James 1:12 — Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.
My Dear Comrades,
After trying to show you the desirability of this experience, and urging it upon your acceptance, I cannot help feeling that a few counsels bearing upon the best method of retaining the blessing of Holiness after it has been gained may be useful.
Beyond question many do find this sacred treasure of a Pure Heart, and exult in the confidence and joy it brings, who after a short season lose it again. They enter the Holy Temple, and then for one reason or another desert it. They struggle with tears and prayers up on to the Highway of Holiness, and then turn aside on to some by path or other, where they become the prey once more of the doubts and fears and sins of the olden time. This is a great pity. Those who act thus are the chief sufferers; but, alas! a great injury is also inflicted upon others by their unfaithfulness.
But the failure of those who obtain the grace to keep what they have received, should be no discouragement to you who have entered upon this holy path, and no argument against your persevering in it.
What you have to do, my Comrades, is to make up your minds, that having found the Pearl of Great Price no enemy shall rob you of the treasure. To this end my first counsel is:
1. Seek till you obtain a settled conviction in your own heart that the work is done. Be content with nothing less than the assurance that God has really and truly cleansed your soul from sin. Do not allow yourselves to rest in any pleasant feelings merely, or in any hope of a future revelation on the subject. Continue to wrestle, and pray, and believe, until you are satisfied that the work is accomplished.
But do you ask again, "How can I tell whether God has cleansed my soul from sin?" I reply, "How did you find out that God had forgiven your sins? How did you come to know that precious fact? for, assuredly, a precious fact it was when you were saved. I suppose that since that gracious gift was yours, you have sung over, a thousand times or more, the words:"
"I never shall forget the day
When Jesus washed my sins away."
"How did you come to the personal assurance that you were saved?" I ask, and you reply that God spoke it to your heart. Well, the assurance of your Sanctification will come in the same way. The Holy Spirit will produce a delightful persuasion in your soul that all the pride and malice, and envy and selfishness, have been taken away, and that God has filled you with peace and love.
This precious persuasion will, no doubt, come in different forms to different individuals. To some it will appear as the "Rest of Faith," to others as the "Baptism of Fire," to others as the "Fullness of Love," and to others as the Enthronement of Christ come to reign in their souls supreme over an inward Kingdom, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
But to all alike when the work is real and complete there will be the conviction that the blood cleanses and that the heart is pure. Be content with nothing less than this, and leave to God's good pleasure the giving or the withholding of more.
2. Being satisfied that God has purified your heart confess the fact. You must do so, if you want to retain the Blessing. Many of the Holiest men and women the world has known have, under the influence of false modesty or diffidence or other motives, been hindered from avowing the wonderful things that God has done for them, and have thereby grieved the Holy Spirit and lost the Blessing. Satan will tempt you to hide your light under a bushel after the same manner, but you must resist him, and boldly confess to all around you the Salvation God has given you.
Acknowledge it to yourselves. Say over and over again to your own heart:
"Glory, Glory, Jesus saves me;
Glory, Glory to the Lamb";
Now the Cleansing Blood has reached me,
Glory, Glory to the Lamb!"
Acknowledge it to your Saviour. Tell Him that you trust Him, and glorify Him for what He has done for you.
Confess it to your Comrades at every reasonable opportunity. Let it be known in your own family. It may not only greatly help you, for those nearest and dearest to you to know what God has done for you, but it may prove a great blessing to them.
Of course you will be careful not to exhibit anything like a boastful spirit, and to give all the glory to God for all that He has given you to enjoy, and I am sure you will not make any professions as though you condemned those Comrades who have not been brought to see and possess this great Salvation. Love will be in all your words as well as in your heart.
But you must confess the fact that God has cleansed your heart, and that, by His Spirit, He enables you to live day by day without grieving Him. It may be, at times it will be, a cross. But you must take it up, and in doing so you will become a light and a power and a joy to your Comrades and friends.
3. To retain the Blessing you must strive to live in the same spirit of submission, obedience, and consecration to God as that which you entered into its enjoyment. Your every-day experience must be that which we often sing:
"Here then to Thee Thy own I leave,
Mold as Thou wilt Thy passive clay,
But let me all Thy stamp receive
And let me all Thy words obey,
Serve with a single heart and eye,
And to Thy glory live and die."
4. To keep this experience you must continue in the same spirit of trust that first brought the Blessing into your heart. You did not receive the gift of Purity by feelings or by knowledge or by works; no, nor by desire nor by prayer. You believed and you were saved. If you had said I won't, or I can't believe that Jesus cleanses, unless I feel the work to be done in my heart, you could not have rejoiced in its possession. You trusted and the work was done. You must go forward in that spirit. There will be hours when all will seem to be hard and dark and desolate. Those will be hours when you will have to fight the fight of faith, and to cling to the beginning of your confidence, whether you feel pleasant or unpleasant, whether your heart seems hard or tender, that the Blood cleanses. Hold it fast.
5. To keep a clean heart you must resist temptation. You will have temptation, it will come from different sources, but especially from the devil, in three particular directions: —
(a) He will try to draw you aside into old habits, either doubtful in their nature or positively evil. He will know your weak points. Set a double watch there.
(b) He will suggest his own evil wishes and desires, and then seek to persuade you that they are from your own heart. He will say, "How can you be sanctified and have such sinful thoughts as those?" Disown his foul productions. Tell him they are not yours. Tell him that you hate them. Tell him they belong to him.
(c) He will strive to make you think you have lost the Blessing because you do not always feel as though you had it. But you are to live not by feeling but by faith.
6. To keep a pure heart you must carefully continue the use of such means as God has appointed for your assistance. Purity does not bring you into any state that renders the use of means for its maintenance and increase unnecessary.
7. To keep the Blessing:
(a) You must pray; and I strongly urge you to pray at stated hours, and for given periods.
(b) You must read and study your Bible.
(c) Read such books and papers as are instructive and encouraging on the subject of Holiness.
(d) Watch as well as pray. Be ever on your guard.
8. Keep on fighting for souls, do not be led off into a selfish occupation with your own experience, or in promoting the same experience in other Comrades. I think it is right and proper that you should devote a portion of your time and energy to the duty of sanctifying yourselves and of spreading a full Salvation among your Comrades. But nothing can relieve you from the duty of fighting for the Salvation of dying souls around you.
I have only space for one other word. It is one of deep importance. With all the emphasis I can command I would say to every reader of these Letters, if from any cause whatever you should lose the assurance that the blood of Jesus cleanses you; or if, more melancholy still, you should lose the blessing of Purity, fly at once to your Saviour's feet, confess your wrongdoing, give yourself up again to the full service of your Lord, and once more plunge in the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness; and then, profiting by the sorrow and disappointment of your fall, start afresh to live the life of faith in a purifying Saviour.
"What though a thousand hosts engage
A thousand worlds my soul to shake,
I have a shield shall quell their rage,
And drive the alien armies back:
Portrayed it bears a bleeding Lamb,
I dare believe in Jesus' name.
"Me to retrieve from Satan's hands,
Me from this evil world to free,
To purge my sins and loose my bands,
And save from all iniquity,
My Lord and God from heaven He came;
I dare believe in Jesus' name."
— THE END —