Perfect Love - Part 1
Preface and Section 1
by J.A. Wood
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the start of a series of excerpts from a book, "Perfect Love, or, Plain Things for Those who Need Them." The book is in the public domain. It tells of a spiritual life higher than many people believe to be possible. The author claims that he has experienced this higher spiritual life, and wants his readers to experience it too.
We have given credit for what we have selected, except in those cases where we have changed the words or phrases. The italics in some quotations are our own. The reader will find many things in this work, which, in their original forms, are dispersed through many volumes, which most people have neither money to purchase nor time to read.
We have not written so much for the learnedly critical, as for the common people who need ”line upon line, and precept upon precept.” Many of these appear perplexed and mystified on this plain and intelligible subject; which, when properly understood, is seen to possess none of those objectionable features which are so often attributed to it by its mistaken opponents.
We have often been grieved and astonished at the amount of opposition, unbelief, and ignorance we have found regarding it.
We are so impressed with its truth and necessity, and so delighted with its beauty and sweetness, we hope never to cease writing about it, or preaching it, as long as we can move a pen, or use our voice, and would love to do, as Dr. Gibson, bishop of London, advised Mr. Wesley to do”Publish IT TO ALL THE WORLD.”
With a grateful sense of obligation to God for the kindly reception of ”PERFECT LOVE,” in its first writing, by hundreds of friendly notices, we now respectfully submit this enlarged and improved volume to the consideration of sincere and inquiring minds, trusting it will be helpful in promoting Christian holiness. Every man has a given circle of friends to whom he has access, and over whom he has an influence. The author trusts that some who would not otherwise become interested in this theme, may be reached by this book, and induced to seek that holiness ”without which no man shall see the Lord.”
TERMS SIGNIFYING COMPLETE GOSPEL SALVATION.
- What terms are commonly used to express full salvation?
The Scripture terms are, “perfect love,” “perfection,” “sanctification,” and” holiness.” These terms are synonymous, all pointing to the same precious state of grace. While they denote the same religious state, each one of them indicates some essential characteristic, and hence these terms are significantly expressive of full salvation. The word ”sanctification” has the double meaning of consecration and purification, — the Old Testament sense of setting apart to a sacred service: ”sanctify yourselves and be ye holy;” and the New Testament sense of spiritual purification: ”sanctify them through thy truth.”
The word ”sanctify,” and its derivatives, occur in the Scriptures, with reference to men and things, over one hundred times. The term” perfection” signifies completeness of Christian character; its freedom from all sin, and possession of all the graces of the Spirit, complete in kind. ”Let us go on unto perfection.” The word ”perfection” and its relatives, occur one hundred and one times in the Scriptures. In over fifty of these instances it is predicated of human character under the operation of grace. The term ”holiness” is more generic and comprehensive than the others, including salvation from sin, and the possession of the image and spirit of God. To be holy is to be whole, entire, or perfect in a moral sense, and in ordinary use is synonymous with purity and godliness. ”Follow peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” The word ”holy” and its derivatives, occur not less than one hundred and twenty times in their application to men and things. The word ”justify” and its derivatives, occur seventy - four times in regard to men; and the word ”pardon” with its derivatives, in their application to penitent sinners, occur only seventeen times.
The phrase ”perfect love” is expressive of the spirit and temper, or moral atmosphere in which the wholly sanctified and perfect Christian lives. ”He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him;” and, ”Herein is our love made perfect.”
These terms are used indiscriminately in this book. They are scriptural and significant, and Christians should not ignore them. No one of them should be employed to the exclusion of the others; nor should other terms be chosen to their exclusion. The substitution of “higher life,” “the life of faith,” “rest in God,” “the fullness of God,” “the full assurance,” etc., in the place of the highly significant Bible terms, is of doubtful propriety. It is unwise to be wise above the word of God. These uninspired names come of the various predilections of the different Christian denominations. Although names may be of minor importance, and little harm may come from their use, yet it is wise and safe to adhere to Scripture terms, such as the Holy Spirit has given to express his own work in the soul. The Saviour says: ”Whoso ever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory.”
- Are not these terms applicable to the beginning of the Christian life?
They are not usually, and some of them are never so applied. There is a sense in which all Christians are denominated holy, and sanctified; and the terms ”holiness,” and ”sanctification”, with their derivatives, are occasionally applied in the Scriptures to the merely re-generate, as when a part is put for the whole, a thing not uncommon in the Bible. All Christians are pardoned, therefore legally holy; they are regenerated, which is holiness begun, and are holy in a general sense as compared with their former condition. The terms used in the Scriptures to express the commencement of the Christian life, are, ”born of God,” “born again,” “born of the Spirit,” “converted,” and” regeneration.”