival under Bishop Taylor’s preaching broke out in Bombay, this man came and looked on. He saw drunkards, thieves and harlots saved from their sins and believers sanctified, and he said, “The book is true after all,” and fell down at the foot of the cross and got salvation. Holy people are necessary to prove that the Bible is true. If a man can not be saved from all sin, then the Bible is the most inconsistent, contradictory and deceptive book in the world, for no unprejudiced man can read it and not know that it commands and promises holiness. How ridiculously inconsistent are those followers of Jesus, who oppose and fight the work of holiness! Better be an out and out infidel than an inconsistent professed Christian. “I would thou wert either cold or hot,” said Jesus.
Holiness is a reasonable experience because it is divinely commanded. God constantly commands it all through His Word. This command is so frequent that we need not quote. Every Bible student is aware of the fact. Whatever God commands is reasonable. He is too good and wise to ask impossibilities. Average Christians, in spite of the command again and again, “Be ye holy,” look upon its realization as fanaticism. Pharaoh very unreasonably commanded the Israelites to make brick without furnishing the material. Our God asks nothing beyond our ability or possibility. When He says, “Be ye holy,” He means we can be holy. Every command implies the power to obey. Every command has a promise in its bosom. A command means “I will give you the grace and power to obey Me, whenever your own strength fails.”
It is said that John Wesley once asked his brother, Charles, “If the Lord commanded you to fly, what would you do?” The reply was, “If the Lord asked me to fly, I would expect Him to furnish me wings.” John in turn replied “If the Lord commanded me to fly, I would fly, wings or no wings.”
When the man with the withered hand stood before Jesus, the latter said, “Stretch forth thy hand.” That was what he had been unable to do. The link between the mind and body was missing. When he willed his hand would not obey. But at the command of Jesus he exerted his will and the missing link was supplied by divine power and his hand went forth. So it is in obeying the command to be holy. We are as unable to make ourselves holy as this man was to stretch forth his hand but if we will to be holy with all our souls, He will supply the power and make us holy. We do not have to try to persuade God to make us holy. He has been persuaded for thousands of years.
Holiness is reasonable because it is deeply imbedded in the human conscience, that man ought to be holy. We find men seeking to be holy even among the heathen. They are bathing in sacred rivers, torturing their bodies, measuring their length across continents, fasting, torturing themselves, to be made holy.
In Christian lands men are criticizing the faults of their neighbors and demanding a perfect humanity. The need of holiness is felt by all men, under the urging of a guilty conscience. In its last analysis what is holiness? It is being right. That is all. And the universal conscience of the race demands that man be right. Whatever is universally admitted as a trend of our nature is right. Innate ideas are current ideas. This is common sense in religion.
John Fletcher, the saint of early Methodism, reasons with opposers who deny that God instantly makes man holy, thus, “For where is the absurdity of the doctrine? If the light of a candle, brought into a dark room, can instantly expel the darkness; and if, upon opening the shutters, at noon, your gloomy apartment can be instantly filled with meridian light; why might not the instantaneous rending of the veil of unbelief, or the sudden and full opening of the eye of faith, instantly fill your soul with the light of truth and the fire of love, supposing the Sun of Righteousness arise upon you with healing in His wings? May not the Sanctifier descend upon your waiting soul as quickly as the Spirit descended upon your Lord in baptism? Did it not descend as a dove; that is with the swift motion of a dove, which swiftly shoots down, and instantly alights? A good man once said, ‘A mote is little when compared with the sun, but I am far less when compared with God. , Alluding to this comparison, I ask, if the sun could instantly kindle a mote; nay if a burning glass can in a moment calcine a bone, and turn a stone into lime; if a dim flame of a candle can, in the twinkling of an eye, destroy the flying insect which comes within its sphere; how unscriptural and irrational is it to suppose that when God fully baptizes a soul with His sanctifying Spirit, and with the celestial fire of His love, He cannot in an instant destroy the man of sin, burn up the chaff of corruption, melt the heart of stone into a heart of flesh, and kindle the believing soul into pure seraphic love.”