By Thomas Watson
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God." Matthew 5:8
The holy God, who is 'of purer eyes than to behold
iniquity' calls here for heart-purity, and to such as are adorned with this
jewel, he promises a glorious and beatific vision of himself: 'they shall
see God'. Two things are to be explained the nature of purity; the subject
1. The NATURE of purity. Purity is a sacred
refined thing. It stands diametrically opposed to whatever defiles. We must
distinguish the various kinds of purity.
First, there is a primitive purity which is in God
originally and essentially, as light is in the sun. Holiness is the glory of
the Godhead: 'Glorious in holiness' (Exodus 15:11). God is the origin,
pattern and prototype of all holiness.
Second, there is a created purity. Thus holiness
is in the angels, and was once in Adam. Adam's heart did not
have the least spot or tincture of impurity. We call that wine pure which
has no mixture; and that gold pure which has no dross mingled with it. Such
was Adam's holiness. It was like the wine which comes from the grape, having
no mixture. But this is not to be found on earth. We must go to heaven for
Third, there is an evangelical purity; whence
grace is mingled with some sin--like gold in the ore; like
wine which has a dreg in it; like fine cloth with a blemish; like
Nebuchadnezzar's image, part of silver, and part of clay (Daniel 2:35). This
mixture God calls purity in a gospel-sense; as a face may be said to be
fair, which has some freckles in it. Where there is a study of purity and a
loathing ourselves for our impurity--this is to be 'pure in heart'.
Some by pure in heart, understand chastity, others
sincerity (Psalm 32:2). But I suppose purity here is to be taken in a
larger sense for the several kinds and degrees of holiness. They are said to
be pure, who are consecrated people, having the oil of
grace poured upon them. This purity is much mistaken.
Civility and morality are not purity. A man
may be clothed with great moral virtues, such as justice, charity, prudence,
temperance--and yet go to hell.
Profession is not purity. A man may have a name to
live and yet be dead (Revelation 3:1). He may be swept by civility and
garnished by profession—yet the devil may dwell in the house. The blazing
comet is no star. The hypocrite's tongue may be silver—yet his
Purity consists in two things; rectitude of mind, a
prizing holiness in the judgment (Psalm 119:30); conformity of will, an
embracing of holiness in the affections (Psalm 119:97). A pure soul is cast
into the mold of holiness. Holiness is a blood that runs in his veins.
2. The SUBJECT of purity. The heart--'pure in
heart'. Purity of heart does not exclude purity of life, no more than the
pureness of the fountain excludes the pureness of the stream. But it is
called purity of heart, because the heart is the main thing in true
religion, and there can be no purity of life without it. A Christian's great
care should be to keep the heart pure, as one would especially preserve the
spring from being poisoned. In a duel, a man will chiefly guard and
fence his heart, so a wise Christian should above all things keep his heart
pure. Take heed that the love of sin does not get in there--lest it prove
Christians should above all things breathe after heart
purity: 'Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience' (1 Timothy
3:9). Justification causes our happiness, sanctification evidences
1. The REASONS for purity.
 Purity is a thing called for in Scripture.
'Be holy for I am holy' (1 Peter 1:16). It is not only the minister bids you
be holy—but God himself calls for it. What would the Holy God do with unholy
 Because of that filthy and cursed condition we are
in, before purity is wrought in us. We are a lump of clay and
sin mingled together! Sin not only blinds us—but defiles us. It is
called filthiness (James 1:21). And to show how befilthying a thing it is,
it is compared to a plague of the heart (1 Kings 8:38), to corruption
(Deuteronomy 32:5), to vomit (2 Peter 2:22), to infants 'helplessly kicking
about in their own blood' (Ezekiel 16:6), and to a 'menstrual cloth' (Isaiah
30:22), which (as Jerome says) was the most defiling thing under the law.
All the legal warnings which God appointed, were but to put men in mind of
their loathsomeness before they were washed in the blood of Christ. If all
the evils in the world were put together and their quintessence strained
out, they could not make a thing so black and polluted as sin does! A
sinner is a devil in a man's shape! When Moses' rod was turned into a
serpent, he fled from it. Would God open men's eyes and show them their
deformities and damnable spots--they would fly from themselves, as from
serpents! This shows what need we have of purity. When grace comes--it
washes off this hellish filth. It makes Ethiopians into true Israelites! It
turns ravens into swans! It makes those who are as black as hell--to become
as white as snow!
 Because none but the pure in heart are savingly
interested in the covenant of grace. Covenanted people have 'the
sprinkling with clean water' (Ezekiel 36:25). Now, until we are thus
sprinkled, we have nothing to do with either the new covenant, or
with the new Jerusalem. If a will is made only to such people as are
so qualified, none can come in for a share—but such as have those
qualifications. Just so, God has made a will and covenant that he will be
our God, and will settle eternal glory upon us—but with this clause or
proviso in the will--that we be purified people, having the 'clean water
sprinkled, upon us. Now until then, we have nothing to do with God or mercy.
 Purity is the end of our election. 'He has
chosen us--that we should be holy' (Ephesians 1:4). Not for
holiness—but to holiness. 'Whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son' (Romans 8:29). God
predestinates us to Christ's image, which image consists 'in righteousness
and true holiness' (Ephesians 4:24). So that until you are holy, you cannot
show any sign of election upon you—but rather the devil's brand-mark!
 Purity is the end of our redemption. If we
could have gone to heaven in our sins, Christ needed not have died. Why did
he shed his blood, but to redeem us from an 'empty way of life'? (1 Peter
1:18, 19). 'Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and
to purify for himself a people that are his very own' (Titus 2:14).
Christ shed his blood--to wash off our filth! The cross was both an
altar and a laver. Jesus died not only to save us from wrath (1
Thessalonians 1:10)—but to save us from sin (Matthew 1:21). Out of his side
came water which signifies our cleansing, as well as blood which signifies
our justifying (1 John 5:6). The truth is, it would make Christ monstrous,
if the head should be pure and not the members.
2. Why purity must be chiefly in the heart.
 Because if the heart is not pure, we differ nothing
from a Pharisaic purity. The Pharisees' holiness consisted
chiefly in externals. Theirs was an outside purity. They never minded the
inside of the heart. 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You
are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you
are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! Hypocrites! You are like
whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with
dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity!' (Matthew 23:25, 27). The
Pharisees were good only on the surface. They were whited over, not white.
They were like a rotten post overlaid with fine paint. They were like a gold
chimney—but within nothing but soot. Of such hypocrites Salvian complains,
who had Christ in their mouths--but not in their lives.
We must go further. Be 'pure in heart', like the king's
daughter 'all glorious within' (Psalm 45:13); else ours is but a
Pharisaic purity; and Christ says, 'For I tell you that unless your
righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law,
you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.' (Matthew 5:20).
 The heart must especially be kept pure, because the
heart is the chief seat or place of God's residence. God dwells
in the heart. He takes up the heart for his own lodging (Isaiah 57:15;
Ephesians 3:17), therefore it must be pure and holy. A king's palace must be
kept from defilement, and especially his throne. How holy ought that
to be! If the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians
6:19), the heart is the holy of holies! Oh take heed of defiling the
room where God chiefly dwells! Let that room be washed with holy tears.
 The heart must especially be pure, because it is the
heart which sanctifies all that we do. If the heart is holy, all
is holy—our affections holy, our duties holy. 'The altar sanctifies the
gift' (Matthew 23:19). The heart is the altar that sanctifies the offering.
The Romans kept their springs from being poisoned. The heart is the spring
of all our actions; let us keep this spring from poison. Be 'pure in heart'.
See here what that beauty is, which beautifies a soul in
God's eye, namely, purity of heart. You are but a spiritual leper--until you
are pure in heart. God is in love with the pure heart, for he sees his own
picture drawn there.
Holiness is the angels' glory. They are pure
virgin-spirits. Take away purity from an angel--and he is but a devil!
You who are pure in heart--have the angels' glory shining in you. You
have the embroidery and workmanship of the Holy Spirit upon you.
The pure heart is God's paradise where he delights to
walk. It is his lesser heaven. The dove delights in the purest air.
