Of the Nature, Extent and Example of that Holi∣ness to which God calls a man.
1 PET. 1. 15.
THe Apostle having in the former part of the Chapter, spoken of glorious encouragements in the way to heaven, at the 13 Verse, he presseth to an exact and accurate diligence in the exercise of grace, which is emphati∣cally expressed by that metaphorical phrase, Girdup the loins of your minde: The body girt, is more expedite and prepared for any work, and so is the minde. In the 14 Verse he amplifieth this duty; first, Comparatively, As obedient children: This sheweth the inward willingness and readiness that should be in them to all acts of obedience; as also, the evangelical and filial motive to draw them out. Secondly, This is pressed negatively, Not fashioning your selves, &c. You see what it is to be men and women of the best fashion; viz. Such as do not con∣form to those lusts and sins that the world doth lie in: And that 2. Is positively commanded, But be ye holy; where you have the duty enjoyned, Be ye holy: There are four words commonly used for this holiness, sometimes 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, some∣times 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, sometimes 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and most commonly 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Whether this word came of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 without earth, or of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because holiness deserveth all reverence and veneration, I shall not much regard; this is certain, it doth im∣ply a choice and sublime frame of soul, whereby we are carryed out in reference to God in all our actions. 2. There is the extent of this duty, In all manner of conversation: Here this is considerable, that men may demonstrate some holi∣ness in some particular acts, and in some channels, but not in all manner of con∣versation. 3. Here is the exemplary cause, after which we are to be conforma∣ble, As he that hath called you is holy. 4 There is an argument confirming it by authority from Scripture, Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy: That is written many times, to raise up our thoughts in godliness, not to propound any men, no not the most holy that are, but God himself: Now the Apostle doth not mean an equality; for how can a drop be equal to the sea? or a spark to the Sun? but onely of similitude and proportionable imitation, as is more parti∣cularly to be shewed. Observe,
That persons called, ought to be holy, even as God who calleth them is most*holy.
This very consideration should work an heavenly metamorphosis and change, who and what is that God who calleth me, should the soul say; God who made me after his own image at first, doth still require the reparation of it in my life: Of all the attributes the Angels selected to glorifie God with, this was that they Page 660 pitched on, Holy, holy, holy, Isa. 6. and certainly, of all things remarkable and considerable in thee, this should be thy chief, Holy: Thou art wise, but holy; thou art rich, but holy; this is the Diamond in the Jewel.
To illustrate this point, consider,
First, What this holiness is, and that is in these things: *
First, An inward rectitude of all the parts and faculties of the soul, whereby they are imployed and improved for holy ends: Holiness is not a particular grace, or a particular healing of some disease in the soul, but it is an universal medicine ap∣plied to all the soars of the soul, and if it doth not perfectly cure and heal all the disease, yet it doth for the main: So that this holiness is nothing but the sound and right temperament of the soul, whereby it is inabled in minde, will and af∣fection, yea, the whole man to be carried out towards God; therefore this ho∣liness is called The image of God; and we know, an image is not an hand, or a leg, but a ful delineation in all the parts thereof; when therefore we are command∣ed thus to be holy, we are to look to holiness in the fountain, to holiness in the root; even as God is not onely holy in actions, and in all his works he doth, but in his essence and nature also: So that although all thy actions have never such a shew of holiness and outward splendor, yet if not flowing from this inward image, they are but guilded Sepulchres, and like the ashes of Sodom.
Secondly, This holiness is a pure and unmixed disposition of soul, from any thing that may soil and debase it: So some make the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, without any * terrene or earthly mixture; for as every thing is debased, when it is mixed with that which is of an inferior nature to it; as lead with silver, water with wine: So it is here, when the soul of man which was made for the enjoyment of God, and communion with him, is bowed down to earthly things, and mingleth it self with them, then it becometh base and degenerate. Now the soul may admit of a twofold mixture, both which makes it unholy:
First: With the lusts of sin, and the beastly pleasures of the flesh; and this is the deepest pollution, as if the Sun should become a dunghil; and therefore wicked * men are compared to Dogs, licking up their vomit, and Swine wallowing in their mire, 2 Pet. 2. 22. Oh therefore remember, when thou hast been committing any gross sin, thou hast made thy self like dirt and dung, thou hast made thy self like a loathsome Toad, God abhorreth thee, and were thy eyes opened, thou wouldst be abominable in thy own eyes, thou wouldst not endure thy self, but cry out with David, Wash me throughly, and I shall be clean. Psal. 51. Or
Secondly, A defiling mixture may be by the inordinate and immoderate af∣fections * of a man, even to lawful things; even as the waters that overflow the banks, they get soil and filth by that means: So those affections that are carried out beyond their limits, in over-loving, in over-grieving, in over-desiring, they de∣base and make unholy. Hence Esau is called A prophane person, Heb. 12. 16. why? we read not of his gross, vicious, beastly sins, but because be had a low and un∣dervaluing esteem of heavenly things, of that birth-right he sold: So then, thou art an unholy and a prophane man, though free from thy gross sins, if thy thoughts, thy esteem about holy and heavenly things be low and careless: Thou hadst rather have, as he said, Guttam vini, then cadum mentis, a drop of pleasure, then an whole vessel of heavenly wisdom, this argueth thou art unholy. Holi∣ness lieth in the spiritual dieting and moderating of all thy affections to world∣ly comforts: He that marrieth, as if he married not; he that buyeth, as if he bought not, 1 Cor. 7. In all our estates and conditions, we are to cut off those luxuriant branches, we are to put bounds to them, as God to the sea, Hitherto thou shalt go and no further.
