All who really love Christ love His words. They may not always fully understand their meaning, but they never reject any of them. The very fact that any word has been on the lips of Christ and received His sanction, gives it a sound of music to all who are truly disciples of the Nazarene.
The words that your mother used frequently -- are there any words quite the same to you? She may be resting under the solemn pines of a silent cemetery, but, to this hour, if anyone uses one of her favorite words, instantly the heart leaps in answer, and the mind flies back to her, and the fancy paints her as you knew her in the garden or at the fireside or by the window. It lies in the power of a single word to make the eyes fill and the throat ache because of its association with the voice of a queenly mother.
A MAN'S TESTIMONY.
Thus it is with Christ and HIS words. It matters not where we meet the word, if it is Christ's we are touched and made tender. An aged man stands in a prayer-meeting in a bare and cheerless hall, and says in broken and faltering voice, |The dear Lord has blessedly SANCTIFIED my heart,| and like a flash the room lightens, and the whole place seems changed and made cheery. The heart cries, |That is my Master's word,| and the entire being is attentive and interested.
JESUS' LIFE DEAR.
Yes, to the really regenerated soul everything connected with Jesus is dear. The place of His birth, the land of His ministry, the garden of His agony, the mount of His crucifixion, the Olivet of His ascension, all these are illumined with a peculiar and special light. The mind dwells lovingly on His parables, ponders deeply His sayings, lingers tenderly over His words.
WE WELCOME THE WORD.
We will NOT therefore shrink from the Word of our Lord: |Sanctify.| It may have been stained by the slime of some unworthy life, or soiled by the lips of men who prated about sanctification, but knew nothing of its nature; yet, for all that, since the word is Christ's we hail its enunciation with gladness.
The high-priestly prayer of Christ was distinctively for the disciples. Indeed, He SAYS: |I pray not for the world.| That is to say, the disciples need a peculiar and special work of grace, one which must follow, not precede, conversion, and therefore not to be received by the world. In this prayer the loving Master revealed to His immediate disciples, and to those of all ages and climes, the burning desire of His heart concerning His followers. The petition ascends from His immaculate heart like incense from a golden censer, and it has for its tone and soul, |Sanctify them through thy truth.| His soul longed for this work to be completed quickly. During the last days of His ministry He talked frequently of the coming Comforter. He admonished them to |tarry| until an enduement came to them. He knew that unless they were energized with a power, to which they were as yet strangers, their work would be worse than futile.
HE PRAYED FOR SANCTIFICATION.
It is for the SANCTIFICATION of the disciples that Christ prayed. He did not ask that they might fill positions of honor and trust; He knew that there is no nobility but that of goodness. It was more important that the early preachers should be holy men than that they should be respected and honored. He did not pray for riches for them; He knew too well the worthlessness of money in itself. He did not desire for them thrones, nor culture, nor refinement, nor name.
|'Tis only noble to be good.
True hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.|
So Jesus prayed that these men who had for three years been His daily and constant companions should receive an experience which should make them INTENSELY GOOD; not |goody-goody,| which is very different, but heartily and wholly spiritual and godly.
THE MEN WE LOVE.
The men whose names are brightening as the ages fly, were not men who were always free from prejudices and blunders. They were not men, as a rule, from university quadrangles nor college cloisters. They were not the wise, nor the erudite, nor the cultivated, nor the rich. They were the good men. Brilliant men tire us; wits soon bore us with their gilt-edged nothings, but men with clean, holy hearts, fixed convictions, bold antipathies to sin, sympathetic natures and tender consciences never weary us, and they bear the intimate and familiar acquaintance which so often causes the downfall of the so-called |great| in one's estimation.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH.
We may forget an eloquent sermon pilfered from Massillon, but we will never forget a warm handclasp and a sympathetic word from an humble servant in God's house. Jesus never went for the crowds -- he hunted the individual. He sat up a whole night with a questioning Rabbi; talked an afternoon with a harlot who wanted salvation; sought out and found the man whom they cast out of the synagogue, and saved a dying robber on an adjacent cross. We do not reach men in great audiences generally. We reach them by interesting ourselves in them individually; by lending our interest to their needs; by giving them a lift when they need it.
Jesus with divine sagacity knew that if these untutored fishermen were to light up Europe and Asia with the torch of the gospel they must have an experience themselves which would transform them from self-seeking, cowardly men to giants and heroes.
THE CARNAL MIND.
While the true Christian loves Christ and His words, while his higher and more spiritual nature says |Amen| to the Lord's teaching, yet it must not be forgotten that the |carnal mind| which remains, |even in the heart of the regenerate,| is |enmity against God.| There is a dark SOMEWHAT in the soul that fairly hates the word |sanctification.| Theologians call it |inbred sin| or |original depravity|; the Bible terms it the |old man,| |the old leaven,| |the root of bitterness,| etc. Whatever its name it abhors holiness and purity, and though the regenerate man loves Christ and His words, he does so over the vehement protest of a baser principle chained and manacled in the basement dungeon of his heart.
The devout of all churches recognize the existence of an inner enemy who bars the gate to rapid spiritual progress. George Fox, the pious founder of the Friends' Society, said in relation to an experience which came to him: |I knew Jesus, and He was very precious to my soul, but I found something within me which would not always keep patient and kind. I did what I could to keep it down, but it was there. I besought Jesus that He would do something for me, and when I gave Him my will He came into me and cast out all that would not be patient, and all that would not be sweet, and that would not be kind, and then He shut the door.|
|SIN IN BELIEVERS.|
John Wesley preached a sermon on |Sin in Believers| which is extant and widely read. All churches recognize it in their creeds, and all have provision in their dogmas for its expulsion before entrance into heaven. The Catholics provide a convenient Purgatory; other denominations glorify Death and ascribe to it a power which they deny to Christ; while still others rely on growth to cleanse from all sin and get us ready for the glory-world. The Bible, however, with that sublime indifference to all human opinions and theories becoming in divine authority, reveals a SALVATION FROM ALL SIN HERE AND NOW.
The word sanctify means simply |to make holy| (L., sanctificare = sanctus, holy, + ficare, to make). The work of sanctification removes all the roots of bitterness and destroys the remains of sin in the heart.
What sound sense can there be in antagonizing a blessing which is nothing more or less than cleanness -- mental, moral and physical cleanness. The kind of character that would wittingly fight holiness would object to a change of linen.
A CHURCH IN JERSEY.
The eagerness with which truly devout people welcome the preaching of full salvation is refreshing. It was the writer's privilege to hold an eight-day meeting with a church in Central New Jersey. The church was in excellent condition, for the pastor, a godly and earnest man, had faithfully proclaimed justification and its appropriate fruits. Nearly all the members were praying, conscientious and zealous Christians. When, at the first meeting, which was the regular Sunday morning service, the experience of sanctification was presented, over one hundred persons arose, thus signifying their desire for the precious grace!
OPEN THE ALTAR!
The language of the child of God is, |Does God want me sanctified? Then open the altar for I am coming.| He does not tarry; he does not higgle and hesitate; he makes for the |straw pile| if in a New England camp; the |saw-dust| if down South; the |altar rail| if in a spiritual church; to his knees at any rate, for God's will he desires and must have. Thank God he can have it!