In reading these words I have no wish to enter into the controversy between Job and his friends as to the relationship of physical suffering to sin, but to emphasize a certain mental attitude which they indicate, and which often expresses itself in relation to other things.
The human mind is so constituted that men will not commit themselves to a course suggested by another unless it is proved to be worth their while. When we want to move people to do that which does not at the moment fit in with their desires, we have to urge motives upon their consideration. Very few actions are performed without there being some personal motive. It seems born in us to ask, 'Is it worth while? Why should I do, or go and accept what I do not want?' and so we hang back until some motive carries our judgment or feelings.
We find the same attitude in men's minds towards Salvation and those spiritual blessings and conditions of life in which the Lord wants men to live. The immediate gratification of the flesh, or love of selfish indulgence, lies in the opposite direction to the Altar of Consecration; so that when the call to surrender and Holiness comes, naturally, and at once, the cry springs up, 'Why should I? Where is the advantage? What profit shall I have?' It seems, therefore, absolutely necessary to find some personal motives by which to urge people to be saved, or seek a clean heart, and pursue those lines of sacred duty to which redeemed men should be consecrated.
Speaking from personal experience, I would say that whilst soul-saving is hard work, it appears equally difficult to persuade professors of religion to definitely seek deliverance from inward sin, and to attain those spiritual realizations which we speak of as 'Full Salvation' or 'The Blessing of Holiness'. As evidence of this difficulty, I may point to the state of soul and spiritual experience in which even some of you are now found: receiving light and instruction about Holiness, but continuing unsanctified; singing of the Cleansing Blood, but yet remaining uncleansed by it; praying, 'Baptize me with the Holy Ghost', and yet resisting His gracious leadings to the higher life of Holiness.
In one of my Meetings my subject was 'Out-and-Out Consecration'. I was attracted by a man who seemed intensely interested. I spoke with him afterwards, when he said, 'I was much pleased with your address -- I entirely approve of the sentiments you expressed'. And yet I could not induce the man to give himself to God. Thus we have to seek for motives by which to move the hearts of people in this vital matter.
1. Let me again set before you those motives which should lead you to seek the blessing. I place first among them the fact which Paul stated thus, 'This is the will of God, even your sanctification'. I put this first because the highest motive stimulating the soul of the child of God should be the knowledge of his Father's will. One would think that to know God's will should be enough to provoke the determination to do it. To hear the Father's voice should stir the heart in responsive desire and effort.
We had a little daughter who, before she went to Heaven, was the joy of our hearts and the light of our home. The child had a passion for cleanliness, and as the evening hour came on, she gave the maid no peace until she was washed and dressed in clean clothes. Then, running to her mother, she would ask, 'Mamma, am I clean, clean enough for father?' Soon after my return from business, the child would climb on my knee, put a little hand on each side of my face, to compel me to look at her, and then ask, 'Am I clean, papa, am I clean?' Nothing would delight that child more than for me to say, 'Yes, my darling, you are clean, even clean enough for father'.
Let us ask ourselves, 'What does the will of God count for with us? We know what He wants, and the claims of gratitude and sincere regard for His glory should influence our attitude, and lead us to say, 'Lo! I come to do Thy will, O my God!'
He wills that I should holy be:
2. A second motive to Holiness may be found in the urgent need of the people around us. We all know something of God's plan for saving the world. It is, broadly speaking, on the line of using one man to save another. Co-operation on this line is rightly expected from all professing Christians.
Personally, I hold that professors of religion who are not moved by a concern for the souls of others, and a willingness to use all possible efforts to seek their Salvation, can hardly claim to be properly saved themselves. The need of saved men and women to act on these lines of consecrated effort is, indeed, very great, and the knowledge of this fact should urge us to the fullest consecration. But we need to see more clearly that unless we exhibit in our own characters and lives the true fruits of Holiness, we shall either fail in our own consecration, or our influence will be greatly reduced.
