“Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” –1 John, 3: 2, 3.
There are three great truths taught by this passage of Scripture. The first is evident at a mere glance; the second is just as truly taught but not as quickly seen; while the third is buried still more deeply, and yet is the most important of the three. To the question of surprise why this should be so, the reply is that the God of Grace and Nature is the same God, and He who hides certain ores under the surface of the earth, and buries gold, silver and gems farther down, acts consistently in the spiritual kingdom, when He secretes precious truths under the meaning of the word, and still more sacred mysteries still deeper.
I call attention to the three great lessons of the text: and first
1. THE FACT OF SONSHIP.
This prominent thought of the text is suggestive of other truths which illumine and glorify the first great fact. I present them as they arise in my mind.
First: If we are Sons of God then there must have been a spiritual birth.
There is no way of obtaining entrance into the kingdom of God except by birth. You cannot grow into it, nor reform into it, nor improve into it, but you must be born into it. Just as there is but one way of getting into this materiel world of ours, viz. by birth, so there is but one way of finding entrance into the kingdom of grace. We must be born into it. A physical birth for the physical world, a spiritual birth for the spiritual world. The Saviour’s words are explicit here, “Ye must be born again.” “Except ye be born of the Spirit, ye cannot see the kingdom of God.” Just as distinctly John in his gospel affirms that this birth is “not of blood,” i. e., it is not an inheritance. Our parents are powerless to transmit grace to us. “Nor of the will of the flesh;” surely no one believes that it is in man’s power to regenerate himself. “Nor of the will of man;” not only can no individual bring this heavenly birth about by any mental or physical energy of his own, but neither can any collection of individuals . No church although in possession of the Ark and Oracles of God has power to make the moral Ethiop white. Every one of the denominations might assemble together and with all the pomp and show beheld in some ecclesiasticisms bid the weeping sinner to be born again and there would be no result save one of disappointment to him and mortification to themselves. It takes the power of God to effect this marvellous work.
The Almanac date of our conversion is pleasant to recall and quote; but some through various reasons are not able to state the exact hour. Still the fact of the spiritual birth is not less true and important.
I have heard some speak lightly of this wonderful time and occurrence; and such comparative disparagement I could never understand. To me the day in which I was born of God has ever and will ever be a most precious and sacred date. The day and place of our natural birth have a curious power to stir our sensibilities, but it ought not to move us as much as the memory of the hour when born of the spirit we wept, laughed or shouted and our heart and lip cried out for the first time, “Abba Father,” and “My Lord and my God.”
Second: If Sons of God there should be a family resemblance .
If a man should come to you saying that he was the son of an old-time friend and acquaintance, you would at once look for certain corroboratory signs, and there would always be such if he was the child of that friend. There would be features in the face, accents of the voice, carriage of the body, mannerisms, not to say peculiarities, that would bring at once the friend of other years to mind. I never saw a child yet but would bear one or more of these signs. With the brow and eye of the mother there would be a motion of the hand, a toss of the head, an utterance of the lip that would declare the father beyond a doubt.
So it is impossible to become God’s child without the fact being evident. The resemblance must and will be there. The new light in the eye, the purity of speech, gentleness of manner, love in the act, and spirituality of life all declare the family above to which the man belongs.
I remember once to have known two ministers of the gospel who lived in the same town, but belonged to different denominations. One was a blustering kind of man, loved publicity, sought prominent seats on the platform and in the synagogue, and when coming down the street fairly monopolized the pavement. Somehow there was nothing to remind one of Jesus, and there were numbers of people who doubted that he was a child of God. The other preacher was one of the humblest and gentlest of men. On the street he gave way to everybody without appearing cringing. He did not shrink from duty, but cared not for prominence for its mere sake. His words were always kind and his life heavenly. To see him anywhere was to think of Christ, and all who knew him felt he was a member of the Divine family.
Third: If Sons of God there should be love for the rest of the family.
The spectacle of a divided household is always painful, and regarded as unnatural. Some of us have beheld such sights and were made to deplore the trouble itself and the unhappy consequences which flowed therefrom. I have seen two brothers refusing to speak for years. I have seen two sisters, the only surviving children of the family enter into a lifelong separation and hatred of each other. But no matter how many such instances we behold we never get accustomed to them, but continue to deplore and condemn. The very unnaturalness of the thing forever prevents it from being looked upon with approval. In the quarrels of little children old nurses have been heard to say to them. “You will get along better when oceans roll between you.” Just as vividly the speech of a Confederate Colonel rings in my ears today, when in trying to reconcile two estranged brothers, he said, “Nothing my brother could do would ever make me refuse to speak to him.”
