PART I. ON THE INWARD LIFE IN ITS CONNECTION WITH FAITH AND LOVE.
Of Assurance of Faith.
IT is worthy of notice, both as a religious and an historical fact, that in a number of Christian sects a distinct and well defined modification of personal religious experience has for many ages been known and recognized under the denomination of ASSURANCE OF FAITH.
The confession of Faith, adopted by the Congregational Churches in England in 1658, and afterwards adopted with some slight variations by the American Congregational Churches in 1680, has the following expressions, in a chapter especially devoted to this subject. —
"Such as believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this lifebe certainly assured that they are in a state of grace; and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God which hope shall never make them ashamed. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith, founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ, revealed in the Gospel, and also upon the inward evidence of those graces, unto which promises are made, and on the immediate witness of the Spirit."
The phraseology, which is employed to indicate this form of experience, seems to have had its origin in the following passage in Hebrews. "Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." Heb. 10: 19 — 29.
In the early periods of this country, when the piety of our ancestors was chastened and invigorated by heavy afflictions, the instances of ASSURANCE OF FAITH seem to have been frequent. Many were the cases of individuals, men of wonderful prayer and faith, who could say with the Apostle, "I am persuaded, that neither life nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." And it is a matter of thankfulness, that instances of full assurance, though less frequent than it is desirable they should be, are not unknown even now.
The basis of this form of religious experience, as the name given to it itself indicates, is FAITH. And in this respect, it stands undoubtedly on the same footing with every other form of true religious experience. Nor do I know that the faith, which is experienced in these marked and triumphant instances of the religious life, is different from what is experienced in other cases, except in the single circumstance of DEGREE. It is a very high degree of faith. The term ASSURANCE, which, in its ordinary acceptation, excludes the idea of doubting, is an evidence that it is so. The phrase, ASSURANCE OF FAITH, conveys, in its own terms and on its own face, the idea of faith without doubting, in other words, of perfect faith. Looking at the subject in the light of the terms used, I think we are at liberty to say, that assurance of faith is synonymous with undoubting or perfect faith. The instances themselves of this form of experience, whether they are such as are made known to us historically in the lives of those who are said to have lived and died in assurance, or such as have come within the range and notice of more recent observations, sustain this view. Those, who are in the enjoyment of this state of mind, are a people, that have an unwavering confidence in God. In the language of John Rogers, the memorable martyr of Smithfield, given in a short published account of his early religious experience, "they live by faith in the Son of God, above the letter in the LIFE; above the form in the POWER; above self in a higher self; so that they are no longer themselves; but are by the grace of God what they are; not doubting, that they shall appear perfect in Christ' s righteousness, being pardoned by his death, purged by his blood, sanctified by his spirit, and saved by his power."
We have an instructive and precious illustration of the state of mind, denominated ASSURANCE OF FAITH, in the instances of early saints mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews; in Abel, who "offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain;" in Enoch, who "had this testimony that he pleased God;" in Abraham, "who went out, not. knowing whither he went," and who, "when he was tried, offered up Isaac;" in Moses, "who esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt;" in Gideon, Barak, David, Samuel, and the prophets, of whom as well as of others the testimony is given, that through faith they "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, of whom the world was not worthy;" and in regard to whom it is expressly said, that God himself was NOT ASHAMED TO BE CALLED THEIR GOD.
