The Denial of the Heart-cleansing Work of the Holy Ghost
There is a class of religious teachers who champion Pentecost, but belittle the experience. They commend the baptism with the Holy Ghost, but deny its efficacy to cleanse the heart from inbred sin. By thus subtracting from the Holy Spirit’s work they equally diminish the importance of the baptism with the Spirit. Of course, also in the same proportion, they weaken the motive for seeking the blessing which they have thus minimized and degraded. Doubtless this treatment of Pentecost actually keeps multitudes from desiring and seeking with all their hearts this chief blessing of God. Practically, therefore, it is a partial rejection of Pentecost. To make more evident what we mean, we will give the statements of a few writers on this subject, and then challenge their accuracy in the light of the New Testament in the original language. Rev. R. A. Torrey says, in “How to Bring Men to Christ,” page 106:”
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is always connected with testimony or service. The baptism of the Holy Spirit has no direct reference to cleansing from sin. This is an important point to bear in mind for many reasons. There is a line of teaching on this subject that leads men to expect that, if they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the old carnal nature will be eradicated.
“There is not a line of scripture to support this position.
“As said above, and as any one can learn for himself if he will examine all the passages in which the baptism of the Holy Ghost is mentioned, it is always connected with testimony and service. It is indeed accompanied with a great moral and spiritual uplifting, and presupposes, as we shall see, an entire surrender of the will to Christ; but its primary and immediate purpose is fitting for service.
“We are now in position to define the baptism of the Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God falling upon the believer, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not naturally his own, but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.”
In this passage Brother Torrey absolutely and emphatically denies that the Pentecostal experience cleanses the heart, and declares that it only empowers for larger service.
F. B. Meyer says: “On this platform [Keswick] we never say self is dead; were we to do so, self would be laughing at us ’round the corner. The teaching of Rom. 6:6, is not that self is dead; but that the renewed will is dead to self, the man’s will saying ‘Yes’ to Christ, and ‘No’ to self; through the Spirit’s grace, it constantly repudiates, and weakens, and mortifies the power of the flesh.”
In a similar vein, Prebendary H. W. Webb-Peploe declares: “It is simply according to our faith that we receive, and faith only draws from God according to our present possibilities. These are limited by indwelling corruption; and while never needing to sin in the sphere of the light we possess, it is ever taught at Keswick, as in every part of God’s Word, that there are, to the very last hour of our life upon earth, powers of corruption within every man which defile his very best deeds, and give even to his holiest efforts the nature of sin. Hence, while teaching that we need never sin against light, we still hold that, judged by the perfect standard of God, there is the sin of shortcoming and defilement in every thought, word, and deed of our lives.”
This is another way of stating the utterly unScriptural doctrine of necessary and continuous sin, and the existence of an indwelling corruption within every man from which the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit is impotent to cleanse.
Professor Agar Beet, of England, also declares: “I do not find anywhere in the Bible reason to believe that the inward forces of evil may now by faith, or at any future time in our lives, be utterly annihilated … Unless yielded to, these foulnesses do not defile. Temptation, even though it be from within as the result of previous indulgence in sin, does not defile or weaken until yielded to. Consequently, the promise to cleanse from all sin does not necessarily involve the annihilation of all inward tendencies toward sin. They are conquerors over sin who have complete victory over each temptation as it arises. So long as they abide in faith, the cross of Christ stands as an impassable barrier between them and sin. In this sense they are dead to sin.”
Dr. Mudge, of Boston, in his book, page 107, says: “Instead of cleansing, then, we would suggest that ’empowering’ is a much better term to use, and one less liable to mislead, for the effect of God’s incoming to the heart of man. We are convinced that this entirely satisfies the requirements of the Scriptures where the former word appears, and simply puts in a more modern and intelligible guise the thought of the inspired writing.”
All these five writers above quoted have this in common, that they reject from their interpretation of Scripture the idea of heart-cleansing from the “carnal mind,” or deliverance from the “old man” of inbred sin, as a Pentecostal experience. We believe their position can be overthrown by the Word. Remember, Brother Torrey says: There is not a line of Scripture to support this position, that the carnal nature will be eradicated” by “the baptism with the Holy Ghost.” Now, let us see:
I. We will begin with Peter’s speech before the council in Jerusalem. He is telling what happened to Cornelius and his fellow-Gentiles when the Holy Spirit fell on them; and this is what he says: “And God, who knoweth the heart, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us: and He made no distinction between us and them, CLEANSING their hearts by faith.” Now here is a declaration, as plain as language could well make it, that the baptism with the Holy Ghost, the Pentecostal blessing, cleansed the Jewish Apostles and disciples, and also cleansed the hearts of the Gentiles, and that God bore witness to the cleansing. Surely Brother Torrey has read this passage of Scripture; but it flatly, absolutely contradicts him. We will pursue this further.
We have already, in Chapter II, heard F. B. Meyer say: “You must be a holy man;” “You must be cleansed;” “He must have a cleansed vessel.” But he is not consistent with himself. He is author of a tract called “Not Eradication.” So his “cleansing” is not “cleansing” after all, but only a suppression or holding down of the Old Man” of inbred sin.
Now we will resume our discussion of the above text. (Acts 15:8-9) The Greek verb used [for] “cleansing their hearts” is the aorist participle of the verb katharizo. An older form of the verb is kathairo. Both are derived from the adjective katharos, which means “clean,” “pure,” “unsoiled,” “upright,” “void of evil.” We find the adjective used in the following passages: Matt. 5:8,” Blessed are the pure in heart;” I Tim. 1:5, “Out of a pure heart;” I Tim. 3:9, “In a pure conscience;” 2 Tim. 2:22,” Out of a pure heart;” James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled;” Rev. 15:6, “Pure and white linen;” Rev. 21:18, “Pure gold;” Rev. 22:1, “Pure river of water.”
It is thus seen that this adjective is applied to the heart, the conscience, religion, white linen, gold, and water. Do Messrs. Torrey and Meyer wish us to understand that there is no such thing as gold free from alloy? or pure water free from sediment and dirt? or pure linen free from cotton or wool? But if such things are possible and actual, why not also a pure conscience cleansed by the blood, and a pure heart freed from “the carnal mind?”
Now we will take up our verb “katharizo,” which we have seen used in Acts 15:9, “cleansing their hearts” by the Pentecostal baptism. The meanings given to it in the lexicon, “to cleanse,” “to render pure,” “to cleanse from leprosy,” “to free from the influence of error or sin.” It is used three times in the following passage (Matt. 8:2, 3): “And, behold, there came a leper, and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Would Brother Torrey have us believe that Jesus did not cleanse this leper, but only played at it — a kind of make-believe cleansing? But if this leper really was cleansed, why are not hearts also really cleansed from moral defilement by the Pentecostal baptism?