The Holy Spirit who descended in the likeness of a dove, delights in the
purest soul. God says of the pure in heart, as of Zion, 'This is my rest
forever, here will I dwell' (Psalm 132:14). God loves the loveliest
complexion. The pure in heart is Christ's bride, decked and bespangled with
the jewels of holiness. 'You have ravished my heart with one of your eyes'
(Canticles 4:9). Your eyes, that is, your graces; these as a chain of
diamonds, have drawn my heart to you. Of all hearts God loves the pure heart
best. You who dress yourself by the looking-glass of the Word and adorn 'the
hidden person of your heart' (1 Peter 3:4), are most precious in God's eyes,
though you may be as bleary-eyed as Leah, or as lame as Barzillai. Yet being
'pure in heart, you are the mirror of beauty and may say 'Yet shall I be
glorious in the eyes of the Lord' (Isaiah 49:5). How may this raise the
esteem of purity! This is a beauty which never fades and which makes God
himself fall in love with us.
If we must be pure in heart--then we must not rest in
outward purity. Morality is not sufficient. A swine may be washed—yet a
swine still. Morality does but wash a man, grace changes him. Morality may
shine in the eyes of the world—but it differs as much from purity, as a
pebble differs from the diamond. Morality is but strewing flowers on a dead
corpse. A man who is but highly moral—is but a tame devil. How many have
made 'morality' their Savior! Morality will damn, as well as heinous vice. A
boat may be sunk with gold, as well as with dung.
Observe two things:
1. The moral person, though he will not commit gross
sins—yet he is not sensible of heart sins. He does not discern the 'law in
his members' (Romans 7:23). He is not troubled for unbelief, hardness of
heart, vanity of thoughts. He abhors gaol-sins, not gospel-sins.
2. The moral person rises against holiness. The snake
has a fine appearance—but has a deadly sting. The moral man is fair to
look to—but has a secret antipathy against the holy ways of God. He hates
grace, as much as vice. Zeal is as odious to him as uncleanness. Morality is
not to be rested in. The heart must be pure. God would have Aaron wash the
inner parts of the sacrifice (Leviticus 9:14). Morality does but wash the
outside; the inside must be washed. 'Blessed are the pure in heart'.
Let us put ourselves on TRIAL whether we are pure-hearted
or not. Here I shall show the signs of an impure heart;
and then, signs of a pure heart.
I. Signs of an IMPURE heart
1. An IGNORANT heart is an impure heart. To be
ignorant of sin or Christ, argues impurity of heart. Nahash the Ammonite
would enter into covenant with the men of Jabesh-Gilead, so he might thrust
out their right eyes (1 Samuel 11:2). Satan leaves men their left
eye. In worldly knowledge they are quick-sighted enough--but the right
eye of spiritual knowledge is quite put out! (2 Corinthians 4:4). Ignorance
is Satan's stronghold (Acts 26:18). The devils are bound in chains of
darkness (Jude 6). So are all ignorant people. Impossible it is that an
ignorant heart should be holy. It is knowledge which makes the heart good.
'That the soul is without knowledge is not good' (Proverbs 19:2). For any to
say that, though their mind is ignorant--yet their heart is
good; they may as well say that, though they are blind--yet their eyes are
In the law, when the plague of leprosy was in a man's
head--the priest was to pronounce him unclean. This is the case of an
ignorant man. The leprosy is in his head, 'he is unclean'. That heart cannot
be very pure, which is a dungeon. Grace cannot reign, where
ignorance reigns. An ignorant man can have no love to God. 'He
cannot love that which he does not know'. He can have no faith.
Knowledge must usher in faith (Psalm 9:10). He cannot worship God aright
(John 4:22). Though he may worship the true God—yet in a wrong manner.
Ignorance is the root of sin. Blindness leads to lasciviousness (Ephesians
4:18, 19; Proverbs 7:23). Ignorance is the mother of pride (Revelation
3:17). It is the cause of error (2 Timothy 3:7), and, which is worse, a
willful ignorance. 'It is one thing to be ignorant; it is another thing to
be unwilling to know'. Many are in love with ignorance. They hug their
disease (Job 21:14; 2. Peter 3:5). Ignorant minds are impure. There is no
going to heaven in the dark!
2. A SELF-RIGHTEOUS heart is an impure heart.
It sees no need of purity. 'I am rich and have need of nothing' (Revelation
3:17). Not to be sensible of a disease--is worse than the disease! You do
not hear a sick man say, 'I am well'. There are some who 'need no
repentance' (Luke 15:7). Some sinners are too well to be cured. Heart purity
is as great a wonder to the natural man--as the new birth was to Nicodemus
(John 3:4). It is sad to think how many go on confidently and are ready to
bless themselves, never suspecting their dreadful condition--until it is too
3. He has an impure heart who regards iniquity in his
heart. 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear
me' (Psalm 66:18). In the original it is 'If I look upon sin', that is, with
a lustful look. Sin-regarding is inconsistent with heart-purity.
What is it to 'regard iniquity'?
 We regard iniquity, when we INDULGE in sin.
When sin not only lives in us—but when we live in sin. Some will leave all
their sins but one. Jacob would let all his sons go but Benjamin. Satan can
hold a man by one sin. The fowler holds the bird fast enough by one claw.
Others HIDE their sins like one who shuts up his shop windows, but follows
his trade within doors. Many deal with their sins as Moses' mother dealt
with her son. She hid him in the ark of bulrushes, as if she had left
him—but her eye was still upon him and in the end, she became his nurse
(Exodus 2:9). Just so, many seem to leave their sins—but they only hide them
from the eye of others. Their heart still goes after them, and at last they
nurse and give breast to their sins.
 To regard iniquity, is to DELIGHT in iniquity.
Though a child of God sins—yet he does not take a delight in sin. 'I do the
very thing I hate' (Romans 7:15). But impure souls make a recreation of sin.
They 'delight in wickedness' (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Never did one feed with
more delight on a meal he loves--than a wicked man does upon the forbidden
fruit. This delight in sin--shows that the will is in the sin. And 'the will
is the rule and measure of the deed'.
 To regard iniquity is to make PROVISION for sin.
'Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof' (Romans
13:14). The wicked are caterers for their lusts. It is a metaphor taken from
such as make provision for a family--to feed them. The Greek word here
signifies a projecting and planning in the mind, how to bring a thing about.
This is to make provision for the flesh--when one studies to satisfy the
flesh and provide fuel for lust. Thus Amnon made provision for the flesh (2
Samuel 13:5). He pretends himself to be sick, and his sister, Tamar, must be
his nurse. She must cook and serve his food to him. By which means he
defiled her virginity. It is sad when men's concern is not to be holy—but to
 To regard iniquity, is to give it respect and
ENTERTAINMENT, as Lot showed respect to the angels. 'He bowed
himself with his face toward the ground and said, Behold now, my lords, turn
in, I beg you . . .' (Genesis 19:2). When the Spirit of God comes He is
repulsed and grieved—but when temptation comes, the sinner bows to it, sets
open the gates, and says 'Turn in here, my lord'. This is to regard
 He is said to regard sin, who does not regard the
threatenings of God against sin. We read of 'seven thunders
uttering their voices' (Revelation 10:3). How many thunders in Scripture
utter their voice against sin! 'Surely God will crush the heads of his
enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.' (Psalm 68:21).
Here is a thundering scripture—but sinners fear not this thunder. Let a
minister come as a Boanerges, clothed with the spirit of Elijah, and
denounce all the curses of God against men's sins--they have no regard for
it. They can laugh at the shaking of a spear (Job 41:29). This is to regard
iniquity, and argues an impure heart.
4. An UNBELIEVING heart is an impure heart.
The Scripture calls it expressly 'an evil heart of unbelief' (Hebrews
3:12). An unbelieving heart is evil in the highest degree. It is full of the
poison of hell. Unbelief is the foul medley of all sins--the root and
receptacle of sin.
 Unbelief is a God-affronting sin. It puts
the lie upon God. It calls in question his power (Psalm 78:19), mercy and
truth. 'The one who does not believe God, is actually calling God a liar' (1
John 5:10). Can a greater affront be cast upon the God of glory! It makes us
trust to second causes, which is setting the creature in the place of God. 'Asa
in his disease sought not to the Lord—but to the physicians' (2 Chronicles
16:12). He relied more on the physician than upon God. Saul seeks to the
witch of Endor. O high affront, to lean upon the reed and neglect the
Rock of Ages!
 Unbelief hardens the heart. These two sins
are linked together. 'He upbraided them with their unbelief and
hardness of heart' (Mark 16:14). Unbelief breeds the stone of the heart.
He who does not believe God's threatenings--will never fear him. He
who does not believe God's promises--will never love him. What is
said of the Leviathan, is true of the unbeliever. 'Its heart is as hard as
rock, as hard as a millstone' (Job 41:24). Unbelief first pollutes
the heart--and then hardens it!
