There are not a few who can praise God that during the past twenty years the watchword BE HOLY has been taken up in many a church and Christian circle with greater earnestness than before. In books and magazines, in conventions and conferences, in the testimonies and the lives of believers, we have abundant tokens that what is called the Holiness-movement is a reality.
And yet how much is still wanting! What multitudes of believing Christians there are who have none but the very vaguest thoughts of what holiness is! And of those who are seeking after it how many who have hardly learnt what it is to come to God's Word and to God Himself for the teaching that can alone reveal this part of the mystery of Christ and of God! To many, holiness has simply been a general expression for the Christian life in its more earnest form, without much thought of what the term really means.
In writing this little book, my object has been to discover in what sense God uses the word, that so it may mean to us what it means to Him. I have sought to trace the word through some of the most important passages of Holy Scripture where it occurs, there to learn what God's holiness is, what ours is to be, and what the way by which we attain it. I have been specially anxious to point out how many and various the elements are that go to make up true holiness as the Divine expression of the Christian life in all its fulness and perfection. I have at the same time striven continually to keep in mind the wonderful unity and simplicity there is in it, as centred in the person of Jesus. As I proceeded in my work, I felt ever more deeply how high the task was I had undertaken in offering to guide others even into the outer courts of the Holy Place of the Most High. And yet the very difficulty of the task convinced me of how needful it was.
I fear there are some to whom the book may be a disappointment. They have heard that the entrance to the life of holiness is often but a step. They have heard of or seen believers who could tell of the blessed change that has come over their lives since they found the wonderful secret of holiness by faith. And now they are seeking for this secret. They cannot understand that the secret comes to those who seek it not, but only seek Jesus. They might fain have a book in which all they need to know of Holiness and the way to it is gathered into a few simple lessons, easy to learn, to remember, and to practise. This they will not find. There is such a thing as a Pentecost still to the disciples of Jesus; but it comes to him who has forsaken all to follow Jesus only, and in following fully has allowed the Master to reprove and instruct him. There are often very blessed revelations of Christ, as a Saviour from sin, both in the secret chamber and in the meetings of the saints; but these are given to those for whom they have been prepared, and who have been prepared to receive. Let all learn to trust in Jesus, and rejoice in Him, even though their experience be not what they would wish. He will make us holy. But whether we have entered the blessed life of faith in Jesus as our sanctification, or are still longing for it from afar, we all need one thing, the simple, believing, and obedient acceptance of each word that our God has spoken. It has been my earnest desire that I might be a helper of the faith of my brethren in seeking to trace with them the wondrous revelation of God's Holiness through the ages as recorded in His blessed Word. It has been my continual prayer that God might use what is written to increase in His children the conviction that we must be holy, the knowledge of how we are to be holy, the joy that we may be holy, the faith that we can be holy. And may He stir us all to cry day and night to Him for a visitation of the Spirit and the Power of Holiness upon all His people, that the name of Christian and of saint may be synonymous, and every believer be a vessel made holy and meet for the Master's use.
Wellington, 16th November 1887.