Now we turn to Brother Meyer. Would he have us believe that Jesus did not cast out the taint and contagion and defilement of this horrible leprosy, but only suppressed its manifestation a bit, leaving it still infesting the system and corrupting the blood! What reverent Bible-reader believes this for a moment? But if the Divine cleansing of the leper does not “suppress” leprosy, but casts it out, why may we not properly conclude that the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Spirit does not “suppress” the carnality of the believer’s heart, but actually casts it out?
Now we turn to Brother Mudge. He tells us we would better substitute the word “empower” for the word “cleanse” “as a much better term to use.” Well, let us substitute: “And, behold, there came to Him a leper, and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst ’empower’ me. And Jesus stretched forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou ’empowered.’ And straightway HIS LEPROSY WAS ‘EMPOWERED!!!'” Dr. Fowler, making this substitution, said: “I am ashamed of such a suggestion from carnal-scholarship!” Let us try the substitution in Mark 7:18, 19: “Do ye not perceive that whatsoever thing from without entereth into a man, it can not defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging [katharizo] all meats?” It maybe that Dr. Mudge wants the fecal matter of his bowels “EMPOWERED!!” I prefer to have it “purged” from mine. May the dear Lord keep us from thus twisting, and distorting, and “wresting” Scripture, to escape the grip of the blessed truth of sanctification or heart-cleansing!
This same Greek verb appears again in Matt. 23:25: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” Brother Torrey says the heart is not cleansed by the baptism with the Spirit from carnality, but only “uplifted;” Brother Meyer says carnality is “suppressed;” Brother Mudge has something only “empowered.” We appeal to every woman who has enough of the Spirit of God in her to love cleanliness and decency: when you wash the dinner dishes, do you merely “uplift” the dirty cups and platters as Torrey says; or “suppress” the filth, but let it remain, as Meyer says; or “empower” the plate to carry the grease, as Mudge says; or do you cleanse the dishes and free them from dirt, as John Wesley teaches? I will let the self-respecting housekeepers decide the matter.
But we can not yet give up this adjective katharos, which means ‘ clean,” “pure,” “unsoiled,” “upright,” “void of evil.” It is compounded with the Greek preposition ek — (out of) — into another verb ekkathairo! The lexicons give the meanings as “to cleanse out,” “thoroughly purify,” “to purge out,” “to eliminate.” Will Brothers Torrey and Meyer, who so vigorously oppose the doctrine of eradication, and prefer “suppression,” take notice; “TO PURGE OUT,” “TO ELIMINATE!” The very origin of the word could make it mean nothing else, and nothing less. It is used in I Cor. 5:7: “Purge out, therefore, the old leaven;” and 2 Tim. 2:21: “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, SANCTIFIED, meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.”
Now, in this last verse we are informed what is the essence or sanctification; it is to be PURGED of the leaven of carnality; and in the previous verse the figure of leaven is used, which was to be purged out or put away. In the nineteenth verse of the twelfth chapter of Exodus we read, “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses.” That leaven was not to be “suppressed,” covered up with a cloth, or concealed in a jar, or kept in the bread and disguised. It was to be put out.
In four passages we are told that we are sanctified by the Holy Ghost: Rom. 15:16; 2 Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2; and I Cor. 6:2. Now what stage have we reached in our argument?
First. We are sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Second. It is done by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:8, 9): “cleansing our hearts.”
Third. It consists of “purging out” or “eliminating.”
Fourth. It makes us “PURE,” like “pure water” or “pure gold,” from which sediment or alloy has been “purged out” or “eliminated;” or like an Israelite’s home from which leaven has been purged; or like a leper cleansed by Jesus from his leprosy; or like a platter cleansed by a Christian housewife.
II. We might safely rest our case here. But we have only touched the fringe of the Scripture evidence for the removal of the carnal mind. Take the Greek adjective hagios. Its meanings are: 1. “Separate from common use;” 2. “hallowed;” 3. “pure, righteous.” In this latter moral and spiritual sense it is used a vast number of times in the New Testament; about a hundred times of God the Father, Son and Spirit; four times of angels; nineteen times of men and women. We might infer from this, at least, that the cleansing blood of Christ, and the purifying work of the Holy Ghost in our hearts would induce a holiness in us in kind like that in God and the angels, alike free from carnality.
From this adjective is formed the verb hagiazo which means “to separate” “to consecrate,” “to cleanse,” “to purify,” “to sanctify,” “to reverence as holy.” This is the verb the Savior used when he prayed: “Sanctify them through Thy truth.” (John 17:17) This is the verb that Paul used when he said: “Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it.” (Eph. 5:26) Did Jesus pray for nothing higher and die for nothing better than to leave the members of His Church a mass of carnality and inward corruption? This is the verb Paul used when he prayed, “And the very God of peace himself sanctify you wholly [German, “through and through”]; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless.” (1 Thess. 5:23) Is it thinkable that when the Infinite God undertakes to sanctify — make us “pure,” “through and through,” in “spirit, soul, and body” — he still leaves every corner of our being infested with a carnality that is at war with God?
The participle of this verb is used in Heb. 10:14: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified, whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.” It might be proper to inquire if God has no higher conception of “perfection” for his sin-hating, blood-bought, and blood-washed children than that they still remain reeking with carnality? And has the Holy Spirit no higher mission than to bear witness that each believer has in him an unremovable carnal mind that is enmity against God? If so, his service can easily be dispensed with; for the devil would gladly undertake that job, and does continually.
It is the noun hagiasmos, derived from this same adjective, that is used ten times in the New Testament, and is translated “sanctification.” This is the noun used in the following texts: “This is the will of God, even your “sanctification.” (1 Thess. 4:3) “For God hath not called you unto uncleanliness, but unto [or in] sanctification.” But why this sharp contrast between uncleanness and sanctification, if the latter itself coexists with “the old man” of inbred sin?
The same noun is used in Heb. 12:14: “Follow peace with all men, and THE SANCTIFICATION without which no man shall see the Lord.” Now, if the Pentecostal baptism with the Spirit that brings sanctification, still leaves within us “the old man that is corrupt,” “the evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” “the law of sin and death,” “the carnal mind that is enmity against God,” pray tell us, Messrs. Meyer and Torrey, in what sense does that unspeakable blessing fit us to “see God” and enjoy him forever?
This same wonderful adjective, hagios, has such a wealth of spiritual meaning, and is applied to God a hundred times in the New Testament, is used four times in that famous passage, I Pet. 1:15-16: “Like as He who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living, because it is written, Ye shall be holy, for I am holy.” Here we are taught that our holiness or sanctification is to be “LIKE” God’s. Do Brothers Torrey and Meyer wish us to believe that they think that God and the angels are also carnal and infested with propensities to sin? If not, why will they, in the face of these passages, tell us that the sanctifying baptism with the Holy Ghost still leaves us uncleansed from “indwelling sin?” “LIKE as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye yourselves also holy.” May God open our eyes to see that God calls us to be “cleansed,” “sanctified,” and have a holiness like His own!
