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but to be spiritually-minded, is life and peace.”—
Faith has led them to regard future and eternal things, far above the vanities of time; for that faith by which they now live, is “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” “ That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Their minds are disposed to prefer spiritual to carnal things. When engaged in spiritual duties they are in their element; and at times can look down with becoming indifference on all the trifles of time. Their “conversation is in heaven.” By the cross of Christ “the world is crucified to them;" that is, they are no more delighted with the world, than a living man would be with the rotten carcase of a malefactor: and they likewise are “ crucified to the world;" the world can act upon them with no greater efficacy than the objects of sense can upon a dead person.
But, above all, Love is the grand prevailing disposition of holy persons. Without love, all attainments and professions are vain. God says “ My son, give me thine heart;" and the believer replies
- Take my poor heart, and let it be
For ever closed to all but thee.”
God appears infinitely lovely to all true believers. His love in Christ Jesus is strongly attractive. They love him because he first loved them. Having a good hope through grace, that God for Christ's sake has pardoned their sins, accepted their persons, and that he will bring them to glory, they feel themselves constrained to depart from iniquity, which they know he hates: and to practise holiness, which they know he loves. Hence his people, his word, his day, his cause, become their delight; and to glorify him is the new end of their being. This leads us farther to observe,
that the actions of such persons must needs be holy also. Their nature being renewed, and their dispositions sanctified, they become holy in all manner of conversation and godliness. It would be infamous hypocrisy in a man to profess that his heart is holy, if his life is immoral. Morality there may be without holiness; but there can be no holiness without morality. The law of God being written on the heart, and the love of God shed abroad in it, obedience will become easy and pleasant. Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden is light. But here is a large field which we can but just enter upon,
Good works, properly so called, must be done from a right principle; that is, the new nature, or grace of the Spirit in a believer: they must be done according to a right rule, which is the word of God; and they must be done to a right end, and that is, to glorify God. Oh, how few works are truly good, if tried by these rules!
Holiness comprehends all the duties we owe to God; these must be regarded in the first place ; whereas many people leave them entirely out of their account. What is more common than to hear ignorant persons comfort themselves against the fears of death, by their having been honest, and having paid every one his own ? To such people we may put the question that a minister once put to such a person on a dying bed" But have you paid God what you owe him ?” Alas, we owe God our hearts, our love, our obedience; but how many have forgotten God; lived without God; and rebelled against God, all their lives! But a holy man has a steady regard to the word, will, and glory of God, in all his ways.
Nor will our neighbour be forgotten. Religion does not consist entirely in praying and worshipping God; the holy man brings religion into all his con
cerns; according to that ancient promise, Zech, xiv, 20, “ In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord:” that is, holiness shall not be confined to priests and temples, it shall be brought into common life, and all the concerns of it be managed to the glory of God. It is a great truth that “to be really holy, is to be relatively holy.” Holiness will make good husbands and wives; good parents and children; good masters and mistresses; good tradesmen, good servants, and good subjects. It will do this. It actually does it to the astonishment of all who observe it; and this is the best way that people can take to promote the Gospel, and make their neighbours like it. Thus must every believer become a practical preacher, “holding forth the word of life.” Our “light must shine before men;" and then, “they, seeing our good works, will glorify our Father which is in heaven." This is a short account of real holiness : let us now proceed,
II. To prove the necessity of holiness : our text declares, that " without it no man can see the Lord.” The whole Scripture testifies to the same truth. And surely it must be evident, in a moment, to every considerate person, for it is a part of our salvation ; and to talk of being saved without holis ness, is as absurd as to speak of being saved without salvation. Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, not to save us in them. To be saved from the guilt of sin, or to be pardoned, is but half our salvation; Jesus Christ equally designed, by his death, “to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Christ, therefore, cannot, will not, be divided; we must have the whole of his salvation, or none of it. Let none, therefore, dream of salvation while the love and practice of sin is voluntarily continued,
· Besides, the command of God shows the necessity of holiness. What is the language of the law? “I am the Lord your God, ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I am holy !” and it is the language of the holy Gospel too. To show the eternal force and propriety of this reason, * it is transferred to the New Testament, where St. Peter saith, “ As he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” The same “Gospel that brings salvation, teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”
Again, the electing love of God proves the necessity of holiness. “ Did God choose from all eternity those whom he will finally glorify ?” Yes! but for what purpose ? " That they should be holy,” Eph. i. 4. Did he predestinate them to eternal life? Yes, and for this end,“ that they should be conformed to the image of his Son,” Rom. viii, 29. And, accordingly, such persons are exhorted by St. Paul, Col. m. 12, to“ put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,” &c. These things become them, and are required of them, on account of their interest in the electing love of God.
Above all, the nature of God, who is himself infinite holiness, and the nature of heaven, which consists in the sight, service, and enjoyment of God, make it absolutely necessary that we should be holy; for " without this," as our text affirms, " no man shall see the Lord. No man; be he who he may: whether high or low; rich or poor; learned or ignorant; esteemed or disesteemed of men.--No man; whatever his knowledge of religion may be, or however high his profession; whether he boasts of his virtues or his creed, of his works or his prayers—all, all is in vain without holiness. Let no man then deceive
himself with vain words; the God of heaven has decreed that the unholy man shall not enter into his kingdom.
Indeed, it is most certain that heaven itself would be a hell to the wicked. The natural man well knows, and must confess, he has no relish for any thing hea. venly. His pleasures are sensual and worldly. His delight is in folly, and vanity, and sin. The wicked of the earth are his chosen companions. He hates and persecutes the godly; despises them because they are saints; perhaps disturbs their worship, and injures their persons. Prayer and praise, reading and hearing the word of God, are dull and melancholy things. The Sabbath itself is a burden. How then can an unholy soul go to heaven? It is impossible in the nature of things, and doubly impossible by the decree of God. Much more might be said to show the necessity of holiness; but surely enough has been said to satisfy every reasonable person. May we not hope that some are now saying, Yes, it is plain enough. God has said it, and I believe it. I believe it for myself, and I am now ready to inquire, How may I, who am an unholy creature by nature and by practice, become holy? We shall gladly answer so necessary an inquiry; for this is the last thing proposed, namely,
III. The means whereby we may become holy.
And here it is necessary to observe, that no person in a natural state can arrive at true holiness by his own power or exertions. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh:” nothing more, nothing better, nor ever will be. Till we are born again; till we believe in Christ; till we are united to him, we can never be holy in the least degree. The shadow and resemblance of holiness there may be, in morality and virtue; but all the true holiness that ever was in the world, or ever will be in it, is as much from Christ as all the light we have is from the sun. In vain, therefore, do