J. A. Wood



19. What is entire sanctification or Christian perfection?

Negatively, it is that state of grace which excludes all sin from the heart. Positively, it is the possession of pure love to God. "Blessed are the pure in heart." "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." "Love is the fulfilling of the law." "The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart." In the grace of justification, sins, as acts of transgression, are pardoned. In the grace of sanctification, sin, as a malady, is removed, so that the heart is pure. In the nature of the case, the eradication of sin in principle from the human heart completes the Christian character. When guilt is forgiven in justification, and all pollution is removed in entire sanctification, so that grace possesses the heart and nothing contrary to grace, then the moral condition is reached to which the Scriptures give the name of perfection, or entire sanctification. Though the leading writers of our Church define this gracious state in different phraseology, there is an essential agreement among them; their disagreements are more in infelicities of expression than in real differences, and more speculative than fundamental. Their essential agreement will be seen in the following quotations:

1. Mr. Wesley says: "Both my brother [Charles Wesley] and I maintain, that Christian perfection is that love of God and our neighbor which implies DELIVERANCE FROM ALL SIN."

"It is the loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This implies that no wrong temper, none contrary to love, remains in the soul; and that all the thoughts, words, and actions are governed by pure love." — Vol. vi. p. 500.

"It is nothing higher, and nothing lower than this — the pure love of God and man. It is love governing the heart and life, running through all our tempers, words, and actions." — Vol. vi p. 502. — "Certainly, sanctification (in the proper sense) is an
instantaneous deliverance from all sin." — Vol. vii. p. 717.

2. Rev. John Fletcher says: "It is the
pure love of God and man shed abroad in a faithful believer's heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him. to cleanse him, and to keep him clean, 'from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit,' and to enable him to 'fulfill the law of Christ,' according to the talents he is intrusted with, and the circumstances in which he is placed in this world." Last Check, p. 567.

3. Dr. A. Clarke: "What, then, is this complete sanctification? It is the cleansing of the blood, that has not been cleansed; it is
washing the soul of a true believer from the remains of sin."Clarke's Theology, p. 206.

4. Rev. Richard Watson says: "We have already spoken of justification, adoption, regeneration, and the witness of the Holy Spirit, and we proceed to another AS DISTINCTLY MARKED, and as graciously promised in the Holy Scriptures. This is the entire sanctification, or the perfected holiness of believers." ...
"Happily for us, a subject of so great importance is not involved in obscurity.”

The reader will note the declaration of Mr. Watson, that this subject "is not involved in obscurity."

Of the nature and extent of Christian purity, Mr. Watson says: "By which can only be meant our complete deliverance from all spiritual pollution, all inward depravation of the heart, as well as that which, expressing itself outwardly by the indulgence of the senses, is called 'filthiness of the flesh.' " — Institutes, vol. ii. p. 450.

5. Rev. Joseph Benson: "To sanctify you wholly is to complete the work of
purification and renovation begun in your regeneration."Com. I Thess. v. 23.

6. Bishop Hedding says: "The degree of
original sin which remains in some believers, though not a transgression of a known law, is nevertheless sin, and must be removed before one goes to heaven, and the removal of this evil is what we mean by full sanctification." ... "Regeneration is the beginning of purification. Entire sanctification is finishing that work." — Sermon.

7. Dr. George Peck says: "By being saved from all sin in the present life, we mean being saved,
first, from all outward sin all violations of the requirements of the law of love which relate to our outward conduct; and, secondly, from all inward sin all violations of the law of love which relate to the intellect, the sensibilities, and the will." — Christian Perfection, p. 65.

8. Rev. Luther Lee says: "Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement has power to
cleanse from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, which is justification, but are washed entirely from it's pollution, freed from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts, and to walk in his holy commandments blameless." — Theology, p. 211.

9. Bishop Foster says of the person entirely sanctified, that he is in — "a state in which he will be
entirely free from sin, properly so called, both inward and outward." "The process of this work is in this order: beginning with pardon, by which one aspect of sin, that is actual guilt, is wholly removed, and proceeding in regeneration, by which another kind of sin, that is depravity, is in part removed, terminating with entire sanctification, by which the remainder of the second kind, or depravity, IS ENTIRELY REMOVED." — Christian Purity, p. 122.

This statement of Bishop Foster is most admirably expressed, and presents the truth with much clearness. Regeneration removes some sin or pollution, and entire sanctification removes the corruption which remains after regeneration. This will be seen, from the authorities given, to be the Wesleyan idea of entire sanctification.