Here, then, we reach the same conclusion from another line of argument.
1. The adjective hagios means “pure,” “righteous.”
2. It is applied one hundred times to God.
3. We are commanded to have the spiritual quality denoted by this adjective “LIKE AS” God has it.
4. This adjective is the basis of the verb “sanctify,” used sixteen times, and the noun “sanctification,” used ten times in reference to people.
5. The Holy Spirit does the sanctifying. (Rom. 15:16, and 2 Thess. 2:13)
6. The aorist tense of the verb shows, according to Ellicott and other commentators, an instantaneous and completed action.
7. Acts 15:8-9, declares that this cleansing, or making holy, is produced by the Pentecostal baptism.
III. Now let us come to the matter of Spiritual circumcision. In the fifteenth chapter of Genesis we find that Abraham believes God, and it is counted to him for righteousness. In the seventeenth chapter is his call to perfection or a sanctified life, made fifteen or twenty years later. Coupled with it is given the rite of circumcision — an outward type of an inward cleansing. That it had an inner spiritual meaning is shown by Deut. 10:16: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked;” also by Deut. 30:6: “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.” In these verses this Divine circumcision is plainly connected with a life of sanctification, or perfect love, or holiness.
This spiritual meaning of this rite-the removal of something from the heart-was taught by Jeremiah (Jer. 15:4): “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and TAKE AWAY the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
St. Paul endorsed this spiritual meaning of the rite when he wrote (Rom. 2:28, 29): “For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Undeniably, in the fleshly rite, something was cut off and removed. Jeremiah said that something was to be thus “TAKEN AWAY” from the heart; and St. Paul reiterates the idea that something is to be removed from the heart by a spiritual circumcision. He further explains this strange rite and the spiritual lesson it teaches in that remarkable passage, Col. 2:9-11: ” For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And in Him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh [sarx] in the circumcision of Christ.” Paul prayed that the Ephesians might be filled unto all the fullness of God. Here he explains how: All “fullness of the Godhead” is in Jesus, and we can come into such relation to Him that we are made full. We obtain this by spiritual circumcision or entire sanctification, the “putting off of the body of the flesh.” Bishop Ellicott says this is synonymous with the “body of sin ” in Rom. 6:6.
When we were at Yale President Dwight declared that the commentator Meyer was the “greatest New Testament exegete living.” Professor Schaff called him the “prince of exegetes.” This Meyer thus comments on this passage: “The spiritual circumcision, Divinely performed, consisted in a COMPLETE PARTING AND DOING AWAY with this body (of sin) in so far as God, by means of this ethical circumcision, HAS TAKEN OFF AND REMOVED the sinful body from man, like a garment drawn off and laid aside.”
Dr. Steele, of Boston University, says: “We call the attention of every Greek scholar to the strength of the original noun ‘putting off’. It is a word invented by Paul, and found nowhere else in the Bible, nor in the whole range of Greek literature. To show the thoroughness of the cleansing by the complete stripping off and laying aside of the propensity to evil, the apostle prefixes one preposition (apo), denoting separateness, to another (ek) denoting outness (and joins to the stem of a verb denoting to strip or unclothe), and thus constructs the strongest conceivable term for the entire removal of depravity.” (“Half Hours,” page 163) “If this does not mean the complete and eternal separation of depravity, like the perpetual effect of cutting off and casting away the foreskin, then it is impossible to express the idea of entire cleansing in any language.” (Ibid., page 89)
Thus we have the following:
1. A peculiar rite given to Abraham, consisting of the cutting off and casting away of a piece of human flesh.
2. God applies it to the heart in the Old Testament, showing that it had a spiritual meaning. (Deut. 30:6)
3. In the New Testament it has its final interpretation. (Col. 2:9-11) It consisted in the putting off or separation from the moral nature of the “old man” of sin, “the body of sin,” the sarx of depravity, by the circumcision of the Holy Ghost, “not made with hands.”
To repeat the words of the exegete Meyer: “Spiritual circumcision, Divinely performed, consisted in a COMPLETE PARTING AND DOING AWAY WITH THIS BODY OF SIN, in so far as God, by means of this ethical circumcision, HAS TAKEN OFF AND REMOVED THE SINFUL BODY FROM MAN, LIKE A GARMENT DRAWN OFF AND LAID ASIDE.”
And yet, in the face of God’s own interpretation of this rite, and his plain declaration that God removes the body of sin — sarx — “the old man” of depravity, from man, and the testimony of the best Greek exegetes of the world as to the unmistakable meaning of the words and the teaching of the passage, Brother Torrey is rash enough to make the astounding declaration, that “there is not a line of scripture to support this position!”
He tells us in his book, “How to Study the Bible,” that “we should lay aside our preconceived opinions before coming to the Book.” Verily, he should take his own medicine! And, if we had the ear of Brother F. B. Meyer, of London, we would ask him to tell us how much he finds in this Divinely-performed, spiritual circumcision to warrant his peculiar theory of “suppression.” And we would ask Prebendary H. W. Webb-Peploe the same. He says, “Every part of Scripture teaches the retention of corruption in man to the last hour of life.” The coolness of this assumption is something amazing.
IV. We turn our attention to Rom. 6:6-7: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin. For He that hath died has been made right from sin.
Adam Clarke’s comment is this: “Does not this simply mean that the man who has received Christ Jesus by faith, and has been, through believing, made partaker of the Holy Spirit, has had his old man, all his evil propensities, destroyed, so that he is not only justified freely from all sin, but wholly sanctified unto God? The context shows that this is the meaning.” On the verse 6 he says: By the destruction of the body of sin, our old man, our wicked, corrupt, and fleshly self, is to be crucified; to be as truly slain as Christ was crucified; that our souls may be as truly raised from a death of sin to a life of righteousness as the body of Christ was raised from the grave, and afterward ascended to the right hand of God. Our body of sin is destroyed by this quickening Spirit.”
What is plainly taught by the passage is this: by the atoning death of Christ provision was made for the crucifixion of our “old man,” that he, “the body of sin,” might “BE DONE AWAY.” This “body of sin,” as we remember, Bishop Ellicott said, was synonymous with the “body of the flesh” in Col. 2:11, just examined. In that passage it was to be “put off” by spiritual circumcision, “LIKE A GARMENT THROWN OFF AND LAID ASIDE.” In this passage it is DONE AWAY by CRUCIFIXION. The old Roman crucifixion meant death; the Roman soldiers did not play at killing Jesus; they killed him. Precisely so the Divine circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit crucifies the “old man,” “the body of sin,” and he is “DONE AWAY.”
