“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 nigh with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”—New Testament IT may be asked, And how did the process described in the preceding numbers eventuate in that disciple being brought into the holiest by the blood of Jesus? Did the resolution to be a Bible Christian—the determination to consecrate all to God by laying all upon the altar of sacrifice—or the act of entering into the bonds of an everlasting covenant to be wholly the Lord’s—bring about this entrance into the new and living way? How could these purposes, however well intentioned, result in having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body washed with pure water?
Can aught but the blood of Christ do this?
Perhaps few with more conscious poverty of spirit would respond in the negative to these inquiries, than that traveler in the king’s highway, whose experience has been alluded to.
“Jesus, my Lord, thy blood alone
Hath power sufficient to atone,”
were the confirmed sentiments of her heart. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saveth us; by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” was the response ever uppermost in her heart in answer to such inquiries. Yet she conceived that it was by these pious resolves she was enabled thus to be a worker together with God. God cannot be unfaithful, rested with weight upon her mind as an absorbing truth; and some principles founded on the faithfulness of God, by the testing of which she became assured that “it is a good thing the heart be established in grace,” were as follows:—
God, in his infinite love, has provided a way by which lost, guilty men may be redeemed, justified, cleansed, and saved, with the power of an endless life. Provision has thus been made for the restoration of man, by availing himself of which, in the way designated in the Scriptures, he may regain that which was lost in Adam—even the image of God re-enstamped upon the soul.
To bring about this restoration, the Father so loved the world that he gave his onlybegotten Son, who from eternity had dwelt in hs bosom. At the appointed time, Christ, the annointed of God, was revealed, and, as our example, lived a life of disinterested devotion to the interests of mankind; and, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, laid himself upon the altar; “tasted death for every man,” and “bore the sins of the whole world in his own body.” As an assurance of the amplitude of his grace, and that he is no respecter of persons, he hath said, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” “The Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” The Spirit, true to its appointed office, reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. And now the entire voice of divine revelation proclaims “all things ready!” The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!
The altar, thus provided by the conjoint testimony of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is Christ. His sacrificial death and sufferings are the sinner’s plea; the immutable promises of the Lord Jehovah the ground of claim. If true to the Spirit’s operations on the heart, men, as workers together with God, confess their sins, the faithfulness and justice of God stand pledged not only to forgive, but also to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
By the resolve to be a “Bible Christian,” this traveler in the “way of holiness” placed herself in the way to receive the direct teachings of the Spirit, and in the one and the only way for the attainment of the salvation promised in the gospel of Christ, inasmuch as it is written, “He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.”
And by the determination to consecrate all upon the altar of sacrifice to God, with the resolve to “enter into the bonds of an everlasting covenant to be wholly the Lord’s for time and eternity,” and then acting in conformity with this decision, actually laying all upon the altar, by the most unequivocal Scripture testimony, she laid herself under the most solemn obligation to believe that the sacrifice became the Lord’s property; and by virtue of the altar upon which the offering was laid. became “holy” and “acceptable.”
The written testimony of the Old and New Testament Scriptures upon which, to her mind, the obligation for this belief rested, was brought out by comparing the design and bearing of the old and new covenant dispensations, thus:—The old ordained that an altar be erected. See Exod. xxvii, 1, &c. This altar, before being eligible for the reception of offerings, was to be “atoned for,” cleansed, and sanctified. See Exod. xxix, 36, 37. This being done, it was ordained by God to be “an altar most holy; whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.” Being thus proclaimed by the fiat of the Holy One “an altar most holy,” whatever touched the altar became holy, virtually the Lord’s property, sanctified to his service. The sacredness and perpetuity of this ordinance were recognized by “God manifest in the flesh,” centuries afterward. “The altar that sanctifieth the gift.” See Matt. xxiii, 19.
As the old dispensation but shadowed forth good things to come, so under the new Christ is apprehended as the bringer in of a better hope. “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth,” said the blessed Saviour, in praying for his disciples. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” Here she beheld the Christian altar, so exultingly recognized by the apostle to the Hebrews, in contradistinction to the Jewish altar: Heb. xiii, 10, “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him,” &c. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second! And here she beheld an “altar most holy.” If, under the old covenant, it was ordained, “Whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy,” her heart, in its confident exultations, said, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!” Here she beheld the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world!
It was thus, by “laying all upon this altar,” she, by the most unequivocal Scripture testimony, laid herself under the most sacred obligation to believe that the sacrifice became “holy and acceptable,” and virtually the Lord’s property, even by virtue of the sanctity of the altar upon which it was laid, and continued “holy and acceptable,” so long as kept inviolably upon this hallowed altar, At an early stage of her experience in the “way of holiness,” the Holy Spirit powerfully opened to her understanding the follwoing passage, as corroborative of this view of the subject: Rom. xii, 1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
From these important considerations she perceived that it was indeed by the Spirit’s teachings she had been led to “enter into the bonds of an everlasting covenant to be wholly the Lord’s,” inasmuch as by the removal of this offering from off this hallowing altar, she should cease to be holy, as it is “the altar that sanctifieth the gift.” In this light she also saw why it is that all is so imperatively required, inasmuch as it is the Redeemer who makes the demand for the “living sacrifice,” having purchased all, body, soul, and spirit, unto himself. And she wondered not that an offering consciously not entire—known by the offerer to be less than all—is not acceptable, inasmuch as God has pronounced such offerings unacceptable. See Malachi i, 8, 13, 14. And that such an offering is not received, even though the reception of it be greatly desired by the offerer, she thought to be scripturally accounted for by the same prophet, ii, 13. And that such a one could not believe while still halting between the world and an entire surrender, she thought fully explained by the words of the Saviour. “How can ye believe who receive honor one of another, and seek not that honor which cometh from God only?” And this she believed to be the hinderance with thousands of professed disciples who hear the sayings of Jesus, and desire holiness, and yet, by refusing to come to his terms, affirm that his sayings are heard; while many go back altogether, and follow the Saviour no more! notwithstanding he so confidently and persuasively affirms, “If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine.”
