By Dr. Adam Clarke

The word "sanctify" has two meanings. 1. It signifies to consecrate,

to separate from earth and common use, and to devote or dedicate to

God and his service. 2. It signifies to make holy or pure.

Many talk much, and indeed well, of what Christ has done for us:

but how little is spoken of what he is to do in us! and yet all that

he has done for us is in reference to what he is to do in us. He was

incarnated, suffered, died, and rose again from the dead; ascended to

heaven, and there appears in the presence of God for us. These were

all saving, atoning, and mediating acts for us; that he might reconcile

us to God; that he might blot out our sin; that he might purge our

consciences from dead works; that he might bind the strong man armed

--take away the armor in which he trusted, wash the polluted heart,

destroy every foul and abominable desire, all tormenting and unholy

tempers; that he might make the heart his throne, fill the soul with

his light, power, and life; and, in a word, "destroy the works of the

devil." These are done in us; without which we cannot be saved unto

eternal lie. But these acts done in us are consequent on the acts done

for us: for had he not been incarnated, suffered, and died in our stead,

we could not receive either pardon or holiness; and did he not cleanse

and purify our hearts, we could not enter into the place where all is

purity: for the beatific vision is given to them only who are purified

from all unrighteousness: for it is written, "Blessed are the pure in

heart, for they shall see God." Nothing is purified by death;--nothing

in the grave; nothing in heaven. The living stones of the temple, like

those of that at Jerusalem, are hewn, squared, and cut here, in the

church militant, to prepare them to enter into the composition of the

church triumphant.

This perfection is the restoration of man to the state of holiness

from which he fell, by creating him anew in Christ Jesus, and restoring

to him that image and likeness of God which he has lost. A higher

meaning than this it cannot have; a lower meaning it must not have.

God made man in that degree of perfection which was pleasing to his

own infinite wisdom and goodness. Sin defaced this divine image; Jesus

came to restore it. Sin must have no triumph; and the Redeemer of

mankind must have his glory. But if man be not perfectly saved from

all sin, sin does triumph, and Satan exult, because they have done a

mischief that Christ either cannot or will not remove. To say he cannot,

would be shocking blasphemy against the infinite power and dignity of

the great Creator; to say he will not, would be equally such against

the infinite benevolence and holiness of his nature. All sin, whether

in power, guilt, or defilement is the work of the devil; and he, Jesus,

came to destroy the work of the devil; and as all unrighteousness is

sin, so his blood cleanseth from all sin, because it cleanseth from

all unrighteousness.

Many stagger at the term perfection in Christianity; because they

think that what is implied in it is inconsistent with a state of

probation, and savors of pride and presumption: but we must take good

heed how we stagger at any word of God; and much more how we deny or

fritter away the meaning of any of His sayings, lest he reprove us, and

we be found liars before him. But it may be that the term is rejected

because it is not understood. Let us examine its import.

The word "perfection," in reference to any person or thing signifies

that such person or thing is complete or finished; that it has nothing

redundant, and is in nothing defective. And hence that observation of

a learned civilian is at once both correct and illustrative, namely,

"We count those things perfect which want nothing requisite for the

end whereto they were instituted." And to be perfect often signifies

"to be blameless, clear, irreproachable;" and according to the above

definition of Hooker, a man may be said to be perfect who answers the

end for which God made him; and as God requires every man to love him

with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as

himself; then he is a perfect man that does so; he answers the end for

which God made him; and this is more evident from the nature of that

love which fills his heart: for as love is the principle of obedience,

so he that loves his God with all his powers, will obey him with all

his powers; and he who loves his neighbor as himself will not only do

no injury to him, but, on the contrary, labor to promote his best

interests. Why the doctrine which enjoins such a state of perfection

as this, should be dreaded, ridiculed, or despised, is a most strange

thing; and the opposition to it can only be from that carnal mind that

is enmity to God; "That is not subject to the law of God, neither

indeed can be." And had I no other proof that man is fallen from God,

his opposition to Christian holiness would be to me sufficient.

The whole design of God was to restore man to his image, and raise

him from the ruins of his fall; in a word, to make him perfect; to

blot out all his sins, purify his soul, and fill him with holiness;

so that no unholy temper, evil desire, or impure affection or passion

shall either lodge or have any being within him; this and this only

is true religion or Christian perfection; and a less salvation than

this would be dishonorable to the sacrifice of Christ, and the operation

of the Holy Ghost; and would be as unworthy of the appellation of

Christianity," as it would be of that of "holiness or perfection."

They who ridicule this are scoffers at the word of God; many of them

totally irreligious men, sitting in the seat of the scornful. They who

deny it, deny the whole scope and design of divine revelation and the

mission of Jesus Christ. And they who preach the opposite doctrine are

either speculative Antinomians, or pleaders for Baal.

When St. Paul says he "warns every man, and teaches every man in

all wisdom, that he may present every man PERFECT in Christ Jesus,"

he must mean something. What then is this something? It must mean "that

holiness without which none shall see the Lord." Call it by what name

we please, it must imply the pardon of all transgression, and the

removal of the whole body of sin and death; for this must take place

before we can be like him, and see him as he is, in the effulgence of

his own glory. This fitness, then, to appear before God, and thorough

preparation for eternal glory, is what I plead for, pray for, and

heartily recommend to all true believer, under the name of Christian

perfection. Had I a better name, one more energetic, one with a greater

plenitude of meaning, one more worthy of the efficacy of the blood

that bought our peace, and cleanseth from all unrighteousness, I would

gladly adopt and use it. Even the word "perfection" has, in some

relations, so many qualifications and abatements that cannot comport

with that full and glorious salvation recommended in the gospel, and

bought and sealed by the blood of the cross, that I would gladly lay

it by, and employ a word more positive and unequivocal in its meaning,

and more worthy of the merit of the infinite atonement of Christ, and

of the energy of his almighty Spirit; but there is none in our language;

which I deplore as an inconvenience and a loss.