The Greek word is katargethei, and means “to render null,” “to abrogate,” “to cancel,” “to bring to an end,” “to destroy,” “to annihilate.”
Says Dr. Daniel Steele: “The Greek for ‘destroy’ is never used by Paul in the sense of rendering inactive.” Says Cremer, who had no doctrinal partiality to warp his definition: “Elsewhere it signifies a putting out of activity, out of power or effect; but with St. Paul it is to ANNIHILATE, to PUT AN END TO, to BRING TO NAUGHT. So Paul declares he is made free from the law of (the uniform tendency to) sin and spiritual death. (Rom. 8:2) The proclivity to sin is removed.” (Half Hours with St. Paul, page 10) And he enjoins us “TO PUT OFF” apothesthai the “old man, which is corrupt.” The strong meaning of the Greek verb is “to lay off” as garments, “to put off,” “to renounce.” And so we hear Jeremiah say “take away,” and hear Paul say “put off” this “old man which is corrupt.” And he declares that this “old man,” this “body of sin,” this “carnal mind,” is, or may be, so “crucified,” “done away,” “annihilated,” “put an end to,” “brought to naught,” that one can be “made free” from this tendency to sin in the heart, as he himself had been “made free” from it. But the men whom we are reviewing say it is not true, and “there is not a line of Scripture to support this position,” that the carnal nature can be removed from the heart by the Holy Spirit. Here, then, is a flat contradiction between Jeremiah and St. Paul on the one hand, and Torrey, Meyer, Webb-Peploe, and their schools on the other. If it has come to this, that we must choose between them, I, for one, shall not hesitate about my choice; I shall stand by the apostles and prophets and the Old Book.
F. B. Meyer says; “The teaching of Rom. 6:6, is not that self is dead, but that the renewed will is dead to self.” We would like to ask what right this brother has to substitute these new terms “self” and the “renewed will” into this passage. Neither of them is even hinted at. The text says, “The old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be dead and done away.” He substitutes “the renewed will” for “the old man,” “the body of sin,” and makes that “renewed will” dead to “self.” Self is not in the passage, and by no fair interpretation can be dragged into it. In the immediate context Paul makes a clear distinction between “self” and this carnal nature. “So now it is no more I [self] that do it, but sin [the body of sin] which dwelleth in me.” (Rom. 7:12) ” It is no more I [self] that do it, but sin [the “old man”] which dwelleth in me.” (Rom. 7:20) “So then I myself with the mind serve the law of God; but with the FLESH the law of sin.” We are painfully impressed with the fact that this is a sad case of special pleading on the part of our precious Brother Meyer, reading into Rom. 6:6, what is not there at all, nor even remotely hinted at, in order to avoid the grip of a blessed truth which, intellectually, he does not accept. Yet his heart clings to it, after all, for he says: “YOU MUST BE HOLY;” “YOU MUST BE CLEANSED.” How often the hearts of theologians are sounder and better than their heads. We fondly hope and trust that such is the case with all these brethren.
V. Verbs of the New Testament might have been chosen by the inspired writers which would have taught suppression if they had wished to teach it, as we shall show.
Says Dr. Daniel Steele (formerly professor of New Testament Greek in Boston University), in “Milestone Papers,” page 114: “It is a remarkable fact that while the Greek language richly abounds in words signifying repression, a half-score of which occur in the New Testament, and are translated by to bind, bruise, cast down, conquer, bring into bondage, let, repress, hold fast, hinder, restrain, subdue, put down, and take by the throat, yet not one of these (sunecho, katecho, koluo, sugkleio, katapauo) is used of inbred sin (the carnal mind); but such words as signify to cleanse, to purify, to mortify or kill, to crucify, and to destroy.” We may add to “put off,” to “put away,” to “take away,” to “do away,” to “annihilate,” to “cleanse from,” to “purge,” to “eliminate.”
Now, on the supposition that the suppression theory is correct, it would be highly proper for Messrs. Torrey and Meyer to rise and explain how it came about that Spirit-guided authors of the New Testament always chose the latter class of verbs rather than the former to reveal God’s method of dealing with the “old man,” “the body of sin,” “the carnal mind.” But alas! they explain nothing. They simply put up their bald assertions and assumptions against the plain teaching of the Greek New Testament.
Brother Meyer has a remarkable passage, which, as Rev. H. E. Millar, of England, has pointed out, destroys his own position and establishes ours: “Hand over to Him [Christ] the inner conflict with the evil tendencies of your heart. Transfer by faith the conflict to Him. He who has begotten the desire of FREEDOM will give it to you. You can not desire more than He can bestow. According to your faith so shall it be done unto you. If you can trust Him to KEEP DOWN even the risings of the self-life, He will do it. What He creates a desire for, He will give faith to claim; and when He gives faith to claim, those who exercise it and wait for Him shall never be ashamed. But His work will be so subtle and quiet that you may hardly realize how much He is doing within your soul.”
This, barring a blemish or two, is very beautiful and encouraging. We would humbly remind our eminent brother that “freedom” from “the evil tendencies of the heart” is very much more and better than the “repression” he advocates.
He further says: “You can not desire more than He can bestow. According to your faith, so shall it be done unto you.” Amen! Glory! How quickly, then, our “faith” can lay hold of the following promise with strong “desire” and claim “freedom,” deliverance from the carnal mind: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I CLEANSE you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: I will TAKE AWAY the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them … I will also SAVE YOU FROM all your uncleannesses … I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it.” (Ezek. 36:25-36) How strangely unlike the suppression theory these words, “CLEANSE FROM,” “SAVE FROM,” “TAKE AWAY,” do sound! And our brother says, “According to our faith it shall be done unto us.” Amen! That is exactly what we believe and teach.
But, further, Mr. Meyer says: “If you can trust Him to KEEP DOWN even the risings of the self-life, He will do it.” How strangely unlike the Bible is that phrase, “keep down the risings of the self-life!” Millar well says: “There is no foundation in the New Testament for the theory that the best God can do for us is to ‘keep down’ sin in our hearts, and no such word is to be found in the Greek in connection with sin.” But it does do our hearts good to hear Brother Meyer admit this: “What God creates a desire for, He will give faith to claim; and when He gives faith to claim, those who exercise it and wait for Him shall never be ashamed.” Hallelujah! There are millions of Christians who have a heaven-born desire to be rid of “indwelling sin.” We personally know that God is giving to thousands a faith to claim this blessing, and they testify, with Meyer, that they are not made ashamed! We conclude, then, that, after all, the suppression theory is out of harmony both with the Greek Testament and with Christian experience.
