The Necessity, Excellency, Rarity, and Beauty of Holiness
Thomas Brooks, 1662
We come now to the Practical Application
Use 1. We shall now come to make some improvement of this great truth to our own souls. Is it so, that real holiness is the only way to happiness, and that without holiness here, no man shall ever come to a blessed vision or fruition of God hereafter? Then the first use shall be a use of CONVICTION. This, then, may serve to convince the world of several things: As,
1. First, That the number of those who shall be eternally happy, the number of those who shall attain to a blessed vision and glorious fruition of God in heaven—are very FEW; for there are but a few that reach to this holiness without which there is no happiness: Rev. 3:4, "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy." Among the many in Sardis there were but a few who had holy insides and pure outsides. [A few names, that is, a few people: Acts 1:15, who are all known to Christ by name; as he said to Moses, "I know you by name," Exod. 33:12, 17. By these scriptures it is evident that few shall be saved, Jer. 5:1; Ezek. 22:30, and 9:4, 6-7; Micah 1:13-15; Luke 23:28, seq.; Romans 9:21; Mat. 22:14; 1 Cor. 1:20.]
Among the multitude who made a holy profession, there were but few who walked answerable to their holy calling; and therefore but a few who would walk with Christ in white. White in ancient times was the dress of nobles: to walk with Christ in white, is to partake with Christ in his glory. They, and only they, at last shall be clothed nobly, royally, gloriously—who maintain inward and outward purity. The holy seed is a "little, little flock," Luke 12:32. Here are two diminutives in the Greek, "little, little flock;" to show the exceeding littleness of it. They were little in their own eyes, and little in their enemies' eyes, and little in regard of that world of wolves among whom they were preserved, as a spark of fire in the midst of the wide ocean.
When the Syrians came up against Israel in the time of Ahab, it is said that "the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of goats—but the Syrians filled the country," 1 Kings 20:27. Holy souls are but like two little flocks of goats; but the unholy fill the world. Gracious souls are like the three hundred men of Gideon; but graceless souls are as the Midianites, that were like grasshoppers for multitude, Judges 7:7, 12.
"Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Mat. 7:14. The way of holiness which leads to happiness, is a narrow way; there is but just room enough for a holy God and a holy soul to walk together. And few there are, who find it. And no wonder; for there are but few who mind it, who love it, who like it, or who inquire after it. "The whole world lies in wickedness," 1 John 5:19, and will die in their wickedness, John 8:21. If all the known parts of the world were divided into thirty-one parts, there will be found but five parts that do so much as profess the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ: for at this day, nineteen parts of the world are possessed by unholy Turks and Jews, which do not, nor will not so much as acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the King and Head of his church; and seven parts of the world is possessed this day merely by heathens, who worship stocks and stones. And of those five parts which are possessed by Christians, how many are Papists, atheists, hypocrites, drunkards, swearers, liars, adulterers, idolaters, oppressors! How many are proud, covetous, carnal, formal, lukewarm, indifferent, etc.! Now, should all these sorts of sinners be separated, as they shall in the great day, from those who are truly gracious and holy, would it not quickly appear that the flock of Christ is a little, little flock?
Ah, how few among the great ones are found to be gracious! How few among the rich are found to be rich in Christ, rich in grace, rich in good works! How few among those who are high-born, can you find who are new-born! 1 Cor. 1:16; 1 Tim. 6:16-17. It was the saying of Lipsius, that "the names of all godly princes may easily be written in a small ring." I have read of Mr. Buchanan, that was King James' tutor, who lying upon his dying bed, desired a nobleman then with him to tell the king that his old master, Buchanan, was going to a place where few kings come. "Kings are as rare meat in heaven as venison is in poor men's kitchens," says the Dutch proverb. And how few among the wise can you find who are wise for heaven, who are wise for their souls, who are wise for eternity! And how few among the learned, can you find who have learned Christ, and learned their own hearts, and learned to deny themselves, and learned to save their own souls! By all which it is most evident that few are holy, and that few shall be happy. But,
2. Secondly, and more particularly—Is it so that real holiness is the only way to happiness—and that without holiness here, no man shall ever come to a blessed vision or fruition of God hereafter? Then this may serve to convince several sorts of people of their woeful and miserable conditions.As,
(1.) First, All PROFANE people, who give up themselves to wickedness, who wallow in all ungodliness, and delight themselves in all manner of filthiness, who commit wickedness with greediness; who draw iniquity and sin with cords of vanity; who weary themselves to commit iniquity; who are so desperately set upon wickedness, that neither the rod of God, the lashes and checks of their own consciences, nor the flashes of hell upon their souls—can stop them; who are resolved that they will gratify their lusts, though they damn their souls; and who will live wickedly, though they perish eternally; who by custom in sin have destroyed all conscience of sin, and contracted such desperate hardness upon their own hearts, as neither God's smiles nor frowns, promises nor threatenings, life nor death, heaven nor hell, ministry nor misery, miracle nor mercy—can possibly hinder them. These are grown from evil—to be very evil; from very evil, to be stark evil; these souls are sadly abandoned by God, and woefully blinded by Satan, and fully ripened for ruin. [Job 21:14; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; Isaiah 66:3; Eph. 4:19 Isaiah 5:19; Jer. 9:5.]