Why then are there so many, even among sincere and godly ministers

and people, who are so much opposed to the term, and so much alarmed

at the profession? I answer, Because they think no man can be fully

saved from sin in this life. I ask, where is this in unequivocal words,

written in the New Testament? Where, in that book is it intimated that

sin is not wholly destroyed till death takes place, and the soul and

the body are separated? Nowhere. In the popish baseless doctrine of

purgatory, this doctrine, not with more rational consequences, is

held: this doctrine allows that, so inveterate is sin, it cannot be

wholly destroyed even in death; and that a penal fire, in a middle

state between heaven and hell, is necessary to atone for that which

the blood of Christ had not cancelled; and to purge from that which

the energy of the almighty Spirit had not cleansed before death.

Even papists could not see that a moral evil was detained in the

soul through its physical connection with the body; and that it required

the dissolution of this physical connection before the moral contagion

could be removed. Protestants, who profess, and most certainly possess,

a better faith, are they alone that maintain the deathbed purgatory;

and how positively do they hold out death as the complete deliverer

from all corruption, and the final destroyer of sin, as if it were

revealed in every page of the Bible! Whereas, there is not one passage

in the sacred volume that says any such thing. Were this true, then

death, far from being the last enemy, would be the last and best friend,

and the greatest of all deliverers: for if the last remains of all the

indwelling sin of all believers is to be destroyed by death, (and a

fearful mass this will make,) then death, that removes it, must be the

highest benefactor of mankind. The truth is, he is neither the cause

nor the means of its destruction. It is the blood of Jesus alone that

cleanseth from all unrighteousness.

It is supposed that indwelling sin is useful even to true believers,

because it humbles them and keeps them low in their own estimation. A

little examination will show that this is contrary to the fact. It is

generally, if not universally allowed that pride is of the essence of

sin, if not its very essence; and the root whence all moral obliquity

flows. How then can pride humble us? Is not this absurd? Where is there

a sincere Christian, be his creed what it may, that does not deplore

his proud, rebellious, and unsubdued heart and will, as the cause of

all his wretchedness; the thing that mars his best sacrifices, and

prevents his communion with God? How often do such people say or sing,

both in their public and private devotions,--

"But pride, that busy sin,

Spoils all that I perform!"

Were there no pride, there would be no sin; and the heart from which

it is cast out has the humility, meekness, and gentleness of Christ

implanted in its stead.

But still it is alleged, as an indubitable fact, that "a man is

humbled under a sense of indwelling sin." I grant that they who see

and feel, and deplore their indwelling sin, are humbled: but is it the

sin that humbles? No. It is the grace of God, that shows and condemns

the sin that humbles us. Neither the devil nor his work will ever show

themselves. Pride works frequently under a dense mask, and will often

assume the garb of humility. How true is that saying, and of how many

is it the language!

"Proud I am my wants to see,

Proud of my humility."

And to conceal his working, even Satan himself is transformed into an

angel of light! It appears then that we attribute this boasted humiliation

to a wrong cause. We never are humbled under a sense of indwelling sin

till the Spirit of God drags it to the light, and shows us, not only

its horrid deformity, but its hostility to God; and he manifests it,

that he may take it away: but a false opinion causes men to hug the

monster, and to contemplate their chains with complacency!

It has been objected to this perfection, this perfect work of God

in the soul, that "the greater sense we have of our own sinfulness,

the more will Christ be exalted in the eye of the soul: for, if the

thing were possible that a man might be cleansed from all sin in this

life, he would feel no need of a Saviour; Christ would be undervalued

by him as no longer needing his saving power." This objection mistakes

the whole state of the case. How is Christ exalted in the view of the

soul? How is it that he becomes precious to us? Is it not from a sense

of what he has done for us, and what he has done in us? Did any man

ever love God till he had felt that God loved him? Do we not "love him

because he first loved us?" Is it the name JESUS that is precious to

us? or JESUS the Saviour saving us from our sins? Is all our confidence

placed in him because of some one saving act? or, because of his

continual operation as the Saviour? Can any effect subsist without its

cause? Must not the cause continue to operate in order to maintain the

effect? Do we value a good cause more for the instantaneous production

of a good and important effect, than we do for its continual energy,

exerted to maintain that good and important effect? All these questions

can be answered by a child. What is it that cleanseth the soul and

destroys sin? Is it not the mighty power of the grace of God? What is

it that keeps the soul clean? Is it not the same power dwelling in us?

No more can an effect subsist without its cause, than a sanctified

soul abide in holiness without the indwelling Sanctifier. When Christ

casts out the strong-armed man, he takes away that armor in which he

trusted, he spoils his goods, he cleanses and enters into the house,

so that the heart becomes the habitation of God through the Spirit.

Can then a man undervalue that Christ who not only blotted out his

iniquity, but cleansed his soul from all sin; and whose presence and

inward mighty working constitute all his holiness and all his happiness?

Impossible! Jesus was never so highly valued, so intensely loved, so

affectionately obeyed, as now. The great Saviour has not his highest

glory from his atoning and redeeming acts, but from the manifestation

of his saving power.

"But the persons who profess to have been made thus perfect are

proud and supercilious, and their whole conduct says to their neighbor,

'Stand by, I am holier than thou.' " No person that acts so has ever

received this grace. He is either a hypocrite or a self-deceiver. Those

who have received it are full of meekness, gentleness, and long-suffering:

they love God with all their hearts--they love even their enemies; love

the whole human family, and are servants of all. They know they have

nothing but what they have received. In the splendor of God's holiness

they feel themselves absorbed. They have neither light, power, love,

nor happiness, but from their indwelling Saviour. Their holiness,

though it fills the soul, yet is only a drop from the infinite ocean.

The flame of their love, though it penetrate their whole being, is

only a spark from the incomprehensible Sun of righteousness. In a

spirit and in a way which none but themselves can fully comprehend and feel, they can say or sing,--

"I loathe myself when God I see,

And into nothing fall:

Content that Christ exalted be;

And God is all in all."

