Advancement After Entire Sanctification
"Advance in the love and knowledge of our Lord Jesus." 2nd Peter 3:18. 20th Cent. Test.
"From one point of view the development of Character is never complete because
experience is constantly presenting new aspects of life to us; and in consequence of this fact, we
are always engaged in slight reconstructions of our modes of conduct, and our attitudes toward
life.", — Angell's Psychology.
The Principal Progress in the Divine Life Comes After Entire Sanctification
Listen in vain for statements to fall from the lips of any of the accredited teachers of entire
sanctification to substantiate this charge. On the contrary we aver our belief in growth in grace,
both before entire sanctification, after, especially after, and throughout the endless cycles of
eternity. The command, 'Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,' applies to
the entirely sanctified as to no other class. 'It was originally given to those who were steadfast,
which regenerated souls are not.' Sanctification endows with a spiritual life which has the highest
capabilities of development. To suppose sanctification is all, brings stagnation. The principal
progress in the Divine life comes after heart cleansing. 'Holiness is not the end; it is a good
beginning. There is no end to it. Paul says, "Ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end
The absurdity of that supposition, "If the heart is pure there is no use to endeavor to
advance," is seen from the following:
Disease and Deformity Obstruct Physical Growth Sin Principle Retards Spiritual Progress
"If evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, shall it be thought a thing incredible
that the purified shall grow from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and from glory to glory?
If wealth and health enable a man to accumulate property easier and more rapidly than a state of
poverty or sickness, will not purity, which is the soul's wealth and health, prepare it to grow with
increasing vigor, beauty and symmetry? Vegetables in a garden cleansed from weeds and grass
will grow more thriftily than otherwise, nor will they cease to grow when every noxious thing is
exterminated; a tree, pruned, and all worms and insects cleansed from it, will not cease to grow,
but will grow all the faster; a healthy child will grow in strength and stature more rapidly than a
sickly one. All disease or deformity obstructs growth, while health is its most essential condition.
Thus when the .carnal mind is destroyed, the soul will grow with increasing thriftiness and
uniformity. Sin degenerates, cripples and enervates; while holiness quickens and invigorates, and
secures the best possible foundation for the development of all our powers and faculties.", — J A.
In lieu of the foregoing, how erroneous, fallacious, and misleading to suppose a state of
heart purity derogatory to development! Rather it is indispensably necessary to satisfactory
Greater to "Retain" Sanctification and Progress Therein Than to "Gain" It
Mr. Wesley's mature judgment was that it is a greater thing to "retain" than to "gain"
sanctification; and his observation was, that hardly one in three retained the grace of holiness. To
retain this grace requires progress, like riding a bicycle, we must go on or fall off. The
housewife will testify the work of cleaning house is a small thing compared to keeping it clean. So
likewise, being cleansed from all sin, in entire sanctification, is a small part of the holy life the
greatest part, "Keeping ourselves unspotted from the world," is before us.
Sanctification not Finality
Because a garden with young growing vegetables is cleansed of all poisonous and hurtful
weeds which would retard the progress of their growth, is no evidence whatever the vegetables
are mature; so, also, a heart cleansed is not a mature heart. Sanctification is not "finality," but,
"beginning", commencement. Looking on sanctification as the summit of attainment accounts for
the many disappointed and unvictorious professors of sanctifying grace.
The Goal for the Sanctified Does not Consist in an Increase of Purity:
"Beyond sanctification there is no increase in purity, but increasing increase in expansion."
"Purity is to be distinguished from maturity. When inbred sin is destroyed there can be no
increase of purity, but an eternal increase in love and all the fruits of the Spirit.", — Amos Binney
Maturity the Goal
"We understand simple purity, as not a high state of grace when compared with the
privileges of the divine life. Purity is only the base, the substratum of a grand Christian life.
Maturity, by which we understand an ever increasing increase of love and all the fruits of
the Spirit, is not a condition of salvation. Purity is. Maturity is gradual and indefinite, a gradual
and progressive process involving years of growth, cultivation and enlargement. Were maturity a
condition of salvation many sanctified but immature Christians would be lost; thousands die in
immaturity and are saved.", J. A. Wood
The sanctified progress towards maturity and are blameless before God at every stage;
their progress will not cease with this life; they shall, "throughout the countless cycles of eternity,
ever be advancing towards and approximating God's infinite perfection."