It was on coming to this altar she was enabled to realize how it is that the devotions of the believer, while resting here, are “unto God a sweet savor of Christ,” inasmuch as no service can be “holy, acceptable” unto God, unless presented through this medium.
The duty of believing, and also of having a Scriptural foundation for faith to rest upon, she regarded as most important, and feeling assured that God has so explicitly given, in his written word, a thorough foundation for our faith, she saw the sin of unbelief so dishonouring to God, that she wondered not the “fearful and unbelieving” should be excluded from the believer’s test, and numbered by the Revelation in such revolting companionship.
And thus, as has been related, she found the “shorter, the one, and the only way,” of which it is said, “the redeemed of the Lord shall walk there,” by surrendering all to the Redeemer, and venturing believingly, the entire being upon Jesus! Resting here, she proved, experimentally, the truth of his declaration, “I am the way,” and was enabled to realize continually the purifying virtue of his atoning blood, and to testify that it was not in vain he had “offered himself up that he might sanctify the people with his own blood.”
And though she apprehended that nothing but the blood of Jesus could sanctify and cleanse from sin, yet she was also scripturally assured that it was needful for the recipient of this grace, as a worker together with God, to place himself believingly upon “the altar that sanctifieth the gift,” ere he could prove the efficacy of the allcleansing blood. Gracious intentions, and strong desires, she was convinced, are not sufficient to bring about these important results; corresponding action is also necessary; the offering must be brought and believingly laid upon the altar, ere the acceptance of it can be realized. In this crucifixion of nature, the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and worketh mightily to will—but man must act.
As illustrative, in a degree, of her views of responsibility, she would refer to a would-be offerer at the Jewish altar, for months graciously intending to present the sacrifices required by the law, yet deferring, from a variety of causes, seemingly plausible, to comply with the requirement by handing over his gift, until the law, which he had ever acknowledged “just and good,” cuts him off from the community of his people. And thus she was apprehensive that many who graciously intend to be holy, by laying all upon the Christian altar, from various seemingly-plausible causes, are delaying to comply with the requirement, “Be ye holy,” until, at an unlooked-for hour, the law, which they have ever pronounced “just and good,” excludes them from the community of the redeemed, blood-washed company in heaven.
She also found one act of faith not sufficient to insure a continuance in the “way of holiness,” but that a continuous act was requisite. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him,” was an admonition greatly blessed to her soul. Assured that there was no other way of retaining this state of grace but by the exercise of the same resoluteness of character, presenting all and keeping all upon the same faith, she was enabled, through the teachings of the Spirit, “to walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing,” and for years continued an onward walk in the “way of holiness.”
Being thus impelled by a divine constraint to test every progressive step by the powerful persuasive, “Thus it is written,” she became increasingly confident in her rejoicings, “that her faith did not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God;” and instead of being “vacillating in her experience,” as had been so painfully suggested by the tempter, she was enabled daily to become more firmly rooted and grounded in faith, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
It was thus that, through the Spirit’s teachings, she was ready to give an answer to those that asked a reason of her hope, and these teachings were communicated most peculiarly through the medium of the written word. Through each succeeding year of her pilgrimage in the heavenly way she learned to place a yet higher estimate upon its truths. The nearer she drew to the city of her God,the clearer was the light that shone upon its sacred pages, proclaiming it to be the WORD OF THE LORD; and as she continued to pass down through time, leaning on its sacred declarations, she verily believed herself to be as divinely sustained as though to her outward perceptions she knew and could feel herself leaning for support upon the “FAITHFUL” and “TRUE,”
“with vesture dipped in blood,” called, by the Revelator, the “WORD OF GOD!”
“Thy statutes have been my song in the house of my pilgrimage.”—David.
Blessed Bible! how I love it!
How it doth my bosom cheer:
What hath earth like this to covet?
O, what stores of wealth are here!
Man was lost, and doom’d to sorrow,
Not one ray of light or bliss
Could he from earth’s treasures borrow,
‘Till his way was cheer’d by this.
Yes, I’ll to my bosom press thee,
PRECIOUS WORD, I’ll hide thee here;
Sure my very heart will bless thee,
For thou ever sayest, “Good cheer!”
Speak, my heart, and tell thy ponderings
Tell how far thy rovings led,
When THIS BOOK brought back thy wanderings
Speaking life as from the dead.
Yes, sweet Bible! I will bide thee
Deep, yes, deeper in this heart;
Thou, through all my life wilt guide me,
And in death we will not part.
Part in death? No! never! never!
Through death’s vale I’ll lean on thee
Then, in worlds above, for ever,
Sweeter still thy truths shall be!