It has been no small mercy to me, that, in the course of my religious

life, I have met with many persons who professed that the blood of

Christ had saved them from all sin, and whose profession was maintained

by an immaculate life; but I never knew one of them that was not of

the spirit above described. They were men of the strongest faith, the

purest love, the holiest affections, the most obedient lives, and the

most useful in society. I have seen such walking with God for many

years: and as I had the privilege of observing their walk in life, so

have I been privileged with their testimony at death, when their sun

appeared to grow broader and brighter at its setting; and, though they

came through great tribulation, they found that their robes were washed

and made white through the blood of the Lamb. They fully witnessed the

grand effects which in this life flow from justification, adoption, and

sanctification; namely, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience,

joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance in the same

to the end of their lives. O God! let my death be like that of these

righteous I and let my end be like theirs! Amen.

It is scarcely worth mentioning another objection that has been

started by the ignorant, the worthless, and the wicked. "The people

that profess this, leave Christ out of the question; they either think

that they have purified their own hearts, or that they have gained

their pretended perfection by their own merits." Nothing can be more

false than this calumny. I know that people well in whose creed the

doctrine of "salvation from all sin in this life " is a prominent

article. But that people hold most conscientiously that all our

salvation, from the first dawn of light in the soul to its entry into

the kingdom of glory, is all by and through Christ. He alone convinces

the soul of sin, justifies the ungodly, sanctifies the unholy, preserves

in this state of salvation, and brings to everlasting blessedness. No

soul ever was or can be saved but through his agony and bloody sweat,

his cross and passion, his death and burial, his glorious resurrection

and ascension, and continued intercession at the right hand of God.

If men would but spend as much time in fervently calling upon God

to cleanse by the blood that which He has not cleansed, as they spend

in decrying this doctrine, what a glorious state of the church should

we soon witness! Instead of compounding with iniquity, and tormenting

their minds to find out with how little grace they may be saved, they

would renounce the devil and all his works, and be determined never

to rest till they had found that He had bruised him under their feet,

and that the blood of Christ had cleansed them from all unrighteousness.

Why is it that men will not try how far God will save them? nor leave

off praying and believing for more and more, till they find that God

has held his hand? When they find that their agonizing faith and prayer

receive no farther answer, then, and not till then, they may conclude

that God will be no farther gracious, and that He will not save to the

uttermost them who come to him through Christ Jesus.

But it is farther objected, that even St. Paul himself denies this

doctrine of perfection, disclaiming it in reference to himself: "Not

as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I

follow after," Phil. iii. 12. This place is mistaken: the apostle is

not speaking of his restoration to the image of God; but to completing

his ministerial course, and receiving the crown of martyrdom; as I have

fully shown on my notes on this place, and to which I must beg to refer

the reader. There is another point that has been produced, at least

indirectly, in the form of an objection to this doctrine: "Where are

those adult, those perfect Christians? We know none such; but we have

heard that some persons professing those extraordinary degrees of

holiness have become scandalous in their lives."

When a question of this kind is asked by one who fears God, and

earnestly desires his salvation, and only wishes to have full evidence

that the thing is attainable, that he may shake himself from the dust

and arise and go out, and possess the good land--it deserves to be

seriously answered. To such I would say, There may be several, even

in the circle of your own religious acquaintance, whose evil tempers

and unholy affections God has destroyed; and having filled them with

is own holiness, they are enabled to love Him with all their heart,

soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves. But such

make no public professions: their conduct, their spirit, the whole

tenor of their life, is their testimony. Again: there may be none such

among your religious acquaintance, because they do not know their

privilege, or they unfortunately sit under a ministry where the doctrine

is decried; and in such congregations and churches holiness never

abounds; men are too apt to be slothful, and unfaithful to the grace

they have received; they need not their minister's exhortations to

beware of looking for or expecting a heart purified from all

unrighteousness; striving or agonizing to "enter in at the strait

gate" is not pleasant work to flesh and blood; and they are glad to

have anything to countenance their spiritual indolence; and such

ministers have always a powerful coadjutor; the father of lies, and

the spirit of error will work in the unrenewed heart, filling it with

darkness, and prejudice, and unbelief. No wonder, then, that in such

places, and under such a ministry there is no man that can be "presented

perfect in Christ Jesus." But wherever the trumpet gives a certain

sound, and the people go forth to battle, headed by the Captain of

their salvation, there the foe is routed, and the genuine believers

brought into the liberty of the children of God.

As to some having professed to have received this salvation, and

afterward become scandalous in their lives (though in all my long

ministerial labors, and extensive religious acquaintance, I never

found but one example), I would just observe that they might possibly

have been deceived; thought they had what they had not; or they might

have become unfaithful to that grace and lost it; and this is possible

through the whole range of a state of probation. There have been angels

who kept not their first estate; and we all know, to our cost, that

he who was the head and fountain of the whole human family, who was

made in the image and likeness of God, sinned against God, and fell

from that state. And so may any of his descendants fall from any degree

of the grace of God while in their state of probation; and any man and

every man must fall, whenever he or they cease to watch unto prayer,

and cease to be "workers together with God." Faith must ever be kept

in lively exercise, working by love; and that love is only safe when

found exerting its energies in the path of obedience. An objection of

this kind against the doctrine of Christian perfection will apply as

forcibly against the whole revelation of God as it can do against one

of the doctrines; because that revelation brings the account of the

defection of angels and of the fall of man. The truth is, no doctrine

of God stands upon the knowledge experience, faithfulness, or

unfaithfulness of man; it stands on the veracity of God who gave it.

If there were not a man to be found who was justified freely through

the redemption that is by Jesus; yet the doctrine of "justification

by faith" is true; for it is a doctrine that stands on the truth of

God. And suppose not one could be found in all the churches of Christ

whose heart was purified from all unrighteousness, and who loved God

and man with all his regenerated powers, yet the doctrine of Christian

perfection would still be true; for Christ was manifested that he might

destroy the works of the devil; and his blood cleanseth from all

unrighteousness. And suppose every man be a liar, God is true.

