PSYCHOPANNYCHIA: “The Sleep of the Soul”

Excerpts taken and adapted from, “PSYCHOPANNYCHIA.”
Written by, John Calvin, Basel, 1536.

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[NOTE: The title of PSYCHOPANNYCHIA derived from Greek words which signify "the sleep of the soul;" the object of the Tract being to show, partly from reason, but more especially from Scripture, that there is no such sleep. It was published in 1534, when CALVIN was twenty-five years of age, and is, consequently, with the exception of the Commentary on the Clementia of Seneca, published in 1532, the earliest of all his writings, and two years earlier than the Institutes, the first known edition of which appeared in 1536. It thus possesses, especially to those who delight to trace the progress of a master mind, an interest additional to that which its merit gives it.

The figment which it refutes is said by CALVIN to be of Arabian origin, but was first brought prominently into notice by some of the wildest fanatics among the ANABAPTISTS, for whom everything new and monstrous appears to have had an irresistible attraction. In more modern times, attempts have been made to give it a philosophical shape, as a necessary corollary from the dogma of Materialism advocated by Priestley and others.

It would seem that the figment, wild and irrational though it is, had made considerable progress at an early period of the Reformation, and counted numerous converts, not merely among the fanatics who had revived it, but in more respectable quarters, where better things might have been expected. --Henry Beveridge, May 1851.]

Preface by John Calvin to a Friend.

I wish some other method of cutting away the evil, which makes far too much progress, had been devised, so as to prevent it from gaining ground daily, and eating in like a cancer. Nor does it now appear for the first time; for we read that it originated with some Arabs, who maintained that “The soul dies with the body, and that both rise again at the Day of Judgment.” (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. 6 c. 36; Aug. lib. de Haeres. c. 83, dist. 16; John 2:) Some time after, John, Bishop of Rome, broached it, and was forced to recant by the Theological Faculty of Paris. (Gerson in Sermone Pasch. priore.) It lay smoldering for some ages, but has lately begun to send forth sparks, being stirred up by some dregs of Anabaptists. These, spread abroad far and wide, have kindled torches—and would that they were soon extinguished by that voluntary rain which the Lord hath set apart for his inheritance!

Is this the way of learning—to roll the Scriptures over and over, and twist them about in search of something that may minister to our lust, or to force them into subjection to our sense? Nothing can be more absurd than this, O pernicious pest! O tares certainly sown by an enemy’s hand, for the purpose of rendering the true seed useless! And do we still wonder at the many sects among those who had at first given in their adherence to the gospel and the reviving word? I, for my part, am terrified by the dreadful denunciation, 

“The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” –Matthew 21:43

Calvin’s Treatise

But before proceeding farther, we must cut off all arguments about words… 

…which might be furnished by our giving the name of “soul” and “spirit” indiscriminately to that which is the subject of controversy, and yet sometimes speaking of the two as different. By Scripture usage different meanings are given to these terms; and most people, without attending to this difference, take up the first meaning which occurs to them, keep fast hold of it, and pertinaciously maintain it. Others, having seen “soul” sometimes used for “life,” hold this to be invariably the case, and will not allow themselves to be convinced of the contrary. If met with the passage from David,

“Their soul will be blessed in life,” –Psalm 49:19

…they will interpret, that their life is blessed in life. In like manner, if the passage from Samuel be produced, “By thy life, and by thy soul’s life,” (2 Samuel 11:11,) they will say, that there is no meaning in these terms. We know that “soul” is very often used for life in such passages as the following, “My soul is in my hands,”—”Why do I tear my flesh with my teeth, and carry my soul in my hands?”—”Is not the soul more than meat,”—”Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.” (Psalm 119:109; Job 13:14; Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:20.) There are other similar passages which these soulslayers always have in their mouth. There is no ground, however, for their great self-complacency, since they ought to observe that soul is there used metonymically for life, because the soul is the cause of life, and life depends on the soul—a figure which boys learn even from their rudiments.

It is impossible not to wonder at the presumption of these men, who have so high an opinion of themselves, and would fain be thought wise by others, though they require to be taught the use of figures and the first elements of speech. In this sense it was said that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David”—the soul of Sychem (Shechem) “clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob;” and Luke says, that “the multitude of the believers was of one heart and soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1; Genesis 34:3; Acts 4:32.) Who sees not that there is much force in such Hebraisms as the following? “Bless the Lord, O my soul,”—”My soul doth magnify the Lord,”—”Say to my soul, I am thy salvation.” (Psalm 103:1; 104:1; Luke 1:46.) An indescribable something more is expressed than if it were said without addition, Bless the Lord; I magnify the Lord, Say to me, I am thy salvation!

Sometimes the word “soul” is used merely for a living man, as when sixty souls are said to have gone down into Egypt.. (Exodus 1:5.) Again, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,”—”The soul which turneth aside to wizards and soothsayers shall die the death,” etc. (Ezekiel 28:4; Leviticus 20:6.) Sometimes also it is called the breath which men inhale and respire, and in which the vital motion of the body resides. In this sense I understand the following passages, “Anxiety seizes me though my whole soul is still in me,”—”His soul is in him,”—”Let the soul of the child return within him.” (2 Samuel 1:9; Acts 20:10; 1 Kings 17:21.) Nay, in the very same sense in which we say, in ordinary language, that the soul is “breathed out” and “expires,” Scripture speaks of the soul “departing,” as when it is said of Rachel, “And when her soul was departing (for she died) she called the name of the child Benoni” (Genesis 35:18.)

We know that spirit is literally “breath” and “wind,” and for this reason is frequently called πνοην by the Greeks. We know that it is used by Isaiah for a thing vain and worthless, “We have conceived and brought forth spirit,” or “wind.” (Isaiah 26:18.) It is very often taken for what is regenerated in us by the Spirit of God. For when Paul says that “the spirit lusteth against the flesh,” (Galatians 5:17,) he does not mean that the soul fights with the flesh, or reason with desire; but that the soul itself, in as far as it is governed by the Spirit of God, wrestles with itself, though in as far as it is still devoid of the Spirit of God, it is subject to its lusts. We know that when the two terms are joined, “soul” means will, and “spirit” means intellect. Isaiah thus speaks,

“My soul hath longed for thee in the night, but I will also wake to thee in my spirit, within me.”  –Isaiah 26:9

And when Paul prays that the Thessalonians may be entire in spirit, and soul, and body, so that they may be without blame at the coming of Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:23,) his meaning is, that they may think and will all things rightly, and may not use their members as instruments of unrighteousness. To the same effect the Apostle elsewhere says, that the word of God is quick and piercing, like a two-edged sword, reaching to the division of soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12.) In this last passage, however, some understand by “spirit” that reasoning and willing essence of which we now dispute; and by “soul,” the vital motion and senses which philosophers call superior and inferior, i.e., ορμαι και αισθησεις. But since in numerous passages both parties hold it to mean the immortal essence which is the cause of life in man, let them not raise disputes about mere names, but attend to the thing itself, by whatever name distinguished. How real it is let us now show.

And we will begin with man’s creation, wherein we shall see of what nature he was made at first. The Sacred History tells us (Genesis 1:26) of the purpose of God, before man was created, to make him “after his own image and likeness.” These expressions cannot possibly be understood of his body, in which, though the wonderful work of God appears more than in all other creatures, his image nowhere shines forth. (Ambros. lib. 6, hex. August. cap. 4: de Trinit. et alibi.) For who is it that speaks thus, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness?” God himself, who is a Spirit, and cannot be represented by any bodily shape. But as a bodily image, which exhibits the external face, ought to express to the life all the traits and features, that thus the statue or picture may give an idea of all that may be seen in the original, so this image of God must, by its likeness, implant some knowledge of God in our minds. I hear that some triflers say that the image of God refers to the dominion which was given to man over the brutes, and that in this respect man has some resemblance to God, whose dominion is over all. Into this mistake even Chrysostom fell when he was carried away in the heat of debate against the insane Anthropomorphites.

But Scripture does not allow its meaning to be thus evaded: for Moses, to prevent any one from placing this image in the flesh of man, first narrates that the body was formed out of clay, and makes no mention of the image of God; thereafter, he says, that “the breath of life” was; introduced into this clay body, making the image of God not to become effulgent in man till he was complete in all his parts. What then, it will be asked, do you think that that breath of life is the image of God? No, indeed, although I might say so with many, and perhaps not improperly. (Hilar. in Psalm 63; Aug. Lib. de Spiritu et Anima, cap. 39; Basil, hex. Hem. 8.) For what if I should maintain that the distinction was constituted by the word of God, by which that breath of life is distinguished from the souls of brutes? For whence do the souls of other animals arise? God says, “Let the earth bring forth the living soul,” etc. Let that which has sprung of earth be resolved into earth. But the soul of man is not of the earth. It was made by the mouth of the Lord, i.e., by his secret power.

Here, however, I do not insist, lest it should become a ground of quarrel. All I wish to obtain is, that the image itself is separate from the flesh. Were it otherwise, there would be no great distinctions, in man from its being said that he was made in the image of God; and yet it is repeatedly brought forward in Scripture, and highly celebrated. For what occasion was there to introduce God as deliberating, and, as it were, making it a subject of consultation, whether he should make an ordinary creature? In regard to all these things, “He spake, and it was done.” When he comes to this image, as if he were about to give a singular manifestation, he calls in his wisdom and power, and meditates with himself before he puts his hand to the work. Were these figurative modes of expression which represent the Lord, ανθρωποπαθως, (in a human manner,) in adaptation to our feeble capacity, so anxiously employed by Moses for a thing of nought? Was it not rather to give an exalted idea of the image of God impressed on man? Not contented with saying it once, he repeats it again and again. Whatever philosophers or these dreamers may pretend, we hold that nothing can bear the image of God but spirit, since God is a Spirit.

