Perfect Love

Stacks Image 722



Or,

PLAIN THINGS FOR THOSE WHO NEED THEM

Concerning the

DOCTRINE, EXPERIENCE, PROFESSION AND PRACTICE

Of

CHRISTIAN HOLINESS.





By
Rev. J. A. Wood
AUTHOR OF "PURITY AND MATURITY."




"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect . . . Perfect love casteth out fear."



Revised and Enlarged
1967

J. Edwin Newby Newby Book Room Rt. 1, Box 296 Noblesville, Ind. 46060


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880
By J. A. Wood
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


HISTORICAL NOTE
This 1967 edition is being reprinted from Rev. Roy S. Nicholson's copy which was rescued from the fire that destroyed the Wesleyan Headquarters in Syracuse New York, in 1957.




[This text is in the public domain. Text scanning and formatting by Craig L. Adams.]



EDITOR'S NOTE: This book is tremendously important in understanding the teachings that were current in the Holiness movement in Methodism in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Written in a question-and-answer format, this book provides a sort of Holiness catechism. Wood quotes extensively from previous authors. The exposition is clear enough to expose both the strengths and the weaknesses of the common Holiness views. This book was very influential in the Holiness movement and in the subsequent Holiness-Pentecostal movement. Wood makes every effort to be clear and understandable — his views are also very definite and narrow. One of the things that makes this book interesting is the large number of previous writers and theologians Wood quotes in defense of his views.

Wood, himself, had a very important historical role in the nineteenth century Holiness movement. He was one of the instigators of the first Holiness Camp Meeting in America, held in Vineland, New Jersey in 1867. Prior to this time Methodists had held Camp Meetings, but they had not held any which were specifically designed to promote the doctrines of Christian Perfection. (See:
Melvin E. Dieter, The Holiness Revival of the Nineteenth Century (2nd Edition) The Scarecrow Press, 1996 p. 86.) Thus, if there is any book that can be taken as being definitive of the teachings of the Nineteenth Century holiness movement, this would be it. Victor Paul Reasoner critiques Wood’s writings and says: “With the passage of time Wood developed a more rigid doctrinal position which justified the existence of the holiness movement. This position was perpetuated through most of the twentieth century as ‘Wesleyan.’” (See: The American Holiness Movement’s Paradigm Shift Concerning Pentecost.)

The original version of this book was written in 1861, before the first holiness camp meeting in Vineland. Then in 1880 Wood greatly expanded and revised the book for republication.

I believe this is the most accurate edition of Wood's
Perfect Love available on the Internet.

I have included Wood's questions (that is to say, his subheadings) in the Table of Contents to make this as useful as possible. This way readers can see the topics under discussion.

The chapters of this book may be viewed online, either by using the hyperlink Table of Contents below or by using the navigation bar on the right.

— Craig L. Adams





TABLE OF CONTENTS



PREFACE

SECTION I.
TERMS SIGNIFYING COMPLETE GOSPEL SALVATION


  • 1. What terms are commonly used to express full salvation?
  • 2. Are not these terms applicable to the beginning of the Christian life?

SECTION II.
JUSTIFICATION


  • 3. What is Justification?
  • 4. Can a state of justification be retained while sin is committed?
  • 5. Are obedience and disobedience units in their spirit and root?

SECTION III.
THE NATURE OF REGENERATION


  • 6. What is Regeneration — its nature and extent?
  • 7. What is the difference between justification and sanctification?

SECTION IV.
REGENERATION AND ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION NOT IDENTICAL

  • 8. Do the Scriptures teach a distinction between regeneration and entire sanctification?
  • 9. Does the Christian Church generally recognize this distinction?
  • 10. Does the Methodist Church teach a distinction?
  • 11. Does this distinction harmonize with Christian experience?
  • 12. Does the Lord ever entirely sanctify the soul at justification and regeneration?
  • 13. How did Mr. Wesley view the idea that the soul is entirely sanctified at regeneration?
  • 14. What was the Moravian or Zinzendorf doctrine which Mr. Wesley opposed?
  • 15. Is the theory that the soul is entirely sanctified at regeneration, attended with serious difficulties?
  • 16. If regeneration is partial and not entire sanctification, where is the limit?
  • 17. Does a state of justification involve a desire to be holy?

