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PART I. SOME OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL AND SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES AND DOCTRINES OF FAITH.



CHAPTER NINTH.


OF FAITH IN CONNECTION WITH SANCTIFICATION.


Of the difference existing between justification and sanctification. They differ, but are closely connected, in some respects. Both states are sustained by faith. Both imply renunciation. Remarks on moral responsibility. The consent of the creature given in connection with the grace of God.

JUSTIFICATION and sanctification, although they have some things in common, are, nevertheless, to be regarded, as different from each other. Justification, while it does not exclude the present, has special reference to the past. Sanctification, on the contrary, taking up the work, which justification has begun, has a more distinct reference to the present and the future. And accordingly, the one may be supposed to inquire, how the sins, which have been committed in times past, shall be forgiven; while it is the office of the other to inquire, how we shall be kept from sin at the present moment and in time to come. Or, stating the distinction between them in a little different manner, we may perhaps say, that justification removes the condemnatory power or guilt of sin, while sanctification removes the power of sin itself. The one pardons; the other purifies. The one takes away guilt; the other takes away transgression. The one commences the union with God by forgiveness; the other continues it by securing conformity to the divine will. The one is incipient, and terminates in a particular result; the other may be said to be progressive without end.

2.—There can be no doubt, therefore, that justification and sanctification differ from each other. At the same time, it seems to be equally true that in some respects they are closely allied, and sustain a near resemblance. And in particular, they both come into existence, and are both sustained, in connection with the same mighty principle, viz.: by faith. The doctrine of justification by faith may be regarded as a doctrine generally conceded and settled. And when the subject has been fully examined, we cannot well doubt, that the doctrine of sanctification in the same manner, viz. by
faith, will be conceded and established with equal weight of evidence, and with equal unanimity of opinion. We begin to live by faith; and we continue to live in the same methods, which made the beginning. We received forgiveness in the first instance by faith; and in the reception of any and every spiritual favor, which may be necessary in our further progress, and which may properly be included under the general grace of sanctification, we need the same faith. “Christ has truly loved me,” says Hermann Francke, “and washed me in his blood, so that my salvation is rendered sure, through grace. My beginning, progress, and ending, is by FAITH in Jesus Christ. When I feel my utter inability, and acknowledge that I can do nothing of myself, and cast myself upon his mercy alone, I feel a new power of communication to my soul. I do not seek to be justified in one way, and sanctified in another.” [Memoirs of Augustus Hermann Francke, Chap. 2d.]

3.—Of the truth of this general view, established as it is by the experience of holy men in all ages of the church, there can be no reasonable doubt; viz.: as we begin to live by faith, so we must continue to live by faith. If we need wisdom, for instance, (as every person, who strives to live the divine life, does need it,) we can obtain it in no other way, than by asking for it in the exercise of FAITH; that is to say, believing that God, in accordance with his promise, a promise which has its foundation in the atoning merits of Christ, will give all that wisdom which is necessary for us. If we need support in temptation, (as every person in the present state of existence does need it,) we must ask for such support in the same spirit of filial confidence, without any of those misgivings and doubts, which are the opposites of faith, and we shall have it. If we need a will resigned to God in the endurance of trial or a will conformed to God’s will in the discharge of duty, and will only look to God for it, fully believing in him as true to his own character and declarations, he cannot, and will not disappoint us. There is no mistake, no uncertainty. It is not a result which is accidental or contingent, which may be or may not be; it is just as certain as it is, that God is infinite; and that being what he is, he exists in order to communicate the blessedness of his own nature to others, and that all subordinate beings exist, and can exist, so far as they exist in the divine image, only by receiving from him.

4.—The states of justification and sanctification agree with each other not only in being sustained by faith, but by being characterized by the same mental elements in other respects. If, for instance, it is true, as it undoubtedly is, that, in experiencing the state of justification, we are brought to feel, that we cannot obtain forgiveness without self-renunciation, it is equally true, that in sanctification we must have the same feeling in reference to every thing that is necessary for us; in other words, we must feel, that we cannot seek any thing and cannot obtain any thing from God, so long as we cherish the secret expectation of aid from some other source; and that reliance upon God necessarily implies the renouncement of ourselves.