It is not the profession of a doctrine that establishes its truth;

it is the truth of God, from which it has proceeded. Man's experience

may illustrate it; but it is God's truth that confirms it.

In all cases of this nature, we must forever cease from man,

implicitly credit God's testimony, and look to him in and through

whom all the promises of God are yea and amen.

To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the

fulness of God is still greater; to be filled with all the fulness of

God is greatest of all. This utterly bewilders the sense and confounds

the understanding, by leading at once to consider the immensity of

God, the infinitude of His attributes, and the absolute perfection of

each! But there must be a sense in which even this wonderful petition

was understood by the apostle, and may be comprehended by us. Most

people, in quoting these words, endeavor to correct or explain the

apostle by adding the word communicable. But this is as idle as it is

useless and impertinent. Reason surely tells us that St. Paul would

not pray that they should be filled with what could not be communicated.

The apostle certainly meant what he said, and would be understood in

his own meaning; and we may soon see what this meaning is.

By the "fulness of God," we are to understand all the gifts and

graces which he has promised to bestow on man in order to his full

salvation here, and his being fully prepared for the enjoyment of

glory hereafter. To be filled with all the fulness of God is to have

the heart emptied of and cleansed from all sin and defilement, and

filled with humility, meekness, gentleness, goodness, justice, holiness,

mercy, and truth, and love to God and man. And that this implies a

thorough emptying of the soul of every thing that is not of God, and

leads not to him, is evident from this, that what God fills, neither

sin nor Satan can fill, nor in any wise occupy; for, if a vessel be

filled with one fluid or substance, not a drop or particle of any

other kind can enter it, without displacing the same quantum of the

original matter as that which is afterward introduced. God cannot be

said to fill the whole soul while any place, part, passion, or faculty

is filled, or less or more occupied, by sin or Satan: and as neither

sin nor Satan can be where God fills and occupies the whole, so the

terms of the prayer state that Satan shall neither have any dominion

over that soul nor being in it. A fulness of humility precludes all

pride; of meekness, precludes anger; of gentleness, all ferocity; of

goodness, all evil; of justice, all injustice; of holiness, all sin;

of mercy, all unkindness and revenge; of truth, all falsity and

dissimulation; and where God is loved with all the heart, soul, mind,

and strength, there is no room for enmity or hatred to him, or to any

thing connected with him; so, where a man loves his neighbor as himself,

no ill shall be worked to that neighbor; but, on the contrary, every

kind affection will exist toward him; and every kind action, so far

as power and circumstances can permit, will be done to him.

Thus the being filled with God's fulness will produce constant,

pious, and affectionate obedience to him, and unvarying benevolence

towards one's neighbor; that is, any man, any and every human being.

Such a man is saved from all sin; the law is fulfilled in him; and he

ever possesses and acts under the influence of that love to God and

man which is the fulfilling of the law. It is impossible, with any

Scriptural or rational consistency, to understand these word in any

lower sense; but how much more they imply, (and more they do imply,)

who can tell?

Many preachers, and multitudes of professing people, are studious

to find out how many imperfections and infidelities, and how much

inward sinfulness, are consistent with a safe state in religion; but

how few, very few, are bringing out the fair gospel standard to try

the height of the members of the church; whether they be fit for the

heavenly army; whether their stature be such as qualifies them for the

rank of the church militant! "the measure of the stature of the fulness"

is seldom seen; the measure of the stature of littleness, dwarfishness,

and emptiness, is often exhibited.

Some say "The body of sin in believers is, indeed, an enfeebled,

conquered, and deposed tyrant, and the stroke of death finishes its

destruction." So, then, the death of Christ and the influences of the

Holy Spirit were only sufficient to depose and enfeeble the tyrant

sin; but our death must come in to effect his total destruction! Thus

our death is, at least partially, our Saviour, and thus that which was

an effect of sin, ("for sin entered into the world, and death by sin,")

becomes the means of finally destroying it: that is, the effect of a

cause can become so powerful as to react upon that cause and produce

its annihilation! The divinity and philosophy of this sentiment are

equally absurd. It is the blood of Christ alone that cleanses from

all unrighteousness; and the sanctification of a believer is no more

dependent on death than his justification. If it be said that "believers

do not cease from sin till they die," I have only to say they are such

believers as do not make a proper use of their faith: and what can be

said more of the whole herd of transgressors and infidels? They cease

to sin when they cease to breathe. If the Christian religion bring no

other privileges than this to its upright followers, well may we ask,

"Wherein doth the wise man differ from the fool, for they have both

one end!" But the whole gospel teaches a contrary doctrine.

It is strange there should be found a person believing the whole

gospel system and yet living in sin! "Salvation from sin" is the long

continued sound, as it is the spirit and design, of the gospel. Our

Christian name, our baptismal covenant, our profession of faith in

Christ, and avowed belief in his word, all call us to this: can it be

said that we have any louder calls than they? Our self-interest, as

it respects the happiness of a godly life, and the glories of eternal

blessedness; the pains and wretchedness of a life of sin, leading to

the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched; second,

most powerfully, the above calls. Reader, lay these things to heart,

and answer this question to God: "How shall I escape if I neglect so

great salvation?" And then, as thy conscience shall answer, let thy

mind and thy hand begin to act.

As there is no end to the merits of Christ incarnated and crucified;

no bounds to the mercy and love of God; no let or hindrance to the

almighty energy and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; no limits

to the improvability of the human soul; so there can be no bounds to

the saving influence which God will dispense to the heart of every

genuine believer. We may ask and receive, and our joy shall be full!

Well may we bless and praise God, "who has called us into such a state

of salvation;" a state in which we may be thus saved; and, by the grace

of that state, continue in the same to the end of our lives!

As sin is the cause of the ruin of mankind, the gospel system,

which exhibits it cure, is fitly called "good news, or glad tidings;"

and it is good news, because it proclaims Him who saves his people

from their sins; and it would indeed be dishonorable to that grace,

and the infinite merit of Him who procured it, to suppose, much more

to assert, that sin had made wounds which grace would not heal. Of

such a triumph Satan shall ever be deprived.