Here we are not left to conjecture what resemblance this image bears to its archetype. We easily learn it from the Apostle. (Colossians 3:10.) When he enjoins us to “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him who created him,” he clearly shows what this image is, or wherein it consists; as he also does when he says, (Ephesians 4:24,) “Put on the new man, who has been created after God in knowledge and true holiness.” When we would comprehend all these things, in one word we say, that man, in respect of spirit, was made partaker of the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God. This mode of expression was followed by two sacred writers. The one, in dividing man into two parts—body, taken from the earth, and soul, derived from the image of God—briefly comprehended what Moses had more fully expressed, (Ecclesiastes 17:1,) “God created man, and made him after his own image.” The other, desiring to state exegetically how far the image of God extended, called man “inexterminable,” because created in the image of God. (Wisdom 2:23.) I would not urge the authority of these writers strongly on our opponents, did they not allege them against us. Still they ought to have some weight, if not as canonical, at least as ancient pious writers strongly supported. But, leaving them, let us hold the image of God in man to be that which can only have its seat in the Spirit.

Let us now hear what Scripture more distinctly states concerning the Soul. When Peter speaks of the salvation of the soul, and says that carnal lusts war against the soul; when he enjoins us to keep our souls chaste, and calls Christ the “Bishop of our souls,” (1 Peter 1:9, 22; 2 Peter 2:25,) what could he mean but that there were souls which could be saved—which could be assailed by vicious desires—which could be kept chaste, and be ruled by Christ their Bishop? In the history of Job we read, (Job 4:19,) How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, and have a foundation of earth?” This, if you attend to it, you must see to apply to the soul, which dwells in a clay body. He did not call man a vessel of clay, but says that he inhabits a vessel of clay, as if the good part of man (which is the soul) were contained in that earthly abode. Thus Peter says, (1 Peter 1:13,) “I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by way of remembrance, knowing that in a short time I must put off this my tabernacle.” By this form of expression we might, if we are not very stupid, understand that there is something in a tabernacle, and something which is taken out of a tabernacle, or which, as he says, is to put off a tabernacle. The same manifest distinction between the flesh and the spirit is made by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 12:9,) when he calls those by whom we were begotten the parents of one flesh; but says that there is one God, “the Father of spirits.” Shortly after, having called God the King of the heavenly Jerusalem, he subjoins that its citizens are angels and

“the spirits of just men made perfect.” –Hebrews 12:23

Nor do I see how we can otherwise understand Paul, when he says, (2 Corinthians 7:1,) “Having, therefore, these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and spirit.” For it is clear that he does not there make the comparison which he elsewhere frequently uses when he attributes defilement to the spirit, by which term, in other passages: he merely means purity.

I will add another passage, though I see that those who wish to cavil will immediately betake themselves to their glosses. The passage is, (1 Corinthians 2:11,) “Who of men knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man that is in him? so also no man knows the things of God, but the Spirit of God.” He might have said, that man knows the things which are his; but he applied the name to that part in which the power of thinking and understanding resides. Also, when he said, (Romans 8:16,) “The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit, that we are the sons of God,” did he not use the same peculiarity of expression? But, might we not convince them by a single passage? We know how often our Savior condemned the error of the Sadducees, which partly consisted, as Luke states in the Acts, (Acts 23:8,) in denying the existence of spirit, The words are, “The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all these.” I fear they will cavil, and say that the words must be understood of the Holy Spirit or of angels. But this objection is easily met. He both mentioned the angels separately; and it is certain that those Pharisees had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. This will be still better understood by those who know Greek. Luke uses the term πνευμα without adding the article, which he certainly would have added had he been speaking of the Holy Spirit.

If this does not stop their mouths, I do not see by what argument they can either be led or drawn, unless they choose to say that the opinion of the Sadducees, in denying spirit, was not condemned, or that of the Pharisees, in asserting it, approved. This quibble is met by the very words of the Evangelist: for, after stating Paul’s confession, “I am a Pharisee,” he adds this opinion held by the Pharisees. We must therefore either say that Paul used a crafty and malicious pretence, (this could not be, in a confession of faith!) or that he held with the Pharisees on the subject of spirit. But if we give credit to History, (Eccl. Hist., c. 4: cap. 13,) this belief among the Apostles was as firm and certain as that of The Resurrection of the Dead, or any other leading article of our faith. It will not be out of place here to quote the words, of Polycarp, a man breathing the spirit of a martyr in all his words and actions, (Hist. Eccl., cap. 19,) one who was a disciple of the Apostles, and so purely delivered what he heard from them to posterity, that he never allowed it to be in any degree adulterated. He, then, among many illustrious sayings which he uttered when brought to the stake, said, that on that day he was to appear before God in spirit. About the same time Melito, Bishop of Sardis, (Hist. Eccl., c. 24,) a man of like integrity, wrote a treatise, On Body and Soul. Were it now extant, our present labor would be superfluous: and so much did this belief prevail in a better age, that Tertullian places it among the common and primary conceptions of the mind which are commonly apprehended by nature. (Tertull. de Resurrect. Carnis.)

Although several arguments have already been advanced which, if I mistake not, establish the point for which I contend, viz., That the spirit or soul of man is a substance distinct from the body, what is now to be added will make the point still more certain. For I come to The Second Head, which I propose to discuss, viz., THAT THE SOUL, AFTER THE DEATH OF THE BODY, STILL SURVIVES, ENDUED WITH SENSE AND INTELLECT. And it is a mistake to suppose that I am here affirming anything else than THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL. For those who admit that the soul lives, and yet deprive it of all sense, feign a soul which has none of the properties of soul, or dissever the soul from itself, seeing that its nature, without which it cannot possibly exist, is to move, to feel, to be vigorous, to understand. As Tertullian says, “The soul of the soul is perception.” (Lib. de Carne Christi.)

Let us now learn this IMMORTALITY from Scripture. When Christ exhorts his followers not to fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul, but to fear him who, after he hath killed the body, is able to cast the soul into the fire of Gehenna, (Matthew 10:28,) does he not intimate that the soul survives death? Graciously, therefore, has the Lord acted towards us, in not leaving our souls to the disposal of those who make no scruple of butchering them, or at least attempt it, but without the ability to do so. Tyrants torture, maim, burn, scourge., and hang, but it is only the body! It is God alone who has power over the soul, and can send it into hell fire. Either, therefore, the soul survives the body, or it is false to say that tyrants have no power over the soul! I hear them reply, that the soul is indeed slain for the present when death is inflicted, but does not perish, inasmuch as it will be raised again. When they would escape in this way, they must grant that neither is the body slain, since it too will rise; and because both are preserved against the day of judgment, neither perishes! But the words of Christ admit that the body is killed, and testify at the same time that the soul is safe. This form of expression Christ uses when he says, (John 2:19,) “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He was speaking of the temple of his body. In like manner he exempts it from their power, when, in dying, he commends it into his Father’s hands, as Luke writes, and David had foretold. (Luke 23:4,6; Psalm 31:6.) And Stephen, after his example, says “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” (Acts 7:59.) Here they absurdly pretend that Christ commends his life to his Father, and Stephen his to Christ, to be kept against the day of Resurrection. But the words, especially those of Stephen, imply something very different from this. And the Evangelist adds, concerning Christ, that having bowed his head, he delivered his spirit. (John 19:30.) These words cannot refer to panting or action of the lungs.

Not less evidently does the Apostle Peter show that, After death, the soul both exists and lives, when he says (1 Peter 1:19) that Christ preached to the spirits in prison, not merely forgiveness for salvation to the spirits of the righteous, but also confusion to the spirits of the wicked. For so I interpret the passage, which has puzzled many minds; and I am confident that, under favorable auspices, I will make good my interpretation. For after he had spoken of the humiliation of the cross of Christ, and shown that all the righteous must be conformed to his image, he immediately thereafter, to prevent them from falling into despair, makes mention of the Resurrection, to teach them how their tribulations were to end. For he states that Christ did not fall under death, but, subduing it, came forth victorious. He indeed says in words, that he was

“put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit,” –1 Peter 3:18

…but just in the same sense in which Paul says that he suffered in the humiliation of the flesh, but was raised by the power of the Spirit. Now, in order that believers might understand that the power belongs to them also, he subjoins that Christ exerted this power in regard to others, and not only towards the living, but also towards the dead; and, moreover, not only towards his servants, but also towards unbelievers and the despisers of his grace.

The meaning of the Apostle will therefore be, that Christ in spirit preached to those other spirits who were in prison—in other words, that the virtue of the redemption obtained by Christ appeared and was exhibited to the spirits of the dead. Now, there is a want of the other member which related to the pious, who acknowledged and received this benefit; but it is complete in regard to unbelievers, who received this announcement to their confusion. For when they saw but one redemption, from which they were excluded, what could they do but despair? I hear our opponents muttering, and saying that this is a gloss of my own invention, and that such authority does not bind them. I have no wish to bind them to my authority, I only ask them whether or not the spirits shut up in prison are spirits? There is another clearer passage in the same writer, when he says (1 Peter 4:6) that the gospel was preached to the dead, in order that they may be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. You see how, while the flesh is delivered over to death, life is claimed for the spirit. A relation is expressed between life and death, and, by antithesis, the one dies and the other lives.

We learn the same thing from Solomon, when describing man’s death, he makes a wide difference between the soul and the body. He says,

“Until the dust return to the earth whence it was, and the spirit return to God who gave it.” –Ecclesiastes 12:7

What Holiness Is This?

Taken from, “The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or  
HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness.”
Written by Thomas Brooks
Edited for thought and sense.

walking-in-holiness

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
–Hebrews 12:14

I remember a saying of golden-mouthed Chrysostom…

“If I were,” said he, “the fittest man in the world to preach a sermon to the whole world, gathered together in one congregation, and had some high mountain for my pulpit, from whence I might have a prospect of all the world in my view, and were furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as loud as the trumpet of the archangel, that all the world might hear me; I would choose to preach on no other text than that in Psalm 4:2, O mortal men, how long will you love vanity, and pursue a lie?” So I say, had I Chrysostom’s tongue, head, and heart, and were I every way advantaged to preach a sermon to the whole world, I would choose to preach on this text before any other in the Bible, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Beloved! the salvation of souls is that which should be first and most in a minister’s eye, and that which should always lie closest and warmest upon a minister’s heart. O sirs! our dear Lord Jesus was infinitely tender of the souls of men. He left his Father’s bosom for souls; he trod the wine-press of his Father’s wrath for souls; he prayed for souls; he paid for souls; he sweat for souls; he bled out his heart’s blood for souls; and he made himself an offering for souls! [Isaiah 63:3; John 17:22; Luke 4:24; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-20; Heb. 9:12-15.] Oh, what an encouragement should this be to all his faithful messengers to woo for souls, to mourn for souls, to pray for souls, to study for souls, and in preaching to spend and to be spent for the salvation of souls! Ah, friends, there is no work nor wisdom on earth compared to that of winning souls, “he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30. There is no art, no industry to that of winning souls, of “taking” souls, as fowlers take birds, as the Hebrew word imports. Now, though there is a great deal of art required to take birds—yet there is ten thousand times more are required to take souls. In a word, to convert a soul is a greater work than to sway a scepter, or than it is to pour out millions into the baskets of the poor.

