The Visible Evidence Of Sanctification (2)

2. True sanctification does not consist in temporary religious feelings. This again is a point about which a warning is greatly needed. Mission services and revival meetings are attracting great attention in every part of the land, and producing a great sensation. The Church of England seems to have taken a new lease of life and exhibits a new activity, and we ought to thank God for it. But these things have their attendant dangers as well as their advantages. Wherever wheat is sown, the devil is sure to sow tares. Many, it may be feared, appear moved and touched and roused under the preaching of the gospel, while in reality their hearts are not changed at all. A kind of animal excitement from the contagion of seeing others weeping, rejoicing or affected, is the true account of their case. Their wounds are only skin deep and the peace they profess to feel is skin deep also. Like the stony-ground hearers, they receive the Word with joy (Mat_13:20), but after a little they fall away, go back to the world and are harder and worse than before. Like Jonah's gourd, they come up suddenly in a night and perish in a night. Let these things not be forgotten. Let us beware in this day of healing wounds slightly, and crying, 'Peace, peace', when there is no peace. Let us urge on every one who exhibits new interest in religion to be content with nothing short of the deep, solid, sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost. Reaction, after false religious excitement, is a most deadly disease of soul. When the devil is only temporarily cast out of a man in the heat of a revival, and by and by returns to his house, the last state becomes worst than the first. Better a thousand times begin more slowly, and then 'continue in the Word' steadfastly, than begin in a hurry, without counting the cost, and by and by look back, with Lot's wife, and return to the world. I declare I know no state of soul more dangerous than to imagine we are born again and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, because we have picked up a few religious feelings.

3. True sanctification does not consist in outward formalism and external devoutness. This is an enormous delusion, but unhappily a very common one. Thousands appear to imagine that true holiness is to be seen in an excessive quantity of bodily religion - in constant attendance on church services, reception of the Lord's Supper, and observance of fasts and saints' days; in multiplied bowings and turnings and gestures and postures during public worship; in wearing peculiar dresses, and the use of pictures and crosses. I freely admit that some people take up these things from conscientious motives, and actually believe that they help their souls. But I am afraid that in many cases this external religiousness is made a substitute for inward holiness; and I am quite certain that it falls utterly short of sanctification of heart. Above all, when I see that many followers of this outward, sensuous, and formal style of Christianity are absorbed in worldliness, and plunge headlong into its pomps and vanities without shame, I feel that there is need of very plain speaking on the subject. There may be an immense amount of 'bodily service', while there is not a jot of real sanctification.

to be continued