As the subject of an assured acceptance with God is, in our apprehension, one of preeminent importance, and as it has in these latter days received less attention than it did formerly and far less than it deserves, we have thought it might be proper to introduce here an instructive passage from the writings of President Edwards. After referring to some persons, who supposed, that no such thing is to be expected in the church of God as a full and absolute assurance, except in some very extraordinary circumstances, such as that of martyrdom, and asserting that this view is contrary to the doctrine of Protestants as maintained by their most celebrated writers, he proceeds as follows. "It is manifest, that it was a common thing for the saints that we have a history or particular account of in Scripture, to be assured. God, in the plainest and most positive manner, revealed and testified his special favor to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Daniel, and others. Job often speaks of his sincerity and uprightness with the greatest imaginable confidence and assurance, often calling God to witness to it; and says plainly,"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that I shall see him for myself, and not for another," Job 19.25, &c. David, throughout the book of Psalms, almost everywhere speaks without any hesitancy, and in the most positive manner, of God as his God: glorying in him as his portion and heritage, his rock and confidence, his shield, salvation, and high tower, and the like. Hezekiah appeals to God, as one that knew he had walked before him in truth, and with a perfect heart, 2 Kings 20.3. Jesus Christ, in his dying discourse with his eleven disciples, in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John, (which was as it were Christ's last will and testament to his disciples, and to his whole church,) often declares his special and everlasting love to them, in the plainest and most positive terms; and promises them a future participation with him in his glory, in the most absolute manner; and tells them at the same time, that he does so, to the end that their joy might be full, John 15:11. "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." See also at the conclusion of his whole discourse, chap. 16:33. "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Christ was not afraid of speaking too plainly and positively to them; he did not desire to hold them in the least suspense. And he concluded that last discourse of his with a prayer in their presence, wherein he speaks positively to his Father of those eleven disciples, as having all of them savingly known him, and believed in him, and received and kept his word; and that they were not of the world; and that for their sakes he sanctified himself; and that his will was, that they should be with him in his glory: and tells his Father, that he spake these things in his prayer, to the end that his joy might be fulfilled in them, ver. 13. By these things it is evident, that it is agreeable to Christ's designs, and the contrived ordering and disposition Christ makes of things in his church, that there should be sufficient and abundant provision made, that his saints might have full assurance of their future glory.
The Apostle Paul, through all his epistles, speaks in an assured strain; ever speaking positively of his special relation to Christ, his Lord, and Master, and Redeemer; and his interest in, and expectation of the future reward. It would be endless to take notice of all places that might be enumerated; I shall mention but three or four. Gal. 2. 20."Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Phil. 1. 21. "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." 2 Tim. 1.12. "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2 Tim. 4.7, 8. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me at that day."
And the nature of the covenant of grace, and God's declared ends in the appointment and constitution of things in that covenant, do plainly shew it to be God's design to make ample provision for the saints having an assured hope of eternal life, while living here upon earth. For so are all things ordered and contrived in that covenant, that everything might be made sure on God's part. "The covenant is ordered in all things and sure:" the promises are full, and very often repeated, and various ways exhibited; and there are many witnesses, and many seals; and God has confirmed his promises with an oath. And God's declared design in all this is, that the heirs of the promises might have an undoubting hope, and full joy, in an assurance of their future glory. Heb. 6.17, 18. "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his council, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us." But all this would be in vain, to any such purpose as the saints' strong consolation, and hope of their obtaining future glory, if their interest in those sure promises in ordinary cases was not attainable. For God's promises and oaths, let them be as sure as they will, cannot give strong hope and comfort to any particular person, any further than he can know that those promises are made to him. And in vain is provision made in Jesus Christ, that believers might be perfect as pertaining to the conscience, as is signified, Heb. 9.9, if assurance of freedom from the guilt of sin is not attainable.
It further appears that assurance is not only attainable in some very extraordinary cases, but that all Christians are directed to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, and are told how they may do it, 2 Pet. l. 5 — 8. And it is spoken of as a thing very unbecoming of Christians, and an argument of something very blameable in them, not to know whether Christ be in them or no, 2 Cor. 13. 6. "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" And it is implied that it is an argument of a very blameable negligence in Christians, if they practice Christianity after such a manner as to remain uncertain of the reward, in that 1 Cor. 9. 26. "I therefore so run, as not uncertainly." And to add no more, it is manifest, that Christians' knowing their interests in the saving benefits of Christianity is a thing ordinarily' attainable, because the apostles tell us by what means Christians (and not only apostles and martyrs) were wont to know this; Cor. 2. 12. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." And 1 John2. 3. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments;" And ver. 5. Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap. 3. 14. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Ver. 19. "Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." Ver. 24. "Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." So Chap. 4. 13, and Chap. 5. 2, and ver. 19." [Edwards on the Affections, Part II.]
