THE FULLNESS OF THE BLESSING, HOW OBTAINED? ENLIGHTENMENT, CONVICTION OF NEED, LOYALTY
I wait thy will to do,
As angels do in heaven;
In Christ a creature new,
Most graciously forgiven;
I wait thy perfect will to prove,
All sanctified by spotless love.
— Charles Wesley.
Me with that restless thirst inspire,
That sacred, infinite desire,
And feast my hungry heart;
Less than thyself can not suffice;
My soul for all thy fullness cries,
For all thou hast and art.
Jesus, thy crowning grace impart;
Bless me with purity of heart,
That, now beholding thee,
I soon may view thy open face,
On all thy glorious beauties gaze,
And God forever see.
— Charles Wesley.
My soul breaks out in strong desire
The perfect bliss to prove;
My longing heart is all on fire
To be dissolved in love.
Give me thyself; from every boast,
From every wish set free;
Let all I am in thee be lost;
But give thyself to me.
Thy gifts, alas! can not suffice,
Unless thyself be given;
Thy presence makes my paradise,
And where thou art is heaven.
— Charles Wesley.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. — I Thess. V, 23.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. — I John iii, 3.
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. — Col. i, 12, 13.
THE soul must not rest in supine indifference while waiting for the blessing of full salvation. Without the slightest doubt we may believe that in due time, the Holy Spirit will so enlighten the mind that there will come with the enlightenment a sense of need. It will be clearly revealed to the believer that there are heights and depths, lengths and breadths of Christian experience to which he has never advanced; that there are riches of grace he has never known; that there are possibilities of cleansing, enduement, and victory that he has never experienced. With this enlightenment there will be the conviction, more or less clear and strong, that something must be attempted on the part of the believer. He hears the faithful exhortation of Paul:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. — Phil. ii, 12, 13.
And let it be clearly understood that the blessing sought is not pardon; it is not justification; "it is not regeneration; it is not recovery from backsliding; it is not simply a great blessing; it is not growth in grace; it is a distinct work of God, an experience, a life; it is an instantaneous blessing, obtained by faith, and witnessed by the Holy Ghost."
It must also be understood that no impossible thing is required of any soul. The very weakest child of God may comply with all the conditions, and be and do whatever is essential. Many a diffident, self-distrustful person has failed to secure the riches of grace that are freely offered, simply because a sense of unworthiness has discouraged faith and hindered effort. All such persons need instruction and encouragement, and it would be especially helpful for them to familiarize themselves with the great and exceedingly precious promises found in the Scriptures which completely cover all their needs. The Divine promises constitute the broadest and firmest foundation for faith.
Every believer enlightened, and convicted of need by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, ought to count over his mercies and estimate them at their real value, so far as he may be able. Then he ought to cultivate a thankful frame of mind. Gratitude for past mercies shows that they are appreciated. It is a great and wonderful experience to be a pardoned, justified, regenerated, and adopted believer. Too low an estimate is often put on this blessed and glorious experience. Surely any one may well say:
When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view,
I'm lost in wonder, love, and praise.
O how can words with equal warmth
The gratitude declare,
That glows within my ravished heart?
But thou canst read it there.
Through all eternity to thee
A grateful song I'll raise;
But O, eternity's too short
To utter all thy praise."
Christians are often too little thankful for what they have received. There ought to be a constant doxology in the soul of every saved sinner; and this spirit of gratitude and praise, of appreciation and thanksgiving, puts one in such relation to the Giver of all good, there will develop a well-grounded hope for richer and more abundant blessings.
But the question may be asked, Can we possibly continue in this attitude while deeply convicted of need?
Certainly we may; for the kingdom of God is not divided against itself; therefore, let not believers be discouraged from "rejoicing in the Lord always." And yet we may be sensibly pained at the sinful nature that still remains in us. It is good for us to have a piercing sense of this, and a vehement desire to be delivered from it. But this should only incite us the more zealously to fly every moment to our strong Helper, the more earnestly to "press forward to the mark of the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus." And when the sense of our sins most abounds, the sense of his love should much more abound. — Wesley's "Plain Account."
O joyful sound of gospel grace!
Christ shall in me appear;
I, even I, shall see his face;
I shall be holy here.
Come, O my God, thyself reveal,
Fill all this mighty void;
Thou only canst my spirit fill:
Come, O my God, my God!
Fulfill, fulfill my large desires,
Large as infinity;
Give, give me all my soul requires,
All, all that is in thee.
— Charles Wesley.
Again, it is absolutely essential that the soul seeking the fullness of the blessing of the gospel should be utterly loyal to God. The smallest "wedge of gold," the most worthless rag of any "Babylonish garment," kept and hidden away for any purpose whatever, will prevent any progress. No advancement can be made in the Christian life unless there be present constantly this spirit of glad and willing obedience. We must live up to the light we have, and be completely in harmony with the Divine will, so that we can say "Amen" to God whatever he may command. This spirit of loyal obedience brings us very near to God. When we have it, then he knows we can be trusted with the richest gifts of his love.
Sometimes it happens that the penitent sinner attempts to make terms with the Almighty. A good, moral life, generous giving to support the means of grace, especially the public worship of the sanctuary, kindness to the suffering poor, strict honesty, and an orthodox faith may be suggested as a basis upon which God may pardon and save; but all such ideas are vain; for sinners there is only one refuge, only one ground upon which pardon can be granted, and that is found in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and is never made available to the penitent except as he makes a full surrender.
The same principle will apply to the believer as to the penitent. There must be an unequivocal surrender. Nor gold, nor position, nor good works, nor faithful service, can avail. At every step there must be a sincere and heartfelt yes to every requirement of God. The enlightened soul convicted of need must steadfastly wait in this attitude of unquestioning loyalty!