HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness
The Necessity, Excellency, Rarity, and Beauty of Holiness
Thomas Brooks, 1662
Use 2. TRIAL and EXAMINATION
Is it so, that real holiness is the only way to happiness? Must men be holy on earth, or else they shall never come to a blessed vision or fruition of God in heaven? Oh then, what cause has everyone to try and examine whether he has this real holiness, without which there is no happiness! Now because this is a point of great importance, and a mistake here may undo a man forever; and considering the great averseness and backwardness of men's hearts to this noble and necessary work, I shall therefore in the first place propose some considerations to provoke all your hearts to undertake in good earnest upon this great point of trial and examination. Now to this purpose consider,
1. First, It is possible for you to know whether you have this real holiness or not.It is possible for you by the light of the Spirit, by the light of the word, and by the light of your own consciences, to see whether holiness, which is the image of God—is stamped upon your souls or not. Though it be impossible for you to climb up to heaven to search the records of glory, to see whether your name is written in the book of life—yet it is possible for you to go down into the chambers of your own soul, to enter into the withdrawing-rooms of your own heart—and there to read what impressions of holiness are upon you. Though this work be hard and difficult—yet it is noble and possible; though the heart be deceitful and full of shifts—yet it is possible for a man to make such a particular, such a narrow, such a diligent, such a faithful, and such an impartial search into his own soul—as that he may certainly know whether he has that real holiness which is the pledge of immortal happiness or not; it is possible for him who has this jewel, this holiness, to know it, to find it, and in the beautiful face of holiness to read his own everlasting happiness.
I might call in the experiences of many precious saints—as Abraham, Noah, Jacob, David, Job, Paul, and others—to bear witness to this truth; but I suppose it is needless. What great and weighty, what high and hard, what hazardous and dangerous things do many soldiers, sailors, sick patients, and others, attempt and undertake, upon the mere account of a possibility! It is possible that the soldier may win the field; it is possible that the mariner may make a happy voyage; it is possible that the sick patient may recover; it is possible that he who strives for mastery may overcome, etc.
Now upon this very account, that it is possible, what will they not attempt and endeavor to try? And why then should not Christians, upon the account of a possibility, make a diligent search after that holiness which will at last enthrone the soul in everlasting happiness? Well, Christians, as a possibility of obtaining grace and mercy should bear up your hearts against despair; as a possibility of obtaining a pardon should keep up your hearts in a seeking and a waiting way; and as a possibility of salvation by Christ should be argument sufficient to work a soul to venture itself upon Christ; so a possibility of knowing whether you have this pearl of price, holiness, should work you to make a diligent search and inquiry after it. [Mark 10:27, 14:36, and 9:23; Luke 18:27.]
Let no man do more upon the account of a possibility for this world, than you will do upon the account of a possibility for the eternal world: let no man do more upon the account of a possibility for his body, than you will do upon the account of a possibility for your souls; let no man do more upon the account of a possibility for temporals, than you will do upon the account of a possibility for eternals. It is possible for you to know whether this babe of grace, holiness, be formed in your souls or not; and therefore search and inquire after it.
2. Secondly, Consider this, that it is a point of very great concern to you to know whether you have this real holiness or not.Your souls depend upon it, eternity depends upon it, your all depends upon it! An error here may make a man miserable forever. It is good for you to know the state of your body, the state of your family, the state of your flock—but it is of infinite more consequence for you to know the state of your own soul. No man lives so miserable, nor no man dies so sadly—as he who lives and dies a stranger to his own soul. It is good for you to have all accounts good between yourself and others—but it is far better to have all accounts good between God and your own soul. Ah, how many are there who are better known to others—than they are to themselves! and who are able to give a better account of their lands and lordships, of their treasures and trifles, yes; of their horses, hawks, and hounds—than they are of the state of their souls! [Luke 12:16-21, and 16:19, 26.]
Ah, how many are there who are very inquisitive to know things to come, to know what will be hereafter, to know whether they shall be great and rich in the world, Eccles. 7:10, to know whether they shall be prosperous and successful in their undertakings, to know whether they shall be crowned with length of days, or whether they shall be cut off in the flower of their age; to know the secret counsels of princes, and what will be the outcome of such and such mutations and revolutions that have happened among us; and yet are not at all inquisitive after the state of their souls, nor whether they have this real holiness, without which there is no happiness! [Job 21:23-24; Isaiah 41:22-23, and 43:9-10.
Yet they never inquire what will become of them hereafter! They never inquire what state they shall enter upon after death, whether upon a state of eternal woe or a state of everlasting bliss! Of all acquaintances in this world, there is none compared to that of a man's being acquainted with the state of his own soul. A mistake about my outward condition may trouble me—but a mistake about my spiritual condition may damn me! There are many ways to make up my mistakes about temporals—but there is no way to make up my mistakes about eternals! If at last I shall be found to be mistaken in the great concernments of my soul—I am undone forever! [The heathens did admire that saying as an oracle, Know your own self.]
Well, sirs, you are in a state of nature—or in a state of grace; you are in a state of darkness—or in a state of light; you are in a state of life—or in a state of death; you are in a state of God's love—or in a state of God's wrath; you are either sheep—or goats; you are either sons of God—or slaves of Satan; you are either in the broad way to destruction—or in the narrow way of salvation. Therefore what can be of greater concern in this world to you than to know in which of these two spiritual estates you are in? How can you order aright your prayers, or your praises, or any religious services, until you come to know in which of these two spiritual estates you stand? —whether you are in a state of nature or in a state of grace, in a state of sin or in a state of holiness: for all religious duties must be ordered according to men's spiritual estates. If a man is in a state of nature, his work lies one way; if he is in a state of holiness, his work lies another way; by all which it is most evident that it very dearly concerns you to search and try whether you have this bird of paradise, holiness, in your bosoms or not. And for a close, let me say, that a mistake about your spiritual estate will at last be found not only unallowable and inexcusable—but very terrible and damnable.
3. Thirdly, Consider that a cordial willingness to enter heartily upon this work of trial, is a hopeful evidence of your real integrity and sanctity.Unsanctified souls hate the light; they had rather go to hell in the dark, than come to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, John 3:20. As pure gold fears neither fire nor furnace, neither test nor touchstone, neither one balance nor another—so a pure heart, a sanctified soul, dares venture itself upon trial, yes, upon the very trial of God. For he knows that God never brings a pair of scales to weigh his graces—but only a touchstone to try the truth of his graces; he knows if his gold be true, though it be ever so little, it will pass for current with God. [Job 31:5-6; Psalm 26:2; 139:23-24; Mat. 12:20.] As bankrupts care not for casting up their accounts, because they know all is bad, very bad, stark bad with them; just so, unsanctified souls care not to come to the trial, to the test, because they know that all is bad, yes, worse than bad with them. They have no mind to cast up their spiritual estates, because at the foot of the account they must be forced to read their neck-verse, "Undone, undone, forever undone!"
And, therefore, as old deformed women cannot endure to look into the looking-glass, lest their wrinkles and deformity should be discovered; so unsanctified souls cannot endure to look into the mirror of the gospel, lest their deformities, impieties, and wickednesses should be discovered and detected. I have read of the elephant, how unwilling he is to go into the water—but when he is forced into it, he puddles it, lest by the clearness of the stream he should discern his own deformity; so unholy people are very unwilling to look into their own hearts, or into the clear streams of Scripture, lest their souls' deformity and ugliness should appear, to their own terror and amazement.
And therefore, as you would have a hopeful evidence of your integrity and sanctity, enter heartily upon this work of trial. For as it is a hopeful evidence that the client's cause is good—when he is ready and willing to enter upon a trial, and as it is a hopeful sign that a man's gold is true gold—when he is willing to bring it to the touchstone, and that a man thrives—when he is willing to cast up his books; just so, it is a hopeful evidence that a Christian has real holiness—when he is ready and willing to bring his holiness to the test, to try whether it be true or not—when he is willing to cast up his books, that he may see what he is worth for the eternal world, Gal. 6:4-5.
4. Fourthly, Consider that there are very many who deceive themselves about their spiritual estates.It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to deceive himself, Job 15:34, and Proverbs 30:12. There are those who do but think that they stand, (1 Cor. 10:12,) and these at last come to fall from their seeming standing into a real hell—yes, from their highest standing into the lowest hell. There are many who think themselves to be something—when they are nothing, Gal. 6:3. There are many who have a form of godliness—but none of the power, 2 Tim. 3:8. There are many who have a name to live—but are dead, Rev. 3:1. There are many who are very confident of their integrity—and yet are full of horrible hypocrisy. There are many who carry the lamps of profession—who have no oil of grace in their hearts. There are many who take—a good nature for grace, civility for sanctity, and a garb of godliness for real holiness—yes, there are those who dare say that they excel others in holiness, when, in truth, they exceed most men in wickedness [Isaiah 9:17, 29:13; Jer. 7:4, 8-11; Rev. 3:16-18; Isaiah 65:2-5; Mat. 25.]
Yes, there are many now in hell who have had a great confidence of going to heaven. There are many that cry out with Agag, "Surely the bitterness of death is past," wrath is past, and hell is past, and damnation is past, where as vengeance is ready to fall on them, and hell stands gaping to devour them. The heart of man is full of self-love, full of self-flattery, and full of hypocrisy, and therefore many a man who is only a Jew outwardly, thinks himself to be a Jew inwardly, Romans 2:28-29. Many a man thinks himself to be as good a Christian as the best, and to be as happy as the best, and to be as fair for heaven as the best, until he comes to hear that tormenting word, "Depart, I know you not!"
As many are kept off from Christ by a conceit that they have him already—just so, many are kept off from holiness by a conceit that they have it already. And therefore it does very much concern you to make a diligent inquiry whether you have that holiness without which there is no happiness, or not. I have read of Plato, that when he walked in the streets, if he saw any disordered in speech, drunk, or otherwise out of frame, he would say to himself, "Am I such a one as this is? Am I such a swearer as this is? Am I such a drunkard as this is? Am I such a promiscuous person as this is? Am I such a riotous person as this?" etc. Just so, should every Christian say when he hears of any who think that they stand, "Am I such a one as this is?" When he sees one who thinks himself something when he is nothing, he should say, "Am I such a one as this is?" When he sees a man to have a mere form of godliness—but no power, he should say, "Am I such a one as this is?" When he hears of a man who has a name to live—but is spiritually dead, he should say, "Am I such a one as this is?" etc.
And when he hears or reads of one who is really holy, he should say, "Am I such a one as this is?" As you would not put a cheat upon your own souls, it highly concerns you to try whether you have real holiness or not. Look! as many young children catch many a fall out of a strong conceit of their abilities to go—just so, many a man, out of a strong conceit that he has holiness when he has none, catches many a fall in an eternal fall at last. The best way to prevent an everlasting miscarriage, is to make a privy search after holiness in your own heart.
5. Fifthly, Consider that there is a great deal of counterfeit grace and holiness in the world.There is not more counterfeit coin this day in the world—than there is counterfeit holiness in the world. Look! as many counterfeit gems, do so shine and sparkle like true jewels, that if a man is not very careful he may be easily cheated; so counterfeit grace, counterfeit holiness, does so shine and sparkle, they do so nearly resemble real holiness, and the sanctifying and saving graces of the Spirit—that a man may be easily mistaken, if he do not make a careful search. Does the gracious soul abstain from gross sins? so does the formalist also. Do saints fast and pray? so do Pharisees also. Does Peter shed tears? so does Esau also. Does Peter repent? so does Judas also. Does Cornelius give alms? so do the Pharisees also. Does Zaccheus believe? so does Simon Magus also. Does David confess his sin? so does Saul also. Does David delight in approaching to God? so do Isaiah's hypocrites also. Does Hezekiah humble himself? so do Ahab and the king of Nineveh also. Does a gracious soul hear the word with joy? so did Herod also. Does a gracious soul receive the word with joy? so did the stony ground hearer also. Does a gracious soul delight in his teacher? so did Ezekiel's worldlings also. Is a gracious soul in closet duties? so is the Pharisee also, etc. [Mat. 25:1-4; Ezra 8; Esther 4; Daniel 9; Mat. 6:16; Luke 18:11; Mat. 27; Heb. 12; Mat. 6; Acts 10:1-4; Luke 19:11; Acts 21:8; 1 Sam. 15:24; Isaiah; 2 Chron. 32:26; 1 Kings 22:15; Jonah 3; Mark 6; Ezek. 33:30-33; Luke 18:11.]
When counterfeit coin is abroad, you will not take a piece but you will try it; you will bring every piece to the touchstone. Ah, that you would deal so by your holiness! There is a great deal of counterfeit holiness abroad, and therefore you had need bring yours to the trial. As all is not gold that glitters—just so, all is not holiness that men take for holiness, that men count for holiness. The child is not more like the father, nor one brother like another. Water in the cistern is not more like to water in the river, nor fire in the forge more like to fire in the chimney, nor milk in the saucer to milk in the breasts, than counterfeit grace and holiness is like to that which is real.
Counterfeit faith does so nearly resemble true faith, and counterfeit love true love, and counterfeit repentance true repentance, and counterfeit obedience true obedience, and counterfeit knowledge true knowledge, and counterfeit holiness true holiness—that it is not an easy matter to discover the one from the other. "The Cyprian diamond," says Pliny, "looks so like the true Indian diamond, that if a man does not look closely at it, he may easily be deceived and cheated." O sirs, true grace and counterfeit grace, true holiness and counterfeit holiness—look so like one another, that, without a divine light to guide you, you may be easily cheated and deceived forever.
In these days of profession there is abundance of false ware put off. Satan is a subtle merchant; and where profaneness will not pass for current coin, there he labors to furnish his customers with the shows and resemblances of grace and holiness—so that he may hold them the faster in golden fetters, and put them off from looking after that real holiness, without which no man can be blessed here, or happy hereafter. And therefore it nearly concerns every man to search and try whether he has real holiness or not.
6. Sixthly, Consider, if upon trial you shall find in yourself this real holiness which paves the way to happiness, it will turn exceedingly to your accounts.Your eternal happiness depends upon the real being of holiness in you—but your present comfort depends upon your seeing of holiness. Genuine holiness will yield you a heaven hereafter; but genuine assurance will yield you a heaven here. He who has holiness and knows it, shall have two heavens—a heaven of joy, comfort, peace, contentment, and assurance here—and a heaven of happiness and blessedness hereafter. But he who has holiness and does not know it, shall certainly be saved—yet so as by fire; he shall have a heaven at last—but he must pass to it by the flaming sword, 1 Cor. 3:11, 16.
When a person is heir to a great estate, and knows it; when a person is son to a king, and knows it; when a person is highly in favor, and knows it; when a person is out of all hazard and danger, and knows it; when a person's pardon is sealed, and he knows it—then the spring of joy and comfort rises in him. Just so—when a man is holy, and knows it, then the spring of divine joy and comfort rises in his soul, as the waters rise in Ezekiel's sanctuary, Ezek. 47:2-5.
Genuine assurance will be a spring of joy and comfort in you. It will make heavy afflictions light, long afflictions short, and bitter afflictions sweet, 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:58. It will make you frequent, fervent, constant, and abundant in the work of the Lord. It will strengthen your faith, raise your hope, inflame your love, increase your patience, and brighten your zeal. It will make every mercy sweet, every duty sweet, every ordinance sweet, and every providence sweet. It will rid you of all your sinful fears and cares. It will give you ease under every burden, and it will make death more desirable than life, Phil. 1:22, 23; 2 Cor. 5:1, 10. It will make you more strong to resist temptation, more victorious over opposition, and more silent in every difficult condition.
Genuine assurance will turn every winter night into a summer's day, every cross into a crown, and every wilderness into a paradise. Genuine assurance will be a sword to defend you, a staff to support you, a cordial to strengthen you, a medicine to heal you, and a star to lead you.
And oh, who then will not take some pains with his own heart to know the goodness and holiness of his own estate? Well, remember this, next to a man's being holy, it is the greatest mercy in this world to know that he is holy. But if upon trial a man shall find that his estate is bad, and that his holiness is not of the right stamp—yet this will be many ways a mercy and an advantage to him. For the way to be found, is to see yourselves lost: the way to infinite mercy is to see your own misery; the way to Canaan is through the wilderness; the way to heaven is by the gates of hell. Upon the knowledge of the badness and sadness of your estate, you will be awakened out of your security, and you will be alarmed to loathe yourself, to judge yourself, to condemn yourself, to be sick of sin, to break with Satan, and to close with Christ.
Now the daily language of your soul will be, "Men and brethren, what shall I do to be saved? "Acts 2:37, 42, and 16:22, 35. "Oh, what shall I do to get my sinful nature changed, my hard heart softened, my blind mind enlightened, my polluted conscience purged, and my poor naked soul adorned with grace and holiness?" Now the daily language of your soul will be that of the martyr, "Oh, none but Christ! None but Christ!" "Oh, none but Christ to pardon me! None but Christ to justify me! None but Christ to command me! None but Christ to save me! None but Christ to reign over me!"
Now the language of your soul will be this, "Oh, though I have formerly thought myself to be wise—yet now I see myself to be a fool! Oh that Christ would be wisdom to me! 1 Cor. 1:30-31. Oh, now I see myself to be red with guilt, and black with filth! Oh that Christ would be righteousness to me! Oh, now I see myself to be unclean, unclean! Oh that Christ would be sanctification to me! Oh, now I see myself to be in a damnable condition! Oh that Christ would be redemption to me! Rev. 3:16-18. Oh, now I see myself naked! Oh that Christ would clothe me! Now I see myself poor and miserable! Oh that Christ would enrich me! Now I feel myself to be hungry! Oh that Christ would be bread of life to feed me! Now I perceive myself to be lost! Oh that Christ would seek me! Now I fear that I am perishing! Oh that Christ would save me!"