 Unbelief breeds hypocrisy. Professors do
not believe that God is a jealous God, and will call them to account.
Therefore it is they put on a mask of religion and are saints in jest,
that they may play the devil in earnest (2 Timothy 3:4, 5). They
pretend to worship God—but Self is the idol they worship. Like rowers--they
look one way and row another. The unbeliever is the greatest hypocrite.
 Unbelief causes the fear of men. 'Fear is
proof of a baseborn soul'. Fear is a debasing thing. It unmans a man. It
makes him afraid to be godly. The fearful man studies rather compliance,
than conscience. 'The fear of man brings a snare' (Proverbs
29:25). What made Abraham equivocate, David pretend to be mad,
and Peter deny Christ? Was it not their fear? And whence does fear
spring—but from unbelief? Therefore the Scripture joins them together. 'The
fearful and unbelieving' (Revelation 21:8).
 Unbelief is the root of apostasy. 'an evil
heart of unbelief in departing from the living God' (Hebrews 3:12). What is
the reason those who seemed once zealous--now despise God, and leave off
prayer in their families? Is it not their unbelief? They believed not that
God is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews
11:6). Infidelity is the cause of apostasy. In the Greek, 'apistia'
(unbelief) leads to 'apostasia' (apostasy). And if unbelief is the breeder
and fomenter of so much sin, then the unbelieving heart must needs be an
5. A COVETOUS heart is an impure heart. The
earth is the most impure element. The purity of the heart lies in the
spirituality of it, and what is more opposite to spiritualness than
earthiness? Covetousness is 'the root of all evil' (1 Timothy 6:10). 'To
what cost do you drive mortal hearts--you accursed lust for gold!'
 Covetousness is the root of
discontent. Why do any repine at their condition—but because they
think they do not have enough? The Greek word for covetousness
signifies an immoderate desire of getting. Because the covetous man is never
satisfied, his heart frets in discontent and impatience.
 Covetousness is the root of
theft. Achan's covetous heart made him steal that wedge of
gold--which served to cleave asunder his soul from God (Joshua 7:21).
 Covetousness is the root of
treason. It made Judas betray Christ. 'How much will you pay me
to betray Jesus to you?' (Matthew 26:15). Absalom's covetousness made him
attempt to pluck the crown from his father's head. He who is a Demas,
will soon prove a Judas. 'Men shall be covetous' (2 Timothy 3:2), and
it follows in the next verse, 'traitors'. Where covetousness is in the
preface, treason will be in the conclusion.
 Covetousness is the root of
murder. Why did Ahab stone Naboth to death but to possess his
vineyard? (1 Kings 21:13). Covetousness has made many swim to the crown in
blood. And can the heart be pure, when the 'hands are full of blood'?
 Covetousness is the root of
perjury. 'Men shall be covetous, and it follows, 'trucebreakers'
(2 Timothy 3:2, 3). For love of money will take a false oath and break a
just oath. He who lives a Midas, will die a perjurer.
 Covetousness is the root of
necromancy. Why do people indent with the devil—but for money?
They study the black art--for yellow gold. Alexander the Sixth pawned his
soul to the devil for a popedom.
 Covetousness is the root of
fraud and theft. Such as
would be over-rich, will overreach. It is the covetous hand which
holds false weights (Amos 8:5).
 Covetousness is the root of
bribery and injustice. It
makes the courts of law, 'great places of robbery', as Augustine speaks. At
Athens, court cases were bought and sold for money.
 Covetousness is the cause of
uncleanness. The Scripture mentions 'the hire of a
whore' (Deuteronomy 23:18). For money both conscience and chastity are sold.
 Covetousness is the root of
idolatry: 'Covetousness which is idolatry' (Colossians 3:5).
The covetous person bows down to the image of gold. His money is his god,
for he puts his trust in it. Money is his creator. When he has abundance of
wealth, then he thinks he is made. Money is his redeemer. If he is in any
strait or trouble, he flies to his money and that must redeem him. Money is
his comforter. When he is sad he counts over his money and with this golden
harp he drives away the evil spirit. When you see a covetous man, you may
say, "There goes an idolater!"
 Covetousness is the cause of
unprofitableness under the means of grace. In the parable, the
thorns choked the seed (Matthew 13:7). This is the reason the Word
preached does no more good. The seed often falls among thorns. Thousands
of sermons lie buried in earthly hearts!
 Covetousness is the root of
selfishness and stinginess.
It hinders hospitality. A covetous man has a withered hand. He cannot reach
it out to clothe or feed those who are in need. The covetous person is so
sordid, that if his estate may flourish he is content to let his name lie
dead and buried. What a cursed sin is avarice! And can he be pure in
heart--who has such a 'root of bitterness' growing in him? We may as well
say that the body is pure which is full of plague-sores.
6. Those hearts are impure which are 'haters of purity'
(Micah 3:2). They 'hate knowledge' (Proverbs 1:29). Some things in nature
have an antipathy; the serpent will not come near the boughs of the wild
ash. There is an antipathy in a carnal heart against holiness; and
when hatred is boiled up to malice--it is dangerous. Thus
Julian maliciously opposed holiness. Receiving a mortal wound when in
battle, he threw up a handful of his blood into the air in indignation
saying, 'O Galilean, you have overcome me!'
7. He who scoffs at purity, has an impure heart.
'There shall come in the last days scoffers' (Luke 16:14; 2. Peter
3:3). There are some who make a jeer of religion. It is a sign of an Ishmael
spirit to scoff at holiness. Are we not commanded to be perfect as God is
perfect? (Matthew 5:48). One would wonder that those who dare open their
mouths in derision against holiness--the earth does not open her mouth to
swallow them up as it did Korah and Dathan. These are devils covered
over with flesh! They have damnation written on their foreheads! Lucian who
in the time of the Emperor Trajan had professed religion, afterwards became
so profane as to make a mock at the Christians and by his jeers and taunts
went about to destroy religion. At last he himself was rent asunder and
devoured by dogs. When the scab of the leper appeared, he was to be shut out
of the camp (Leviticus 13:8, 46). Those who flout at religion, if God does
not give them repentance, are sure to be shut out of the camp of heaven.
II. I shall next show you the signs of a PURE heart.
1. A SINCERE heart is a pure heart. 'In whose
spirit there is no deceit' (Psalm 32:2). There are four characters of a
 A sincere heart serves God with the whole heart.
First, he serves God with the heart. The hypocrite
does but make a show of obedience. 'You are always on their lips--but
far from their hearts' (Jeremiah 12:2). There may be a fair
complexion when the lungs and vitals are diseased. The hypocrite is fair to
look on. He has a devout eye--but a hollow heart. But he who is sincere, his
inside is his best side! In the law God would have 'the inner
parts' offered up (Leviticus 4:11). A good Christian gives God 'the inner
parts'. When he prays--his heart prays. 'Hannah prayed in her heart' (1
Samuel 1:13). In his thanksgiving the heart is the chief instrument of
praise (Psalm 111:1). Then is the sweetest music when we 'make melody in our
hearts to the Lord' (Ephesians 5:19).
Secondly, the sincere Christian serves God with the 'whole
heart' (Psalm 119:2). Hypocrites have a double heart (Psalm
12:2)—a heart for God, and a heart for sin. 'Their heart is divided' (Hosea
10:2). God loves a broken heart—but not a divided heart. An
upright heart is a whole heart. The full stream and torrent of the
affections runs out after God. A sincere heart 'follows God fully' (Numbers
 A sincere heart is willing to come under a trial.
'Search me, O God, and try me' (Psalm 139:23). That metal is to be
suspected which men are afraid to bring to the touchstone. A sound heart
likes the touchstone of the Word. It is for a searching ministry. Hypocrites
fly from the light of truth; they fly from that light which would reveal
their sin. They hate that physic of the Word which, meeting with
their ill humours, begins to make them sick, and trouble their conscience. A
gracious soul loves that preaching best, which makes a heart-anatomy.
 A man of sincere heart, dares not act in the least
against his conscience. He is the most magnanimous—yet the most
cautious. He is bold in suffering (Proverbs 28:1) but fearful of sin
(Genesis 39:9). He dares not get an estate by sinful shifts, or rise upon
the ruins of another. Jacob got his father's blessing by fraud—but that is
not the way to get God's blessing.