VI. We may draw another argument for the actual removal of carnality from two passages in the writings of Paul. First, take I Cor. 1:1-2: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it; nay, not even now are ye able; for ye are yet carnal.” Here is a distinct declaration that the carnality of Christians kept them in a prolonged, perpetual babyhood. But in Eph. 15:11-13, Paul tells us that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers “for the PERFECTING of the saints … till we all attain unto a FULL-GROWN MAN, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we may be no longer children.” Now, if carnality keeps Christians in abnormal babyhood and childhood, will these brethren kindly tell us how a Christian is to become “a full-grown man,” unless the dwarfing carnality is taken away? The apostle says God has made provision for the “perfecting of the saints” till we “all attain unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” How can they reach it unless the checking, belittling, dwarfing “old man which is corrupt” is “PUT OFF” or “TAKEN AWAY?” We are, therefore, forced to conclude either that God holds out to us a false hope of maturity and Christian perfection, or He has made ample provision for “eliminating” the carnal mind. The former alternative is unthinkable; therefore we gladly accept the latter.
VII. Let us consider the famous passage, I John 1:7-10. We shall find it annihilates their position — the repression theory. It reads as follows:
“7. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
“8. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
“9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
“10. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Let the reader remember that an evil sect of false teachers had risen, who held that all sin resided in the body, and taught that a man could practice all enormities of gluttony and impurity and every vice, and still his soul would be innocent and uninjured. The practices of these teachers became as bad as their doctrines, and they literally wallowed in profligacy. When they were urged by holy apostles and teachers to come into fellowship with God by repentance, they declared that they were already in fellowship with God and did not need to repent. When urged to give up their vile sins they replied that they had no sins, and never had any.
This awful delusion, that sprung from heathen philosophy akin to Christian Science of today, which also denies the existence of sin, was sweeping the Churches. They even taught that Christ had only a phantom body, and that the atoning death was an unreality. This delusion, had it been successful, would have swept Christianity out of existence. John wrote this epistle to meet this error and to give to believers the true grounds of Christian assurance. He says (1 John, 2:26): “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you;” and (3:7): “Little children, let no man deceive you.”
With this introduction, let us read understandingly this first chapter and a few other verses. In the first three verses (1:1-3) he says: “We know that Jesus was no phantom man, for we have heard Him with our ears, and seen Him with our eyes, and handled Him with our hands. We ate, and drank, and walked, and talked, and slept with Jesus for more than three years, and saw Him die on the cross for our sins, and saw Him many times after He was risen, and know that He was a real man, and no phantom Ghost.”
Verse 5. Christian truth: “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
Verse 6. A BLOW AT THE SEDUCERS: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in the darkness [as these seducers say and do], we lie, and do not the truth.”
Verse 7. The teaching of the Apostle-the faith of Christians: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship, one with another, AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS HIS SON CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN.”
Verse 8. ANOTHER BLOW AT SEDUCERS: “If we say that we have no sin [and no need of a Savior from all our past sins, as these vile teachers are saying], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Verse 9. The blessed truth of full salvation taught by John: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Verse 10. Another blow at the doctrine of seducers: “If we say we have not sinned [as these seducers say], we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Chapter 2, verse 4. Other blows at seducers: “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments [as these drunken and licentious teachers are doing], is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Verse 9. “He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in the darkness until now.”
Chapter 3, verse 8. “He that doeth sin [as these men are doing] is of the devil,” etc.
It will thus be seen that the last paragraph of the first chapter, containing six verses, is written in pairs, the first member contrasted with the second. The first verses of the three pairs — verses 5, 7, and 9 — give the truth as taught and experienced by Christians. The second verses of the three pairs — verses 6, 8, and 10, are the apostle’s crushing blow at the awful teaching and practice of the seducers of the Churches. Verses 5, 7, and 9, put together, state most impressively the doctrine of full salvation as follows:
“5. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”
“7. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
“9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to FORGIVE US our sins, and to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”
This is the Gibraltar of the Christian faith, the glorious Gospel of JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION.
But here is the scathing arraignment of the error that was leading Church members to sate their lusts, and yet profess to be walking in the light with God and declaring that they had no sin which needed the atoning blood.
Verse 6. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.”
Verses 8 and 10. “If we say that we have no sin … if we say we have not sinned [as these vile men are doing while practicing nameless orgies of vice], we deceive ourselves, and make Him a liar, and the truth and His word are not in us.”
Chapter 2, verse 4. “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
This grouping of these verses makes this whole passage perfectly plain, and robs it of all its seeming contradictions. It is amazing that our Brother Meyer should take these words in the eighth verse, intended as a warning to wicked deceivers, and apply them to holy children of God professing sanctification. But this he does in these words: “What can be clearer than the statement, ‘If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us?’ To say that we have not sinned, or to say that we have no sin, is to show ourselves destitute of God’s truth.” Thus our dear brother takes the weapon furnished by the Apostle John against vile seducers who deny their sin and need of the atonement, and turns it into a club with which to pound holy souls like Wesley, and Fletcher, and Bishop Taylor, who profess sanctification. He holds them up as “destitute of God’s truth.” It is doubtful if so good and great a man ever made a greater perversion and misapplication of Scripture, or a poorer argument in behalf of a worse cause.
Now, let us hear from the scholars on this passage. Bishop Westcott, in his commentary on verse 7, “cleanseth us from all sin,” says: “The thought here is of ‘sin,’ and not of ‘sins;’ of the spring, the principle, and not of the separate manifestations.” According to Bishop Westcott, then, we may be “cleansed from” the “principle of sin.” Dean Alford in his commentary, says on verse 9. “Observe, the two verbs [forgive-cleanse] are aorists, because the purpose of the faithfulness and justice of God is to do each as one great complex act, to justify and to sanctify wholly and entirely.” Here, then, Dean Alford teaches the very thing we are contending for; that the Holy Spirit, in sanctifying us, CLEANSES us from all unrighteousness (unrightness). Well does Millar conclude: “If we are thus sanctified ‘wholly and entirely,’ and this is God’s definite promise as an immediate blessing (1 Thess. 5:23-24), what room is there for indwelling sin? If we are ‘sanctified wholly, spirit, soul, and body,’ there is no department of our being left unsanctified or unholy.”
Here is what Adam Clarke, that princely commentator, says on this whole passage: “Observe here: 1. Sin exists in the soul after two modes or forms: (1) In guilt, which requires forgiveness or pardon; (2) in pollution, which requires cleansing.
“2. Guilt, to be forgiven, must be confessed; and pollution, to be cleansed, must be also confessed. In order to find mercy, a man must know and feel himself to be a sinner, that he may fervently apply to God for pardon; in order to get a clean heart, a man must know and feel its depravity, acknowledge and deplore it before God, in order to be fully sanctified.
“3. Few are pardoned, because they do not feel and confess their sins; and few are sanctified or cleansed from all sin, because they do not feel and confess their own sore, and the plague of their hearts.