Now the language of your souls will be that of the lepers, "If we stay here—we die!" 2 Kings 7:3-6. "If we stay in our unsanctified and unrenewed estate—we die! If we stay in our sins—we die! If we stay on our duties—we die! If we stay on a conceited or counterfeit holiness—we die! If we stay on a form of godliness—we die! If we stay on a name to live—we die! If we stay where the world stays—we die! If we stay in anything a-this side Christ and real holiness—we die, we eternally die! Therefore, let us arise and make a venture of our souls upon Christ, and pursue after that holiness, without which there is no eternal happiness!" But,
7. Seventhly and lastly, Consider that there are many who are truly holy, who have real holiness in them—and yet for lack of a narrow search, diligent inquiry into their spiritual estates, they come to be sorely and sadly afflicted with fears and doubts about their lack of holiness.As the treasures of this world often lie obscure and hidden in the midst of the earth—just so, the treasures of holiness often lie obscure and hid in many a gracious soul, for lack of a privy search. As it is one mercy for me to believe, and another mercy for me to know that I do believe, 1 John 5:13; as it is one mercy for me to be beloved, and another mercy for me to know that I am beloved, Psalm 4:6, and 51:1-3; as it is one mercy for me to be pardoned in the court of glory, and another mercy for me to know that I am pardoned in the court of conscience; as it is one mercy for me to have my name written in the book of life, and another mercy for me to be told that my name is written in that book, Luke 10:20—just so, it is one mercy for me to have real holiness in me, and another mercy for me to see it and to know it.
As we many times complain of the lack of those things which we have in our hands—just so, many dear Christians complain of the lack of that holiness which they have in their hearts. As the well, the spring of water, was near to Hagar though she saw it not, Gen. 21:16-19—just so, the spring of holiness is near to many a Christian, yes, it is in many a Christian—and yet he sees it not, he knows it not. As Jacob once said, "The Lord was in this place—and I knew it not," Gen. 28:16; so many a precious soul may say, I had real holiness in my heart—and I knew it not. As the face of Moses did shine—but he saw it not, he knew it not, though others did see it and take notice of it, Exod. 34:29-35—just so, holiness shines in many a Christian's heart and life—yet corruptions raise such a dust in his soul that he sees it not, he knows it not, though others can see it, take notice of it, and bless and admire the Lord for it.
As there are some who think they are rich, when they are not; and that say they are rich, when they are not, Rev. 3:16-17; Proverbs 13:7—just so, there are others who are rich—and yet they will not say it, nor believe it; so there are some who think they have holiness, when they have not, yes, who say they have holiness when they have not, Isaiah 65:3-6; Mark 8:18. Just so—there are others who have real holiness—and yet they dare not think so, they dare not say so; yes, they are apt, in times of temptation, desertion, sore afflictions, and when they are under the sensible stirrings of strong corruptions—to conclude that they have no holiness, no grace—when indeed they have. Witness Job, chapter 13:24, and 19:9; witness David, Psalm 22:1-2; witness Asaph, Psalm 73:2, 11; witness Heman, Psalm 88:1, 17; witness Jeremiah, Lam. 3:18; witness the whole church, Isaiah 49:15-16; Ezek. 37:11-12; and witness the disciples, John 14:4, 5, 7-9, 20, compared.
To know ourselves to be holy, is very desirable; but woe is it to many precious Christians—that they are holy and yet not know it—that they have holiness in their hearts, when it is hidden from their eyes. Look! as sparks and coals of fire are often hidden under the ashes, and we see them not; and as in winter the sap and life is hidden in the root of the tree, and we perceive it not; and as precious flowers are hidden in their seeds, and we discern them not; just so—when it is winter with a Christian, his holiness may be so hidden and covered under fears, doubts, sins, etc., that he may not be able to see it, to discern it, or conclude that he has it.
As the air is sometimes clear and sometimes cloudy, and the sea sometimes ebbing and sometimes flowing—so the holiness of the saints is sometimes so clouded, and at so low an ebb, that a Christian can hardly discern it, he can hardly say, "Lo, here is my holiness!" The being of holiness in the soul is one thing, the seeing of holiness in the soul is another thing; the being of holiness is one thing, the feeling of holiness is another thing. A Christian may as safely conclude that there are no stars in the sky in a dark night, because he cannot see them; and that there is no treasure in the mine, because he cannot discern it, nor come to the feeling of it—as he may conclude that he has no holiness in his heart, because he cannot see it, he cannot feel it. As the treasures of this world—so the treasures of holiness oftentimes lie low—a man must dig deep before he can come at them, Proverbs 2:3-6. As the babe lives in the womb—but does not know it; and as the sun often shines into the house, and a man does not see it—so the babe of grace may be formed in the soul—and yet a Christian not know it; and the sun of holiness may shine in his soul—and yet he not see it. Oh, therefore, how greatly does it concern Christians to make a diligent, a narrow, and a serious search into their own hearts, whether they have this jewel of glory—holiness—in their souls or not! And if these arguments will not provoke you to fall upon this work of trial, I know not what will.
But methinks I hear some of you saying, "O sir, how shall we know whether we have this real holiness or not? we see it is our very great concernment to know whether God has sown this heavenly seed in our souls or not—but how shall we come to know this?" Now to this I answer, there are several ways whereby this may be discovered. As,
1. First, A person of real holiness is much affected and taken up in the admiration of the holiness of God.Unholy people may be somewhat affected and taken with other of the excellencies of God; but it is only holy souls who are affected and taken with the holiness of God: Exod. 15:11, "Who is like unto you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" In this stately description of God, holy Moses is most taken up in magnifying and admiring the holiness of God. Holiness is that glory of the Creator, which holy ones most delight to glory in. Just so, holy David: Psalm 71:22, "Unto you will I sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel." Just so, Isaiah 12:6, "Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of you." Just so, Psalm 78:41, and 89:19; Isaiah 43:3, and 49:7. The inhabitants of Zion must shout and roar out, (as the Hebrew word carries it,) in token of joy, because he who is great and in the midst of them is the Holy One of Israel. Just so, Psalm 78:41, and 89:19; Isaiah 43:3, and 49:7.
Just so, Hab. 1:12, "Are not you from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One?" Among holy ones—there is none who can be compared to the Holy One! Yes, the more holy any are, the more deeply are they affected and captivated with the holiness of God: as you may see in Isaiah 6:3, "And one cried unto another"—or this one cried to that one—and said, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is full of his glory." The holy seraphim, by trebling the acclamation of his holiness, "Holy, holy, holy," denote not only the superlative eminency, glory, and excellency of God's holiness—but also they reveal how greatly, how abundantly they are affected and captivated with the holiness of God. To the holy angels, the holiness of God is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory.
But now unholy people are rather affected and taken with anything than with the holiness of God. The carnally-secure sinner is affected and taken with the patience, forbearance, and long-suffering of God. "Oh!" says he, "what a God of patience is this, who has waited so many years for my repentance! that he who might long since have damned me—waits still to save me! that he who might long since have cast me into hell—is still willing that I should go to heaven!"
The presumptuous sinner is much affected and taken with the mercy and goodness of God. "Well," says the presumptuous sinner, "though I have sinned thus and thus—yet God has been merciful to me; and though I do sin daily thus and thus—yet God is still merciful to me; and though I should still go on to sin sevenfold more—yet he would be merciful to me. (Deut. 29:18-21; Eccles. 8:11.) He does not delight in the death of a sinner, nor in the damnation of souls; oh, what a merciful God is God!"
The prosperous sinner is taken with the bounty and liberality of God. "Oh!" says he, "what a bountiful God, what a liberal God is this, who fills my barns, who fills my bags, who prospers me at home and abroad, who has blessed me with a healthful body, a fair estate, a kind wife, a full trade, laborious servants, and thriving children!" etc.
But where is there a sinner in all the world, who is affected and taken with the holiness of God? Certainly there is nothing which renders God so formidable and dreadful to unholy people—as his holiness does. Isaiah 30:11, "Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" "Oh that you would not preach so much, nor talk so much to us of the Holy One of Israel! Oh that you would for once, cease from molesting and vexing us with message upon message from the Holy One! Why can't you talk and preach to us of the merciful One, the compassionate One, the affectionate One, the pitiful One, etc., as be still a-talking to us of the Holy One, the Holy One! Oh, we do not like to hear it! Oh, we cannot bear it!"
Nothing strikes the sinner into such a terror as a discourse on the holiness of God; it is as the handwriting upon the wall, Dan. 5:4-6. Nothing makes the head and heart of a sinner to ache like a sermon upon the Holy One. Nothing galls and gripes, nothing stings and terrifies unsanctified ones—like a lively setting forth of the holiness of God, Hab. 1:13.
But to holy souls, there are no discourses which more suit them and satisfy them, which more delight and content them, which more please and profit them—than those do, which most fully and powerfully reveal God to be glorious in holiness.
Well, this is an everlasting truth—he who truly loves the holiness of God, and loves God for his holiness—is certainly made partaker of his holiness. If you are really holy, you are much affected and taken with the holiness of God. Souls, what say you to this? But,
2. Secondly, True holiness is DIFFUSIVE.It extends, diffuses, and spreads itself all over the soul; it spreads itself over head and heart, lip and life, inside and outside. Psalm 45:13, "The king's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold." Inward holiness is the inward glory of the king's daughter. The king's daughter is "all glorious within;" her understanding is hanged with holiness, her mind is adorned with holiness, her will is bowed to holiness, and all her affections are sprinkled, yes, clothed with holiness. Her love is holy love, her grief is holy grief, her joy is holy joy, her sorrow is holy sorrow, her fear is holy fear, her care is holy care, her zeal is holy zeal. And on the outside, her clothing is of "wrought gold"—that is, her life and conversation, which is as visible to others as the clothes she wears, is very sparkling and shining in grace and holiness. True sanctification is throughout, it reaches to soul, body, and spirit, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
True holiness is a divine leaven, which leavens the whole man, Mat. 13:33. Look! as leaven diffuses itself through the whole lump of dough, so true holiness diffuses itself through the whole man. Look! as Absalom's beauty was spread all over him, even from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, 2 Sam. 14:25, so the beauty of holiness spreads itself over every member of the body, and every faculty of the soul. Look! as Solomon's temple was glorious both within and without, so holiness makes all glorious both within and without. Look! as Adam's sin spread itself over the whole man, so that holiness that we have by the "second Adam" spreads itself over the whole man—just so, that that man who is not all over holy, that is not throughout holy, that man was never truly holy, 1 John 1:16. Look! as that holiness which was in Christ did diffuse and spread itself over all Christ; so that his person was holy, his natures were holy, his heart was holy, his language was holy, and his life was holy—just so, real holiness spreads itself over head, hand, heart, lip, and life, 1 Pet. 1:15.
The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, Eph. 5:9; he who is truly good, is all over good; he has goodness engraved upon his understanding, and goodness engraved upon his judgment, and goodness engraved upon his will, and goodness engraved upon his affections, and goodness engraved upon his inclination, and goodness engraved upon his disposition, and goodness engraved upon his conversation. He who is not all over good is not really good. There are those who have new heads but old hearts, new words but old wills, new expressions but old affections, new memories but old minds, new notions but old conversations; and these are as far off from true holiness, as the Pope, the Turk, and the devil are from real happiness.
In every holy person there are many divine miracles: there is a dead man restored to life, a dumb man restored to speech, a blind man restored to sight, a deaf man restored to hearing, a lame man restored to walking, a man possessed with devils possessed with grace, a heart of stone turned into a heart of flesh, and a life of wickedness turned into a life of holiness. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17. If it be thus with you, I dare write you, and call you both holy and eternally happy. But,
3. Thirdly, People of real holiness set the highest price and the greatest value and esteem upon those who are holy.They do not, as the blind world do—value people by their great estates, names, professions, arts, parts, gifts, mirthful clothes, gold chains, honors, and riches—but by their holiness. As a holy God, so holy souls look not how rational men are—but how religious; not how notional—but how experimental; not how great—but how gracious; not how high—but how holy; and, accordingly they value them. Psalm 16:3, "But to the saints who are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight." Proverbs 12:26, "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor."
It is holiness which differences one man from another, and which exalts one man above another. A holy man is a better man than his neighbor, in the eye, account, and esteem of God, angels, and saints. There is no man, compared to the holy man. The sun does not more excel and outshine the stars—than does a righteous man excel and outshine his unrighteous neighbor: Proverbs 28:6, "Better is the poor that walks in his uprightness, than he who is perverse in his ways, though he be rich."
A man of holiness prefers a holy Job, though upon the ash-heap—before a wicked Ahab upon the throne; he sets a higher price upon a holy Lazarus, though clothed with rags, and full of sores—than upon a rich and wretched Dives, who is clothed gloriously, and fares sumptuously every day. As King Ingo valued poor, ragged Christians above his pagan nobles, saying, that when his pagan nobles, in all their pomp and glory, should be cast down to hell—those poor Christians should be his fellow-princes in heaven. This blind, mad world rates and values men according to their worldly interest, greatness, glory, and grandeur; but men of holiness rate and value men by their holiness, by their inward excellencies, and by what they are worth for the eternal world. The world judges him the best man in the village, who is most rich; but a holy man judges him the best man in the village, who is most righteous. The world counts him the best man in the town, who is clothed most gorgeously; but a holy man counts him the best man in the town, whose inside and outside, whose heart and life, whose body and soul are clothed with sanctity and purity. The world reckons him the best man in the city whose bags are fullest, and whose estate is largest; but a holy man reckons him the best man in the city whose heart is fullest of holiness, and who has most to show for a fair estate in the other world. Certainly, to a holy man—there is no wife, compared to a holy wife; no child, compared to a holy child; no friend, compared to a holy friend; no magistrate, compared to a holy magistrate; no minister, compared to a holy minister; nor no servant, compared to a holy servant. Internal excellencies are far more important with a holy man—than all external glories.
The Jews say that those seventy people who went with Jacob into Egypt were as much worth as all the seventy nations in the world. Doubtless seventy holy people, in the esteem and judgment of those who are holy, are more worth than a whole world, yes, than seventy worlds, of unrighteous souls. [Plato could say, that no gold or precious stones does glisten so gloriously as the prudent spirit of a godly man.]
A soul, truly holy, sets the highest price upon those who are holy. Holy Paul prized holy Onesimus as his son, Philem. 10, as himself, verse 17, yes, as his own heart, verse 12; 2 Sam. 22:27, "With the pure you will show yourself pure," or (as the Hebrew will bear it) "with the choice you will show yourself choice." Pure souls are the choicest souls in all the world; they are choice in every eye but their own. All worldly excellencies, in the judgment of a holy man, are but as copper, brass, tin, and lead; but holiness is the tried silver, the gold of Ophir, the pearl of great price—in his eye, who has purity in his heart. They only rate and value men aright, who rate and value them according to their holiness; and if men were thus rated and valued, most men in the world would be found not worth the money that Judas sold his Master for.
If you prize others for their holiness, you are a holy person. No man can truly prize and highly value holiness in another—but he who has holiness in his own heart. Some prize Christians for their wit, others prize them for their wealth; some prize them for their birth and breeding, others prize them for their beauty and worldly glory; some prize them for the great things that have been done by them, others prize them for the good things that they have received from them; some prize them for their eagles' eyes, others prize them for their silver tongues; but he who is truly holy prizes them for their holiness, he values them for their purity and sanctity. But,
4. Fourthly, He who is truly holy will be still a-reaching and stretching himself out after higher degrees of holiness.Yes, a man who is truly holy can never be holy enough; he sets no bounds nor limits to his holiness; the perfection of holiness is the mark that he has in his eye; he hears, and prays, and mourns, and studies, and strives—that he may come up to the highest pitch of holiness. [Psalm 84:7, and 119:106; Col. 1:10; 2 Cor. 7:1, seq.] "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14. [This is a metaphor from runners in a race, who strain and stretch out themselves to the utmost, that they may take hold on the mark or prize that is set before them.]
Received measures of holiness will not satisfy a holy soul; so much holiness as will keep hell and his soul asunder—will not satisfy him; nor will so much holiness as will bring him to eternal happiness satisfy him; he will be still reaching and stretching out after the highest measures of holiness; his desires are for more holiness, "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." Psalm 27:4. The beauties of holiness do so affect him and inflame him, that he cannot but desire to be more and more holy. "Lord," says the soul, "I desire to be more holy, that I may glorify your name more, that I may honor my profession more, and that I may serve my generation more. Lord, I desire to be more holy, that I may sin less against you, and that I may enjoy more of you! I would be more holy, that I may be more prevalent with you, and that I may be more victorious over all earthly vanities."
And as a man of holiness desires more holiness, so a man of holiness earnestly prays for more holiness, Psalm 51:2, 7. He prays that he may be filled with the fruits of righteousness, and that he may go on from faith to faith, and from strength to strength, Job 17:9, and Proverbs 4:18; he prays that his spark of holiness may be turned into a flame, his drop of holiness into a sea, and his mite of holiness into a rich treasury; he prays that he may, like the eagle, fly higher and higher, and that his soul may be like the rising sun, which shines brighter and brighter until it be perfect day; he prays that he may, like the giant refreshed, rejoice to run his course, and that holiness in his soul, like the waters in Ezekiel's sanctuary, may still be rising higher and higher. It was Beza's prayer, "Lord, perfect what you have begun in me, that I may not suffer shipwreck when I am almost at heaven."
And as a man of holiness prays for more holiness, so a man of holiness believes for more holiness. Psalm 51:7—in the Hebrew the words run in the future thus: "You will purge me from sin with hyssop, and I shall be clean: you will wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." In the sense of all his sinfulness and vileness, he believes that God will give out greater measures of purity and sanctity to him: "You will purge me, and I shall be clean: you will wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Just so, in Psalm 65:3, "Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, you shall purge them away." Though for the present iniquity did prevail—yet he had faith enough to believe that God would purge him from his transgressions, and that he would mortify prevailing corruptions.
