Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ -(2Pe_3:18).


The volume is an enlarged edition of a small work which appeared two years ago, and has been kindly received by the Christian public. The present volume contains so much additional matter, that it is double the size of its predecessor. In fact, the work is half new.

I venture to think that the papers contained in this volume will be found helpful by all who take interest in the subject of scriptural holiness. I am much mistaken if they do not throw broad light on the real nature of holiness, and the temptations and difficulties which all must expect who follow it. Above all, I hope they will help to bring forward the grand truth that union with Christ is the root of holiness, and will show young believers what immense encouragement Jesus Christ holds out to all who strive to be holy.

Concerning the present position of the whole subject of holiness among English Christians, I have little to add to the introductory essay which appeared in the original edition, and now follows this preface. The older I grow the more I am convinced that real practical holiness does not receive the attention it deserves, and that there is a most painfully low standard of living among many high professors of religion in the land. But, at the same time, I am increasingly convinced that the zealous efforts of some well-meaning persons to promote a higher standard of spiritual life are often not 'according to knowledge', and are really calculated to do more harm than good. Let me explain what I mean.

It is easy to get crowds together for what are called 'higher life' and 'consecration' meetings. Anyone knows that, who has watched human nature and read descriptions of American camp-meetings and studied the curious phenomena of the 'religious affections'. ‹P1› Sensational and exciting addresses by strange preachers or by women, loud singing, hot rooms, crowded tents, the constant sight of strong semi-religious feeling in the faces of all around you for several days, late hours, long protracted meetings, public profession of experience - all this kind of thing is very interesting at the time and seems to do good. But is the good real, deeply-rooted, solid, lasting? That is the point. And I should like to ask a few questions about it.

Do those who attend these meetings become more holy, meek, unselfish, kind, good-tempered, self-denying and Christ-like at home? Do they become more content with their position in life, and more free from restless craving after something different from that which God has given them? Do fathers, mothers, husbands and other relatives and friends fred them more pleasant and easy to live with? Can they enjoy a quiet Sunday and quiet means of grace without noise, heat and excitement? Above all, do they grow in charity, and especially in charity towards those who do not agree with them in every jot and tittle of their religion?

These are serious and searching questions and deserve serious consideration. I hope I am as anxious to promote real practical holiness in the land as anyone. I admire and willingly acknowledge the zeal and earnestness of many with whom I cannot co-operate who are trying to promote it. But I cannot withhold a growing suspicion that the great 'mass-meetings' of the present day, for the ostensible object of promoting spiritual life, do not tend to promote private home religion, private Bible reading, private prayer, private usefulness and private walking with God. If they are of any real value, they ought to make people better husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and masters and mistresses and servants. But I should like to have dear proofs that they do. I only know it is far easier to be a Christian among singing, praying, sympathizing Christians in a public room, than to be a consistent Christian in a quiet, retired, out-of-the-way, uncongenial home. The first position is one in which there is a deal of nature to help us: the second is one which cannot be well filled without grace. But, alas, many talk nowadays about 'consecration', who seem to be ignorant of the 'first principles of the oracles of God' about 'conversion'.

I close this preface with the sorrowful feeling that probably some who read it will not agree with me. To the young especially I can see that the great gatherings of the so-called 'spiritual life' movement are sure to be attractive. They naturally like zeal and stir and enthusiasm and they say, Where is the harm?' Be it so: we must agree to differ. When I was as young as they are, perhaps I should have thought as they do. When they are as old as I am, they will very likely agree with me.

To each and all of my readers, I say in conclusion, let us exercise charity in our judgements of one another. Towards those who think holiness is to be promoted by the modern, so-called 'spiritual life' movement, I feel nothing but charity. If they do good, I am thankful. Towards myself and those who agree with me, I ask them to feel charity in return. The last day will show who is right and who is wrong.

In the meantime, I am quite certain that to exhibit bitterness and coldness towards those who cannot conscientiously work with us is to prove ourselves very ignorant of real holiness.

October, 1879