Dear Brother Beebe:--Will you be so kind as to give your views through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES on 1 Thess. v. 23? The doctrine of Sanctification, or holiness, is being a subject of much discussion here, and often by opponents I am thrown into perplexity for want of a more full understanding of the subject, and I ask for your aid. Likewise, please tell me what is to be understood by the veil which the keepers of the walls took from the spouse? (Song v. 7.) In christian love, HUESTIS Catskill, N.Y., Jan. 19, 1859.
REPLY -- It would afford us much pleasure, were we competent to relieve the minds of all the dear children of God from their perplexities in regard to the doctrine of God our Savior, and to expound all mysteries, so far as the clear understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus would promote their happiness, and reflect honor and glory on the name of the Lord. The Scriptures of divine truth, however, can only be correctly opened and explained to the edification of the saints by that Holy Spirit by which the prophets and apostles were inspired to write them. And God has wisely ordered it so, to teach our dependence on him for a knowledge of divine things, that no flesh should glory in his presence. If the religion of Jesus Christ were a science, to be taught and learned by men, as the arts and sciences of this world are, then might the wise men glory in their wisdom, &c. But, Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
The first text proposed for consideration, by sister Huestis, reads: "And the very God of peace 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."--1 Thess. v. 23.
The New School Baptists, of Catskill and elsewhere, with nearly all the other religious organizations of the present age, have incorporated the idea of progression in their creed. They all point at the old-fashioned order of Baptists as being many centuries behind the age, and tauntingly tell us that our doctrine and order would do for the intelligence of the people of a thousand years ago; but now they have brought the light of science to shine on the sacred pages, and by the aid of Bible Classes, Sabbath and Theological schools, &c., they have taken the sacred Book, and opened the seals thereof, and as their progression has outstripped the sacred volume, they are now invoking "the talent of the nineteenth century" to revise the Scriptures, and bring them up to a level with their inventions. In their blind zeal for progression, the poor, deluded dupes of priestcraft are now claiming in many instances what was once only pretended by the more fanatical portion of the Wesleyan Methodists, the attainment of perfect holiness in soul, body and spirit, which they call sanctification. None but the most deluded fanatics, or the most consummate hypocrites ever have, or ever will make such pretensions; for the inspired apostle of the Lord has positively declared, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."--1 John i. 8. Yet these enthusiasts say they have no sin, and the apostle says they have not the truth in them; that they are deceived. The text on which our views are requested, is often brought forward as evidence that such a state of immaculate purity is attainable by the efforts of men, but to an enlightened, heaven-taught child of grace, this text conveys no such doctrine. It is the prayer of the apostle in behalf of the saints that God would sanctify them wholly, that is, as we understand the language, that God would wholly consecrate and set them apart for his glory. To sanctify, in a scriptural sense, is to set apart for a holy purpose or work, to consecrate, dedicate or devote. Under the law, the priests, the altar, the victims offered, &c., were sanctified or set apart for the purpose to which they were devoted. The whole family of Israel was sanctified in being set apart from the rest of mankind, as the people of God, in a legal or ceremonial sense. And they were commanded to sanctify the Lord God by reverencing him as their only God, in distinction from all other gods. The temples in Jerusalem were sanctified, or set apart to a religious purpose, so wives and husbands are set apart by the ordinance of marriage, else were their children unclean, or illegitimate, but by the legal sanctification, or setting apart in marriage, their offsprings are holy or lawful children.
In a gospel sense sanctification is used to signify, FIRSTLY. The grace of God in the predestination and election of his people, separating them from all others of his creatures in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, in this sense it is used Jude 1: "Sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus, and called." This people, saith the Lord, have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise. This separation being in Christ, it is said of him, "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." In him they are set apart according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
SECONDLY. It is used in reference to the mediatorial work of Christ. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."--Heb. ii. 11, 12. The mediatorial sanctification, embracing their being redeemed unto God out of every kindred, tongue and people, under heaven, and set apart by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, presents them perfect and complete in him, before the throne in glory, and set apart as the bride, the Lamb's wife in marriage nuptials, and one with Christ, as Christ is one with the Father.
THIRDLY. Sanctification, as the work of the Spirit, is also taught in the gospel as an important and indispensable work, in bringing the chosen people of God experimentally from the power of darkness into the light and liberty of the sons of God, separating them from the world, and setting them apart as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," &c.--1 Peter i. 2. Indeed all the work of the Spirit has the effect to sanctify, or set apart, as a consecrated people, devoted to God. All the instructions given, all the exercises and emotions produced in the people of God by the Holy Spirit, distinguishes them from the children of this world, and makes them manifest as members of a spiritual family.
Thus we see the children of God are sanctified by God the Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, but we have no account of their being sanctified by themselves. But if we mistake not there is another family, or fraternity described in the word as being their own sanctifiers, and the epistle of Jude is devoted principally to a description of them. He says they have crept into the church unawares, who were of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. "These," says Jude, "be they WHO SEPARATE THEMSELVES, sensual, having not the Spirit." These speak evil of those things which they know not; but what they know naturally as brute beasts, having no experimental knowledge of divine things by revelation of the Spirit; for they have not the Spirit, and all they know, or can ever learn naturally by searching, studying, or by any opera tion short of divine revelation, they only know as natural brute beasts. "Ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." "Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain;" in setting up a system of religion unauthorized by the Lord, and like Cain, they are at war with the religion which God has revealed. "And ran greedily after the error of Balaam," in his missionary zeal to curse Israel for a pecuniary reward, and in teaching Balak to cast stumbling-blocks to cause the children of Israel to commit wicked. ness, and who have perished in the gainsayings of Core, who with his troop, in usurping the priesthood unbidden of the Lord, was swallowed up of the earth.