And as a man of holiness believes for more holiness, so a man of holiness hopes for more holiness, 1 John 3:2-4. In every ordinance he hopes for more holiness, and under every providence he hopes for more holiness, and under every change of his condition he hopes for more holiness, 2 Pet. 3:14. When he is in prosperity, he hopes that God will make him more zealous, thankful, cheerful, fruitful, and useful. And when he is in adversity, he hopes that God will inflame his love, and raise his faith, and increase his patience, and strengthen his submission, and quiet his heart in a gracious resignation of himself to God.
I dare boldly to say, that that man was never truly holy, who does not endeavor to get up to the highest pitches of holiness. True holiness knows no restrictions nor limitation. But now counterfeit holiness is either like Hezekiah's sun, which went backward; or like Joshua's sun, which stood still; or like Ephraim's morning cloud, which soon passed away. No round but the highest round in Jacob's ladder will satisfy a holy soul. True holiness makes a man divinely covetous. Look! as the victorious man can never make enough conquests, nor can the ambitious man ever have enough honor, nor can the voluptuous man ever have enough pleasure, nor can the worldling ever have enough mammon, nor can the wanton ever have enough vain embraces—no more can a man of holiness have ever have enough holiness. As the grave and the barren womb are never satisfied, they never say "it is enough," Proverbs 30:15-16—just so, a holy man, while he is on this side eternity, he is never satisfied, he can never say that he has holiness enough.
5. Fifthly, Where there is real holiness, there is a holy hatred, detestation, and indignation against all ungodliness and wickedness, and that upon holy accounts: [True hatred is against the whole kind.] Psalm 119:101, "I have refrained my feet from every evil way." But why? "That I may keep your word;" verse 104, "Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." The good that he got by divine precepts stirred up his hatred against every false way: verse 128, "Therefore I esteem all your precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way." His high esteem of every precept raised up in him a holy indignation against every evil way. A holy man knows that all sin strikes at the holiness of God, the glory of God, the nature of God, the being of God, and the law of God; and therefore his heart rises against all; he looks upon every sin, as the Scribes and Pharisees who accused Christ; and as that Judas who betrayed Christ; and that Pilate who condemned Christ; and those soldiers who scourged Christ; and as those spears which pierced Christ; and therefore his heart cries out for justice upon all. He looks upon every sin as having a hand in the death of his Savior, and therefore he cries out, "Crucify them all, crucify them all!"
He looks upon every sin as a grieving of the Spirit, as a vexing of the Spirit, and as a quenching of the Spirit; and so nothing will satisfy him but the ruin of them all. [Eph. 4:30; Isaiah 63:10; 1 Thes. 5:19.] He looks upon every sin as a dishonor to God, as an enemy to Christ, as a wound to the Spirit, as a reproach to the gospel, and as a moth to his holiness; and therefore his heart and his hand is against every sin.
But now, if you will but look into the Scriptures, you shall find that all those who have been but pretenders to holiness, that their hearts have been always engaged to some one way of wickedness or another, Isaiah 58:1, 9; Zech. 7:4-7. Jehu was very zealous against idolaters; but yet his heart was engaged to his golden calves. Herod hears John Baptist gladly, and reforms many things, Mark 6 etc.; but yet his Herodias must still lie in his bosom. Judas was as forward in religious services as any others—but yet money did bear the mastery with him, John 12:6. The Pharisees made long prayers—but only that they might the better make a prey upon widows' houses, Mat. 23:19, and 26:23. The young man seemed fair for heaven—but yet his possessions had so possessed and locked up his heart, that Christ could get no entrance.
Though Simon Magus believed, and was baptized, and wondered at the miracles and signs which were done by Philip; yet for all these shows of godliness, he was a prisoner to his lusts; his condition was dangerous, poisonous, and odious; he was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity, Acts 8:13-23. Just so, those in Mat. 7:21-23, though they complimented with Christ, saying, "Lord, Lord;" though they prophesied in Christ's name, and cast out devils in Christ's name; yes, though they did not a few—but many wonderful works in Christ's name; yet all this while they were workers of iniquity, they were artists in sin; they were so addicted to sin, that they made a trade of sin. ["He who harbors any one vice, has all other with it," says Seneca truly.]
Look! as every lion has his den, every dog his kennel, every swine his sty, and every crow his nest—just so, every unholy person has one sin or another, to which his heart is engaged and married; and that sin will undo him forever!
As Lysimachus lost his earthly kingdom by drinking one draught of water, so many lose a heavenly kingdom by indulging some one sin or other. One flaw spoils the diamond, one treason makes a traitor, one turn brings a man quite out of the way, one leak sinks the ship, one wound strikes Goliath dead, one Delilah betrays Samson, one broken wheel spoils the whole clock, and one dead fly spoils the whole box of ointment. And as one bastard son destroyed Gideon's seventy sons, Judges 8, so one predominant sin is enough to destroy the soul forever. As by taking one nap Samson lost his strength, and by eating one apple Adam lost paradise—just so, many men, by favoring one sin—lose God, heaven, and their souls forever. He who favors any sin, though he frowns upon many, does but as Benhadad, recover of one disease and die of another; yes, he takes pains to go to hell. Sin favored—always ends tragically.
And as no unholy heart rises against all sin, so no unholy heart disdains sin or rises against sin upon noble accounts, upon holy and heavenly accounts. Sometimes you shall have an unholy person angry with sin, and falling out with sin, because it has cracked his credit, or clouded his honor, or hindered his profit, or embittered his pleasure, or enraged his conscience, or exposed him to shame here and hell hereafter: but never because a righteous law is transgressed, a holy God is dishonored, a loving Savior is afresh crucified, or the blessed Spirit grieved.
It is between a holy and an unholy soul, as it is between two children; one will not touch the coal because it will smut him, and the other will not touch it because it will burn him. A holy heart rises against sin because of its defiling nature; but an unholy heart rises against sin because of its burning and damning nature. A holy man is most affected and afflicted with the evil that is in sin; but an unholy heart is most affected and afflicted with the punishment that is due to sin. A holy person hates sin because it pollutes his soul; but an unholy person hates it because it destroys his soul. A holy person loathes sin because it makes against God's holiness; but an unholy person loathes it because it provokes God's justice. A holy person detests sin because of the hell which is in sin; but an unholy person detests sin because of the hell which follows sin. A holy heart abhors all sin; but an unholy heart is still in league with some sin, Romans 12:9, and 7:15, 19; Isaiah 28:15, 18. Now because this is a point of great concernment, I shall a little more open and evidence the truth of it, in these three particulars:
(1.) First, The heart of a holy man rises against SECRET sins, against such as lie furthest off from the eye of man: Psalm 119:113, "I hate vain thoughts—but your law do I love." What more secret than vain thoughts? and yet against these the heart of a holy man rises. When Joseph was tempted to be secretly wicked with his mistress, his heart rises against it: Gen. 39:9, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against the Lord?" Hezekiah humbled himself for "the pride of his heart," 2 Chron. 32:24-26. Heart-sins lie most hidden and secret; and yet for these, a holy man humbles himself. Job would not allow his heart, in an idolatrous way, secretly to kiss his hand, Job 31:26-27.
The heart of a holy man rises against wickedness in the dark, against folly in a corner, against sin in a closet. Just so, Paul was much affected and afflicted with the operations of sin within him, "with the law in his members rebelling against the law of his mind," Romans 7:23-24. Paul, after his conversion, never fell into any scandalous sin. Those sins that did most trouble him and distress him were of his own house—yes, were in his own heart.
A holy man knows that secret sins are sins, as well as those which are open, Psalm 19:12. He knows that secret sins must be repented of as well as others; he knows that God takes notice of secret sins as well as of open sins: 2 Sam. 12:12, "You did it secretly." He knows that secret sins do often interpose between God and his soul: "You have set our iniquities before you: our secret sins in the light of your countenance," Psalm 90:8. He knows that secret sins will quickly become public, except they are presently loathed and speedily mortified, Gen. 38:24-27. He knows that secret sins, like secret diseases and secret wounds, do oftentimes prove most dangerous and pernicious; he knows that secret sins are the price of blood, as well as open sinnings. He knows that secret sins are a grief to the Spirit, as well as those which are manifest. He knows that sometimes God punishes secret sins with manifest judgments, as you may see in that great instance of David, 2 Sam. 12:10, 18. Upon all which accounts, a holy heart rises in a detestation of secret sins. But,
(2.) Secondly, The heart of a holy man rises against the LEAST sins, as well as against secret sins, in a strict sense. I know there is no little sin, because there is no little hell, no little damnation, no little law, nor no little God to sin against; but yet some sins may comparatively be said to be little, if you compare them with those which are more great and gross, which are more heinous and odious, Mat. 23:24. Now the hatred of a holy man rises against the least: Psalm 119:163, "I hate and abhor lying: but your law do I love." I hate, I abhor with horror, I loathe, I detest, I abominate lying as I do hell itself—so much the original word imports. David's heart smote him for the cutting off the lap of Saul's garment; and his heart smote him again for numbering of the people; and yet neither of these sins were heinous or scandalous, 1 Sam. 24:5, and 2 Sam. 24:10.
Some write, that there is such a native dread and terror of the hawk implanted in the dove, that it detests and abhors the very sight of the least feather that has grown upon the hawk. Certainly, there is such a holy dread of sin implanted in the heart of a saint, that he cannot but detest and abhor the least sin—yes, the very appearance of sin: his soul rises against the least motions or inclinations to evil, though they are silvered over with the most sophisticated shows, and most glorious pretenses: for he knows that the least sins are contrary to a righteous law, a holy God, and to his blessed Savior, and the Spirit—his only Comforter. [1 Cor. 8:13; Gal. 2:3-4; Jude 23.]
[1.] First, A holy man knows that little sins, if not prevented, will bring on greater sins. David gives way to his wandering eye, and that led him to those scandalous sins for which God broke his bones, hid his face, and withdrew his Spirit, 2 Sam. 12:26, seq.
Just so, Peter first denies his Master, and then denies him, and then falls a-cursing and damning of himself, Mat. 26:70-75; as the Greek word imports, he imprecated the wrath of God to fall upon him, and that he might be separated from the presence and glory of God, if he knew the man; and then concludes with a most incredible lie, "I don't know the man!"—though there was hardly a person who did not know Christ by sight—he being very famous for the many miracles that he daily wrought before their eyes. Ah! to what a height will sin suddenly rise!
Just so, Jacob, first he tells three lies in a breath, Gen. 27:19, 20: 1. I am Esau; 2. Your firstborn; 3. I have done according as you bade me. And then he takes the name of God in vain, by authoring God to that which he did: "The Lord your God brought it to me." Ah, of what an encroaching nature is sin! how insensibly and suddenly does it infiltrate into the soul! [Just so, Austin confesses that his mother Monica, by sipping and supping when she filled the cup to others, came at last to take a cup of wine excessively sometimes.]
I have read of a young man who was tempted to three great sins, namely, to kill his father, to lie with his mother, and to be drunk. Judging the last to be the least, he yielded to it, and being drunk, he killed his father, and ravished his own mother.
Lesser sins usually are inlets to greater sins—as the little thief let in at the window opens the door, and makes way for the greater; and the little wedge makes way for the greater. When Pompey could not take a city by force, he pretended that he would withdraw his army: only he desired that they would entertain a few of his weak and wounded soldiers, which accordingly they did. These soldiers soon recovered their strength, and opened the gates of the city, by which means Pompey's army entered and subdued the citizens. Just so, little sins yielded to soon gather strength, and open the door to greater sins; and so a conquest is made upon the soul. This a holy heart well understands, and therefore it hates and abhors the least sin. But,
[2.] Secondly, A holy heart knows that little sins have exposed both sinners and saints to very great punishments. A gracious soul remembers the man who was stoned to death—for gathering of sticks on the Sabbath-day. He remembers how Saul lost two kingdoms at once, his own kingdom and the kingdom of heaven—for sparing of Agag and the fat of the cattle. He remembers how the unprofitable servant, for the non-improvement of his talent, was cast into outer darkness. He remembers how Ananias and Sapphira were suddenly stricken dead for telling a lie. He remembers how Lot's wife, for a look of curiosity, was turned into a pillar of salt. He remembers how Adam was cast out of paradise for eating an apple; and the angels cast out of heaven for not keeping their standings. He remembers that Jacob smarted for his lying to his dying day. He remembers how God followed him with sorrow upon sorrow, and breach upon breach, filling up his days with grief and trouble. He remembers how Moses was shut out of the Holy Land, because he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. [Num. 15:30, 37-38; 1 Sam. 15:23; Mat. 25:25, 31; Acts 5:3- 4; Gen. 19:26 and 3 and 27.]
He remembers the young prophet who was slain by a lion for eating a little bread and drinking a little water, contrary to the command of God, though he was drawn thereunto by an old prophet, under a pretense of a revelation from heaven, 1 Kings 13. He remembers how Zacharias was stricken both dumb and deaf, because he believed not the report of the angel Gabriel, Luke 1:19-62. He remembers how Uzzah was stricken dead for holding up the ark when it was in danger to have fallen. Yes, he can never forget the fifty thousand men of Beth-shemesh who were slain for looking into the ark, 2 Sam. 6:7-8; 1 Sam. 6:19-21. Now, ah, how does the remembrance of these things stir up the hatred and indignation of a gracious soul against the least sins!
A grain of poison diffuses itself to all parts, until it strangles the vital spirits, and separates the soul from the body. A little coal of fire has turned many a stately building into ashes. A little prick with a thorn can as well kill a man, as a cut with a drawn sword. A little fly may spoil all the alabaster box of ointment. General Norris having received a slight wound in his arm in the wars of Ireland, made light of it—but his arm gangrened, and so he lost both arm and life together. Fabius, a senator of Rome, and chief-justice besides, was strangled by swallowing a small hair in a draught of milk. A fit of an fever carried away Tamerlane, who was the terror of his time. Anacreon, the poet, was choked to death, with the skin of a grape. An emperor died by the scratch of a comb. One of the kings of France died miserably by choking on a bite of pork; and his brother, being hit with a tennis ball, was struck into his grave! And thus you see little things have brought upon many great miseries.
And so little sins may expose and make people very liable to great punishments: and therefore no wonder if the heart of a holy man rises against them. Those sins which are seemingly but small, are very provoking to the great God, and very hurtful to the immortal soul—and therefore they cannot but be the object of a Christian's hatred.
[3.] Thirdly, A holy heart knows that a holy God looks and expects that the least sins should be shunned and avoided. He sees that the cockatrice should be crushed in the egg. God demands that Babylon's little ones should be dashed against the stones, Psalm 137:9. Not only great sins—but little ones, must be killed, or they will kill the soul. The viper is killed by the little ones that she nourishes in her own bosom—just so, many a man is eternally slain by the little sins that he nourishes in his own bosom. As a little stab at the heart kills a man. Just so—a little sin, without a great deal of mercy, will damn a man. God expects that his children should "abstain from all appearance of evil," 1 Thes. 5:22. As you would neither wound your conscience nor your credit, God nor the gospel—you must keep off from the very appearances of evil.
A Christian is to hate not only the flesh—but the garment; and not only the garment which is besmeared—but the very garment which is but bespotted with the flesh, Jude 23. Our first parents were not only forbidden to eat of the forbidden fruit—but they were forbidden to touch it, Gen. 3. And certainly he who would not gape after forbidden fruit—must not gaze upon forbidden fruit; he who would not long after it—must not look upon it; he who would not taste it—must not touch it.
The pious Nazarite was not only commanded to abstain from wine and strong drink—but also from eating grapes, whether moist or dry; yes, he was prohibited from eating anything that was made of the vine-tree, from the kernels even to the husk, Num. 6:3-4, lest by the sweet and delight of any of these, he should be tempted or enticed to drink wine, and so forget the law, and break his vow, and make work for hell or repentance, or the Physician of souls, Proverbs 31:5.
Sin is so hateful a thing, that both the remote occasion, and the least occasion that might draw the soul to it—is to be avoided and shunned—as a man would avoid and shun hell itself. ["A man can hardly drink poison and live." Cyprian.] He who truly hates the nature of sin, cannot but hate the least sin, yes, all appearances of sin. A holy heart knows that the very thought of sin, if but dwelt on, will break forth into action, action into custom, custom into habit—and then body and soul are undone forever. Look! as nothing speaks out more sincerity and real sanctity, than shunning the very appearances of vanity—just so, nothing speaks out more indignation against sin, than the avoiding the occasions of sin. But,
[4.] Fourthly, A holy heart knows that the indulging of the least sin is ground sufficient for any man to question his integrity and sincerity towards God. He has much reason to suspect himself, and to be suspected by others—who dares break with God, and with his own conscience—for a trifle. He who will transgress for a morsel of bread, will be ready enough to sell his soul for a price, Proverbs 28:21. He who will pervert justice for a few pieces of silver, what will he not do for a hatful of gold? he who will sell the poor for a pair of shoes, will destroy the poor for the right price, Amos 2:6. He who will sell souls dog-cheap, who will slay the souls that should not die, and spare the souls alive that should not live—for handfuls of barley and pieces of bread—will make no bones of making merchandise of souls for silver and gold, Ezek. 19. He who will sell his Savior once for thirty pieces of silver—will sell him as often for a greater sum, Zech. 11:12. He who makes no conscience of betraying Christ into the hands of sinners for thirty shillings, will make no conscience of betraying his own soul into the hands of the devil at the price of a noose. He who dares lie to save a little of his estate—what will not he do to save his life? These things a holy heart well understands, and the serious remembrance of them stirs up in him a holy indignation against the least transgression. But,
[5.] Fifthly and lastly, Take many things in one: a holy heart knows that the least sin cost Christ his dearest blood. Heb. 9:22, "Without shedding of blood there was no remission"—no remission of great sins, nor no remission of little sins. He knows that the blood of Christ is as requisite to cleanse the soul from the least sin, as it is to cleanse it from the greatest: 1 John 1:7, "And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all our sins." It is not the casting of a little holy water upon us; it is not the Papists' purgatories, nor their whippings; nor St Francis' kissing or licking of our sores; nor a bishop's blessing; nor a few knocks on the conscience, nor a few tears dropping from our eyes—which can cleanse us from the least sin. No, it is only the blood of Christ, which cleanses us from all our sins. There is not the least spot in a Christian's heart that can be washed out—but in the blood of the Lamb.