Now if without holiness no man shall see the Lord, what will become of all profane wretches, who are so far from being holy, that they fall short of common honesty? Certainly God will shut the gates of glory upon such workers of iniquity. "All will be damned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." 2 Thessalonians 2:12. Such profane Esaus shall never be blessed with a sight of God in glory, Mat. 7:22. A wicked man is a sin-lover; he is a sin-maker, he lives in sin upon choice; the Hebrew word that is commonly used for a wicked man, properly signifies a laborious sinner, a practitioner in sin, Psalm 11:5; 1 John 3:8. Now such as these are, God will have nothing to do with: Job 8:20, "Behold God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evildoers;" or rather as the Hebrew denotes, "he will not take the ungodly by the hand," that is, he will not have any fellowship, any society, any familiarity with the ungodly. The holy God will not so much as take an unholy soul by the hand; he will not in the least countenance him nor respect him; he will not welcome him nor entertain him, nor show the least favor to him. Now certainly if God will not take the wicked by the hand, he will never take them into heaven, he will never take them into his bosom. God will have no commerce nor communion with those to whom he will not so much as lend a hand. God will wash his hands of them forever—to whom he will not give a hand. Which made Augustine say, that "he would not be a wicked man one half-hour for all the world, because he might die in that half-hour." God will wash his hands of every man who lives and dies a wicked man, Mat. 25:11-12. The hearts and ways of wicked men are full of hells; and therefore to fill heaven with such, would be to fill heaven with hells.
(2.) Secondly, This truth may serve to convince those who are SCOFFERS and mockers at holiness, of their woeful and miserable estate.2 Pet. 3:3; Jude 18. Holiness is so high and so noble a thing, that men should rather honor it than deride it—reverence it than reproach it; they should rather set a crown of glory than a crown of thorns upon the head of it. Holiness is the glorious image of God fairly stamped upon the soul; and to deride holiness is to deride God himself. God takes all the affronts which are done to his image—as done to himself; and this scoffers shall know at last to their eternal woe.
If it was such a heinous crime in Tiberius' days, to carry the image of Augustus upon a ring or coin into any sordid place; ah, how heinous a crime is it then to cast dirt and filth, scorn and reproach upon holiness, which is the image of the invisible God! The despite and contempt that is done to the image or coin of a prince is done to the prince himself, and accordingly he will revenge it.
In old Rome there were near as many statues as there were living people, and some were made of gold, some of silver, some of brass, some of ivory, and some of polished marble; and there was an earl appointed whose office it was continually to walk up and down in the night, attended with many soldiers, to see that no one harmed the statues which were set up in the city; and if any such were found that had harmed any of the statues, they were put to death. Holiness is the statue of God, and such as shall dare to deface it and wrong it—God will destroy.
The old world scoffed and scorned at righteousness—and God sweeps them away with a flood. Ham mocked and scoffed at righteous Noah—and what did he get by it, but a curse? Ishmael scoffed at holy Isaac—and what did he get by his scoffing and mocking, but ejection out of Abraham's family? And what became of those forty-two young scoffers that scoffed and mocked at holy Elisha? Were they not cursed in the name of the Lord, and torn in pieces by two she-bears which were more fierce and cruel than others? The Jews were given up to scoffing and mocking of the messengers of the Lord, until there was no remedy: until old and young were destroyed by the sword of the Chaldeans; until their temple and city were bured and sacked, and thirty of them sold for a penny, etc., and those who escaped the sword were captivated and enslaved. Sennacherib scoffed and mocked at the virgin daughter of Zion—but his scoffs resulted in the destruction of his army by the hand of an angel, and in his own destruction by the hands of his two sons. [Gen. 9:22, 25, and 21:9, 15. The apostle interprets Ishmael's mocking to be persecution. Gal. 4:27; 2 Kings 2:23, 24; 2 Chron. 30:10, and 36:15, 21; 2 Kings 19:20, seq.]
Julian, the emperor, was a great mocker and scoffer at the Christians—but God struck him with an arrow from heaven, which made him cry out "You Galilean, [meaning our Lord Jesus,] have overcome me!" Felix, for one malicious scoff, did nothing day and night but vomit blood, until his unhappy soul was separated from his wretched body. Lucian, for barking against true religion as a dog, was by the just judgments of God devoured of dogs. History tells us of some scoffers that God has stricken with madness, others with blindness, others with loathsome diseases, and some God has stricken dead, and others he has left to be their own executioners. Scoffing at holiness is a capital sin—and therefore no wonder if God executes upon scoffers, capital judgments. Mockers and scoffers are the worst of sinners.
Among the three sorts of sinners that David mentions, scorners have the chair—the chair of pestilence, as the Septuagint translates it. Scorners are the pests of mankind. The eye of the scorner is blinded; the heart of the scorner is hardened; the judgment of the scorner is perverted; the will of the scorner is enthralled, and the conscience of the scorner is seared, and this makes the scorner fall mad upon scoffing at holy men and holy things. Look! as they are the worst of servants that will scoff and mock a child in the family, because he is his father's picture—though they take wages of his father, and live by his father—so they are the worst of sinners who scoff at holiness, which is the very picture of God, though they live by him and cannot live without him. Yet this world is full of such monsters, who count it a grace to disgrace holiness, and to laden holy ones with all the names of scorn and contempt that they can invent, or that Satan can help them to. "These are your holy brethren, these are fanatics, these are your holy sect, these are your pure souls, these are your strict precisians, these are the saints, these are the brotherhood." Such scoffing is devised by the devil himself to scoff and mock men out of their holiness.