My design in choosing this text is the winning of souls, it is the salvation of souls, it is the bringing in and building up of souls. I have read of Louis the Ninth, king of France, that he was found instructing his poor kitchen-boy in the way to heaven; and being asked the reason of it, he answered, “The poorest has a soul as precious as my own, and bought by the same blood of Christ.” He who paid the price of souls, has long since told us that a soul is more worth than a world, Mat. 16:26. That I may catch some poor soul or other by a holy craft, 2 Cor. 12:16, and establish and strengthen others in the love and liking of holiness, and in the power and practice of holiness, I have cast my thoughts upon this scripture.

But to draw nearer to my text.

As no means has more populated hell than beautiful faces, so no means has more enriched heaven than the beauty of holiness. Now that I may discover the necessity, beauty, rarity, and excellency of holiness, I have chosen this text, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” I shall give a little light into the words, and then come to that main point I intend to engage in.

“Follow peace with all men.” The Greek word translated follow, signifies to pursue and press after peace, as the persecutor pursues and presses after him he persecutes. It notes an earnest, an eager, an affectionate, and an incessant pressing and following after peace with all men: Psalm 34:14, “Seek peace, and pursue it.” [The very name of peace is sweet.] Here the Hebrew word translated seek, signifies to “seek earnestly,” vehemently, studiously, industriously. Thus peace with God, and peace with conscience, and peace with men must be sought. “Seek peace and pursue it.” The word translated pursue, signifies an “earnest pursuit.” It is a metaphor taken from the earnestness of wild beasts, or ravenous fowl, which will run or fly fast and far, eagerly and unweariedly, rather than be disappointed of their prey.

Though Christians meet with many encumbrances and hindrances—yet peace must be resolutely pursued. The Spirit of God is a Spirit of peace, and God delights to be styled the God of peace, and Christ chooses to be the Prince of peace, and King of Salem, that is, King of peace. [Gal. 5:22; 2 Cor. 13:11; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Heb. 1:2.] Where peace is, there is Christ, because Christ is peace. Therefore let all who are interested in Christ pursue after peace. But this is not the point that I have in my eye at this time. I shall hasten to it. “With all men;” that is, with all orders, ranks, and sorts of men.

“And holiness,” etc. [A man may be miserable under peace—but never under holiness.] We must so pursue after peace in such a way—as that we do not neglect holiness for peace sake. Better is holiness without peace, than peace without holiness. Holiness differs nothing from happiness but in name. Holiness is happiness in the bud, and happiness is holiness at the full. Happiness is nothing but the quintessence of holiness. A man were better be holy in hell, than unholy in heaven. Holiness would make hell to be no hell, as the fire was no fire to those holy worthies, Dan. 27. Look! as unholiness would make heaven to be no heaven, yes, turn a heaven into a very hell, so holiness would turn a hell into a very heaven. What holiness this is in the text, I shall discover to you in the opening of that point I intend to engage in.

“Without which no man.” This expression is exclusive, “no man,” be he rich or poor, high or low, honorable or base, young or old, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, under one form or another, etc.

“Shall see the Lord.” To “see,” in the Hebrew phrase, is ordinarily used to “enjoy:” Psalm 4:6, “Who will show us any good?” The word in the Hebrew is from to “see,” “Who will make us to see any good?” that is, to enjoy any good. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord;” that is, without holiness no man shall ever come to a blessed, to a glorious fruition and enjoyment of the Lord. There was once a holy man [Chrysostom] who professed that the lack of the enjoyment of God would be a far greater hell to him than the feeling of any punishment; and yet this great hell, everyone shall be sure to feel—who lives and dies without holiness. The Jews say of holy Moses, that he died at the kisses of God’s mouth, and in divine embraces, Psalm 37:37. When a man of holiness dies, he shall be sure to die in divine embraces, and live forever in divine embraces.

When Socrates was to die, he comforted himself with this—that he would go to a place where he would enjoy Homer and Musaeus, and other worthies who lived before him. But ah, what an unspeakable comfort is this to a holy man when he comes to die—to consider that he is going to a place where he shall see the Lord, not as now, through a glass darkly—but in all his heavenly resplendency, and in all his divine embroidery and bespangled glory! 1 Cor. 13:12. And let this suffice for the opening of the words.

What is this holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord”?

First, There is a LEGAL holiness. Now a legal holiness consists in an exact, perfect, and complete conformity in heart and life to the whole revealed will of God—and this was the holiness that Adam had in his innocency; and this holiness was immediately derived from God, and was perfect. Adam knew the will of God perfectly, so far as it was revealed to him, and had a divine principle in him of perfect conformity to that blessed will. Adam’s holiness was as natural to him, as unholiness is now to us; and had he stood fast in that glorious condition, we would have all been as naturally holy from the womb, as now we are sinful. Adam’s holiness was as natural, and as pleasing, and as delightful to him, as any way of unholiness can be natural, pleasing, and delightful unto us. But this holiness, which was Adam’s choicest sparkling gem of beauty, and his weightiest crown of glory, is by Satan’s policy long since fallen off from Adam’s head, Psalm 51:5.
Now if this legal holiness were the holiness meant in the text, then woe to every man who ever was born; for then no man would ever see the Lord, Romans 3:10. For by Adam’s fall all men are gone out of the way, and there is none legally righteous, no not one. Now if we look upon man as fallen from that holiness which was his greatest honor, dignity, and excellency—he has become a pile of dust, a puff of wind; a dream; a shadow; a puff of smoke; a poor silly flea, a worm, a debased soul, a curious nothing. Yes, man having fallen from his primitive glory, has become altogether vanity, says the prophet: Psalm 39:5, “Truly, every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” “Truly;” this asseveration is only used in matters of greatest weight and importance, and notes the reality and certainty of the things delivered. Every man, ["all Adam"] or every son of Adam; not some man—but every man at his best state, that is, in his most settled and composed condition, when he is best constituted and underlaid, when he stands a-tiptoe, and is in the height and perfection of all creature comforts and contentments, is altogether, not in some measure—but altogether, vanity—all vanity. Since the fall of Adam every natural man in his best estate is vanity; nay, every man is every vanity. Imagine whatever vanity you will, fallen man is that. He is a comprehensive vanity—he is an epitome of all vanity.

Man in honor, before his fall, was the best of creatures; but since his fall, he has become the worst of creatures. By his fall he is fallen below the very beasts which perish, Isaiah 1:3-4; Proverbs 6:6; Jer. 8:7; Mat. 6:26. He who was once the image of God, the glory of paradise, the world’s ruler, and the Lord’s darling—has now become a burden to heaven, a burden to himself, and a slave to others, etc., which made one cry out— “Oh, what is man?

By all which you may easily perceive how far we are off from that legal holiness that Adam had in innocency. Rabbi Solomon makes Adam so high, that he touched heaven with his head. I shall not dispute the certainty of that; but certainly the higher he was in holiness, the greater was his fall, and ours in him. This legal holiness was so lost in Adam, that no son of Adam could ever find it since Adam fell; and if this were the holiness without which no man should ever see the Lord, then farewell forever to all the sons of Adam. But this legal holiness is not the holiness in the text.

Secondly, There is an IMAGINARY holiness, a conceited holiness, an opinionative holiness. Proverbs 30:12, “There is a generation which is pure in their own eyes—and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” They were very bad—and yet they had a great opinion of their own goodness. They were very filthy—and yet they stood very much upon their own purity. Their hands were black, their hearts were black, their works were black, and their ways were as black as hell—and yet they were pure in their own eye. They were filthy within, and filthy without; filthy in body, and filthy in soul, and filthy in spirit. Filthiness had quite overspread them—and yet they thought to cover their filthiness with a mask of holiness. The worst men are commonly best conceited of themselves.

Ah, friends, there has been never been a generation wherein there has not been such a generation of men who have wallowed in sin like swine in the mire—and yet have kept up in themselves a strong opinion of their own goodness and holiness. This generation had neither their souls nor consciences washed in the blood of Christ, nor sanctified by the Spirit of Christ—and yet they gloried in their conceited purity and holiness, as if they had been purified by Christ. There are many who are shining Christians, who are pure golden Christians in their own eyes, who are viler than dross, yes, than smoke in God’s eyes: Isaiah 65:5, “Stand by yourself, come not near to me; for I am holier than you: these are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burns all the day.” They were very licentious, very ungracious, very rebellious, very superstitious, very idolatrous, (ver. 2-4,) and yet counted themselves very pious. They were worse than others—and yet thought themselves better than others; they were very bad—and yet judged themselves very good. They were more impure, more profane, and more polluted than others—and yet they reckon themselves more pure and holier than others; they stand upon their comparative goodnesses—and yet at the same time are charged by God of the greatest wickedness.

And thus their kinsmen the Pharisees stand upon their images, fraudulent appearances and outward dresses of holiness, when at the same time they practiced the worst of wickedness, Mat. 23:5; Luke 18:11-12; so those in Hosea 12:8, “They will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” Ephraim’s iniquities were grown over his head, as may be seen throughout this whole prophecy—and yet Ephraim cannot bear the being charged with iniquity. Though he was notoriously guilty of the highest crimes—yet he would have you to know that he was free of sin, and clear of sin. Ephraim could give good words, when his works were abominable; he could pretend much to innocency, when he was guilty of the greatest impiety. But though Ephraim had his cloak at hand—yet it was too short to cover his sin; for God saw it, and condemned him for it.

Chrysostom does elegantly set forth the blindness and brutishness of such people. “When they lie in the mire,” says he, they think they are besmeared with some sweet ointments; when they are full of vermin, they vaunt themselves, as if they were adorned with precious stones.” And so the Laodiceans were of the same temper of spirit: Rev. 3:17, “Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” They had a great opinion of their own goodness, worth, and excellent state, having need of nothing, when they had nothing of a Christian in them.

