Those of us who are specially interested in this great work often seek for plans by which the knowledge and enjoyment of a Full Salvation may be extended. I think I have found a good plan for helping the Kingdom forward, and I see it in this little sentence which Paul wrote to Titus: 'That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things'.
When I say that is a plan for spreading Salvation, I mean simply this: as there is nothing which commends an apple-tree so much as the sight of the ripened fruit hanging from the branches, so nothing sets people longing for Holiness like the living exhibition of it.
First of all, I want you to see the force of that little word 'adorn'. In speaking about adornment we usually mean something more than necessary dress. The word in our minds usually expresses the idea of clothing or covering, with the addition of decorations or ornaments.
If you fathers and mothers ask your boy or girl the meaning of the word, they will probably turn to the dictionary, and tell you something like this: 'To "adorn" is to set off to advantage, to add to the attractiveness, to beautify, to decorate as with ornaments'. Now that is exactly what the Apostle meant, and the application is that you and I must set off to advantage, add to the attractiveness of the Gospel which we profess to believe.
Jesus Christ meant that when He said, 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works' -- and be so influenced that they shall 'glorify your Father which is in Heaven'. That also was the idea in Paul's mind in that verse to the Philippians, 'Shine as lights', or luminaries, 'in the world'.
Will you also look at that word 'doctrine'? It is not an acceptable word at public meetings, generally implying some system of theology, some stated creed, some definition of religious belief. But whilst that may be the general application, the Apostle had no such idea in his mind when he wrote these words.
He was now writing about persons many of whom were of very humble position, servants in the houses of the ungodly, often mere slaves in some pagan household. They had never heard about formulated creeds or theologies, but they did understand the duty of living up to their profession. They knew the importance of showing in their daily lives the power of the things which they believed, and thus commending their religious faith and teaching to all observers.
There are people who know very little of what you call 'the body of doctrine', who yet in all simplicity hold the truth of God, and live up to it. Tens of thousands have crossed the River who could never give you a definition of any doctrine; but they accepted the simple truths in their hearts, were ornaments to their profession, and are now in Glory.
Now take the two words together -- 'adorn' and 'doctrine' -- and then you will see your duty.
There are many doctrines to which this duty of adorning may be made to apply. I might talk to you about the doctrine relating to God's government, and bring in the truth about His good guiding providence. We profess to believe in that. But the question is, Does your regular practice, your daily trust, your hourly following and accepting what God's providence sends you, adorn the doctrine?
Then I might also speak to you about the doctrine of prayer and its result. Surely you believe that God 'hears and answers prayer'. But can you say that your life of faith and victory is such that all who know you believe it, because they see you living a life of faith and victory such as can only come to the men and women whose prayers God does answer? That is, do you adorn the doctrine?
For the present purpose, however, I want to apply the principle to the doctrine of Holiness. The great object of these Addresses is to help men and women into the enjoyment of the blessing of Holiness. We hear about that; sing about that; most of you believe in it, and some of you proclaim it; but do you know what is really wanted? It is that you shall so manifest the spirit of Holiness, give such illustrations of it as to adorn the truth, and make people around you say, 'We are bound to believe the doctrine when we look at these people, for they live the blessing'.
You cannot but know what we teach as the doctrine of Holiness. Our trumpet has no uncertain sound. We not only talk about the pardoning mercy of God, but about the all-cleansing Blood of Jesus Christ. We not only point out how the rebel can be transformed into a child, but we show how a man's heart can be made pure, and his nature renewed by the indwelling Spirit. Delivered from the love of sin and from its pollution in his heart, he can be kept from sin and sinning, and be enabled to rejoice evermore, to pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks.
A clean heart, filled with love, possessed and directed by the Holy Ghost -- that is the experience which we call Holiness, and the truth which we are exhorted to adorn.
Only think what a recommendation of the doctrine it would be if you all adorned the truth, and showed in your daily lives the power to live in that Holiness and righteousness of which I am speaking.
I am not now asking whether you have an intelligent comprehension of the doctrine, or that you should say what is possible, and what is not. Some of you could probably define the blessing as well as I can; but your duty is not simply to define or defend or explain Holiness, but to adorn the teaching, give exhibitions of it, make everybody see what it means in living flesh and blood amidst the hurly-burly of life.