It is said of Luther, that when he was dying—that Satan appeared and presented to him a long parchment scroll—on which were written his sins—his more wicked words and deeds. Luther answered, "All this is true, Satan—but yet there is one thing more for you to set down under all my sins, and that is this—The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all our sins." Whereupon the devil vanished, as being vanquished. Be that as it may, it is certain that there is not a vain thought, nor an idle word, nor an angry word, nor a wanton word that can be pardoned or cleansed—but by the blood of Jesus Christ; the remembrance of which cannot but stir up a holy indignation in a gracious soul against the least corruption.
When Julius Caesar the emperor was murdered, Antonius brought forth his bloody coat, and showed it to the people, which stirred up in them such an indignation against the murderers, that they cried out, "Slay the murderers!" and went and burnt their houses, and all who were in them. Just so, when a holy heart looks upon his sins, yes, his little sins, as those who have murdered the Prince of glory, ah, what an indignation does it raise in the soul against them!
A holy heart knows that there is not the least sin—but does in a measure estrange the soul from God. As little clouds do somewhat interpose between the sun and us—just so, little sins do somewhat interpose between God and our souls. And as sometimes a little matter, a mistake, or lending an ear, or a word out of joint, or an act of forgetfulness—bring some coolness and distance between dearest friends, Acts 15:36-41—just so, sometimes little sins bring some coolness and distance between our dearest God and our souls, Proverbs 16:28, and 17:9.
A holy heart knows that Christ looks upon those sins as great, which the blind world accounts but little. Christ accounts hatred—murder, 1 John 3:15; a lustful eye—adultery, Mat. 5:28; and he reckons the officious lie and the merry lie among the most monstrous sins, and condemns it to the lowest hell, Rev. 21:8. The consideration of all which raises no small indignation in a holy heart against the least, the smallest sin.
But unholy hearts make nothing of little sins: with Achan they will be slaves for a wedge of gold; with Gehazi they will be servants of unrighteousness for a piece of silver and two changes of garments; with Adam they will transgress for an apple; and with Esau they will sell their birthright of grace here, and of glory hereafter—for a bowl of soup. The hearts of unholy people may rise against gross sins, such as are not only against the law of God—but against the light and laws of nature and nations. Their souls may rise in arms against those sins which makes them liable to the laws of men, or which lays them open to shame, fear, grief, or loss; but as for vain thoughts, idle words, petty oaths, sinful motions, and frequent omissions—they look upon these as trifles, motes and gnats which are not to be regarded or bewailed. But,
(3.) Thirdly, As a holy heart rises against the least sins—just so, a holy heart rises against BOSOM-sins, against constitution-sins, against those sins which either his calling, former custom, or his present inclination or condition—do most dispose him to. It is true, a prodigal person may abhor covetousness, and a covetous person may condemn prodigality; a furious person may hate fearfulness, and a fearful person may detest furiousness. But now the hearts of those who are holy rise against their complexion sins, against their darling sins, against those sins which make for present pleasure and profit, against those sins which were once as right hands and right eyes. They are agains those sins which were that to their souls, which Delilah was to Samson, Herodias to Herod, Isaac to Abraham, and Joseph to Jacob.
Psalm 18:23, "I was also upright before him; and I kept myself from my iniquity;" that is, from my darling sin, whereunto I was most inclined and addicted. What this bosom-sin was, which he kept himself from, is hard to say. Some suppose his darling sin was lying, deceit; for it is certain, he often fell into this sin. Others suppose it to be some secret iniquity, which was only known to God and his own conscience. Others say it was uncleanness, and that therefore he prayed that "God would turn away his eyes from beholding vanity," Psalm 119:37. Others judge it to be that sin of disloyalty, which Saul and his courtiers falsely charged upon him. It is enough for our purpose, to know that his heart did rise against that very sin, that either by custom or some strong inclination he was most naturally apt, ready, and prone to fall into.
Idolatry was the darling sin of the people of Israel; [Jer. 44:15, 20; Isaiah 1:29, and 57:5; Jer. 17:1-2; Hosea 2:8; Isaiah 31:6-7.] they called their idols delectable, or desirable things, Isaiah 44:9; they did dearly affect and delight in their idols. But when God would come to put a spirit of holiness upon them—then their hearts would rise in hatred and detestation of their idols, as you may see in Isaiah 30:18, 25; mark verse 22, "Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them—Away with you!" They were so delighted and enamored with their idols, that they would deck them up in the greatest elegance and finery; they would attire them with the most rich, costly, pompous, and glorious raiment. Oh—but when a spirit of holiness would rise upon them, then they would defile, deface, and disgrace their idols—then they should so hate and abhor them, they should so detest and loathe them, that in a holy indignation they should cast them away as a menstruous cloth, and say unto them, "Away with you! pack, begone, I will never have any more to do with you! God has now made an everlasting divorce between you and me!" [After the return of the Jews out of Babylon, they so hated and abhorred idols, that in the time of the Romans they chose rather to die than to allow the eagle, which was the Roman imperial arms, to be set up in their temple.]
And so in Isaiah 20:17 "In that day"— that is, in the day of the Lord's exaltation in the hearts, lives, and consciences of his people—"a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship—to the moles and to the bats." In the day of God's exaltation they shall express such disdain and indignation against their idols, that they shall take not only those made of trees and stones—but even their most precious and costly idols, those which were made of silver and gold, and cast them to the moles and to the bats; that is, they shall cast them into such blind holes, and into such dark, filthy, nasty, and dusty corners, as moles make underground, and as bats roost in! Just so, when holiness comes to be exalted in the soul, then all a man's darling and bosom sins, which are his idols of silver, and his idols of gold—these are with a holy indignation cast to the moles and to the bats; they are so loathed, abandoned, and abhorred—that he desires they may be forever buried in oblivion, and never see the light more.
Idols were Ephraim's bosom-sin: Hosea 4:17, "Ephraim is joined," or glued, "to idols, let him alone;" but when the dew of grace and holiness fell upon Ephraim, as it did in chapter 14:5-7, "Then says Ephraim—What have I any more to do with idols?" verse 8. Now Ephraim loathes his idols as much or more than before he loved them! He now abandons and abominates them, though before he was as closely glued to them, as the wanton is glued to his Delilah, or as the enchanter is glued to the devil, from whom by no means he is able to stir. Ephraim becoming holy, cries out, "What have I any more to do with idols?" Oh, I have had to do with them too long and too much already! Oh, how does my soul now rise against them! how do I detest and abhor them! surely I will never have more to do with them.
But unholy hearts are very favorable to bosom-sins; they say of them, as Lot of Zoar, "Is it not a little one?" Gen. 19:20. And as David spoke of Absalom, 2 Sam. 18:5, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." "Beware that none touch the young man Absalom," verse 12. "And the king said—Is the young man Absalom safe?" verse 29. An unholy heart is as fond of his bosom-sins as Herod was of his Herodias; or as Demetrius was of his Diana; or as Naaman was of the idol Rimmon, which was the idol of the Syrians; or as Judas was of filching the bag; or as the Pharisees were of having the uppermost seats, and of being saluted in the market-place with those glorious titles, "Rabbi, Rabbi!"
Bosom-sins have at least a seeming sweetness in them; and therefore an unholy heart will not easily let them go. Let God frown or smile, stroke or strike, lift up or cast down, promise or threaten—yet he will hide and hold fast his darling sins. Let God wound his conscience, blow upon his estate, leave a blot upon his name, crack his credit, afflict his body, write death upon his relations, and be a terror to his soul—yet will he not let go of his bosom-lusts! He will rather let God go, and Christ go, and grace go, and heaven go, all go—than he will let some pleasurable or profitable lusts go!
An unholy heart may sigh over those sins, and make war upon those sins—which war against his honors, profits, or pleasures—and yet at the same time, make truce with those sins which are as right hands and right eyes! An unholy person may set his sword at the breasts of some sins—and yet at the same time his heart may be secretly courting of his bosom-sins.
But now a holy heart rises most against the Delilah in his bosom; against the Benjamin, the son, the sin, of his right hand. And thus you see how a holy heart hates and disdains all sins; he abhors small sins as well as great sins, secret sins as well as open sins; and bosom-sins as well as others sins which have not that delight and acceptance with the soul. Real holiness will never mix nor mingle itself with any sin, it will never incorporate with any corruption. Wine and water will easily mix—so the wine of gifts and the water of sin, the wine of civility and the water of vanity, the wine of morality and the water of impiety—will easily mix. But oil and water will not mix, they will not incorporate—just so, the oil of grace, the oil of holiness, will not mix; it will not incorporate with sin, the oil of holiness will be uppermost.
Mark, natural and acquired habits and excellencies, as a silver-tongued wit, an eloquent tongue, a strong brain, an iron memory, a learned head—all these, with some high speculations of holiness, and some profession of holiness, and some commendations of holiness, and some visible actings of holiness—are consistent with the love of lusts, with the dominion of sin! Witness the Scribes and Pharisees, Judas, Demas, and Simon Magus. But the real infused habits of true grace and holiness, will never admit of the dominion of any sin, whether great or little, whether secret or open. But,
6. Sixthly, People of genuine holiness are sincerely affected and afflicted, grieved and troubled—about their own vileness and unholiness.Ezek. 36:25-26, 31. You may see this in holy Job, chapter 40:3-4, "Then Job answered the Lord and said—Behold, I am vile! What shall I answer you? I will lay my hand upon my mouth."
Just so, holy Agur: Proverbs 30:2-3, "Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy." Though all men are brutish—yet holy men are most sensible of their brutishness, and most affected and afflicted with it. Wicked men are more brutish than the beasts—yet they see it not, they bewail it not; but holy Agur both sees his brutishness, and bewails it. Holy Agur, looking upon that rare knowledge, that depth of wisdom, and those admirable excellencies that Adam was endued with in his integrity and innocency, confesses himself to be but brutish, to be as much below what Adam once was as a brute is below a man.
Just so, holy David does not cry, "I am undone, I shall perish!"—but, "I have sinned, I have done foolishly!" Psalm 51:3. And so for his being envious at the prosperity of the foolish, Psalm 73:2-3, how does David befool and be-beast himself! Psalm 73:22, "Just so, foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before you." The Hebrew word Behemoth, which is here rendered beast, generally comprehends all beasts of the greater sort. As an aggravation of his folly, he confesses that he was as a beast, as a great beast, yes, as an epitome of all great beasts.
Just so, the holy prophet Isaiah complains that he was undone, that he was cut off, not upon any worldly account—but because he was a man a unclean lips, and dwelt in the midst of a people of unclean lips, Isaiah 6:5.
Just so, holy Daniel, chapter 9, did not complain that they were reproached and oppressed—but that they had rebelled.
Just so, Peter, Luke 5:8, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Or as the Greek has it, "I am a man—a sinner!" "O Lord depart from me—for I am a mixture and compound of all vileness and sinfulness!"
Just so, holy Paul does not cry out because of his opposers or persecutors—but of the law in his members rebelling against the law of his mind, Romans 7:23-24. Paul's body of death within him put him to more grief and sorrow than all the troubles and trials that ever befell him.
A holy heart laments over those sins that he cannot conquer. A holy person labors to wash out all the stains and spots that are in his soul, in the streams of godly sorrow. That his sins may never drown his soul—he will do what he can to drown his sins in penitential tears. A holy person looks upon his sins as the crucifiers of his Savior, and so they affect him. He looks upon his sins as the great agitators, and separators between God and his soul—and so they afflict him, Isaiah 59:1-2. He looks upon his sins as so many reproaches to his God, blemishes to his profession, and wounds to his credit and conscience—and so they grieve and trouble him. He looks upon his sins as that which has made many a righteous soul sad, whom God would not have saddened; and that which opens many a sinful mouth that God would have stopped, and that which strengthens many a wicked heart that God would not have strengthened; and so his sins fetch many a sigh from his heart, and many a tear from his eyes, Ezek. 13:22.
When a holy man sins he looks upwards, and there he sees God frowning; he looks downwards, and there he sees Satan insulting; he looks within himself, and there he finds his conscience either a-bleeding, raging, or accusing; he looks outside himself, and there he finds gracious men lamenting and mourning, and graceless men deriding and mocking. The realization of all these things do sorely and sadly afflict a gracious soul.
Some say that Peter's eyes, after his great falls, were always full of tears, insomuch that his face was furrowed with continual weeping for his horrid thoughts, his desperate words, his shameful shifts, and his damnable deeds—which made him look more like a child of hell than like a saint whose name was written in heaven. Some say of Adam, that whenever he turned his face towards the garden of Eden, he sadly lamented his great fall. Some say of Mary Magdalene, that she spent thirty years in weeping for her sins. David's sins were ever before him, and therefore no wonder if tears, instead of gems—were so constantly the ornaments of his bed.
Wicked Pharaoh cries out, "Oh take away these filthy frogs, take away these dreadful judgments!" But holy David cries out "O Lord, take away the iniquity of your servant!" Pharaoh cries out because of his punishments—but David cries out because of his sin! Anselm says that with grief he considered the whole course of his life: "I found," says he, "the infancy of sin in the sins of my infancy; the youth and growth of sin in the sins of my youth and growth; and the ripeness of all sin in the sins of my ripe and mature age;" and then he breaks forth into this pathetical expression, "What remains for you, wretched man—but that you spend your whole life in bewailing your whole life!" By all which it is most evident, that holy hearts are very much affected and afflicted with their own unholiness and vileness.
Now certainly those people are as far off from real holiness—as hell is from heaven—who take pleasure in unrighteousness, who make a scoff and mock of sin, who commit wickedness with greediness, who talk wickedly, who live wantonly, who trade deceitfully, who swear horribly, who drink stiffly, who lie hideously, and who die impenitently. But,
7. Seventhly, Real holiness naturalizes holy duties to the soul; it makes religious services to be easy and pleasant to the soul.Hence prayer is called the prayer of faith, because holy faith naturalizes a man's heart to prayer, 1 Pet 1:2, and James 5:15. It is as natural for a holy man to pray, as it is for him to breathe, or as it is for a bird to fly, or fire to ascend, or a stone to descend: and hence it is that obedience is called the obedience of faith, because holy faith naturalizes a man's heart to obedience, Romans 16:26, and Psalm 119:166. As soon as ever this plant of renown was set in the heart of Paul, he cries out, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" Acts 9:6.
And hence it is that hearing is called "the hearing of faith," because this holy principle naturalizes a man's heart to hearing God's word. Psalm 122:1, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." And so in Isaiah 2:3, "And many people shall go and say—Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths."
And hence patience is called "patience of hope," because this holy principle of hope naturalizes a man's heart to a patient waiting upon God, 1 Thes. 1:3. Romans 8:25, "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
Just so, holy love naturalizes the soul to holy service; in 1 Thes. 1:3, you read of "the labor of love." Holy love is very laborious. Nothing makes a Christian more industrious, painstaking, and diligent in the service and ways of God—than holy love. Holy love will cause us to pray and to praise; it will cause us wait and work; it will provoke souls to study Christ, to admire Christ, to live to Christ, to lift up Christ, to spend and be spent for Christ, and to break through all difficulties that it may come nearer to Christ, and cleave closer to Christ, Rom 14:7-8, and 2 Cor. 12:14-16.
As Jerome once bravely said, "If my father," said he, "should stand before me, my mother should hang upon me, and my brothers should press about me—I would break through my brothers, throw down my mother, tread under feet my father—that I might the faster cleave unto Christ my Savior." Oh the laboriousness of holy love! So far as a Christian is holy, so far holy services will be delightful and easy to him: Romans 7:22, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man;" verse 25, "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;" Psalm 119:16, "I will delight myself in your statutes: I will not forget your word;" verse 35, "Make me to go in the path of your commandments; for therein do I delight;" verse 47, "And I will delight myself in your commandments which I have loved;" verse 92, "Unless your law had been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction;" verse 143, "Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet your commandments are my delight."
Sirs, honor is not more suitable, delightful, and pleasing to an ambitious man, nor pleasure to a voluptuous man, nor flattery to a proud man, nor gold to a covetous man, nor overindulgence to an intemperate man, nor revenge to an envious man, nor pardon to a condemned man—than pious duties and services are suitable, pleasing, and delightful to a holy man, Psalm 27:8, and 81:8-16.
But unholy hearts are very averse to holy duties and services: they are averse to hearing, averse to praying, averse to reading, averse to meditating, averse to self-judging, averse to self-examining, averse to holy worship. Amos 8:5, "When will the New Moon be over so we may sell grain, and the Sabbath, so we may market wheat?" Isaiah 26:10-11, and Jer. 5:1, 6. You may sooner draw a coward to fight, or a guilty criminal to the court, or a bear to the stake—than you shall draw unholy hearts to holy services. [Wicked hearts are habitually averse to all that is good, etc.]
But if at any time, by the strong motions of the Spirit, the close debates of conscience, the powerful persuasions of the word, the education of godly parents, the pious example of bosom friends, the rich treasures in precious promises, the dreadful evils in terrible threatenings; or if at any time by the displeasure of God, the smarting rod, the affections of God's mercy, the wooings of God's love; or if at any time by some flashes of hell, or glimpses of heaven, or by the heavy sighs, the deep groans, and the bleeding wounds of a dying Savior—their hearts are wrought over to pious services—Isaiah 58:1-5—ah, how soon are they weary of them! What little delight or pleasure do they take in them! Isaiah 43:22, "But you have not called upon me, O Jacob"—that is, you have not worshiped nor served me sincerely, faithfully, feelingly, heartily, affectionately, humbly, holily, as you should and as you ought—"but you have been weary of me, O Israel;" that is, you have been weary of my worship and service, and you have counted it rather a burden than a benefit, a damage rather than an advantage, a reproach rather than an honor, a disgrace rather than a favor, a vexation rather than a blessing. And for all your formal courtings and complimentings of me—you have been secretly weary of me!
