The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Justification and Sanctification Distinguished (Part 3)

We propose to delay a few moments for the purpose of considering the relation between Sanctification and Justification. 

The distinction is evidently made in the Scriptures. The passages of Scripture where it is clearly recognized are so numerous, and so familiar to attentive readers of the Bible, that it seems to be hardly necessary to quote them at any great length. — "And the very God of peace," says the apostle, I Thess. v.  23, "sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." And again, 8 Cor. vii. 1, "Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."  It  is very evident from the general tenor of the apostle's communications to them, that these exhortations were addressed to those whom he regarded, and had reason to regard, as justified persons. He felt, nevertheless, although they were justified, although their past sins were blotted out, that there was much remaining to be done in the matter of their present and prospective sanctification. Hence his exhortations to preserve their bodies blameless, to cleanse themselves, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God; which would have been unnecessary, if he had considered the work of sanctification as absolutely and necessarily involved in that of justification. There are, also, a number of passages, different in their import from those which have been particularly referred to, which seem to involve the distinction in question. Those, in which persons are spoken of as disciples or believers, but without having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, such as John 7. 39, Acts, 8. 15-17 Acts 19. 1, 2.

The distinction, which is made in the Scriptures between the two, is regarded so obvious and incontrovertible by most writers, that it has naturally passed, as an established truth, into treatises on theology. It is also recognized almost constantly in sermons, and in religious exhortations and conversation. There is, perhaps, as much unanimity among religious men on this subject as on almost any subject of theological inquiry. And the attempt to confound justification and sanctification together, which has been made from time to time, would necessarily tend, if it were successful, to perplex and confuse the established forms of speech among men, as well as the authorized and scriptural modes of religious thought.

Although these two states of religious experience are distinct from each other, they nevertheless may be regarded as having something in common, which establishes an intimate relationship between them. This fact has already been alluded to. In both cases, in sanctification as well as in justification, we ultimately receive every thing from Christ. And we are obliged, also, in both cases, to receive it in that meek and submissive spirit which recognizes our own unworthiness and nothingness. Every thing is received, also, through the same channel, viz., by faith. We may say, further, that there can be no such thing as sanctification without antecedent justification. The latter may be considered as the commencement or first coming of that hidden life in the soul, which is completed in the former. We are not to suppose, however, because there are some things common to justification and sanctification, and because they are in some respects closely related, that they are, therefore, the same thing. This would be a very unsafe mode of argument. There are some things common to memory and reasoning, and yet memory and reasoning are distinct. There are some things common to reasoning and imagination, and yet there can be no doubt that they are very  dis­tinct departments of the mind. There is a close connection between liberty and power; for instance, where there is no power there can be no liberty; yet they ought not to be confounded together. There are some things common to faith and love, or which connect them together in some way, (such as that they are both the gift of God, and that faith acts by love,) and yet all agree that they cannot be considered as identical; and thus justification and sanctification, although they are closely connected, are nevertheless two things, and the distinction between them is a very important one.

Let us, therefore, who humbly hope that we are justified by the blood of Christ, seek also to be sanctified. Let it not be sufficient for us that our sins have been forgiven; but let us strive to gain the victory over sin, and to exclude it from the heart in all future time. Well may we exclaim, in the gratitude of our hearts, praise be for that grace which sanctifies, as well as for that which justifies; for that which keeps the heart clean in time to come, as well as for that which washes away the stains of the past.  It is holiness which adds its highest value and its transcendent beauty to forgiveness.

"O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free!
A heart that alway feels thy blood,
So freely spilt for me.
A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect and right, and pure and good
A copy, Lord, of thine."

The Interior or Hidden Life (1844), Part 2, Chapter 1.

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