Such are the strong and well sustained statements of one, in whom Congregationalists have been accustomed to place a high degree of confidence. But this form of christian experience, and under this specific name, has not been limited to one denomination. Instances of assurance of faith appear to have been frequent among the United Brethren or Moravians, especially in the early periods of their religious history. Mr. Wesley, the founder of the Methodist societies, relates, in the Journal of his Life, that he visited, in the year 1738, the United Brethren or Moravians at Hernhuth; the place where they were first collected and organized into a society. At that time, as well as in later periods of his life, Mr. Wesley was a careful and philosophic observer of men; and was particularly interested, to notice and to analyze the varieties of Christian experience and character. And accordingly he took pains to converse privately and very intimately with a number of the Moravian brethren, who appeared to be leading men both for their intellectual capacity and their piety; and in his Journal has recorded what he learnt from them. We will here give an abstract of some of these statements; particularly of those parts which may be considered as illustrating historically the doctrine and the nature of ASSURANCE OF FAITH, retaining precisely the sentiment, and as far as possible, the expression.
CHRISTIAN DAVID.— Having given us to understand, that in early life he was a Roman Catholic, this person proceeds to say, "I was much troubled at hearing some people affirm, that the Pope was Antichrist. I read the Lutheran books written against the Papists, and the Popish books, written against the Lutherans. I easily saw that the Papists were in the wrong; but not that the Lutherans were in the right. I was in the city of Berlin, when I renounced the errors of Popery. After this I led a very strict life; read much and prayed much. I did all I could to conquer sin; yet it profited not. I was still conquered by it. At length, not knowing what to do, I enlisted as a soldier. I had a Testament and a hymn book; but in one day both my books were stolen. This almost broke my heart. After six months I left the army, and went to Görlitz in Saxony. There I fell into a dangerous illness. For twenty weeks I could not stir hand or foot. Pastor Sleder came to me every day. And from him it was, that the gospel of Christ came first with power to my soul.
"It was then I found the peace I had long sought in vain. Not indeed all at once; but by degrees. For I could not immediately believe I was forgiven, because of the mistake I was then in concerning forgiveness. I thought I was to feel sin in me no more, from the time it was forgiven. Therefore, although I had the mastery over sin, yet I often feared it was not forgiven, because it still stirred in me; and at some times thrust sore at me that I might fall. I did not then see, that the being justified by faith is widely different from having A FULL ASSURANCE of faith. I remembered not, that our Lord told his Apostles before his death, "Ye are clean" [or forgiven;] whereas it was not till many days after it, that they were fully assured, by the Holy Ghost then received, of their reconciliation to God through his blood.
"After some years I plainly perceived, that full assurance of faith was a distinct gift from justifying faith; and often not given till long after it; and that justification does not imply, that sin should not stir in us, but only that it should not conquer. And now first it was that I had FULL ASSURANCE of my own reconciliation to God, through Christ. For many years I had had the forgiveness of my sins, and a measure of the peace of God; but I had not till now that witness of his Spirit, which shuts out all doubt and fear. In all my trials I had always a confidence in Christ, who had done so great things for me. But it was a confidence, mixed with fear. I was afraid I had not done enough. There was always something dark in my soul. BUT NOW THE CLEAR LIGHT SHINED."
MICHAEL LINNER.— The account of the religious experience of this individual, as given by Mr. Wesley, is so concise that it will not be necessary to abridge it. It is as follows.— "The Church of Moravia was once a glorious Church. But it is now covered with thick darkness. It is about sixteen years ago that I began to seek for light. I had a New Testament which I constantly read; upon which I often said to myself, 'This says, I ought to be humble, and meek, and pure in heart. How comes it that I am not so? I went to the best men I knew, and asked, 'Is not this the word of God? And if so, ought I not to be such as this requires, both in heart and life? They answered, 'The first Christians were such; but it was impossible for us to be so perfect.' This answer gave me no satisfaction. I knew God could not mock his creatures, by requiring of them what he saw it was impossible for them to perform. I asked others but still had the same answer, which troubled me more and more.
"About fourteen years ago, I was more than ever convinced that I was wholly different from what God required me to be. I consulted his word again and again; but it spoke nothing but condemnation; till at last I could not read, nor indeed do any thing else, having no hope and no spirit left in me. I had been in this state for several days, when, being musing by myself, these words came strongly into my mind, 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.' I thought, 'All?' Then I am one. Then he is given for me. But I am a sinner. And he 'came to save sinners.' Immediately my burden dropped off and my heart was at rest. "But the full assurance of faith I had not yet; nor for the two years I continued in Moravia. When I was driven out thence by the Jesuits, I retired hither, and was soon after received into the Church. And here, after some time, it pleased our Lord to manifest himself more clearly to my soul, and give me that full sense of acceptance in him, which excludes all doubt and fear.