Thirdly, Holiness is mainly seen in referring all unto God by pure and upright in∣tentions. The Pharisees holiness, though so dazling in the eyes of the world, * was no holiness, because they did all to be seen of men: This makes all the civil and admirable actions of the Romans, and other Heathens, to be no holy actions, Page 661 but splendida peccata, because it was vain glory, or at least, the love of their Countrey, that put them upon the accomplishment of such actions; so that the greatest part of holiness is invisible, lieth much in eying at the true aim we ought to shoot at. Jehu in all those wonderful Reformations he made in the Church and State of Israel, yet was not in the number of the holy Kings, because his ends were selfish, worldly, and vain glorious. Look then thy intentions fall not short of that ultimate end, the glory of God, and this prove a dead flye in the box of thy ointment.
Fourthly, Holiness lieth in bearing up the heart in all kinde of duties, with such*heavenly and sublime motives, that flesh and blood can no ways attain unto: Holiness is a power above all refined natural abilities: Thus faith is an holy grace, because it beareth up the heart with a promise, with the word of God, when all natu∣ral reason and hopes are against it; and so he can rebuke those strong winds and tempests of unbelief and discouragement, which natural strength could ne∣ver do: So to love God in adversities, not to mutter or repine at him, though his hand be heavy on thee, yet thou hast no hard thoughts about him, but he is as good and as gracious a God in thy apprehension as ever: Here is iron swimming, here are the rivers of Jordan running back, here is holiness exalted above na∣ture; so likewise to rejoyce in tribulations, to triumph over all troubles; to finde honey in the dead carkass of the Lyon, to get bread out of stones; this is the work of holiness. And lastly, patience and forbearance to men that hate us, love and pitty to those that cruelly persecute us: Thus holiness teacheth, but the nature of man kicketh against all these things.
Fifthly, Holiness is in the dedicating of our selves wholly unto the Lord; that we * are no more our own, much less the worlds or Satans: Thus there were holy vessels, and an holy Temple, because altogether separated unto God, and might not be imployed unto any common use: Thus the persons that are holy, Are made the Temples of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 3. they may not touch any un∣clean thing. Oh what a strong obligation is this, to depart from all evil and wicked company! To whom wert thou given up? Hast thou not parted with self? and art not thou given to God? Be then as the Temple, let no unclean thoughts or affections pass through thee.
Sixthly, A necessary Concomitant of this holiness, is a reverence and aw it breeds*in the consciences, even of those who yet hate it: As the image of God put in man, made him have dominion over the beasts of the earth; so this holy image of God breeds an aw, a fear even in wicked men: Thus 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; and hence Herod, though a King, yet feared John, because he was a righteous and holy man, Mat. 6. 20. This holiness is called by Peter〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, A Divine nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4. and certainly, as the Sun makes a glorious dazling upon the eyes of men; so doth holiness, powerfully expressed, make a throne in the hearts of the ungodly, convincing and overawing them: Though therefore out∣wardly they may deride and oppose the practice of holiness, yet in their consci∣ences they count such happy, and wish their souls might be in the same condi∣tion with such mens.
