A few years since an elder of a Presbyterian church in Ohio died at a very advanced age. He informed his Pastor on his dying bed, that his attention to religious things had been awakened, and that he had become a subject of religious experience and hope under the ministry of Whitefield, at the age of fifteen. His long life had been distinguished for its blameless innocence, its strong faith, its meek and humble devotedness to God. And he was enabled, with thankfulness to the divine grace which he had experienced, to assure his Pastor, in the course of this conversation, that, during the seventy years which had intervened since his conversion, “he had never had a dark hour.”
Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, a woman of intelligence and of remarkable piety, for the purpose of ascertaining from her explicitly and decisively, whether she could speak with confidence of being in that state of assured or perfected faith and love, which she had long aimed to realize. She answered, not, so far as we can perceive, in the spirit of unreflecting and hasty presumption, but because she could not do otherwise under the facts of her inward experience, in the following words: “Blessed be God, I have not the shadow of a doubt. Even Satan himself finds these suggestions vain, and has left them off. He would rather lead me to doubt, or care for to-morrow; saying such and such a thing is at hand, and will overcome thee. Thou wilt fall in some of thy trials; or, when death comes, thou wilt be under a cloud. But through divine grace I am enabled to discern whence these suggestions come, and they never distress me for a moment; for, by constantly looking to Jesus, I receive fresh strength in every time of need.” [Experience and Spiritual Letters of Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, Letter VIII.]
I suppose that the learned and pious Hermann Francke, whose name is permanently associated with the erection of the celebrated Orphan House at Halle in Germany, must have known something of this state, when near the close of a long life devoted with almost unexampled fidelity to holy objects, he exclaimed, “I praise thee, dear Savior, that thou hast purified me from sin, and made me a king and a priest unto God.”
Such instances, though less numerous than they should be, are still to be found, from time to time, in the history of the church. But it seems to be hardly necessary to enumerate them, when we find in the Scriptures, as we have already had occasion to notice, such clear announcements of the doctrine under consideration, and such striking illustrations of it. The Apostle Paul, for instance, could have had no doubt, either as to his love of God or his acceptance with God, when he exclaimed, “I am now ready to be offered, and, the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me at the last day.”
— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 16.