 A sincere heart is a suspicious heart. The
hypocrite suspects others of sin—but has charitable thoughts of
himself! The sincere Christian has charitable thoughts of others—and
suspects himself of sin. He calls himself often to account: "O my soul, have
you any evidences for heaven? Is there no flaw in your evidences? You may
mistake common grace--for saving grace. Weeds in the
cornfields look like flowers. The foolish virgins' lamps looked as if they
had oil in them. O my soul, is it not so with you?" The man of sincere soul,
being ever jealous, plays the critic upon himself and so traverses things in
the court of conscience as if he were presently to be cited to God's bar.
This is to be pure in heart.
2. A pure heart breathes after PURITY. If God
should stretch out the golden scepter and say to him, 'Ask, and it shall be
given you—up to half the kingdom', he would say, "Lord, give me a pure
heart! Let my heart have this inscription—Holiness to the Lord. Let
my heart be your temple for you to dwell in. Lord, what would I do in heaven
with this unholy heart? What converse could I have with You?" A gracious
soul is so in love with purity—that he prizes a pure heart above all
 He prizes a pure heart above RICHES. He
knows that he may be clothed in purple and fine linen—and yet go to hell. He
is content to be poor—so long as he may be pure. He knows
heart-purity is a special certificate of God's love. 'The pure in heart'
shall see God.
 He prizes a pure heart above GIFTS. Gifts
do not at all commend us in God's eye. A pure heart is the jewel! 'O
woman, great is your faith!' (Matthew 15:28). It was not her rhetorical
language Christ was taken with—but her faith. Hypocrites have had rare
gifts. Saul had the spirit of prophecy. Judas no doubt could make an elegant
oration. Hypocrites have come into God's church loaded with the Egyptian
gold of human learning. There may be illumination without
sanctification. A small diamond is better than a great deal of
brass. A little grace excels the most flourishing abilities. Now if the
out-goings of your soul are after holiness—you desire a pure heart, rather
than an eloquent tongue. You have the oil of the Spirit poured on you and
you shall be crowned with a glorious sight of God.
3. A pure heart abhors all SIN. A man may
forbear and forsake sin—yet not have a pure heart.
 A man may FORBEAR sin—for lack of occasion to sin.
He may forbear sin as one may hold his breath while he dives under water,
and then take breath again. The gunpowder makes no noise until the fire is
put to it. The clock stands still until the weights are put on. Let a
temptation come, which is like the hanging on of the weights, and the heart
goes as fast in sin as ever!
 He may forbear sin—for fear of the penalty.
A man forbears a dish he loves—for fear it should bring his disease upon him
of the stone or gout. There is conflict in a sinner between the passions of
desire—and fear. Desire spurs him on to sin—but fear as a curb and bit
checks him. Nor is it the crookedness of the serpent he fears—but the
sting of the serpent!
 He may forbear sin—out of a design. He has
a plot in hand and his sin might spoil his plot. Some rich heir would fly
out in excess—but he behaves properly, to prevent being cut off from the
inheritance. How good was Joash while Jehoiada the priest lived! Prudence as
well as conscience may restrain from sin.
Again, a man may FORSAKE sin—yet not have a pure heart.
It is a great matter, I confess, to forsake sin. So dear is sin to men, that
they will part with the fruit of their body for the sin of their souls. Sin
is the Delilah that bewitches, and it is much to see men divorced from it.
There may be a forsaking of sin—yet no heart purity. Sin may be forsaken
upon wrong principles.
 A man may forsake sin, from MORALITY.
Moral arguments may suppress sin. I have read of a debauched heathen who,
hearing Socrates read an ethical lecture on virtue and vice—he went away
changed and no more followed his former vices. Cato, Seneca, Aristides,
seeing beauty in virtue, led unblamable lives.
 A man may forsake sin, from POLICY. A man
may forsake sin, not out of respect to God's glory—but his own credit. Vice
will waste his estate, eclipse the honor of his family, therefore out of
policy he will divorce his sin.
 A man may forsake sin, from NECESSITY.
Perhaps he cannot follow the trade of sin any longer. The adulterer is grown
old, the drunkard has become too poor. His heart is toward sin—but either
his purse fails him or his strength; as a man who loves
hunting—but his prison-fetters will not allow him to follow the sport. This
man, who is necessitated to put a stop to sin—does not so much forsake sin,
as sin forsakes him.
But he is pure in God's eye, who abhors sin. 'I hate
every false way' (Psalm 119:104). This is excellent indeed, because now the
love of sin is crucified. A hypocrite may leave sin—yet love it; as
the serpent sheds her coat—yet keeps her sting. But when a man can say he
abhors sin—now is sin killed in the root. A pure heart abstains from sin—as
a man does from a dish that he has an antipathy against. This is a sign of a
new nature—when a man hates what he once loved! And because he hates sin,
therefore he fights against it with the 'sword of the Spirit'—as a man who
hates a serpent seeks the destruction of it.
4. A pure heart avoids the appearance of evil.
'Abstain from all appearance of evil' (1 Thessalonians 5:22). A pure
heart avoids that which may be interpreted as evil. He who is loyal to his
prince, not only forbears to have his hand in treason—but he takes heed of
that which has an appearance of treason. A gracious heart is shy of
that which looks like sin. When Joseph's mistress took hold of him and said,
'Lie with me!'—he left his garment in her hand and fled from her (Genesis
39:12). He avoided the appearance of evil. He would not be seen in her
company. Thus a pure heart avoids whatever may have the suspicion of sin:
 A pure heart avoids the suspicion of sin—in regard of
HIMSELF, and that two ways.
First, because the appearance of evil is
oftentimes an occasion of evil. Dalliance is an appearance of
evil, and many times occasions evil. Had Joseph been familiar with his
mistress in a wanton sporting manner, he might in time have been drawn to
commit immorality with her. Some out of novelty and curiosity have gone to
hear mass, and afterwards have lent the idol not only their ear—but
their knee! There are many who have gone with itching ears to hear
false teachers, and have come home with the plague in their head! When Dinah
would be gadding about, she lost her chastity (Genesis 34:2). A pure heart
foreseeing the danger avoids the appearance of evil. It is dangerous to go
near a hornet's nest. The men who went near the furnace were burned (Daniel
Second, because the appearance of evil may eclipse his
good name. A good name is a precious ointment. It is better than 'fine gold'
(Proverbs 22:1). It commends us to God and angels, which riches cannot do.
Now a godly man avoids the appearance of evil—lest he wounds his good name.
What comfort can there be of life, when the name lies buried?
 A pure heart avoids the suspicion of sin—out of
reverence and respect to the holiness of GOD. God hates the very
appearance of evil. God abhors hypocrites because they have no more than the
appearance of good—and he is angry with his children if they have so
much as the appearance of evil. A gracious heart knows God is a
jealous God and cannot endure that his people should border upon sin.
Therefore he keeps aloof from sin, and will not come near the smell of
 A pure heart avoids the very appearance of sin—in
regard of the GODLY. The appearance of evil may scandalize a weak
brother. A gracious heart is not only fearful lest he should defile his own
conscience—but lest he should offend his brother's conscience. Were it only
an indifferent thing—yet if it is an appearance of evil and may
grieve another—we are to forbear (1 Corinthians 10:25-28). For 'when we sin
against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, we sin against Christ'
(1 Corinthians 8:12). The weak Christian is a member of Christ. Therefore
the sinning against a member—is a sinning against Christ.
 A pure heart avoids the very appearance of evil—in
regard of the WICKED. The apostle would have us walk wisely
towards unbelievers. (1 Thessalonians 4:12). The wicked watch for our
halting. How glad would they be of anything to reproach religion! Professors
are placed as stars in the highest orb of the church, and if there is but
the appearance of any eccentric, or irregular motion, the wicked would
presently open their mouths with a fresh cry against piety. Now to a godly
heart the fame and honor of the gospel is so dear that he had rather die
than incriminate or eclipse it.
By this then let us try ourselves whether we are pure in
heart—do we avoid the least appearance of sin? Alas, how many run themselves
into the occasions of sin! They tempt the devil to tempt them! Some
go to plays and comedies—the very fuel and temptation to lust! Others
frequent heretical meetings, and truly God often in just judgment leaves
them to the acts of sin, who do not avoid the appearance of sin. 'They were
mingled among the heathen and learned their works' (Psalm 106:35). Pure
hearts flee the occasion of sin! John would not endure the company of the
heretic Cerinthus. Polycarp would have no conference with Marcion the
heretic—but called him 'the devil's firstborn'. Basil says that the
Christians in his time avoided the meetings of heretics as the 'very schools
of error'. Oh, avoid the appearance of evil. The apostle bids us to follow
those things which are 'of good report' (Philippians 4:8).
