Sweet wisdom from Ussher on Sanctification


The good Bishop was always mindful to draw a direct connection between justification and sanctification. According to him, in one sense we are sanctified in justification – set apart for God in our being made new, and in another sense the reality of that new status has yet to be fully worked out in us in experience, but inevitablyMUST be if we are genuinely justified. This latter form of sanctification (he argued) was worked out as we grew in our yielding up to Christ’s Spirit within us.

Snoddy closes chapter 4 titled in Ussher’s words: ‘An Imperfect Kinde of Perfection’ – subtitled by Snoddy ‘The Sanctified Life and Its Reward’, with an interesting anecdote.

Ussher was to pass away in 1656. A year prior an acquaintance of his who seemed particularly helped by Ussher’s sermons on this topic asked the Bishop to write something to him on it with further clarity. Ussher promised to do so but never did. However, before he passed, the fellow interested was able to visit with Usser and inquire in person. The honesty and experiential reality with which Ussher replied is profoundly important. It is so first because so many of us fail to recognize how little progress we’ve really made in our growth in Christ, how how much more we must cast ourselves upon His grace and His grace alone in Christ Jesus.

Explaining his failure to write, Ussher spoke to his friend thus: “I did begin to write, but when I came to doe soe, of sanctification, of the new creature, that God formed by his Spirit in every soule which he doth in truth regenerate; I found soe little of it wrought in my self, that I could but (as parrats) speake by rote; and without knowledge of what I expressed, which I durst not presume to doe, and soe proceeded noe further…I tell you, we doe not well understand what sanctification and the new creature is, it is noe less than for a man to be wrought to an entire resignation of his will to the will of God, and to live in offering up his soule continually in the flames of love, as whole burnt offerings to Christ, and how little are those which profess Christianity experimentally acquainted with this worke in their soules.”

To which I must add: Yea Lord, that is me.

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2 thoughts on “Sweet wisdom from Ussher on Sanctification

  1. Yep…unqualified, unreserved surrender. I love the way the writing of this era presents the truth. Long sentences, lots of dependent clauses, and not in a hurry. Covering every aspect of the point before moving on. Meticulous. And his reason for not writing…I understand that feeling as I’m sure you do also. “I believe, help Thou my unbelief.” More than humbling, it decimates the self.

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