You say you are “rich;” ay—but you do but say so. You boast and brag of your riches, as many proud beggars do of that wealth they have not. For all you deem yourself rich—you are but poor and beggarly. It is man’s sin and judgment, that ever since he ceased to be what he should be, he strives to seem to be what he is not. You say you are “increased with goods, and need nothing;” ay—but you do but say so, you do but dream it is so: for you are ignorant of your own wretched and lamentable estate. You say you are rich—but I know you are poor and beggarly. If a grain of grace would save your life, your soul, your family, nay, the whole world—you have it not.

“You say you see”; but you are blind, you are destitute of spiritual eyesight; you see not your own wants, nor Christ’s worth; your own emptiness, nor Christ’s fullness; your own sinfulness, nor Christ’s holiness; your own poverty, nor Christ’s riches and plenty; your own misery, nor Christ’s mercy; your own insufficiency, nor Christ’s all-sufficiency; your own vanity, nor Christ’s glory, etc. Many know much—but few know themselves, or their own danger, infelicity, or misery; and indeed no misery can be compared to this.

The Chinese used to say of themselves, that all other nations of the world did see but with one eye, they only with two; and of this spirit and temper were those blind Laodiceans. They thought they knew all things, when they knew nothing that they should, nor as they should.

By all which you may see that there is an imaginary holiness, a conceited holiness, where there is no real holiness; but an imaginary holiness will bring a man but to an imaginary blessedness; a conceited holiness will bring a man but to a conceited happiness; he who does but dream that he is holy, he does but dream that he shall be happy.

Bastards of old were not to inherit…

…but to be thrust out from among the true heirs: Gen. 21:10; Judges 11:1-2, “Now Jephthah of Gilead was a great warrior. He was the son of Gilead, but his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife also had several sons, and when these half brothers grew up, they chased Jephthah off the land. “You will not get any of our father’s inheritance,” they said, “for you are the son of a prostitute.” Ah, sirs, you who are but bastard Christians, bastard professors, bastard believers, bastard saints, you shall never inherit among the heirs of glory—but shall be thrust out forever from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power, and thrust into utter darkness, because you have pleased yourselves, and satisfied your spirits, and blessed your souls in a bastard holiness, in a conceited holiness, 2 Thes. 1:8-9; Mat. 8:12, and 22:13; Deut. 23:2, “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” He shall have no fellowship nor communion with the people of God; the door of admission shall be shut upon him. The foolish virgins had but a bastard holiness, a conceited holiness, an outward dress of holiness; and therefore the door of life, the door of hope, the door of help, the door of grace, the door of mercy, the door of glory was shut upon them, Mat. 25:10-12, 7:21-23. William the Conqueror was much slighted and scorned because he was a bastard. God and his people will slight such, and scorn such, and turn their backs at last upon such, who have no more than a bastardly holiness; and therefore this cannot be the holiness here meant.

Thirdly, There is an outward, EXTERNAL, visible holiness, which includes men’s freedom from scandalous vices, and their ordinary performance of religious duties. Now, in this sense, Zacharias and Elizabeth were both holy people: for they “walked in all the commandments and ordinances of God blameless.” [Luke 1:5, 6. Their life was such as none could justly complain of it. It was irreprehensible; it could not be reprehended.] And so the apostles, 1 Thes. 2:10, “For you are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you who believe.” Answerable to this, is that of the apostle in 2 Cor. 1:12, “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.” These precious souls behaved themselves holily towards God, justly towards the world, and unblamably towards believers. They were holy in religious work, they were just in their civil affairs and commerce, and unblamably in their private behavior among their familiar and most bosom friends.

And this is that holiness which the apostle presses upon Christians in Phil. 2:15, “That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,” (or unblemished,) “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Christians must be the spotless sons of God: they must have no spots upon them, which are inconsistent with sonship or saintship, Deut. 32:5. Now it is certain, without this outward visible holiness there is no happiness, there is no fruition of God in everlasting blessedness. Those who pretend their hearts are as good as the best, when their lives are as bad as the worst, shall experience this truth at last to their shame and cost, that without visible holiness here, there can be no fruition of God hereafter.

Yet this must be granted—that a man may be visibly holy—who is not inwardly holy, 2 Tim. 2:5. A man may be outwardly holy—who is not throughout holy. A man may have an outward dress of holiness upon him—who has not the spirit and vitals of holiness in him. [They say of Halifax nuts, that they are all shells—no kernels. There are many who make a glorious show before men—who are abominable in the sight of God, Luke 16:15, who are gold in man's eyes, dirt in God's sight.] As Judas had, and Simon Magus had, and Demas had, and the Scribes and Pharisees had: Mat. 23:25, 27, 28, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter—but within they are full of extortion and excess. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward—but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men—but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” They were outwardly religious—but inwardly wicked; they had the semblance of sanctity—but inwardly very full of impurity; they were fair professors—but foul sinners; they were gracious without—but impious within. Look! as those are the worst of vices which are covered over with the show of virtue; so they are the worst of sinners, who cover over their inward filthiness with the disguises of outward holiness.

The Egyptian temples were fair without—but foul and filthy within. Such were the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ’s days, and such are many professors in our days. It is said of Dionysius the tyrant, that though he loved not the philosophers—yet he would wrap himself up in their cloaks, that men might have the better opinion of him. Just so, there are many who put on an outward dress of holiness, who wrap themselves up in the cloak of holiness—so that others may take them for holy people—and yet they love not holiness, they have nothing of real holiness in them. “As he is not a Jew which is one outwardly,” but not inwardly, Romans 2:28, 29, and 4:12; so he is not a holy person who is only so outwardly—but not inwardly; who has the name of holiness upon him—but has no principles of holiness in him. Though without outward visible holiness no man shall see the Lord; yet a man may have an outward visible holiness—who shall never see the Lord in happiness.

“I hate him even to hell,” says the heathen in Homer, “who says one thing with his mouth, and thinks another thing in his heart.” So God will at last hate that man to hell, yes, cast him into the hottest place in hell—who has a form of godliness upon him—but nothing of the reality and power of holiness in him. Outward holiness is good—but it must be throughout holiness which will do a man good to all eternity. [Mat. 23:14; 2 Tim. 3:5; 1 Cor. 7:18; Phil. 3:3; Gal. 5:6, and 6:15.] It is not the show of holiness, but the substance of holiness which will bring a man to everlasting happiness. Mere outward holiness will certainly leave a man short of heaven and happiness; but throughout holiness will certainly lodge the soul in the bosom of God forever.
It is true, all men reach not to an outward holiness, which made Athanasius wish, “Would to God that all were hypocrites!” Without all question, it is a very desirable thing that all were outwardly holy; yet all who reach to this, must go farther, or else they will sit down on this side happiness: Mat. 5:20, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Now they were much in works of piety, in works of charity, in works of equity, and in works of courtesy, by which means they gained so much admiration from the people, that it was commonly thought among them, that if there were but two of all the world who should go to heaven—the one should be a Scribe, and the other a Pharisee. Yet your righteousness must exceed theirs, or the gates of glory will be shut upon you! Their righteousness and holiness was only external, not internal; it was partial, not universal; it was rather circumstantial than substantial—and therefore heaven’s doors were double-bolted against them. Heaven is for that man, and that man is for heaven, that is not only outwardly holy—but throughout holy.

4. Fourthly, There is a RELATIVE holiness. Now relative holiness is a special relation which people or things have unto God. Relative holiness includes two things—

First, A SEPARATION of people or things from common use. And thus, in the law those things were called holy which were separated from common use and set apart for the worship and service of God—such as the holy oil, show-bread, first-fruits, incense, altars, vestments; and in this sense the priests and Levites were called holy, because they were separated from others to serve in the tabernacle; [Deut. 19:2; 1 Kings 8:35; Ezra 8:28, and 10:11; Isaiah 63:18.] and in this sense the people of Israel are frequently called a sanctified people, a holy people, etc. The Greek word corresponds to the Hebrew word, which commonly signifies that which is appropriated to a holy use; and this is the proper notion of holiness in the Old and New Testament, as I might show you out of some hundred places of scripture.

Now certainly, without this holiness of special separation from the common sinful lifestyles of the world, there is no seeing of God, nor any fruition of God hereafter: 2 Cor. 6:17-18, “Therefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” God will have no communion with any in this world who are not separated from the sinful practices of the world. God will look upon none, he will own none, he will delight in none, he will acknowledge none, he will receive none for his sons and daughters—but such as are separated from all evil vices and unholy lifestyles. Suitable to this is Isaiah 52:11, “Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” Estrange yourselves from those who are estranged from God; have nothing to do with those who have nothing to do with God; separate yourselves from those who have separated themselves from God; have no delightful converse with those who have no delightful converse with God; have no bosom communion with those who have no bosom communion with God. [Cicero, though heathen, had rather have no companion than a bad one.]

O sirs, you are to keep yourselves as pure and clean from others’ defilements—as you would keep yourselves free from others’ punishments. He who will imitate others in their sins—shall certainly participate with others in their sorrows. It is true we may live with wicked men in their cities—but it is as true, that we must not lie with wicked men in their enormities. There are many professors who are, like the planet Mercury, good in conjunction with those who are good, and bad with those who are bad; but these wound many at once—God, Christ, the gospel, and their own credits and consciences. These put virtue to an open shame; and these are deservedly to be shamed by your separating from them, and by your renouncing all intimate communion or fellowship with them. But,

Secondly, As relative holiness takes in a separation of people or things from common use—so it also takes in a DEDICATION and devoting of them to a holy use. And thus the Nazarites, Temple, Mount Zion, the Sabbath-day, and other festival days are said to be holy under the law. [So Christ is said to sanctify himself, when he dedicated himself to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people, etc.] In short, the whole Jewish religion did lie in holy times, holy places, holy people, and holy things. And certainly without this holiness, without this dedicating of ourselves to God—we shall never come to a glorious fruition of God. He who does not dedicate himself really to God, wholly to God, only to God, and always to God on earth—shall never come to a sight and vision of God in heaven. If we do not give up ourselves to God, God will never give up himself to us: Hosea 3:3, “You must live with me many days. Don’t be promiscuous or belong to any man, and I will act the same way toward you.” God will be only theirs who are really his—but he will be altogether theirs who are wholly his; he will only be a husband to those who dedicate themselves to him, as a wife does to her husband. He will devote himself to those—who devote themselves him. He will avouch himself to be theirs—who avouch themselves to be his: Deut. 26:17-19, “You have declared today that the Lord is your God. You have promised to obey his laws, commands, and regulations by walking in his ways and doing everything he tells you. The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will make you greater than any other nation. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.” 