"These are they." Can we doubt it? Do they not make themselves all that they profess to be? Do they not, like Cain, produce their offerings from the earth by their own industry? And like him would they not stain their guilty hands in the blood of God's children, who oppose their abomination? Are they not walking after their own lusts? Do not their mouths speak great swelling words of vanity, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage? "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with the children of God, feeding themselves without fear." But by whom are these spots, these raging waves of the sea, these wandering stars, these wells without water, these clouds without rain, by whom are they set apart? Not by the Spirit, for Jude says, "These have not the Spirit;" but they separate, or dedicate, or consecrate themselves. The church of God is faithfully warned in the word to beware of these filthy dreamers, to give place to them by subjection not for an hour. Protesting, in the name of the Lord, against this whole system of self-sanctification, self-righteousness, and all humanly invented appendages to the gospel of God our Savior, the apostle prays the very God of peace, not the imaginary god of will-worshipers, who is at the best but a god of war and confusion, while the christian's God is the God of peace, of order, of salvation; and to him Paul's ardent prayer in the Spirit ascended, that he would wholly consecrate or sanctify the saints; for he alone can do it effectually, wholly and perfectly. The language of the apostle's prayer implies his conviction that they were already set apart by the foreknowledge and predestination of God the Father, by their redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ, by their calling and regeneration by the Holy Ghost, but in regard to their body, spirit and soul, there was a lack of devotedness to his cause, and a lack which none but God can supply, and he prayed in faith, too, believing that God was not only able, but willing and determined to accomplish it, for he adds, "Faith ful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" Do what? Sanctify the saints wholly, in body, spirit and soul. Not only by separating them from these filthy dreamers, cleansing them from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, purifying their souls in believing the truth, giving them grace sufficient for their day, to keep their body under, and enabling them to present their bodies and spirits a living sacrifice, which is their reasonable service, but eventually he will change their vile body, and fashion it like the glorified body of their glorious Redeemer; for he has predestinated them to be con formed to the image of his Son, that he may be the first-born among many brethren.
The work of sanctification in all its vital bearings, is of the Lord; he has written his law in the hearts of his children, and he has commanded them to come out and be separate from anti-Christ; and I will receive you, saith the Lord, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.
The text from the Song v. 8, presents a beautiful figurative illustration of the deliverance of the church from the veil of Moses, which Paul says remains to this day untaken away from the hearts of them that read Moses, when redeemed and delivered from the law dispensation and brought into the light of the gospel, where she with open face, beholding as in a glass, or mirror, the glory of the Lord is changed to the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. The watchmen or ministers of the law, smote the spouse with a heavy hand, when requiring everything at her hand, and furnishing her with nothing wherewith to meet its stern demands. The eye of Moses was not dim, as a watch man over those who read him; he detected their short comings, nor was his natural force abated to the day of his death, to smite with killing effect. But Paul says, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Thus under the new covenant dispensation, the apostles whom Christ stationed to keep the walls, all see eye to eye, and their charge is to take away her veil from her. Their principal work was to show the law by Christ fulfilled, and the veil of the Old Testament temple rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, exposing the glories of the gospel kingdom, as typified by the inner court, or the most holy place, the ark, the mercy-seat, the cherubim of glory, and showing the way opened into the immediate presence of God, by a consecrated way, through the veil, that is his flesh. As when Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot, and a napkin was about his face. Jesus said, Loose him and let him go. Thus having redeemed his people from the curse and dominion of the law, he has commissioned the keepers of the walls to loose them, and to "make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery," &c.
The individual experience of every child of God is in perfect harmony with this figure; they cease not to be smitten by the demands of the law, from the time they are quickened until the unveiled glory of the Lord in its transforming power is revealed to them in the face of Jesus Christ.
And christians, when aroused from a sleeping state, often go forth to seek their Lord by night, and fare roughly from the hands of the watchman.
For example, how long did our highly esteemed sister Huestis sleep at Catskill, with the New School, having made every preparation for a refreshing slumber, and when the voice of her beloved Redeemer knocked, and she recognized his voice, saying unto her, Rise up, my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away! Was there not a murmuring, I have arranged matters to rest here, to enjoy pleasant dreams, I have put off my coat, ceased to be as tight-laced as I once was, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? Was there not a lingering delay between sleep and awake? But at length when constrained to rise up, and being fully awake, did you not go forth in search of the Beloved asking for the old paths, and while thus inquiring of those who were regarded as watchmen, did they not smite you sorely, until the veil was completely removed, and then after having at length passed the watchmen, you found him whom your soul loveth?
We have mistaken your case, dear sister in Christ, if there is not a striking analogy in this beautiful figure, and the reality of your own case.
Middletown, N.Y., February 1, 1859. Editorials of Gilbert Beebe Volume 4 pgs 190-197