The Necessity, Excellency, Rarity, and Beauty of Holiness
Thomas Brooks, 1662
III. I come now to the REASONS of the point—WHY is it that without holiness there is no happiness; that without holiness on earth, no man shall ever come to a blessed vision or fruition of God in heaven?Among other reasons that might be rendered, you may please to take these—
Reason 1. First, Because God has said it, who is truth and faithfulness itself, and cannot lie.That he has said it, witness the very text, and the proofs which are produced to make good the doctrine. And has he said it, and shall it not come to pass? Has he spoken it, and will he not accomplish the word that is gone out of his mouth? [Isaiah 46:11, and 48:15; Jer. 32:24; Isaiah 4:11; Zech. 1:6; Dan. 9:12; Psalm 119:138.] "God is not a man that he should lie," Num. 23:19. "Also the Strength of Israel will not lie," 1 Sam. 15:29. God will make good every word that is gone out of his mouth. Men sometimes eat their words as soon as they have spoken them; they often say and unsay—but not the Holy One of Israel. That first and supreme being, who gives being to all others, will certainly give being to all his promises and threatenings. God himself shall sooner cease to be, than the word that is gone out of his mouth shall be frustrated. He who is the faithful witness has said it, "that without holiness no man shall see the Lord." "And truly, heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or one tittle" (that is, before the least letter or particle of a letter) "of God's blessed word shall pass unfulfilled," Mat. 5:18.
God's "faithfulness is great," Lam. 3:23; It reaches unto the clouds," Psalm 36:5; "He will not allow his faithfulness to fail," Psalm 89:33; "His faithfulness endures through all generations," Psalm 119:90. God will never allow his faithfulness to be stained or blotted, and therefore he will undoubtedly make good the word which is gone out of his mouth. "I had rather," said Plutarch, that men should say there was never any such person in the world as Plutarch, than that they should say Plutarch is unfaithful." A man were better say there is no God, than say that God is unfaithful. A noble spirit can better bear any charge, than that of being unfaithful; and so can a faithful God.
Reason 2. Secondly, Because real holiness is that great principle which fits and capacitates souls for communion with God, and for a blessed sight and fruition of God.Mat. 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Without a principle of purity, of sanctity—there is no vision of God in glory. If a man be ever so poor—yet if his heart be pure, God will make a house of his heart, wherein his honor will delight to dwell; let a man's outside be ever so homely—yet if his inside be but cleanly, God will make it his own habitation. God is for that man, and that man is for God—who carries about with him a pure heart. Heart-purity makes a man a darling of heaven. Many affect pure language, pure houses, pure habits, pure hands, pure air, pure food, pure drink, pure gestures, etc., who yet for lack of heart-purity shall never see the face of God in glory. Heart-purity speaks a man eternally happy.
Holiness is that noble principle, which fits a man for the happiest sight of God: it makes a man a fit companion for God both here and hereafter. Without this principle no man can have communion with God in this world, much less can he have communion with God in heaven—if this precious principle of holiness be not seated in his heart. It will not stand with the holiness of God, to have anything to do with those who have no principles of holiness in them. It is a principle of holiness, which fits a man for the service of God, which fits a man for fellowship with God, which fits a man for walking with God, which fits a man for correspondence with God, and which fits a man for the delight of God, and which fits a man for an everlasting fruition of God. And therefore certainly, without holiness—there is no happiness; without a principle of purity—there can be no seeing of the face of God in glory. [The glory of glory consists in seeing of God, 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2, as the hell of hell lies in the soul's everlasting separation from God.]
Reason 3. A third reason why without real holiness there is no happiness, etc., is this—Because heaven is a holy place, and therefore no unholy souls can enter there.It is called the "high and holy place," Isaiah 57:15. The inheritance of the saints in heaven is an inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, 1 Pet. 1:4. Holiness dwells in heaven, 2 Pet. 3:13, as a man dwells in his house. Heaven is the house of God's holiness, and therefore certainly without holiness there is no entering into that house, Rev. 21:27. The Holy of Holies in the temple was a type of heaven. [Exod. 26:34; Psalm 78:69; Heb. 9:8, and 12:24.] And as none might enter into the Holy of Holies who were unholy, so none can enter into heaven, which is the true holy of holies—but those who are holy. Heaven was so holy, that it cast out the angels when they fell from their holiness. Paradise was a type of heaven, and no sooner did Adam lose his holiness—but he was shut out of paradise.
Heaven is a city of holiness: and none can enter into that city but such as are holy, Rev. 22:14. Heaven is so holy that it would groan to bear one unholy soul. Well, heaven is a holy place, and the inhabitants are all holy, and the work of heaven is holy; and what then would unholy souls do there?
Reason 4. A fourth reason why without real holiness there is no happiness, etc., is this—Because unholy people have no hearts to go to heaven.Though now and then they may talk of heaven, and now and then lift up their eyes and hands to heaven, and now and then express a few cold wishes and lazy desires after heaven—it is no difficult thing to demonstrate that in good earnest they have no heart to go to heaven. ["Heaven is another hell to the damned," said one, Isaiah 88:3-4.]
For first, How often has God set life and death, heaven and hell before them—and they have chosen death rather than life, and hell rather than heaven!
