68. ON PURITY
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." What a
wonderful change must pass upon a soul born in sin, before it can become
pure. Wherever this change takes place, we must exclaim, "what has God
wrought!" It is the work of Omnipotence thus to new-create the soul, and to
transform the sinner into a pure and holy being. But great and radical as
this work is, there still remains the seed of corruption, which would be
continually budding in the heart, and bringing forth fruit unto death, were
it not for the constant operation of divine grace, checking the growth of
Though unlike Adam, when in a state of innocence, and unlike the spirits of
just men made perfect in heaven; yet, if true believers in Jesus, we are
quite different from what we once were, and different from the carnal world
around us. Old things have passed away; and behold, all things are become
We have, it is true, much to root out and destroy, so long as the law in the
members wars against the law of the mind; yet, while journeying to the land
of promise, we are favored with many delightful foretastes, and many
cheering views of the celestial Canaan, to animate us to persevere.
Gospel holiness is therefore a progressive work. Like the process of
vegetation, there is first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn
in the ear. From the first workings of grace, to its full consummation in
glory, there is a gradual advancement towards perfection. We read of little
children, of young men, and of fathers in Christ; and are commanded to grow
in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But as we are equally exhorted to crucify the flesh, and to mortify our
members which are on the earth, we learn that the old man is not yet dead,
but dying; in a state of crucifixion, dying daily. Those who are best
acquainted with their own hearts, and with human nature in general, being
taught by the Spirit of God, according to the revealed truth of his holy
word, know from painful experience that sin is still in them. They hate it,
and fight against it; and in this hatred of sin, and warring against it,
consists, in no small degree, that purity of heart which our Lord pronounces
We cannot truly hate sin as being an offence to God, and resist it with the
whole bent of our will, until we are born from above. We must love God as an
infinitely holy and gracious Being, before sin can be so hated, as to be
uniformly and strenuously opposed.
Therefore, though we cannot say, "I am pure from sin," under a consciousness
of so much remaining corruption; yet, if conscience bears its inward
testimony to our irreconcilable hatred of sin; if we groan under its burden,
and resist its workings; we ought to take encouragement, and go on seeking
strength from above, being assured that he who has begun the good work, will
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
No unconverted man, by any mere natural power of his own, ever yet hated and
opposed sin as an evil directed against the majesty, holiness, and goodness
of God. As soon might water run up a steep ascent, contrary to experience
and the laws of nature. If, then, I would bear the image of Christ in glory,
I must bear his image now in holiness, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Oh how happy is that soul which is renewed in righteousness! Jesus dwelling
in the heart by faith, is heaven begun. A holy light then irradiates the
mind; a sweet glow of sacred love warms the affections; and all the powers
of the soul are made willing to glorify him who is the chief among ten
thousand, the altogether lovely! Oh that I could feel my heart always alive
to God! Man was originally made to glorify God. If, then, I do not live to
his glory, I am not answering the great end of my being.
Here lies my guilt; that my heart, through the fall, is naturally averse
from every thing that has God for its object. I am prone to sin—prone to
earth—prone to depart from God. Hence my condemnation is just; and hell
would be my deserved portion through a countless eternity. But how can I
express the inconceivable love of God, in giving his only begotten Son for
such a rebel; such an apostate creature! Oh that I could feel my whole soul
burning in one constant flame of holy love for such amazing grace!
How beautiful is true religion. It commends itself to every man's
conscience, notwithstanding the natural enmity of the heart against it.
There is something so amiable in Christian graces, so winning in the simple
movements of Christian love, that even the bitterest enemies of the Gospel
are compelled in their reflecting moments to acknowledge its intrinsic
excellence. We have abundant evidence of this from the page of history, when
Christians lived and acted under the high principles of their holy religion.
The reason why so little good is done by professing Christians, may be owing
to their own defect of character; to the lack of that purity of heart, from
where all outward holiness proceeds.
When we read the Acts of the apostles, and the Epistles which they wrote to
the several churches, we cannot but be struck with the spirituality of mind,
the purity of heart, the simplicity of spirit, the contempt of the world,
the patience under suffering, the love of the brethren, the dependence on
the Savior, which appeared so conspicuous in the primitive believers, and
which caused them to shine as lights in the world. All who beheld them were
constrained to confess that they were not as other men. They saw the change,
and persecuted them for it. But now, the shades of difference between many
professors of Christianity and the men of the world are so faint, that it
often becomes difficult to discover the line of separation.
Inward purity, and outward sanctity, are the only true marks of God's
children, however rarely these marks are to be found. Jesus gave himself for
us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a
peculiar people zealous of good works. Without holiness, no man shall see
the Lord; but every one who is pure in heart shall see God, and become an
heir of God. Amazing inheritance! what mind can conceive the vastness of
this eternal blessedness—an heir of God through Christ!
The man that is pure in heart, shall inherit that glorious God as his
portion, in whom he lives, and moves, and has his being; and by whose
almighty power all things consist. He shall inherit him who fills heaven and
earth with his presence, who is the fountain of felicity, and at whose right
hand are pleasures for evermore. Oh my soul! you can never thirst enough
after this exalted privilege. What are earthly kingdoms, crowns, and
scepters, when compared with such a portion. Rejoice evermore, while this
promise stands recorded in the page of truth.
Lord, perform your whole work of mercy in my heart. Let me never rest
satisfied with any present attainment, but continually forgetting those
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are
before, may I daily press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus, until I see you as you are, and love you as I ought
in your everlasting kingdom and glory.
Make me simple and sincere,
Keep, oh Lord, my conscience clear;
Lead me in the living way;
Bring me to eternal day.
Oh! preserve my soul from sin,
Slay each rebel lust within;
Take away the heart of stone,
Make me yours—and yours alone.
Jesus, you are all my trust;
When consigned to native dust,
Take, Oh take my soul to thee,
And where you are—let me be.
Let me rise on wings sublime,
Far beyond the scenes of time;
Rise, to meet my God and King;
Rise, your endless praise to sing.