5.—Another mental element, which is involved in sanctification, as well as in justification, is a willingness to receive. We may suppose a person, although perhaps it is not likely to be the case, willing to renounce himself and his own efforts as a ground of hope; and still not willing to receive all from God. It is impossible, that such a soul should exercise that faith, which results in forgiveness and reconciliation. It is necessary that he should not only renounce himself as a ground of hope, but every thing else besides God and out of God; and be willing to be saved, both from the guilt of the past and from present sin, by God’s grace and in God’s way. To renounce ourselves, therefore, in every thing, our merit, our wisdom, our strength, and whatever else we had called and valued as our own, to renounce all other created and subordinate grounds of hope, and humbly, and willingly to receive every thing, our salvation, our Christian graces, our temporal and spiritual guidance, and whatever else may be necessary for us, from God alone in the exercise of simple faith; it is this, as it seems to us, and nothing different from this, and nothing short of this, which constitutes, both in its commencement and progress, the life of the children of God.

6.—But what is to be said, in this case, of human freedom and human responsibility? If our dependence upon God is to be so strict, and our self-renunciation is to be so entire, is there good reason for regarding man as a being, either possessed of the elements, or responsible for the fact of moral accountability? This is an inquiry, which has already been anticipated, in part, in a former chapter. The simple truth is, that God never has violated; he never will violate; and while he remains what he is, he never can violate the moral freedom of his creatures. He gave them moral freedom; and the gift itself is the pledge of its protection. This freedom he is bound by the very elements of his nature to respect sacredly and to respect always. Being what he is, he is not so weak in principle as to violate his own implied promise; nor, considered as the superior, and man as the dependent, is he so poor in character as to be satisfied with a homage, which is not voluntarily rendered. To be saved from sin and to be brought into moral harmony with the Divine Mind, without a recognition of moral freedom, would in our apprehension, be in the nature of a contradiction in terms; and would, in reality, be neither salvation to men nor honor to God. It is, therefore, left to men, and left to all moral beings throughout the universe, to decide, (and it is a question which is always and necessarily decided one way or the other,) whether they will be saved by the divine operation alone, or will attempt to save themselves by their own efforts. If they consent to be thus saved, in other words if they give themselves up to God to be saved in his own way and manner, then they live by the presence and the agency of the divine operation; or in the expression of the Scriptures by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; but if they do not consent, they live, as Satan and all other rebellious spirits do, by the operation of unavailing and destructive efforts generated out of self. But where consent is given, so that the divine operation may be in harmony with the mental laws, moral freedom is unimpaired.

7.—And this is especially true, when it is considered, that the act of consent is not the same thing as a cessation or annihilation of action; it is not a mere absence or negation of mental movement; but is a real or positive act on the part of the creature; one which may be specifically described as an act of harmonious concurrence and cooperation, with the divine act. And what is worthy of notice, and is especially important here, this consentient and concurrent act is repeated in all time to come; existing always in immediate consecution with the divine influence, moment by moment. It is in this position of the two minds, the Divine Mind, and created minds, (a position which reconciles the two otherwise antagonistical ideas of God’s gift and man’s free reception,) that grace is communicated. The idea of grace imparted or infused in any other manner, the idea of grace
enforced, the idea of saving men against their own consent, involves an absurdity. Salvation is nothing else, and can be nothing else, than harmony with God. But harmony without consent would be an adjustment of conceptions not more free from absurdity, than that of love without affection.

8.—The soul, in the case under consideration, does not, by any physical union with God, cease to exist as a soul; nor do its acts cease to exist as the soul’s acts; but it differs from the unregenerated and the unsanctified soul in this respect, that it exists and acts in harmonious cooperation with divine grace imparted; consenting to receive what God chooses to bestow; consenting to be nothing, that God may be all. But we ought to add, (a circumstance which will perhaps meet a difficulty existing in the minds of some,) that this consent is not very explicit, not very formal. It is an act of the soul, so quiet, so remote from general notice, so comparatively indistinct in our consciousness, that it might almost be said to exist by implication merely. In truth, however, the act is something more than implied; it has a positive existence, whether we have a distinct perception of it or not. And it is comparatively lost to our notice, and ceases in a great degree to occupy our attention, only because our attention is taken up with the divine visitant who has entered.

9.—The doctrine, which is proposed in these remarks, is not a new one. It is hardly necessary to say, that it is the ancient, and to the holy soul the cherished doctrine of antecedent or “preventing” grace. A doctrine, there is some reason to fear, better understood formerly than at present; and always, it is to be lamented, more distinctly recognized in theological speculation, than thoroughly applied in Christian practice. It cannot be too often brought to notice, that the great business of man, as it is of all moral beings, is, not a cessation of action; and still less is it an independent action; but is an action in cooperation with God. And this may be said, (so great is the condescension of our heavenly Father,) to make the work of man with God a sort of partnership. But still it should ever be remembered, that it is a species of partnership, existing on the condition, (the only condition which God can ever recognize,) that it shall be God’s part to give, and man’s part to receive.