"He that committeth sin is of the devil." Hear this, ye who plead

for Baal, and cannot bear the thought of that doctrine that states

believers are to be saved from all sin in this life! He who committeth

sin is a child of the devil, and shows that he has still the nature

of the devil in him; "for the devil sinneth from the beginning:" he

was the father of sin,-- brought sin into the world, and maintains

sin in the world by living in the hearts of his own children, and thus

leading them to transgression; and persuading others that they cannot

be saved from their sins in this life, that he may secure a continual

residence in their heart. He also knows that if he has a place throughout

life, he will probably have it at death; and, if so, throughout eternity.

"That is," say some, "he does not sin habitually as he formerly did."

This is bringing the influence and privileges of the heavenly birth

very low indeed. We have the most indubitable evidence that many of

the heathen philosophers had acquired, by mental discipline and

cultivation, an entire ascendancy over all their wonted vicious habits.

Perhaps my reader will recollect the story of the physiognomist, who,

coming into the place where Socrates was delivering a lecture, his

pupils, wishing to put the principles of the man's science to proof,

desired him to examine the face of their master, and say what his moral

character was. After a full contemplation of the philosopher's visage,

he pronounced him the "most gluttonous, drunken, brutal, and libidinous

old man that he ever met." As the character of Socrates was the reverse

of all this, his disciples began to insult the physiognomist. Socrates

interfered, and said, "The principles of his science may be very

correct; for such I was, but I have conquered it by my philosophy." O

ye Christian divines! ye real or pretended gospel ministers! will ye

allow the influence of the grace of Christ a sway not even so extensive

as that of the philosophy of a heathen who never heard of the true God?

Many tell us that "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 Christ was manifested to take away

our sins, to destroy the works of the devil; and as his blood cleanseth

from all sin and unrighteousness, 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, then he must be cleansed from all sin; and while he continues in

that state, he lives without sinning against God, for the seed of God

remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born, or begotten

of 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 through his natural

wickedness and malice; for even the devil himself can have no other

way of sinning against God, except by thought, word, and deed. And

yet, according to these and others of the same creed, "even the most

regenerate sin against God as long as they live." It is a miserable

salvo to say "they do not sin so 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

may we not ask, If it was 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? But the letter and spirit

of God's word, and the design and end of Christ's coming, is to save

his people from their sins.

The perfection of the gospel system is not that it makes allowances

for sin, but that it makes an atonement for it; not that it tolerates

sin, but that it destroys it.

However inveterate the disease of sin may be, the grace of the Lord

Jesus can fully cure it.

God sets no bounds to the communications of his grace and Spirit

to them that are faithful. And as there are no bounds to the graces,

so there should be none to the exercise of those graces. No man can

ever feel that he loves God too much, or that he loves man too much

for God's sake.

Be so purified and refined in your souls, by the indwelling Spirit,

that even the light of God shining into your hearts shall not be able

to discover a fault that the love of God has not purged away.

"Be thou perfect, and thou shalt be perfection," that is, altogether

perfect: be just such as the holy God would have thee to be, as the

Almighty God can make thee, and live as the sufficient God shall

support thee; for He alone who makes the soul holy can preserve it in

holiness. Our blessed Lord appears to have these word pointedly in

view, "Ye shall be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect,"

Matt. v. 48. But what does this imply? Why, to be saved from all the

power, the guilt, and the contamination of sin. This is only the negative

part of salvation, but it has also a positive part; to be made perfect

--to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, to be filled

with the fulness of God, to have Christ dwelling continually in the

heart by faith, and to be rooted and grounded in love. This is the

state in which man was created; for he was made in the image and

likeness of God. This is the state from which man fell; for he broke

the command of God. And this is the state into which every human soul

must be raised who would dwell with God in glory; for Christ was

incarnated and died to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. What

a glorious privilege! And who can doubt the possibility of its attainment

who believes in the omnipotent love of God, the infinite merit of the

blood of the atonement, and the all-pervading and all-purifying energy

of the Holy Ghost? How many miserable souls employ that time to dispute

and cavil against the possibility of being saved from their sins, which

they should devote to praying and believing that they might be saved

out of the hands of their enemies! But some may say, "You overstrain

the meaning of the term; it signifies only, Be sincere; for, a perfect

obedience is impossible, God accepts of sincere obedience." If by

sincerity the objection means "good desires, and generally good purposes,

with an impure heart and spotted life," then I assert that no such thing

is implied in the text, nor in the original word. But if the word

sincerity be taken in its proper and literal sense, I have no objection

to it. Sincere is compounded of sine cera, " without wax;" and, applied

to moral subjects, is a metaphor taken from clarified honey, from which

every atom of the comb or wax is separated. Then let it be proclaimed

from heaven, "Walk before me, and be sincere! Purge out the old leaven,

that ye may be a new lump unto God; and thus ye shall be perfect, as

your Father who is in heaven is perfect." This is sincerity. Reader,

remember that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. Ten thousand

quibbles on insulated texts can never lessen, much less destroy, the

merit and efficacy of the great atonement.

God never gives a precept but he offers sufficient grace to enable

thee to perform it. Believe as he would have thee, and act as he shall

strengthen thee, and thou wilt believe all things savingly, and do all

things well.

God is holy; and this is the eternal reason why all his people

should be holy--should be purified from all filthiness of the flesh

and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. No faith in any

particular creed, no religious observance, no acts of benevolence and

charity, no mortification, attrition, or contrition can be a substitute

for this. We must be made partakers of the divine nature. We must be

saved from our sins--from the corruption that is in the world, and be

holy within and righteous without, or never see God. For this very

purpose Jesus Christ lived, died, and revived, that he might purify

us unto himself; that through faith in his blood our sins might be

blotted out, and our souls restored to the image of God. Reader, art

thou hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then, blessed art

thou, for thou shalt be filled.