It has been the common portion of men most eminent in grace and holiness—to be most scoffed and scorned in all ages, Job 17:2; Neh. 4:1; Isaiah 28:22; Luke 18:32. Witness Noah, Isaac, and Elisha just now cited, and witness Job, chapter 21:3, "Bear with me while I speak; then after I have spoken, you may continue mocking;" chapter 12:4, "I am a laughingstock to my friends, by calling on God, who answers me. The righteous and upright man is a laughingstock." Just so, David, Psalm 35:16, "They mock me with the worst kind of profanity, and they snarl at me." Psalm 44:14, "You make us a joke among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples." Psalm 79:4, "We have become an object of reproach to our neighbors, a source of mockery and ridicule to those around us." Psalm 109:25, "I have become an object of ridicule to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn." Just so, Jeremiah, chapter 20:7, "I am in derision daily, everyone mocks me." Just so, Paul, Acts 17:18, "What will this babbler say?" Just so, the apostles, Acts 2:13, "But others in the crowd were mocking—They're drunk, that's all!" Just so, those worthies of whom this world was not worthy, Heb. 11:36, "Others had trial of cruel mockings."
But, above all, how sadly, how frequently, yes, how fearfully was our Lord Jesus Christ scoffed and scorned by Herod and Pilate, and flouted by the rascally soldiers! but the vengeance of his Father overtook them all. [Mat. 26:68, and 27:29, 31; Luke 22:63, and 23:11; Mark 15:31. Yes, the philosophers called Christ a magician, and affirmed that he did all by necromancy.] And in the primitive times, as Tertullian observes, the saints were called herds of donkeys, vile fellows, the disciples of a crucified man, Galileans, Nazarites, eaters of men's flesh, and drinkers of men's blood. The heathens painted the God of the Christians with an donkey's head, and a book in his hand; to signify that though the Christians pretended to knowledge—yet they were a company of silly ignorant donkeys. The libertines of old have cast much scorn and contempt upon all the apostles: they call Matthew a usurer, Peter an apostate, Luke a paltry physician, Paul a broken vessel, and John a foolish young man, etc., by way of scorn and contempt. The godly Cyprian was called Coprian, one that gathers up dung; and so Luther, Calvin, and almost everyone that has attained to any eminency in holiness, they have been commonly accounted as the offscouring and refuse among the people, 1 Cor. 4:13-14; Lam. 2:15-16, and 4:2.
Now certainly if holiness be the only way to happiness, etc., then such as are scorners and scoffers at holiness are out of the very way to happiness. And how such are likely to come to heaven, who scorn the very path that leads to heaven—I shall leave you to judge. If the ravens of the valley shall pick out his eyes, who mocks his father, and the young eagles eat out his eyes, who despises the instruction of his mother, as Solomon speaks, then of how much more severe a punishment are they guilty of, who mock and scoff at holiness, which is the very image, picture, and glory of God himself! [Proverbs 30:17. The first thing that eagles do when they have found a carcass, is to pick out its eyes.]
Holiness is so near akin to God, that no man can deride holiness—but he derides God himself. As he who "mocks the poor, derides him who made him," Proverbs 17:5, so he who mocks holy ones derides that God that made them holy. And will God take this at the scorner's hands? No, he will retaliate; he loves to retaliate scorn upon the scorner: Proverbs 3:34, "Surely he scorns the scorners!" God will pay back scorners in their own coin; scorners shall be sure to have scorning enough. God so scorns the people and prayers of scorners, that he will have nothing to do with them, Proverbs 1:24-33; Psalm 2:4; Isaiah 37:36. The angels so scorn scorners, that instead of being a life-guard to them, they stand ready engaged to execute the vengeance of God upon them. And saints are so far to scorn them, by a divine precept, as not to reprove them: Proverbs 9:8, "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you." Yes, God in his just judgments will make scorners to be an abomination to all sorts of men. Proverbs 24:9, "The scorner is an abomination to men;" that is, to all sorts of men. The scorner is an abomination not only to holy men—but also to all civil and moral honest men. As the scorner's tongue and hand is against every man—so every man's tongue and hand shall be against him. Now if the scorners of men be abominable to men, then much more are the scorners of holiness abominable to God, and therefore certainly such shall be shut out from a glorious fruition of God.
