By Aaron Hills
In this chapter I propose to name no new conditions of receiving the Baptism with the Holy Ghost and entering a life of sanctification. It is my purpose rather to give a summary of what has already been said in a more general way, and if possible to lead the reader to at once enter into his promised inheritance. Some three years ago a minister led a consecration meeting at the Y. P. S. C. E. convention, at Montreal. The writer was not there, but a year ago he read, while labouring in Massachusetts, a report of that address, and it proved a great blessing to his soul. The points then made will be used in this chapter, and some of his noble words, along with other material, in the hope that it will help others as it helped the writer. If I were to have a theme and Scripture texts, as if preaching a sermon, it would be something as follows: Sanctification -- The Will Of God
I. Thess. iv. 3, 7: "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification. . . . For God called us not for uncleanness but in sanctification." Rom. xv. 16: "Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost." Here is a distinct declaration that it is God's will and purpose that we should be sanctified. And we are informed by whom the great work is to be wrought in us -- by the Holy Ghost. Now, how may God's blessed will be done in us? How may we have the "fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ"
1. Believe it is God's will. Do you, reader, believe that what God says is true? He says: "The promise [of the Spirit] is unto you and to your children, and to all, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." He says your sanctification by the Holy Ghost is his will. Do you believe it? He says he hath called you to sanctification. Do you believe it? Do you hear the call of the Holy Spirit in your heart now? Will you respond to it, and rise up and claim the blessing? Is this inestimable blessing for one man out of thousands -- for Edwards, and Finney, and Moody, Fletcher, Bishop Simpson, and a few other favoured souls, or is it for every regenerated child of God, and so for you?
He said in his address: "I feel like lifting up my heart and my soul and saying: 'Lord God, I believe it is for me.' Will you say that now? 'I believe it is for me." After a solemn pause many in the audience said: "I believe it is for me."
I wish the readers of these lines would pause a moment and think. Don't hurry. Can you solemnly say with a prayerful heart, "My God, I believe this Baptism with the Holy Spirit is for me?"
2. Be willing that God's blessed will should be done in you -- to your sanctification and holiness. Are you willing to pray the Lord's prayer and mean it? "Thy kingdom come (in my heart), thy will be done in earth (in me, and by my will), as it is in heaven (by the angels of God)." Or are you "willing to be made willing about everything," as F. W. Meyer puts it, "at any cost to yourself?" This thought is beautifully expressed in a poem:
Dr. Chapman said: "Lord, I am willing to be made willing about everything." Reader, pause a moment and think. It is a matter between you and God. Are you "willing to be made willing" that God who wills your sanctification shall have his will done in you?
3. Said an evangelist: "We should be willing to forsake every sin that we know, and also the sin that we do not know. I believe God 'means what he says when he calls us to be, as Jesus was, 'separate from sinners, holy, harmless and undefiled.' 'If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' But God never forgave a sin, and God never took away a sin, until men and women were willing that he should. O friend, no matter what it may be, if there is a touch of sin about it, will you not abandon it now? As God searches your heart, if he shall show you anything sinful and impure will you not make this pledge to him, as though you stood in the white light of the judgment, that you will give it up? Can you, reader, say, 'I will'?"
4. We should be willing to give all our good things to God. A soul-winner said: "I believe a man may forsake every known sin, and pledge himself to give up every unknown sin as well, and still not be qualified for the filling of the Holy Ghost. There are the good things to be given to God. Oh, so many fail here. There are what we call the neutral things, -- the friends, and the ambitions, and the money, and the time, and the talents, -- all to be turned over unto God. Here many fail. When God calls to bring out Isaac, there they hesitate. Let us bring out the last good thing and lay it on the altar of God. I preached six years before I was willing to consecrate the things that were good. Are you willing to do it -- to give him the known things and the unknown? the things that are good, -- the money and the time, the talents and the friends, the husband or wife; or child, the wisdom and the ignorance, the wealth and the poverty, the strength and the weakness, all that you know or may know, all that you have or may have, and turn it all over and say, Lord God, it is mine no longer.'"