Here then is the standard adopted by the world for the family circles of earth. It is one of mutual love. Shall there be a lower standard for the heavenly family? In Antioch the fact of the love of Christians for one another proved who they were; “See how these Christians love one another,” they used to say.
This love should prove the Divine relationship today, and does so. For we may prate as we will about past experience and conscious acceptance with God, but if we have feelings of bitterness and estrangement to God’s children we are ourselves in the gall and bondage of sin. If any man says he loves God and hateth his brother he is a liar, says John.
There had been nothing that has blocked the progress of Christianity more than the strifes, dissensions, jealousies and warrings of the different denominations and churches. Oftentimes the preacher and evangelist will labor unavailingly for a revival for days and weeks, and at last find out to their surprise that there has been division and enmity among God’s people. Of course God would not come down upon such divided congregation. In one of my revival services in a Southern city; I was made to marvel at the absence of the Spirit in the congregation. On the eighth day I asked if there could possibly be any estrangements among them. A steward replied that the church at that point was like a loving family. Six hours later not less than three grave church quarrels were brought to view and it was developed that this same steward’s family was not on speaking or visiting terms with five other families in the congregation. One elderly lady remarked that while she felt no enmity to other church members, yet there were several about whom she must candidly confess that the preferred to have them walk on one side of the street while she stayed on the other. Here was a revelation indeed. I could but think what if Gabriel in heaven would say that while he felt no particular ill-will toward the Archangel Michael, yet he preferred him to stay on one side of the Throne while he remained on the other.
Let no man deceive you, brethren, for “he that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness,” and “if a man say I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar;” while Jesus says, “by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love to one another.”
Fourth: If Sons of God there should be devotion to our Father’s interest.
Here the son is at once recognized. Strangers and outsiders are not concerned about the state of a man’s property, and can see wrong done to it, and lose no sleep. But the son is not and cannot be so indifferent even though he has already received his own inheritance. Suppose for instance a man’s store should be rifled by a rabble. Many would regret the occurrence, but would say it is none of my business and pass by. But suddenly a gentleman appears on the scene who gives an astonished look, utters an indignant outcry hurls himself upon the marauders and pilferers, and sweeps the store of their presence. That man is the son of the owner of the store.
God has a cause on earth. His interests in many respects and in many places are totally neglected. Numbers of people shake the head and say what a pity certain things are not done in the church. What a pity that salaries are not paid, the church painted, and a parsonage built. What a pity that certain Missions and Houses of Refuge could not be kept up. And so they relieve themselves in sighing, and lose no sleep or money over the needs of Zion. These people are not God’s children. If they were, they would act differently. Their hearts would melt, and eyes fill at the sight of the languishing work of the Lord. Their hearts would burn to help, their feet would fly, and their money be gladly given to meet the need and remove the distress.
Two scenes widely different in character, but springing from the same spirit often come up to me when I think on this point of devotion to God. One was connected with a church in a small Southern town. The people were backslidden, and the fact could be seen in the forlorn appearance of their place of worship. Broken window panes, missing shutters and crazy doorsteps told the story from the outside. Inside the building, the ragged aisle carpet and discolored pews and walls were mutely eloquent. Just back of the pulpit hung a piece of damask fifteen feet long and eight feet wide that was once handsome and ornamental, but it had faded, become dusty, and was now fallen away from some of its fastenings. There moved to this town a young married woman who, in her first attendance at church took in the situation. There were other ladies who seemed not to care for the spectacle I have described, but her eyes filled with tears. Next day in passing the church I heard the sound of a tack hammer, and quietly entering t he door saw the young woman standing on a stepladder at work on the damask curtain, arranging its wide borders and causing it to fall once more in graceful folds. She was alone, and her hands had been busy all over the house to its decided improvement. It was the form of one of God’s daughters that I saw in the subdued light of the closed building. She was in her Father’s House. She did not care to be seen or known, but loved her Father and was glad to minister to Him and to His Sanctuary. I looked at the scene with melted heart and misty eyes for a while and went away, but the picture has often returned to memory. The young woman is now in her grave, but He who said that a cup of cold water given for Him would not lose its reward, has long ago blessed her for her devotion to her Father’s house.