3. Thirdly, If real holiness be the only way to happiness, and that if men are not holy on earth, they shall never come to a blessed vision or fruition of God in heaven; then, by way of conviction, this looks sourly and sadly upon all FORMALISTS who have only a form, a show, a profession of holiness—but have nothing of the reality, spirit, life, or power of holiness in them."Having a form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:5. They have a face, a cloak, a mask, a show of godliness—but they have nothing of the pith, sap, life, or marrow of godliness. Their devotion, their godliness, lies in good words, and in fair shows, and in religious gestures, Isaiah 58:1-3, and Zech. 7:4-6. If you hearken to their voice, if you look upon their eyes, if you observe the motion of their hands, and the bowing of their knees, and the shaking of their heads, etc., you would think that they were men of much religion, of much godliness; but if you look into their hearts and lives, you will find them to be the greatest renouncers and deniers of religion and godliness in the world. They have the semblance of godliness—but not the substance; they have the lineaments of godliness—but not the life; they have the face of godliness—but not the heart; they have the form, the shadow of godliness—but not the power. They are like a well-drawn picture, which has all the lineaments of a man—but lacks life, lacks a principle of motion and operation. Mark—
1. The form of godliness is common—but the power of godliness is rare.
2. The form of godliness is cheap—but the power of godliness is dear.
3. The form of godliness is easy—but the power of godliness is difficult.
4. The form of godliness is credited by the world—but the power of godliness is a reproach.
5. The form of godliness is pleasurable and delightful—but the power of godliness is displeasing and undelightful to the ignoble part of a Christian.
6. The form of godliness exists with secret and with open wickedness—as you see in Saul, Jehu, Judas, Simon Magus, Demas, and the Scribes and Pharisees—but the power of godliness will not. The power of godliness lays the axe to the very root of all sin, both secret and open. Rachel was very fair and beautiful to the eye—but she was barren—and that marred all. Just so, the formalist, he is a very fair and beautiful professor to the eye—but he is barren Godwards, and Christwards, and heavenwards; he is fruitless, sapless, and lifeless—and that mars all.
The formalist takes up a form of godliness—
1. To quiet his conscience;
2. To get himself a name;
3. To cloak over his sins;
4. To advance his worldly interest;
5. To avoid opposition and persecution from the world, the flesh, and the devil;
6. And to conform to old customs.
What would such formalists do in heaven? A formal Christian is but a figure, a flaunt, a flourish, a flash—and all he does is but the shadow of what he should do. A formalist is more light than life, more notion than motion, more head than heart, more outside than inside, more leaves than fruit, more shadow than substance. A formalist is a blazing comet, a painted tomb, a stage-player, a white devil, or a devil in an angel's garb! What would such devils do in heaven? Certainly if without real holiness no man shall see the Lord, then the formalist, who has only the shape, the show, the form of godliness—but nothing of the reality and power of it, shall never be blessed with such a sight of heaven. A formalist is neither hot nor cold—he is lukewarm. Of all sorts of sinners he is the worst; and God so loathes him, that he is resolved he will rid his stomach of him: Rev. 3:16, "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth." Certainly heaven is too holy a place to lick up that filth which God has vomited up. Lukewarm water cannot be so loathsome to our stomachs as a formalist is to God's. God is never so relieved, as when he has vomited up and vomited out the formal Christian.
I have read of Anastasius the emperor, how God shot him to death with a thunderbolt because of his lukewarmness and formality. God has a thunderbolt for every formalist, by which he will at last certainly strike them down to the lowest hell. A formalist is too loathsome a thing, too heavy a burden, for heaven to bear.
4. Fourthly, If real holiness be the only way to happiness; if men must be holy on earth, or else they shall never see the face of God in heaven; then this truth, by way of conviction, looks sourly and sadly upon all those who please and satisfy themselves with mere CIVILITY and common MORALITY; who are good negative Christians, who bless themselves that they are not swearers, nor drunkards, nor extortioners, nor adulterers, etc.; they pay every man his own, they are just and righteous in their dealings; no man can say they were wronged by them; their behavior is civil, lovely, harmless, and blameless. [Luke 18:10-14; Mat. 5:21, and 19:20-22.]
"They make a fair show in the flesh," Gal. 6:12, or as the Greek has it, they set a good face on it. But as good a face as they set on it, I must tell them that civility is not sanctity; civility rested in is but a beautiful abomination—a smooth way to hell and destruction. I may truly say of all civil men—who are destitute of that real holiness that leads to happiness—what Erasmus said of Seneca: If you look upon him as a heathen, then he seems to write as if he were a Christian; but if you look upon him as a Christian, then he seems to write as a heathen. Just so, if you look upon many civil, moral men's lives, you will find them so full of sincerity, equity, righteousness, sweetness, and justice, that you will be ready to say, Sure these are holy men. But then do but observe how unacquainted they are with God, with Christ, with the Scripture, with the way and working of the Spirit, with the filthiness of sin, with the depths and devices of Satan, with their own hearts, with the new birth, and with the great concerns of eternity, and you will judge them to be mere heathens, to be men void of all principles of grace and holiness, and to be utter strangers to union and communion with Christ, and to the more secret and inward operations and workings of the Spirit of Christ, and to the most spiritual duties and services which are commanded by Christ.
Civility is very often the nurse of impiety, the mother of flattery, and an enemy to real sanctity. A high conceit of civility keeps many a man from looking after inward and outward purity. Morality proves to many men a bond of iniquity. [Mat. 5:19, 20; Acts 7:54, 13:50, and 17:17-18; Romans 8:7.] There are those who are so blinded with the fair shows of civility, that they can neither see the necessity nor beauty of sanctity; there are those who now bless themselves in their common morality, whom at last God will scorn and cast off for lack of real holiness and purity, Mat. 25:3, 11-12.
