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  • SANCTIFICATION, PAUL ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED - B,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    "And herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16), Paul doubtless at this time had an enlightened conscience. If an inspired apostle could affirm, that he "exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men," must he not have been in a state of entire sanctification?

    "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day" (2 Tim. 1:3). Here again he affirms that he serves God with a pure conscience. Could this be, if he was often, and perhaps every day, as some suppose, violating his conscience?

    "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). This does not assert, but strongly implies, that he lived without sin, and also that he regarded himself as dead to sin in the sense of being permanently sanctified.

    "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14). This text also affords the same inference as above.

    "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). Here the apostle affirms that for him to live was as if Christ lived in the church, that is, by his doctrine illustrated by his life, it was as if Christ lived again and preached His own gospel to sinners and to the church; or for him to live was to make Christ known as if Christ lived to make Himself known. How could he say this, unless his example, and doctrine, and spirit, were those of Christ?

    "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men" (Acts 20:26). This passage, taken in its connection, shows clearly the impression that Paul desired to make upon the minds of those to whom he spake. It is certain that he could in no proper sense be "pure from the blood of all men," unless he had done his whole duty. If he had been sinfully lacking in any grace, or virtue, or labor, could he have said this? Certainly not.

    "Wherefore, I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church" (1 Cor. 2:16-17). Here Paul manifestly sets himself up as an example to the church. How could he do this if he were living in sin? He sent Timotheus to them to refresh their memories in regard to his doctrine and practice; implying that what he taught in every church he himself practiced.

    "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). Here Paul commands them to follow him "as he followed Christ"; not so far as he followed Christ, as some seem to understand it, but to follow him because he followed Christ. How could he, in this unqualified manner, command the church to copy his example, unless he knew himself to be blameless?

    "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. For our conversation is in heaven, from whence we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:17, 20). Here again, Paul calls upon the church to follow him, and particularly to notice those that copied his example, and assigns as the reason, "for our conversation is in heaven."

    "Those things, which ye have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you" (Phil. 3:9), the Philippians were commanded to "do those things which they had learned, and received, and seen in him." And then he adds, that if they do those things, the God of peace shall be with them. Now can it be, that he meant that they should understand anything less, than that he lived without sin among them?

    I will next examine those passages which are supposed by some to imply that Paul was not in a state of entire sanctification.

    "And some days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other; and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God" (Acts 15:36-40).

    This contention between Paul and Barnabas arose out of the fact, that John, who was a nephew of Barnabas, had once abruptly left them in their travels, it would seem, without any justifiable reason, and had returned home. It appears that the confidence of Barnabas in his nephew was restored. But Paul was not as yet satisfied of the stability of his character, and thought it dangerous to trust him as a traveling companion and fellow laborer. It is not intimated, nor can it fairly be inferred, that either of them sinned in this contention. If either was to be blamed, it seems that Barnabas was in fault, rather than Paul, inasmuch as he determined to take John with him, without having consulted Paul. And he persisted in this determination until he met with such firm resistance on the part of Paul, that he took John and sailed abruptly for Cyprus; while Paul choosing Silas as his companion, was recommended by the brethren to the grace of God, and departed. Now certainly there is nothing that we can discover in this transaction, that Paul, or any good man, or an angel, under the circumstances, needs to have been ashamed of. It does not appear, that Paul ever acted more from a regard to the glory of God and the good of religion, than in this transaction. And I would humbly inquire, what spirit is that which finds sufficient evidence in this case to charge an inspired apostle with rebellion against God?

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