Guard against impatience when any deny this doctrine, or call in question your experience of its blessings. There are very good men who do not understand this doctrine as we understand it. They have been led by education and training to look at it from a different standpoint, and consequently have arrived at different and opposite conclusions. To [R340 : page 5] betray impatience when conversing with them, will help to confirm them in their unscriptural views and their opposition. Let this grace dwell in you so richly that nothing shall move you. Let the opposers of the doctrine see in your spirit a manifestation of its fruit.
Holiness and truth will not long exist without opposition; and the most perfect holiness, purest truth, will provoke the greatest opposition. Birds, when they can, generally peck at the choicest and ripest fruit; so the beak of slander generally strikes the holiest and ripest Christians. No matter how closely we may walk with God, or how blamelessly we may walk before men, some will charge us with imperfection, or perhaps with sin. To the blinded Jews and Pharisees, Christ himself was guilty of great imperfection and even blasphemy. And strange as it may seem, this opposition will come chiefly from professors of religion. "Those who love God with all their hearts," says Wesley, "must expect most opposition from professors who have gone on for twenty years in an old beaten track, and fancy they are wiser than all the world; these always oppose sanctification most." But opposition to the doctrine of entire sanctification, if the friends of it take care to exhibit it in their lives, will tend to spread it. Opposition should not be courted, but it should never be feared, and it should always be borne in a meek, sweet spirit. If we retaliate when an injury is done us, it shows that self is not dead.
Beware of disputes and quarrels with fellow-christians. If any use sharpness of speech with you, and try to breed a quarrel, it is even better to answer nothing and suffer wrong than to become angry. There is an excellent antidote for this evil disposition in keeping fully employed in the Lord's work. "Work, full work for God," says Collins, "would leave us little time for quarrelling; and devotion, full devotion, would leave us no inclination." It is a great mistake, when evil is spoken of you, to be anxious to vindicate yourselves, "As they, who for every slight infirmity take physic to repair their health," says one writer, "do rather impair it; so they, who for every trifle are eager to vindicate their character, do rather weaken it." "Take care of your spirit and conduct," says another, "and your reputation will take care of itself."
We often need charity exercised toward ourselves; let us not be slow in exercising it toward others. We do not think it just or fair towards us when our fellow-christians overlook our general character, and pick out some imperfection and hold it up, and perhaps magnify it to our disadvantage; let us not do so in respect to them. Let us get completely under the sweet influence of the love of Jesus. With a heavenly unction constantly dwelling in the soul, we shall shrink from a censorious spirit, and shall have other work than to be constantly hunting after failings in our brethren. Those who find or profess to find, the most faults in others have generally the greatest number in themselves; and those who are loudest in trumpeting their own praise have usually the least in them deserving of praise.
Do not let your mind run much on opposers of the doctrine except it be to pray for them, or to consider how you may best present to them the truth. To think too much of their opposition may foster unkind feeling. To converse too much with others about it may beget evil speaking. You may thus loose your sweetness of spirit and your mind may become sour. Remember you were once standing on the same ground that others are standing on now. The light that now illumines your mind did not always shine upon you. The opposition you now meet with from others you once manifested yourself. You were as slow in coming to the truth as many around you are. These things should teach you charity, forbearance, clemency, and mildness.
Watch against any omission of the privilege and comfort of prayer and fellowship with the Father of spirits. The life of faith and holiness cannot be maintained without much prayer. Regular habits of secret devotion are indispensable. Each day should be begun with a season of close communion with God, that the heart may obtain new strength for new conflicts. The business of the day should not be entered upon without the clear sunshine of the Divine presence. There should be a deep consciousness that Jehovah is with us, and that He will abide with us through the day to sustain and protect us.
The purified believer, in his seasons of closet prayer, has not daily to begin such seasons with confession of sin, and intercession for pardon, but living in constant acceptance with God, the intercourse between him and God is always open. Dwelling in Christ, and Christ abiding in him, he realizes no condemnation. United to Christ, there will flow into his soul heavenly life-currents, and his life will be a Christ-life; it will be a life of health and strength, a life of fruit-bearing to the glory of the Father, a life of constant victory over the tempter, a life of calm and peace, and joy and hope. To pray, therefore, will be as natural as to breathe, and through the one Mediator he will be able to draw near to God at once.