“4. As the blood of Jesus Christ, the merit of His passion and death, applied by faith, purges the conscience from all dead works, so the same cleanses the heart from all unrighteousness.
“5. As ‘all unrighteousness is sin,’ so he that is cleansed from all unrighteousness is cleansed from all sin. To attempt to evade this, and plead for the continuance of sin in the heart through life, is UNGRATEFUL, WICKED, AND EVEN BLASPHEMOUS; for as he who says he has not sinned (ver. 10) makes God a liar, who has declared to the contrary through every part of His revelation; so he that says the blood of Christ either CAN NOT OR WILL NOT CLEANSE US FROM ALL SIN IN THIS LIFE, GIVES ALSO THE LIE TO HIS MAKER, who has declared to the contrary, and thus shows that the Word — the doctrine, of God is not in him.
“Reader, it is the birthright of every child of God to be cleansed from all sin, to keep himself unspotted from the world, and so to live as never more to offend his Maker.”
If this had been written for our special benefit, to help us in this argument, it could not have been a more forcible indorsement of our position. Glory to God! we are not “following cunningly-devised fables,” nor defending a modern fad; but we are contending for “the faith delivered to the saints.” Some may prefer to controvert this truth of Divine cleansing, and amuse themselves by so doing; for ourselves, we frankly admit we do not dare to do it.
VIII. We are driven to the same conclusion from the consideration of I John 3:3, 5, and 8.
Verse 3: “And every one that hath this hope set in Him [Jesus] purifieth himself, EVEN AS He is pure.”
Verse 5: “And ye know that He was manifested to take away sins; and in Him is no sin.
Verse 8: “To this end was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
The word for “pure,” in verse 3, is defined in the Greek lexicon “clean, innocent, perfect, chaste, pure.” And we are to be pure (kathos) “even as,” “according as,” “just as” Christ is pure.
Adam Clarke makes this appropriate comment: “The words may be understood of a man’s anxiously using all the means that lead to purity; and imploring God for the sanctifying Spirit, to cleanse the thoughts of his heart … till he is as completely saved from his sins as Christ was free from sin.”
Many tell us that “this never can be done, for no man can be saved from sin in this life.” Will these persons permit us to ask, How much sin may we be saved from in this life? Something must be ascertained on this subject: 1. That the soul may have some determinate object in view; 2. That it may not lose its time, or employ its faith and energy in praying for what is impossible to be attained. Now, as He was manifested to take away our sins (ver. 5), to destroy the works of the devil (ver. 8), and as His blood cleanseth from all sin and unrighteousness (chap. 1:7-9), is it not evident that God means that believers in Christ shall be saved from all sin? For if His blood cleanses from all sin, if He destroys the works of the devil (and sin is the work of the devil), and if he who is born of God does not commit sin (ver. 9), then he must be cleansed from all sin; and while he continues in that state he lives without sinning against God.
How strangely warped and blinded by prejudice and system must men be who, in the face of such evidence as this, will still dare to maintain that no man can be saved from his sin in this life, but must daily commit sin, in thought, word, and deed, as the Westminster divines have asserted; that is, every man is laid under the fatal necessity of sinning as many ways against God as the devil does; for he can have no other way of sinning against God except by thought, word, and deed.
“It is a miserable salvo to say they do not sin as much as they used to do; and they do not sin habitually, only occasionally. Alas! for this system! Could not the grace that saved them partially, save them perfectly? Could not that power of God that saved them from habitual sin save them from occasional or accidental sin? Shall we suppose that sin, how potent soever it may be, is as potent as the Spirit and grace of Christ? And if it were for God’s glory and their good that they were PARTIALLY SAVED, would it not have been more for God’s glory and their good if they had been PERFECTLY SAVED?”
Verse 5: “Christ came into the world to destroy the power, pardon the guilt, and CLEANSE FROM THE POLLUTION OF SIN. This was the very design of His manifestation in the flesh. He was born, suffered, and died for this very purpose; and can it be supposed that He either CAN NOT or WILL NOT accomplish the object of His own coming?
Verse 8: “For this very end, with this very design, was Jesus manifested, that He might destroy [lusae], that He might loose the bonds of sin, and dissolve its power, influence, and connection.”
The completeness of Jesus’ work in delivering us from the work of the devil is shown by the meanings of the verb used; they are “to loosen,” “to unbind,” “disengage,” “set free,” “deliver,” “break up,” “destroy,” “demolish.” What a glorious deliverance we may have from Jesus! But Brother Meyer belittles this by the following comment on this passage: “It is no doubt true that Christ is going to destroy the works of the devil. But there is nothing in those words to show that He does so in our hearts, either immediately or suddenly … We must infer that the process of destruction is a gradual one, wrought in successive stages.”
Bishop Westcott says in his Commentary: “The two objects of the manifestation of Christ cover the whole work of redemption: ‘to take away sins’ (ver. 5); ‘to destroy the works of the devil’ (ver. 8). In this connection ‘the works of the devil’ are gathered up in ‘sin’ (indwelling sin), which is their spring. This the devil has wrought in men. The efficacy of Christ’s work extends both to ‘sin’ and ‘sins.'”
Dean Alford points out that the aorist tense for the verbs “take away” and “destroy” implies “TAKE AWAY BY ONE ACT AND ENTIRELY.” But Brother Meyer says “the destruction is a GRADUAL ONE.” Alas! When a man is astride of a theological hobby, how serenely he can ride on over the noblest commentaries, the Greek text, verb tenses, and all! His blind consistency is painful to contemplate.
Dr. Daniel Steele, in his noble essay on the tense readings of the Greek Testament, says of the aorist tense in Rom. 6:6: “The aorist here teaches the possibility of an instantaneous death-stroke to inbred sin, and that there is no need of a slow and painful process, lingering till physical death or purgatorial fires end the torment.” He says, in closing: “We have looked in vain for one of the verbs denoting sanctification or perfection in the imperfect tense (which would teach a progressive work). The verb hagiazo, to sanctify, is always aorist, or perfect. The same may be said of the verbs katharizo and hagnizo, to purify. Our inference is that the energy of the Holy Spirit in the work of entire sanctification, however long the preparation, IS PUT FORTH AT A STROKE BY A MOMENTARY ACT. This is corroborated by the universal testimony of those who have experienced this grace.”
The fact is, we have the most critical and scholarly modern commentators, like Dr. Meyer, Dean Alford, Bishop Ellicott, and Bishop Westcott, on our side. If the Greek Testament can teach anything by nouns, adjectives, verbs, and even prepositions, our doctrine of sanctification is unmistakably taught by the blessed Book. “Repressive power is nowhere ascribed to the blood of Christ, but rather purgative efficacy,” and that immediate in its sanctifying operation.
