Adam Clarke The word "sanctify" has two meanings. It signifies to consecrate, to separate from earth and common use, and to devote or dedicate to God and his service. It signifies to make holy or pure. Many talk much, and indeed well, of what Christ has done for us: but how little is spoken of what he is to do in us!
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His Commentary and Critical Notes on the entire Bible was completed in and it represented more than 30 years of intense research and writing. Clarke was a Wesleyan scholar and an ardent, convinced expositor of scriptural holiness. No appreciation of the holiness heritage can ignore Adam Clarke. Before looking at his teaching in some detail, a brief sketch of his life and work is necessary.
Adam Clarke was born in the county of Londonderry, North Ireland, in and was converted in through hearing a Methodist preacher. Five weeks later he was appointed to his first preaching circuit and for the next 50 years he was a self-taught Wesleyan preacher who, among other academic accomplishments, made himself master of at least 10 languages, ancient and modern. He served on 24 Methodist circuits in England and Ireland, worked for 3 years in the Channel Islands, was three times president of the English Methodist Conference and four times president of the Irish Methodist Conference.
He devoted hundreds of working hours to the newly founded British and Foreign Bible Society and 10 years of painstaking editing and collating of state papers.
This latter work was a colossal undertaking. It required the most exact examination, deciphering, and classification of British State Papers from to A glance at the record of the 24 Methodist circuits he served between and shows that his longest domicile in one place was four years, yet his moving from place to place approximately every two years does not seem to have interfered with his reading, writing, and publication.
He was elected a member of six of the most learned societies of his day, including the Antiquarian Society, the Royal Asiatic Society, and the Royal Irish Academy. In spite of all the distinctions given to him, Clarke remained a loyal Wesleyan preacher and a devout, humble believer.
But infinitely above all these and all other possible enjoyments, I glory in Christ—in me living and reigning and fitting me for His heaven. To his pulpit ministry he brought all the warmth of his Celtic upbringing and all the vast resources of his encyclopaedic learning.
Essentially a textual preacher, he made little formal preparation before he entered the pulpit—a method that we lesser mortals should not emulate! I read a great deal, write very little, but strive to study. A veritable Briareus in his many accomplishments, he explored every available avenue of knowledge, especially the linguistic, the scientific, and the historical. Partial knowledge on any branch of science or business is better than total ignorance.
You cannot have too many—poker, tongs, and all, keep them all going. Visiting Liverpool in the north of England in , he contracted the deadly Asiatic cholera and died from it at his London home on August Adam Clarke was a holiness preacher and scholar. In a sermon preached from Phil. This and this only is true religion, or Christian perfection; and a less salvation than this would be dishonourable to the sacrifice of Christ and the operation of the Holy Ghost.
Call it by what name we please, it must imply the pardon of all transgression and the removal of the whole body of sin and death. This, then, is what I plead for, pray for, and heartily recommend to all true believers, under the name of Christian perfection. It is. They hold out death as the complete deliver from all corruption and the final destroyer of sin as if were revealed in every page of the Bible!
Whereas there is not one passage in the sacred volume that says any such thing! Were this true, then death, far from being the last enemy, would be the last and best friend, and the greatest of all deliverers. It is the blood of Jesus alone that cleanseth from all unrighteousness.
How then can pride humble us? The heart from which it [pride] is cast out has the humility, meekness and gentleness of Christ implanted in its stead. But is it the sin that humbles? It is the grace of God that shows and condemns the sin that humbles us.
We are never humbled under a sense of indwelling sin till the Spirit of God drags it to the light and shows us not only its horrid deformity, but its hostility to God; and He manifests it that He may take it away.
He is either a hypocrite or a self-deceiver. Those who have received it. It has been no small mercy to me that in the course of my religious life, I have met with many persons who professed that the blood of Christ had saved them from all sin, and whose profession was maintained by an immaculate life; but I never knew one of them that was not of the spirit above described.
They were men of the strongest faith, the purest love, the holiest affections, the most obedient lives and the most useful in society. He not only believed it was a scriptural doctrine and that it was theologically sound—he enforced it and explained it and defended it with all the passion of an evangelist. Whenever he touched the subject, he had as his dominant concern not only that Christians would believe it and be persuaded of its veracity, but that they might personally claim the experience, enter into it, live it, enjoy it, and testify to it.
This moment we may be emptied of sin, filled with holiness and become truly happy. The perfection of the gospel system is not that it makes allowance for sin, but that it makes an atonement for it, not that it tolerates sin, but that it destroys it. Let all those who retain the apostolic doctrine.
Art thou weary of that carnal mind which is enmity to God? Canst thou be happy whilst thou art unholy? Arise, then, and be baptized with a greater effusion of the Holy Ghost. Reader, it is the birthright of every child of God to be cleansed from all sin, to keep himself unspotted from the world, and so to live as never more to offend his Maker.
All things are possible to him that believeth, because all things are possible to the infinitely meritorious blood and energetic Spirit of the Lord Jesus. We are to come to God as well for an instantaneous and complete purification from all sin as for an instantaneous pardon.
Neither the gradatim pardon or the seriatim purification exists in the Bible. In the given extract Clarke is speaking exclusively of entering into the blessing, a grace as instantaneous as justification. And why not quote the very next sentence from Clarke?
The life of a Christian is a growth. Pope, etc.. Following this crisis of grace there is continuous growth in the entirely sanctified life. This is what authentic Wesleyanism has always taught. Those who want to criticize Clarke here really must go back to the original full text of his writings rather than passing premature judgment on isolated extracts.
Entire Sanctification – Adam Clarke