The second scene took place in New Orleans in a church that had been heavily burdened with debt for years. Most of the members seemed to be contented to bear the reproach heaped upon them for this financial obligation. There was one man among them who continually grieved over it, and finally requested a dozen of the abler members to meet him in the pastor’s study. There he got them upon their knees and talked to God about what He was to them, and what He had done for them. Tears soon began to flow; when suddenly rising this devoted son of the Father said that he would give a thousand dollars to lift the debt, when lo! in ten minutes the whole amount had been met. All of this was brought about by one who was such a true child of God as to be devoted to His interests. Fifth: If sons of God we are being educated.
The general rule and practice seems to be to send our children off to school. In distant cities and colleges they lay the foundation and acquire the knowledge that is to fit them for the duties and conflicts of life.
So God has put us to College. We are far from the Father’s house and from the final home of the soul, on the planet earth going through the University of Life. We are being educated and trained for the heavenly state, and fitted for companionships, angelic and divine. A wonderful Faculty is over us whose names are Sorrow, Poverty, Sickness, Disappointment, Prosperity, Adversity–under whose teaching we are made to forget much and learn much. Over them all is the great Teacher Himself, who employs them to impress the truths He would have us learn. What strange text books are placed in our hands, and how we make their pages wet with our tears before we master the volume! A new arithmetic is studied in which we find that to lose one’s life for God is to gain it. A new Logic in which love and kindness are the major and minor premises, and happiness the conclusion. A new Astronomy in which the Star of Bethlehem wheels into view and Heaven with all its glories becomes visible.
What lessons we learn; and how hollow some things are found to be that we once thought solid. How every pleasure out of Christ soon cloys upon the spiritual palate, and comes with ever diminishing power to the soul. How the cackling mirth of thoughtless youth gradually disappears, and a sweet seriousness of spirit and manner takes its place. How sin is hated and shunned, and purity and piety sought after and prized instead.
Sixth: If Sons of God we are in communication with those at Home.
The great consolation when absent from our earthly home is the reception of letters. In the time of my college life how I loved the days that brought a letter from home. Connection was thus kept up and the distance was in some way bridged. So should we be in communion with our Father in heaven if we are indeed His children. I wonder how many of you receive communications from Him, and when you heard last. When a week elapsed without my hearing from home when I was at school I grew alarmed; and so should the Christian who has days and weeks to pass without spiritual communion and Divine messages to the soul. There is an Experience where there is a delivery a number of times through the day, and heavenly telegrams continually flash their way into the soul. Some of us can say this moment I hear His voice, and there have been fifty dispatches received since the hour of worship began.
Seventh: If Sons of God then we are sustained by those at home.
I remember I gave myself no worry about my college expenses. They were considerable it is true, but certain loved ones had promised all necessary funds for support should come, and they did.
If we are God’s children He will take care of us. The remittance of relief will arrive, the supply will come, for He has promised it. Some of us could give thrilling incidents of empty flour barrels, and depleted pocket books, and the help that came at the hour of greatest need from unexpected quarters. It is our duty to study and work on in this University of Life, and God will provide for and sustain us. When I entered the ministry a preacher slipped a folded piece of letter paper in my hand, saying, “I have no money to give you, but here is something far better than I can do; read it when you get to yourself.” An hour later on the guards of the steamboat I read in the fading light of the sunset the words, “Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed.” It was God’s promissory note. I have never parted with it. It has been good these twenty years, and heaven has honored it every time I presented it.
“In some way or other The Lord will provide. It may not be my way, It may not be thy way, And yet in his own way, The Lord will provide.”
Eighth: If Sons of God we are going home one of these days.
Just as we send for our children at the end of the school or college session, and here they come trooping home, so will our Father send for us and so will we return.
It is a blessed thought that at any hour the messenger and message may reach us to “come home.” Some of us as little children have been playing in the yard under the trees until the shadowy of evening began to fall, when a servant drew near and said, “Your father says come home.” At once we laid down our playthings of flowers, bits of stick and broken glass, and followed the servant into the house. We had such pleasant homes we were not heartbroken to do this.
God’s messenger sooner or later will find us at our work or play. His name is Death. As his touch falls upon us and we look upon his dark form we will hear the message, “Your Father says come home.”