Degrees in the Development of the Sanctified
The Bible reveals stages in the development of the Christian life; and this surely applies to
the sanctified. John writes of some who were "little children," others, who were "young men;" and
still another class whom he calls "fathers" in Christ. Paul notes the same distinctions in his
epistles. To the Corinthians he wrote as unto, "babes in Christ;" in another place of "children",
"That we should be no more children." And yet again, that we should attain unto a "full-grown
man" in Christ. There are similar degrees noticed in the development of the entirely sanctified. We
have seen the wobbling, vacillating, babe in sanctification; the stalwart, young man, and also the
established father and mother in holiness. God does not fault the babe in the sanctified life for not
being as mature as the young man or father. The babe in the sanctified life is just as pure as the
young man or father, but simply not as mature; because maturity does not come instantaneously like
cleansing; maturity is the result of years of growth, experience and development.
A Source of Discouragement
S. A. Keen suggests the not observing distinctions similar to those just enumerated in the
development of the sanctified life is the cause of much discouragement to zealous young professors
of sanctifying grace. They have looked on the development and maturity of such characters as
Fletcher, when his spiritual life had reached its zenith, and have thought they might obtain in a
moment, that which, with him, was reached, by virtue of long years of obedience, growth,
discipline and development.
"The maturing of a Christian experience cannot be reached in a moment, but is the result of
the work of God's Holy Spirit, who, by His energizing, and transforming power, causes us to grow
up into Christ in all things, and we cannot hope to reach this maturity in any other way, than by
yielding ourselves up utterly and willingly to His mighty working.", — H. W. Smith.
We mistake to look for perfection proximating faultlessness, infallibility, or absolute
perfection. A zealous, consecrated, and intelligent worker whom the writer had been instrumental
in leading into the sanctified life divulged in a conversation on "Progressive Holiness" that her
ambition was to be so perfect (absolutely) that she would never make a mistake. (As might be
expected, pursuing such an irrational ideal she drifted into fanaticism.) Such perfection is nowhere
promised in the word of God to mortals during probation. The holiest of men have erred and will
err until the end of time. Errors, however, may be reduced to the minimum by care and
watchfulness. God uses errors to prod us and remind us we are still in the flesh; and whilst we do
not believe the worldly Christian's (?) favorite maxim,, "A little sin is necessary to keep the soul
humble," yet we can conceive how an occasional error and unwitting mistake may serve to humble
the sanctified and incite to greater watchfulness.
What are we to Expect after the Crisis of Entire Sanctification?
The greatest danger to the sanctified lies in not apprehending wherein true, rational,
progress consists. Ignorance here results in fanaticism.
We are manifestly not to seek another crisis of experience which will preclude the
necessity of constantly seeking new and deeper degrees of love for God and man. Neither are we
to expect such an experience as will lift us above temptation and Satanic conflict; nor trials and
sorrows, contingent on our earthly pilgrimage.
Mr. Wesley has pointed out the very desire of advancement may become a snare to the
John Wesley's Advice to the Wholly Sanctified
"The very desire of growing in grace may sometimes be an inlet to enthusiasm. As it
continually leads us to seek new grace, it may lead us to seek something else new, besides new
degrees of love for God and man. So it has led some to seek, and fancy they had received, gifts of
a new kind after a new heart, as (1) The loving God with all our mind. (2) With all our soul. (3)
With all our strength. (4) Oneness with God. (5) Oneness with Christ. (6) Having our life hid with
Christ in God. (7) Being dead with Christ. (8) Rising with Him. (9) The sitting with Him in
heavenly places. (10) Being taken up into His throne. (ii) The being in the New Jerusalem. (12)
The seeing the tabernacle of God come down among men. (13) The being dead to all works. (14)
The not being liable to death, pain, or grief or temptation.
One ground of these and a thousand mistakes is the taking every fresh, strong application of
any of these Scriptures to the heart, to be a gift of a new kind; not knowing that several of these
Scriptures are not fulfilled yet; that most of the others are fulfilled when we are justified; the rest,
the moment we are sanctified. It remains only to experience them in higher degrees. This is all we
have to expect.
Another ground of these mistakes is the not considering deeply that LOVE IS THE
HIGHEST GIFT OF GOD,, humble, gentle, patient love; that all visions, revelations,
manifestations whatever, are little things compared to love. It were well you should be thoroughly
sensible of this, the heaven of heavens is love. There is nothing higher in religion; there is, in
effect, nothing else; if you look for anything but more love you are looking wide of the mark, you
are getting out of the royal way. And when you are asking others have you received this or that
blessing; if you mean anything but more love, you mean wrong; you are leading them out of the way
and putting them on a false scent. Settle it, then, in your heart, that from the moment God has saved
you from all sin, ("Sanctified you wholly") you are to aim at nothing but more of that love
described in the thirteenth of First Corinthians. You can go no higher than this until you are carried,
into Abraham's bosom.
"What I have seen in London occasioned the first caution I gave you. George Bell, Wm.