IX. There is the argument which may be drawn from the very meaning of Baptism, suggested by the symbols used in it. Two days ago we thought that this chapter of the book was closed. But we find this in the last Christian Witness, July 31, 1902, by Dr. Daniel Steele:
“In trying to show that entire sanctification is nowhere connected with the Spirit baptism, Mr. Torrey fails in his explanation of ‘fire’ in the phrase, ‘baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire,’ to note that FIRE IS A PURIFYING ELEMENT, and is here associated with the Spirit by the rhetorical figure of hendiadys (one idea expressed by two nouns), just as ‘born of water and of the Spirit’ denotes the first degree of purification. Since earthen and metallic vessels can not be perfectly cleansed by water, fire is employed as the most perfect purifier. Water symbolizes the birth as initial cleansing, and fire symbolizes the complete purification wrought by the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal fullness. Mr. Torrey comes near to this idea when he says, ‘Fire searches, refines, consumes.’ It refines by consuming the dross.”
We have also found this in “A Clean Heart,” by G. A. McLaughlin, which confirms our position, and, with the quotation from Dr. Steele, makes practically an additional argument against the suppression theory:
“To see the fallacy of those who teach ‘suppression,’ all that is necessary is to notice that the very definitions which they use are contrary to their teaching. Baptism means cleansing. That is the definition of the word. It could be just as well translated the cleansing with the Holy Spirit. The very symbol used in the ordinance of baptism (water) shows that baptism means cleansing. This is the reason that water and fire are symbols of the operation of the Holy Spirit. Water and fire are the mightiest cleaning agents known. No symbols in nature could be more expressive of cleansing. Symbols could not indicate the cleansing work more clearly.
“A clean heart is not a heart in which sin is suppressed any more than a clean room is a room in which the dust and dirt have been wet down so they do not arise. The dirt is still there, and in spite of the wetting down the room is dirty. Clean cannot be made by any twisting of language to mean the presence of defilement. When we say that heaven is a clean place, we mean that there is no defilement in it. If there were any defilement in heaven, if it were repressed or kept hidden away, still heaven would not be a clean place. This is too apparent to be misunderstood. And a man who has a clean heart is a man who has no defilement, either repressed or unrepressed, in his heart. When David prayed for a clean heart, in Psalm 51:10, he understood that this was what he needed and might have. A few verses previous to his prayer he said, ‘Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.’ Is there anything in these figures to teach or indicate that he meant to have the stains of sin covered up or the defilement still there? Does ‘whiter than snow’ mean defilement kept back or repressed? Whoever thought of such a thing except some people who have a theory to maintain?” (Pages 47, 48)
Two remarkable passages in the Old Testament are at least very pertinent and suggestive here. Isa. 1:25: “I will turn my hand upon thee and PURELY PURGE AWAY THY DROSS, and TAKE AWAY ALL THY TIN.” Mal. 3:1-3: “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple … But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a REFINER’S FIRE and like a fuller’s 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.”
In the Old Testament, “PURGE AWAY thy dross,” “TAKE AWAY ALL THY TIN,” “LIKE A REFINER’S FIRE,” “AS A REFINER AND PURIFIER OF SILVER,” “PURGE THEM AS GOLD AND SILVER;” in the New Testament, “baptize you with the HOLY SPIRIT and FIRE,” “CLEANSING YOUR HEARTS BY FAITH.” Advocates of “suppression” can get all the comfort out of such passages that they like [This remark was no doubt of the “tongue in cheek” variety, for in such passages there is no comfort for them. — DVM].
Now, if we leave the Scripture and resort to human philosophy we are driven again to the same conclusion. For —
1. If the repression theory of Torrey and Meyer is correct, then it follows that Satan was mighty enough to inject into all our race the malignant poison of indwelling sin, which the might of Christ and the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit are utterly unable to remove. This would logically make Satan mightier than God, a conclusion repugnant to Christian thought. Satan is indeed mighty, but OUR CHRIST IS ALMIGHTY, “ABLE TO SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST.”
2. As Dr. Steele observes, “The repressive theory or holiness is out of harmony with Divine purity. Holiness in man must mean precisely the same as holiness in God, who announces Himself as holy, and then founds human obligation to holiness upon this revealed attribute. ‘Be ye holy, FOR I AM HOLY.’ Who dares to say that God’s holiness is different in kind from man’s holiness, save that one is original and the other is inwrought by the Holy Ghost?” (Milestone Papers, page 115)
3. The repression theory reduces all the holiness of the world to mere virtue. “Virtue is the triumph of right against strong inward tendencies toward the opposite.” Holiness is the state of the heart when it is FREED FROM SUCH TENDENCIES. “The repressive theory of holiness, involving, as it must, the co-working of the human soul with the Divine Represser, confounds the broad distinction between holiness and virtue, and banishes holiness from the earth, substituting virtue instead. (Ibid., page 118)
4. This repressive theory makes it highly problematical whether we ever can become holy. Jesus informs us that all power is given Him in heaven and in earth. The Word also assures us of the Divinity of the Spirit. They are now in possession of all the power they can ever have in this or any world. If they can only repress indwelling sin in this world, what ground of presumption (we will not say assurance) have we that they can do it hereafter? How can we cherish a rational hope that we can be made cleansed and holy in any world? Is not the blood of Christ, applied by the Holy Spirit, as potent here and now as it can ever be?
Apparently these men are depending upon physical death to help out the Holy Spirit and annihilate sin. But what is death? The devil begot sin: sin brings forth death. Death, then, is the grandchild of the devil. And the grandchild of the devil is expected to be a mightier sanctifier than the Omnipotent Spirit of God! Alas! this theology gets worse and worse, the further you run it down. But the Roman Catholics go them one better by substituting for death the fire of purgatory! To our mind, all such teaching is degrading to the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures hold up sanctification, heart purity, as a boon to be sought here and now; and God takes a solemn oath that we may “serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:74-75)
We are willing to rest our argument with a candid Christian public.
We feel sorry to be obliged to criticize the teaching of these brethren. Brother Torrey and I were fellow-students at Yale. I preached his ordination sermon. Our first pastorates were within twelve miles of each other. In more ways than one he has brought me into a debt of gratitude to him. His writings and Brother Meyer’s were specially helpful to me when I was seeking the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I love them both for the good they are doing to others and for the guidance and help they brought to me in one of the critical seasons of my life. I profoundly believe they are better than their theory about the work of the Spirit. But I am sure that they are wrong when they deny His power to cleanse the heart, and that the result of their teaching in this respect is deplorable.