Many of the heathen were so famous for justice and uprightness, for equity, fidelity, and sobriety, for civility and morality—that it would put many professors to the blush to read what is written of them! And yet there was such a tincture of popular applause, of pride and vainglory, of hypocrisy and self-flattery, upon their civility and morality, that, for anything we can find in Scripture to the contrary, there is cause to fear that they shall be miserable to all eternity: for all their civility and morality, they were left in a damnable, I will not say in a damned, condition.
He who rises to no higher pitch than civility and morality shall never have communion with God in glory. Naaman was a great man—but he was a leper, 2 Kings 5:1; Naaman was an honorable man—but a leper; Naaman was a mighty man—but he was a leper; Naaman was a victorious man—but he was a leper; Naaman was in high favor and esteem with his prince—but he was a leper. This but he was a leper stained all his honor, and was a blot upon all his greatness and glory, both at court and in the field, both in the city and in the country. Just so, it is a stain, a blot upon the most moral man in the world to say, he is a very civil honest man—but Christless; he is a very just man—but graceless; he is a man of much moral righteousness—but he has not a grain of real holiness, etc. This but is a fly in the box of ointment, that spoils all.
Well, sirs, remember this, though the moral man is good for many things—yet he is not good enough to go to heaven, he is not good enough to be made glorious, Mat. 5:20. Certainly there is nothing in all the world, below real sanctity, which will ever bring a man to the possession of glory. And though it may grieve us—to speak after the manner of men—to see sweet natures, to see many moral honest men, take many a weary step towards heaven, and to come near to heaven, and to bid fair for heaven—and yet after all to fall short of heaven; yet it will be no way grievous to a holy God to turn such sweet natures into hell, Psalm 9:17. Morality is not sufficient to keep a man out of eternal misery; all it can do is to help a man to one of the best rooms and easiest beds which hell affords. For, look, as the moral man's sins are not so great as others, so his punishments shall not be so great as others. This is all the comfort that can be afforded to a moral man, that he shall have a cooler hell than others have: but this is but cold comfort. Morality without piety is as a body without a soul. Will God ever accept of such a stinking sacrifice? Surely not!
"The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:11-14
5. Fifthly, If real holiness be the only way to happiness; if men must be holy on earth, or else they shall never come to a fruition of God in heaven; then this truth, by way of conviction, looks sourly and sadly upon all DOUBLE-MINDED men,who divide their hearts between God and mammon, Mat. 6:19. These halt between God and Baal, 1 Kings 18:21; and divide their souls between heaven and earth, between piety and their lusts, Zeph. 1:5. They are like the Samaritans, who both worshiped the Lord, and the Assyrians' idols too, 2 Kings 17:32-33, and 18:11. A double-minded man is a monster; he has two tongues, two minds, and two souls: he has a tongue for God, and a tongue for the world too; he looks up to God, and says, "Certainly you are mine!" He looks down upon the world, and says, "Surely I am yours!" He has a mind to be religious, and a mind to save his own stake in the world too. [James 1:8. A double-souled man, Mat. 19:16, 26.]
He has a soul reaching after the happiness of another world: "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his," says Balaam, Num. 23:10; and he has a soul strongly reaching after this evil world too, as if heaven and happiness were enrapt up in it. As you may see in the same person, "he loved the wages of unrighteousness:" he loved it as his portion, he loved it as his life, he loved it as his happiness, he loved it as his all; he loved it as his soul, yes, he loved it above his own soul—for he damned his soul to gain it! [Callenuceus tells us of a nobleman of Naples, who was accustomed profanely to say that he had two souls in his body, one for God, and another for whoever would buy it.] It is true, when he was under a divine restraint, he professed that he would not curse the people of God for a house full of gold; but when he was free from under that restraint, his heart was so set upon the unrighteous reward, that he would have cursed them for a handful of gold. The double-minded man, as the Romans paint Erasmus, hangs between heaven and earth; he is neither fit to go to heaven, nor yet worthy to live on earth. If Meroz was to be certainly cursed, to be bitterly cursed, to be universally cursed—as the Hebrew phrase, "with cursing, curse Meroz," imports, in Judges 5:23—for standing double-minded when they should have come forth to the help of the Lord; do you think that double-minded man in religion shall be blessed? Do you think that ever such shall go to heaven, who are indifferent whether they go to heaven or not? or that ever such shall be happy, who are indifferent whether they are holy or not? or that ever such shall see the face of Christ with joy, who are indifferent whether they have an interest in Christ or not? or that ever such shall be admitted into the kingdom of glory, who are indifferent whether they ever have any entrance into the kingdom of grace or not? Certainly heaven is too holy to hold any such indifferent, irresolute, double-minded men. [Double-minded men are traitors; they betray Christ for the world's sake, and the world for Christ's sake; and themselves for sin and Satan's sake. And who will not refuse and scorn traitors?]
