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The great object of this book is to describe, in their own words so far as possible, the deepest spiritual experiences of the most famous Christians of all ages and climes. The author has spent much of his time for years in the greatest libraries of Europe and America, searching the whole range of Christian literature to glean from it the most spiritual and helpful Christian experiences. He believes that this book contains the very cream of the Christian literature of all ages, and trusts that it will be the means of leading many into “ the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:29).
Although these pages contain an account of the most important facts in the lives of the most famous Spiritfilled children of God, it would be impossible, in a book of this kind, to describe the deeper experiences of all the famous Spirit-filled Christians. In the early Christian church, and in almost every denomination of Christians, there have been many whose consecrated lives and spiritual experiences have made them a blessing to multitudes. The deeper experiences of famous living Christians would fill another volume of this kind. Much more might be said concerning the deeper Christian experiences of the saints of the early Christian church than has been said in these pages. Volumes might be written concerning the famous and pious mystics of the middle ages, such as Erigena, Abelard, St. Bernard, Hildegarde, Bonaventura, Tauler, Eckhart, St. Brigitta, Catherine of Siena, Gerson, St. Theresa, Arndt, St. Frances de Sales, Jacob Bohme, Gerhard,
Molinos, and hosts of others. The Beghards of the Netherlands, the Alombrados, or Illuminati, of Spain, the Quietists and Pietists of Europe and Russia in Asia, and the persecuted Jansenists and Port Royalists of France, had many members eminent for their piety and spiritual power whose experiences are omitted in this volume. Among the most eminent of the Port Royalists were Arnauld, Pascal, Nicole, Tillemont, and Racine. In modern times, since the Protestant Reformation, there have been hosts of famous Spirit-filled Christians whose experiences could not well be included in this book. Among these may be mentioned Robert Barclay, Susannah Wesley, Charles Wesley, Hester Ann Rogers, Elizabeth Fry, Howell Harris, Upham, Bishop Francis Asbury, James Caughey, Mrs. Catherine Booth, Kimball, Alfred Cookman, Inskip, Major Whittle, and many others, including most of the great evangelists, missionaries, and hymn-writers. But, from the great multitude available, the author has selected and described the experiences of those who were spiritual stars of the first magnitude, and who were pre-eminent for their piety and spir
Although the deeper spiritual experiences of Christians of many different ages, climes, and denominations are given in this book, it will be found that there is a wonderful harmony in the experiences related. The persons described, whether Bible characters or others, relate their deeper experiences in very different terms; but the deeper Christian experience described is always the same. It is the baptism, or filling, or gift, of the Holy Spirit, and the experience resulting from being “filled with the Spirit.” The Methodist may describe this deeper Christian experience as "entire sanctification," “ holiness," or "perfect love." The Baptist may call it the “ baptism of the Holy Spirit,” or the “filling of the Spirit.” The Presbyterian may call it
the “life of faith,” or the "rest of faith," or the “ full assurance of faith.” The Congregationalist may call it
entire consecration.” The Quaker may call it “living in the Spirit,” or “walking in the Spirit,” or “over-coming power." The old Roman Catholic and Greek Church writers may term it “death to the self-life,” or “pure love." All these are Scriptural terms, or ideas, and all refer to a Spirit-filled Christian experience; just as Hannah Whithall Smith, in her “ Christian Secret of a Happy Life,” and William Arthur, in his “Tongue of Fire,” describe one and the same experience, although one views the experience from the human side and the other from the Divine; one showing man's privilege and the other God's power. Again, the Calvinist may describe his deeper Christian experience in terms which accord with his theological views, while the Arminian uses terms which accord with his theological views; just as a person looking at the Niagara Falls from the Canadian side would describe them in very different terms from a person looking at them from the American side, although the falls would remain the same. Theories differ according to the different standpoints or ways of looking at things. So long as men have different degrees of light they are bound to differ in theory. “Now we see through a glass, darkly," says the Apostle, “but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Cor. 13:12). That all men should agree in theory with regard to the deeper things of God's Word is hardly to be expected when they differ so much in theory with regard to the “first principles," and so long as they hold different theories with regard to politics and every other question. But as there is a practical agreement among evangelical Christians with regard to the way of salvation, so there is a practical agreement among those who believe in a deeper Christian experience than conversion. All agree that Christians may be
filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18); that we may “have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10); that we may be “rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17); that we can be “more thar conquerors, through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37); that if we bring all the tithes into His storehouse, the Lord will open us the windows of heaven, and pour us out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3: 10); that we may have “peace as a river,” and “righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Isaiah 48:18); that we may have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8); and so on. In a court of law the testimony of witnesses would be rejected if they all gave the same evidence, and gave it in the same words and manner. It would prove that there had been collusion among the witnesses. But if each witness gave his evidence in his own words and manner, and yet the testimony of the witnesses agreed as to the essential facts, the evidence would be regarded as of the most convincing character. So when Christians of so many different centuries and countries relate their deeper Christian experiences in their own manner and language, and yet all agree as to the essential facts, it is overwhelming evidence in favor of the fact that such a deep Christian experience may really be attained.
There are several different theories with regard to the work accomplished by the baptism, or filling, of the Holy Spirit. Many hold the Wesleyan theory that when a person is filled with the Spirit, "inbred," or original,” sin is rooted out, or destroyed. Others believe that “inbred,” or "original,” sin remains in the person who is filled with the Spirit; but that it is kept under, or suppressed, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Others believe with Finney, the great Spirit-filled theologian and prince of evangelists, that there is no such thing as “inbred sin," or original sin,"