Ephesians 3:17-19 — That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
My Dear Comrades,
You will remember that when I closed my last Letter, I was considering a very interesting part of our subject; namely, that particular act of Faith which purifies the heart. I said something to you then on this question; but I must have another word, because I fancy that it is here that many of my dear people stumble and fail in seeking the Blessing of Purity. They come to the door of full deliverance from Sin; they look inside the Temple of Holiness; they long to be there; but they hesitate to take the step which alone can carry them in.
They cannot, or do not, or will not exercise the Faith that purifies, and so turn away and go back to the unsatisfactory state of sinning and repenting in which they have lived so long. Now, I feel quite sure that this is often caused by ignorance or mistaken notions; and I would, therefore, very much like to explain a little further what that wonderful Faith is by which the soul enters into the enjoyment of a Full Salvation.
I may have again to pass over some of the ground we have already traveled together. But that cannot be helped. I had better repeat myself a thousand times and be understood, than leave you in doubt as to my meaning.
1. I remark that Purifying Faith is the Faith that has some definite knowledge of the nature of the Blessing desired, and the means by which it is attained. That knowledge may be very imperfect, but it is enough to apprehend the nature of the Purity sought for. This Faith sees that Purity is not merely a passing wave of feeling or a deliverance from temptation. It perceives that it is not a condition of uninterrupted happiness, but a state of Holiness in which the servant of God ceases to grieve the Holy Spirit, obeys the call of duty, and loves Him with all the power he possesses.
Purifying Faith fixes its eye on the Blessing, and says "I want a Pure Heart, I need it; it is the Will of God that I should have it. Christ bought it for me when He died on the Cross. O God, let it be mine."
Has your Faith got as far as that, my Comrades? Do you see what Purity means? If so that is a gratifying attainment. Hold it fast until God bestows the great treasure upon you.
2. Purifying Faith sets the soul longing after the possession of this Treasure. Looking at a thing which you consider valuable and possible, will certainly awaken the desire for its possession. If I am informed of some site of land, or some piece of property, which I could see would be of great service to The Army, the more I think about it, the longer I look at it, the more strongly shall I desire its possession.
It is so with Holiness, my Comrades. If you believe it to be the precious thing it really is, you will consider it, keep it before your mind, turn it round and round, and the more you do so the more you will desire it. Does your Faith compel your attention? Does it make you think? "O Lord, increase our Faith." If you will only keep on looking at it you will come to long after it with earnest desire.
3. Purifying Faith is the Faith that leads the soul to choose the Blessing. It says, "I'll have it if it is for me," and sings:
"Give me the Faith that Jesus had,
The Faith that can great mountains move,
That makes the mournful spirit glad,
The saving Faith that works by Love;
The Faith for which the saints have striven,
The Faith that pulls the fire from Heaven."
Purifying Faith goes further than merely admiring and talking, and longing and praying: it elects to make the experience its own. It says, "Now, Lord, this great deliverance shall be mine. I choose it. If it is to be attained, I'll have it!" We all know how the sinners around us pain our hearts by the way they trifle with Salvation. They say, "Oh, yes, it is good, and it's very kind of Jesus Christ to make it possible for us to be saved. We must have Salvation. We must not be lost. But we won't seek it now." Even so, I am afraid many Soldiers trifle with holiness. They say, "I ought to be holy; I wish I were holy. O Lord, make me holy — but not now." But Purifying Faith chooses the Blessing desired. It says, "I'll begin to seek now with all my heart — and I'll seek until I find."
4. Purifying Faith compels the surrender of everything that stands in the way of the possession of Holiness. It is willing to pay the price. Oh, how cheerfully people give up pleasant things in order to gain those which they believe to be still more desirable. So here, when men really do see and believe in the worth of Purity, they will be ready to abandon everything which seems likely to hinder them obtaining it.
Oh, my Comrades, have you got thus far? Does your Faith duly value the treasure we are talking about? If not, it cannot be said to be Purifying Faith. If it does, it will cry out.
"Is there a thing beneath the sun,
That strives with Thee my heart to share?
Oh, tear it thence, and reign alone,
Then shall my heart from earth be free
When it has found repose in Thee."
5. Purifying Faith leads the soul to the consecration of all it possesses to the service of its Saviour.
Now, my dear Comrades, has your Faith got as far as this? I am afraid many come close up to this point, and then grow afraid. They shrink from the full consecration, and give up the holy strife. They will say "If I place myself in the hands of God, for Him to do just as He likes with me, who can tell where He may send me, or what He may want me to do?"
For instance, I fancy some of my Soldiers hang back from the fear that God should say to them: You will have to put on the Uniform; or you will have to speak to your relatives about their souls; or you will have to plead with strangers; or you will have to be Officers, or do something else from which their unsanctified hearts turn back; and so they go no further in the search for Purity. But Purifying Faith sees Jesus Christ to be the altogether lovely, His service to be infinitely desirable, and the privilege of joining with Him in the work of saving and blessing men so honorable and desirable that the soul controlled by it leaps forward to lay itself at the Master's feet, willing to be used in any way He thinks best, and so gladly offers a consecration which knows no hesitation, has no reservation, the limits of which being only bounded by its ability.
6. But Purifying Faith goes further than this: it realizes that Holiness has been bought by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and is promised in the unchanging word of God. Do you see that this Treasure of treasures is yours, my Comrades, and that God, having provided and promised it, is now waiting and willing to give it you?
Faith hears God say, "From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." Faith replies, "True, Lord, and I am waiting and longing for it to be done. It shall be mine."
Faith hears Him say, "I will take away the heart of stone — the hardness from your heart — and give you a heart of flesh — a tender heart," and answers. "Lord, I am sure you will. I trust you to do it now. The hour of my sanctification is at hand, The Cleansing Spirit is coming to dwell within me. He will make and keep me clean."
7. But Purifying Faith goes further still. it believes that it actually receives the Purity which it seeks. It says not only "God is willing and waiting to save," but "Jesus does sanctify me now."
My Comrades, I want to ask you the question, When shall this Purity come into your hearts? Do you say tomorrow? I answer, "Perhaps it may be tomorrow. I do not know whether it may." Do you say, "When I am dying"? I answer, "Perhaps it may be when you are dying, but I do not know whether it will be possible then." Do you say NOW? I answer "YES, IT CAN BE NOW," for "Now is the accepted time, and Now is the day of Salvation."