|Assurance and Humility
by A. A. Hodge
I think the first essential mark of the difference between true and false
assurance is to be found in the fact that the true works humility. There is
nothing in the world that works such satanic, profound, God-defiant pride as
false assurance; nothing works such utter humility, or brings to such utter
self-emptiness, as the child-like spirit of true assurance. Surely this can be
known. If a person is self-confident, there is self-assurance; if there is any
evidence of pride in connection with his claim, it is a most deadly mark- it is
the plague-spot which marks death and corruption. But if there is utter
humility, you have the sign of the true spirit.
This will manifest itself in connection with another mark. If one is really
united to Christ in a union so established that Christ is indeed in possession
of the soul, the whole consciousness will be taken up with what I would call
Christ-consciousness, and there will be no self-consciousness. Little children
are very prompt to show their character. There is a great difference in them.
Bring a child into a room. She comes thinking about nothing in particular,
looking at her mother, then looking at the guests or anything that objectively
strikes her, not thinking of herself. That is pure, sweet, and lovely. She grows
older, and she comes to think of herself and what people think of her, and her
manner has lost its unconsciousness. A great deal of what you call bashfulness
is rottenness at the heart; it is self-consciousness. Nothing in the world so
tends to defile the imagination, to pervert the affections, and to corrupt the
morals, as self-consciousness. You know it is connected with every diseased and
morbid action of the body.
A young woman told me that she wanted the witness of the Spirit, and she talked
about it everlastingly; she wanted to tell her own experience and feelings
always. I told her she must forget herself, not think of her own feelings. The
man who is talking about his love unceasingly has no love; the man who is
talking about his faith unceasingly has no faith: the two things cannot go
together. When you love, what are you thinking about? Are you not thinking about
the object of your love? And when you believe, what are you thinking about? Why,
the object that you believe. Suppose you ask yourself, 'Am I believing?' Why, of
course you are not believing when you are thinking of believing. No human being
believes except when he thinks about Christ. Am I loving? Of course I am not
loving when I am thinking about loving. No human being loves except when he is
thinking about Christ as the object of his love.
In Virginia I once saw one human being in whom there was the perfect work of
grace, as far as I could see as her pastor, and I was intimate with her six
years. Even on earth she was one of those who had made their garments white in
the blood of the Lamb, and she seemed always to walk upon the verge of heaven. I
never heard her speak of any one particular of her character or of her own
graces. I have come out of the pulpit when the congregation had gone, and have
found her upon her knees in her pew, absolutely unconscious of all external
objects, so far was she absorbed in worship. When I roused her from her trance,
she cried instantly, 'Is He not holy? Is He not glorious? Is He not beautiful?
is He not infinite?' She did not speak of her own love or of her feelings.
A great deal of Perfectionism is rotten to the core. All self-consciousness is
of the very essence and nature of sin. Then, again, true confidence leads
necessarily to strong desires for more knowledge and more holiness, for
unceasing advances of grace.
I was told once, in a congregation where I preached, that I need not tell a
certain young man anything about religion; he had finished it - that is, that,
having finished it, he found nothing else to do. That is what the word 'perfect'
means. Now, when a man has finished eternal life, when he has finished learning
all the revelation of God, when he has experienced all the infinite benefits of
Christ's redemption, when he has finished all the mysterious work of the Holy
Ghost in his heart, he ought to be annihilated. There is no place in heaven or
on earth for such a man.
But a man who really has the love of God in his heart is always reaching forward
to the things which are before. The more he loves, the more he wants to love;
the more he is consecrated, the more consecration he longs for. He has grand
ideas and grand aims, but they lie beyond him in heaven.