God will resign himself up to those who resign themselves up to him; he will give up himself to those who have given up their names and their hearts to him; he will bestow himself as the pearl of greatest price, upon those who shall make a surrender of themselves to him. [That is an apt saying of Tertullian, That is a good trade, when something is parted with to gain more.] There is no way to be higher than others, happier than others, more noble and honorable than others, than by making a dedication-gift of ourselves to God. He who dedicates himself to God, dedicates all; he who does not dedicate himself, dedicates nothing at all. What Aeschines once said to Socrates, “Others, said he, give you gold, silver, jewels—but I give you myself,” that must a Christian say to his God, “Ah, Lord! there are some who give you their lips—but I give you my heart; others give you good words, good expressions—but I give you the best of my affections; others give you a few cold prayers—but I give you my whole soul; and had I as many hearts in my body as I have hairs on my head, I would give them all to you—for you are worthy, you alone are worthy!”

What the king of Israel once said to the king of Syria, “I am yours—and all that I have,” 1 Kings 20:4; that must a Christian say to his Christ, “I am yours, O Lord—and all that I have.” A Christian must cry out with Bernard who cried, “Lord, I have two mites—a soul and a body—and I give them both to you.” And this was the honor and commendations of the Macedonians, that they gave up themselves to the Lord, 2 Cor. 8:5. Having no better present at hand, they present themselves to God. Certainly there is no present more honorable, delectable, and acceptable to God—than this of giving up ourselves to God, Romans 12:1. Well, remember this: that man was never really holy that is not relatively holy; nor that man will never be really happy—who is not relatively holy. Without relative holiness there will be no vision of God in everlasting happiness. We must be separated from the corruptions and pollutions of the world, and we must dedicate ourselves to God—or we shall never come to a future fruition of God. But,

5. Fifthly, There is an IMPUTED holiness—and that is the holiness of Christ imputed to us. [Consult these scriptures, Luke 1:35; Mark 1:24; Heb. 7:26; Romans 5:19; Col. 1:22; Romans 2:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21-22; Gal. 3:13; Jer. 23:6.] To prevent mistakes, please to take notice that there is a twofold holiness in Christ: first, there is his essential and personal holiness—as he is God. Now this essential holiness of Christ cannot be imparted nor imputed to any mortal man; it is essential to him. Secondly, there is his mediatorial holiness, or that holiness which he wrought for us as Mediator. Now the holiness of Christ as Mediator consist both in the habitual holiness of his person, in the absence of all sin, and in the rich and plentiful presence of all holy and supernatural qualities, as also in the actual holiness of his life and death. By his active obedience—that is, by his subjecting of his heart and life to divine precepts—he perfectly fulfilled the commands of the law. And by his passive obedience—that is, his voluntary sufferings—he fully satisfied the penalties and curses of the law. Now this mediatorial holiness of Christ’s is ours by imputation, and by virtue of which we stand justified in the sight of God: 1 Cor. 1:30, “But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” This mediatorial holiness of Christ, reckoned unto a believing sinner, is that whereby he is constituted holy; and upon this account they are said to be “all fair,” Cant. 4:7; to be “without spot or wrinkle,” Eph. 5:25-27; to be “complete in him,” Col. 2:10; and to be “without fault before the throne of God,” Rev. 14:4-5. And certainly, without this mediatorial holiness of Christ—there is no appearing before God, there is no glorious vision nor fruition of God. God is a God of such infinite purity and holiness, that no holiness below the imputed holiness of Christ can make a man stand before him, or bring a man to the fruition of him, Hab. 1:13.

It was a very sweet and excellent saying of Bernard, when in his own opinion he was at the point of death: “I confess, said he, I am not worthy, I have no merits of my own to obtain heaven by: but my Lord had a double right thereunto; a hereditary right as a Son, and a meritorious right as a sacrifice. He was contented with the one right himself; the other right he has given unto me, by the virtue of which gift I do rightly lay claim unto it, and am not confounded.’

Though we cannot lay claim to heaven, nor to a blessed fruition of God by any inherent holiness in us—it being weak and imperfect—yet we may lay claim to both—by the mediatorial holiness of Christ imputed to us. As Christ’s essential holiness gives him a hereditary right to everlasting happiness; so his mediatorial holiness gives us a right to everlasting blessedness. The costly cloak of Alcisthenes, which Dionysius sold to the Carthaginians for a great price, was but a poor and beggarly rag, compared to that embroidered royal robe of Christ’s mediatorial holiness, which is imputed or reckoned to us. And therefore, as ever you would come to a vision of God in happiness, you must labor to be interested by faith in Christ’s mediatorial holiness. But,
6. Sixthly and lastly, There is an inherent, INTERNAL, qualitative holiness. [ Holiness is not any single grace alone—but a conjunction, a constellation of all graces together.] Now this inherent holiness lies in two things.

(1.) First, In the infusing of holy principles, divine qualities, or supernatural graces into the soul, such as the apostle mentions in Gal. 5:22-23, ” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These habits of grace, are nothing else but the new nature, or “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Eph. 4:24. These seeds of holiness, these habits of grace, are those sweet ointments with which all must be anointed, who shall ever come to a blessed sight or vision of God, 1 John 3:9; 2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 27. You may know much of God, you may hear much of God, you may talk much of God, and you may boast much of your hopes and saving interest in God—and yet without these habits of holiness you shall never come to a blessed fruition of God in happiness; without these seeds of holiness you shall never reap a crop of blessedness. But,
(2.) Secondly, This inherent, this qualitative holiness, lies in a holy use and exercise of those supernatural graces in a way of holy walking. [Acts 10:35; 1 John 1:3, 7; Titus 2:12; Luke 1:73; 2 Pet. 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; Isaiah 35:8] All holy habits must be brought forth into holy acts. All gracious habits must be attended with gracious motions, gracious operations, and a gracious life. Outward works must be suitable to inward habits. It is with spiritual habits as it is with natural habits—the more they are acted and exercised, the more they are increased and strengthened. Holy habits are golden talents that must be employed and improved. Gracious habits are the candles of the Lord set up in us; and God has set up those candles of heaven not to idle by, not to sleep by—but to work by, and to walk by. Where there is holiness of disposition, there must be, nay there will be—holiness of conversation. A holy heart is always attended with a holy life.

You may separate a man from his friend—but you can never separate, though you may distinguish, acts of holiness from the habits of holiness. Now it is certain, without this holiness, you shall never come to a sight or fruition of God in happiness. [Where there are the seeds of holiness, there will be the flowers of holiness.] And thus I have showed you what that holiness is, without which there is no hope, no possibility of ever seeing the Lord.

Man’s Need for Reconciliation

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine of Reconciliation.”
Edited for thought and sense.
Written by A. W. Pink.

[Yesterday, I was dialoging with a young lady who sincerely believed that Jesus did not die for man's reconciliation to God. Apparently, God woke up one morning and decided that he was no longer mad at man, and eureka, --if anybody wants to be saved climb on board! It wasn't even a Gospel train that they had to join, for anybody believing anything could be included. All that mattered, according to her, was if "they deep down had a good heart." For historic Christianity, however, the reconciliation of man involves much more than God waking up in a good mood, and man, deep down having a good heart. Here, Pink begins to lay out the need for mans' reconciliation, and the greatness of the breach that Adam caused. I think that it is important to review once in a while, from where we have come, and our need of a Savior. --MWP]

abundant-life-christ

The word reconciliation means to unite two parties who are estranged.

It denotes that one has given offense and the other has taken umbrage or is displeased by it, in consequence of which there is a breach between them. Instead of friendship there is a state of hostility existing, instead of amity there is enmity, which results in separation and alienation between them. This it is which makes manifest the need for peace to be made between the estranged parties, that the wrong may be righted, the cause of the displeasure be removed, the ill-feeling cease, the breach be healed and reconciliation accomplished. The parties at variance are man and God. Man has grievously offended the Most High. He has cast off allegiance to Him, revolted from Him, despised His authority, trampled upon His commandments. The enormity of such an offense it is impossible for us to fully conceive. The heinousness of it can only be measured by the exalted dignity of the One against whom it is committed. It has been committed against the Almighty against One who is infinite in majesty, infinite in excellency, infinite in His sovereign rights over the creature of His own hands; and

The original offense was committed by Adam in Eden…

…but that fearful transgression can only be rightly understood as we recognize that Adam acted there not as a private individual but as a public person. He was Divinely constituted to be not only the father but also the federal head of the human race. He stood as the legal representative of all mankind, so that in the sight of the Divine Law what he did they did, the one transacting on the behalf of the many. The whole human race was placed on probation in the person of the first man. His trial was their trial. While he stood they stood. While he retained the approbation of God and remained in fellowship with Him, they did the same. Had he survived the trial, had he fitly discharged his responsibility, had he continued in obedience to God, his obedience had been reckoned to their account, and they had entered into the reward which had been bestowed upon him. Contrariwise, if he failed and fell, they failed and fell in him. If he disobeyed God his disobedience is imputed unto all those whom he represented and the just but fearful curse pronounced upon him falls likewise on all.

The legal relation between Adam and his posterity may be illustrated thus. God did not deal with mankind as with a field of corn, where each stalk stands upon its own individual root; but He dealt with it as a tree, all the branches of which have one common root and trunk. If you strike with an axe at the root of a tree, the whole tree falls—not only the trunk, but also the branches and even the twigs on the branches. All wither and die. So it was with Adam in Eden. God permitted Satan to lay the axe at the root of humanity and when he fell all his posterity fell with him. At one fatal stroke Adam was severed from communion with his Maker, and as the consequence “death passed upon all men.”This is not a theory of human speculation but the fact that Adam was the federal head of the human race, that he did act and transact in a representative character, and that the judicial consequences of his act was imputed to all those for whom he stood, is clearly taught in Romans 5. “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all sinned”(v. 12). “Through the offense of one many be dead”(v. 15).”The judgment was by one to condemnation . . . By one man’s offense death reigned . . . By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation . . . By one man ‘s offense many were made sinners” (verses. 16, 17, 18, 19). Such repetition and emphasis intimates the basic importance of the truth here revealed and also hints at our slowness or rather reluctance to receive the same. The meaning of these declarations is too plain for any unprejudiced mind to misunderstand. It pleased God to deal with the human race as represented in and by Adam. “In Adam all die”(1 Cor. 15:22).