"Indeed the leading of the spirit is different in different souls. His more usual method, I believe, is, to give, in one and the same moment, the forgiveness of sins, and a full assurance of that forgiveness. Yet in many he works as he did in me: giving first the remission of sins, and, after some weeks or months or years, the full assurance of it."
ZACHARIAS NEUSSER.— "I was born on the borders of Moravia; and was first awakened by my cousin Wensel, who soon after carried me to hear Mr. Steinmetz, a Lutheran minister, about thirty English miles off. I was utterly astonished. The next week I went again; after which, going to him in private, I opened my heart, and told him all my doubts; those especially concerning Popery. He offered to receive me into communion with him, which I gladly accepted of; and in a short time after, I received the Lord's Supper from his hands. While I was receiving, I felt Christ had died for me. I knew I was reconciled to God. And all that day I was overwhelmed with joy; having those words continually on my mind, 'This day is salvation come to my house: I also am a son of Abraham.' This joy I had continually for a year and a half, and my heart was full of love to Christ.
"After this I had thoughts of leaving Moravia. I was convinced it would be better for my soul. Yet I would not do it, because I got more money here than I could elsewhere. When I reflected on this, I said to myself, 'this is mere covetousness. But if I am covetous, I am not a child of God.' Hence I fell into deep perplexity, nor could I find any way to escape out of it. In this slavery and misery I was for five years; at the end of which I fell sick. In my sickness my heart was set at liberty, and peace returned to my soul. I now prayed earnestly to God to restore my health, that I might leave Moravia. He did restore it, and I immediately removed to Hernhuth. After I had been here a quarter of a year, the Count [Count Zinzendorf] preached one day, upon the nature of sanctification. I found I had not experienced what he described, and was greatly terrified. I went to my cousin Wensel, who advised me to read over the third, fourth and fifth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. I did so. I had read them a hundred times before, yet now they appeared quite new; and gave me such a sight of God's justifying the ungodly, as I never had before. On Sunday I went to church at Berthorldsdorf; and while we were singing those words, air gladden auch in Jesus Christ.— 'We believe also in Jesus Christ,' — I clearly saw him as my Savior. I wanted immediately to be alone, and to pour out my heart before him. My soul was filled with thankfulness; and with a still, soft, quiet joy, such as it is impossible to express. I had full assurance that 'my Beloved' was 'mine, and 'I' was 'his which has never ceased to this day. I see by a clear light what is pleasing to him, and I do it continually in love. I receive daily from him peace and joy; and I have nothing to do but to praise him."
ARVID GRADIN, a Swede born in Dalecarlia. His statement is as follows. "Before I was ten years old, I had a serious sense of religion, and great fervor in prayer. This was increased by my reading much in the New Testament; but the more I read the more earnestly I cried out, 'Either these things are not true, or we are not Christians.' About sixteen my sense of religion began to decline, by my too great fondness for learning, especially the oriental tongues, wherein I was instructed by a private preceptor, who likewise did all that in him lay to instruct me in true divinity.
"At seventeen I went to the University of Upsal, and a year or two after was licensed to preach. But at twenty-two, meeting with Arndt's 'True Christianity,' I found I myself was not a Christian. Immediately I left off preaching, and betook myself wholly to philosophy. This stifled all my convictions for some years; but when I was about twenty-seven, they revived, and continued the year after, when I was desired to be domestic tutor to the children of the secretary of state. I now felt I was 'carnal, sold under sin,' and continually struggled to burst the bonds, till (being about thirty-one years old) I was unawares entangled in much worldly business. This cooled me in my pursuit of holiness; yet for a year and a half my heart was never at peace. Being then in a bookseller's shop, I saw the account of the Church at Hernhuth. I did not think there could be any such place, and asked the bookseller if that was a real account. His answer, 'that it was no more than the plain truth,' threw me into deep thought and fervent prayer, that God would bring me to that place. I went to the secretary and told him I did not design to stay at Upsal, having a desire to travel. He said, he had a desire his son should travel; and was glad of an opportunity to send him with me. I was grieved, but knew not how to refuse any thing to my patron and benefactor. Accordingly we left Upsal together, and, after a year spent in several parts of Germany, went through Holland into France, and so to Paris, where we spent another year. But I was more and more uneasy, till I could be disengaged from my charge, that I might retire to Hernhuth. In our return from France, my pupil's elder brother returning from Italy met us at Leipsig. I immediately wrote to his father, and having obtained his consent, delivered him into his hands.
