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Once in one of our holiness meetings I met a sister who was evidently in great spiritual distress, with intense hunger for full salvation. After a few moments' conversation, I felt assured that she was ready to accept the blessing, and so we knelt in prayer; but for some reason our prayers did not prevail. I then asked her if she was sure her consecration was complete. She at once declared it was; she was willing to die for it.
'Then,' said I, 'sister, there are three things you must believe. First, do you believe God is able to sanctify you wholly?'
'Second. Do you believe He is willing?'
'Then, with your perfect consecration, there is but one other step to take, and the wonder work of grace will be done. Will you believe that He doeth it? For the promise is: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive (are receiving) them, and ye shall have them' (Mark xi. 24). Will you believe this?'
'But I don't feel that He does.'
'That makes no difference, sister; your faith must precede all feeling.'
'But I can't believe that He has done it.'
'I don't ask you to believe that He has done it, but that He is doing it, in answer to your present faith. You must believe that He doeth it, if ever you are to get the witness of the Spirit. Say, "I will believe God."
'Well, I will try.'
'No, that won't do; you must believe, not try to believe.'
'Well, I am determined to struggle on till the blessing comes.'
'No, sister, your struggles will do no good unless you believe; and, until you do this, you are making God a liar.'
'But won't I be lying to say I will believe, when I don't feel like it?'
'No, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. x. 17), and the word of God to you is, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John xv. 3). "Ask, and ye shall receive" ' (John xvi. 24).
That evening I saw the sister again. She said, 'I have committed myself to God, and shall trust Him, till the witness of my acceptance comes.'
The next day she was in the meeting, and related her experience, telling us that in the night God awoke her with an assurance of His love, and gave her the clear witness of the Spirit that she was entirely sanctified, putting glory in her heart, and hallelujahs on her tongue.
Entire consecration is not entire sanctification. You are commanded to 'present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God' (Rom. xii. 1). This is entire consecration; but it is also said, 'For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation' (Rom. x. 10). So then, there must be entire consecration, unwavering faith, and a frank, artless confession of both to Jesus. This is man's part, and, when these simple conditions are met and steadfastly maintained, against all contrary feelings, God will suddenly come into His Holy temple, filling the soul with His presence, purity, and power. This twofold work by man and God constitutes the one experience of entire sanctification. When this experience is yours, at your very earliest opportunity confess it before men.