Jesus Completely Sanctified My Soul
When I was appointed to Court Street Church, Binghamton, I was much prejudiced against those who professed entire sanctification. Yet I did desire a deep, thorough, vital piety, and saw clearly that there were those in my congregation whose experience in Christ possessed a richness, depth, and power which I had not. The better I became acquainted with them, the more deeply I became convicted of my need of being cleansed in the blood of Christ.
During this time, none of those professing entire sanctification said anything to me on the subject, though, as I have learned since, they were praying for me night and day. For many hours I lay on my face in my study, begging Jesus to cleanse my poor, unsanctified heart. Yet I was unwilling to make a public avowal of my feelings.
The Binghamton district camp meeting commenced that year on the first day of September, and about eighty of the members of my charge attended it with me. During six days of the meeting, the sanctification of my soul was before my mind constantly.
A few minutes before the preaching on the last day of the camp meeting, a faithful member of the church came to me weeping, and said,
“Brother Wood, there is no use in trying to dodge this question.
You know your duty.
If you will lead the way, and define your position as a seeker of entire sanctification, you will find that many of the members of your charge have a mind to do the same.”
“Immediately after preaching,” I replied, “I will appoint a meeting in our tent on the subject of holiness and will ask the prayers of the church for my own soul.”
Glory be to God! The moment of decision was the moment of triumph. In an instant I felt a giving away in my heart, and a moment later, an indescribable sweetness. I immediately walked up into the stand. Just as the preacher gave out his text, the baptism of fire and power came upon me. For me to describe what I then realized is utterly impossible. Jesus there and then sweetly, completely, and most powerfully sanctified my soul, cleansing it with holy, sin-consuming power.
I told my church of my purpose to ask their prayers as a seeker of holiness but that Jesus had forestalled my design by accepting my soul the moment I consented to stand up for the work of entire sanctification and was willing to do whatever was necessary to obtain it. Our meeting continued all night; and a large number of my leading members commenced seeking holiness. About every half hour during that whole night the glorious power of God came down from the upper ocean in streams as sweet as heaven.
During these consecrated years since, I have had time and every variety of circumstances to test the genuineness of my submission and the saving power of God.
Some of the precious results of the cleansing power of Jesus in my soul have been a sacred nearness to God my Saviour;
- a sense of indescribable sweetness in Christ; a deep sense of spiritual things;
- a surprising richness and fullness of meaning in the Scriptures;
- a triumph over temptation more complete and habitual; a large increase of spiritual power;
- a clear and distinct witness of purity through the blood of Jesus;
- a disposition to tell the blessed story of Christ and His great salvation.
With the blessed experience of heart purity I am more and more impressed, charmed, and satisfied. Under its quickening power and light, I am amazed, humbled, and delighted. I expect to preach it as long as I preach anything, and when I cease preaching, I expect to be in heaven.
Rev. J.A.Wood, a 19th-century Methodist pastor and leader in the early holiness movement, is remembered for his famous work Perfect Love. This selection from his writings is edited and abridged by Larry D. Smith.
The Rev. J.A. Wood was a mid-19th century Methodist preacher and author known for his unrelenting advocacy of the work of entire sanctification.