SECTION V.
THE TIME BETWEEN REGENERATION AND ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION


  • 18. How soon after regeneration may the soul be entirely sanctified?

SECTION VI.
THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION


  • 19. What is entire sanctification or Christian perfection?
  • 20. What is the distinction between regeneration and entire sanctification?
  • 21. Is there a difference between sin and depravity?
  • 22. Do those merely regenerated often think indwelling sin is destroyed?
  • 23. What is the cause of so much prejudice against the doctrine of entire sanctification, and even of hostility to it?
  • 24. Is Christian Perfection absolute perfection?
  • 25. Is Christian perfection the same as Angelic perfection?
  • 26. Is Christian perfection synonymous with Adamic perfection?
  • 27. Do you teach a sinless perfection?
  • 28. Does Christian Perfection exclude a need of the atonement?
  • 29. What does the highest evangelical perfection include?
  • 30. If the law is uncompromising in its claims, and the best Christian is defective, because of powers enfeebled by the fall, how can men be perfect?
  • 31. Is personal holiness imparted or imputed by Christ?
  • 32. Is repression entire sanctification?
  • 33. Does Christian Perfection exclude growth in grace?
  • 34. Can holiness be retained without growing in grace?
  • 35. How can holiness be perfect and yet progressive?
  • 36. Where is growth in grace to be chiefly?
  • 37. Why can a soul entirely sanctified grow in grace more rapidly than others?
  • 38. Do the graces of the Spirit exist in the entirely sanctified soul without alloy?
  • 39. Are there two kinds of religious life?
  • 40. Does Christian perfection exclude a liability to temptation?
  • 41. Are the temptations of the entirely sanctified soul the same as those of persons merely regenerated?
  • 42. When does temptation end and sin begin?
  • 43. Does Christian holiness exclude a liability to apostasy?
  • 44. Does Christian perfection secure perfect knowledge?
  • 45. Does Christian perfection exclude the infirmities of human nature?
  • 46. Is it important to distinguish between inbred sin and the innocent infirmities of fallen human nature?
  • 47. What are the distinguishing characteristics of perfect love?
  • 48. Is perfect love or purity a very high state of grace?
  • 49. Is there not danger of putting the standard of holiness too high?

SECTION VII.
HOLINESS ATTAINABLE


  • 51. Will you present some evidences that holiness is attainable?
  • 52. If entire sanctification is attainable, why do so few experience it?
  • 53. Can a person successfully seek the gradual attainment of entire sanctification?
  • 54. Does the Scripture imagery employed to illustrate the work of entire sanctification imply rapidity and dispatch?
  • 55. Is it not objected that the terms "corruption," "defilement," and the like, are too physical to be asserted of the soul?
  • 56. Can a state of entire sanctification be secured by ordinary growth in grace?
  • 57. In what sense is entire sanctification instantaneous?
  • 58. If growth in grace does not cleanse the heart, what does it accomplish?
  • 59. Is there a distinction between purity and maturity?
  • 60. What is the voice of the leading writers on sanctification in respect to it instantaneousness?
  • 61. Will you give some evidence that entire sanctification is instantaneous?
  • 62. Do not some enjoy Christian purity who did not seek it instantaneously?
  • 63. Is the seventh chapter of Romans a portrayal of Christian experience?