"April 23, 1738, I came hither. Here I was in another world. I desired nothing but to be cleansed inwardly and outwardly from sin, by the blood of Jesus Christ. I found all here laying the same foundation. Therefore, though I did not think with them in all points of doctrine, I waived these, and singly pursued reconciliation with God through Christ.
"On the 98d of May last, I could think of nothing but, 'He that believeth hath everlasting life.' But I was afraid of deceiving myself, and continually prayed I might not build without a foundation. Yet I had a sweet, settled peace, and for five days this Scripture was always in my thoughts. On the 28th those words of our Lord were strongly impressed, upon me, 'If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Ghost to them that ask him?' At the same time I was incessantly carried out to ask, that he would give me the witness of his Spirit. On the 29th I had what I asked of him, namely, the PLEROPHORIA or FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH which is repose in the blood of Christ; a firm confidence in God and persuasion of his favor, serene peace and steadfast tranquillity of mind, with a deliverance from every fleshly desire, and from every outward and inward sin. In a word, my heart, which before was tossed like a troubled sea, was still and quiet, and in a sweet calm."
We would add here that the United Brethren or Moravians, in the early periods of their existence as a separate denomination, were inclined to the view, that there is no true and saving faith without assurance of faith, and that justification and sanctification are either the same thing or are so nearly allied that there is no true evidence of the former without an entire experience of the latter. According to the testimony of Christian David, of whose personal experience some account has been given, they were accustomed to inquire of those, who proposed themselves for full membership in the Church, whether they were assured, beyond all doubt, that they were the children of God? In what manner and at what time they received that assurance? Whether they were so renewed in the image of God, that all sin, or "the whole body of sin," as he expresses it, was destroyed in them? And if the person could not satisfactorily answer questions of this kind and to this effect, he asserts, "we judged, that he had no true faith. Nor would we permit any to receive the Lord's supper among us, till he could." On further inquiry into the subject and additional experience of the manner of God's dealing with his people, they abandoned this view as in some important respects incorrect, and adopted the doctrine of faith as existing in different degrees; and recognized the faith of forgiveness, in connection with which a person may be pardoned in the first instance, as well as that of assurance, which is generally later in one's experience, and results in purity of heart and inward victory. Assurance of faith, however, continued to be a leading and most important doctrine; and every one was expected to strive earnestly for its attainment. And probably among no denomination of Christians, in proportion to their whole number, have more frequent instances of this ennobling and triumphant experience been found, than among the United Brethren.
But it is proper to say, that the doctrine and the personal experience of assurance of faith have not been limited to the Christian denominations, which so far have been particularly referred to. A careful inquiry would abundantly show, that this important doctrine, which recognizes a state of mind existing in sweet purity and peace, in reverential and affectionate communion with God, in freedom from doubts and fears, in constant prayer, in victory over every known and voluntary transgression, in the baptism and in-dwelling of the Holy Ghost, has been admitted, defended, and preached by Episcopalians and Presbyterians, and probably by a number of other sects of Christians, as well as by Congregationalists and Moravians. And many among the dead, who yet speak in their recorded memorials, and some we trust among the living can bear a convincing and experimental testimony to its truth and preciousness. It would be a pleasing task, if our limits would allow, to repeat here, in the case of individuals both dead and living, the delightful facts, which warrant and confirm this declaration. Saying nothing, however, of many other instances, which readily present themselves to my recollection, it seems to me, that the pious archbishop Leighton was a man, that, in the later periods of his life at least, enjoyed assurance of faith; and on the principle which he himself has laid down, viz. that love will be in proportion to faith, that he possessed what, may very properly be called an assured or perfected state of love. His American biographer speaks of him in the following terms, which, decided and emphatic as they are, will probably command the assent of candid and serious persons, who have thoroughly studied the Archbishop's religious character.