We come in the next place, to the extent of this duty, In all manner of con∣versation:* And
First, It must be in our conversation,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Now a mans conversation is not some few acts, or some few times to be holily affected, but constantly and customarily. Our conversation is in heaven, saith the Apostle, Phil. 3. 20. and its called a godly mans way, wherein he walketh; so that unless holiness be thy main business, unless Religion be thy chief imployment, thou art not yet holy, thy way is not an holy way, though there may be some occasional holy action; neither is thy conversation an holy conversation, though there may seem to be some holy fits: Oh this is greatly to be attended unto, for some mens holiness is like the morning dew, or like the ebbings and flowings of the sea; its by way of Page 662 a transient passion, not as a permanent principle within them; its a Land-flood that makes a great noise, its not a constant spring.
Secondly, It must be holiness in all manner of conversation: *
First, There must be all holiness subjectivé, that is, all the parts and faculties of soul and body must have their peculiar holiness; the minde holy, thoughts holy, meditations holy, the will holy, desires holy, and holy choices, the af∣fections holy, holy love, holy anger, holy grief, holy fear; the memory an ho∣ly treasury to retain holy directions and instructions: Thus a mans soul must be like that part of the Temple, Sanctum Sanctorum, The holiest of holies; the bo∣dy likewise, that is to be holy instrumentally, holy eyes, holy hands, and holy tongues, holy words, holy actions, holy gestures: That as the Prophet Zechariah prophesieth, upon the horses bells there should be written, Holiness to the Lord, Zech. 14. 21. so here upon the whole man shall be written, Holiness to the Lord; and the meaning of that prophesie is, That he who is holy, shall be in every re∣spect holy; as Paul prayeth, I pray God ye be sanctified throughout, both in spirit, soul, and body, 1 Thess. 5. 23.
Secondly, This must be all holiness objectivé, in respect of the object: Our actions must be holy in reference to God and man: I exercise my self, saith Paul, Acts 24 16. there was his conversation; to keep a good conscience towards God and man, there was the extent to every object; for although all holiness doth im∣mediately refer to God, yet when we do the duties of justice, righteousness and charity towards man, because God commands, and out of love to him, then these just and righteous actions, are likewise holy actions, because of the con∣sideration of God that draweth out the soul: So that we may make our very eating, drinking, and lawful refreshments, holy actions, when a motive from God doth put us upon them.
Thirdly, We are in our conversation to put forth all holiness, in respect of the degrees of it: We are to endeavor, and to hunger and thirst after all the de∣grees * of holiness; if there be better believing in God, better heavenly minded∣ness, more love to God then ever yet we have attained, this we are to press forward to; as Paul, who was exalted to so high a degree of holiness, yet he forgets all behinde, and pursueth that before, Phil. 3. as if he were but be∣ginning to be godly; and hence the godly are said, To hunger and thirst after righteousnesse, Mat. 5. Alexander wept when he heard a Phylosopher arguing there were more worlds then one, when he had not yet conquered one: And thus when thou hearest the word of God requiring such a perfect holiness, such a pure exercise of graces, thou mayest weep to see the dross, the defects and weaknesses that are in thee; yet take heed thou doest not reject thy holiness as none at all, because it may be better; for perfection and fulness is not in this life, still here is something wanting, but our prayers and endeavors should be after perfection.
Fourthly, We are to put forth all the parts and kindes of godliness in our con∣versation: Holiness is a chain, and we must not break one link: Adde to faith,*vertue, and to vertue temperance, &c. 2 Pet. 1. 6. To be holy in some things, and not in others, is to be holy in nothing: Holiness is universal, it comes in with no buts, no ifs or ands, no exceptions; but as the word of God is universal, and the rule is universal, so is his holiness: Oh its this partial holiness, this ho∣liness in some pittances, that makes such a reproach to Religion: Holiness will no more swear then lye, or lye then swear; Holinesse will no more deal unjust∣ly, then leave off praying and holy duties; if any do so, the Scripture makes not such holy: Oh therefore be sure to study the extent and largenesse of ho∣linesse. Do I shew forth all holinesse? The Apostle bids us pray, that under Magistrates we might live in all godliness: There is some holiness, some godliness many times the world will suffer, but not all: And none would think how false and guilful their hearts are, how much they are to seek for some kinde of godliness, when they are put to it.
Page 663 Lastly, We are to shew holiness at all times in our conversations: There is no * hour, no moment, wherein thou canst say, Now I may not be holy, now its not required I should be holy: So that as wicked men, the imaginations of the thoughts of their hearts are onely evil, and that continually; so should ours be holy, and that continually: This is our duty, though in this life it cannot be fully practised.