10. Bishop J. T. Peck: "In the merely justified state we are not entirely pure. ... But in the work of entire sanctification, these impurities are all washed away, so that we are wholly saved from sin, from its inward pollution." — Central Idea, p. 52.

11. Dr. John Dempster, in an admirable sermon on Christian Perfection, before the Biblical Institute, said: "Do you then demand an exact expression of the difference? It is this: the one (regeneration) admits of
controlled tendencies to sin, the other (entire sanctification) extirpates those tendencies. That is, the merely regenerate has remaining impurity the fully sanctified has none."

12. Bishop D. W. Clarke: "Entire sanctification implies an entire cleansing of the soul from its moral defilement, and the plenary endowment of it with all the graces of the Spirit of God." —
Beauty of Holiness, May, 1857.

13. Binney's
Theological Compend defines holiness as — "That participation of the Divine Nature, which excludes all original depravity, or inbred Sin, from the heart." ... "Entire sanctification is that act of the Holy Ghost whereby the justified soul is made holy."

14. Bishop Simpson says: "Christian Perfection is a term used by Methodists to denote a state of grace implying purity of heart, or a heart cleansed from all sin." ... "Sanctification is that act of the Holy Ghost whereby the justified man is made holy." —
Encyclopedia of Methodism.

15. Rev. B. W. Gorham: "Entire sanctification is the complete purification of the heart, resulting, through the blood of Jesus Christ, from the pervading presence and governing power the Holy Spirit, continually possessing and occupying the nature, and subduing all things therein unto himself." —
God's Method with Man, p. 170.

16. The German United Brethren Church say: "By perfect holiness we understand the separation and purification from all inhering sin, after regeneration, by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and the filling of the heart with the love of God by the Holy Ghost."

17. Rev. Wm. McDonald says: "It is the removal from our moral natures, through faith in Christ, all sinful desires and tempers, — all pride, anger, envy, unbelief, and love of the world; and the possession in these purified natures of the unmixed graces of faith, humility, resignation, patience, meekness, self-denial, and love." —
Scriptural Views, p. 23.

18. Noah Webster defines sanctification — "The act of making holy, ..... the
state of being thus purified or sanctified.' "To sanctify, its a general sense, is to cleanse, purify, or make holy, ... to cleanse from corruption, to purify from sin."

19. The Methodist Catechism says: "Sanctification is that act of divine grace whereby we are made holy." This definition follows that of regeneration. Catechism No. 111. is more explicit:— "What is entire sanctification?" "The state of being entirely cleansed from sin, so as to love God with all our heart and mind and strength.”

t has been asserted that there is much disagreement and confusion in the teaching of the Church in this regard, and that a new formula of this doctrine is needed. The foregoing quotations from our chief writers show how completely they agree with each other. If desired, this list might be greatly extended, and an equal accord shown respecting the essential particulars of the doctrine.

It cannot be shown that there is more disagreement among our ministers concerning sanctification, if as much, as in regard to the atonement, the resurrection, and other items of doctrine.

That there are a few ministers in the Methodist Church who teach anti-Wesleyan and unscriptural views, we admit, and that many neglect to seek the experience, and therefore are not prepared to teach it as they ought, is both admitted and deplored.

Methodist authorities are agreed in teaching:—

1. That justification and regeneration are not identical with entire sanctification.

2. That entire sanctification is subsequent to regeneration, and in an important sense is an instantaneous work.

3. That it is a supernatural, divine work, and is by faith.

4. That negatively, it is freedom from all sin; and, positively, it is loving God with all the heart.

5. That it is attested by the Holy Spirit, by conscience, and by its fruits.

6. That it is both the privilege and duty of all believers to be entirely sanctified.

Alike, they all discard absolute, angelic, or Adamic perfection, in the entirely sanctified believer. They alike denounce all perfection of degree or of maturity, of judgment or of knowledge, or any other perfection except that of love and moral purity.

In these important items there is agreement among nearly all our chief ministers, and their disagreements are almost entirely in things more speculative than fundamental.

20. What is the distinction between regeneration and entire sanctification?

It is that of partial, and of complete purity. The Christian who is but regenerated, is not cleansed from all dwelling sin, while the Christian who is entirely sanctified is entirely purified. Though regeneration and entire sanctification are of one nature, there is a distinction. There is both a doctrinal and an experimental difference; the first preceding and falling below the other, and there is a transition from one to the other.

