Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Daniel Steele: His Entire Sanctification

Daniel Steele (1824-1914) was a theology professor at Boston University and the founding president of Syracuse University. It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Steele's influence on the Holiness Movement of later Wesleyanism. While his (over)usage of the Greek aorist tense in proving instantaneous entire sanctification is now questioned he remains a giant in second-blessing thought.

Below is his experience of receiving entire sanctification, culminating on the night of November 17, 1870. It is taken from chapter 15 of his first book, Love Enthroned:
But an evangelist of extraordinary power to awaken slumbering professors and to bring sinners to the foot of the cross, came across my path. I sought to find the hidings of his power, and discovered that it was the fullness of the Holy Spirit enjoyed as an abiding blessing, styled by him 'the rest of faith.' I was convicted. I sought earnestly the same great gift, but could not exercise faith till I had made public confession of my sin in preaching self more than Christ, and being satisfied with the applause of the Church above the approval of her Divine Head. I immediately began to feel a strange freedom daily increasing, the cause of which I did not distinctly apprehend. I was then led to seek the conscious and joyful presence of the Comforter in my heart.
"Having settled the question that this was not merely an apostolic blessing, but for all ages, 'He shall abide with you forever,' I took the promise, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you.' The 'verily' had to me all the strength of an oath. Out of the 'whatsoever' I took all temporal blessings, not because I did not believe them to be included, but because I was not then seeking them. I then wrote my own name in the promise, not to exclude others, but to be sure that I included myself. Then writing underneath these words, 'Today is the day of salvation,' I found that my faith had three points to master: the Comforter; for me; now. Upon the promise I ventured with an act of appropriating faith, claiming the Comforter as my right in the name of Jesus. For several hours I clung by naked faith, praying and repeating Charles Wesley's hymn —
'Jesus, shine all-victorious love,
Shed in my heart abroad.'
I then ran over in my mind the great facts in Christ's life, especially dwelling upon Gethsemane and Calvary; his ascension, priesthood, and all-atoning sacrifice. Suddenly I became conscious of a mysterious power exerting itself upon my sensibilities. My physical sensations, though not of a nervous temperament, in good health, sitting alone and calm, were like those of electric sparks passing through my bosom with slight but painless shocks, melting my hard heart into a fiery stream of love.
"Christ became so unspeakably precious that I instantly dropped all earthly good-reputation, property, friends, family, everything — in the twinkling of an eye, my soul crying out, —
'None but Christ to me be given,
None but Christ in earth or heaven.'
He stood forth as my Saviour, all radiant in his loveliness, "chiefest among ten thousand." Yet there was no phantasm, or image, or uttered word, apprehended by my intellect. The affections were the sphere of this wonderful phenomenon, best described as 'the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost.' It seemed as if the attraction of Jesus, the loadstone of my soul, was so strong that my heart would be drawn out of my body, and through the college window by which I was sitting, and upward into the sky. O how vivid and real was all this to me! I was more certain that Christ loved me than I was of the existence of the solid earth and shining sun. I intuitively apprehended Christ.
Steele felt the witness of the Spirit so strongly that it led him to declare:
I think I went where Paul did when he heard things not lawful, not possible to utter. My whole being, soul and body, was pervaded with the indescribable joy of the Holy Spirit. The nervous sensations were delicious, a thousandfold more than any I ever experienced before. I believe that on that day — though the Divine influence had been descending for two weeks — my great Joshua brought me in, and allotted me a portion in the mountain of God. If I should derive my theology from my feelings I should have to adopt one of the five points of Calvin,

"But this I do find,
We two are so joined
He'll not live in glory and leave me behind."

Yes, I firmly believe that God can do this, again.