In the third place, consider, The example of our holiness; and that is, As God*is holy: Not that we can be infinitely holy, and essentially holy, as he is; but to imitate him: So that we must not take the world for a rule of holiness, but God; and we are not required to be Omnipotent as he is, Mighty as he is, but holy as he is. Now the grounds of this are:
First, It behoveth a father and a son to be of the same nature: A man doth not * beget a beast of another nature, but a childe of the same being: Thus the Apo∣stle, As obedient children; and hence they are said to Be born of God: How then can ye call God father, who have not the likeness of his nature? Is there such sin and impurity in God, as in thee? Oh tremble at such things! Gods eyes are purer then to behold iniquity; so let thine be.
Secondly, Love to God, will put a man upon the immitation of him whom we love:* So that similitude, as it is a cause, so its an effect of love; that as you see fire assimilates every thing into its own nature, it turneth every thing to fire; so love to God, and delight in him, that makes us wholly to become like him. A man that liveth under the torrid Zone, gets a colour from the sun, which shineth so hot upon him.
Thirdly, He must needs be holy, because else we are not prepared for any commu∣nion*or fellowship with God: Herein lieth the happiness of a godly man, that he hath fellowship with God, that he enjoyeth his presence, that he seeth his face, as you may see it represented in the Canticles: Now how can this be, when a man is prophane and unholy? Christ speaks there of his heavenly love, and spiritual imbracements, and how can this be to a soul that is loathsom and un∣comely through sin? God speaks by the Prophet, of the abominable and vile condition of the Church of Israel in her sin, wallowing in her blood, Ezek. 16. 6. and till he put on comely ornaments on her, she was no fit object of love: Fol∣low holiness; without which no man shall see, enjoy God, Heb. 12. 14. As the eye di∣stempered with diseased humors, cannot comfortably behold the sun, so neither can the soul, debased through sin, behold the favor of God; yea, as the soul is not fit for such communion, so the presence and purity of God, if it should draw near, would be an heavy burthen to a wicked man. Heaven it self, and enjoyment of God, is no sutable or welcome mercy to a wicked heart: So far as the noti∣on of safety and deliverance from hell is in heaven, they can be glad of it; but take the positive part of heaven, which is indeed the heaven; viz. Injoyment of God, and delighting in him, a wicked man can no more agree with it, then soar eyes do abide the dazling sun.
Let us make Application of the point. And
First, Of Instruction: Is holiness thus necessarily required of every one called * by God, because he is holy? then to be sure do not mistake what true holiness is; for if thou erre about that, thy destruction is irrecoverable, who can help it? Therefore to know what it is, study and peruse the Scripture: Oh what an ex∣act, sublime, and accurate thing is that represented to be! Will no less serve then an holiness in some degree (though with vast disproportion) like that of God? What shame, what trembling should this work in us? Thou judgest of holi∣ness according to the principles of the world; and they, when a man is less wick∣ed, call it holiness; if there be worse men in the world, then they bless them∣selves. As in an Hospital, the man that is less diseased then others, he is judged healthful and strong: This undoeth you, holiness and godliness is made a less and more easie business, then the Scripture describeth.
Page 664Use 2. Of Terror and Woe to those called persons, who deride, oppose and * malice holinesse: Oh that the earth should bear, and the Sunne shine upon such incarnate devils! Wheresoever there is the power of holinesse, there all their venom is vented; Who would think that men called by so holy a God, should deride holinesse? That men convinced by an holy Spirit, should mock at holinesse? That men who read an holy Bible, who have an holy profession, should thus be turned into Serpents, and no men? This is not to be holy as God is holy, but malicious and envious as the devil is.
3. Of Exhortation to you who are indeed holy for the main, grow in this, * be more quickned in it. The Apostle speaks to these that were already holy. Holinesse is a large field, an high hill, thou art but at the very bottom. Alas, how much stronger might thy faith be? How much more mortified might thy af∣fections be? Is holinesse sutable, connatural, constant and permanent in thee? and certainly this is more to be looked at, then all outward mercies, riches, ho∣nours, earthly greatnesse; for this onely hath the promise of eternal life, and this present life. Thou mayest be rich, but damned; wise and learned, but d•••n•d; but not holy and damned: Oh there is no comfortable living an hour, a moment without this holinesse! And then to increase and preserve it:
First, Cherish and entertain the holy Spirit, this is peculiarly called holy, be∣cause it works holinesse; grieve it not then by committing known sins, or by la∣zy and sluggish walking.
Secondly, Prize the Ordinances, the Ministery and preaching of the Word; men grow loose and cold when they leave this fire.
Thirdly, Consider the nature of holinesse is such, that the more we have, the more hunger and thirst there should be after it.