The first includes, in addition to imparted spiritual life, the commencement of purification; the other is the possession of the same spiritual life with complete purification.

The regenerate state and the fully sanctified state differ in moral quality; grace and life in one case have antagonisms in the heart, — in the other they have none. The "new life," or "new man," exists in an uncleansed soul in the former case, and in a purified soul in the latter. In the regenerate there is the new life unto righteousness, but not the complete death unto sin. In the entirely sanctified, the new life with all the graces of the Spirit exist in a pure heart.

1. Mr. Wesley says: "That believers are delivered from the guilt and power of sin we allow; that they are delivered from the being of it we deny. . . Christ, indeed, can not reign where sin reigns; neither will he dwell where sin is allowed. But he is and dwells in the heart of every believer who is fighting against all sin, although it be not yet purified. ... Indeed this grand point, that there are two contrary principles in [unsanctified] believers — nature and grace, the flesh and the spirit, — runs through all the Epistles of St. Paul, yea, through all the Holy Scriptures almost all the directions and exhortations therein are founded on this supposition, pointing at wrong tempers or practices in those who are notwithstanding acknowledged by the inspired writers to be believers." — Sermon on Sin in Believers.

2. Bishop Hedding says: "The difference between a justified soul who is not fully sanctified and one fully sanctified, I understand to be this: the first (
if he does not backslide) is kept from voluntarily committing known sin, which is what is commonly meant in the New Testament by committing sin. But he yet finds in himself the remains of inbred corruption, or original sin, such as pride, anger, envy, a feeling of hatred to an enemy, a rejoicing at a calamity which has fallen upon an enemy, &c. The second, or the person fully sanctified, is cleansed from all these inward involuntary sins." — Sermon before N.J. Con.

3. Dr. Dempster says: "Do you, then, demand an exact expression of the difference? It is this: the one admits of
controlled tendencies to sin, the other extirpates those tendencies. That is, the merely regenerate has remaining IMPURITY; the fully sanctified has NONE." — Sermon at Bible Institute.

4. Rev. Richard Watson says: "In this regenerate state, the former
corruptions of the heart may remain and strive for the mastery, but that which characterizes and distinguishes it from the state of a penitent before justification, before he is in Christ, is, that they are not even his inward habit, and that they have no dominion." — Institutes , vol. ii. p. 450.

5. Rev. Luther Lee says: The power of sin is broken, the tyrant is dethroned, and his
reign ceases in the soul at the moment of regeneration; yet sin is not so destroyed as not to leave is mark upon the soul, and even yet struggle for the mastery."

There is still a warfare
within; — there will be found an opposing element in the sensibility of the soul, which, though it no longer controls the will, often rebels against it and refuses to obey it." ... "The will can and does resist them in a regenerate state; but it cannot silence them, renew, or change their direction by an act of volition." ... "These [propensities, passions, appetites] belong to the soul, and must be brought into harmony with right and the sanctified will before the whole soul can be said to be sanctified or to be entirely consecrated to God. When this work is wrought, then the war within will cease." — Theology, pp. 212, 213.

6. Rev. William McDonald says:
  1. "In regeneration, sin does not reign; in sanctification it does not exist.
  2. "In regeneration, sin is suspended; in sanctification it is destroyed.
  3. "In regeneration, irregular desires — anger, pride, unbelief, envy, &c. — are subdued; in sanctification they are removed.
  4. "Regeneration is salvation from the voluntary commission of sin; sanctification is salvation from the being of sin.
  5. "Regeneration is the old man bound; sanctification is the old man cast out and spoiled of his goods.
  6. "Regeneration is sanctification begun; entire sanctification is the work completed." — N. Testament Standard, p. 123.

21. Is there a difference between sin and depravity?

There is, a very important difference.

1. Sin is "the transgression of the law," and involves moral action, either by voluntary omission, or willful commission, and it always incurs guilt.

2. Depravity is a state or condition, a defilement or perversity of spirit. It is developed in the soul, in inclinations to sin, or in sinward tendencies.

3. Sin, strictly speaking, is voluntary, and involves responsible action, and is a thing to be pardoned.

4. Depravity is inborn, inherited, and inbred. It is derived from fallen Adam, and is augmented by actual sin.

5. All sin involves guilt, depravity does not, unless it be assented to, yielded to, cherished, or its cure willfully neglected.