SECTION VIII.
DIRECTIONS FOR OBTAINING HOLINESS


  • 64. Is this doctrine and experience susceptible of experimental demonstration?
  • 65. What is the first direction you would give to a person seeking holiness?
  • 66. What is the second direction you would give?
  • 67. What is the third direction you would give?
  • 68. What is the fourth direction you would give?
  • 69. What is the proximate condition of sanctification?
  • 70. What degree of faith is necessary to entire sanctification?
  • 71. Is saving faith conditional?
  • 72. What is the chief hindrance to the exercise of saving faith, when the heart has submitted to God?
  • 73. Why is it that many who desire holiness, and read, and pray, and resolve, and weep, and struggle, yet make but little progress?
  • 74. In what sense is faith the gift of God?
  • 75. In what sense does faith involve a voluntary exercise of the mind?
  • 76. Will you give Mr. Wesley's views of the faith that sanctifies?
  • 77. What is meant by simple, naked faith?
  • 78. May I come to Christ now, just as I am?
  • 79. How may we know that our consecration is unreserved or entire?
  • 80. How may we know our consecration is accepted?
  • 81. In what attitude towards God does entire consecration place the soul?
  • 82. Is there a distinction between entire consecration and entire sanctification?
  • 83. What is the difference between the consecration previous to conversion and that previous to entire sanctification?
  • 84. Is any particular standard of conviction necessary in seeking holiness?
  • 85. Is the process of receiving full salvation the same in all cases?
  • 86. Is any certain amount of feeling or emotion necessary in seeking purity?
  • 87. Do deep convictions for holiness sometimes obscure for the time, the light of present justification?
  • 88. Are the convictions of the sinner seeking pardon, and of the believer seeking entire holiness, the same?
  • 89. What are the fruits of conviction for the blessing of regeneration?
  • 90. What are the fruits of conviction for the blessing of perfect love?
  • 91. What are the usual exercises of mind in seeking holiness?
  • 92. In seeking holiness, is it important that prayer should be definite and discriminating?
  • 93. Should a clear evidence of justification precede the seeking of entire sanctification?
  • 94. Will you give your views of Mark xi. 24? "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

SECTION IX
THE EVIDENCES OF PERFECT LOVE


  • 95. What is the character of the evidence of a state of entire sanctification?
  • 96. Did Mr. Wesley teach that we may have the same evidence that we are sanctified that we have that we are justified?
  • 97. Ought any one to believe that he is sanctified wholly before he has the witness of the Spirit?
  • 98. What is the witness of the Spirit?
  • 99. Is the witness of the Spirit to regeneration and to entire sanctification different?
  • 100. Is the evidence of sanctification, or the witness of the Spirit, always clear at first?
  • 101. Is it our privilege to possess the witness of the Spirit without any intermission?
  • 102. Is true evangelical faith usually accompanied with the witness of the Spirit?
  • 103. Can the witness of the Spirit be retained while any sin is committed or allowed?
  • 104. Are there certain fruits which necessarily flow from a pure heart as evidence of holiness?
  • 105. By what fruit of the Spirit may we know that our hearts are cleansed from all sin?
  • 106. What are the fruits of inbred sin, and how does it manifest itself in the heart?
  • 107. Is the emotional experience in the moment of sanctification various?
  • 108. Will Christian perfection make all persons act just alike, and appear to equal advantage?
  • 109. Will a state of entire sanctification clearly evidence itself by the absence of all sin?
  • 110. Will entire sanctification enable me to pray, believe, and rejoice every moment, even in the severest trials?
  • 111. Are deep grief and sorrow of soul incompatible with perfect love?
  • 112. What is the rest which the sanctified soul enjoys?
  • 113. What are the natural and necessary indications of a pure heart?
  • 114. Is it not very difficult to retain the clear light of full salvation?
  • 115. Does entire sanctification secure the "full assurance of faith"?
  • 116. Is an entirely sanctified state a blissful one?