Green, and many others, then full of love, were favored with extraordinary manifestations from
God. But by this very thing Satan beguiled them from the simplicity that is in Christ. By insensible
degrees they were led to value these extraordinary gifts more than the ordinary grace of God; and I
could not convince them that a grain of humble love was better than all these gifts put together."
O desire nothing different in nature from love! There is nothing higher in earth or heaven.
Whatever he speaks of, which seems to be higher, is either natural or preter-natural enthusiasm.
Desire none of these extraordinaries. Such a desire might be an inlet to a thousand delusions.
The cry of the sanctified should be:
"O grant that nothing in my soul may dwell,
But Thy pure love alone;
O may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown;
Strange flames far from my heart remove
My every act, thought, word be love."
Clamoring for the supernatural gifts of the Spirit above His graces, has shipwrecked many
a hitherto useful sanctified life. The writer knows of holiness people, caught by the power-heresy
wave which has recently swept over certain organizations, who have spent months seeking the gift
of tongues, under the false impression that all might have that gift; others there are who are seeking
power to walk on waves, or through closed doors and walls as Jesus did. Paul, after writing of the
nine supernatural gifts of the Spirit, which God bestows, sovereignly, on whom He wills, closes
the chapter by saying (free translation of Greek), "Yet show I unto you a way beyond all
comparison the best." Then follows that matchless thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians,
describing the way of God's kind of love, the more excellent way. Oh, that holiness professors
would spend their time seeking deeper degrees of that love which abides forever! To be
swallowed up in love, to be "stripped of all but love," and have "our hearts aflame with love, "hot
with love," is the crying need of the hour.
"Had I the gift of tongues
Great God, without Thy grace,
My loudest words, my loftiest songs
Would be but sounding brass.
Had I such faith in God
As mountains to remove,
No faith could effectual prove
That did not work by love.
Grant then this one request
Whatever be denied,
That love divine may rule my breast
And all my actions guide."
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Progress In Quantity Not In Quality
"Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shalt have more abundance."
"If one is holy, how can he be more holy? If perfectly holy, how can he increase in
A thing may be perfect in nature, yet not in degree. An oak when it first rises above the
ground, is so small that it may be trodden under foot; yet as truly an oak as when it stands in the
strength of years. A child is in nature as much a human being in infancy as in manhood It is so with
any intellectual power or appetite or affection. A reasoner understands reasoning, and may be able
to apply the principles perfectly in a given case; yet, by habit, he may increase the promptness,
facility and perfection of the mental faculty. An intemperate man may become perfectly temperate;
yet one entirely reformed is less likely to be overcome when the temperate principle has acquired
The most perfect thing, if susceptible of growth, will have the most sure and rapid growth.
Which grows best the perfect flower, or that which has canker or is defective in some part, the
perfect child or the one afflicted or malformed? Such facts show that the state called holiness,
assurance of faith, perfect love, and sanctification may increase. There is no physical impossibility
in it, but perfection in nature is requisite to perfection in degree. One partially holy may grow in
holiness, but one entirely holy, although assailed by unfavorable influences outwardly, will grow
more. Obstacles to growth in holiness will be much less in the latter than in the former, and that
inward vitality necessary to the greatest expansion will possess a power unknown under other
These views commend themselves to common observation, human reason, and accord with
Scripture. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth; he was sanctified from
that early period. But in after life, in his temptations and labors, in his faithful preaching, in his
stern rebuke of wickedness, in high and low places, in his imprisonment, and in the general growth
of his matured and consecrated powers there can be no difficulty in ascribing to him growth in
holiness. It is said of him, "The child grew and waxed strong in spirit." The Savior was holy from
the beginning. Every power of body or mind was fully sanctified. But "the child grew and waxed
strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him."
Jesus increased in
wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man," What is the meaning of this increase of
strength in spirit? How could He increase in the favor of His heavenly Father, if, with the increase
of His expanding powers, there was not also a corresponding growth in holy love? The Scriptures
do not recognize standing still; all passages which require growth in grace and religious
knowledge are as applicable after sanctification as before. "Let as many as be perfect, be thus
minded," in that we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
"Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect," implies that we be perfect in our sphere, in our
perceptions, feelings and purposes, to the full extent of our capability, and also that we should
continually expand (in accordance with the law of increase which is part of the nature of every
rational being) our capacity of feeling and of knowledge.
In doing this we fulfill the command
absolutely, so far as the nature of our mental exercises is concerned; and fulfill it by
approximation, or continual growth, so far as relates to their degree. The angels in heaven are
holy, but are always growing in holiness. In their exercises they are like their heavenly Father, and
perfect as He is perfect; but in relation to the degree of their exercises, they can be said to be
perfect only in availing themselves of every possible means of approximation and growth. Growth,
therefore, continual advancement, is the unalterable law of all created holy beings. "Whoever
hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance."