6. Depravity is one of the results of sin, and it may have somewhat of the nature of sin, in the sense of being a disconformity or unlikeness to God; and it is in this sense that "all unrighteousness is sin." Depravity lacks the voluntary element of sin, hence it is not a thing to be pardoned, like sin proper, but is to be removed from the soul by cleansing or purgation.

Regarding sin and depravity as the same, occasions much confusion on the subject of entire sanctification. Let it be borne in mind, the terms "inbred sin," "indwelling sin," and all others significant of inward pollution, are not used by us as significant of sin in its proper sense, but as an inward corruption or defilement.

"These [sin and depravity] are coupled together as though they were the same; but they are not the same thing. The guilt is one thing, the power another, and the being yet another. That believers are delivered from the guilt and power of sin we allow; that they are delivered from the being of it we deny." — Wesley's Sermons, vol. i. p. 113.

Bishop Foster says, sin and depravity "are distinct the one from the other: since the depravity may exist without the act, and may be increased by the act, and the carnality may exist without the separate transgression to which it prompts, and is alleged to exist prior to the transgression." ... "Sin committed, and depravity felt, are very different; the one is an action, the other
a state of the affections. The regenerate believer is saved from the one, and he has grace to enable him to have the victory over the other; but the disposition itself, to some extent, remains, under the control of a stronger, gracious power implanted, but still making resistance, and indicating actual presence, and needing to be entirely sanctified." — Christian Purity, pp. 111, 121.

"Moral depravity," says Bishop Hamline,
"is not in action or deed, but lies FARTHER BACK and DEEPER DOWN in our nature, at the fountain-head of all activity and character. It is enmity to God, and like the fatal worm at the root of the vine, withers every green leaf." — Sermon on Depravity.

Rev. Dr. Steele, in "Love Enthroned," says: "The
spirit of sin, or inbred sin, technically called original sin, because it is inherited from Adam, is the state of heart out of which acts of sin either actually flow or tend to flow. Until this state is changed, the conquest of love over the soul is incomplete. Regeneration introduces a power which checks the outbreaking of original into actual sin, except occasional and almost involuntary sallies in moments of weakness or unwatchfulness." — p. 37.

22. Do those merely regenerated often think indwelling sin is destroyed?

They do; and this is frequently the case when the soul is first converted. Not infrequent, the transition from nature to grace, from death to life, and from darkness to light, is so marked, and the love and gladness of the newborn soul is so overflowing, as for the time to make the impression the whole heart is cleansed.

"How naturally do those who experience such a change [regeneration] imagine that all sin is gone, that it is entirely rooted out of their hearts, and has no more place therein! How easily do they draw that inference, 'I feel no sin, therefore I have none; it does not stir, therefore it does not exist; it has no motion, therefore it has no being! But it is seldom long before they are undeceived, finding sin was only suspended not destroyed." — Wesley's Sermons, vol. i. p. 385.

23. What is the cause of so much prejudice against the doctrine of entire sanctification, and even of hostility to it?

1. The doctrine is misunderstood. Multitudes misapprehend its true nature. It is often taken to mean more than is intended, and more than is taught by the Church. There are thousands within the bosom of our church who are astonishingly ignorant of the doctrine as taught by our standards. In these days of newspapers and light literature which are flooding the land, everything else is read but the excellent works written on this subject.

We think it a serious matter that our grand old religious biographies, which formerly educated our people, such as Fletcher, Clark, Bramwell, Stoner, Carvosso, &c., are being very largely supplanted in our Sabbath schools by light and questionable literature. The valuable books published on this doctrine and experience are read by only a small part of the membership of the church.

2. The doctrine and experience of entire sanctification has been prejudiced among common people by being frequently identified with culture, social refinement, and the highest finish; then of course it can be possessed only by the few who have the time, the means, and the opportunity to obtain the highest development and brightest polish, and cultivation. This is an egregious blunder, contrary to the very genius of the gospel. The highest style of gospel salvation is adapted to the mass of humanity, the common people. A plowman may be entirely sanctified without becoming a polished scholar; and a plain, godly mother may be free from all sin, though she may know nothing of social refinement or literary cultivation.

3. Many of our ministers are at fault in this matter, in not seeking this blessed experience themselves; for not studying and mastering the subject; and for not preaching it more clearly, strongly, and explicitly to the people.