Just so, in Mal. 1:12, 13, "But you profane it by saying of the Lord's table, 'It is defiled,' and of its food, 'It is contemptible.' And you say, 'What a burden!' and you sniff at it contemptuously," says the Lord Almighty. When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?" They did God but little service, and that they did was after the worst manner too—and yet they snuff, and puff, and blow, and sweat, and swell, and fall into a pompous and exaggerated fume—as if they had been over-tired and wearied with the burden and weight of those sacrifices which they offered up to the great God.
A holy heart thinks that what he does for God, is all too little; but an unholy heart thinks every little thing that he does for God, to be too much. A holy heart, like the holy angels, loves to do much—and make no noise; but an unholy heart makes most noise when he does least service. An unsanctified soul has a trumpet in his right hand, when he has but a penny to give in his left hand, as here. But,
8. Eighthly, Where there is real holiness, there will be the exercise of righteousness towards men from righteous principles, and upon pious accounts, namely, the honor of God, the command of God, the will of God, the credit of the gospel, etc. Real holiness towards God is always attended with righteousness towards men: Eph. 4:21, "And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," or, holiness of truth. Tit. 2:11-12, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." These words contain the sum of a Christian's duty; to live soberly towards ourselves, righteously towards our neighbors, and godly towards God, is true godliness indeed, and the whole duty of man.
Just so, holy Abraham in Gen. 23:16, "Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants." It is recorded to holy Abraham's everlasting honor and fame, that he paid for the field that he bought from Ephron with current money, not counterfeit; pure, not adulterate shekels of silver; not shekels of brass silvered over; he paid the price that was agreed, and he paid it in such coin as would go current in one country as well as another.
Just so, holy Jacob, in Gen. 43, supposing that the money that was returned in the sacks of corn that his sons brought out of Egypt was through some mistake or oversight, he very honestly and conscientiously ordered them to carry the money back again. Verse 12, "Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake." A holy heart will not, a holy heart dares not, take an advantage from another's error to do him wrong; it is but justice to return and restore to every man his due.
Just so, holy Moses, in Num. 16:15, "I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, and I have never hurt a single one of them." He sought their good, not their goods; he preferred their safety before his own life; he did right to every man, he did wrong to no man; he did every man some good, he did no man the least hurt.
Just so, holy Samuel, in 1 Sam. 12:3-4, "Now tell me as I stand before the Lord and before his anointed one—whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever cheated any of you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong." "No," they replied, "you have never cheated or oppressed us in any way, and you have never taken even a single bribe." He makes a solemn protestation before the Lord, before his anointed, and before the people, that he had so lived in the exercise of justice and righteousness among them, that they could not accuse him of the least unrighteousness, they could not say black was his eye, they could not say that he had lessened them to greaten himself, or that he had impoverished them to enrich himself, or that he had ruined them to raise himself; upon his appeal they unanimously declare his innocency and integrity.
Just so, holy Daniel, in Dan. 6:4-5, "Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible. So they concluded—Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the requirements of his religion." Though ENVY is the father of cruelty and malice, the mother of murder and ambition, the plotter of others' destruction—yet holy Daniel was so just and righteous, so innocent and prudent, so careful and faithful in the administration of his high office—that none of his envious, malicious, and ambitious enemies could, after their unity in a hellish and cruel conspiracy, charge him with the least spot of injustice or of unrighteousness; they narrowly scanned all his administrations, and diligently weighed all his actions—and yet themselves being judges, Daniel is found innocent. They could not so much as charge him with a fault.
Just so, Zachariah and Elizabeth, they walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, Luke 1:5-6; they walked not only in the ordinances—but also in the commandments of the Lord, and they walked not only in some commandments—but in all the commandments of the Lord; they walked in the commandments of the second table, as well as in the commandments of the first table; they were as well for righteousness towards man, as they were for holiness towards God.
Just so, the apostles, in 2 Cor. 7:2, "Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one." The apostle would have the Corinthians to make room for them in their hearts and houses, as the Greek word imports, for they had wronged no man in his name or reputation, as the false apostles had; neither had they corrupted any man in his judgment by false doctrines or evil examples, as the false apostles had; neither had they defrauded any man in his estate, as the false apostles had, who made a prize of their followers and hearers.
Of the same import is that of the apostle in 1 Thes. 2:10, "You are witness, and God also, how holily, justly, and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you who believe." He takes God and them to witness, that they had lived holily in respect of God, and righteously in respect of the world, and unblamably in respect of those who believe. By all which it is most evident, that where there is real holiness towards God, there will be the exercise of righteousness towards men.
But now, where there are but the shows and appearances of holiness, there people make no conscience of exercising righteousness towards men. Witness the Scribes and Pharisees, who, under a pretense of praying, made a prey of widows' houses; who, under a pretense of piety, exercised the greatest covetousness, unrighteousness, and cruelty—and that upon widows, who are usually the greatest objects of pity and charity; they made no bones of robbing the widow, under pretense of honoring of God, Mat. 23:14.
Just so, Judas, who under a pretense of laying up for the poor, robbed the poor, John 12:6; he made use of counterfeit holiness, as a cloak to cover all his thievish villainies; he pretended to lay up for the poor—but he intended only to lay up for himself, and to provide against a rainy day. It is like he had no great mind to stay long with his Lord, and therefore he was resolved to make the best profit he could for himself; that so when he should lay down his stewardship, he might have something to live upon. Judas acted the part of a saint in his profession and discourses, that so he might be the less suspected to act the part of a thief in his more secret practices. Judas had not been long in office, before he put conscience out of office, and conscience being put out of office, Judas sets up for himself, and, under a cloak of holiness, he practices the greatest unfaithfulness. Though the eagle soars high—yet still her eye is upon her prey—just so, though Judas did soar high in profession—yet his eye was still upon his prey, upon his bags, and so he might have it, he cared not who went without it; so he might be rich, he did not care though his Lord and his retinue grew ever so poor. Judas had Jacob's voice—but Gehazi's heart and hands. Under all his shows of sanctity, he had not so much as common honesty in him. Counterfeit holiness is often made a stalking-horse to the exercise of much unrighteousness. Certainly that man is as far from real holiness, as the devil himself is from true happiness, who lives not in the exercise of righteousness towards men, as well as in a profession of holiness towards God. Well, Christians, remember this, it were better to have honesty and morality without religion, than to have religion without honesty and morality. But,
9. Ninthly, He who is truly holy—will labor and endeavor to make others holy.A holy heart loves not to go to heaven alone; it loves not to be happy and blessed alone. A man who has experienced the power, excellency, and sweetness of holiness, will strive and study how to make others holy. When Samson had tasted honey, he gave his father and mother some with him, Judges 14:8-9. Holiness is so sweet a morsel, that a soul cannot taste of it but he will be a-commending of it to others. ["We therefore learn—that we may teach," is a proverb among the Rabbis. The heathen could say, I do therefore lay in and lay up, that I may draw forth again for the good of many.] A
s you may see in holy Moses, in Num. 11:29, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!" A holy soul will never make a monopoly of holiness. The prophets, you know, were men of greatest grace and holiness; now holy Moses is very importunate and earnest with God that he would not only make the two who prophesied—but all the Lord's people eminent and excellent in grace and holiness. Such was Moses' holiness and humbleness, that he desires that all others might either equal him or excel him in gifts and grace. A heart eminently holy is so far from envying of the gracious excellencies of others, that it can rejoice in every sun that outshines his own. Every light that burns more dim than his—he desires that it may be snuffed, not put out, that so it may give a clearer and a greater light to others.
Just so, holy Paul in Acts 26:29, "I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains." True holiness is no churl; nothing makes a man more noble in his spiritual desires, wishes, and actings for others, than holiness. Real holiness, like oil, is of a diffusive nature; like light, it will spread itself over all; like Mary's box of ointment, it fills all the house with the sweet scent thereof. Are you a holy father? then you will, with holy Abraham, labor to make your children holy, Gen. 18:17-19. A holy heart knows that both by his first birth—but especially by his new birth, he stands obliged to promote holiness in all—but especially in those which are parts and pieces of himself. Are you a holy master? then you will, with holy Joshua, labor to make all under your charge holy: Josh. 24:15, "But as for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord."
True holiness cannot be concealed; it will be a-stirring and a-provoking of others to be holy: as a holy man does not love to be happy alone, so a holy man does not love to be holy alone. A holy master loves to see a crown of holiness set upon every head in his family. Holiness is a very beautiful thing, and it makes those beautiful in whom it exists. In a holy master's eye, there is no servant so lovely and beautiful as he who has the beauty of holiness upon him.
A holy magistrate will labor to make both his servants and his subjects holy: as holy David, holy Asa, holy Isaiah, and holy Hezekiah did; he knows that the souls of his servants and subjects are the choicest treasure that God has committed to his care; he knows that every soul is more worth than his crown and kingdom; he knows that he must one day give up an account for more souls than his own, and therefore he improves his power and interest every way for the making of all holy under him. Louis the Ninth, king of France, took pains to instruct his poor kitchen-boy in the way to heaven, and being asked the reason of it, he answered, The poorest have a soul to save as precious as my own, and bought by the same blood of Christ. It is said of Constantine that in this he was truly great, that he would have his whole court gathered together, and cause the Scriptures to be read and opened to them, that they might be made holy courtiers, and so fitted for the court of heaven, into which no unclean person or thing can enter, Rev. 21:27. It grieved an emperor that a neighbor of his should die before he had done him any good. Ah, it is the grief of a holy magistrate to see others die before they are made holy. The great request of a holy magistrate, living and dying, is this, "Lord, make this people a holy people! Oh, make this people a holy people!"
Are you a holy kinsman, a holy friend; then you will labor to make your kindred holy, and your friends holy; as holy Cornelius did, as you may see in Acts 10:24, "Cornelius was waiting for him and had called together his relatives and close friends to meet Peter." And in verse 33, says Cornelius to Peter, "So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now here we are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you." [Just so, in John 1:39, 49, and 4:28-30.] Devout Cornelius gets his kinsmen and near friends together, that they also might be partakers of the grace and mercy of God with him. He had experienced a work of grace and holiness upon his own heart, and he uses his best endeavors that they might experience the same on theirs.
A holy Christian is like a magnet, which draws to itself first one iron ring, and that another, and that a third. As there is a natural instinct in all creatures to propagate their own kind, as in beasts, birds, and fish; so there is a holy, a spiritual instinct in all gracious hearts to propagate grace and holiness in whatever hearts they can. Look! as fire will assimilate and turn everything that comes near it into its own nature, so will a holy heart labor to make all that comes near him like himself. Look! as one drunkard labors to make another, and one swearer another, and one wanton another, and one thief another, and one idle person another, and one fearful person another, and one doubtful person another, and one erroneous person another, etc.—just so, one holy heart labors to make another holy heart; one gracious heart labors to make another gracious heart. [It is a true saying in science, that it is the most natural act or work of every living thing to produce another like unto itself.]
He who is humble will labor to make others humble, he who is sincere will labor to make others sincere, he who is faithful will labor to make others to be faithful, he who is fruitful will labor to make others fruitful, and he who is watchful will labor to make others watchful. A heart that is truly holy will labor, by prayers, reproofs, tears, example, counsel, and commands—to make others like himself. He knows that there is no love, no wisdom, no care, no pains—compared to that which he takes with his own heart, compared to that which is laid out to make unholy hearts holy. And therefore he prays and weeps, and weeps and prays, that holiness may be written upon all that his name is written upon; he learns and teaches, and he teaches and learns, and all that he may teach and learn others to be holy; he counts it not worth while to live in this world, were it not for the glory of God, and the good of his own and others' souls.
But now, what shall we say of those people who are so far from being holy, who are so far from drawing others to be holy, that they do what they can to make those who are holy to become unholy, and who strongly tempt those who are unholy to be more unholy? These are agents and instruments for hell, and certainly such solicitors shall at last be most dreadfully handled by hellish tormentors. But,
10. Tenthly, He who is really holy—will be holy in the use of earthly and common things, as well as in the use of spiritual and heavenly things.Titus 1:15. He will be spiritual in the use of mundane things; and heavenly in the use of earthly things. There is a silver vein of sanctity which runs through all his worldly concernments. If you look upon him in his eating and drinking—you shall find him holy. 1 Cor. 10:31, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." If you look upon him in his buying and selling, in his paying and receiving—you shall find him holy: Isaiah 23:18, "And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord." Before Tyre's conversion, she labored to enrich herself by hook and by crook: all was fish which came to Tyre's net. Tyre could say anything, or do anything, or be anything—for gain. Oh—but when Tyre is converted and sanctified, then all her gettings and earnings, shall be holiness to the Lord. Tyre now shall write holiness upon all her wares and commodities. Tyre shall buy nothing, nor sell anything, nor exchange anything—but there shall be holiness written upon it. And Tyre shall be as well holy in using and improving of her merchandise and earnings, as she has been holy in the getting of them; for so it follows in the same verse, "But in the end her businesses will give their profits to the Lord. Her wealth will not be hoarded but will be used to provide good food and fine clothing for the Lord's priests." Tyre, before her conversion, hoarded up riches, and laid up her merchandise to spend upon her lusts, to spend upon her pride, and wantonness, and luxuriousness, etc. But now, being converted, she uses and improves what she has in the service of the Lord, and for the comfort, support, and relief of the poor and needy. When Tyre is once made holy, then Tyre will be holy in the use of all her earthly enjoyments.
If you look upon a holy man going to war, then you shall find holiness written upon the bridles of his horses: Zech. 14:20-21, "In that day shall there be upon the bridles, or bells, of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord Almighty." [Calvin renders it, stables of horses, which are the most stinking and contemptible places; and yet these should be holily used.] Here is holiness written upon the bridles of the horses they ride on, and holiness written upon the cups and pots they drink in. A holy heart will be holy in the use of the mundane things which are for common use. Every piece of his life, shall savor of sanctity; and in all the parts of his common life you shall be able to discern something of the power of true religion.
He is holy in his commerce, and holy in his converse. Holiness is written upon his dealings with others, and upon his behavior towards his family and friends. Whatever he puts his hand to in his home, shall have holiness written upon it.
A holy man makes a Jacob's ladder of all his earthly enjoyments. All the comforts in his home, are as so many bright morning stars to lead him on in a way of holiness, and to lead him up to a holy God. Look upon a holy man in his vocation, and you shall find him holy. Look upon him in the use of common things, and you shall find him holy. Look upon him in his recreations, and you shall find him holy. The habitual frame and bent of his heart is to be holy in every earthly thing that he puts his hand unto. A spirit of holiness runs and shines in all the common actions of his life.
But now look upon those who have only the shows and appearances of holiness, and you shall find that they have but a worldly spirit in common things. Take them out of their religious duties, and you shall find them to be habitually earthly in the use of earthly things, and carnal in the use of carnal things, and worldly in the use of worldly things. All their religion, all their holiness, lies in a few religious duties; take them out of these, and you shall find them as carnal, as vain, as foolish, as filthy and as frothy, as light and as slight—as those who have not so much as a cloak of holiness upon them. But he who is really holy, will be holy as well out of duties as in duties. If you look closely upon him in all his worldly concernments, you shall find some footsteps of the awe, fear, dread, authority, and glory of God upon his spirit. Look! as an unholy heart is carnal in spiritual things, and earthly in heavenly things, and unholy in holy things—just so, a man who is truly holy, he is as well holy in the ordinary affairs and actions of this life, as he is holy in any of the exercises of piety. But,
11. Eleventhly, True holiness is conformable to the holiness of Christ.The holiness of Christ is that first and noble pattern which real holiness makes us conformable to: 1 John 4:17, "As he is—so are we in this world." There is no grace in Christ—which is not in some degree formed in a holy heart. "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6. And therefore the work of grace and holiness is called a forming of Christ in the soul, Gal. 4:19. Holy hearts have the very prints, stamps, and impressions of the graces of Jesus Christ upon them: John 1:16, "Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness." Look! as face answers to face, so the graces which are in real Christians correspond to the graces which are in Jesus; there is such love as corresponds to the love of Christ, and such lowliness as corresponds to the lowliness of Christ, and such heavenly-mindedness as corresponds to the heavenly-mindedness of Christ, and such meekness as corresponds to the meekness of Christ, and such patience as corresponds to the patience of Christ, and such faith as corresponds to the faith of Christ, and such zeal as corresponds to the zeal of Christ, and such fear as corresponds to the fear of Christ—in truth and reality, though not in degree and quantity.
Look! as in generation the child receives member for member; or as the paper receives from the press, letter for letter; or the mirror receives from the face, image for image; or as the wax receives from the seal, stamp for stamp—just so, holy hearts receive from Christ grace for grace. Look! as wine in the bottle is conformable to that in the butt, and as water in the cistern is conformable to that in the river, and as light in the air is conformable to that in the sun, and as milk in the saucer is conformable to milk in the breasts, and as money in the pocket is conformable to money in the bag—so the graces which are in a holy Christian, are conformable to the graces which are in Christ, 2 Cor. 3:17-18. To be a holy person is to know a holy Christ, to be in love with a holy Christ, and to imitate the virtues of a holy Christ.