5. A pure heart performs holy duties in a holy manner.
This holy manner, or due order, consists in three things:
 Preparing the heart before a duty.
An unholy heart does not care how it rushes upon an ordinance. It comes
without preparation and goes away without profit. The pure heart is a
prepared heart. It dresses itself, before it comes to a duty—by examination
and prayer. When the earth is prepared—then it is fit to receive the seed.
When the instrument is prepared and tuned—then it is fit for music.
 Watching the heart in a duty. A
holy heart labors to be affected and wrought upon by the Spirit. His heart
burns within him. There was no sacrifice without fire. A pure saint labors
to have his heart broken in a duty (Psalm 51:17). The incense, when it was
broken, cast the sweetest savor. Impure souls care not in what a dead or
perfunctory manner they serve God (Ezekiel 33:31). They pray more out of
fashion, than out of faith. They are no more affected with an
ordinance, than the dead in the church graveyard. God complains of offering
up the blind (Malachi 1:8). And is it not as bad to offer up the
dead? O Christian, say to yourself, How can this deadness of
heart, stand with pureness of heart? Do not dead things putrefy?
 Outward reverence. Purity of heart will
express itself by the reverend posture of the body—the lifting up of the eye
and hand, the bending the knee. When God gave the law, 'the mount was on
fire and trembled' (Exodus 19:18). The reason was that the people might
prostrate themselves more reverently before the Lord. The ark wherein the
law was put, was carried upon poles, so that the Levites might not touch
it—to show what reverence God would have about holy things (Exodus 25:11,
14). We must not only offer up our souls—but our bodies
(Romans 12:1). The Lord takes notice what posture and gesture we use in his
worship. If a man were to deliver a petition to the king, would he deliver
it with a foolish jest? The careless irreverence of some would make us think
they did not much regard whether God heard them or not. We are run from one
extreme to another, from superstition to irreverence. Let Christians think
of the dreadful majesty of God who is present. 'How dreadful is this place!
This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven!'
(Genesis 28:17). The blessed angels 'cover their faces crying, Holy, holy
holy' (Isaiah 6:3). A holy heart will have a holy posture.
6. A pure heart will have a pure LIFE. 'Let us
cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness in the fear of God'. (2 Corinthians 7:1). Where there is a holy
heart, there will be a holy life. Some bless God they have good hearts—but
their lives are evil. 'There is a generation that are pure in their own
eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness' (Proverbs 30:12). If the
stream is corrupt—we may suspect the spring-head to be impure. Aaron was
called the saint of the Lord (Psalm 106:16). He had not only a holy
heart—but there was a golden plate on his forehead on which was written
'Holiness to the Lord'. Purity must not only be woven into the heart—but
engraved upon the life! Grace is most beautiful when it shines abroad with
its golden beams. The clock has not only its motion within—but the hand
moves outside upon the dial. Just so, pureness of heart, shows itself
upon the dial of the life.
 A pure soul TALKS of God (Psalm 37:30).
His heart is seen in his tongue. He who is pure in heart—his mouth is full
 A pure soul WALKS with God (Genesis 6:9).
He is still doing angel's work, praising God, serving God. He lives as
Christ did upon earth. Holy duties are the Jacob's ladder by which he is
still ascending to heaven. Purity of heart and life, are in
Scripture made twins. 'I will put my Spirit within you'—there is purity of
heart. 'And cause you to walk in my statutes'—there is purity of
life (Ezekiel 36:27). Shall we account them pure, whose life is not in
heaven (Philippians 3:20)—but rather in hell? 'Shall I count them pure—who
have wicked balances and a bag of deceitful weights?' (Micah 6:11). How
justly may others reproach religion when they see it kicked down with our
unholy feet! A pure heart has a golden frontispiece. Grace, like new wine,
will have vent; it can be no more concealed than lost. The saints are called
'jewels' (Malachi 3:17), because of that shining luster which they cast in
the eyes of others!
7. A pure heart is so in love with purity that nothing
can draw him off from it.
 Let others reproach purity, he loves it.
As David, when he danced before the ark, and Michal scoffed. David replied,
'if this is to be vile—I will yet be more vile!' (2 Samuel 6:22). So says a
pure heart: 'If to follow after holiness is to be vile—I will yet be more
vile!' The more others deride holiness, the more a gracious soul burns in
love and zeal to it. If a man had an inheritance befallen him, would he be
laughed out of it? What is a Christian the worse for another's reproach? A
blind man's disparaging a diamond does not make it sparkle the less!
 Let others persecute holiness, a pure heart
will pursue it. Holiness is the queen every gracious soul
is espoused to—and he will rather die than be divorced. Paul would be holy,
'though bonds and persecutions awaited him' (Acts 20:23). The way of
religion is often thorny and bloody—but a gracious heart prefers inward
purity before outward peace. I have heard of one who, having a jewel he much
prized, the king sent for his jewel. 'Tell the king' (says he) 'I honor his
Majesty—but I will rather lose my life than part with my jewel.' He who is
enriched with the jewel of holiness, will rather die than part with this
jewel. When his honor and riches will do him no good—his holiness will end
in bliss, 'You have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life'.
Let me persuade Christians to heart purity.
The harlot 'wipes her mouth' (Proverbs 30:20). But that is not
enough. 'Wash your heart, O Jerusalem' (Jeremiah 4:14). And here I
shall lay down some arguments or motives to persuade to heart purity.
1. The NECESSITY of heart-purity.
 Heart-purity is necessary, in respect of OURSELVES.
Until the heart is pure, all our holy things (that is, our
religious duties) are polluted. They are but splendid sins!
'Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to
those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences
are defiled' (Titus 1:15). Their offering is unclean. Under the law, if a
man who was unclean by a dead body, and carried a piece of holy meat, the
holy meat could not cleanse him—but the dead body polluted that. (Haggai
2:12,13). He who had the leprosy, whatever he touched was unclean. If he had
touched the altar or sacrifice, the altar would not cleanse him—but he would
defiled the altar. A filthy hand defiles the purest water. An impure
heart defiles all religious duties—he drops poison upon them all. A pure
stream running through muddy ground, is polluted. Just so, the holiest
duties, running through an impure heart, are polluted. A sinner's works are
called 'dead works' (Hebrews 6:1). And those works which are dead cannot
please God. A dead wife cannot please her husband.
 Heart purity is necessary, in respect of GOD.
God is holy. Purity is the chief robe with which God adorns himself. 'You
are of purer eyes than to behold evil' (Habakkuk 1:13). And will this holy
God endure to have an impure heart come near him? Will a man lay a viper in
his bosom! The holy God and the unrepentant sinner, cannot dwell together.
None can dwell together but friends—but there is no friendship between God
and the sinner, both of them being of a contrary judgment and disposition.
An impure heart is more odious to God than a serpent! God gave the serpent
its venom—but Satan fills the heart with sin. 'Satan has filled your heart!'
(Acts 5:3). The Lord abhors a sinner. He will not come near him, having his
plague-sores running. 'My soul loathed them!' (Zechariah 11:8).
 Heart purity is necessary, in regard of ANGELS.
They are pure creatures. The Cherubim, which typified the angels, were made
of fine gold to denote the purity of their essence. No unholy thought
enters into the angels, therefore there must be purity of heart that there
may be some resemblance between us and them. What would unholy hearts do,
among those pure angelic spirits?
 Heart purity is necessary, in regard of the GLORIFIED
SAINTS. They are pure, being refined from all the dregs of sin.
They are 'spirits of just men made perfect' (Hebrews 12:23). Now what
would profane spirits do among 'spirits made perfect'? I tell you, if
you who wallow in your sins, could come near God and angels and spirits of
men made perfect, and have a sight of their luster—you would soon wish
yourselves out of their company. As a man who is dirty and in his rags, if
he should stand before the king and his nobles and see them glistening in
their cloth of gold and sparkling with their jewels—he would be ashamed of
himself, and wish himself out of their presence.
 Heart purity is necessary, in regard of HEAVEN.
Heaven is a pure place. It is an 'undefiled inheritance' (1 Peter
1:4). No unclean beasts come into the heavenly ark! 'Nothing evil
will be allowed to enter!' (Revelation 21:27). The Lord will not put the new
wine of glory, into a musty impure heart! All these things considered, shows
the necessity of heart purity.
2. It is the will of God that we should be pure in heart.
'This is the will of God—your sanctification' (1 Thessalonians
4:3). Are you low in the world? Perhaps it is not the will of God that you
should be rich. But it is the will of God that you should be holy.