1. And now, what are the means by which you and I can fulfil this exhortation of Paul? First, you can adorn the doctrine by personal testimony. Personal testimony, coming from the heart, is always good and helpful; that is, to be able to say about any definite experience, 'Oh, glory! He has done it for me!' But this is especially valuable about a clean heart, and in relation to a Full Salvation.
When I was a boy I sometimes heard the doctrine of Entire Sanctification discussed over pipes and ale; but those discussions, which were merely theological disputes, had little or no relation to the personal experience of the people who were debating and contending and losing their tempers over the doctrine, and so it made no impression on me. Years after, my own heart was awakened, and desires arose in my soul. I began to search for the truth about it, and to listen for references to it, and most of all to rejoice if I could find or hear a clear testimony about it, for then I saw the possibility of the blessing for myself.
I frequently throw my Meetings open for testimony, because I know the helpful power of such words. Sometimes the wording may be a little upside down, or some qualifying term be left out, or some exaggerating word put in; but in spite of all, great is the power of testimony to encourage other hearts.
I fear, however, that many people are silent who ought to speak, and I touch some very closely when I say that owing to this silence the power of your experience has declined and become like a faded flower or a moth-eaten garment, and then when you would fain speak you find the assurance about the blessing has waned. My word, therefore, to you is, first of all get the blessing, then at every suitable opportunity, profess it openly and boldly for God, and by your happy testimony you will adorn the doctrine of Holiness.
2. Again, you can adorn the doctrine by your consistent living. To profess one thing and practise another is a blot on the profession, and a despicable thing. What I may call mere Meeting piety, platform or parlour Holiness, will not stand the weather. It is too much like the painted sparrows sold as canaries -- the paint comes off and the real nature of the bird is revealed. For instance, how can you ornament the truth if, after testifying here, you go out to gossip and slander and injure your neighbour? The word lived out is more powerful than its mere repetition. The teaching may be good and powerful, the testimony still more so; but the evidence of the life and spirit is the most powerful of all.
I heard somebody tell a story about a man who was too pious to shave himself on Sunday, and yet he was pretty keen during the other six days trying, in his business, to 'shave' other people. I hope you are not among that sort.
If you want to adorn this doctrine, there must be the beauties of a happy, consistent character and life, otherwise it goes for nothing.
I do not ask the adornment of education, nor the polish of culture, so-called; neither do I ask a sanctimonious attitude; I only claim from you professors of the blessing the beauties of grace in your personal character and conduct. The endorsement of the lip by the life is only equalled by the discount to the teaching caused by some inconsistent action or unfaithfulness in the teacher or professor. An angry word, even a flash of the eye, has been known to take the point off some well-given talk or testimony. A lack of kindly consideration, which looks like selfish indulgence, is not easily atoned for, even by illuminating speeches. As one has said, 'The words ever go to the level of the life -- up or down'.
Talking about Holiness has small effect unless it is to be seen in your disposition, in your ordinary life, in your loving consideration for other people, or in your patient endurance of injury, real or imaginary. Without that your profession of Holiness is mere talk without adorning.
3. You must also adorn the doctrine by your zeal for God and souls. Holiness means the possession of the Christ-spirit, the passion for saving others, with reasonable efforts to secure what you seek.
When God sanctifies your soul He makes a great inward light; the purpose is not to be your own selfish enjoyment, but that you may be better qualified as a minister of blessing and Salvation to the poor dark souls around you. The love of souls is an essential feature of inward Holiness, and if this is exhibited in practical effort you will adorn your profession and compel people to believe in your doctrine.
There is just one other word of importance in that verse, 'that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour'. I mean the word, 'Saviour'. I am so glad that is there to meet those who say, 'Ah! you talk about adornments, but I am distressed because I see so many things about me that disfigure and discredit the doctrine'. You feel that you need a power which can give deliverance from the worldly spirit, the light and frivolous disposition, bad tempers, resentments, and other selfish and sinful things which hold you more or less in bondage; but in that beautiful word, 'Saviour', you have a pledge, a guarantee that it can be made all right, for He is able to deliver you and save you fully.