It was the height of Caesar's glory to walk in the steps of Alexander; and of Selymus, a Turkish emperor, to walk in the steps of Caesar; and of Themistocles to walk in the steps of Miltiades—just so, it is the height of a Christian's glory to tread in the virtuous steps of his dearest Lord. A holy heart counts it a great encouragement to him—to somewhat walk in the steps of that holy pattern which Christ has set him. Look! as the holy prophet did lay his mouth to the Shunammite's child's mouth, and his eyes to his eyes, and his hands to his hands, 2 Kings 4:34—just so, a holy Christian lays his mouth to the mouth of Christ, and his eyes to the eyes of Christ, and his hands to the hands of Christ, and his breasts to the breasts of Christ, and his heart to the heart of Christ: that is, he does in all things labor to resemble Christ, to be like to Christ; especially in those holy virtues which were most shining in the heart and life of Christ, 1 Pet. 2:9.
Now certainly they are far from being holy who count it a crime to be virtuous; and so are they who walk directly contrary to Jesus Christ. He was holy—but they are profane; he was humble—but they are proud; he was heavenly—but they are earthly; he was spiritual—but they are carnal; he was zealous—but they are lukewarm; he was meek—but they are contentious; he was charitable—but they are covetous; he was courteous—but they are malicious. Will you call these men holy? Surely not! But,
12. Twelfthly, He who is truly holy is much affected and afflicted with the unholiness of others.[Josh. 7:9; Psalm 69:9; Ezra 9:3; Neh. 9; Dan. 9; Micah 1:8; Jer. 13:17.] Psalm 119:53, "Horror has taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake your law;" verse 158, "I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved, because they kept not your word;" verse 136, "Rivers of waters run down my eyes, because they keep not your law." By this hyperbolical phrase he sets forth the greatness of his sorrows, and that not because his enemies had wronged him—but because they had dishonored his God. It was a great grief to him to see others a-grieving his God.
Just so, Jer. 9:1-3, "Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night! oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people, and go from them." But why does the holy prophet thus take on? why does he thus lament? why does he wish himself turned into waters, and into a fountain of tears? why does he prefer a habitation among the wild beasts, before his habitation among his own people? Why, the cause you have in the following words, "For they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men, and they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, says the Lord."
Just so, Ezek. 9:4, "And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." There were holy hearts in Jerusalem, who did sigh and cry, and cry and sigh for the wickedness of the times; the abominations of the times did lie in such full weight upon them, that they did fetch many a sigh from their hearts, and many a tear from their eyes. Holy hearts are able to tell you many sad stories of the groans, griefs, and gripes—which other men's sins has cost them. When most were a-sinning, God's marked ones were a-mourning; when others were with a high hand a-cursing, blaspheming, and a-rebelling, God's marked ones were deeply sorrowing; they mourned sincerely, they sighed greatly, they grieved wonderfully, they groaned lamentably, and that not for some—but for all, for all court sins, and church sins, and city sins, and family sins.
And so, holy Paul could not with dry eyes make mention of those belly-gods and earthworms that were in his time, Phil. 3:18. Just so, holy Lot was much affected and afflicted with seeing and hearing of the wickedness of those among whom he lived, 2 Pet. 2:7-8. The Greek word for vexed, in verse 7, signifies to be oppressed under the wanton and wicked lives of the ungodly Sodomites, as a man who is oppressed under a heavy burden which he labors under, and would gladly be delivered from; or to be oppressed, as the Israelites were under their cruel Egyptian taskmasters. Ah, the sins, the wickedness of others—greatly affect the hearts of the saints! The Israelites did not more labor and sigh and groan under all their loads and oppressions, than many holy hearts do labor and sigh and groan under the load of wicked men's sins. And the Greek word for vexed, in verse 8, signifies to be tortured, tormented, and racked. [It is a metaphor taken from devices which they tormented people with.] Oh, their wickedness did torment and rack his righteous soul; he could not see nor hear of their wickedness—but his soul was as upon a rack!
Pambus wept when he saw a harlot take so much pains to deck and dress herself in splendid and costly apparel—and all to entertain a wanton lover, and so to make work for hell! Oh, it cannot but grieve a gracious soul—to see what pains poor sinners take to go to hell! A holy heart looks upon other men's sins as great dishonors done to his father, his king; and therefore he cannot but cry out with Croesus' son, who though he was born dumb—yet seeing some going about to kill his father, his tongue-strings unloosed, and he cried out, "Oh kill not king Croesus! Kill not my father!" Oh kill not my God, and my King! "Oh kill not, oh dishonor not my dear Father and Savior!" says a holy heart. Such is the love and high respect, which holy hearts bear to their heavenly Father, that they cannot but grieve, and mourn, and cry out when they see others to act treason against the crown and dignity of heaven. Elijah had rather die, than to see Ahab and Jezebel to cast contempt and dishonor upon his God.
[1.] A holy heart mourns for sin AS SIN, he weeps over the very nature of sin.He grieves for sin as it is the breach of a holy law, and as it is a dishonor to a holy God, etc., and therefore he cannot but mourn for other men's sins as well as his own. [He who hates a thief as a thief, will hate a thief in another man's house as well as in his own. He who hates a toad as a toad, will hate a toad in other men's bosoms as well as his own; he who hates poison as poison, will hate poison in another man's hand as well as his own. Just so, he who hates sin as sin, will hate it wherever he sees it; and he who mourns over sin as sin, cannot but mourn over sin wherever he observes it.
[2.] By other men's sins, a holy man is put in mind of the badness of his own heart.Bernard makes mention of an old man, who, when he saw any man sin, wept and lamented for him; and being asked why he grieved so for other men's sins, answered, "He fell today, and I may fall tomorrow!" The falls of others puts a holy man in mind of the roots of sinfulness which are in himself. Other men's actual sins are as so many glasses, through which a holy man comes to see the manifold seeds of sin that are in his own nature, and such a sight as this cannot but melt him and break him.
[3.] A holy heart knows that the best way to keep himself pure from other men's sins, is to mourn for other men's sins.[1 Tim. 5:22; 1 Cor. 5:1-3; Eph. 5:11.] He who makes conscience of weeping over other men's sins--will rarely be defiled with other men's sins. He who mourns not over other men's sins is accessory to other men's sins: and first or last may find them charged upon his account. He who mourns not for other men's sins, is in danger of being ensnared by other men's sins. And how then can a holy man look upon other men's sins with dry eyes?
[4.] A holy man looks upon other men's sins as the crucifiers of his Savior.He looks upon the proud man's pride, as that which set a crown of thorns upon the sacred head of Christ—and this makes him sigh. He looks upon the swearer's oaths as the nails which nailed his blessed hands and feet to the cross—and this makes him grieve. He looks upon scorners as spitting upon Christ, and worldlings as preferring Barabbas before Christ—and this makes him groan. He looks upon hypocrites as kissing and betraying of Christ, and he looks upon drunkards and wantons as giving gall and vinegar to Christ—and this makes him mourn. He looks upon other men's sins as having a hand in all Christ's torments—and this puts him upon the rack, and makes his very soul heavy, even to the death.
[5.] A holy heart knows that by mourning for other men's sins, he may be instrumental to keep off wrath,Ezek. 9:4, 6. How often did holy Moses by his tears—quench the wrath of an angry God! However, if wrath should break forth upon a nation—yet those who mourn for the abominations of the times, they shall be hidden in the day of God's public visitation, Isaiah 26:20. When the house is on fire, the father has a special care to provide for the safety and security of his children. When the lumber is on fire, a man will be sure first to secure his box of jewels. In times of common calamity, God will be sure to look after his jewels, his mourning ones. Though the lumber, the wicked, be burnt up on every hand in the day of God's wrath—yet he will be sure to preserve his jewels in the midst of the flames. [Isaiah 43:2-3; Dan. 3:17-28.]
Augustine, coming to visit a sick man, found the room full of mourners; he found the wife sobbing, the children sighing, and the kindred lamenting; whereupon he suddenly breathed forth this short—but sweet ejaculatory prayer, "Lord," says he, "what prayers do you hear—if not these?" So in times of common calamity, holy hearts may look up and say, "Ah, Lord, whose sighs, whose groans, whose tears will you hear—if not ours? Who are mourners in Zion, and who will you save and secure, in this day of your fierce indignation—if not we who have labored to drown both our own and other men's sins in penitential tears?"
[6.] A holy heart looks upon sinners' sins to contribute very much towards the bringing in of sore and sad changes upon a land and nation,Psalm 107:33-34. He knows that sinners' sins may turn rivers into a wilderness, and water-springs into dry ground, and a fruitful land into a barren wilderness. He knows that sinners' sins may have a deep hand in provoking God to rain hell out of heaven upon a sinful nation, as he did of old upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and this sets him a-mourning. If one sinner destroys much good, as Solomon speaks, Eccles. 9:18, "Ah!" says he, "what a world of good will a world of sinners destroy then!" The serious thoughts of this makes him sigh. [Witness Achan, Manasseh, Jeroboam, Saul, Herod, Ahab, etc.]
[7.] A holy heart looks upon other men's sins as their bonds and chains,Acts 8:23, and this makes him mourn. When Marcellus, the Roman general, saw the multitude of captives that were taken in the city of Syracuse, the tears trickled down his cheeks. Ah, how can tears but trickle down a Christian's cheeks when he sees multitudes, fast bound with the cords of their iniquity, trooping to hell? Who can look upon a sinner as a fast-bound prisoner to the prince of darkness, and not bemoan him?
If holy people thus mourn for the wickedness of others—then certainly those who take pleasure in the wickedness of others—who laugh and joy, who can make a sport of other men's sins—are rather monsters than men! There are none so nearly allied to Satan as these, nor any so resemble Satan as much as these! (The devil always joys most when sinners sin most!) To applaud them, and take pleasure in those who take pleasure in sin—is the highest degree of ungodliness!
Doubtless are they unholy—who tempt and entice others to be unholy. Neither are they holy who only talk of other men's sins—but never sigh for other men's sins. Neither are they holy who insult over the iniquities of others—but never mourn for the iniquities of others. Neither are they holy who can rail, reproach, and revile others for their sins—but have neither skill nor will to lament over others' sins—and yet this age is full of such wretches! Certainly that man's holiness will be found to be of the right stamp at last, who can evangelically mourn for other men's sins as well as his own. But,
13. Thirteenthly, He who is truly holy—he loves the word, and is affected and taken with the word for its holiness and purity.Psalm 119:140, "Your word is very pure, therefore your servant loves it." A pure heart embraces the word for its purity, 1 Pet. 2:2; Psalm 12:6-7, and 18:30. Just so, holy Paul in Romans 7:12, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Well, and what then? Why, says he, verse 22, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." But is this all? No, says he, verse 25, "With the mind I myself serve the law of God." Holy Paul delights in the law as holy, and serves the law as holy, just, and good. A holy heart is taken with the word for its spirituality, divinity, and purity. Just so, in Psalm 19:8-10, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean," (that is, the doctrine which teaches the true fear of God,) "enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether; more to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb:" or, as the Hebrew has it—sweeter than the dropping of honeycombs. [These several titles—law, statutes, testimony, commandments, judgments—are used interchangeably for the whole word of God.]
The whole word of God, as it is a pure word, a clean word, so it rejoices a holy heart; and so it is sweeter than the very droppings of honeycombs. It is more sweet than those drops which drop immediately and naturally, without any force or art—which is counted the purest and the sweetest honey. There is no profit nor pleasure compared to that which the purity of the word yields to a holy heart.
But now unholy hearts they are affected with the word as it is dressed up with fine high notions—which are but mysterious nothings. They are taken with the word, as it is clothed with arts, parts, and elegance of phrase. They are pleased with the word, as it is appareled with a spruce wit, or with silken expressions, or with some fancy elocution. Augustine confesses that the delight which he took before his conversion in Ambrose's sermons, was more for the eloquence of the words—than the substance of the matter. Just so, many are taken more with the wit, elocution, action, high notions, and far-fetched expressions that are in a sermon—than they are taken with the spirituality, divinity, weight, and holy worth that is in a sermon! These are like those children who are more taken with the fine flowers which are strewed about the dish—than they are with the food which is in the dish; and who are more taken with the pretty wild-flowers which grow in the field—than they are with the good corn that grows there. [In great fairs and markets, the peddler and the ballad-singer who sell toys and trifles, have many children and fools hanging upon them; but those who are wise and prudent attend those shops where there are the best and richest commodities. You know how to apply it.]
But now, as the prudent farmer is taken more with a few handfuls of sound grain, than he is with all the colorful weeds which are in the field—just so, a holy heart is more taken with a few sound truths in a sermon, than he is taken with all the strong lines, and high strains, and flourishes of wit with which a sermon may be decked up! Some are taken with the word—as the profession of it brings in customers into their shops, and keeps up their credit in the world. Others are taken with the word—as it seems to tickle their ears and please their fancies. Some are affected with sermons—because of the elegance of the style, eloquence of the words, smoothness of the language, and gracefulness of the delivery. And these deal by sermons as many men do by their bouquets, which are made up of many picked sweet flowers, which, after they have smelled to them a while—cast them into a corner. Just so, these, after they have commended a sermon, after they have applauded a sermon—they cast away the sermon. They smell to the sermon, and say "It is sweet, it is sweet!" But shortly they throw it away, as a bouquet that is withered, and of no further use.
When a man who is sick and unhealthy is at a table which is furnished with variety of wholesome dishes, you know he easily and readily passes over all the most wholesome and nourishing dishes, and falls a-piddling and picking here and there upon kickshaws and puff-paste, which have little or no substance in them. Just so, unsound, unholy hearts, when God has prepared his table, and made a feast of fat things for their souls in the ministry of his word—they easily and readily pass over those sound, solid, and savory truths which are prepared for their strength and nourishment, and fall a-piddling and picking upon some new-coined phrases, or some quaint expressions, or some seraphical notions! And no wonder, for they are not sound within—their hearts are under a great malady. The Israelites would not be satisfied with wholesome diet—but they must needs have quails as picking meat; well, they had them, and while they were at their picking meat, the wrath of God came upon them. The application is as easy, as it is dreadful.
But now a holy heart savors the word, and relishes the word, and is affected and taken with the word—as it is a holy word, a substantial word, a pure word, a clean word, and as it begets holiness, and nourishes holiness, and increases holiness, and as it works towards the completing and perfecting of holiness.
QUESTION. But how may a person know whether he loves the word, and is affected and taken with the word—as it is a holy word, or not?
[1.]First, By what has been already said. But because the question is weighty, I further answer—
[2.]In the second place, He who loves the word, and who is affected and taken with the word as it is a holy word—he loves the WHOLE word of God, and he is affected and taken with one part of the word as well as another. Every law of God is a holy law, and every statute is a holy statute, and every command is a holy command, and every promise is a holy promise, and every threatening is a holy threatening, and every exhortation is a holy exhortation; and, therefore, he who loves any part of the word as a holy word, he cannot but love every part of the word, because every part of the word is holy. [As the wise philosopher delights in all Aristotle, and the prudent physician in all Galen, and the clever orator in all Tully, and the understanding lawyer in all Justinian—just so, a holy man delights in all the Bible. The Jewish Rabbis were accustomed to say that "upon every letter of the law there hangs mountains of profitable matter."]
And indeed he loves no part of the word as holy—who loves not every part of the word as holy. Every chapter in the book of God is a holy chapter, and every verse is a holy verse, and every line in that book is a holy line, and every word in every line is a holy word! He who loves a chapter as it is a holy chapter—he loves every verse in that chapter as a holy verse. And he who loves every verse as a holy verse—he loves every line as a holy line. And he who loves every line as a holy line—he loves every word in every line as a holy word.
Upon easy commands he reads holiness—and upon difficult commands he reads holiness. Upon comfortable commands he reads holiness—and upon laborious commands he reads holiness. And therefore he loves all, and embraces all, and endeavors a conformity to all. A holy heart dares neither to dispute with that word, nor make light of that word, where he reads holiness engraved upon it. To a holy heart, there is no command of God which is unjust or unreasonable.
But now an unholy heart, though it may for some worldly advantages court and cry up some parts of the word—yet it is ready, with Judas, to betray and crucify other parts of the word. The whole Scripture is but one entire love-letter, despatched from the Lord Christ to his beloved spouse on earth. This love-letter is all written in golden letters, and therefore a holy heart cannot but be taken and affected with every line in this letter. In this love-letter there is so much to be read of the love of Christ, the heart of Christ, the kindness of Christ, the grace of Christ, and the glory of Christ—that a holy heart cannot but be affected and taken with it. The whole word of God is a field—and Christ is the treasure that is hidden in that field. The whole word of God is a ring of gold—and Christ is the diamond in that ring, and therefore holy heart cannot but love, and embrace, and endeavor to conform to every line. Luther was accustomed to say that he would not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible. And Rabbi Chija, in the Jerusalem Talmud, says that all the world is not of equal value with one word out of the law.
[3.]Thirdly, A man who is affected and taken with the word as it is a holy word—he is ALWAYS affected and taken with it! He loves it and takes pleasure in it, as well in adversity as in prosperity: Psalm 119:59, "Your statutes have been my songs"—yes, but where?—"in the house of my pilgrimage," or "pilgrimages," as the Hebrew has it. [The saints have commonly looked upon themselves as pilgrims and strangers in this world, Gen. 47:9, 39; Psalm 12:19; Heb. 11:9-10, etc.] When David was in his banishments, being hunted Saul, Absalom, and others—then the word of God was music to him—then it was matter of joy and rejoicing to him; his whole life was the life of a pilgrim and stranger; now as a pilgrim he sojourns here, and at another time as a stranger he sojourns there. No man could take more pleasure, joy, and contentment in the rarest and choicest music—than David did in the word of God; and that not only when he was in his royal palace—but also when he was in the house of his pilgrimage.
He who loves the word, and that delights in the word for its holiness and purity—he will love it and delight in it in health and sickness; in strength and weakness; in honor and disgrace; in wealth and want; in life and in death. The holiness of the word is a lasting holiness, and so will every man's affections be towards it who loves it, and is taken with it for its holiness and pureness.
