Holiness inheres in man's being.
There is external holiness, e.g., that of the Levitical order, effected by washing or sprinkling with sacrificial blood; or official holiness, denoting separation for divine service, in which sense the prophets and apostles are called holy, and church-members are called holy and beloved. But these have nothing to do with the sanctification now under discussion.
Sanctification as a gift of grace refers to a man's personal holiness. As the divine holiness is God's exaltation above, and angry recoil from all impurity and defilement, so is human holiness man's essential disposition by which spontaneously he loves purity and hates the unclean. Victory over temptation after a long and painful conflict, in which our feet had wellnigh slipped, is not holiness.
Holiness signifies a disposition, an inherent quality, or, by another manner of speaking, a tint or shade adopted by the soul, so that the heart's evil manifestations and Satan's wicked whisperings fill us with positive horror. As the musically trained ear is painfully affected by a dissonance as it vibrates along the shuddering auditory nerve, while the unmusical ear never perceives the offense against the purity of tone, so is the difference between the sanctified and the unsanctified. Whatever the world's moral dissonances may be, they fail to affect the ungodly, who even praise the music; but they distress the saint whose soul delights in the harmony of holy concord.
This holy or unholy disposition includes our entire inward being: it inheres in mind, conscience, understanding, will, feelings, and inclinations. Evil and impure speech affords pleasure or pain to all these.
Yet this is not the final token of being holy or unholy. Something more is required. Do not many of the unregenerate shudder at much that is evil, and delight in mach that is good? Sympathy for the good may be called holiness only when it possesses this essential feature, that it wills the good for God's sake alone.
God alone is holy. There is no holiness but that which descends from Him, the Fountain of all good, hence of all holiness. Mere human holiness is a counterfeit, an attack upon God's honor of being the sole and only Fountain of all good. It is the creature's effort to be equal with God, and as such essential sin. Nay, man's holiness must be the divinely implanted disposition, stirring his entire being to love what God loves, not from his own taste, but for His Name's sake.
Being planned after the divine image, Adam and Eve possessed this holiness; hence discord between them and their Maker was impossible. Their holiness was not in germ merely, but complete, for everything in them was in perfect accord with God. And the redeemed in heaven are holy; in death they are severed completely from the internal source of sin; they are essentially in full and warm sympathy with the divine holiness, whose every feature, attracts them.
But the sinner has lost this holiness. It is his misery that every expression of his being is naturally in collision with the will of God; whose holiness does not attract, but repels him. And mere regeneration does not sanctify his inclination and disposition; nor is it able of itself to germinate the holy disposition. But it requires the Holy Spirit's additional and very peculiar act, whereby the disposition of the regenerated and converted sinner is brought gradually into harmony with the divine will; and this is the gracious gift of sanctification.
But this does not imply that a man who dies immediately after conversion enters heaven without sanctification. This would be a very comfortless doctrine, and would unintentionally encourage Antinomianism. God's child entering heaven is completely sanctified; not in this life, but after it.
According to Scripture there is in heaven a difference between the spirits of the redeemed; they do not resemble each other as do two drops of water. In the parable of the talents Christ teaches clearly that in heaven there is a difference in the distribution of talents. He who denies this robs himself of the positive promise that "the Father who seeth in secret shall reward openly." (Matt. vi.4, 6, 18) The heavenly state which we preach is not based upon the principles of the French Revolution; on the contrary, in the assembly of just men made perfect we shall never ascend to the rank of apostle or prophet, probably not even to that of martyr. Nevertheless there is in heaven no saint whose sanctification is incomplete. In this respect all are alike.
But there will be room for development. The complete sanctification of my personality, body and soul, does not imply that my holy disposition is now in actual contact with all the fulness of the divine holiness. On the contrary, as I ascend from glory to glory, I shall find in the infinite depths of the divine Being the eternal object of richest delight in ever-increasing measure. In this respect the redeemed in heaven are like Adam and Eve in Paradise, who, tho perfectly holy, were destined to enter more fully into the life of the divine love by endless development.
It should therefore be thoroughly understood that at the moment of their entering heaven the sanctification of the redeemed lacks nothing. Nevertheless their sanctification will receive fullest completion when, risen from the grave, in the glory of the resurrection-body, they enter the Kingdom of Glory after the day of judgment. Until that hour they are in a state of separation from the body, resting in peace; awaiting the coming of the Lord.
Since sanctification includes body and soul, exhaustive treatment requires that we call attention to this point. Not as tho this intermediate state were sinful, a sort of purgatory; for the Scripture teaches clearly that in death we are separated from the body. The fact that the body remains impure until the day of glorification does not affect the holy state of the departed saint. Being freed from the body, he is no more affected by it. And when, in the notable day of the Lord, the body shall be restored to him; it shall be perfectly holy, pure, and glorified.
That which belongs to Jesus enters heaven perfectly holy. The slightest lack would indicate something internally sinful; would annihilate the glorious confession that death is a dying to all sin, as well as the positive declaration of Scripture; that nothing that defiles shall enter the gates of the city. Hence it is the unalterable rule of sanctification that every redeemed soul entering heaven is perfectly sanctified.
This applies to the infant who being regenerated in the cradle is carried thence to the grave, in whom, therefore, conscious exercise of holiness is out of the question; and to every converted person who dies suddenly; and to the man who, hardened all his life, in his dying hour repents before God, and departs one of the redeemed of the Lord.
The supporters of the ordinary Arminian doctrine consider this representation impossible. They believe that sanctification is an effect of the saint's own exertion, exercise, and conflict. It is like a beautiful garment of fine linen, very desirable, but it must be of one's own weaving. This labor is begun immediately after the saint's conversion. The loom is set up, and he begins to weave. He continues his spiritual labor with but few interruptions. The piece of linen gradually increases under his hand, and assumes form and shape. If not cut down in early life, he expects to finish it even before the hour of his departure.
The pulpit must oppose this theory, which comes, not from Arminius's books, but from man's wicked heart. For it is not only very comfortless, but also wicked.
It is comfortless: for, if true, then all our precious little ones who died in the cradle are lost, for they could not put one stitch in this raiment of their glory; comfortless: for if the saint should happen to be behindhand with his weaving, or be taken away in the midst of his days before he could half finish it, he would surely be lost. Nor is it less comfortless for him whose death-bed conversion is utterly useless, for it came too late for the weaving of this garment of sanctification.
And it is also wicked: for then Christ is no sufficient Savior. He may effect our justification and open the gates of Paradise, but the weaving of our own wedding-garments He lays upon us, without insuring us sufficient time to finish them. Yea, wicked indeed is it; for this makes the weaving of the fine linen our work, sanctification man's achievement, and God is no longer the only Author of our salvation. Then it is no grace, and man's own work is again on its feet.
In thus subverting the very foundation of holy things; thoughtless Ethical theologians ought to consider the destruction they bring upon Christ's Church. Our fathers never believed this doctrine, and always opposed it. "There is no Gospel in it," they said. It is the concision of the Covenant of Grace; laying upon God's saints the fear and distress of the Covenant of Works.