Some of us will not be sorry to go. How gladly we will lay down the work tools or playthings of this world and follow the messenger upward toward the heavenly mansion that is all ashine and waiting for us.
It is a sweet thought to feel as the world sweeps on that it is carrying us to the home of the soul, that it is speeding through the air in swift flight for the Everlasting City. There are signs along the years that declare unmistakably the approaching end of the journey. We mark them with interest as one would notice the familiar landmarks in an earthly trip. I heard a gentleman once describe his return home after an absence of years; that as he drew nearer and nearer, the well-known curve of the river, the line of hills, the forest, the orchard, the turn in the road, the rustic stile, the clump of trees near the house, and other familiar objects, all uprose one after another to the view, filling him with an increasing breathless interest, until finally as the old home itself stood out on the tree-studded and sloping lawn before him, a torrent of unrestrainable tears gushed down his face.
There are numerous signs of the approaching end of life’s journey, in grey hair, failing sight and hearing, enfeebled powers, weariness of body and that loneliness which comes from having lost many friends and loved ones by the way. They all declare the fact that you are nearly home.
Ninth: If Sons of God there will be a welcome for us.
It is sweet to feel there will be some at the Gate of Heaven awaiting us. I have seen persons standing at the door, or in the front of the house to welcome a long absent traveler. It was an experience never to be forgotten to look up and see that loving group at the door. Father, mother, brother, sister, wife and children were all there. The joy of that moment paid for all the pain and suffering of the long absence of months or years.
That there will be a company awaiting us at the door of heaven I doubt not. All of you well know who will be there to greet you. The mother whose death left you to stand alone in the world; the little boy in whose grave the sun seemed to go down; both will be there to welcome you; their arms will twine about you and the sound of their well remembered voices will take away the pain of many lonely years.
The president of a church college was dying in Kentucky. He had been for long years a widower. Just as he was taking his last breath he looked up and with a flash of joy in his eyes he cried out, “My wife,” and fell back dead. The scene made a deep impression upon the Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar, of Mississippi, and he asked Bishop Wightman what he thought of it. The Bishop replied, “God sent His angels to escort his soul to heaven, and allowed the wife of the dying man to come along with them. As his soul was leaving the body he looked up and saw her; that is all about it.”
On my return from the Holy Land after an absence of four months, I witnessed a scene at the landing of the ship that I never will be able to forget. The whole deck was filled with passengers whose eyes were fixed on the pier where we were to land, and which was thronged with a great concourse of people who had come down expecting friends and relatives from across the sea. There was not a sound as the two throngs looked at each other, and with eager eyes tried to separate loved ones from the crowd. While fifty yards still intervened, I heard an elderly man give a choking sob and say, “Yonder is my daughter.” A lady stood her little boy on an elevated place and pointing with her hand, while her face glowed and tears dripped, said, “There is your father.” Others equally oblivious and careless of being heard would cry out in the same way, wave the hand or handkerchief, and utter with husky voice the name of some beloved one. Others sank back upon seats after the mutual recognition, covering their faces with their hands; still others laughed or wept hysterically, and some few men hallooed across the distance to each other. I heard one cry out from the ship, “I thought we would never see you nor the land again.” “Yes,” came back a glad shout, “we knew of the storm and prayed God to bring you through.”
Finally the steamer touched the wharf, the gang way was run out and there followed a scene made up of handshakes, embraces, smiles, tears and joyous and tender salutations that could not be described. There was no one expecting me, so all I had to do was to view the pathetic scene. My own cheeks were wet and heart fairly ached with the emotions excited within me by the occurrences of the hour. I thought as I leaned against the bulwarks of the vessel, that so shall be the meeting and greetings of heaven. Memorable will be the hour in eternity when the Old Ship of Zion draws near with us to rejoin the bands of relatives and friends who have preceded us. They, I doubt not, will be looking out for us, and you know we will be looking for them. What a meeting it will be! what rapturous shouts and praises! what embraces of lifelong parted friends and loved ones.
“I think I should mourn o’er my sorrowful fate, If sorrow in heaven could be, If no one should be at the beautiful gate There waiting and watching for me.”
Thank God all will have some one looking out for us. And they who have lingered long on the shore of life and can say in view of many burials, “My company has gone before”–will have a goodly throng to greet them as they arrive.
