From “Perfect Love” by JA Wood-part 5
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 5 of a series of excerpts from a book, “Perfect Love, or, Plain Things for Those who Need Them.” The book is in the public domain. It tells of a spiritual life higher than many people believe to be possible. The author says that he has experienced this higher spiritual life, and wants his readers to experience it too.
The next paragraph is an excerpt from the preceding article in this series to give the context.
8. Do the Scriptures teach a distinction between regeneration and entire sanctification?
They do. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” “Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” “Sanctify them through thy truth thy word is truth.” All these passages have reference to Christians in a regenerated state, but not entirely sanctified.
11. Does this distinction harmonize with Christian experience?
It does. All Christians are regenerated, while but few claim to be sanctified wholly. The penitent sinner seeks for pardon and acceptance, and is not concerned for the blessing of perfect love, or entire justification. After regeneration, the more clearly the light of justification shines, the more the converted soul will see its indwelling sin, and feel the necessity of entire sanctification. Thousands of intelligent Christians, whose experience in regard to regeneration and sanctification has been clear, can testify to the following:
1. They have had a clear evidence of justification and regeneration.
2. While in possession of this evidence, they have been convinced of inbred sin, or corruption.
3. They have sought and obtained a sensible purification of heart in which all sin was taken away, and they were enabled to love God with all the heart. 4. They have had as clear and distinct witness of the Spirit, to this “second blessing,” as they ever had of justification and regeneration.
12. Does the Lord ever entirely sanctify the soul at justification and regeneration?
We do not know. Possibly this may be the case in some instances, but, certainly, is not the usual order of God. In all our acquaintance with many thousands of the purest and best Christians in all the various churches, we have yet to find a clear case of entire sanctification at conversion. While multitudes claim that their souls have been cleansed from all sin subsequent to their justification, we do not recollect a single instance of a distinct witness of entire sanctification at conversion.
Mr. Wesley says: “But we do not know a single instance, in any place, of a person’s receiving in one and the same moment remission of sins, the abiding witness of the Spirit, and a new and a clean heart.” — Plain Account, p. 34.
In giving an account of Grace Paddy, who was convicted of sin, converted, and purified within twelve hours, he says: “Such an instance I never knew before; such an instance I never read a person convinced of sin, converted to God, and renewed in love within twelve hours Yet it is by no means incredible, seeing one day is with God as a thousand years.” — Works, vol. iv. p. 219.
Dr. Clarke says: “I have been twenty-three years a traveling preacher, and have been acquainted with some thousands of Christians during that time, who were in different states of grace; and I never, to my knowledge, met with a single instance where God both justified and sanctified at the same time.” — Etheridge’s Life of Dr. A. Clarke.
13. How did Mr. Wesley view the idea that the soul is entirely sanctified at regeneration?
As a dangerous heresy. On its account after several long interviews with Count Zinzendorf a leading Moravian, he separated himself and his societies from all communion and fellowship with the Moravians.
“We may learn” (says Mr. Wesley) “the mischievousness of that opinion, that we are wholly sanctified when we are justified; that our hearts are then cleansed from all sin.” — Works, vol. i. p. 119.
I cannot therefore by any means receive this assertion, that there is no sin in a believer from the moment he is justified; —
“1. Because it is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture.”
“2. Because it is contrary to the experience of the children of God.”
“3. Because it is absolutely new, never heard of in the world till yesterday.”
“4. Because it is naturally attended with the most fatal consequences; not only grieving those whom God hath not grieved, but, perhaps, dragging them into everlasting perdition.” — Sermons, vol. i. p. 111.
Dr. George Peck says: “Would it not be a sad indication of the degeneracy of Methodism in this country, if what Mr. Wesley, under God our great founder, considered heresy, and opposed WITH ALL HIS MIGHT, should be cherished as the very marrow of the gospel by the ministers and people of the Methodist Episcopal Church?” — Christian Perfection, p. 364.
Rev.. William Bramwell writes to a friend: “An idea is going forth, that when we are justified we are entirely sanctified,” and “to feel evil nature after justification is to lose pardon,” &c. You may depend upon it, this is the devil’s great gun. We shall have much trouble with this, and I am afraid we cannot suppress it.” — Memoir.
- What was the Moravian or Zinzendorf doctrine which Mr. Wesley opposed?