Here, then, we learn what is the formal ground of man’s judicial condemnation before God.

The popular idea of what it is which renders man a sinner in the sight of Heaven is altogether inadequate and erroneous. The prevailing conception is that a sinner is one who commits and practices sin. It is true that this is the character of the sinner, but it certainly is not that which primarily constitutes him such before the Divine Law. The truth is that every member of our race enters into this world a guilty sinner, alienated from God, before ever he commits a single transgression. It is not only that he possesses a depraved nature but that he is directly “under condemnation”the curse of the broken Law resting upon him, and from God he is “estranged from the womb”(Ps. 58:3). We are legally constituted sinners neither by what we are nor by what we are doing, but by the disobedience of our federal head, Adam. Adam acted not for himself alone, but for all who were to spring from him, so that his act, was a forensic act.

Here also is the only key which satisfactorily opens to us the meaning of human history and explains the universal prevalence of sin. The human race is suffering for the sin of Adam, or it is suffering for nothing at all. There is no escape from that alternative. This earth is the scene of a grim and awful tragedy. In it we behold misery and wretchedness, strife and hatred, pain and poverty, disease and death on every side. None escape the fearful entail. That “man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward”is an indisputable fact. But what is the explanation of it? Every effect must have a previous cause. If we are not being punished for Adam’s sin, then, coming into this world we are “children of wrath”(Eph. 2:3), beneath the Divine judgment, corrupt and defiled, on the broad road which leads to destruction, for nothing at all! Who would contend that this was better, more satisfactory, more illuminative, than the Scriptural explanation of our ruin? Genesis 3 alone explains why human history is written in the ink of sin and misery.

The objection that such an arrangement is unjust is invalid.

The principle of representation is a fundamental one in human society. The father is the legal head of his children during their minority. What he does binds the family. A business house is held responsible for the transactions of its agents. Every popular election illustrates the fact that a constituency will act through its representative and be bound by his acts. The heads of a state are vested with such authority that the treaties they make are binding upon the whole nation. This principle is so basic it cannot be set aside. Human affairs could not continue nor society exist without it. This is the method by which God has acted all through. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. The posterity of Canaan were cursed for the single transgression of their parent (Gen. 9), the whole of his family stoned for Achan’s sin (Joshua 7). Israel’s high priest acted on behalf of the whole nation.

Finally, let it be pointed out that the sinner’s salvation is made to depend upon this very same method. Beware, then, my reader, of quarreling with the justice of this principle of representation—the one standing for the many. On this principle we were wrecked, and by this principle only can we be rescued. If on the one hand, the disobedience of the first Adam was the judicial ground of our condemnation, on the other hand the obedience of the last Adam is the legal basis on which God justifies sinners. The substitution of Christ in the place of His people, the imputation of their sins to Him and of His righteousness to them, is the central fact of the Gospel. But the principle of being saved by what Another has done is only possible on the ground that we were lost through what another did. The two stand or fall together. If there had been no Covenant of Works there would have been no Covenant of Grace. If there had been no death in Adam there had been no life in Christ. 

Here, then, is the Divinely-revealed fact: “by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation”(Rom. 5:19). Here is cause of humiliation which few think about. We are members of an accursed race, the fallen children of a fallen parent, and as such we enter this world “alienated from the life of God”(Eph. 4:18), exposed to His judicial displeasure. In the day that Adam fell the frown of the Most High came upon His children. The holy nature of God abhorred the apostate race. The curse of His broken Law descended upon all of Adam’s posterity. It is only thus we can account for the universality of human depravity and suffering. The corruption of human nature which we inherit from our first parents is a great evil, for it is the source of all our personal sins. For God to allow this transmission of depravity is to inflict a punishment. But how can God punish all, unless all were guilty? The fact that all do share in this common punishment is proof that all sinned in Adam. 

We are very far from teaching here that the human race is suffering for an offense in which they had no part…

…that innocent creatures are being condemned for the action of another which could not fairly be laid to their account. Let it be clearly understood that God punishes none for Adam’s sin (if considering him as a private person), but only for his own sin in Adam. The whole human race had a federal standing in Adam. Not only was each of us seminally in his loins when God created him, but each of us was legally represented by him when God made with him the Covenant of Works. Adam acted and transacted in that Covenant as a public person, not simply as a private individual, but as the surety and sponsor of his race. The very fact that we continue breaking the Covenant of Works and disobeying the Law of God demonstrates our oneness with Adam under the Covenant.

It is nothing short of downright hypocrisy for us to murmur against the justice of this arrangement of constitution while we follow in the steps of Adam. If we have nothing to do with him and are not in bondage through him, why do we not repudiate him—refuse to sin, break the chain, stand out in opposition to him, and be holy? This brings us to the second chief count in the fearful indictment against us. We take sides with Adam. We perpetuate his evil course. We make him are exemplar. The life of the unregenerate is one unbroken curse of rebellion against God. There is no genuine submission to Him, no concern for His glory, no disinterested love for Him. Self-will is our governing principle and self-pleasing our goal. Whatever religious deference may apparently be shown God, it is rendered out of self-interest—either to curry favor with Him, or to appease His anger. The things of time and sense are preferred before Him, the lies of Satan are heeded rather than the Word of Truth, and instead of humbling ourselves before Him because of our original offense in Adam.

However unpalatable it may be to proud flesh and blood the fact is that the natural man is engaged in a warfare against God.

He hates the things God loves, and loves the things He hates. He scorns the things God enjoins and pursues the things He has forbidden. He is a rebel against the Divine government, refusing to be in subjection to the Divine will. The moment his own will is crossed by the dispensations of Providence he murmurs. He is unthankful for the mercies of which he is the daily recipient, and less mindful of the Hand that so freely ministers to him than the horse or the mule to the one who feeds him. He continually growls at his lot, constantly grumbles at the weather, and is a stranger to contentment. In short “the carnal mind is enmity against God and is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be”(Rom. 8:7). “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him”(1 Cor. 2:14)—contrary to his corrupted mind, at variance with his vitiated desires. “There is none that seeks after God”(Rom. 3:11).

There is then a breach—a real, a broad, a fearful breach—between God and man.

In the very nature of the cause it cannot be otherwise. That breach has been made by sin. God is holy, so holy that He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil and can not look on iniquity”(Hab. 1:13). Sin has given infinite offense unto God, for it is that “abominable thing”which He hates (Jer. 44:4). Sin is a species of spiritual anarchy, a defiance of the triune Jehovah. It is a saying in actions “Let us break Their bands, and cast away Their cords from us”(Ps. 2:3)—let us disregard the Divine laws and be lords of ourselves. Not only is sin highly obnoxious to the infinitely-pure nature of God, but it is flagrant affront to His government, being rebellion against it, and therefore as the moral Rector of the universe He declares His displeasure against the same “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”(Rom. 1:18)—an open display of which was made of old when the flood swept the earth clean.

Here then is the black background which discovers to us the need for reconciliation.

…”your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you”(Isa. 59:2). He is displeased with us and His justice cries out for our destruction. “They rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit; therefore He was turned to be their Enemy”(Isa. 63:10). Unspeakably solemn is that, the terrible import of which is utterly beyond our powers to conceive. That the great I am, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe has become man’s “Enemy”so that His anger burns against him. This was evidenced at the beginning, for right after God had arraigned the guilty culprits in Eden, we are told that “He drove out the man. And He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way—to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24). Man was now cut off from access to the One whom he had so grievously offended and turned to be his Enemy. 

How little is it realized that there is an immeasurable gulf between God and sinner. And little wonder that so few have even the vaguest idea of the same. All human religion is an attempt to gloss over this fearful fact. And with exceedingly rare exceptions the religion of present-day Christendom is but a studied effort to hide the awful truth that man has forfeited the favor of God and is barred from His holy presence, yea that “the Lord is far from the wicked”(Prov. 15:29). The religion of the day proceeds on the assumption that God is favorably disposed even unto those who spend most of their time trampling His commandments beneath their feet. That providing they will assume an outwardly devout demeanor, they have but to petition Him and their supplications are acceptable unto Him. Priests and parsons who encourage such a delusion are but throwing dust in the eyes of the people: “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord” (Prov. 15:8).

The religion of our day deliberately ignores the fact of sin, with its terrible implications and consequences.

It leaves out of sight that sin has radically changed the original relationship which existed between God and His creatures. It conceals the truth that man is outlawed by God and is “far off” (Eph. 2:11) from Him. It tacitly denies that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God”(Rom. 8:8), that He “hears not sinners”(John 9:3 1). Yea it insists that they can please Him with their hypocritical piety and sanctimonious playacting. But the Holy One cannot be deceived by their pretenses nor bribed by their offerings. Nor can they so much as draw nigh unto Him while they despise and reject the One who is the only Way of approach to Him. Make no mistake upon this point, my reader. Until that awful breach which sin has made be healed, you can have no fellowship with God; until He be reconciled to you and you to Him, He will accept nothing at your hands not can you obtain audience with Him. Unless reconciliation is effected you will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord”(2 Thess. 1:9)

The need for reconciliation is unmistakable.

A fearful breach exists, brought about by the entrance of sin, and continued by the perpetuation of man to God. Not only had man now forfeited His favor but he had incurred His wrath. God could no longer view him with approbation, but instead regarded him with detestation; while man ceased to be a loyal and loving subject, becoming a rebellious outlaw. And “what fellowship has righteousness with?”

“And what communion has light with darkness?” None. They are opposite, the one antagonistic to the other. That breach between God and man, between righteousness and unrighteousness, will be demonstrated in the distance between Heaven and Hell. Therefore did Christ represent Abraham as saying to Dives in the place of torment, “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they which would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us”(Luke 16:26).

It is only by God’s reconciliation to us and of our reconciliation to God the fearful breach can be healed. 

AS IT PERTAINS TO GOD: What do we mean when we use the word, FEAR ???