How we love to think of those that have gone ahead; the good and true who fell early in life, and the old friends of your father and mother whom you met and was taught to venerate around the family hearthstone And there is the sister who passed away in girlhood, and the brother who went down in battle. Then the father fell asleep, and after a while the mother went after him. Then the young wife faded away, and the children went up one by one, and left you lonely in he midst of empty rooms and vacant chairs. Thank God they will all be there to meet you.
“While on Pisgah’s top I’m standing Looking toward the vernal shore, There I seem to see them banding Just beside the Golden Landing, Waiting to receive me o’er, Precious one’s who’ve gone before.”
Tenth: If Sons of God there will be a family gathering.
I never saw a father yet but wanted all his children home at stated times. They may have married and been scattered everywhere, but the desire of the father is known, the letters of reminder are sent, and here on Thanksgiving Day or in the Christmas Holidays they all come. What a bustle is in the house, what twinkling lights from the windows, what roaring fires up the chimney, what running about of the servants. The lawyer son is there from a distant city. The physician son has fled from his patients in still another city and come. A third son is present with a week’s furlough from the army, and a still younger son has run down from college. Then there are daughters married and unmarried, and prattling grandchildren. What a bright, loving, joyous scene it is! And when all are sitting at the long dining table, and the silvery locked father at the head and the bespectacled, smiling mother at the foot glance down the double line of faces, elderly and youthful, grave and gay, all of them their own, and all under the old family roof tree once more; it is a picture so full of gladness, thankfulness, love and content, that no pencil pen, or artist brush could ever do it justice.
There is to be a great family gathering one of these days in the skies. Christ repeatedly spoke of it. In one place it is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. God’s children will come up from every country and age and sit down together. They will drink the wine of the kingdom new at that time. What an assemblage it will be of the good, true and pure. Patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, kings, poets, priests, preachers, singers, in a word all of God’s servants and witnesses who have lived, achieved, suffered and died for him will be there. The hymn says:
“Where the saints of all ages in harmony meet Their Saviour and brethren transported to greet; Where the anthems of rapture unceasingly roll, And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul.”
No one is able to describe this scene. We have beheld the presence of one good and great man enliven a whole table or company; but think of a feast where all the spiritually great and good of this world are present. Where not only Abraham, David, Elijah and Paul are seen, but Knox and Calvin, Wesley and Whitefield, Payson and Summerfield, Cookman and Marvin.
Some of us doubtless would do nothing but look at these moral giants of the past, but for one face which shines over all, and that is the chief and crowning glory of the hour. No one need ask whose it is; all know the One who wore the crown of thorns for us, and who died to bring us to heaven.
God grant we all may be there. There is nothing like it on earth, and nothing can surpass it in eternity. The poor take rank, the humble are exulted, the last are first, the “Dying Thief ” commands a great audience, and Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Bethany who broke the alabaster box, have as many eyes upon them as one of the prophets of old or the sweet Singer of Israel himself. All these are sons and daughters of God, all feel welcome, and are at home, and all have come to stay.
The second leading thought of the text is:
2. THE FACT OF SOMETHING GREATER AWAITING US IN HEAVEN.
Read the text, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Sons now, but a glory and exaltation is to come that at the present has not been revealed. Wonderful as is the dignity and blessedness of being Sons of God, yet says the Book it doth not yet appear what we shall be. Is not this enough to stagger the mind, and fill the heart with adoring love and wonder?
Daniel referring to our heavenly state says we shall shine as the sun.” Paul says our bodies will be “glorious,” and the writer of Revelation, on beholding one thus glorified, fell at his feet to worship him, but the shining one said, “See thou do it not for I am one of thy fellow servants.” A fellow servant, and yet he looked divine! The nearest description that John gives of this celestial state and appearance is in the text I am speaking from–“We shall be like Him.”
By regeneration and sanctification we are made like Him in nature and character on earth; but the likeness here spoken of is something external and corporeal as well. This is certainly very wonderful, for we know that the vision Paul had of Him in glory, and the glorious appearance granted to John on Patmos could not be described by the first, and caused the second to fall prostrate. So when the text says, “We shall be like Him,” the soul is filled with amazement and thrilling anticipations of its own coming glory.
“We shall see Him as He is.” Here is the veritable Christ, only transfigured with the glory He had with the Father before the world was. And we shall be like Him! The redeemed race will look like Gods. Truly the soul should be lost here in wonder, love and praise.