God will refuse them, because he loathes halting; angels will refuse them, because they loathe halving; godly men will refuse them, because they loathe lukewarmness; and bad men will refuse them, because they pretend to goodness, though they live in wickedness. Double-minded men in religion, are ignominious disgracers both of the name and profession of Christians; they are prodigious traitors to the crown of heaven; they are the greatest enemies to the power of godliness; they are the very offspring of Judas; and in the day of account it will be found that it would have been good for them that they had never been born.
Neutrality is the spiritual adultery of the heart. Double-minded men are spiritual harlots; they have their hearts divided between God and mammon, between Christ and other lovers. Now harlots in ancient time were to be burnt, Gen. 38:24. Certainly hell is for the double-minded man—and the double-minded man for hell. God will be as severe, yes, more severe, in punishing, spiritual whoredom, than ever men have been in punishing bodily whoredom. God looks upon every double-minded man as in arms against him: Mat. 12:30, "He who is not with me, is against me;" and, therefore, martial law shall be executed upon them. God will blot out their names, and hang them up as monuments of his justice and vengeance.
Sirs, do not deceive your own souls; no man was ever yet carried to glory in the chariot of neutrality or mediocrity. He who is not throughout holy—is not really holy; and he who is not really holy—can never be truly happy. It is only thorough holiness which entitles a man to everlasting happiness, 1 Pet. 1:15; 2 Pet. 3:11. The true mother would not have the child divided; she would have all or none; you must be for all holiness, or for none. Double-minded men divide and cut those things asunder, which God has closely joined together; but at last God will suit their punishment to their sin, and cut them asunder, Mat. 24:51, and Luke 12:46. Now the double-minded man chooses here a piece, and there a piece; and at last God will cut him in pieces, as Samuel did Agag, 1 Sam. 15:33. Well, double-minded man—you divide one command from another, one duty from another, one promise from another, one threatening from another, one ordinance from another, and one way of God from another. But the day is a-coming wherein God will divide your souls from your bodies, and both from himself, his Son, his saints, and his glory forever!
6. Sixthly, If real holiness be the only way to happiness; if men must be holy on earth, or they shall never come to a fruition of God in heaven; then this truth, by way of conviction, looks sourly and sadly upon all HYPOCRITES, who have only a pretend holiness, a feigned holiness, a counterfeit holiness.The apostle speaks of a true holiness, Eph. 4:24—or holiness of truth, as the Greek reads it—in opposition to that feigned and counterfeit holiness that is in the world. Pretended holiness is most opposite to the holiness of God. Hypocritical holiness is the greatest unholiness; and as God has, so certainly God will still suit the punishment to the sin. If it was death in the law of Moses, to counterfeit that ceremonial and figurative ointment, Exod. 30:32-33; what shall it then be to counterfeit the spirit of life and holiness?
Dissembled sanctity is double iniquity. He who professes piety without being pious, and godliness without being godly; he who makes counterfeit holiness a cloak to impiety, and a midwife to iniquity; he who is a Jacob without—and an Esau within, a David without—and a Saul within, a Peter without—and a Judas within, a saint without—and a Satan within, an angel without—and a devil within, is ripened for the worst of torments! Mat. 24:51, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Hypocrites are the freeholders of hell; all other sinners do but hold under them. None have so large a portion in hell as hypocrites have. No man at last will be found so miserable as he who has the name of a saint upon him—but not the divine nature in him; who has a profession of holiness upon him—but no principles of holiness in him; who has a form of godliness—but not the power; who can cry up godliness, and court godliness—but in practice denies it; who is a Jew outwardly—but an atheist, a pagan, a devil inwardly.
Who had a greater name for holiness, and who made a greater show of holiness, and who did more despise and insult over men for the lack of holiness—than the Scribes and Pharisees? And who so miserable now—as they? Mat. 23:14, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers; therefore you shall receive the greater damnation." Pretended holiness will double-damn souls at last. ["There is not a more cruel creature, more impatient and vindictive, than a hypocrite," said he who had the experience of it in his own person.]
Sirs, do not deceive your own souls. A painted sword shall as soon defend a man, and a painted mint shall as soon enrich a man, and a painted fire shall as soon warm a man, and a painted friend shall as soon counsel a man, and a painted horse shall as soon carry a man, and a painted feast shall as soon satisfy a man, and a painted house shall as soon shelter a man—as a painted holiness shall save a man! He who now thinks to put off God with a painted holiness, shall not fare so well at last—as to be put off with a painted happiness. The lowest, the hottest, and the darkest habitation in hell will be his portion—whose religion lies all in shows and shadows.
Well, spiritual counterfeits, remember this—it will not be long before Christ will unmask you, before he will uncloak you, before he will disrobe you, before he will take off your masks, your cloaks, and turn your rotten insides outward, to your eternal shame and reproach before all the world. Counterfeit diamonds may sparkle and glisten, and make a great show for a time—but their luster will soon wear off. Nothing counterfeit will last long.
