It is with the author of this volume about three o'clock in the afternoon of life's brief day. As he begins to look toward the sunset, and to think of that night in which no man can work, he realizes an ambition to be preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ after his sun shall have gone down. With Peter, he purposes, so long as he is in this tabernacle, to stir up his fellow-believers, putting them in remembrance of the exceeding great and precious promises. With Peter, he also feels that he must shortly put off this tabernacle; and with him he now endeavours, by the use of the pen, "that ye may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance." This is the motive which prompts the publication of the present volume of essays on the theme partially elaborated in "Love Enthroned." The unexpected favor which has been shown to that book evinces a wide-spread interest in the doctrine and experience of evangelical perfection. This demands the discussion of other questions intimately related to the subject of that volume, but not extendedly treated therein. A glance at the table of contents will show the reader the breadth of this range of topics. After receiving assurances from hundreds at home and in foreign lands, especially from Protestant missionaries of various denominations, that the writer's published testimonies to the power of Christ to save unto the uttermost have been blessed of the Holy Spirit to the strengthening of their faith and the uplifting of their spiritual life, it would be not only an act of disloyalty to the law of duty, but a painful deprivation of privilege, should he be constrained by a false modesty to forbear standing any longer as a witness, and testifying to the wonders of redeeming love more and more fully unfolded in his experience during the past seven years.
"With age Thou growest more divine,
More glorious than before;
I fear Thee with a deeper fear,
Because I love Thee more.
"Thou broadenest out with every year,
Each breadth of life to meet
I scarce can think Thou art the same,
Thou art so much more sweet.''
Hence some of these essays are classified as experimental, though a few in this class border on the doctrinal.
The twenty-second essay is the substance of a sermon, preached in 1877. Many persons who listened to this sermon, and others interested in the theme, have requested copies when it should be published. We would say to these Christian friends that this is probably the only form in which the author will commit it to the press. The fifteenth essay, "Let Go and Trust," published as a tract by Dr. Cullis, Willard Tract Depository, has enabled many seekers after purity of heart to see the simplicity of consecration and of faith, and to enter into the rest of a full trust in Christ. The sixteenth, "The Executive of the Godhead," is designed to recall the Church to the primitive doctrine of the distinctive work of the Holy Spirit in advanced Christian experience. It is the prayer of the author that this essay may incite many, of his ministerial brethren especially, to a thorough study of the proofs of the Personality and Offices of the Spirit, and to that simple, earnest, and incisive style of preaching which He only can inspire.
The Tense-Readings of the Greek Testament, in chapter viii., are an attempt to introduce English readers to the doctrinal results of the minute study of that wonderful language which God selected as the golden pitcher in which the water of life should be borne to the thirsty millions of the human family.
The writer hopes that the grammatical proof that the conditions of eternal life are continuous through this life, and that entire sanctification is a momentary act, will contribute to banish those seductive errors industriously propagated by some — (1) that the first act of faith gives the person an inalienable and eternal standing in Christ, and (2) that sanctification must be imperfect so long as we live in the body, and that death is a conqueror of sin mightier than the Son of God. Those who plead for a gradual death of sin in the believer without any special exercise of faith, and without any crisis in Christian experience, called by the Wesleys "the second blessing," may be encouraged by this chapter to expect entire sanctification "now, without doing or suffering anything more.
Lynn, March 12, 1878.