When Christ opens His mouth, God bows down His ear. |I know that thou hearest me always.| The disciples did not wait long until they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. Christ's prayer found audience and the answer was not long delayed.
The baptism with the Spirit which was administered to the one hundred and twenty effected their sanctification. The cleansing of their hearts was one of the effects of the out-pouring of the Spirit. Sanctification and the baptism with the Spirit are therefore coetaneous -- they take place at the same time.
This is proven by an inspired statement made by Peter. Referring to the Gentiles he says that God |put no difference between them| and us Jews who were sanctified at Pentecost, |purifying their hearts by faith.|
THE MANNER OF CLEANSING.
There need be no confusion as to the manner of cleansing. Jesus prayed, |Sanctify them THROUGH THY TRUTH.| It is by means of the truth preached of and read, that we first hear of a full deliverance from all sin. It is |through the truth| that we learn of God's willingness as well as His power to sanctify. If it had not been for THE BLOOD, Jesus could never have guaranteed the coming of the Comforter; the blood is |the procuring cause| of all the blessings which we receive. Everything comes through the atonement. FAITH is the human condition necessary for the cleansing of the soul; so that, in a very important sense, we are sanctified by faith. THE DIVINE OMNIPOTENT HOLY GHOST is the immediate agency of heart-cleansing. He is the baptizing element administered by Christ the Divine Baptizer: |He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.|
It would be well for us to notice some of the characteristics of the Pentecostal anointing. John the Baptist, minister of the gospel and preacher of genuine regeneration, said of Jesus that |he should baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire,| thus using a most powerful symbol to characterize the nature of the work of the Holy Ghost. Everyone is familiar with the action of fire; it burns everything combustible with which it comes in contact.
We submit that no one can tell just how much there is in the heart that needs to be consumed. There are things dormant in the unsanctified heart of which the man never dreams. There are serpents coiled in balls, and vipers spitting poison, and centipedes, and fat blinking toads, and vampires, and lizards, and tarantulas, that we never suspect of being in the soul. But they are there.
THE EMBRYOS OF CRIME.
It is God's mercy that says, |Be ye holy,| for He knows that unless we get cleaned out and purified the inner reptiles will poison us to death. Every unsanctified man carries in his bosom the seeds of all possible crimes, the embryos of all black actions. There are times when we half believe that something of the kind is true. Did you ever stand by the cage of a lion and watch his restless pace and feel that you had something in you kindred to him? Many a man has gazed into the green eyes of a wild beast and trembled, feeling a similarity of nature. Every son of Adam feels the beast stir in him at times, until Pentecost eradicates the bestial principle.
The embers from which hell-fire is kindled smoulder in the unsanctified heart. It is dangerous to attempt to build a Christian character over a latent volcano. A once active volcano becomes inactive. The lava cools, the ashes settle, and the smoke drifts away. An enterprising farmer covers a considerable space of the once fiery volcanic field with fresh earth carted from a fertile valley. All goes well for a year or two. The garden prospers, the vegetables are most encouraging, and the produce is abundant. But one morning the farmer notices that smoke is issuing from the crater at the summit of the mountain. The sky blackens and red flames flash amid the clouds of smoke. The land is shaken with earthquakes. Suddenly, right in the middle of his verdant field, a great red-lipped chasm opens and blue flames leap upwards and surge toward the sky. His crops are blasted with the |fierce heat of the flame,| and the work of years is wrecked in a moment.
BLUE FLAMES OF GEHENNA
No permanent Christian life can be built upon the foundation of an unsanctified heart. For a time the graces of the Spirit may seem to grow, but in some sad hour the surface will split open and the man will leap back aghast at the blue flames of Gehenna, which singe his brows and blacken his cheeks.
THE PROPHET AND PRINCE.
An old white-haired prophet and a gay young prince are in conversation. The aged man bows his head upon his staff and weeps.
|For what are you weeping, old man?|
|Ah, I am thinking of the black and dastardly crimes you will commit when you have once become king.|
|Is thy servant a dog, a ruthless town whelp, that he should do such things?|
But years roll on and the young man is king, and his hands are stained with crime, and the old man's predictions come true. God had given the aged saint a view of the boy's breast, and he saw the embryonic seeds of sin which, if allowed to remain, would sprout and produce a fruitage of evil deeds.
THE BROKEN FLOWER
The secret of the downfall of many a brilliant character is a bosom sinfulness little expected to be in existence. No man saw the black and ugly thing but it was there. A lady had a tall and graceful plant. The flowers were white and beautiful and all the town said, |What a fine flower!| One day a storm swept across the garden. One plant was injured; it was the one which people had admired and praised. Filled with grief, the lady stooped to examine the stem, and found that it had been pierced by a worm-hole. The insect had worked silently and secretly. No one saw him cutting into the heart of the tall and magnificent flower, but in a storm, under a test severe and protracted, the stem snapped and the choice beauty of the garden was a thing of the past.
THE WORM IN THE HEART.
It is the worm in the heart with his relentless and resistless tooth, which weakens the character. Under severe and protracted temptation the will snaps and yields, and the beautiful life is a wreck and fit only for the dump of the Universe.
STUMPS AND ROOTS.
There are many roots, hidden roots, which bury themselves deep in the soil of the heart. They extend far below clear cerebration, twisting and twining themselves in |the fringe of consciousness.| It takes the fire of the Holy Ghost to follow them deep into the ground and destroy them. It used to be a pastime of the boys in eastern Ohio to pile great heaps of brush upon huge stumps in newly-cleared land. All the long October day they would toil, raising a stack of dry limbs upon the stump which needed to be removed. In the evening when twilight came and the stars shone out, they would light the brush and watch the flames greedily devour the pile. In the morning when the lads returned to the scene of the fire, no sign of the stump was to be seen. Looking closely they saw great holes as large at the top of the ground as a man's body, and tapering to a small point as they went deep into the earth. The fire had found the huge roots, and had tracked them into their retreats and consumed them.
FIRE OF PENTECOST.
We pile the brush of time and talents and money and name and self upon the altar, and the fire of Pentecost, which God sends as He sent to Mount Carmel of old, will destroy not only the brush, but the roots of sin, one and all.