Some there are, who cry up the word, and who seem to be much affected, delighted, and ravished with the word, (as Herod, Ezekiel's hearers, and the stony ground was, Ezek. 33:30-33, and Mark 4 and 6, etc.) while the word is either a cheap word to them, or a profitable and pleasing word to them, or while it is courted and countenanced in the world, or while it is the path to preferment, or a key to enlargement, etc. But when the word gets within them, and discovers their own sinfulness and wretchedness to them; when it shows them how Christless, and graceless, and lifeless, and helpless, and hopeless they are; when it discovers how far they are from heaven, and how near they are to hell, Jer. 44:15, 29; oh, then their hearts begin to rise against it, and to cry out, "Away with it! It was never good days, since we have had so much preaching and hearing!" Or when the word comes to be scorned, slighted, disgraced, opposed, or persecuted, oh, then they turn their backs upon it, and quickly grow weary of it.
Strabo notes that the Iassians delighted themselves with the music of an excellent harpist—until they heard the market-bell ring; upon which they all ran away to the market! Just so, let these men but hear the market-bell of lust, or the bell of profit, or the bell of pleasure, or the bell of applause, or the bell of honor, or the bell of error, or the bell of superstition sound in their ears—and immediately they will run from the sweet music of the Word—to follow after any of these market-bells. But now a man who loves the word, and who is affected and taken with the word as it is a holy word—no bell can ring him from the word! No disgrace, no affliction, no opposition, no persecution—can take him off from loving the word, and from taking pleasure in the word. The cause of his love is abiding and lasting, and therefore his love must be lasting and continuing.
This is not to say, that a holy heart may not sometimes be more affected and taken with the word than at some times than at other times—as when a man enjoys much communion with God in the word; or when God speaks much peace and comfort to the soul by the word; or when God assures a man more clearly and fully of the goodness and happiness of his condition by the word; or when God lets in very much quietness, or quickness, or sweetness, or seriousness, or spiritualness into a man's spirit by the word. Oh, then a man may more than ordinarily be affected and taken with the word.
But now, though a holy Christian is not at all times in the same degree and measure taken with the word—yet take such a Christian when he is at worst, and you shall find two things in him:
(1.) you shall find in him a holy love to the word;
(2.) you shall find in him a real love to holy Christians.
[4.]Fourthly, He who loves the word, and who is affected and taken with the word as it is a holy word—he is most affected and taken with those parts of the word which most incite to holiness, which most promote holiness, and which most provoke to holiness. "But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. For he himself has said—You must be holy because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16. (I shall give you light into these words when I come to open the holiness of God to you.)
Just so, Mat. 5:48, "But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Our summum bonum in this world consists in our conformity to the heavenly pattern. In all imitations it is best to choose the most perfect pattern. There is nothing more laudable and commendable than for a Christian to endeavor more and more to resemble his God in the highest perfections of righteousness and holiness. Just so, Eph. 5:15-16, "So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Christians must walk precisely, wisely, exactly, accurately. As the carpenter works by line and rule, so a Christian must walk by line and rule; he must labor to get up to the very top of godliness; he must go to the utmost of every command, as the original word imports.
Just so, Phil. 2:15, "You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them." God's sons should be spotless sons, that is, they should be without all such spots as are inconsistent with sonship or saintship.
Just so, in Col. 2:6, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord—walk in Him." They had received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Law-giver, they had received Christ as a ruling Christ, as a reigning Christ, and as a commanding Christ; and now the great duty incumbent upon them is to walk and live at such a rate of holiness as may evidence that they have thus received Christ.
Just so, in 1 John 2:6, "He who says he abides in him, ought himself also to walk even as he walked." Christians are to set all Christ's moral actions before them as a pattern for their imitation, John 13:15. In Christ's life—a Christian may behold the picture or lineaments of all virtues—and accordingly he ought to order his life in this world. To walk as Christ walked is to walk humbly, holily, justly, righteously, meekly, lowly, lovingly, fruitfully, faithfully, uprightly, with an "as" of quality or likeness—but not with an "as" of equality; for that is impossible for any saint on earth—to walk so purely, so holily, so blamelessly, so unspottedly, so spiritually, so heavenly as Christ walked; that is, with an "as" of equality. To walk as Christ walked is to slight the world, and despise the world, and make a footstool of the world, and to live above the world, and to triumph over the world as Christ did; that is, with an "as" of quality—but not with an "as" of equality. To walk as Christ walked is to love those who hate us, to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who do evil to us; but still with an "as" of similitude—but not with an "as" of equality, Mat. 5:44-47. To walk as Christ walked is to be patient, and silent, and submissive, and thankful, under the vilest reproaches, the heaviest afflictions, and the greatest sufferings, 1 Pet. 2:20-23; with an "as" of quality—but not with an "as" of equality.
Now a holy heart that is taken with the holiness of the word—he is certainly taken most with those parts of the word which most call for holiness, and which most strongly press the soul to make a progress in holiness. I have given you a taste of some of the most principal scriptures that do incite most to holiness, and I shall leave it to your own consciences to give in witness for you or against you, according to what you find in your own spirits. Certainly to a holy man there are no prayers, no sermons, no discourses, no conferences, no books, nor no parts of scripture—which can compare to those which most encourage and provoke to holiness. But,
[5.]Fifthly and lastly, He who loves the word, and who is affected and taken with the word as it is a holy word—he highly prizes and values the holy dispensers of the word for their work's sake, Acts 10:24-26; Gal. 4:14. Isaiah 52:7, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion—Your God reigns!" If the very feet of those who brought good tidings, though they were afar off, and sweaty, dusty, and dirty from traveling upon the mountains, were so desirable and amiable, honorable and comfortable; oh then what were their faces, what were their messages! Surely they were much more amiable and desirable.
Just so, in 1 Thes. 5:12,13, "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly" (or, more than abundantly, as the Greek has it) "in love for their work's sake; and be at peace among yourselves." Their work is to bring Christ and your souls together, and to keep Christ and your souls together. Their work is to turn you from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to Jesus Christ. [Acts 26:16-18. If a minister had as many eyes as Argus to watch, as many heads as Typheus to plan, and as many hands as Briareus to labor—he might find employment enough for them all in the faithful discharge of his ministerial function.]
Their work is gradual: first, they are to bring you to a saving acquaintance with Christ; and then they are to bring you to a holy acceptance of Christ; and then they are to bring you to a willing resignation of yourselves to Christ; and then they are to bring you to a sweet and blessed assurance of your interest in Christ, and so to fit you and prepare you for a glorious fruition of Christ. Therefore certainly their work is high and honorable, excellent and eminent, laborious and glorious; and why, then, should you not have a high and honorable esteem of them, even for their work's sake?
I have read of Ambrose, that being about to leave the church of Milan, the people of the place flocked about him, laid hold of him, protesting that they had rather lose their lives than lose their pastor, beseeching him to remain, and to promote among them the gospel and government of Christ, professing and promising, for his encouragement, their ready submission to Christ. Chrysostom's hearers were accustomed to say, that they had as good be without the sun in the sky, as to be without Chrysostom in the pulpit. Some of the ancients have long since concluded that Herod might have kept his oath, Mark 6:23—and yet have spared John Baptist's head, because John's head, John's life, was more worth than all Herod's kingdom. O sirs, shall Titus Sabinus' dog bring food to the mouth of his dead master, because sometimes he gave him a crust of bread; and will not you highly love, honor, and esteem of those pastors who feed your souls with the bread of life, yes, with that bread that came down from heaven?
Certainly the more any man is affected and taken with the holiness of the word, the more highly they will honor and prize the holy and faithful dispensers of the word. Holy men know that their place is honorable, their calling honorable, and their work honorable; and therefore they cannot but honor them. Holy men know that if they do not honor them, they dishonor him whose ambassadors they are. Holy men know that Christ takes all the affronts which are put upon them as put upon himself, and will accordingly revenge them, as you may see by comparing these scriptures together. [Luke 10:16; Mat. 22:4, 8, 21:33, 44, and 23:37-39; 2 Chron. 36:14, 22; 2 Sam. a. 1, 7, compared with 12:31.]
Ambassadors are inviolable by the law of nations. David never retaliated so harshly, as he did to the Ammonites, who despitefully used his ambassadors that he sent unto them, when they shaved off one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, etc. I have read that Rome was destroyed to the ground for some abuses that were offered to an ambassador that was sent unto it. And the Romans sacked the famous city of Corinth, and razed it to the ground, for a little discourtesy that they offered to their ambassadors. No wonder then, if God deals so severely with those who slight his ambassadors, who come with messages of grace and favor from the King of kings and Lord of lords, and whose great work is to make a firm, an everlasting peace between God and sinners' souls, and that all differences between God and them may be forever decided, and a free trade to heaven fully opened and maintained. As for such as slight, scorn, and despise the holy and faithful dispensers of the word, I think they are as far from real holiness as hell is from true happiness. And so, doubtless, are those who grumble at the expense of a penny for the maintenance of that divine candle that wastes itself to give light to them, that will rather die to save charges than spend a little money to save their souls, 2 Cor. 12:14-16.
14. In the fourteenth place, A man who is really holy will be holy among the unholy.He will retain and keep his holiness, let the times be ever so unholy. Principles of grace and holiness are lasting; they are not like the morning cloud nor the early dew, Psalm 119:112, and 106:3; 1 John 3:9-10. Holy Abraham was righteous in Chaldea; holy Lot was just in Sodom; holy Job was upright in the land of Uz, which was a place of much profaneness and superstition; holy Nehemiah was courageous and zealous in Damascus; and so was holy Daniel in Babylon. The different generations wherein these holy men lived were wholly devoted to wickedness and superstition—and yet these precious souls had wholly devoted themselves to godliness.
And of the same spirit, mind, and metal was holy David. Psalm 119:20, "My soul breaks for the longing it has to your judgments at all times." Let the times be ever so dangerous, licentious, superstitious, or erroneous—yet David's heart was strongly carried forth to God's judgments—that is, to his word; for under this title, "judgments," you are to understand the whole word of God.
And so there were some in Sardis who were of the same spirit with the worthies above mentioned: 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." In polluting times pure hearts will keep themselves pure. A holy heart will keep himself undefiled, even in defiling times; when others are besmeared all over, he will keep his garments white and clean. Let the times ever so often turn, you shall find that he who is really holy will be holy under every turn. No turns shall turn him out of a way of holiness: Job 17:9, "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger."
A man who is really holy—will be holy among the holy, and he will be holy among the unholy. If you look upon him among unholy friends, unholy children, and unholy servants—you shall find him holy. If you look upon him among unholy neighbors—you shall find him holy. If you look upon him among unholy buyers and sellers—you shall find him holy. If you take him at his table—you shall find him holy. If you take him in his shop, in his commerce—you shall find him holy. If you take him in his family—you shall find him holy. If you take him in his closet—shall find him holy. If you take him in his journeyings—you shall find him holy. If you take him in his recreations—you shall find him holy.
True holiness is like that famous Queen Elizabeth, 'always the same'. The godly man is four square. Cast him where you will, like a dice, he falls always sure and square. Just so, cast a holy man where you will, and into what company you will—yet still he falls sure and square for holiness. True holiness is a part of the divine nature; it is of such a heavenly complexion, that it will never alter. If the times should be so sad and bad that holy people should not be able to hold fast their estates, their liberties, their trades, their lives, their religion—yet they will still hold fast their holiness.
A holy Christian is like gold. Cast gold into the fire, or into the water; cast it upon the ash-heap, or into the pleasant garden; cast it among the poor or among the rich, among the religious or among the licentious; yet still it is gold, still it retains its purity and excellency. Just so, cast a holy Christian, a golden Christian, into whatever condition you will, and into what company you will—yet still he will retain his purity, his sanctity! Yes, the worse the times are, the more a holy man studies holiness, and prefers holiness, and prizes holiness, and practices holiness, that he may keep up the credit of holiness, and the credit of a holy God, and the credit of his holy profession in the world.
But now, such as have only a show of holiness, an appearance of holiness—these will be religious among the religious, and wicked among the wicked, Isaiah 9:17. They will be righteous among the righteous, and licentious among the licentious; they will be as the company is among which they are cast. With the good they will be good, and with the bad they will be bad. With the zealous they will be zealous, and with the superstitious they will be superstitious. With the lukewarm they will be lukewarm, etc. They are for all changing times and tides; they are for any turn that will serve their turn; for any mode that will bring pleasure or profit to them. They are like Alcibiades, of whom it was said that he was a man for all times; for he could swagger it at Athens, and take any pains at Thebes; he could live most sparingly at Lacidaemon, and live riotously among the Thracians, and hunt among the Persians. Just so, unholy men can accommodate themselves to the times, and comply with them, whatever they are. With Proteus they will transform themselves into all shapes. As the times change—so will they; what the times favor—that they will favor; what the times commend—that they will commend; and what the times cry up and admire—that they will cry up and admire; and what the times frown upon and condemn—that they will frown upon and condemn.
Look! as curious and well-drawn pictures seem to turn their eyes every way, and to smile upon everyone that looks upon them—just so, these can turn with the times; they can look as the times look, and smile as the times smile; they can talk with the times, and sail with the times. Sometimes they can act one part, and sometimes another part—as the times require. If the times require a large profession—they can make it. If the times require a rigid spirit against such as cannot comply with the times—they can act it. If the times demand them to leave their religion at the church door—they can leave it, etc. If the times call upon them to worship God according to the prescriptions of men—they can do it.
Oh—but give me a man who is really holy—and he will be holy though the times should be ever so unholy! Yes, the more licentious the times are—the more gracious he will labor to be.
15. In the fifteenth place—He who is really holy, ordinarily has holy AIMS and ENDS in his actings and undertakings.The glory of God is the mark—the bulls-eye which holy men have in their eyes. "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." Romans 14:7-8. They live not to themselves—but they live to him who lives forever. They live not to their own wills, lusts, greatness, and glory in this world—but they live to his glory, whose glory is dearer to them than their very lives. [John 7:18; Gen. 41:16; Dan. 2:23; Titus 2:10, 38; 1 Cor. 10; Rev. 12:11.] They make divine glory their ultimate end.
2 Cor. 4:5, "We preach not ourselves—but Christ Jesus the Lord;" that is, in our preaching we woo not for ourselves—but for Christ. [That Christian duties are esteemed by God—not by their acts but by their ends—is most certain.] We are no kin to those who speak two words for themselves, and hardly one for Christ. In all our preaching we eye the glory of Christ, we design the honor and exaltation of Christ. Real holiness is commonly attended with a single eye—just as counterfeit holiness is commonly attended with a squint eye; squint-eyed aims, and squint-eyed ends—do usually wait upon divided hearts. Take a holy man in the exercise of his gifts and graces for the good of men's souls, or take him in the exercise of charity for the good of men's bodies, and in both you shall find his eye fixed upon the glory of God. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever! Amen." 1 Peter 4:11
Look! as bright shining golden vessels do not retain the beams of the sun which they receive—but reflect them back again upon the sun—just so, those who are really holy, they do return and reflect back again upon the Sun of righteousness—the praise and glory of all the gifts, graces, and virtues that they have received from him. The daily language of their souls is, "Not unto us, Lord, not unto us, Lord—but to your name be all the glory!" Holy men make conscience of giving men their dues; how much more then do they make conscience of giving God his due? 1 Chron. 29:10, 18. Now, glory is God's due, and God desires nothing more than that we give him the glory due unto his name, as you may see in Psalm 29:1-2. Just so, in Psalm 96:7-8. There are three "gives" in those two verses, "Give unto the Lord," "give unto the Lord," "give unto the Lord the glory that is due unto his name!" Glory is God's right, and he demands his right; and this holy men know, and therefore they give him his right; they give him the honor and the glory which is due unto his name.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do—do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31. Holy hearts do habitually eye the glory of Christ in all things. When they eat—they eat to his glory; and when they drink—they drink to his glory; and when they sleep—they sleep to his glory; when they buy—they buy for his glory; and when they sell—they sell for his glory; and when they give—they give for his glory; and when they recreate themselves—they recreate for his glory: so when they hear preaching—they hear for his glory; and when they pray—they pray for his glory; and when they fast—they fast for his glory; and when they read Scripture—they read for his glory; and when they come to the Lord's table—they come to his glory. In all secular and pious actions—holy hearts have a habitual eye to divine glory.
Do not mistake me; I do not say that such as are really holy do actually eye the glory of Christ in all their actions. Oh no—this is a happiness desirable on earth—but shall never be attained until we come to heaven. Selfish and base ends and aims, will too often creep into the holiest hearts—but holy hearts sigh and groan under them; they complain to God of them, and they cry for justice, justice upon them: and it is the strong and earnest desires of their souls to be rid of them. But take a holy Christian in his ordinary, usual, and habitual course, and he will have holy aims and ends in all his actions and undertakings.
But now such whose holiness is counterfeit, they never look at divine glory in what they do; sometimes their eye is upon their credit, and sometimes their eyes are upon applause; sometimes they have pleasure in their eyes, and sometimes they have profit in their eyes, and sometimes they have preferments in their eyes, etc., Mat. 6:5; John 6:26; Zech. 7:5-7. They will be very godly when they can make a gain of godliness; they will be very holy when holiness is the way to outward happiness; but this religious wickedness will double damn them at last! This is most certain, that some carnal or worldly consideration or other, always acts him who has not real principles of holiness in him. But he who is really holy makes the glory of God his center. "To God be the glory!" was once, and is still a holy man's motto.
QUESTION. But how may a person know when he makes the glory of God his aim, his end, in this or that service which he performs? I shall answer this question briefly thus—
[1.] First, Such a man as makes the glory of God his aim, his end—he will do duty when all outward encouragements to duty fail.When the eye of men, the favor of men, the respects of men, and all other encouragements from men fail—yet then a holy man will hold up, and hold on in his work and way! Yes, when all outward encouragements from God shall fail—yet such a person will keep close to his duty! Hab. 3:17-18, "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!" When all necessary and delightful mercies fail—yet he will not fail in his duty. Though God withholds his blessings—yet he will not withhold his service—in the lack of a livelihood he will be lively in his duty; when he has nothing to exist by—yet then he will live upon his God.