'This is the will of God—your sanctification.' Let God have his will by
being holy—and you shall have your will by being happy. God's
will must either be fulfilled by us or upon us!
3. Purity of heart is the characteristic note of God's
people. 'God is good to Israel—to those whose hearts are pure'
(Psalm 73:1). Heart-purity denominates us, the 'Israel of God'. It is
not profession which makes us the Israel of God. 'Not all who are
descended from Israel, are Israel' (Romans 9:6). Purity of heart is the
jewel which is hung only upon the elect! Chastity distinguishes a virtuous
woman from a harlot. Just so, the true Christian is distinguished from the
hypocrite--by his heart-purity. This is like the nobleman's star, which is a
peculiar ensign of honor, differing him from the vulgar. When the bright
star of purity shines in a Christian's heart, it distinguishes him from a
4. Purity of heart makes us like God. It was
Adam's unhappiness once, that he aspired to be like God in omniscience; but
we must endeavor to be like God in sanctity. God's image consists in
holiness. To those who do not have this image and superscription upon them,
he will say 'I never knew you!' God delights in no heart but where he may
see his own face and likeness. You cannot see your face in a looking-glass
when it is dusty. God's face cannot be seen in a dusty impure soul. A pure
heart (like a clean looking-glass) gives forth some idea and representation
of God. There is little comfort in being like God in other things besides
purity. Are we like God in that we have a being? So have stones. Are
we like him in that we have motion? So have stars. Are we like him in
that we have life? So have trees and birds. Are we like him in that
we have knowledge? So have devils. There is no likeness to God, which
will prove comfortable and blissful—but our being like him in purity. God
loves the pure in heart. Love is founded upon likeness.
5. The excellency of the heart, lies in the purity of it.
Purity was the glory of the soul in innocence. The purer a thing is—the
better. The purer the air is, and the more free from noxious
vapors—the better it is. Pure water is most sweet. The purer the
gold is, the more valuable. The purer the wine is when it is
taken off from the lees and dregs—the more excellent it is. The more the
soul is purified by grace and taken off from the lees and dregs of sin—the
more precious in God's eyes. The purer the heart is—the more spiritual it
is; and the more spiritual it is—the more fit to entertain him who is pure
6. God is good to the pure in heart. 'God is
good to Israel—to those whose hearts are pure' (Psalm 73:1). We all
desire that God should be good to us. It is the sick man's prayer, 'May the
Lord be good to me'. God is good to those whose hearts are pure. But how is
God good to them? Two ways—
 To those who are pure, all things are sanctified.
'To the pure—all things are pure' (Titus 1:15). Estate is sanctified,
relations are sanctified—just as the temple sanctified the gold and the
altar sanctified the offering. To the unclean--nothing is clean. Their
table is a snare; and their devotions are sin. There is a curse
entailed upon a wicked man (Deuteronomy 28:15-20)—but holiness removes the
curse and cuts off the punishment. 'To the pure all things are pure'.
 The pure-hearted have all things work for their good
(Romans 8:28). Mercies and afflictions shall turn to their good.
The most poisonous drug shall be medicinal. The most cross providence
shall carry on the design of their salvation. Who then would not be pure in
heart? 'God is good to those who are pure in heart'.
7. Heart purity makes way for heaven. The pure
in heart 'shall see God'. Happiness is nothing but the quintessence of
holiness. Purity of heart is heaven begun in a man. Holiness is called in
Scripture 'the anointing of God' (1 John 2:27). Solomon was first anointed
with the holy oil, and then he was made king (1 Kings 1:39). Just so, the
people of God are first anointed with the oil of the Spirit and made pure in
heart, and then the crown of glory is set upon their head. And is not purity
to be highly valued? It lays a path for glory. 'Purity of heart' and 'seeing
of God' are linked together.
8. Note the examples of those who have been eminent for
heart-purity. The Lord Jesus was a pattern of purity. 'Who of you
convicts me of sin?' (John 8:46). In this we are to imitate Christ. We are
not to imitate him in raising the dead or in working miracles—but in being
holy (1 Peter 1:16).
Besides this golden pattern of Christ, we are to write
after the fair copy of those saints who have been of a dove-like purity.
David was so pure in heart, that he was a man 'after God's heart'.
Abraham was so purified by faith that he was one of God's
cabinet-counsel (Genesis 18:17). Moses was so holy that God spoke
with him face to face. What were the rest of the patriarchs but so many
plants of renown, flourishing in holiness? The fathers in the primitive
church were exemplary for purity. Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, Augustine, they
were so inlaid and adorned with purity, that envy itself could not tax them.
We wish we had such saints as were in the primitive times, so just were they
in their dealings, so decent in their attire, so true in their promises, so
devout in their religion, so unblamable in their lives, that they were
living sermons, walking Bibles, genuine pictures of Christ, and helped
to keep up the credit of godliness in the world.
9. Heart-purity is the only jewel you can carry out of
the world. Have you a child you delight in, or an estate? You can
'carry nothing out of the world' (1 Timothy 6:7). Purity of heart is the
only commodity that can be with comfort transported. This is that which will
stay longest with you. Usually we love those things which last longest. We
prize a diamond or piece of gold above the most beautiful flower, because
the flower is fading. Heart-purity has perpetuity! It will go with us beyond
But how shall we attain to heart-purity?
1. Often look into the Word of God. 'Now you
are clean, through the word' (John 15:3). 'Your word is very pure' (Psalm
119:140). God's Word is pure, not only for the matter of it—but the
effect of it, because it makes us pure. 'Sanctify them through your
truth; your word is truth' (John 17:17). By looking into this pure
crystal—we are changed into the image of it. The Word is both a
looking-glass to show us the spots of our souls—and a laver to
wash them away! The Word breathes nothing but purity; it enlightens the
mind; it consecrates the heart.
2. Go to the bath. There are two baths
Christians should wash in.
 The bath of tears. Go into this bath.
Peter had sullied and defiled himself with sin and he washed himself with
penitential tears. Mary Magdalene, who was an impure sinner, 'stood at
Jesus' feet weeping' (Luke 7:38). Mary's tears washed her heart--as well
as Christ's feet! Oh sinners, let your eyes be a fountain of tears! Weep
for those sins which are so many as have passed all arithmetic. This water
of contrition is healing and purifying.
 The bath of Christ's blood. This is that
'fountain opened for sin and uncleanness' (Zechariah 13:1). A soul
steeped in the brinish tears of repentance and bathed in the blood of Christ
is made pure. This is that 'spiritual washing'. All the legal washings
and purifications were but types and emblems representing Christ's blood.
This blood whitens the black soul.
3. Get faith. It is a soul-cleansing grace.
'Having purified their hearts by faith' (Acts 15:9). The woman in the gospel
who but touched the hem of Christ's garment was healed. A touch of faith
heals. If I believe Christ and all his merits are mine, how can I sin
against him? We do not willingly injure those friends who, we believe, love
us. Nothing can have a greater force and efficacy upon the heart to make it
pure, than faith. Faith will remove mountains, the mountains of pride, lust,
envy. Faith and the love of sin are incompatible.
4. Breathe after the Spirit. He is called the
Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). He purifies the heart as lightning
purifies the air. That we may see what a purifying virtue the Spirit has, he
is compared to various things:
 The Spirit is compared to FIRE (Acts 2:3).
Fire is of a purifying nature. It refines and cleans metals. It separates
the dross from the gold. The Spirit of God in the heart refines and
sanctifies it. He burns up the dross of sin.
 The Spirit is compared to WIND. 'There
came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and they were all
filled with the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:24). The wind purifies the air. When
the air by reason of foggy vapors is unwholesome, the wind is a fan to
winnow and purify it. Thus when the vapors of sin arise in the heart—vapors
of pride and covetousness, earthly vapors—the Spirit of God arises and blows
upon the soul and purges away these impure vapors. The spouse in the
Canticles prays for a gale of the Spirit, that she might be made pure
 The Spirit is compared to WATER. 'He who
believes on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; but this
spoke he of the Spirit' (John 7:38, 39). The Spirit is like water, not only
to make the soul fruitful, for it causes the desert to blossom as the
rose (Isaiah 32:15; 35:1)—but the Spirit is like water to purify.
Whereas, before, the heart of a sinner was unclean and whatever he touched
had a tincture of impurity (Numbers 19:22), when once the Spirit comes into
the heart, with his continual showers, he washes off the filthiness of it,
making it pure and fit for God to dwell in.