General Booth says: "This consecration has in it the nature of a real sacrifice. It is the presentation or giving away of all we have to God; a ceasing any longer to own anything which we have hitherto called our own, but all going over into God's hands for him to order and arrange, and our taking simply the place of servants, to receive back again just what he chooses. This is no easy task, and can only be done in the might of the Holy Ghost; but, when it is done. when all is laid on the altar -- body, soul, spirit, goods, reputation, all, all, all -- then the fire descends and burns up all the dross and defilement of sin, and fills the soul with burning zeal and love and power. Consecration is a being crucified with Christ; it means dying to all those pleasures and gratifications which flow from the undue love of self, the admiration of the world, the ownership of goods, and the inordinate love of kindred and friends which go together to make up the life and joy of the natural man. This may be painful but we must be crucified with Christ if we are to live with him."
Mrs. Catherine Booth said in an address on "Hindrances to Holiness": "A lady a short time ago was brought to the very edge of this blessing, but there was something she felt she ought to do. She had a sum of money which she felt ought to be given up to a certain object. She prayed and struggled and attended prayer-meetings, and prayed long into the night; but, no, she would not face the difficulty. She said, 'Oh! no; I am not satisfied in my own mind. How do I know God wants it for that purpose?' She might have struggled till now if she had not made up her mind to obey; but, the moment she did, alone, up in her bedroom, the blessing came. A gentleman came to the penitent form, after one of my West-end services, last season, and told me 'I am a preacher; I have been labouring in the gospel for eight years, but I know I am utterly destitute of this power.' ' Do you want it?' ' Oh,' he said, 'I do,' and he looked as though he were sincere. 'Then,' I said, 'what is it? There is a hindrance. It is not God's fault. He wants you to have it. He is as willing to give you the Spirit as he was Peter or Paul, and you want to have it. Now will you have it? Have you understood the conditions? ' 'Ah!' he said, 'that is the point.' 'Now you know I should be a false comforter if I were to try to make you believe you were right when you had not yielded that point.' 'Well,' he said, 'you see it would be cutting loose from one's entire circle.' Ah he was led, you see, by Christian friends. I said, 'Did not the Lord Jesus cut loose from his circle to save you? and, if your Christian friends are such that to live a holy life you must cut loose from them, what are you going to do -- stop in that circle, ruin your own soul and help to ruin them, or cut loose and help to save them? Oh! there is no profounder philosophy in any text in the Bible than that -- " How can ye believe who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" You will have to come to God not caring what anybody thinks' " (Godliness, p. 147).
Dr. Daniel Steele tells a story which is a remarkable illustration of this point: ''A friend of the writer became sick in Paris. He sent for the most eminent physician in the city, who, after a careful diagnosis, informed his patient that he was attacked with a fatal fever then prevailing in the French capital. Said he to him: 'You will soon lose your reason, and then sink into a state of insensibility from which it is not certain that you will rally. But I will do my best to carry you safely through the deadly disease. Make your will and deposit it with me. Put into my hands your trunk and its key, your watch, your purse, your clothes, your passport, and everything else which you prize.' The sick man was thunderstruck at such demands by an entire stranger, who might administer a dose of poison and send the patient's body to the potter's field, and appropriate the surrendered treasures to his own use. A moment's reflection, however, taught him that the demand was made out of pure benevolence, and that it was more safe to trust himself and his possessions to the hands of a man of high professional repute than to run the risk of being plundered by a hungry horde of hotel servants. He surrendered all the goods and himself into the charge of the physician. He sat by his bedside, saw his prophecy fulfilled, reason go out in delirium and intelligence sink into stupor. He watched the ebbing tide of life with all the solicitude of a brother At length he saw the tide turn, and detected the first refluent wave which was to bring the sick man back to the shores of life. He recovered and found his purse and all his treasures restored to him. Thus must you do if you would avail yourself of the all-healing Physician, Jesus Christ. Make your will and give it to him. Commit your purse to his keeping. A consecrated pocket-book always attends a sanctified heart. Without this attendant the heart work is not real and genuine. Put yourself, your possessions, your reputation, your future, into Christ's hands by all act of consecration, and then believe that he will do his work without any assistance from you. You can not improve your own condition. Yon can not expel the dire disease of sin from its hold upon your very vitals. Jesus only can free you" (Love Enthroned, pp. 373, 374). Are you, who read these lines, willing thus to consecrate all to belong to God? Can you say, from the depths of your soul, to God in prayer, "I will make the sacrifice"?
