“Be always ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is within you, with meekness and fear.”—Peter.
“I have thought,” said one of the children of Zion to the other, as in love they journeyed onward in the way cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in; “I have thought,” said he, “whether there is not a shorter way of getting into this way of holiness than some of our * * * brethren apprehend?”
“Yes,” said the sister addressed, who was a member of the denomination alluded to;
“Yes, brother, THERE IS A SHORTER WAY! O! I am sure this long waiting and struggling with the powers of darkness is not necessary. There is a shorter way.” And then, with a solemn feeling of responsibility, and with a realizing conviction of the truth uttered, she added, “But, brother, there is but one way.”
Days and even weeks elapsed, and yet the question, with solemn bearing, rested upon the mind of that sister. She thought of the affirmative given in answer to the inquiry of the brother—examined yet more closely the Scriptural foundation upon which the truth of the affirmation rested—and the result of the investigation tended to add still greater confirmation to the belief, that many sincere disciples of Jesus, by various needless perplexities, consume much time in endeavoring to get into this way, which might, more advantageously to themselves and others, be employed in making progress in it, and testifying, from experimental knowledge, of its blessedness.
How many, whom Infinite Love would long since have brought into this state, instead of seeking to be brought into the possession of the blessing at once, are seeking a preparation for the reception of it! They feel that their convictions are not deep enough to warrant an approach to the throne of grace, with the confident expectation of receiving the blessing now. Just at this point some may have been lingering months and years. Thus did the sister, who so confidently affirmed “there is a shorter way.” And here, dear child of Jesus, permit the writer to tell you just how that sister found the “shorter way.”
On looking at the requirements of the word of God, she beheld the command, “Be ye holy.” She then began to say in her heart, “Whatever my former deficiencies may have been, God requires that I should now be holy. Whether convicted, or otherwise, duty is plain. God requires present holiness.” On coming to this point, she at once apprehended a simple truth before unthought of, i. e., Knowledge is conviction. She well knew that, for a long time, she had been assured that God required holiness. But she had never deemed this knowledge a sufficient plea to take to God—and because of present need, to ask a present bestowment of the gift.
Convinced that in this respect she had mistaken the path, she now, with renewed energy, began to make use of the knowledge already received, and to discern a
Another difficulty by which her course had been delayed she found to be here. She had been accustomed to look at the blessing of holiness as such a high attainment, that her general habit of soul inclined her to think it almost beyond her reach. This erroneous impression rather influenced her to rest the matter thus:—”I will let every high state of grace, in name, alone, and seek only to be fully conformed to the will of God, as recorded in his written word. My chief endeavors shall be centred in the aim to be an humble Bible Christian. By the grace of God, all my energies shall be directed to this one point. With this single aim, I will journey onward, even though my faith may be tried to the uttermost by those manifestations being withheld, which have previously been regarded as essential for the establishment of faith.”
On arriving at this point, she was enabled to gain yet clearer insight into the simplicity of the way. And it was by this process. After having taken the Bible as the rule of life, instead of the opinions and experience of professors, she found, on taking the blessed word more closely to the companionship of her heart, that no one declaration spoke more appealingly to her understanding than this: “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which are his.”
By this she perceived the duty of entire consecration in a stronger light, and as more sacredly blinding, than ever before. Here she saw God as her Redeemer, claiming, by virtue of the great price paid for the redemption of body, soul, and spirit, the present and entire service of all these redeemed powers.
By this she saw that if she lived constantly in the entire surrender of all that had been thus dearly purchased unto God, she was but an unprofitable servant; and that, if less than was rendered, she was worse than unprofitable, inasmuch as she would be guilty of keeping back part of that price which had been purchased unto God: “Not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Jesus.” And after so clearly discerning the will of God concerning her, she felt that the sin of Ananias and Sapphira would be less culpable in the sight of Heaven than her own, should she not at once resolve on living in the entire consecration of all her redeemed powers to God.
Deeply conscious of past unfaithfulness, she now determined that the time past should suffice; and with a humility of spirit, induced by a consciousness of not having lived in the performance of such a “reasonable service,” she was enabled, through grace, to resolve, with firmness of purpose, that entire devotion of heart and life to God should be the absorbing subject of the succeeding pilgrimage of life.