G.D. Watson (1845–1924) was known as the apostle to the sanctified.
The following is from his book Soul Food.
The Benefit of Deep Crucifixion
The word crucifixion, as it applies to us in a Christian sense, may be defined as any pain or suffering which renders us dead to sin or to self, or to the things of time and sense. There may be many kinds of sorrow and suffering which do not serve the purpose of true crucifixion.
In order that suffering may be a thorough mortification to us, it must be put in the will of God, and yielded to the operation of the Holy Spirit. When we yield ourselves absolutely up to God, and trust Him to take charge of every particle of our being and life and circumstances, it is then that His omnipotence takes gentle and firm possession of all our trials and sufferings, and makes them work a true crucifixion in us.
It does not matter what the occasion of the suffering may be. It may come from our own sins, or poverty, or ill-health, or loss of friends, or separations, or terrible and protracted temptations, or assaults of evil spirits, or the hatred of others, or great disappointment, or divine chastisements; it may come from many of these sources; but let it come from any cause in the universe, if we give it over entirely into the hands of God, and sink ourselves into His will, with a perfect desire for Him to work His best will in us, He will make every pain, every groan, every tear, every particle of our suffering, work in us a death to sin and to self, and to all things on earth which will be for our highest perfection and for His glory.
The depth and power of the spiritual life in every person depends exactly on the degree of their crucifixion. There is a divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by the human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. There is such a thing as suffering reaching a state of perfection. When we suffer so severe and so long that we become dead to it, and divinely indifferent as to how much we suffer or how long it will continue; when the suffering soul reaches a calm, sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering, and does not even ask God to deliver it from the suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.
It is in this state of the perfection of suffering that the Holy Spirit works many marvelous things in our souls. In such a condition, our whole being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every faculty of the mind and will and heart are at last subdued; a quietness of eternity settles down into the whole being; the tongue grows still, and has but few words to say; it stops asking God questions; it stops crying, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” The imagination stops building air-castles, or running off on foolish lines; the reason is tame and gentle; it stops debating, and quits all dogmatism; the will ceases from its own activity; the bluster and zeal of self-action is taken out of it; the choices are annihilated; it has no choice in anything but the purpose of God. The affections are weaned from all creatures and all things; it loves nothing but God and God’s will in any given thing; it has no private ends to serve; it has no motives except to please God; it is so dead that nothing can hurt it, nothing can offend it, nothing can hinder it, nothing can get in its way; for, let its circumstances be what they may, it seeks only for God and His will, and it feels assured that God is making everything in the universe, good or bad, past or present, work together for its good. Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered!—of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and goodness, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus.
Among great blessings resulting from sanctified suffering, is that it gives a great wideness to the heart, and a universality of love.
This uttermost crucifixion destroys the littleness and narrowness of the mind; it gives an immensity to the sympathies, and an ocean-like divine love, which is beyond words. This is because creature-love is crucified, and divine love floods the whole being. It is as if every drop of blood had been drawn out of the body, and the blood of a divine being had been poured into all the veins. The heart which has been perfectly crushed with suffering until it is dead to all its desires will be so inundated with divine charity that it will stretch itself out, and wrap the world round with fold on fold of boundless, spotless, impartial love for every creature that God has made. This immensity of heart loves all nations alike; it is absolutely free from all bigotry, or caste, or natural prejudice, or political partisanship, or sectarian feeling. It is emphatically a citizen of heaven; it takes as much interest in the kingdom of God in one place as another; it feels as much interest in souls being saved in one denomination or one country as in another. This may seem strong meat, and many Christians will disagree with these words, but when they reach this condition, they will find the foregoing words perfectly true to their experience. When we reach the deepest death of self, we love all creatures with God’s love, and as God loves them, up to our measure; it is not so much we that love others, as it is that God loves them through us. We become the channels through which the Holy Spirit flows; He pours His thoughts through our minds, His prayers and loves through our hearts, His choices through our wills. He breaks away all the banks and boundaries of our narrow education, or creed, or theology, or nationality, or race, and takes us up into the boundlessness of His own life and feelings.
Another great benefit of perfect suffering is an inexpressible tenderness. It is the very tenderness of Jesus filling the thoughts, the feelings, the manners, the words, the tones of the voice. The whole being is soaked in a sea of gentleness. Everything hard, bitter, severe, critical, flinty, has been crushed into powder. Great sufferers are noted for their quiet gentleness. As we approach them, it is like going to a tropical climate in mid-winter; the very air around them seems mellow; their slow, quiet words are like the gentle ripple of summer seas on the sand; their soft, pathetic eyes put a hush upon our rudeness or loudness of voice. There are many souls who are earnest Christians—nay, many who are sanctified—who have an indescribable something in them which needs the crushing and melting of some great crucifixion. Their tongues rattle so much, their spirit is dictatorial or harsh, they measure other people by themselves; there is something in their constitution which seems to need the grinding into fine flour. It is well worth the crushing of hearts with an overwhelming sorrow, if thereby God can bring us out into that beautiful tenderness and sweetness of spirit which is the very atmosphere of heaven. This kind of tenderness cannot be voluntarily put on; it cannot come from training; neither is it a transitory sweetness, which is like a spring day intruding itself into winter; but it is that fixed and all-pervading gentleness of spirit which is like the fixed climate of the torrid zone. It is the finest outgrowth of perfect suffering.
Another benefit of complete crucifixion is the detachment from all earthly things which it produces. The mind has a thousand-fold attachment to the things in this world, which it is not aware of until they are ground to pieces by suffering. Did you ever notice how your soul stretches itself out into ten thousand things of earth and time, and how the fingers of your thoughts grasp thousands of things! Just look at your mind; for every friend you have on earth, there is a distinct attachment; for every piece of property you own on earth, there is a distinct attachment; for the ten thousand recollections in your by-gone life, there is a particular sentiment or attachment; for all the scenes of earth and associations of time, there is an attachment; and besides all these outward things, look at that vast, invisible world within your own self—your own desires, and hopes, and dreams, and prospects, and gratifications for your self, your family, your Church, your nation, your particular party; see how you have become attached to your own thoughts, until your heart seems to have a million springs to it which flow round and round countless objects in this world!
I am not speaking of things positively wicked; I am not speaking of things which are stigmatized as sinful; but of those things which Christian people recognize as innocent, and yet, in a thousand ways, they fetter the heart and bind it to earth. Perfect suffering will untie the heart, and gently loosen every cord that binds us to our foes or friends—to all our possessions; to all the things of the past; to all attractive sights and sounds—and give us such perfect inward liberty from everything on earth that the things of heaven can flow down into us, until we feel that we are citizens of the New Jerusalem a hundred times more powerfully than that we are the citizens of any earthly city or country. We feel deep in our hearts that, like St. Paul, we have already “come to an innumerable company of angels, and the Church of the first-born, and the spirits of just men made perfect.” The coming of the Lord is so real to us, our whole being is pervaded with the sweet, attractive powers, of the world to come. Like the detached balloon, we float toward the supernatural. The heavenly world comes into us exactly in proportion as all the affairs of earth are emptied out of us, and nothing so perfectly empties us and detaches us as perfect suffering. It is in this way that God makes our perfect crucifixion our crown of unfading joy.
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