5. There is just one thing more. The Lord says. "Ye receive the Spirit through faith." "I believe,' said one to the great convention, "if we have been honest before God in these acts, every one of us has a right to rise up and say, 'I am going out now as one filled with the Holy Ghost.' 'Lord, I do receive the Holy Spirit now.'"
Reader, will you say in faith, "Yes, Lord, I do receive the Holy Spirit for my sanctification now Do not turn away from this blessing and make yourself a legalist and say: "I will be sanctified by works, some future time, when i have made myself better."
God would have you say, I will be sanctified; nay, he would have you say in faith, "I am sanctified by my sanctifying Saviour and Holy Spirit, now, as I am."
President Mahan says: "The Scripture reveals Christ as an 'uttermost Saviour,' who has made provision for our complete 'redemption from all iniquity,' and our perfect moral and spiritual cleansing. Sanctification, complete and entire, therefore, is the object of rational faith and prayer and hope. Both blessings, justification and entire sanctification, stand distinctly revealed in the Word of God as available on the same condition, and as, for the same identical reasons, objects of faith and expectation, and the individual who professes to have received the one blessing makes a no more incredible profession, than he does who professes to have received the other. Through faith it is the revealed privilege and duty of every believer to be 'saved unto the uttermost,' 'sanctified wholly,' and in 'his spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless,' and after regeneration there awaits the faith of the believer 'the promise of the Father,' for which he is to tarry in prayer and supplication until he is ' filled with the Holy Ghost.' " By faith, dear reader, be "filled " now.
F. B. Meyer says: "As once you obtained forgiveness and salvation by faith, so now claim and receive the Spirit's fullness. Fulfil the conditions already named, wait quietly but definitely before God in prayer; for he gives the Holy Spirit to them that ask him: then reverently appropriate this glorious gift, and rise from your knees, and go on your way reckoning that God has kept his word, and that you are filled with the Spirit. Trust him day by day to fill you and keep you filled. There may not be at first the sound of rushing wind, or the coronet of fire, or the sensible feeling of his presence. Do not look for these, any more than the young convert should look to feeling as an evidence of acceptance. But believe in spite of feeling that you are filled. Say over and over, 'I thank thee, O my God, that thou hast kept thy word with me, though as yet I am not aware of any special change.' And the feeling will sooner or later break in upon your consciousness, and you will rejoice with exceeding joy, and all the fruits of the Spirit will begin to show themselves."