Some years ago I spent a few weeks in Moody Institute, Chicago. I was delighted with much of the work in the school and the Church. But some things made me sad, and were to me a surprise. I had not been in the school twenty-four hours before it was whispered around about me, “He is an eradicationist!” “He believes in eradication!” In the course of a day or two more, an uneducated young man, sitting second from me at the table, said in a very loud voice, meant for me and everybody else to hear, “The doctrine of the eradication of the carnal nature by the Holy Spirit is one of the most damnable heresies that ever cursed the Christian Church!” The callow youth made the impression that he was simply repeating, parrot-fashion, what had probably been taught him in the classroom. I could but think of John Wesley, and Charles Wesley, and John Fletcher, and Adam Clarke, and Bishop Asbury, and all the flaming seraphs that had preached holiness in early Methodism, and the long line of holiness bishops and evangels that have followed, down to Catherine Booth, and Inskip, and Bishop William Taylor, second to none since St. Paul in effective and world-wide missionary labors, and our still living Dr. Daniel Steele, — all of them victims of this “damnable heresy!” The names of a hundred evangelists, editors, and leaders of the Holiness Movement of today might be added, the most effective men in the Christian Church for the spread of the kingdom of Christ! What can men be thinking of who teach or repeat such drivel?
Here are some little phrases from John Wesley. He speaks of sanctification as “the recovery of the whole image of God,” “the recovery of the Divine nature,” “the restoration of the soul to its primitive health, its original purity.” He speaks of the “total death of inbred sin,” of “the destruction of the body of sin,” of “entire salvation from inbred sin,” of the “root of sin being taken away,” and of “deliverance from the root of bitterness!” Poor, unfortunate John Wesley! What a sad victim he was of the “damnable heresy!” And yet a writer in the London Spectator says: “It may well be doubted whether, in the long course of England’s history, any one has ever influenced her life in so direct, palpable, and powerful a way as has John Wesley.” Queer! — isn’t it? — that a man cursed by such a withering, blighting, “damnable heresy,” should thus surpass all others through long centuries in moving a whole kingdom heavenward!
And what effect does this partial denial of the results of Pentecost have upon the students of Moody’s Institute? This at least: I was there some weeks, attending two prayermeetings a day, and sometimes three, and, in all my stay, I never heard a testimony to sanctification, nor anything that even hinted at it; nor was it commended by anybody in any sermon or address to which I listened. Students informed me that testimony to sanctification was discouraged and practically suppressed, and that under this depressing influence they had lost ground in their Christian life while in the institute. I was informed that, on one occasion, a student, who had been there but a week, testified to sanctification in the gladness of his heart. Moody happened to be present, and rebuked him so sharply for his testimony that, in astonishment and grief, he packed his trunk and left.
I am told that this was a common thing with Moody. A Doctor of Divinity, from Philadelphia, once a pastor in a city in Massachusetts, told me that Brother Moody held a series of meetings in his place. On the opening night, two blessed women, eminent for piety throughout the city, testified to sanctification. No sooner had they sat down than Moody sprang to his feet, and told a ridiculous story to raise a laugh on them. Said my informant: “Moody fell like a millstone that instant, and the series of meetings were a failure, never recovering from that bad break. I made up my mind that the Holy Spirit would not endure to be always insulted, even by Brother Moody.”
A prominent clergyman in Chicago told me that Brother Moody confessed to him that he had consciously lost much of his Spiritual power. I also heard about his manifest loss of power in Texas. This is doubtless the explanation of it. He had grieved the Spirit by deliberately opposing and making light of this heart-cleansing work of the Holy Ghost. I attended two series of meetings led by Moody, one of them for three weeks, night and day. There were fifty of us ministers with him constantly. He never mentioned sanctification to us, or gave us the glimmer of an idea that God expected us to have such a blessing. Of course no one of us, and no one during the twenty-one days of meetings, received the baptism with the Holy Ghost. I look back upon it all now with amazement. But it was manifestly due to his persistent, derisive rejection of the best results of Pentecost. The whole truth was not preached, and the Spirit of truth was grieved and hindered in his work.
Mr. Moody did, in one sermon, commend the Holy Spirit for “power in service.” That is the favorite phrase in the Moody Institute. They are all taught to seek power in that school. But what old political bum does not want power? There is not a vile leper procuring girls for houses of shame that does not want power. There is not a fallen wretch in the round world who does not want power. But God can not safely bestow power of the Holy Spirit upon an unclean man; he would be sure to abuse it and use it for selfish ends, whether he were a carnal man in the pulpit, or a carnal man in pothouse politics. This, therefore, is the fatal flaw in the teaching of the Moody School; sanctification is discarded, and the pupils are not taught to seek that heart-cleansing as a fundamental condition of receiving Holy Spirit power.
F. B. Meyer, as we have seen, does say: “YOU MUST BE A HOLY MAN;” “YOU MUST BE CLEANSED;” but then, with strange inconsistency, he turns around and denies that you can be holy and cleansed by the destruction of your CARNALITY. How he expects any one to be “holy” and “cleansed” while this foul thing that is “enmity to God” remains in the being, is to us a mystery.
A little incident that happened in England will throw a little side-light upon the results of Brother Meyer’s teaching. Mr. Reader Harris, founder of the Pentecostal League, was conducting a Holiness Convention. Outside the gateway of the hall stood two men, one a Plymouth brother, and the other an infidel. They were unknown to each other, but were both giving away the same tract to those who had remained behind to seek holiness of heart by prayer for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. That tract was Meyer’s “Not Eradication.” Both men thought it was the best way to defeat the work of the Holiness Convention.
This reminds me that some years ago, Dr. Howard Crosby, of New York, preached a sermon entitled, “A Calm View of the Temperance Question.” The Liquor League printed and circulated gratuitously a million and a half copies of that sermon in the saloons of America. What morally sane man can believe that a sermon was inspired in heaven which liquor-dealers would so abundantly print and distribute? And what more reason have we to believe that, when infidels distribute Meyer’s tract, it is in harmony with the truth of God? May the Lord kindly keep me from going into partnership with infidelity to defeat the spread of holiness!
A year or more ago (May, 1901) I attended a Holiness Convention in Chicago, which lasted ten days. Nearly two hundred leaders of the Holiness Movement were there from all over America. Though the place of meeting was quite near to the Moody Institute and easy of access, I did not see Brother Torrey nor any representative of the Institute present at any meeting. He thus gave emphatic notice to all the loyal souls of that great movement that he would have no part or lot with them. It is for this reason that I call his special theory a partial but very practical rejection of Pentecost; for it puts him out of sympathy with, and causes him to stand aloof from, the most potential Pentecostal movement of modern centuries.
(See “Reply to Rev. F. B. Meyer,” by Rev. H. E. Millar. A crushing refutation of his “Not Eradication.” Published by Christian Witness Company, Chicago. Also “Milestone Papers,” by Dr. Daniel Steele. Also “A Clean Heart,” by G. A. McLaughlin, Chicago: Witness Company)