God is ever ready, by the power of his Spirit, to carry us forward

to every degree of life, light, and love, necessary to prepare us for

an eternal weight of glory. There can be little difficulty in attaining

the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls from all sin, if God

carry us forward to it; and this he will do, if we submit to be saved

in his own way, and on his own terms. Many make a violent outcry

against the doctrine of perfection; that is, against the heart being

cleansed from all sin in this life, and filled with love to God and

man; because they judge it to be impossible! Is it too much to say of

these, that they know neither the Scripture nor the power of God?

Surely, the Scripture promises the thing, and the power of God can

carry us on to the possession of it.

The object of all God's promises and dispensations was to bring

fallen man back to the image of God, which he had lost. This, indeed,

is the sum and substance of the religion of Christ. We have partaken

of an earthly, sensual, and devilish nature; the design of God, by

Christ, is to remove this, and to make us partakers of the divine

nature, and save us from all the corruption, in principle and fact,

which is in the world.

It is said that Enoch not only "walked with God," setting him always

before his eyes--beginning, continuing, and ending every work to His

glory--but also that "he pleased God," and had "the testimony that he

did please God." Hence we learn that it was then possible to live so

as not to offend God: consequently so as not to commit sin against

him, and to have the continual evidence or testimony that all that a

man did and purposed was pleasing in the sight of Him who searches

the heart, and by whom devices are weighed: and if it was possible

then, it is surely, through the same source, possible now; for God,

and Christ, and faith are still the same.

The petition "Thy will be done in earth, as is in heaven," certainly

points out a deliverance from all sin; for nothing that is unholy can

consist with the divine will; and, if this be fulfilled in man, surely

sin shall be banished from his soul. Again: the holy angels never

mingle iniquity with their loving obedience; and, as our Lord teaches

us to pray that we do his will here as they do in heaven, can it be

thought he would put a petition into our mouths the fulfilment of

which was impossible?

The reader is probably amazed at the paucity of large stars in the

whole firmament of heaven. Will he permit me to carry his mind a little

farther, and either stand astonished at, or deplore with me the fact

that, out of the millions of Christians in the vicinity and splendor

of the eternal Sun of Righteousness, how very few are found of the

first order! How very few can stand examination by the test laid down

in 1 Cor. xiii! How very few love God with all their heart, soul mind,

and strength, and their neighbors as themselves! How few mature

Christians are found in the church! How few are, in all things, living

for eternity! How little light, how little heat, and how little influence

and activity, are to be found among them that bear the name of Christ!

How few stars of the first magnitude will the Son of God have to deck

the crown of His glory! Few are striving to excel in righteousness;

and it seems to be a principal concern with many, to find out how

little grace they may have, and yet escape hell; how little conformity

to the will of God they may have, and yet get to heaven. In the fear

of God I register this testimony, that I have perceived it to be the

labor of many to lower the standard of Christianity, and to soften

down, or explain away, those promises of God that Himself has linked

with duties; and because they know they cannot be saved by their good

works, they are contented to have no good works at all; and thus the

necessity of Christian obedience, and Christian holiness, makes no

prominent part of some modern creeds. Let all those who retain the

apostolic doctrine, that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin

in this life, press every believer to go on to perfection, and expect

to be saved, while here below, into the fulness of the blessing of the

gospel of Jesus. To all such my soul says, Labor to show yourselves

approved unto God; workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing

the word of truth; and may the pleasure of the Lord prosper in your

hands! Amen.

Many employ that time in brooding and mourning over their impure

hearts, which should be spent in prayer and faith before God, that

their impurities might be washed away. In what a state of nonage are

many members of the Christian church!

I am afraid that what some persons call their infirmities may rather

be called their strengths; the prevailing and frequently ruling power

of pride, anger, ill will, &c.; for how few think evil tempers to be

sins! The gentle term "infirmity" softens down the iniquity; and as

St. Paul, so great and so holy a man, say they, had his infirmities,

how can they expect to be without theirs? These should know that they

are in a dangerous error; that St. Paul means nothing of the kind; for

he speaks of his sufferings, and of these alone. One word more: would

not the grace and power of Christ appear more conspicuous in slaying

the lion than in keeping him chained? in destroying sin, root and

branch, and filling the soul with his own holiness, with love to God

and man, with the mind, all the holy, heavenly tempers that were in

himself, than in leaving these impure and unholy tempers ever to live,

and often to reign, in the heart? The doctrine is discreditable to the

gospel, and wholly antichristian.

"If they sin against thee, for there is no man that sinneth not,"

1 Kings viii. 46. On this verse we may observe that the second clause,

as it is here translated, renders the supposition in the first clause

entirely nugatory; for if there be no man that sinneth not, it is

useless to say, "If they sin;" but this contradiction is taken away

by reference to the original, which should be translated, "If they

shall sin against thee;" or, "Should they sin against thee; for there

is no man that may not sin;" that is, There is no man impeccable; none

infallible; none that is not liable to transgress. This is the true

meaning of the phrase in various parts of the Bible, and so our t

ranslators have understood the original; for, even in the thirty-first

verse of this chapter, they have translated yecheta, "If a man trespass;"

which certainly implies he might or might not do it; and in this way

they have translated the same word, "If a soul sin" in Lev. v. 1; vi. 2;

1 Sam. ii. 25; 2 Chron. vi. 22; and in several other places. The truth

is, the Hebrew has no mood to express words in the permissive or optative

way; but to express this sense, it uses the future tense of the

conjugation kal. This text has been a wonderful stronghold for all

who believe that there is no redemption from sin in this life; that

no man can live without committing sin; and that we cannot be entirely

freed from it till we die. 1. The text speaks no such doctrine; it

only speaks of the possibility of every man sinning; and this must be

true of a state of probation. 2. There is not another text in the

divine records that is more to the purpose than this. 3. The doctrine

is flatly in opposition to the design of the gospel; for Jesus came

to save his people from their sin, and to destroy the work of the devil.

4. It is a dangerous and destructive doctrine, and should be blotted

out of every Christian's creed. There are too many who are seeking to

excuse their crimes by all means in their power; and we need not embody

their excuses in a creed, to complete their deception, by stating that

their sins are unavoidable.