This is a fair description of the author's experience, and so he might as well take the witness stand and testify here. As far back as when I was a student in Oberlin College, my beloved class-mate, the now well known faith-missionary in Bulgaria, Mrs. Anna V. Mumford, had received the baptism with the Spirit, and urged me to seek it. She presented me a volume of President Mahan's "Baptism of the Holy Ghost." The book has inspired many another to seek and find the blessing, but somehow it did not make the matter plain to me how to take the blessing in simple faith. As already stated, I went to President Finney, who tenderly prayed with me, but gave me no light. I was thoroughly persuaded that there was such a blessing for men, and, indeed, all these years I have felt that a dozen unanswerable arguments could be made that would satisfy any logical mind of the attainability of holiness. I soon after went to Yale Seminary to study theology, and there, I confess it now with shame and sorrow, like many an other theological student does, I suffered a decline in spirituality and lost much of the heart-hunger for holiness. I have deserved all I have received, and much more, of sorrow and disappointment at the hands of a grieved and patient God, who lovingly chastised his child, that he might become a partaker of the divine nature. God gave me revival after revival in my pastorates, gracious harvests of souls, and I had more calls to help pastors in revival work outside of my own pulpit than I could fill. But I was a slow, dull pupil of grace, and God permitted my pride to be wounded, and my ambitions to be crushed, till I cried out in agony, "Oh, my Father, dost thou not care for thy child?" But through it all, he was bringing me to himself, driving me, I might say, by a whip of love, to his very bosom, and awaking again the deep and abiding heart-hunger for holiness and Spirit-power. After two long pastorates, lasting sixteen years, followed by two short pastorates -- short, as a Doctor of Divinity kindly wrote me, through no fault of mine -- and nearly two years' service as State Evangelist of Michigan, I moved to Oberlin to enter general evangelistic work, with my humbled, chastened soul hungering for God. My constant reading, outside of the busy work of preaching fifteen times a week and writing "The Life and Labours of Mary A. Woodbridge," was all on the precious theme of The Holy Spirit. In such a frame of mind I was invited to lead a revival in Oberlin in January of 1895. 1 preached in the afternoon meetings a full salvation; I dare not preach anything else. Months afterward the leader of the holiness band of Oberlin, who has prayed over this theme for a quarter of a century, and is better acquainted with the literature of it than any minister I have ever met, loaned me some books of Wood and Garrison and Steele and Mahan that fed all the more the consuming flame of my soul. I was providentially invited to assist Rev. G. S. Butler of Three Rivers, Mass., who with his wife had received the baptism with the Spirit, and who had much literature on the subject in his library. Among other things I there found an address by Brother Torrey, of Chicago, and the address of the man already referred to. I took down the outlines of them in my note book. On the famous hilltop back of the parsonage, overlooking eleven cities and villages, under a tree I knelt in prayer and gave myself away to God anew for the baptism with the Spirit. and wrote in my book, "Oh, my God, Saviour, sanctifying Spirit, I receive Thee. Come in now and fill my soul. -- A. M. Hills, May 29, 1895."
The influence of that act was a refreshing blessing to my soul all the summer through, and had I then believed with all my heart, I might have received the blessing at once; but I retained a lingering doubt. But in the month of December in that same dear parsonage, I read an address of Varley on The Sin of Unbelief, that went to my heart. I determined not to be shut out of the blessing any more by a wicked unbelief so cruel and so dishonouring to Jesus. I went to the Thursday evening meeting and publicly confessed my sin, and declared I would take God for a full salvation. I had read previously in Keen's "Faith Papers": "Are you a child of God seeking full salvation? Seize upon some declaration of God's Word, such as 'The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses from all sin'; apply it to your own heart; confess to yourself, to Satan, and to God, that it is true to you, even you, because the Lord hath spoken it; refuse to listen to the lying voice of Satan that it is not so. Let no inward feeling or outward sign dissuade you from your voluntary choice to count God's Word true to yourself. And according to such a faith it shall be done unto you. Have you given all to Christ? Are you now longing to be fully saved? Are you persuaded that
With such a persistent determination of faith I retired. The next morning (December 7th) before I rose it occurred to me to thank God for the blessing as a thing received, just as F. B. Meyer advises. I began to do it, when speedily the Spirit came to bring the witness that God is true. A tide of joy swept into my soul, and I cried out, "O bless the Lord! praise the Lord! he does come and fill my soul!" From that hour my life has been consciously changed. O, that Christians would learn this simple lesson of believing, of simply taking God at his word without evidence! We should soon have "the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness," and the church, no longer bowed down in weakness and sorrow and doubt and sin, would "arise and shine, her light having come, and the glory of the Lord having risen upon her."