That the soul is entirely sanctified when it is justified; that regeneration, which takes place at the time of justification, is identical with entire sanctification.
Mr. Wesley gives Zinzendorf’s statements:— “The moment he,” a believer, “is justified, he is sanctified wholly.” — “Entire sanctification and justification are in the same instant, and neither is increased or diminished.” — “As soon as any one is justified, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell in his heart; and in that moment his heart is as pure as it ever will be.” — Works, vol. iii. p. 222.
It was this error that occasioned the writing and publication of his sermon on “Sin in Believers.”
He says in his Journal: “I retired to Lewisham, and wrote the sermon on ‘Sin in Believers’, in order to remove a mistake, which some were laboring to propagate — that there is no sin in any that are justified.” Works, vol. iv. p. 147.
This theory of entire sanctification is antagonistic to the universal experience of the Church, and to the standard writers of all Christendom for a thousand years.
- Is the theory that the soul is entirely sanctified at regeneration, attended with serious difficulties?
It is. It involves the whole subject of Christian sanctification in inextricable difficulties. The following are some of them:
- If sanctification is complete at justification, then every man who enjoys religion is entirely sanctified.
- If sanctification is complete at conversion, then every Christian, to be truthful, should profess entire sanctification.
- If all who are converted are entirely sanctified, then all the directions in the word of God, to seek holiness sanctification, or perfect love, are given exclusively to sinners.
- If sanctification is complete at justification, then converts are not to seek for any further cleansing.
- If sanctification is complete at justification, ministers have no right to urge Christiansto “go on unto perfection,” or to “cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
- If justification and entire sanctification are inseparable, then all who feel the fruits of the flesh are in a state of condemnation.
- If a state of entire sanctification is consistent with the struggles of pride, unbelief, impatience, jealousy, and anger(the common experience of newly justified believers), must we not infer that these must go with us to heaven? as it must be admitted that entire sanctification fits the soul for heaven.
- If sanctification is complete at conversion then every man who is not entirely sanctified is a child of the devil.
- If entire sanctification is complete at justification, it is so in opposition to the experience of the whole Church of God, and, with slight exceptions, the whole Christian world have been seriously mistaken during two thousand years.
- If all that are regenerate are wholly sanctified, then, whoever is convicted for full salvation, and groaning after it, is at once to infer that he was never converted, or that he is now backslidden. Thus would this heresy, if received, perplex and harass with perpetual difficulties and discouragements the very members of the church who are most deeply concerned to possess all the mind that was in Christ.
A system involving such difficulties can not be received as the truth of God, and should be regarded as anti-scriptural, and avoided as dangerous heresy.
- If regeneration is partial and not entire sanctification, where is the limit?
Dr. G. D. Watson answers this question: — “The Scriptures teach that in conversion the believer is always sanctified or purified back to the moral cleanness of infancy. This is the exact limit of partial sanctification, which is fixed by the Savior himself. ‘Except ye be converted and become as little children.’ Just as pardon removes all guilt resulting from actual transgressions, so ‘the washing of regeneration’ removes all the impurity acquired by actual transgression. The removal of remaining original impurity is the work of entire sanctification.” — Advocate of Holiness, September, 1879.
Rev. B. W. Gorham: “The infant, and the man in a state of assured justification before God, are alike parties to the covenant of grace, which entitles them to holiness and heaven. Both are alike free from any voluntary antagonism to holiness; and should death come suddenly to both, our covenant-keeping Lord will surely perfect that which is locking in each, even in the very article of death.” — God’s Method with Man, p. 57Does a state of justification involve a desire to be hoIt does. If a man is a Christian and in a justified state, he has the heart of a child of God, and desires to render Him a present, full, and unreserved obedience. This is implied in the very nature of true religion. A desire for holiness is a spontaneity of the regenerate heart, and the Christian who argues against holiness will get down on his knees and pray for a clean heart, — his regenerated heart getting the better of his head.
Bishop Peck says: “Regeneration in its lowest state loves holiness, and pants to be filled with it.”
Mr. Caughey says: “A hearty desire for purity is the brightest gem that sparkles in real justification. If it be genuine, this desire is always attached to it — as weight to lead, as heat to fire, as fragrance to the rose, as greenness to a healthy leaf — inseparable.”