This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Theory and Experience

Never before were there so many believers, of every denomination, honestly and earnestly calling for really clear light on the subject of the higher life. Therefore, let every one who has a heaven-lit torch now lift it high, and keep it aloft, that all may see the light and rejoice therein. 'Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all tribulation, that we may be able to, comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.' Let there be laid before the Church, especially before souls panting after 'all the fullness of God,' the exact transcript of each Christian consciousness under the illumination of the Holy Ghost, so far as language can be a vehicle of that which 'passeth knowledge,' and not only will souls in trouble be comforted, but there will be accumulated a mass of facts out of which some analytic mind — some theological Sir William Hamilton — may do what all systemizers have hitherto failed to do, construct out of the Bible and experience a consistent and symmetrical science of Christian perfection.

When preconceived theories modify testimony, its value is proportionally diminished. This serious defect inheres in the statements of many, who under a dogmatic bias, have unconsciously shaped their expressions to suit the demands of a supposed orthodox ideal. I suppose that it is not possible for me to divest myself entirely of the influence of opinions, and to detail in unmixed purity the changes which the transforming Spirit has wrought in my consciousness. Of this the reader may be assured, that as a witness on a most important question I will endeavor to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Let him who values his theories more than the truth, not expect me to color my statements to suit the complexion of his opinions.

In some important particulars my recent experience contradicts my own lifelong beliefs. Sharply defined transitions after regeneration, sudden uplifts in the divine life, had been excluded from my creed as unphilosophical and unnecessary. I had never, though I had read such things in Christian biography, really believed it possible for a soul to tabernacle on earth a whole year without a cloud, or a doubt, or a temptation, other than an occasional momentary thrust of the adversary, easily parried with the shield of faith. Twelve months ago I should have received with utter incredulity the statement that any one could utter, mentally or orally, a doxology to Jesus three hundred and sixty five days long, with no intermission save that of sleep, and that balmy sleep itself would often flee from the presence of a sweeter delight, the luxury of praise. I find my mistake corrected, that the witness of the Spirit, in its higher manifestations, is intermittent. The reverse is true. It is intermittent in its lower manifestations; in its highest it is constant. All the philosophies I find at fault in the assertion that the human mind cannot endure the strain of high Joy for a long period; and that the more intense, the more evanescent it is.

— From Love Enthroned, Chapter 11.

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