After remarking that his piety was eminently a meditative piety, he proceeds to say, "Whether in the midst of this world's scenes, or in perfect retirement, Leighton's thoughts were always fixed upon the world whither he was tending. Religious meditation seemed the involuntary habit of his soul; and in this was exemplified the profound truth of his own remark, that 'the pure love of God maketh the spirit pure and simple, and so free, that without any pain and labor it can at all times turn and recollect itself in God.' If duty drew him from seclusion, it was to watch and pray lest he should enter into temptation; and amidst the most absorbing earthly business, if his thoughtful face were of a clear transparency, and you could have looked through the casement of his soul far into the depths of its retirement, you would there have seen the high purposes of God still ripening and fulfilling, and the process of growing holiness advancing as certainly and uninterruptedly as it would in the most sacred oratory of private devotion. He thought that in this world the Christian's white robe would be very likely to be entangled and defiled, if he wore it too flowingly: —
He would not soil those pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapors of this sin-worn mould.
'Our only safest way,' said he, 'is to gird up our affections wholly. When we come to the place of our rest, we may wear our long white robes at full length without disturbance; for no unclean thing is there; yea, the streets of that New Jerusalem are paved with gold.' He was a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth, and he felt that he was such. He had no more motive to partake in the toils and anxieties of this life, than an angel would feel, commissioned on some errand of mercy to the dwelling-place of mortals, who stays only till he may perform the mandate of his sovereign, and is glad to return from the atmosphere of earth to the light of his Father' s countenance, to his home of glory in the skies. Though present in the body, he was absent in the spirit with his Lord and Master. Amidst his fellow-mortals in all the concerns of this life he walked and acted like a man in a dream — a dream, from which he was then only to awake, when he passed into the blissful presence of his ascended Savior. I shall be satisfied WHEN I AWAKE with thy likeness. And though into all the business which duty required of him, he entered with a grave intensity to fulfill the Apostle's injunction, yet all this while his soul was conversing in heaven, for he looked with the eye of faith on the things unseen and eternal. In the emphatic words of Paul, he was dead, and his life was hid with Christ in God. He was altogether Christ's; His image was always before him; His words always invited him to glory.
I hear a voice, you cannot hear,
Forbidding me to stay;
I see a hand, you cannot see,
Which beckons me away
[See Cheever's Ed. of the Select Works of Archbishop Leighton.]
In conclusion, I would make an additional remark, which seems appropriate to a full view of the subject. It is probably true, that persons enjoying assurance of faith, in those denominations of Christians where that phraseology is expressive of the highest form of Christian experience, have often exhibited a degree of hesitancy and reluctance in recognizing themselves as "sanctified persons," as "holy persons," as "perfected in love," as "saints," and the like. Nor have others, who have been members of the same denominations, been in the practice, except, occasionally, of employing such epithets and expressions in relation to them. Conscious of their physical and intellectual imperfections, knowing their liability to errors of judgment and their consequent liability to mistaken and relatively wrong feelings, beset every where and sometimes deeply afflicted by heavy temptations, and feeling that they needed every moment the application of Christ's blood, it is not altogether surprising, especially in connection with some accessory influences, that there should have been some hesitation, both in themselves and in others, in making a personal application of the epithets and expressions in question. But that such expressions, however commendable a due degree of modesty and reserve always is, are proper; and that they ought, in justice, on their appropriate occasions, to be applied to such persons, I cannot doubt. Persons, who are in the assurance of faith, are not merely "professors of religion," as the modern expression is; but are Christians; and that too in the highest sense of the term. They have laid themselves upon the altar of God; they have separated themselves from every known iniquity; they can say without hesitation that they have no desire but for God's glory; they are continually guided by the Holy Spirit; they have been enabled to appropriate the great and precious promises; in their moral nature and in their affections they bear distinctly the image of Christ; in a word, they have devoted their whole being to God, and nothing is so dreadful to them as a violation of his will, even in the smallest thing. With such dispositions and purposes of heart, I cannot see why they may not be described, in the form of expression which is sometimes employed, as "perfected in love;" and why they may not as properly be called "sanctified," "holy ones," or "saints," as many others, to whom these expressions have been applied, both in later and in earlier times. But the propriety of these remarks will perhaps more fully appear by a reference to the doctrine contained in one of the following chapters, where the precise relation between assurance of faith and perfection of love is particularly pointed out.