5. Take heed of close converse and fellowship with the
wicked. One vain mind makes another vain. One hard heart makes
another. The stone in the body is not infectious—but the stone in the
heart is. One profane person poisons another. Beware of the society
of the wicked.
Some may object: But what hurt is in this? Did not Jesus
converse with sinners? (Luke 5:29).
 There was a necessity for that. If Jesus had not come
among sinners, how could any have been saved? He went among sinners—but not
to join with them in their sins. He was not a companion of
sinners—but a physician of sinners.
 Though Christ did converse with sinners, he could not
be polluted with their sin. His divine nature was a sufficient antidote to
preserve him from infection. Christ could be no more defiled with their
sin—than the sun is defiled by shining on a dunghill. Sin could no more
stick on Christ—than a burr on a crystal. The soil of his heart was so
pure—that no viper of sin could breed there. But the case is altered with
us. We have a storehouse of corruption within, and the least thing will
increase this storehouse. Therefore it is dangerous mingling ourselves among
the wicked. If we would be pure in heart—let us shun their society. He who
would preserve his garment clean, avoids the dirt. The wicked are as the
mire (Isaiah 57:20). The fresh waters running among the salt
waters, taste brackish.
6. If you would be pure, walk with those who are pure.
As the communion of the saints is in our Creed, so it
should be in our company. 'He who walks with the wise, shall be wise'
(Proverbs 13:20), and he who walks with the pure, shall be pure. The saints
are like a bed of spices. By intermixing ourselves with them we shall
partake of their savouriness. Association begets assimilation.
Sometimes God blesses godly society, to the conversion of others.
7. Wait at the posts of wisdom's doors.
Reverence the Word preached. The Word of God sucked in by faith (Hebrews
4:2) transforms the heart into the likeness of it (Romans 6:17). The Word is
a holy seed (James 1:18), which being cast into the heart makes it partake
of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
8. Pray for heart purity. Job propounds the
question, 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?' (Job 14:4;
15:14). God can do it. Out of an impure heart—he can produce grace. Pray
that prayer of David, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God' (Psalm 51:10).
Most men pray more for full purses, than pure hearts. We should pray for
heart-purity fervently. It is a matter we are most nearly concerned in.
'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14). Our prayer
must be with sighs and groans (Romans 8:23-26). There must not only be
elocution but affection. Jacob wrestled in prayer (Genesis
32:24). Hannah poured out her soul (1 Samuel 1:15). We often pray so coldly
(our petitions even freezing between our lips), as if we would teach God to
deny our prayers. We pray as if we did not care whether God heard us or not!
Oh Christian, be earnest with God for a pure
heart! Lay your heart before the Lord and say, "Lord, You who have given me
a heart, give me a pure heart. My heart is good for nothing as it is. It
defiles everything it touches. Lord, I am not fit to live with this
heart—for I cannot honor you; nor fit to die with it—for I cannot see you.
Oh purge me with hyssop. Let Christ's blood be sprinkled upon me. Let the
Holy Spirit descend upon me. 'Create in me a clean heart, O God'. You who
bid me to give you my heart—Lord, make my heart pure and you shall have it!"
The blessed PRIVILEGE of seeing God explained
"They shall see God!" Matthew 5:8
These words are linked to the former and they are a great
incentive to heart-purity. The pure heart shall see the pure God. There is a
double sight which the saints have of God.
1. In this life; that is, spiritually by the
eye of faith. Faith sees God's glorious attributes in the
looking-glass of his Word. Faith beholds him showing forth himself through
the lattice of his ordinances. Thus Moses saw him who was invisible (Hebrews
11:27). Believers see God's glory as it were—veiled over. They behold
his 'back parts' (Exodus 33:23).
2. In the life to come; and this glorious
sight is meant in the text, 'They shall see God.' A glorious prospect! This
divines call 'the beatific vision'. At that day the veil will be
pulled off, and God will show himself in all his glory to the soul, just as
a king on a day of coronation, shows himself in all his royalty and
magnificence. This sight of God, will be the heaven of heaven. We
shall indeed have a sight of angels, and that will be sweet—but the
quintessence of happiness and the diamond in the ring will be
this—'We shall see God!' It would be night in heaven, if the Sun of
Righteousness did not shine there. It is the king's presence, which makes
the court. Absalom counted himself half-alive, unless he might see
the king's face (2 Samuel 14:32).
'Blessed are the pure in heart—for they shall see God!'
This sight of God in glory is, first, partly mental and intellectual.
We shall see him with the eyes of our mind.
But second, it is partly physical; not that we can with
bodily eyes behold the bright essence of God. Indeed, some erroneously held
that God had a visible shape and figure. As man was made in God's image, so
they thought that God was made in man's image; but God is a Spirit (John
4:24), and being a Spirit, he is invisible (1 Timothy 1:17). He cannot be
beheld by bodily eyes. 'Whom no man has seen, nor can see' (1
Timothy 6:16). A sight of his glory would overwhelm us. This wine is too
strong for our weak heads.
But when I say our seeing of God in heaven is physical,
my meaning is that we shall with bodily eyes behold Jesus Christ, through
whom the glory of God, his wisdom, holiness, and mercy, shall shine forth to
the soul. Put a back of steel to the glass—and you may see a face in it. So
the human nature of Christ is as it were a back of steel through which we
may see the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6). In this sense that scripture
is to be understood, 'With these eyes shall I see God' (Job 19:26, 27).
Now concerning this blessed sight of God, it is so
sublime and sweet, that I can only draw a dark shadow of it. We shall
better understand it—when we come to heaven. At present I shall lay down
these nine MAXIMS
concerning this beatific vision.
1. Our sight of God in heaven shall be a CLEAR sight.
Here we see him 'through a glass darkly' (1 Corinthians 13:12). But
through Christ we shall behold God in a very illustrious manner. God will
unveil himself and show forth his glory—so far as the soul is capable to
receive. If Adam had not sinned, it is probable that he would never have had
such a clear sight of God—as the saints in glory shall have. 'We shall see
him as he is' (1 John 3:2). Now we see him as he is not. There we shall see
him 'as he is' in a very clear manner. 'Then shall I know—even as
also I am known' (1 Corinthians 13:12), that is, 'clearly'. Does not God
know us clearly and fully? Then shall the saints know him (according to
their capacity) as they are known. As their love to God, so their
sight of God—shall be perfect.
2. This sight of God will be a TRANSCENDENT sight.
It will surpass in glory. Such glittering beams shall sparkle forth
from the Lord Jesus, as shall infinitely amaze and delight the eyes of the
beholders! Imagine what a blessed sight it will be, to see Christ wearing
the robe of our human nature and to see that nature sitting in glory above
the angels. If God is so beautiful here in his ordinances, Word, prayer,
sacraments; if there is such excellency in him when we see him by the eye
of faith through the telescope of a promise, O what will it be when we
shall see him 'face to face'!
When Christ was transfigured on the mount, he was full of
glory (Matthew 17:2). If his transfiguration was so glorious, what
will his exaltation be! What a glorious time will it be when (as it
was said of Mordecai) we shall see him in the presence of his Father,
'arrayed in royal apparel, and with a great crown of gold upon his head'
(Esther 8:15). This will be glory beyond hyperbole! If the sun were ten
thousand times brighter than it is—it could not so much as shadow out this
glory. In the heavenly horizon we behold beauty in its first magnitude and
highest elevation. There we shall 'see the king in his glory' (Isaiah
33:17). All lights are but eclipses, compared with that glorious
vision. Apelles' pencil could but blot it; angels' tongues could but
3. This sight of God will be a TRANSFORMING sight.
'We shall be like him' (1 John 3:2). The saints shall be
changed into glory. As when the light springs into a dark room, the room may
be said to be changed from what it was; the saints shall so see God—as to be
changed into his image! (Psalm 17:15). Here on earth, God's people
are blackened and sullied with infirmities—but in heaven they shall be as
the dove covered with silver wings. They shall have some rays and beams of
God's glory shining in them. The crystal, by having the sun shine on it,
sparkles and looks like the sun. Just so, the saints by beholding the
brightness of God's glory shall have a tincture of that glory upon
them. Not that they shall partake of God's very essence, for as the iron in
the fire becomes fire—yet remains iron still, so the saints by beholding the
luster of God's majesty shall be glorious creatures—but yet
4. This sight of God will be a JOYFUL sight.
'You shall make me glad with the light of your countenance' (Acts 2:28).
After a sharp winter, how pleasant will it be to see the Sun of
Righteousness displaying himself in all his glory! Does faith breed joy?