The soul was made for God, and can never be united to him, nor be

happy, till saved from sin. He who is saved from his sin, and united

to God, possesses the utmost felicity that the human soul can enjoy,

either in this or the coming world.

Where a soul is saved from all sin, it is capable of being fully

employed in the work of the Lord: it is then, and not till then, fully

fitted for the Master's use.

All who are taught of Christ are not only saved, but their

understandings are much improved. True religion, civilization, mental

improvement, common sense, and orderly behavior, go hand in hand.

When the light of Christ dwells fully in the heart, it extends its

influence to every thought, word, and action; and directs its possessor

how he is to act in all places and circumstances.

Our souls can never be truly happy till our wills be entirely

subjected to, and become one with, the will of God.

While there is an empty, longing heart, there is a continual

overflowing fountain of salvation. If we find, in any place, or at

any time, that the oil ceases to flow, it is because there are no

empty vessels there; no souls hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

We find fault with the dispensations of God's mercy, and ask, "Why were

the former days better than these?" Were we as much in earnest for our

salvation as our forefathers were for theirs, we should have equal

supplies, and as much reason to sing aloud of divine mercy.

"Be ye holy," saith the Lord, "for I am holy." He who can give

thanks at the remembrance of his holiness is one who loves holiness;

who hates sin; who longs to be saved from it, and takes encouragement

at the recollection of God's holiness, as he seeth in this the holy

nature which he is to share; and the perfection which he is here to

attain. But most who call themselves Christians hate the doctrine of

holiness, never hear it inculcated without pain; and the principal

part of their studies and those of their pastors, is to find out with

how little holiness they can rationally expect to enter into the

kingdom of heaven. O fatal and soul-destroying delusion! How long will

a holy God suffer such abominable doctrines to pollute his church, and

destroy the souls of men.

Increase in the image and favor of God. Every grace and divine

influence which ye have received is a seed, a heavenly seed, which,

if it be watered with the dew of heaven from above, will endlessly

increase and multiply itself. He who continues to believe, love, and

obey, will grow in grace, and continually increase in the knowledge

of Jesus Christ, his Sacrifice, Sanctifier, Counsellor, Preserver,

and final Saviour. The life of a Christian is growth: he is at first

born of God, and is a little child: becomes a young man and a father

in Christ. Every father was once an infant; and had he not grown, he

would never have been a man. Those who content themselves with the

grace they received when converted to God, are, at best, in continual

state of infancy; but we find, in the order of nature, that the infant

that does not grow, and grow daily too, is sickly, and soon dies: so,

in the order of grace, those who do not grow up into Jesus Christ are

sickly and will soon die--die to all sense and influence of heavenly

things. There are many who boast of the grace of their conversion;

persons who were never more than babes, and have long since lost even

that grace, because they did not grow in it. Let him that readeth


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.

Few are pardoned, because they do not feel and confess their sins; and

few are sanctified and cleansed from all sin, because they do not feel

and confess their own sore and the plague of their hearts. 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. 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 blasphemous; for, as

he who says he has not sinned, makes God a liar, who has declared the

contrary through every part of His revelation, so he that says the

blood of Christ either cannot or will not cleanse us from all sin in

this life, gives also the lie to his Maker, who has declared 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. All things are possible

to him that believeth, because all things are possible to the infinitely

meritorious blood and energetic Spirit of the Lord Jesus.

Every man whose heart is full of the love of God, is full of humility;

for there is no man so humble as he whose heart is cleansed from all

sin. It has been said that indwelling sin humbles us; never was there

a greater falsity: pride is the very essence of sin; he who has sin has

pride; and pride, too, in proportion to his sin: this is a mere popish

doctrine; and, strange to tell, the doctrine on which their doctrine

of merit is founded! They say, God leaves concupiscence in the heart

of every Christian, that, in striving with and overcoming it from time

to time, he may have an accumulation of meritorious acts. Certain

Protestants say, "It is a true sign of a very gracious state when man

feels and deplores his inbred corruption." How near do these come to

the Papists, whose doctrine they profess to detest and abhor! The truth

is, it is no sign of grace whatever; it only argues, as they use it,

that the man has got light to show him his corruptions, but he has not

yet got grace to destroy them. He is convinced that he should have the

mind of Christ, but he feels that he has the mind of Satan; he deplores

it; and, if his bad doctrine do not prevent him, he will not rest till

he feels the blood of Christ cleansing him from all sin.

Can any man expect to be saved from his inward sin in the other

world? None, except such as hold the popish, anti-scriptural doctrine

of purgatory. "But this deliverance is expected at death." Where is

the promise that it shall then be given? There is not one such in the

whole Bible! And to believe for a thing essential to our glorification,

without any promise to support that faith in reference to the point

on which it is exercised, is a desperation that argues as well the

absence of true faith as it does of right reason. Multitudes of such

persons are continually deploring their want of faith, even where they

have the clearest and most explicit promises; and yet, strange to tell,

risk their salvation at the hour of death on a deliverance that is

nowhere promised in the sacred oracles! "But who has got this blessing?"

Every one who has come to God in the right way for it. "Where is such

a one?" Seek the blessing as you should do, and you will soon be able

to answer the question. "But it is too great a blessing to be expected."

Nothing is too great for a believer to expect, which God has promised,

and Christ has purchased with his blood. "If I had such a blessing, I

should not be able to retain it." All things are possible to him that

believeth. Besides, like all other gifts of God, it comes with a principle

of preservation with it; "and upon all thy glory there shall be a defence."

"Still, such an unfaithful person as I cannot expect it." Perhaps the

infidelity you deplore came through the want of this blessing: and as

to worthlessness, no soul under heaven deserves the least of God's

mercies. It is not for thy worthiness that He has given thee any thing,

but for the sake of his Son. You can say, "When I felt myself a sinner,

sinking into perdition, I did then flee to the atoning blood, and found

pardon: but this sanctification is a far greater work." No; speaking

after the manner of men, justification is far greater than sanctification.