The third thought of the text is:
3. THE EFFECT THAT THIS COMING PROMOTION AND GLORY SHOULD HAVE ON GOD’S CHILD.
The text is clear about it, “And every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.”
“Every one,” that is every one who is a son of God; St. John was writing about God’s children.
“This hope.” What hope is he talking about? The hope of being like Christ in heaven, where we shall see Him as He is, and shall be like Him. The fact of this great unknown exaltation and dignity of the skies awaiting the child of God should stir in him a mighty aspiration or hope for it. It would be surprising if it did not; and yet there are some who are not thus moved. Listen to His words
“Every one that hath this hope in him.” The Apostle does not say that every Christian or child of God has this hope, but “Every one that hath this hope in him.” Some have it not. They are satisfied with a plodding religion, and the prospect of a bare entrance into heaven. Many have told me that I will be satisfied just to get inside the gate. No burning desire here to rise up high in the favor of God and courts of glory. It is simply the safety of heaven they want and not the likeness to the Son of God as He is to be seen.
There are others, however, who want to stand high in spiritual things; who desire not only to be like Christ as He was on earth, but like Him as He is to be revealed in heaven. This, of course, will produce a certain moral effect on the man. He is not content with simply being justified, and remaining a son of God; “He purifieth himself.” So then impurity is left in the child of God. Here is another death blow to Zinzendorfianism.
But an objector says the man here purifieth himself, and hence this is no Divine work. My reply is that this does not alter the fact of impurity remaining in the regenerated man. And again, the man’s purifying himself antedates and is always connected with God’s cleansing of the soul. God never does His part until the man does his. A man craving the Divine inward purification, must prove it by a human outward purification. Paul says to regenerated Corinthians, “Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” and this was to be done in order that they might “perfect holiness in the fear of God.” In the Bible we are exhorted to “sanctify ourselves”; but in the same Book we are told that “the God of peace will sanctify us wholly.” There is a human and a Divine sanctification. This is God’s plan, and He never deviates from it. So when a son of God has “this hope” of a great coming glory and dignity in heaven, he purifies himself. And when he does that God comes down upon him in sanctifying fir e.
The character and measure of this purity is mentioned in the text.
“As He is pure.”
This one expression shows what has happened. This is no human work. No man can work himself into a spiritual cleanness even with, and like to that of Christ. The words, “As He is pure,” show conclusively that at the end of man’s personal cleansing, the Saviour stepped in and purified him with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire.
O that God’s people everywhere would begin to pant and cry out for this Divine cleansing. O to be pure even as He is pure. How can we be content to live without such a blessing when we are told that it is for us.
The disciples as children of God were so anxious for this purifying that they left homes, family, occupation and everything for ten days, while shut up in an upper room, they waited for the descending fire. It finally came, and afterwards Peter writing about it said their hearts were “purified by faith.”
Caughey wanted it so badly that day after day saw him praying on his face in lonely fields beyond Baltimore. It came, and as it swept with cleansing power through his already regenerated soul, he leaped to his feet and told God he could now go to England with the gospel message. He did, and thousands found Christ as a consequence.
John S. Inskip so panted after it that his every breath became a prayer. For hours he would be on his face begging for the blessing. One Sunday morning while standing in his pulpit, and while uttering the words, “O Lord, I am wholly and forever thine,” the fire fell, his heart was purified and he at once entered upon a work and ministry apostolic in its spirit and worldwide in its result.
Cornelius wanted it so much that he sent his servant thirty or forty miles after Peter to tell him about it. A preacher friend of mine traveled seven hundred miles to obtain instructions how to find this pearl of great price. When I heard of it, I was the first of a large congregation to bow at the altar and sought the blessing unweariedly, pertinaciously and inconsolably until it came.
I thank God it is for every child of God; and when we desire it above all other things it will come. I marvel how any Christian can hear of such a grace and not crave its possession.
O that scores who hear me would rush to the altar now, and be of one mind, of one accord and in one place, begin to besiege heaven for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost which purifies the heart and empowers for service. God grant that you will never cease your importunities and cries until heaven answers, and the same blessing that filled the disciples may fill you, set you of fire, and send you flying everywhere with the tidings, not only of pardon, but of purity, and not only of free, but of full salvation.