What do you think will be the effect of a man's words about the Christian's 'separateness', and about Christ being the satisfying portion of the human heart, if people see him seeking satisfaction with the multitude that go to do evil? How will the world be influenced by Christian talkers who sacrifice honour, truth, and perhaps honesty, in their daily associations? How often people's tongues are tied, when they ought to speak and act? They are half paralysed through a sense of their personal inconsistency.
Holiness is not only the inspiration to holy effort; it is a necessary qualification. The power of a holy life is the best evidence of what God can do. Platform and Meeting-Holiness, or glass-case sanctity, are feeble when compared with the exhibition of the blessing in daily association. Therefore, 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven'. These words indicate my meaning when I urge you to seek and maintain the blessing of Holiness in the interests of those around you. Holy lives are the most convincing sermons and testimonies. We often say 'Holiness is power'; and I am sure that you need all the power which can be obtained to influence the world around for God and Salvation.
3. Then, as a last motive to stimulate you in the pursuit of Holiness, I will name self-interest. That may seem rather a low-down motive, seeing that Holiness, which is perfect love, is the extreme opposite of that selfishness which is the essence or root of all sin. It seems like a paradox or contradiction to say that self-denial can harmonize with enjoyment; and yet it is true. A man does advance his highest interests and truest well-being when he submits to the sanctifying conditions of the Holy Ghost; for what the world counts loss, he finds to be gain.
I would point out that we find God Himself appealing to men just at that point of self-interest. What a chapter is that fifty-fifth of Isaiah, beginning, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters', and so on, the second verse finishing, 'Eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness'. As much as to say, 'You will find it worth while to come into right relations with Me'.
There is no doubt that people are moved when they properly understand the fact which Paul set forth in the words: 'Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come'; 'Godliness with contentment is great gain'. And I want you to see that to have the blessing of Full Salvation will be worth your while, because it will meet the deep needs of your individual life.
If I am asked to define what you must be in order that your religious life may be happy and successful, I would state the case thus.
First, you need to be in right and happy relationship with God. There must be no enmity there; no clouds in that sky; no closed doors between you and your Heavenly Father. Salvation does nothing for you if it does not bring that.
Second, you need to be delivered from those inward evils which have darkened your mind, polluted your soul, and will be like roots of bitterness springing up to trouble you if they are not removed.
Third, you want power to live up to your own ideals; that is, up to the standards of life upon which your consecrated heart will be set. You do not want to be in the position of the man who exclaims, 'The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do'. You want power to live 'unspotted from the world', to walk in Divine fellowship, to triumph over temptation, and to have victory and success in your service. These are the things you must have to meet your deepest need, and they are all secured to you in the blessing of Holiness which we urge you to seek.
Believe me, nothing spoils a man's happiness so much as sin in the heart, and nothing helps in human happiness so much as a holy, sanctified condition. You see the supreme advantage when you remember the open fellowship possible to the fully sanctified; the perfect peace in which God keeps the man whose mind is stayed on Him; the perfect love which casteth out fear, and the joy unspeakable and full of glory realized by one filled with the Holy Ghost.
On the other hand, how much unhappiness and disappointment is caused by the remains of sin in the heart! Look, for instance, at ill-tempers and their effect. You may have found a certain amount of gratification in letting your temper display itself; you have 'spoken your mind', and so forth, and, perhaps, caused pain to somebody in so doing; but you know how unhappy and humiliated you have been upon reflection.
Take also the case of the envious man. We all know that it is wrong to be envious; but who is the chief sufferer? Why, the envious man himself. So with grumbling and discontent: it is very unpleasant for those around; but how unhappy are the grumblers themselves! Similarly with pride; it may be very self-satisfying, until one sees somebody better, or something which cuts one out; then comes disappointment. And so I might go on with other illustrations, but I have said enough to show what I mean.
Now look at these motives which I have named; they all appeal to you in regard to Holiness. It is the will of God concerning you. It is desirable and necessary to give your religion power with those around you. It is also to your own happiness and interest to get your nature sanctified and your own heart and mind and life brought into harmony with God. To those whose experience includes the enjoyment of the blessing, I say let these motives influence you in maintaining the conditions. And to those who have not got the blessing, let these motives constrain you to seek the blessing without delay.
Lord, my will I here present Thee