4. Much of the prejudice and opposition to this doctrine comes from remaining depravity in unsanctified believers. Indwelling sin is an antagonism to holiness and, in so far as any Christian has inbred sin, he has it within him opposition to holiness. Many, most, do not yield to it, but resist it, pray against it, and keep it under; others, we are sorry to know, both in the ministry and laity, yield to their depravity, and stand in opposition to God's work.

24. Is Christian Perfection absolute perfection?

It is not. We know of no writer who has ever taught any such perfection in man. God's moral perfections are like an infinite ocean, as boundless and fathomless as immensity. Up to this perfection neither man, nor angel, nor seraph can ever come. Between the highest degree of human perfection, and the perfection of God, there is the difference between the finite and the infinite. Absolute perfection belongs to God alone. In this sense, there is none good but one, that is God." The lightest, sweetest, and most lovely angel in Paradise is infinitely below absolute perfection.

25. Is Christian perfection the same as Angelic perfection?

It is not. Angels are a higher order of intelligences; they are innocent and sinlessly pure. The fire of their love burns with an intensity, and their services are performed with a precision and rectitude not possible to mortals. In this world we must be content with Christian perfection; when we reach heaven we shall be "equal unto the angels." Christian perfection or holiness is a perfection according to the capacity of a man, and not according to the capacity of an angel, or a glorified saint.

26. Is Christian perfection synonymous with Adamic perfection?

It is not. There is a wide difference between a pure-hearted Christian saved by grace, and unfallen Adam in his Paradisiacal glory; a difference in range of powers, innocency, and grounds of justification. Adam was justified by works, and was free from the broken powers, and infirmities of fallen human nature.

Every creature of God may be perfect after its kind, and according to its degree. Angels, cherubim, and seraphim are all perfect, but their perfection falls infinitely below the absolute perfection of God. There is a gradation which belongs to all the works of God, and hence there are various sorts and degrees of perfection. Angels are perfect in their order and place; they are perfect as angels, but imperfect in comparison with God. Each sphere of being has its normal limits; God alone has absolute, infinite perfection; the angels have a perfection of their own, above that of humanity; fallen but regenerate and sanctified man has also his peculiar sphere in the mediatorial economy; and the highest practicable rectitude, whatever it may be, is his perfection, and is Christian perfection.

Christian perfection is a perfection of love, pure love in a fallen but purified soul.

In the very nature of things, the term perfection is used in various senses, and must be limited and qualified when applied to any being but God; and yet those who reject the doctrine, of Christian perfection seem to affix to the term but one single idea, and that the idea of absoluteness — implying absolute perfection.

To apply absolute perfection, or angelic, or Adamic perfection, to the terms given in the Bible, significant of Christian perfection, which is a modified, relative perfection, such as may be asserted of an entirely sanctified Christian, is as illogical as it is common among the opponents of this doctrine.

Mr. Wesley adopted the term perfection because he found it in the Scriptures; (see question 1;) he deemed St. Paul and St. John sufficient authorities for its use. The Christian world has also largely recognized the term in the writings of Clement, Macarius, Kempis, Fenelon, Lucus, and many other writers both Papal and Protestant.

27. Do you teach a sinless perfection?

Our answer must be according to what is meant by "sinless perfection;" which is a term we never use in teaching Christian perfection.

1. If by sinless perfection be meant infallibility, or a state in which the soul cannot sin, we answer, No. We believe in no such perfection in this life; and further, we know of no one who teaches any such thing, although has been asserted over and over, thousands of times, by the opposers of Christian perfection.

2. If by this term be meant, a perfect fulfillment of the Paradisiacal law of innocence, and freedom from all involuntary transgressions of the law of love, we answer, No. Mr. Wesley says: "Therefore sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself. I believe a person filled with the love of God still liable to these involuntary transgressions. Such transgressions you may call sins, if you please; I do not." Plain Account, p. 67.

3. If by this phrase be meant, a perfect observance of the evangelical law of love, so as to love God with all the heart, soul, and strength, we answer, by the grace of God, Yes. See Deut. xxx. 6.

4. If it be meant a moral condition, in which the soul has no disposition to sin, and will not sin, and by the grace of God is kept from sinning, we answer Yes, to the glory and praise of God.

5. If this question means, does God fully pardon all our sinful acts and absolve us from all guilt, and does He entirely cleanse the soul from a sinful state, so that it becomes pure, or entirely free from sinful proclivities we answer, Yes.