2. Do you think that that man has any heart to heaven—who will not so much as part with a lust for heaven?
3. Will you say that that man has a heart to go to heaven—who has not so much as a hand to lay hold on the opportunities of grace that might bring him to heaven? Luke 13:33-34.
4. Will you say that that man has a heart to go to heaven—who daily hardens his heart against him who is the way to heaven? John 14:6; Isaiah 63:10.
5. Will you say that that man has a heart to go to heaven—who is still a-grieving, vexing, and quenching that Spirit of holiness—who alone can fit, frame, and form him for heaven?
6. Will you say that that man has a heart to go to heaven—who rarely spends a serious thought of heaven, and that lives in this world as if there were no heaven?
7. Will you say that that man has a heart to go to heaven, whose sinful courses speak him out to be one of those who have made a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell? Isaiah 28:15, 18.
8. Do you think that that man has a heart to go to heaven—who detests those most who are the best wooers for heaven?
9. Do you think that that man has any heart to go to heaven—who can take no pleasure nor delight in those who are traveling towards heaven? Romans 3:8; 1 Cor. 4:9-10.
10. Will you say that that man has a heart to go to heaven—who will do nothing affectionately for heaven—who will not hear for heaven, nor pray for heaven, nor trade for heaven, nor look for heaven, nor long for heaven, nor strive for heaven, nor wait for heaven? [No man ever went to heaven sleeping.]
The heart commands all, it carries all; if the heart were bent for heaven, the head would contrive for heaven, the eye would look out for heaven, and the ear would hear for heaven, and the tongue would speak for heaven, and the foot would walk towards heaven, and the hand would do for heaven. By all which, it is most evident that unholy people are not cordially willing to go to heaven. It is most certain that unholy people have no such great mind to go to heaven as some imagine. When Dives was in hell, his desire was not to be with Abraham in heaven—but that Lazarus might come and give him a little ease in hell; he preferred a little ease in hell before his being with Abraham in heaven, Luke 16:24, 27-29. Neither did he desire that his five brethren might go to heaven—but that they might be kept out of hell; and that not out of love to them—but out of love to himself, he knowing that their company would be no small increase of his own torments.
Heaven would be a very hell to an unholy heart. If now the presence of God in his servants, and the presence of God in his ordinances—is such a hell to unholy souls; ah, what a hell would the presence of God in heaven be to unholy hearts! It is true an unholy heart may desire heaven, as it is a place of freedom from troubles, afflictions, oppressions, vexations, etc., and as it is a place of peace, rest, ease, safety, etc.—but this is the least and lowest part of heaven; but to desire it as it is, a place of purity, of grace, of holiness, of enjoying of God, etc., is above the reach of an unholy heart. The company of heaven are all holy, the employments of heaven are all holy, and the enjoyments of heaven are all holy; and therefore heaven cannot but be an undesirable thing to unholy hearts. An unholy heart is no way desirous nor ambitious of such a heaven as will rid him of his darling sins, as will make him conformable to a holy God, as will everlastingly divorce him from his old lusts, and link him forever to those gracious souls whom he has scorned, despised, and persecuted in this world. Ergo, etc.
Reason 5. Fifthly and lastly—Because without real holiness men are good for nothing, they are fit for nothing.Without holiness men are neither good for church nor state, they are neither fit to rule nor to be ruled; to command, nor to be commanded; to guide, nor to be guided, etc. Men void of holiness are in the Scripture resembled to chaff, to dust, to dirt, to briars and thorns—which are things which are good for nothing—which are fit for nothing. [Psalm 1:4; Isaiah 41:2; Zeph. 1:17; Ezek. 2:6; Isaiah 9:18, 10:6, 17, and 57:27.] And what should such men do in heaven, who are good for nothing on earth? The horse is good to carry, the ox is good to draw the plow, the sheep is good for cloth, the cow is good to give milk, the donkey is good to carry, and the dog is good to protect the house; but what is a man void of holiness good for? An unholy person is good for nothing but to be destroyed, and to make some room for a better person to stand up in that place which he takes up in the world.
As the hog in the Arabic fable tells us that a butcher, carrying three creatures upon his horse—a sheep, a goat, and a hog—the two former lay very quiet and still—but the hog kicked, and cried, and would never be quiet. Thereupon the butcher said, "Why are you so impatient when the other two are so quiet?" The hog answered, "Everyone knows himself; the sheep knows that he is brought into the city for his wool's sake, and the goat knows that he is brought into the city for his milk's sake, and so they need not fear nor care; but, alas, I know very well that I have neither wool nor milk—but that as soon as I am come into the city I must be killed—for that is all I am good for." An unholy person is like a hog—good for nothing but to be killed, Mat. 7:6.
Certainly heaven-happiness is too great and too glorious a thing to be possessed by those who are good for nothing. We look upon such as are fit for nothing, to be worthy of banishment from the society of men. But oh, how much more worthy are they to be banished from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power, and to be shut out forever from the society of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect—who are fit for nothing but to dishonor the Lord, undo their own souls, and to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath! 2 Thes. 1:8-9; Heb. 12:22-23; Romans 2:5.
And thus I have given you an account of the reasons of the point.