"The method of faith," says Dr. Keen, "is for the soul to recognize that it can believe God's word, then choose to believe it, which always carries it over to the consciousness: 'I do believe.' Believing is our part, and is antecedent; saving is God's part, and is consequent. All the blessed effects of faith -- pardon, adoption, entire sanctification -- are the Lord's doings, and are marvellous in our eyes; and they are all possible to him that believeth on the Son of God,
Will you, who read these lines, thus by faith "look up to Jesus," "take hold of Jesus," and "hold fast to Jesus," as your sanctifying Saviour right now? If so you need not go without the blessing one hour. On your knees claim the Holy Spirit as the promise of the Father to you; reverently appropriate the glorious gift and rise from your knees and go on your way reckoning that God has kept his word, and that you are filled with the Spirit. Thank God for the blessing, and confess it the first occasion that offers; and you will find God true to his promise. Remember, "the will of God is your sanctification," for "he has called you unto sanctification." There is, however, a sense, and all important sense, in which sanctification must be your will, too; and if it is not your will, the divine will can never be accomplished in you. You must will to be sanctified, as God is willing that you should be sanctified. Remember, the plan of redemption was instituted to restore man to holiness. To this end the "promise of the Father," the Holy Spirit, was given to convict the sinner and lead him to justification, and to whisper to the believer, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," and "Be ye holy, for I am holy." It is the will, the desire, the longing, the command, of the triune God that every moral being in the universe should be holy. All the work of the atonement for man, and all the promptings of the Holy Spirit, move to this end. Holiness is the great object of God's revelation to man, and not a line in the Bible teaches the necessity of your being without the Baptism with the Spirit unto holiness one hour. Bishop Foster says: "It breathes in the prophecy, thunders in the law, murmurs in the narrative, whispers in the promises, supplicates in the prayers, sparkles in the poetry, resounds in the songs, speaks in the types, glows in the imagery, voices in the language, and burns in the spirit of the whole scheme, from the alpha to the omega, from its beginning to its end. Holiness! holiness needed, holiness required, holiness offered, holiness attainable, holiness a present duty, a present privilege, a present enjoyment, is the progress and completeness of its wondrous theme. It is the truth glowing all over, welling all through revelation -- the glorious truth which sparkles and whispers and sings and shouts in all its history, and biography, and poetry, and prophecy, and precept, and promise, and prayer -- the great central truth of the system" (Inheritance Restored, p. 234).
The fact is, God's heart is set on holiness. He has provided an uttermost salvation for you now. The Saviour, "able to keep you from stumbling," even "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think," is waiting for you now. The "Baptism with the Spirit and with fire" that will "purify your heart" and "endue you with power" for service, is ready for you NOW. He wills that you end this wretched waiting in prolonged weakness and sin, and have the Spirit NOW. Does your will also say to God: "Come in and fill me now and sanctify me, and clothe me with power"? Or do you say: "No, Lord, not by thyself, and not now, but by myself and some time in the future"?
Dear friends," said Andrew Murray in Chicago, "let us bow very low and very humbly in the thought that the great Spirit of God is waiting to get complete possession. Oh, the mystery; Oh, the blessing! The great Spirit of God is waiting to get full possession, and I can not force him. I can not grasp him, but I can lie down at the foot of my God and say, 'Father, fill me with thy Spirit.' Oh, give up yourself in emptiness, in surrender, as Jesus gave himself unto death and the grave, and remember that God raised him to the throne of glory and gave him the Holy Spirit to give to us. Sink down into your nothingness and helplessness in the grave of Jesus and God will lift you up and fill you with the Holy Spirit. Often he has done it. Let us then cultivate an intense longing after righteousness. Let us fall down very low and humble ourselves before God. Never mind if there are difficult questions, there is God's promise, God's gift and God's power. Wait upon God and he will give you the filling of the Holy Ghost. Lastly, believe! believe! believe! with a desperate faith. I am convinced God means me to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Say it. trust God for it. Sink low down, first, with your whole heart, and look to God, and he will fill you. May it be the blessed experience of every one" (The Spiritual Life, p. 128).