Hence growth in holiness, when the heart is sanctified, is reasonable. The growth of a
sanctified soul in holiness would be more rapid than that of the partially sanctified. The testimony
of those who have arrived at this state is, that their growth is more rapid and sure. They are
conscious of increased power against temptation, and of increased union with the Divine will, to
an extent unknown in previous experience. What growth, then, must there . be in angel minds,
which are neither obstructed by inward nor by outward evils in their progress! What expansion!
What increased intensity of desire! What higher and more triumphant energies of love.", — Thomas
"So many look upon holiness as a finality and make no proper effort to advance in the grace
and consequently it parts with its sweetness and power. Holiness is a Progressive Principle and
cannot live in an atmosphere of stagnation. Whosoever, therefore, would enjoy and retain holiness
after it has been obtained must 'forget those things which are behind and reach forth to those things
which are before, and press toward the mark; he must continue with open face to behold the glory
of the Lord,' and thereby change into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the
Lord.", — Sheridan Baker.
Manifestly the crying need of the holiness movement is the developing of a ministry which
will lead the fully sanctified on and on into the deeper degrees in the Divine life to "all the fullness
Joseph H. Smith, in his pamphlet on "Holiness Work," said, "We have the great task of
developing sainthood and the maturing of a wholesome saintliness in those who are truly
sanctified. None are more susceptible to the advancing ministries of a progressive piety than those
who are made free from sin. And none are in any more need of being ministered unto than those
who (rid of the appetite for worldly things) cannot thrive without the strong meat of God's word.
Yet there are few who know how to 'feed sheep.' For these cannot fatten, mark you! either upon the
barbwire of cautions which is frequently rolled out to them from many ministries, nor, yet, from the
mere rehearsal of the truths whereby they were sanctified. How few there are of us who are skilled
in the art of culturing their graces, developing their gifts, perfecting their conduct, and maturing
their influence and their service!
"True, they are in the school of providence, and ate the subjects of fostering and chastening
grace. True, too, they as none others, are capacitated to work out their own salvation. But it is also
true that the gospel contemplates a nursing mother and an admonishing father, ministry for all
saints to the very end of probation. And we are called to be such. For lack here, many may be
developed farther as holiness people than as holy people."
"Peter may be denominated the great apostle of growth. To him all the advocates of a
growth into holiness appeal in the advocacy of their theory. But they fail to correctly interpret this
apostle. In the orders which he gives the churches to gradually advance in religious life he assumes
that purity is an antecedent necessity. In his second epistle, Chap. 1, verses 5 and 6, he says: 'And
besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, and to
knowledge, temperance, and to temperance, patience,' and so on. This has been interpreted to mean
a gradual advance in the religious life until a state of perfected purity be reached. But a little care
will discover that the apostle is urging a spiritual development which succeeds to, or follows
after, entire purification. 'Besides this,' he says, 'giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, and
to virtue, knowledge,' etc. Now let it be inquired, besides what? The answer comes in the
preceding verse: 'Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these
ye might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world
through lust.' Hence, 'besides this' means besides having the Divine nature, and besides being freed
from the carnal nature, 'add to your faith virtue,' and so on, that is, develop and mature the state
"In the famous order of this apostle by which he closes his second epistle, 'But grow in
grace, and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,' he assumes that the persons
addressed were 'steadfast,' or already in a favorable condition for vigorous growth, as appears
from the preceding verse. Before he gave this order he gave another, which he viewed as an
antecedent in the order of grace: 'Be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot
and blameless.' Peace, spotlessness and blamelessness first, then Christian growth and
development.", — D. S. Baker.
"How can holiness be perfect and yet progressive?"
J. A. Wood in "Perfect Love" answers this question:
"Perfection in quality does not exclude increase in quantity. Beyond entire sanctification
there is no increase in purity, as that which is pure cannot be more than pure; but there may be
unlimited increase in expansion and quantity.
"After love is made perfect, it may abound yet more and more. Holiness in the entirely
sanctified is exclusive, and is perfect in kind or in quality, but is limited in degree or quantity. The
capacities of the soul are expansive and progressive, and holiness in measure can increase
corresponding to increasing capacity. Faith, love, humility, and patience, may be perfect in kind,
and yet increase in volume and power, or in measure harmonizing with increasing capacity. A tree
may be perfectly sound, healthy, and vigorous in its branches, leaves and fruit, and yet year by year
increase perpetually its capacity and fruitfulness. Analogous to this is a wicked life. The church
has always held the doctrine of total depravity, and yet believed in acquired depravity, and in
"Why can a soul entirely sanctified grow in grace more rapidly than others?
"Holiness does not put a finality to anything within us, except to the existence and practice
of sin; and the soul, perfect in love, can grow faster than others."