Though war and poverty come—yet he will not be lacking in his duty. There are three things in a holy heart, which strongly incline it to persevere when all outward encouragements fail. The first is a forcible principle—divine love, 2 Cor. 5:14; the second is a mighty aid—the Spirit of God, Phil. 4:12-13; the third is a high aim—the glory of God. But now, it is otherwise with those who have only a show of godliness. Let but their outward encouragements fail them; let but the eye, the ear, the applause of the creature fail them; if they cannot make some gain of their godliness, some profit of their profession, some advantage of their religion—they are ready, with Demas, to throw up and throw off all! Profit and applause are usually the baits that these men bite at; and if they miss these baits, then farewell profession, farewell religion, farewell all!
But now look—as Ruth kept close to her mother in the lack of all outward encouragements; just so, souls that eye the glory of God in duties, they will keep close to duties when all outward encouragements fail. Though outward encouragements be sometimes as a side-wind, or as oil, or as chariot wheels—means to move a Christian to go on more sweetly, easily, and comfortably in the ways of God—yet when this wind shall fail, and these chariot wheels shall be knocked off—a real Christian will hold on his way, Job. 17:9.
[2.] Secondly, When a man aims at the glory of God in what he does, then he labors to hide and conceal all his human excellencies, which may any way tend to obscure, eclipse, or darken the glory of God."For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:2-5.
Holy Paul handled holy things in such a manner, as much of God—and little or nothing of man could be perceived. In religious exercises, Paul seems to say to human eloquence and fleshly wisdom, to affected rhetoric and flattering oratory, "Stand afar off—come not near! I have now to do with God, and to do with souls, and to do with eternity—and therefore what have I to do with you?" Paul had an eye to divine glory in all that he did, and therefore he dared not tip his tongue and store his head with airy notions, or with "the enticing words of man's wisdom." Of all the apostles, Paul was most eminent and excellent in all human arts, abilities, and gifts—and yet in pious exercises he lays them all aside. 1 Cor. 14:18-19, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."
The church of Corinth excelled all other churches in gifts—I do not say in grace—and many among them prided themselves up in the exercise of their gifts and tongues in their church assemblies, that so they might win the more credit and repute to themselves, of being men of great learning, reading, and abilities; but the holy apostle by his own example, labors to win them to decline all vain ostentation, and to work them to express themselves so as might be most for the information, conviction, edification, and salvation of their hearers' souls. Holy Paul had much learning—and yet in pious exercises he used little. The Corinthians had less—and yet made such shows of it, even in their pious duties—as if in their minds—all the libraries in the world had been locked up.
This puts me in mind of what once I have read concerning a Rabbi, who had but little learning, and less modesty and ingenuity; for he usurping all the discourse at table where many were gathered. One commented concerning him, "For anything I know he may be learned; but I never heard learning make such a noise." The more learning—the less noise men will make; the less learning—the more noise men will make. The sun shows least when it is at the highest; and those waters are most deep which run most silent. They usually are men of the greatest abilities—who flaunt them least in pious works. [At one time, when Bernard had preached very eloquently, and the people much admired and applauded him—which much saddened him. The next day he preached a plain and powerful sermon without any rhetorical dresses, at which many curious, itching ears were unsatisfied—but himself and his lower-capacitated auditors were much pleased and delighted. And being asked the reason of it, he returned this answer, "Yesterday I preached Bernard—but today, I preached Jesus Christ.]
Mr. Dod was accustomed to say that "so much Greek and Hebrew in a sermon—was so much fleshly ostentation in a sermon!" The gilding upon the pill may please the eye—but it profits not the patient; the paint upon the window-pane may feed the fancy—but the room is rather the darker than the lighter for it. Painted glass in churches is more glorious—but plain glass is most perspicuous. When men come to church-work, to pulpit-work, all plainness must be used. Starched oratory may tickle the brain—but it is plain doctrine which informs the judgment, which convinces the conscience, which bows the will, and which wins the heart. That sermon has most learning in it—which has most plainness in it. And therefore a great scholar was accustomed to say, "Lord, give me learning enough that I may preach plain enough."
Silly, ignorant people are very apt to dote upon that most, and admire that most—which they understand least; but prudent Christians judge of ministers not by their lungs—but by their brains; not by their throats—but by their hearts and lives; not by their voices and tones—but by the plainness, spiritualness, suitableness, and usefulness of their matter. It is observable throughout the Scriptures, that the profoundest prophets, and the greatest apostles, yes, and Christ himself, did commonly accommodate themselves to their hearers' capacities. [Holy Moses covered his glistening face with a veil when he spoke to the people.] They kept in and kept under all those human excellencies, the discovery of which might anyway cloud divine glory. Men who have their eyes upon divine glory—know that the more any acquired abilities, gifts, and excellencies appear in holy exercises—the more the name, honor, and glory of God is clouded, and the more those who have most of the indwellings of God are dissatisfied and disadvantaged; and therefore those who have real respect to divine glory, they draw as it were a curtain between all their human excellencies and pious exercises.
That none may think this is my private opinion, let me add a few sayings of theirs that have been eminent in acquired excellencies. Gregory Nazianzen, a holy and a weighty writer, compares curiosity and novelty of speech in the things of God unto lascivious dancing, and the arts of jugglers, whereby they deceive the senses of those who look on; and further says that simple, proper, genuine language was in holy things accustomed to be esteemed godliness. Eusebius tells us of some in his days, who to win upon the minds of men, did amaze them with fancy words. And it was a remarkable saying of golden-mouthed Chrysostom, as some call him, "When I first began to preach," said he, "I was a child, and delighted in rattles—in the applause of the people; but when I was a man, I began to despise them."
New phrases and expressions do many times make way for the introducing of new doctrines—as learned Paraeus observes: "For the most part," says he, "those who in points of divinity devise new terms and unusual expressions, do hide under them some new and strange doctrines; they wrap up their error in some intricate words and fancy distinctions." When our words in preaching differ from the style of the Holy Spirit, the people be in danger of turning aside to vain jangling, says Danaeus. Said that incomparable man, Peter Ramus: "Let us speak the words of scripture, let us make use of the language of the Holy Spirit, and forever abominate those who profanely disdain at the stately plainness of God's blessed book, and who think to correct the divine wisdom and eloquence, with their own infancy and sophistry." [The orators of Athens were then suspected, when they began to make excursions with florid expressions.] Said Seneca, "Sick men are not bettered by physicians' sugared words—but by their skillful hands."
Truth is most beautiful when most naked. Many mar the sweetness of the word, by perfuming it with their human eloquence and oratory. For a close, remember that God himself, the great master of speech, when he spoke from heaven, he made use of three different texts in a breath: Mat. 17:5, "This is my beloved Son," Psalm 7; "In whom I am well pleased," Isaiah 42:1; "Hear him," Deut. 18:15; which you may note against the squeamishness of such as disdain at the stately plainness of the Scriptures. But,
[3.] Thirdly, If you do really and actually aim at the glory of God in what you do, then the glory of God will swallow up all selfish aims and ends that may thrust themselves in upon the soul while it is at its work.Look! as Aaron's rod, Exod. 7:10-12, swallowed up the magicians' rods—so the glory of God will swallow up all carnal aims and ends. Look! as the sun puts out the light of the fire, so the glory of God will put out and consume all other ends. This is most certain—that which is a man's great end—that will work out all other ends. If you set up the glory of God as your chief end, that will by degrees eat out all selfish and base ends. Look! as Pharaoh's lean cows, Gen. 41:4, ate up the fat, so the glory of God will eat up all those fat and worldly ends, which crowd in upon the soul in religious work. The keeping up of the glory of God as your great end, will be the keeping down and the casting out of all other ends.
[4.] Fourthly, He who really and actually aims at the glory of God in what he does—he will persevere in doing what God commands, though nothing for the present comes of it.If his eye is truly fixed upon divine glory, a command of God shall be enough to carry him on in his work. Psalm 27:8, "When you said, Seek my face, my heart said unto you, Your face, Lord, will I seek." When the glory of God is a man's mark, his heart will sweetly echo and graciously comply with divine commands: Jer. 3:22, "Return, O backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto you; for you are the Lord our God." God's commands fall with great power and force upon that man's heart, who has divine glory in his eye. One word from God will command such a soul to a gracious compliance with what God requires: Psalm 119:4-5, "You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently. Oh that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!" As soon as God lays a command upon a Christian—he looks up to heaven for power to turn that precept into practice. "Oh that my ways were directed to keep your statutes! Oh that I were as holy as God would have me to be! Oh that I were as humble and lowly as God would have me to be! Oh that I were as heavenly and spiritual as God would have me to be! Oh that I were as pure and perfect as God would have me to be!"
Just so, verse 48, "My hands will I lift up to your commandments, which I have loved." Many there are, who thrust away your commandments with all their might—but I lift up my hands to your commandments. Many there are, who will strain themselves to take a comfort—but I strain myself to lift up your commandments. Many there are, who will stretch out their hands to take a reward—but I stretch out my hands to take hold on your commandments. To give a little more light into these words: Sometimes the lifting up of hands betokens admiration; when men are astonished and ravished they lift up their hands: "I will lift up my hands to your commandments," that is, I will admire the goodness, the holiness, the righteousness, the purity and excellency of your commandments. Again, we lift up our hands when we betake ourselves to refuge: God's commands are the saint's refuge. When they house and shelter themselves under the wings of God's commands they are safe. Again, men lift up their hands when they take hold on a thing. Now gracious souls do take hold on God's commandments to do them, to practice them, and to express the life and power of them. Again, men lift up their hands to those things which are high and above them.
Now the commands of God are high—they are sublime, they are above us. They are sublime and high in regard of their original, they come down from God. They are sublime and high in regard of the matter of them, they are heavenly oracles, they are dictates of divine wisdom. They are sublime and high in regard of the difficulty of keeping of them, they exceeding all human strength. They are sublime and high in regard of their situation, they are situated in heaven: "Your word," says David, "endures forever in heaven." But yet as sublime and as high as they are, a man who has his eye upon divine glory will lift up his hands unto them; he will do all he can to express the pleasure that he takes in them, and the readiness of his soul to a holy compliance with them.
A man who has his eye upon divine glory, he will keep close to his work—to his hearing work, to his praying work, to his mourning work, to his repenting work, to his believing work, to his waiting work; though nothing comes on it, though he make no earnings of it, though comfort does not come, though joy and peace does not come, though assurance does not come, though enlargements do not come, though answers and returns from heaven do not come, though good days do not come, though deliverance does not come—yet such will keep close to their work that have their eye upon divine glory.
But now, such who eye not the glory of God in what they do, they quickly grow weary of their work; if they can make no earnings of their seekings and fastings and prayings—they are presently ready to throw up all, and to quarrel with God himself, as if God had done them an injury, Isaiah 58:1-4. [Compare these scriptures together: Psalm 44:12, 20; Cant. 3:1-3; Isaiah 26:8, 9, and 59:8-11; Hab. 2:1-3; Micah 7:7-9; Lam. 3:8, 44, compared with verse 24-26, 31-32. 40-41, 55.]
[5.] Fifthly and lastly, A man who really aims at the glory of God in this or that duty—he cannot be satisfied or contented with the performance of duties, without some enjoyments of God in duties.Without some converse and communion with God in duties, his soul cannot be satisfied; his soul thirsts and longs to see the beauty and the glory of the Lord in his sanctuary, and without this sight he cannot be quieted. "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory." Psalms 63:1-2
Here is the ordinance—but where is the God of the ordinance? Here is prayer—but where is the God of prayer? Here is the duty—but where is the God of duty? Here is enlargements—but where is the God of enlargements? Here are meltings and breakings of spirit—but where is the God of these meltings and breakings? Psalm 84:2, "My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh cries out for the living God." The courts of the Lord, without spiritual converses with the living God, could not satisfy his soul: "Oh," says he, "here are the courts of the Lord, the courts of the Lord—but where is the living God? where is the living God? where is that God who makes men to live, and who makes ordinances to be living and lively ordinances to his children's souls? Oh, the courts of the Lord are very desirable—but the living God is much more desirable! The courts of the Lord are precious and glorious—but the living God is infinitely more precious and glorious! Here is the mantle of Elijah—but where is the God of Elijah? 2 Kings 2:12-14. Here are the courts of the Lord—but where is the Lord of these courts?
It was the speech of holy Mr. Bradford, "that he could not leave a duty until he had found communion with Christ in the duty. He could not give off a duty until his heart was brought into a duty frame. He could not leave confession until he had found his heart humbled and melted under the sense of his sin. He could not give over petitioning until he had found his heart taken with the beauties of the things desired, and strongly carried out after the enjoyment of them. Neither could he leave thanksgiving until he had found his spirit enlarged, and his soul quickened in the return of praises."
And so it was with holy Bernard, who was accustomed to say, "O Lord, I never come to you but by you; I never go from you without you." A man who has his eye upon the glory of Christ—cannot put off his soul with anything below communion with Christ, in those pious services and duties that he offers up to Christ. Though the breasts of duty are sweet—yet those breasts will not satisfy the soul, except Christ lies between them, Cant. 1:13.
But now, men who have base, poor, low, and selfish ends in what they do, they can come off easily from their duties; though they find no spirit, no life, no warmth in duty—yet they can come off with contentment from duty. Though they have no communion, no converse at all with God in duty, though they have no pledges of grace, no pawns of mercy, no tastes of love, no relishes of heaven in a duty—yet they can come off from the duty with contentment and satisfaction of spirit. Let but others applaud him, and his own heart hug him—and he has enough.
16. In the sixteenth and last place—A man who is really holy speaks a holy language.[Psalm 45:1-2; Zeph. 3:9; Cant. 4:3. Compare these scriptures together—Proverbs 11:30, 12:18, and 25:11; Mat. 7:6, and 12:35; Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:29; Acts 26:25; John 6:25; 1 Pet. 4:11.] A holy heart and a holy tongue are inseparable companions. If there be grace in the heart—there will be grace in the lips. If the heart is pure—the language will be pure. Christ says his spouse's lips are like a thread of scarlet; they are red with talking of nothing but a crucified Christ; and they are thin like a thread, not swelled with other vain discourses. And verse 11, he tells you that "the lips of his spouse drop as the honeycombs," or drop honeycombs; and that "honey and milk are under her tongue." You know that Canaan was a land that flowed with milk and honey. Why? the language of the spouse was the language of Canaan; her lips were still dropping such holy, spiritual, and heavenly matter—as was as sweet, pleasant, profitable, desirable, and delectable to men's souls—as ever honey and milk was to men's palates or appetites. And as many were fed and nourished by milk and honey, so many were fed and nourished by the holy droppings of her lips.
Psalm 37:30, "The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgment." If the heart is holy—the tongue will be a-talking wisely, fruitfully, feelingly, affectionately of that which may profit both a man's self and others. Proverbs 10:20, "The tongue of the just is as choice silver; but the heart of the wicked is little worth." Godly men's words are of more worth than wicked men's hearts! Look—as choice silver is known by its tinkling—so holy men are known by their talking. And as choice silver gives a clear and sweet sound—so the tongue of the just sounds sweetly and pleasantly in the ears of others. Look! as choice silver is highly prized and valued among men, so is the tongue of the righteous among those who are righteous. Look! as choice silver allures and draws the hearts of men to a love and liking of it—just so, the tongues of the righteous do allure and draw the hearts of men to a love and liking of virtue and goodness.
Verse 21, "The lips of the righteous feed many." They feed many by their exhortations, instructions, admonitions, and counsels. The mouths of the righteous are like the gates of some hospitable people, where many are fed. The lips of the righteous are a free and well-furnished table—at which many are fed and nourished with the dainties of heaven to eternal life. Righteous men keep open house, they keep free hospitality for all comers and goers; and if they have not always bread in their hands—yet they have always grace in their lips, to feed many. Though they may be outwardly poor—yet they have a treasure within to enrich many.
The tongue is the instrument of a Christian's glory, and is so interested in the quality it expresses, that in the original it signifies both glory and the tongue—as thereby intimating that the chief glory of man is his tongue.
But now men that have only a show of godliness, they do practically say, "Our tongues are our own, and who shall control us?" Their speech is so far from administering of grace to their hearers, that it administers usually either matter of carnal mirth, or of contempt, or of scorn, or of sorrow and mourning. Certainly they have no holiness in their hearts—who have so much of hell, and the devil, and lusts in their mouths. [James 1:26, 27, and 3:8, 12; Mat. 26:73.]
I may say to most, "You are unholy people, your speech betrays you, your worldliness, your profaneness, your cursing, your swearing, your lying, your slandering, your reviling, your railing, your deriding, etc., does plainly evidence that you have no holiness in you." Well! remember this—a tongue that is set on fire from hell, is in danger to be set on fire in hell. Hell is for that man, and that man is for hell—who has so much of hell in his mouth. The devil is for that man, and that man is for the devil—who has so much of the devil in his mouth. Damnation is for that man, and that man is for damnation—who has so much of damnation in his mouth. The world is for that man, and that man is for the world—who has so much of the world in his mouth.
Whatever is in the heart will break out in the lips. If wickedness is in the heart—it will break out in the lips. Physicians say that the nature of diseases is as well known by the tongue as by the pulse. The spiritual diseases that are in the heart will quickly discover themselves by the tongue. Wherever holiness is in the heart—it will break forth in the lips. A holy heart and a holy tongue are married together, and it is not in man to put them asunder. You shall sooner separate the soul from the body, than you shall separate a holy tongue from a holy heart.
And thus I have done with this use of examination. The Lord make you wise to lay these things to heart, that so you may know how it is likely to go with you in the eternal world.