Satan is very busily engaged in destroying and misrepresenting God's best experiences. He slanders the work of God in order that His children may not come into their inheritance. The "bear-skin" frightens the would-be seeker and keeps him out of the Canaan land.
Darkness hates light. The Prince of Darkness dreads truth and light, for he knows that if God's children ever see sanctification as it is, there will be a general stampede for consecration. If the public really believed that Rosenthal would play the piano in Infantry Hall on a certain evening, and that there would be no charge for admittance, South Main street would be black with people hours before the doors were opened. If the church really believed that God would let them into an experience where sonatas and minuets and bridal marches and "Mondnacht" and the "Etude in C sharp minor" would be heard all the time, and free of charge, all the bishops and the big preachers and little evangelists and exhorters and ministers would be besieged by a grand eager throng of people, crying with one accord, "What must I do to be sanctified?" Lord, hasten the day!
THE DEVIL STIRRED.
When a man is awakened and says, "What is sanctification anyway?" then the devil bestirs himself to silence the soul's questionings. Blessed is the man who will not be satisfied with anything short of "Thus saith the Lord." Hound the lies of hell to their covert; run down the false reports, and determine the truth.
One of the lies which Satan is fond of circulating is that sanctification is a life free from temptation. When this is announced among those who are awakened on the subject, immediately there is a great cry, "I don't want to hear any more about sanctification." One would think by the excitement aroused that people are actually afraid lest they should by some manner of means be deprived of the privilege of being tempted. Let all such allay their fears. Jesus was tempted even on the pinnacle of the temple, and we will never be above our Lord, and may well expect temptation until we pass from this world-stage to the other land. No responsible Christian student teaches any such chimera as a life without temptation obtainable now.
Personally, we have never heard anyone make such a claim. What we do teach, and, better still, far better, WHAT GOD PROMISES, is an experience where we need not YIELD to temptation. There is a difference, vast and important, between being tempted and yielding to temptation.
A TEMPTED PREACHER.
A man is en route from New York to the West via the Pennsylvania Railroad. The express stops at a junction in the mountains. He leaves the car and walks up and down on the platform enjoying the view. Near the station is a park. Beautiful flowering shrubbery, shell walks, ivy-clad piles of rocks, splashing fountains, majestic shade trees and well-kept turf make the place attractive. Beyond the pretty village a wooded mountain rises toward the bluest of skies, enticing to a stroll amid the beauties of a forest. The preacher is strongly tempted to stop over a day and enjoy a brief rest. Then he thinks of his word, given in good faith, to be in a certain place at an appointed hour; he remembers the souls which God might save through the sermon which he is expected to preach the next evening. He is tired and jaded and worn. Would he not be justified in telegraphing that he would not come until a day or so later than expected? It is a stout temptation; but when the black-faced porter shouts, "All aboard," and the bell rings he walks into the hot and dirty car and continues his tiresome journey. Does not the reader see that a temptation to rest is very different from stopping and breaking an engagement and disappointing an audience?
A CHARMING COMPANION.
On life's express we are all liable to temptation. We are solicited to tarry, but we are so intent on our destination, and especially are we so charmed with our travelling Companion, that we bid farewell to fountain, and gravelled walks, and towering mountains and push on to that city.
WHO TEACHES FANATICISM?
Another misrepresentation, the circulation of which Satan delights to further, is that sanctification is an experience in which we can not sin, and when through this idea men lift their hands in horror and desist from seeking this precious grace, all hell chuckles with real satisfaction. But who teaches such fanaticism? Life is always a probation. The will is free. The Bible teaches this truth, and we believe it. The holiest saint on earth may, IF HE CHOOSE, sin and go to hell. Everything hangs upon the choice. Thank God we NEED not fall. Falling is possible, but not necessary.
NOT A DAY-DREAM.
A third evil report is that sanctification is an impracticable day-dream, unfit for everyday life and the common round of duties. "It is," so it is said, "all very well for ministers, and class leaders, and superintendents of Sunday-schools, and people who are not very busy in life to get sanctification, but it will not stand the strain and tension to which it would be subjected in some lives." But "God is no respecter of persons," and what He will do for one of His children He will do for all. And then, if we only knew it, sanctification is just suited to the life of trial and perplexity.
"BILLY" BRAY AND CARVOSSO.
If there is a man to be found who has to labor hard all day and has a life full of care, sanctification is just the experience he needs. Read the life of Mrs. Fletcher, and see how sanctification can help a woman with multitudinous domestic cares. Study the lives of "Billy" Bray and William Carvosso, and remember that it was sanctification which helped these men in their difficulties. If there is a soul anywhere filled with unspeakable sorrow, shivering alone in the dark, the brightest light that can come to that stricken soul is full salvation. No matter how sharp the thorn, nor how galling the fetter, sanctification turns the thorn into oil, and the fetter into a chain of plaited flowers.
It is said by some that sanctification makes people "clannish." Clannish is a word with a rather offensive taste on the tongue, and is altogether too harsh a word to apply to that congregative instinct that makes pure-minded persons crave the fellowship of kindred spirits. There is nothing intentionally exclusive about the holiness movement. If a man is shut out it is because he shuts himself out; if he does not feel at home in a full salvation service it is because he has not yet obtained full salvation.
Men who share great truths and principles in common find in each other's presence and fellowship great help. Admirers of Browning form "Browning Clubs"; foot-ball men gather themselves into "associations"; ministers meet in "Monday meetings"; Christians organize "churches"; is it to be thought strange if people who are sanctified wholly delight to meet for conference and mutual help?
THE SPLITTING OF THE CHURCH
A few uninformed persons say that "holiness splits the church." But this is false. When men love God with all their heart and their neighbors as themselves, nothing can separate them. If, however, people of different sorts and kinds, some saved and some unsaved, are in one organization, it will not require anything much to make them differ in opinion. The real ecclesia, the genuine church, is not so easily split. One of our most brilliant and spiritual holiness writers has remarked in pleasantry that the anxiety of some in regard to the splitting of the church would lead one to think that there was something inside which they were afraid would be seen in case of a cleavage.
KEEP TO THE BIBLE.
Keep to the Bible idea of sanctification. Let not the adversary dupe you and frighten you from its quest and obtainment. Begin now; seek, search, pray, consecrate, believe, and soon the blessing will fall upon your waiting soul.