Maud, mother to King Henry the Second, being besieged in Winchester Castle, pretended herself to be dead, and so was carried out in a coffin, whereby she escaped; at another time, being besieged at Oxford in a cold winter, by wearing white apparel she got away in the snow undiscovered; but at last vengeance did overtake her. Just so, though hypocrites may for a time seem to be dead to sin, and dead to the world, though they may clothe themselves with a snow-like purity, and with the white satin of pretend sanctity—yet God at last will unmask and uncloak them, and vengeance will overtake them, Job 17:8, and 36:13; Isaiah 33:14. Hypocrites are like blazing stars, which, so long as they are fed with vapors, shine as if they were fixed stars; but let the vapors dry up, and presently they vanish and disappear. As the joy of the hypocrite, so the goodness of the hypocrite—is but for a moment; it is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew. A hypocrite is a mere comet, a flaunt, a flash. Principles of holiness are lasting—but hypocrisy makes a man only constant in inconstancy, Job 20:5; Hosea 6:4.
7. Seventhly, If real holiness be the only way to happiness; if men must be holy on earth, or they shall never come to a fruition of God in heaven; then this truth, by way of conviction, looks sourly and sadly upon such who please and bless themselves with common gifts and COMMON GRACE, with a gift of knowledge, a gift of faith, a gift of prayer, a gift of utterance, a gift of memory, etc., when they have nothing of real holiness in them. Like those in Mat. 7:22-23, who had great gifts—but were so far from real sanctity, that they were workers of iniquity; they had a flood of gifts—but not a drop of grace; they had many gifts—but not one saving grace: they could work miracles—but that miracle of holiness being not wrought in them, Christ takes an everlasting farewell of them, "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity."
Just so, those in Heb. 6 had enlightened heads; but where was their humbleness and holiness of heart? They had silver tongues; but where was their sanctified souls? They had some tastes and relishes of heaven's glory; but where was their inward and outward purity? Notwithstanding all their extraordinary gifts of speaking with tongues, casting out of devils, and opening of prophecies—yet were they not renewed, regenerated, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. [As nurses' milk is of use to others—but of none to themselves.] Their gifts might be of singular use to the enlightening, quickening, edifying, comforting, and encouraging of others—and yet never have any influence upon their own hearts—to the changing, renewing, and sanctifying of them. Men of greatest gifts are not always men of greatest holiness. The Scribes and Pharisees, Judas, Demas, Balaam, and Simon Magus, were men of great gifts—and yet they had no real holiness. They had the ninety-nine gifts which Christ looks not after—but lacked the one, namely, real holiness, which with Christ is all in all. The devil has greater gifts than any man on earth—and yet he is a devil still. Gifts without holiness will but make a man twice told the child of hell, Mat. 23:15. [Augustine trembled when he considered the extraordinary gifts and abilities which were in his unsaved child, to think what God meant in giving such rare gifts to such an impure creature.] The more of gifts here, without holiness--the more of hell hereafter.
The greatest scholars have often proved the greatest sinners, the stoutest opposers, and the worst of persecutors. There are none so wicked as he who is wise—and yet wicked. The highest gifts many times prove but the smoothest paths to the chambers of hell. As the richer the ship is laden with bars of silver and gold—the deeper it sinks; just so, the richer the soul is laden with silver parts and golden gifts—and yet not balanced with real holiness, the deeper it sinks under wrath and misery. And no wonder, for—
1. Gifts do but tickle the ear—they do not cleanse the heart.
2. They do but stir the affections—they do not kill corruptions.
3. They are but ornaments to a man's profession—they have no saving influence upon a man's life. They tempt a man to take up with the world—but they never help a man to overcome the world.
4. They make a man wise to deceive, and wise to delude both himself and others. Rare accomplishments are many times turned into beautiful ornaments to adorn the devil and error with.
5. The gifted man cares not who is most holy—but only that he may be most honored. He cares not who is highest in favor with God—but only that he may be highest in favor with men. He cares not who is most serviceable—but only that he may be most acceptable. He cares not who gets most of the eternal world—but only that he may have most of this world. And what would such a one do in heaven? Gifts differ as much from real holiness, as an angel in heaven differs from a devil in hell.
6. Gifts makes a man work for life—but holiness makes a man work from life, Zech. 7:5-6.
7. Gifts work a man to set up for himself, and to deal and trade for himself—but holiness works a man to deal for God, and to trade for God and his glory, Romans 14:6-8.
8. Gifts are concerned with outward civilities and formalities—but holiness is concerned with the Holy One, Hab. 1:12.
9. Gifts only restrains the soul—but grace renews and changes the soul.
10. Gifts puffs up the soul—but holiness humbles the soul.
11. Gifts makes a man beautiful, like Rachel—but holiness makes a man fruitful, like Leah.
12. Gifts makes a man most studious and laborious about mending and reforming other men's hearts and lives—but holiness makes a man most studious and industrious in mending and reforming his own heart and life.
13. Gifts makes all glorious without—but holiness makes all glorious within.
14. Gifts makes a good head—but holiness makes a good heart.
15. Gifts envies, lessens, darkens, obscures, and disparages the excellencies of others; but holiness makes a man rejoice in every sun which outshines its own, John 4:14.