Excerpts taken and adapted from, “A Treatise on the Fear of God.”
Written by John Bunyan

fear_god

 

Of this word “fear,” AS IT RESPECTETH GOD HIMSELF, who is the object of our fear…

By this word fear, as I said, we are to understand God himself, who is the object of our fear: For the Divine majesty goes often under this very name himself. This name Jacob called him by, when he and Laban chided together on Mount Gilead, after that Jacob had made his escape to his father’s house; “Except,” said he, “the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had been with me, surely you would have sent me away now empty.” So again, a little after, when Jacob and Laban agree to make a covenant of peace each with other, though Laban, after the jumbling way of the heathen by his oath, puts the true God and the false together, yet “Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac” (Gen 31:42,53).[1]

By the fear, that is, by the God of his father Isaac. And, indeed, God may well be called the fear of his people, not only because they have by his grace made him the object of their fear, but because of the dread and terrible majesty that is in him. “He is a mighty God, a great and terrible, and with God is terrible majesty” (Dan 7:28, 10:17; Nehemiah 1:5, 4:14, 9:32; Job 37:22). Who knows the power of his anger? “The mountains quake at him, the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him” (Nahum 1:5, 6). His people know him, and have his dread upon them, by virtue whereof there is begot and maintained in them that godly awe and reverence of his majesty which is agreeable to their profession of him. “Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” Set his majesty before the eyes of your souls, and let his excellency make you afraid with godly fear (Isaiah 8:13).

There are these things that make God to be the fear of his people.

First. His presence is dreadful, and that not only his presence in common, but his special, yes, his most comfortable and joyous presence. When God comes to bring a soul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, that presence of God, is fearful. When Jacob went from Beersheba towards Haran, he met with God in the way by a dream, in the which he apprehended a ladder set upon the earth, whose top reached to heaven; now in this dream, from the top of this ladder, he saw the Lord, and heard him speak unto him, not threateningly; not as having his fury come up into his face; but in the most sweet and gracious manner, saluting him with promise of goodness after promise of goodness, to the number of eight or nine; as will appear if you read the place. Yet I say, when he awoke, all the grace that discovered itself in this heavenly vision to him could not keep him from dread and fear of God’s majesty. “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not’; and he was afraid and said, ‘How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’” (Genesis 28:10-17).

At another time, to wit, when Jacob had that memorable visit from God, in which he gave him power as a prince to prevail with him; yes, and gave him a name, that by his remembering it he might call God’s favor the better to his mind; yet even then and there such dread of the majesty of God was upon him, that he went away wondering that his life was preserved (Gen 32:30). Man crumbles to dust at the presence of God; yea, though he shows himself to us in his robes of salvation. We have read how dreadful and how terrible even the presence of angels have been unto men, and that when they have brought them good tidings from heaven (Judges 13:22; Matt 28:4; Mark 16:5, 6). Now, if angels, which are but creatures, are, through the glory that God has put upon them, so fearful and terrible in their appearance to men, how much more dreadful and terrible must God himself be to us, who are but dust and ashes! When Daniel had the vision of his salvation sent him from heaven, for so it was, “O Daniel,” said the messenger, “a man greatly beloved”; yet behold the dread and terror of the person speaking fell with that weight upon this good man’s soul, that he could not stand, nor bear up under it. He stood trembling, and cries out, “O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? For as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me” (Dan 10:16-17). See you here if the presence of God is not a dreadful and a fearful thing; yea, his most gracious and merciful appearances; how much more then when he shows himself to us as one that dislikes our ways, as one that is offended with us for our sins?

And there are three things that in an eminent manner make his presence dreadful to us.

1. The first is God’s own greatness and majesty.

…the discovery of this, or of himself thus, even as no poor mortals are able to conceive of him, is altogether unsupportable. The man dies to whom he thus discovers himself. “And when I saw him,” says John, “I fell at his feet as dead” (Rev 1:17). It was this, therefore, that Job would have avoided in the day that he would have approached unto him. “Let not thy dread,” says he, “make me afraid. Then call you, and I will Answerer; or let me speak, and Answerer you me” (Job 13:21, 22). But why doth Job after this manner thus speak to God? Why! It was from a sense that he had of the dreadful majesty of God, even the great and dreadful God that keeps covenant with his people. The presence of a king is dreadful to the subject, yea, though he carries it never so condescendingly; if then there be so much glory and dread in the presence of the king, what fear and dread must there be, think you, in the presence of the eternal God?

2. When God gives his presence to his people.

…that his presence causes them to appear to themselves more what they are, than at other times, by all other light, they can see. “O my lord,” said Daniel, “by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me”; and why was that, but because by the glory of that vision, he saw his own vileness more than at other times. So again: “I was left alone,” says he, “and saw this great vision”; and what follows? Why, “and there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Dan 10:8, 16). By the presence of God, when we have it indeed, even our best things, our comeliness, our sanctity and righteousness, all do immediately turn to corruption and polluted rags. The brightness of his glory dims them as the clear light of the shining sun puts out the glory of the fire or candle, and covers them with the shadow of death. See also the truth of this in that vision of the prophet Isaiah. “Woe is me,” said he, “for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Why, what is the matter? How came the prophet by this sight? Why, says he, “mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa 6:5). But do you think that this outcry was caused by unbelief? No; nor yet begotten by slavish fear. This was to him the vision of his Savior, with whom also he had communion before (verses 2-5). It was the glory of that God with whom he had now to do, that turned, as was noted before of Daniel, his comeliness in him into corruption, and that gave him yet greater sense of the disproportion that was betwixt his God and him, and so a greater sight of his defiled and polluted nature.

3. Add to this the revelation of God’s goodness

…and it must needs make his presence dreadful to us; for when a poor defiled creature shall see that this great God hath, notwithstanding his greatness, goodness in his heart, and mercy to bestow upon him: this makes his presence yet the more dreadful. They “shall fear the Lord and his goodness” (Hosea 3:5). The goodness as well as the greatness of God doth beget in the heart of his elect an awful reverence of his majesty. “Fear you not me? Says the Lord; will you not tremble at my presence?” And then, to engage us in our soul to the duty, he adds one of his wonderful mercies to the world, for a motive, “Fear ye not me?” Why, who are you? He answers, Even I, “which have” set, or “placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?” (Jeremiah 5:22). Also, when Job had God present with him, making manifest the goodness of his great heart to him, what doth he say? How doth he behave himself in his presence? “I have heard of thee,” says he, “by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5,6).

And what mean the tremblings, the tears, those breakings and shakings of heart that attend the people of God, when in an eminent manner they receive the pronunciation of the forgiveness of sins at his mouth, but that the dread of the majesty of God is in their sight mixed therewith? God must appear like himself, speak to the soul like himself; nor can the sinner, when under these glorious discoveries of his Lord and Savior, keep out the beams of his majesty from the eyes of his understanding. “I will cleanse them,” says he, “from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” And what then? “And they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness, and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it” (Jeremiah 33:8, 9). Alas! there is a company of poor, light, frothy professors in the world, that carry it under that which they call the presence of God, more like to antics, than sober sensible Christians; yea, more like to a fool of a play, than those that have the presence of God. They would not carry it so in the presence of a king, nor yet of the lord of their land, were they but receivers of mercy at his hand. They carry it even in their most eminent seasons, as if the sense and sight of God, and his blessed grace to their souls in Christ, had a tendency in them to make men wanton: but indeed it is the most humbling and heart-breaking sight in the world; it is fearful. [2]

objection. But would you not have us rejoice at the sight and sense of the forgiveness of our sins?

Answer. Yes; but yet I would have you, and indeed you shall, when God shall tell you that your sins are pardoned indeed, “rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11). For then you have solid and godly joy; a joyful heart, and wet eyes, in this will stand very well together; and it will be so more or less. For if God shall come to you indeed, and visit you with the forgiveness of sins, that visit removes the guilt, but increases the sense of thy filth, and the sense of this that God hath forgiven a filthy sinner, will make thee both rejoice and tremble. O, the blessed confusion that will then cover thy face whilst you, even you, so vile a wretch, shalt stand before God to receive at his hand thy pardon, and so the first fruits of thy eternal salvation—”That you may remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth anymore because of thy shame (thy filth), when I am pacified toward thee for all that you hast done, says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 16:63). But,

Second Answer. As the presence, so the name of God, is dreadful and fearful: wherefore his name doth rightly go under the same title, “That you may fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD” (Deuteronomy 28:58). The name of God, what is that, but that by which he is distinguished and known from all others? Names are to distinguish by; so man is distinguished from beasts, and angels from men; so heaven from earth, and darkness from light; especially when by the name, the nature of the thing is signified and expressed; and so it was in their original, for then names expressed the nature of the thing so named. And therefore it is that the name of God is the object of our fear, because by his name his nature is expressed: “Holy and reverend is his name” (Psalm 111:9). And again, he proclaimed the name of the Lord, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6,7).

Also his name, I am, YAHWEH, Jehovah, with several others, what is by them intended but his nature, as his power, wisdom, eternity, goodness, and omnipotency, etc., might be expressed and declared. The name of God is therefore the object of a Christian’s fear. David prayed to God that he would unite his heart to fear his name (Psalm 86:11). Indeed, the name of God is a fearful name, and should always be reverenced by his people: yea his “name is to be feared for ever and ever,” and that not only in his church, and among his saints, but even in the world and among the heathen—”So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all kings thy glory” (Psalm 102:15). God tells us that his name is dreadful, and that he is pleased to see men be afraid before his name. Yes, one reason why he executes so many judgments upon men as he doth, is that others might see and fear his name. “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun” (Isa 59:19; Mal 2:5).

The name of a king is a name of fear…

…”And I am a great king, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal 1:14). The name of master is a name of fear—”And if I be a master, where is my fear? Says the Lord” (v 6). Yes, rightly to fear the Lord is a sign of a gracious heart. And again, “To you that fear my name,” says he, “shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2). Yes, when Christ comes to judge the world, he will give reward to his servants the prophets, and to his saints, “and to them that fear his name, small and great” (Rev 11:18). Now, I say, since the name of God is that by which his nature is expressed, and since he naturally is so glorious and incomprehensible, his name must needs be the object of our fear, and we ought always to have a reverent awe of God upon our hearts at any time whenever we think of, or hear his name, but most of all, when we ourselves do take his holy and fearful name into our mouths, especially in a religious manner, that is, in preaching, praying, or holy conference. I do not by thus saying intend as if it was lawful to make mention of his name in light and vain discourses; for we ought always to speak of it with reverence and godly fear, but I speak it to put Christians in mind that they should not in religious duties show lightness of mind, or be vain in their words when yet they are making mention of the name of the Lord—”Let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim 2:19).