When thou wert a sinner, ungodly, an enemy in thy mind, by wicked works,

a child of the devil, an heir of hell, God pardoned thee on thy casting

thy soul on the merit of the great sacrificial offering: thy sentence

was reversed, thy state was changed, thou wert put among the children,

and God's Spirit witnessed with thine that thou wert His child. What

a change! and what a blessing! What then is this complete sanctification?

It is the cleansing of the blood that has not been cleansed; it is

washing the soul of a true believer from the remains of sin; it is the

making one, who is already a child of God, more holy, that he may be

more happy, more useful in the world, and bring more glory to his

heavenly Father. Great as this work is, how little, humanly speaking,

is it when compared with what God has already done for thee? But suppose

it were ten thousand times greater, is any thing too hard for God? Are

not all things possible to him that believes? And does not the blood

of Christ cleanse from all unrighteousness? Arise, then, and be baptized

with a greater effusion of the Holy Ghost, and wash away thy sin,

calling on the name of the Lord.

Art thou weary of that carnal mind which is enmity to God? Canst

thou be happy while thou art unholy? Dost thou know anything of God's

love to thee? Dost thou not know that he has given his Son to die for

thee? Dost thou love him in return for his love? Hast thou even a

little love to him? And canst thou love him a little, without desiring

to love him more? Dost thou not feel that thy happiness grows in

proportion to thy love and subjection to him? Dost thou not wish to

be happy? And dost thou not know that holiness and happiness are as

inseparable as sin and misery? Canst thou have too much happiness or

too much holiness? Canst thou be made holy and happy too soon? Art

thou not weary of a sinful heart? Are not thy bad tempers, pride,

anger, peevishness, fretfulness, covetousness, and the various unholy

passion that too often agitate thy soul, a source of misery and woe

to thee? And canst thou be unwilling to have them destroyed? Arise,

then, and shake thyself from the dust, and call upon thy God! His ear

is not heavy that it cannot hear; his hand is not shortened that it

cannot save. Behold, now is the accepted time! Now is the day of

salvation! It was necessary that Jesus Christ should die for thee,

that thou mightest be saved; but he gave up his life for thee eighteen

hundred years ago! and himself invites thee to come, for all things

are now ready. Such is the nature of God that he cannot be more willing

to save thee in any future time than he is now. He wills that thou

shouldst love him now with all thy heart; but he knows that thou canst

not thus love him till the enmity of the carnal mind is removed; and

this he is willing this moment to destroy. The power of the Lord is

therefore present to heal. Turn from every sin; give up every idol;

cut off every right hand; pluck out every right eye. Be willing to

part with thy enemies that thou mayest receive thy chief friend. Thy

day is far spent, the night is at hand, the graves are ready for thee,

and here thou hast no abiding city. A month, a week, a day, an hour,

yea, even a moment, may send thee into eternity. And if thou die in

thy sins, where God is thou shalt never come. Do not expect redemption

in death: it can do nothing for thee even under the best consideration:

it is thy last enemy. Remember then that nothing but the blood of Jesus

can cleanse thee from all unrighteousness. Lay hold, therefore, on the

hope that is set before thee. The gate may appear strait; but strive,

and thou shalt pass through! "Come unto me," says Jesus. Hear His

voice, believe at all risks, and struggle into God. Amen and Amen!

In no part of the Scriptures are we directed to seek holiness

gradatim. We are to come to God as well for an instantaneous and

complete purification from all sin, as for an instantaneous pardon.

Neither the seriatim pardon, nor the gradatim purification, exists in

the Bible. It is when the soul is purified from all sin that it can

properly grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ:

--as the field may be expected to produce a good crop, and all the

seed vegetate, when the thorns, thistles, briers, and noxious weeds

of every kind are grubbed out of it.

From every view of the subject, it appears that the blessing of a

clean heart, and the happiness consequent on it, may be obtained in

this life; because here, not in the future world, are we to be saved.

Whenever, therefore, such blessings are offered, they may be received;

but all the graces and blessings of the gospel are offered at all

times; and when they are offered, they may be received. Every sinner

is exhorted to turn from the evil of his way, to repent of sin, and

supplicate the throne of grace for pardon. In the same moment in which

he is commanded to turn, in that moment he may and should return. He

does not receive the exhortation to repentance today that he may become

a penitent at some future time. Every penitent is exhorted to believe

on the Lord Jesus, that he may receive remission of sins:--he does not,

he cannot, understand that the blessing thus promised is not to be

received today, but at some future time. In like manner, to every

believer the new heart and the right spirit are offered in the present

moment; that they may in that moment, be received. For as the work of

cleansing and renewing the heart is the work of God, his almighty power

can perform it in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And as it is

this moment our duty to love God with all our heart, and we cannot do

this till he cleanse our hearts, consequently he is ready to do it

this moment, because he wills that we should in this moment love him.

Therefore we may justly say, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day

of salvation." He who in the beginning caused light in a moment to

shine out of darkness, can in a moment shine into our hearts, and give

us to see the light of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. This

moment, therefore, we may be emptied of sin, filled with holiness,

and become truly happy.

Such cleansed people never forget the horrible pit and miry clay

out of which they have been brought. And can they then be proud? No!

they loathe themselves in their own sight. They can never forgive

themselves for having sinned against so good a God and so loving a

Saviour. And can they undervalue Him by whose blood they were bought,

and by whose blood they were cleansed? No! That is impossible: they

now see Jesus as they ought to see him; they see him in his splendor,

because they feel him in his victory and triumph over sin. To them

that thus believe he is precious; and he was never so precious as now.

As to their not needing him when thus saved from their sins, we may

as well say, as soon may the creation not need the sustaining hand of

God, because the works are finished! Learn this, that as it requires

the same power to sustain creation as to produce it; so it requires

the same Jesus who cleansed to keep clean. They feel that it is only

through his continued indwelling that they are kept holy, and happy,

and useful. Were he to leave them, the original darkness and kingdom

of death would soon be restored.

--From "Holiness Miscellany and Experiences" By John S. Inskip