SECTION X.
THE PROFESSION OF PERFECT LOVE


  • 117. Do the Scriptures authorize a confession of what God does for us?
  • 118. Does the Bible teach that Christians are God's witnesses?
  • 119. Does the church generally recognize a profession of religion as a duty of believers?
  • 120. To what is the Christian to give his testimony?
  • 121. Will not the spirit, conversation, and example exhibit what grace has done, so as to exclude the necessity for a profession?
  • 122. Should Christian labor and testimony go together?
  • 123. Does not so rich a grace deserve a humble, faithful, and grateful acknowledgment?
  • 124. Can the witness of entire sanctification be retained without confession on suitable occasions?
  • 125. What good will be secured by confessing perfect love?
  • 126. Should holiness be professed before a promiscuous audience?
  • 127. What terms are best and safest in professing holiness?
  • 128. Should the profession be definite, and in terms which will not mislead?
  • 129. Do not some profess this experience in terms seriously objectionable?
  • 130. Is not the profession of holiness, assumed by some, as of itself evidence of spiritual pride?
  • 131. Does not the profession of perfect love as a distinct blessing tend to produce jealousy and discord among brethren?
  • 132. Did Mr. Wesley encourage the profession of Perfect Love?
  • 133. Did Mr. Wesley profess Christian perfection?
  • 134. Did Mr. Wesley find opposition in the church to the profession of holiness?
  • 135. Is there not a want of harmony in Mr. Wesley's teaching on this subject at successive periods?
  • 136. Were the experience and profession of holiness common in the early days of Methodism?
  • 137. Is there not danger of professing this blessing when it is not possessed?
  • 138. At what points is caution necessary in the profession perfect love?

SECTION XI.
WITNESSES OF PERFECT LOVE


  • 139. Will you give some testimonies from those who have enjoyed perfect love?

SECTION XII.
REASONS WHY EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED


  • 140. Why should every Christian possess perfect love?
  • 141. Is not death a sanctifier?
  • 142. If none are saved without entire sanctification, what becomes of those who deny this doctrine?
  • 143. What course do most professors of religion pursue in regard to holiness?
  • 144. What are the results of this course on the part of the Church?

SECTION XIII.
MINISTERS SHOULD BE ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED


  • 145. Is it not vastly important that ministers of Christ be entirely sanctified to God?
  • 146. Can a minister successfully preach perfect love without the experience himself?
  • 147. Why is there so little preaching upon this subject?

SECTION XIV.
HOLINESS MUST BE PREACHED


  • 148. Should the doctrine, experience, and practice of Christian Holiness be preached frequently?
  • 149. Did Mr.Wesley preach often upon the subject of holiness?
  • 150. Is there not a serious lack on the part of the ministry in preaching on this subject?
  • 151. Is the doctrine and experience of holiness the great peculiarity of Methodism?
  • 152. Did the early Methodist preachers in the country make holiness a prominent item in their ministry?
  • 153. Is it wise to use the phrase "second blessing"?
  • 154. Is it wise to make holiness a specialty in the church and in Christian effort?
  • 155. Did Mr. Wesley organize special societies and meetings for the promotion of holiness, and attend them himself?
  • 156. Is there to some extent a spirit of opposition in the Methodist Church to the doctrine, experience, and profession of sanctification?

SECTION XV.
HOLINESS IDENTIFIED WITH THE PROMOTION OF THE GENERAL WORK OF GOD


  • 165. Is the general work of God identified with the preaching and the promotion of holiness?


SECTION XVI.
RESULTS OF NOT SEEKING HOLINESS


  • 166. What are the results of neglecting to seek holiness?
  • 167. If I lose the blessing, must I tell others of it?


SECTION XVII.
TRIALS OF THE ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED


  • 168. Are trials and tribulations peculiar to the Christian life?
  • 169. What trials are peculiar to those entirely sanctified?
  • 170. What are the best helps to growth in grace?

SECTION XVIII.
HOW A STATE OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION MAY BE RETAINED


  • 171. How may a state of entire sanctification be retained?

SECTION XIX.
OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIAN HOLINESS


  • 172. Will you reply to the following objections to entire holiness?

