Fifteen years ago I concluded that a man called to the sacred office of the ministry ought to live above known sin. This conviction was reached through a study of Romans 6: 12-14, particularly the words, " Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace."
Faith laid hold of the instruction, " Let hot sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof," and a deep joy filled ray heart, bringing peace and conscious acceptance in the Holy Spirit. It was not long after that I spoke of this new experience to a fellow worker, whose connection with the cause of God had been more extensive than mine, and he seemed to regard what I told him as a matter of insignificance, and cited me to the case of another minister who claimed an experience similar to my own, but who, it was said, came to a bad end. This caused me to doubt the genuineness of my experience, and I lost the peace and blessing.
Through the years that followed, I have experienced a periodic hunger for abiding peace and joy such as I had at that time, and as I have studied the Bible and searched the Testimonies of the Spirit of prophecy, the longing has increased, and conviction deepened that perfection in Christ is the requirement for God's children. "Not having spot or wrinkle; " " In their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God; " Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect; " " Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,"— these and other quotations are both typical and familiar. The application and force of statements in the Testimonies, of a similar nature, brought anguish to my heart, and I had no peace. I read such statements as these: " There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it." " As he that is called of God is called to be holy, so he that is approved and set apart of men must give evidence of his holy calling, and show forth in his heavenly conversation and conduct that he is faithful to Him who hath called him." My personal lack was emphasized and my restlessness intensified as I came in contact with lay members who looked to their minister for guidance into a place of spiritual victory, and also as I found individuals here and there who seemed to have a deeper and more satisfying experience in God than I possessed, and which I knew was not possessed by many other ministers.
Seeking relief, I appealed to my brethren to help me. Those who were interested, acknowledged that an intermittent experience was common to them all,— bright and happy at one time, weak and failing at another. This was quite 'generally accepted as an unavoidable condition, despite avowed acceptance of God's full remedy for sin-sick souls revealed in the Holy Book. I saw that practice and theory were divorced in the attitude maintained by these fellow workers, and this brought no help to me. I am now inclined to believe that God led in this failure to obtain help from man in. order that greater glory might be His own.
My gloom and depression steadily increased, although I endeavored to conceal my real feelings. There seemed little hope of finding the way into that experience which I read about and which for a brief moment I seemed to possess^. Conscience, lashed by memory of the long trail of failures in spite of rigid determination and repeated promises to my heavenly Father, produced an agony of mind that was actually painful. Despair filled my soul. Common honesty seemed to point to relinquishing my ministerial office, leaving the way open for God to choose a man whom He could purify and use to His glory through the demonstration of power to keep above the dominion of sin.
While in this state of mind, a trivial incident impelled a study of the lives of some of the great soul winners of the past. More than one biography faithfully delineated the sinful practices and uncertain early experiences of those whom God later honored with holiness and marvelous power. I knew that with God there is no respect of persons, and as I thought over the matter, hope revived, and I resolved to make one last effort to obtain release from the bondage of sin and condemnation. A period of self-examination disclosed my lack of faith in believing God's promise to cleanse from sin, as found in 1 John 1: 9 (last part), and this was followed by a loathing of self to a degree difficult to describe.
When about to prostrate myself before Christ and plead in helplessness for succor, an incident of prayer for a dying person came vividly to my mind. I remembered that in praying for certain others no special evidence of favor was shown, but in this particular case, as soon as the prayer was offered, faith immediately grasped the assurance that life would be spared; and this was the result. Instantly there came to my perception that simply reciting and believing the promise to be God's word, and therefore true, was not sufficient; but that the all-sufficient faith was a royal gift from the hand of a merciful and loving Saviour, imparted through the Holy Spirit. I saw that God sent the Spirit, the Spirit brought faith, and as I accepted the gift, the fruit of the promise would become visible. This was made the crux of intercessory prayer, — not simply once, at that particular time, but it was the beginning of a practice which has not ceased. The response of a most merciful Lord gave faith in the cleansing promise. It was not a mental conviction only, but the Holy Spirit co-operating with the word, brought healing for ray woe, and joy and happiness far excelling any earthly satisfaction.
From that time forward temptations which formerly caused defeat were turned aside with ease by divine grace. Just as the tobacco habit was removed by faith which the Holy Spirit imparted to a newly surrendered soul, so all known sins were conquered, and results in service heretofore unknown have followed. I realize that I have but ventured across the threshold of an experience which leads to boundless possibilities in personal holiness and soul-winning power. All honor and praise be to Him who hath saved us from our sins, and fills the heart with joy and hope.
A City Pastor.
* The paragraph which accompanied this personal testimony is so illuminating and pointed, and so discloses the real spirit of the writer, that we quote as follows: " I have thought long and prayed much over the experience related, and to me it seems like a sacred covenant between my soul and my Lord,— too sacred to be exposed to public view. But I send it on with the fervent prayer that it may truly be, of help to some one and serve to glorify my Saviour."