16. Gifts are fading and withering—but holiness is an everlasting spring that can never be drawn dry, 1 John 3:9.
17. Gifts draw from God—but holiness draws to God, 1 Cor, 13:1, 6.
Though men of gifts may bid fair for heaven, yes, come so near as to hear the music of heaven—yet without holiness they shall never enter into heaven. When night comes, the father will only take his own child into his house, and though another child which may be much like his own should attempt to come in—yet the father will keep him out, and wish him to go to his own home. Just so, when the night of death comes, the heavenly Father will only take into the family of heaven his own child, namely, the child of holiness; but now if the child of gifts, which is so like the child of holiness, should press hard upon God to come in, as that child of gifts, Baalam, did, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his," Num. 23:10, God will answer him, "No!" He will say to him, as he did to that child of gifts, Judas, "Go to your own place!" Acts 1:25; Mat. 8:12.
In the night of death and judgment, the children of the kingdom (that is, of children of the church) shall be cast out. Now the children of the kingdom are children of gifts—and yet there will come a day when these children shall be cast out. As Abraham put off the sons of the concubines with gifts—but entailed the inheritance upon Isaac, Gen. 25:6, etc.; so God puts off many men now with gifts—but he entails the heavenly inheritance upon holiness: Psalm 24:3-4, "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." Heaven is for that man, and that man is for heaven, who has clean hands and a pure heart, whose holy life is attended with heart purification. A pure heart is better than a golden head; a heart full of holy affections is infinitely beyond a head full of curious notions. There is no jewel, there is no anointing compared to that of holiness. He who has that has all, and he who lacks that has nothing at all. But,
8. Eighthly and lastly, If real holiness be the only way to happiness; if men must be holy on earth, or they shall never come to a blessed fruition of God in heaven; then, by way of conviction, let me say that this truth looks very sourly and angrily upon those who are so far from being holy themselves, that they cannot endure holiness in those who are around them.Ah, how many unholy people are there—who cannot endure holiness in their ministers! And how many unholy husbands are there—who cannot endure holiness in their wives! And how many unholy parents are there—who cannot endure holiness in their children! And how many unholy masters are there—who cannot endure holiness in their servants! The panther, say some, when she cannot come at the man, she rends and tears his picture in pieces; just so, many unholy husbands, unholy fathers, and unholy masters, when they cannot rend and tear their relations in pieces, ah, how do they do their best to rend and tear the image of God upon them, namely, holiness, in pieces! These forlorn souls will not be holy themselves, nor allow others to be holy; they will neither go to heaven themselves, nor allow others to go there who are strongly biased that way, Mat. 23:14-15; 2 Sam. 6:16, 20.
Some despise their gracious relations, because they are holy. Sometimes you shall hear them speak at such a rate as this: "Well, our relations are wise and witty—but so holy; they are very knowing and thriving—but so precise; they have good parts and sweet natures—but they are so strict; they are so perfect, that they will not endure swearing, a lie, etc., and therefore I cannot endure them." These are that man who was so fearfully idle—that his sides would ache to see another work. Just so, these are so fearfully wicked, that it makes their sides, their heads, their very hearts ache—to see others holy. How far these are in their actings below heathens, you may see in Romans 16:10-11. Aristobulus and Narcissus, who are spoken of in this scripture, were both heathens—and yet they had in their families those who were in the Lord, those who were gracious, etc. Heathens were so sincere, that they would not despise that holiness in others, which they lacked in themselves; they were so noble, that they would give holiness house-room, though they knew not how to give it heart-room. Just so, Potiphar, though he was a heathen—yet he gave holy Joseph both house-room and heart-room, Gen. 39:1-4. These, and several other heathens of the like spirit with them, will one day rise in judgment against many in these days which are so far fallen out with holiness, as that they will not endure it under the roof of their houses, yes, as that they make it the greatest matter of scorn and derision.
Like those in Lam. 2:15-16, "All who pass by jeer at you. They scoff and insult Jerusalem, saying—Is this the city called 'Most Beautiful in All the World' and 'Joy of All the Earth'? All your enemies deride you. They scoff and grind their teeth and say—We have destroyed her at last! Long have we awaited this day, and it is finally here!" etc. Ah, how many such monsters are there in these days, who express their derision, disdain, and contempt of holiness and holy people, by all the scornful gestures, postures, and expressions imaginable; who clap their hands, who hiss, who wag their head, who gnash their teeth, and who say, "Lo, these are your saints, these are your holy ones, your perfect ones, your beautiful ones!"
It is very sad to lack holiness—but it is saddest of all to deride holiness, to disdain holiness. Of this evil spirit Salvian complained in his time, "What madness is this—that if a man is godly, he is despised as if he were evil! If he is evil, he is honored as if he were good!" And as great cause have we to complain of the prevalence of the same evil spirit in our times. If the wife is holy, how is she despised by her unholy husband as if she were wicked! 1 Cor. 7:16. If she is wicked, how is she honored as if she were holy! Just so, if the child is gracious, how is he disdained as if he were graceless! if he be graceless, how is he admired as if he were gracious! Just so, if a servant be godly, how is he scorned as if he were godless! if he be godless, how is he applauded as if he were godly! Certainly God will never endure such to stand in his sight—who cannot endure the sight of holiness, Psalm 1:5. Doubtless God will never give them any room in heaven, who will not so much as give holiness a little house-room, I say not heart-room, here. He who now despises and disdains holiness in others, shall at last be eternally despised and disdained for lack of holiness himself.