SECTION XX.
OBJECTIONS TO SEEKING PERFECT LOVE


  • 173. What course do many professors of religion pursue in regard to Christian holiness?
  • 174. What are they, and what is your reply to them?
  • 175. Is it harmful to wear needless adornment, such as jewelry and costly array?
  • 176. Is the use of tobacco to be condemned?
  • 177. Has the world ever regarded the Bible standard of religion as otherwise than fanatical?
  • 178. What was the fate of those who presented Christianity in its primitive, unsullied purity?
  • 179. What is real Fanaticism?
  • 180. Does the Bible countenance shouting and praising the Lord with a loud voice?
  • 181. Does the Bible countenance responses in religious worship?
  • 182. Does the Bible countenance physical prostration, and what may appear to carnal men as confusion?
  • 183. Are bodily prostrations and physical exercises any part of religion?
  • 184. Is it right to pray for bodily exercises?
  • 185. What is our safeguard against delusions and imaginations?
  • 186. Should the sanctified soul seek, expect, or desire anything beyond more holiness — as gifts, new revelations, &c.?


SECTION XXI.
ADVICE TO THOSE PROFESSING PERFECT LOVE


  • 187. What advice would you give those professing holiness?


SECTION XXII.
HOLINESS HISTORICALLY


  • 188. Where has the doctrine of Christian perfection been in the past history of the church that we seem only to hear of it now?
  • 189. Did the general church abide in this simple way of faith in Christ, and in his power to save to the uttermost?
  • 190. Did not the doctrine of Christian perfection originate with Mr. Wesley and the Methodist Church?
  • 191. How was Mr. Wesley led to receive and teach the doctrine?
  • 192. What was the chief characteristic of original Methodism?
  • 193. How did this doctrine stand related to original American Methodism?
  • 194. What is the object of the National Camp-meeting Association, and how does it stand related to this doctrine?
  • 195. Do not the formation of associations, and holding special meetings for the promotion of holiness, tend to division in the church?
  • 196. Is the work and experience of holiness making progress in the church?


SECTION XXIII.
MISCELLANEOUS


  • 197. What was the distinguishing characteristic of the great Wesleyan reformation?
  • 198. Is not the church subject to many and great dangers?
  • 199. Is it wrong to seek the good opinion of our fellowmen?
  • 200. How is a worldly, compromising spirit manifested?
  • 201. Are the spirit of holiness and the spirit of the world antagonistic?
  • 202. How did the apostle Paul magnify his apostleship in this warfare?
  • 203. Is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or being filled with the Spirit, the blessing of holiness?
  • 204. Can those entirely sanctified lose that grace, and still retain a justified relation to God?
  • 205. Why need we seek holiness if we can die safe in a justified state?
  • 206. How can a perfect Christian "grieve the Holy Spirit of God"?
  • 207. Is it not the fact that many persons lose perfect love several times, before they become established therein, against the seeking of it?
  • 208. Does God sometimes afflict his children in order to lead them to seek holiness?
  • 209. What relation does saving faith sustain to truth?
  • 210. Is it vitally important that men have correct views of truth?
  • 211. What class of people most commonly believe in, and seek full salvation?
  • 212. Is it proper for Christians to be governed by the laws of fashion?
  • 213. Are worldly amusements sinful?
  • 214. Are Fairs, Festivals, Tableaux, or Theatricals proper means of raising money for church purposes?
  • 215. How are entirely sanctified souls to be distinguished from those not entirely sanctified?
  • 216. What has become of indwelling sin, in those entirely sanctified?
  • 217. What is it to be made "partakers of the divine nature"?
  • 218. If we are made partakers of the divine nature and become like God, do we not become gods?
  • 219. What are the fruits of conviction for the need of pardon?
  • 220. What are the fruits of conviction for the need of purity?
  • 221. Should the regeneration of sinners and the sanctification of believers go on together?
  • 222. Should the sanctification of believers be a prominent item in our grove and camp-meeting services?
  • 223. How much ought I to fast?
  • 224. Does the Lord ever heal the body supernaturally in answer to prayer?
  • 225. What evidences indicate the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
  • 226. What evidences indicate advancement in holiness?
  • 227. What is the grand secret of holy living?



SECTION XXIV. & CONCLUSION.
THE AUTHOR'S EXPERIENCE


  • 228. Will you relate your experience of regeneration, and of entire sanctification?
  • CONCLUSION