Make mention then of the name of the Lord at all times with great dread of his majesty upon our hearts, and in great soberness and truth.

To do otherwise is to profane the name of the Lord, and to take his name in vain; and “the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.” Yes, God says that he will cut off the man that does it; so jealous is he of the honor due unto his name (Exodus 20:7; Lev 20:3). This therefore shows you the dreadful state of those that lightly, vainly, lyingly, and profanely make use of the name, this fearful name of God, either by their blasphemous cursing and oaths, or by their fraudulent dealing with their neighbor; for some men have no way to prevail with their neighbor to bow under a cheat, but by calling falsely upon the name of the Lord to be witness that the wickedness is good and honest; but how these men will escape, when they shall be judged, devouring fire and everlasting burnings, for their profaning and blaspheming of the name of the Lord, becomes them betimes to consider of (Jeremiah 14:14,15; Ezekiel 20:39; Exodus 20:7).[3] 

But,

Third Answer. As the presence and name of God are dreadful and fearful in the church, so is his worship and service. I say his worship, or the works of service to which we are by him enjoined while we are in this world, are dreadful and fearful things. This David conceives, when he says, “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy, and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (Psalm 5:7). And again, says he, “Serve the Lord with fear.” To praise God is a part of his worship. But, says Moses, “Who is a God like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). To rejoice before him is a part of his worship; but David bids us “rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11). Yes, the whole of our service to God, and every part thereof, ought to be done by us with reverence and godly fear. And therefore let us, as Paul says again, “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12).

1. That which makes the worship of God so fearful a thing, is, for that it is the worship of GOD: all manner of service carries more or less dread and fear along with it, according as the quality or condition of the person is to whom the worship and service is done. This is seen in the service of subjects to their princes, the service of servants to their lords, and the service of children to their parents. Divine worship, then, being due to God, for it is now of Divine worship we speak, and this God so great and dreadful in himself and name, his worship must therefore be a fearful thing.

2. Besides, this glorious Majesty is himself present to behold his worshippers in their worshipping him. “When two or three of you are gathered together in my name, I am there.” That is, gathered together to worship him, “I am there,” says he. And so, again, he is said to walk “in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Rev 1:13). That is, in the churches, and that with a countenance like the sun, with a head and hair as white as snow, and with eyes like a flame of fire. This puts dread and fear into his service; and therefore his servants should serve him with fear.

3. Above all things, God is jealous of his worship and service. In all the ten words, he tells us not anything of his being a jealous God, but in the second, which respects his worship (Exodus 20). Look to yourselves therefore, both as to the matter and manner of your worship; “for I the Lord thy God,” says he, “am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” This therefore doth also put dread and fear into the worship and service of God.

4. The judgments that sometimes God hath executed upon men for their want of godly fear, while they have been in his worship and service, put fear and dread upon his holy appointments.

  1. Nadab and Abihu were burned to death with fire from heaven, because they attempted to offer false fire upon God’s altar, and the reason rendered why they were so served, was, because God will be sanctified in them that come nigh him (Lev 10:1-3). To sanctify his name is to let him be thy dread and thy fear, and to do nothing in his worship but what is well-pleasing to him. But because these men had not grace to do this, therefore they died before the Lord.
  2. Eli’s sons, for want of this fear, when they ministered in the holy worship of God, were both slain in one day by the sword of the uncircumcised Philistines (see 1 Sam 2).
  3. Uzzah was smitten, and died before the Lord, for but an unadvised touching of the ark, when the men forsook it (1 Chronicles 13:9, 10).
  4. Ananias and Sapphira his wife, for telling a lie in the church, when they were before God, were both stricken dead upon the place before them all, because they wanted the fear and dread of God’s majesty, name, and service, when they came before him (Acts 5).

 This therefore should teach us to conclude, that, next to God’s nature and name, his service, his instituted worship, is the most dreadful thing under heaven. His name is upon his ordinances, his eye is upon the worshippers, and his wrath and judgment upon those that worship not in his fear. For this cause some of those at Corinth were by God himself cut off, and to others he has given the back, and will again be with them no more (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). [4]

This also rebukes three sorts of people.

1. Such as regard not to worship God at all; be sure they have no reverence of his service, nor fear of his majesty before their eyes. Sinner, you do not come before the Lord to worship him; you do not bow before the high God; you neither worship him in thy closet nor in the congregation of saints. The fury of the Lord and his indignation must in short time be poured out upon thee, and upon the families that call not upon his name (Psalm 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25).

2. This rebukes such as count it enough to present their body in the place where God is worshipped, not minding with what heart, or with what spirit they come thither. Some come into the worship of God to sleep there; some come thither to meet with their friends for a chat, and to get into the wicked fellowship of their vain companions. Some come thither to feed their lustful and adulterous eyes with the flattering beauty of their fellow-sinners. O what a sad account will these worshippers give, when they shall count for all this, and be damned for it, because they come not to worship the Lord with that fear of his name that became them to come in, when they presented themselves before him! [5]

3. This also rebukes those that care not, so they worship, how they worship; how, where, or after what manner they worship God. Those, I mean, whose fear towards God “is taught by the precept of men.” They are hypocrites; their worship also is vain, and a stink in the nostrils of God. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (Isa 29:13,14; Matt 15:7-9; Mark 7:6,7).[6] Thus I conclude this first thing, namely, that God is called our dread and fear.

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Footnotes

1. This is a very remarkable illustration of godly fear. Jacob does not swear by the omnipresence or omniscience of God—nor by his omnipotence—nor by his love or mercy in his covenant—nor by the God of Abraham, but by the “fear of his father Isaac”—the sole object of his adoration. A most striking and solemn appeal to Jehovah, fixing upon our hearts that Divine proverb, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”—the source of all happiness, both in time and in eternity.—Editor

2. It is of solemn importance that we feel the vast difference between holy and unholy familiarity with God. Has he adopted us into his family? Can we, by a new birth, say “Our Father?” Still he is in heaven, we on earth. He is infinite in purity; Holy, Holy, Holy is his name. We are defiled, and can only approach his presence in the righteousness of the Savior and Mediator. Then, O my soul, if it is thy bliss to draw near to the throne of grace with holy boldness, let it be with reverence and godly fear.—Editor

3. It is an awful thing to appeal to God for the truth of a lie! All appeals to God, not required by law, are worse than useless; they are wicked, and cast a doubt on the veracity of those who make them.—Editor

4. “To give the back”; to forsake, to depart, to treat with contempt. See Imperial Dictionary, vol. I. p. 145.—Editor

5. The genuine disciple “who thinks no evil” will say, Can this be so now? Yes, reader, it is. Some go to God’s house to worship their ease and forgetfulness in sleep; some for worldly purposes; some to admire the beauty of the frail body; but many to worship God in spirit and in truth. Reader, inquire to which of these classes you belong.—Editor

6. They worshipped God, not according to his appointment, but their own inventions—the direction of their false prophets, or their idolatrous kings, or the usages of the nations round about them. The tradition of the elders was of more value and validity with them than God’s laws by Moses. This our Savior applies to the Jews in his time, who were formal in their devotions, and wedded to their own inventions; and pronounces concerning them that in vain do they worship God. How many still in worship regard the inventions of man, and traditions of the church, more than the commands of God.—Editor

Trusting God in Crises

Originally posted on The Protestant Pulpit:

In the light of the current Canadian crisis and what seems to be the inevitable aftermath of panic and political planning, the following statement by Alexander Carson is very fitting:

“As God can protect His people under the greatest despotism, so the utmost civil liberty is no safety to them without the immediate protection of His Almighty arm. I fear that Christians in this country have too great a confidence in political institutions…[rather] than of the government of God” (Confidence in God in Times of Danger, p. 41).

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The Surprising Reward for Giving: A Correcting of the Prosperity Gospellers

Originally posted on The Protestant Pulpit:

Introduction

God demonstrates His love for cheerful givers by rewarding them. That word “reward” is not to be taken in any way to suggest merit. Rather, as father might reward his child for doing something imperfectly and with the resources that came from the father, so God does the same for us. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul speaks about the Lord’s rewarding those who give to others. What does He give? Norman Vincent Peale states, “Put God to work for you and maximize your potential in your divinely ordained capitalist system.” Is this Paul’s meaning? Let us see what Paul states about God’s reward.

First, God gives us contentment. We read, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).  The word “grace” may be taken in…

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The Elect: Those Who Are Beloved in Christ

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“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”

–Romans 8:33 (ESV)

If you know that Christ loves you…

…then you have reason to rejoice because hereby you may know assuredly that you are elected; that God, by an eternal and unchangeable decree, has chosen you when he has chosen so few of fallen men and none of the fallen angels and when there was not the least foreseen motive to induce him hereunto.  The assurance of this may yield inexpressible sweetness unto you if you know that Christ loves you then you may know assuredly your effectual calling, conversion, and wonderful union unto Christ.  O what matter of joy is it to think how God has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light!

How he has delivered you out of the snare of the devil and the bond of your own lusts and set your souls at liberty!  How he has wrought a miracle in your first resurrection from the grave and spiritual death of sin and has put forth his almighty power in your new creation!  How he has dissolved and mad a divorce between your hearts and your sins and so wonderfully united and espoused you unto the Lord Jesus; and by this conjunction and relation, given you an interest in all the privileges which Christ has purchased!

If you know that Christ loves you then you may know assuredly that you are justified through his merits and mediation; and O what matter of joy is this to think that all your sins, original and actual, are pardoned!  That none can lay any sin to your charge, because God has justified you; that there is none that shall condemn you because Christ has loved you, and out of love has died for you, and is now making intercession for you at the right hand of God (Romans 8:33-34) to be acquitted from all guilt and no more liable unto future wrath than if you had never offended!

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Taken from, “This True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ or
A Discourse Chiefly to Excite and Promote the Love of Christ in the Hearts of Christians”

Written by, Thomas Vincent
Adapted from, “The Dead Puritan Society.”