'Even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are
filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy' (1 Peter 1:8). If the joy
of faith is such, what will the joy of vision be! The sight of
Christ will amaze the eye with wonder, and ravish the heart with joy. If the
face of a friend whom we entirely love so affects us and drives away
sorrow—O how cheering will the sight of God be to the saints in heaven! Then
indeed it may be said, 'Your heart shall rejoice!' (John 16:22). There are
two things which will make the saints' vision of God in heaven joyful.
 Through Jesus Christ, the dread and terror of the
divine essence shall be taken away. Majesty shall appear in God
to preserve reverence—but however, it will be a majesty clothed with beauty
and tempered with sweetness, to excite joy in the saints. We shall see God
as a friend, not as guilty Adam did, who was afraid, and hid himself
(Genesis 3:10)—but as Queen Esther looked upon King Ahasuerus holding forth
the golden scepter (Esther 5:2). Surely this sight of God will not be
dreadful, but delightful!
 The saints shall not only have vision, but
fruition. They shall so see God, as to enjoy him. True
blessedness lies partly in the understanding—by seeing the glory of
God richly displayed; and partly in the will—by a sweet delicious
taste of it and acquiescence of the soul in it. We shall so see
God—as to love him—and so love him as to be filled with him.
The seeing of God implies fruition. 'Enter into the joy of your Lord'
(Matthew 25:21) not only behold it—but enter into it. 'In your
light we shall see light' (Psalm 36:9); there is vision. 'At your
right hand there are pleasures for evermore' (Psalm 16:11); there is
fruition. So great is the joy which flows from the sight of God—as will make
the saints break forth into triumphant praises and hallelujahs.
5. This sight of God will be a SATISFYING sight.
Cast three worlds into the heart, and they will not fill it—but the
sight of God satisfies! 'I shall be satisfied when I awake with your
likeness' (Psalm 17:15). Solomon says 'The eye is never satisfied
with seeing' (Ecclesiastes 1:8). But there the eye will be satisfied
with seeing. God, and nothing but God, can satisfy. The saints shall have
their heads so full of knowledge, and their hearts so full of
joy—that they shall have no lack.
6. This sight of God will be an UNWEARYING sight.
Let a man see the rarest sight that is—he will soon be cloyed. When he comes
into a garden and sees delightful walks, lovely arbours, pleasant flowers,
within a little while he grows weary; but it is not so in heaven. There is
no cloying there. We shall never be weary of seeing God, for the divine
essence being infinite, there shall be every moment new and fresh delights
springing forth from God into the glorified soul! The soul shall be full and
satisfied—yet still desire more of God. So sweet will God be—that the more
the saints behold God—the more they will be ravished with desire and
7. This sight of God will be a BENEFICIAL sight.
It will tend to the bettering and advantaging of the soul. Some
colors, while they delight the eyes, hurt them. But this knowledge and
vision of God, shall better the soul and tend to its infinite happiness.
Eve's looking upon the tree of knowledge, was harmful to her. But the saints
can receive no detriment from the eternal beholding of God's glory. This
sight will be beneficial. The soul will never be in its perfection, until it
comes to see God. This will be the crowning blessing.
8. This sight of God shall be PERPETUAL. Here
we see objects awhile, and then our eyes grow dim and we need eye-glasses.
But the saints shall always behold God. As there shall be no cloud
upon God's face, so the saints shall have no mote in their eye. Their sight
shall never grow dim—but they shall be to all eternity looking on God, that
beautiful and delightful object! O what a soul-ravishing sight will this be!
God must make us able to bear it. We can no more endure a sight of glory—than
a sight of wrath. But the saints in heaven, shall have their
capacities enlarged, and they shall be made fit to receive the delightful
beams of divine glory!
9. This sight of God will be an IMMEDIATE sight.
There are some who deny that the soul is immediately after death
admitted to the sight of God—but I assert that the saints shall have an
immediate transition and passage from death to glory. As soon
as death has closed their eyes—they shall see God. If the soul is not
immediately after death translated to the beatific vision—then what becomes
of the soul in that period of time, until the resurrection?
Does the soul go into torment? That cannot be, for
the soul of a believer is a member of Christ's mystical body, and if this
soul should go to hell—a member of Christ might be for a time damned. But
that is impossible.
Does the soul sleep in the body as some drowsily
imagine? How then shall we make good sense of that scripture 'We are willing
rather to be absent from the body—and to be present with the Lord'?
(2 Corinthians 5:8) If the soul at death is absent from the body, then
it cannot sleep in the body.
Does the soul die? It appears that the soul of a
believer after death, goes immediately to God. 'This day shall you be
with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43). That word 'with me' shows clearly
that the thief on the cross was translated to heaven. For there Christ was
(Ephesians 4:10). And the word 'this day' shows that the thief on the cross
had an immediate passage from the cross to paradise. Therefore, the souls of
believers have an immediate vision of God after death. It is but winking—and
they shall see God!
See the misery of an impure sinner.
He shall never be admitted to the blessed sight of
God. Only the pure in heart shall see God. Such as live in sin, whose souls
are dyed black with the filth of hell—they shall never come where God is.
They shall have an affrighting vision of God—but not a beatific
vision. They shall see the flaming sword and the burning lake—but not
the mercy-seat! God in Scripture is sometimes called a 'consuming fire',
sometimes the 'Father of lights'. The wicked shall feel the fire—but not see
the light. Impure souls shall be covered with shame and darkness as with a
mantle, and shall never see the king's face. Those who would not see God in
his Word and ordinances—shall not see him in his glory.
Is there such a blessed privilege after this life? Then
let me persuade all who hear me this day:
1. To get into Christ. We can come to God—only
by Christ. Moses when he was in the rock saw God (Exodus 33:32). Only
in this blessed rock, Christ—shall we see God.
2. To be purified people. It is only the pure
in heart, who shall see God. It is only a clear eye, which can behold a
bright transparent object. Only those who have their hearts cleansed from
sin, can have this blessed sight of God. Sin is such a cloud as, if
it is not removed, will forever hinder us from seeing the Sun of
Righteousness. Christian, have you upon your heart 'holiness to the Lord'?
Then you shall see God. 'There are many,' says Augustine, 'who want to go to
heaven—but they will not take the holy way which alone leads there!'
There are several sorts of eyes which shall never see
God—the ignorant eye, the unchaste eye, the scornful
eye, the malicious eye, the covetous eye. If you would see God
when you die, you must be purified people while you live! 'We know that when
He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. And
everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.' (1
John 3:2, 3).
Let me turn myself to the pure in heart.
1. Stand amazed at this privilege—that
you who are worms crept out of the dust—should be admitted to the blessed
sight of God, for all eternity! It was Moses' prayer, 'I beseech you, show
me your glory' (Exodus 33:18). The saints shall behold God's glory!
The pure in heart shall have the same blessedness that God himself has. For
what is the blessedness of God—but the contemplating his own infinite glory
2. Begin your sight of God here on earth. Let
the eye of your faith be ever upon God. Moses by faith 'saw him who
is invisible' (Hebrews 11:27). Often look upon him with believing
eyes—whom you hope to see with glorified eyes. 'My eyes are ever
towards the Lord' (Psalm 25:15). While others are looking towards the
earth as if they would fetch all their comforts thence—let us
look up to heaven! There is the best sight. The sight of God by faith
would let in much joy to the soul. 'You love Him, though you have not seen
Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with
inexpressible and glorious joy!' (1 Peter 1:8).
3. Let this be a cordial, to revive the pure in heart.
Be comforted with this—you shall shortly see God! The godly
have many sights here on earth, which they do not desire to see. They see a
body of death; they see evil and sin; they see unholy people wearing the
mask of religion; they see the white devil. These sights occasion sorrow.
But there is a blessed sight a-coming! 'They shall see God!' And in
him, are all sparkling beauties and ravishing joys to be found!
4. Do not be discouraged at sufferings. All
the hurt that affliction and death can do—is to give you a sight of God. As
one said to his fellow-martyr, 'One half-hour in glory, will make us forget
all our pain!' When the sun rises—all the dark shadows of the night flee
away. When the pleasant beams of God's countenance begin to shine upon the
soul in heaven—then sorrows and sufferings shall be no more! The dark
shadows of the night, shall fly away. The thoughts of this coming
beatific vision, should carry a Christian full sail with joy through the
waters of affliction! This made Job so willing to embrace death: 'But as
for me, I know that my Redeemer lives! And after my body has decayed, yet in
my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with
my own eyes! I am overwhelmed at the thought!' (Job 19:25-27).