A HOLY LIFE THE BEAUTY OF CHRISTIANITY: or, AN EXHORTATION TO CHRISTIANS TO BE HOLY. BY JOHN BUNYAN.
Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever.'—[Psalm 93:5]
London, by B. W., for Benj. Alsop, at the Angel and Bible, in the Poultrey. 1684.
THE EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT.
This is the most searching treatise that has ever fallen under our notice. It is an invaluable guide to those sincere Christians, who, under a sense of the infinite importance of the salvation of an immortal soul, and of the deceitfulness of their hearts, sigh and cry, "O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins (most secret thoughts) and the heart.' "Try MY reins and my heart.' for it is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.' He, in whose heart the Holy Spirit has raised the solemn inquiry, What must I do to be saved?' flies from his own estimate of himself, with distrust and fear, and appeals to an infallible and unerring scrutiny. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' Reader, are you desirous of having your hopes of pardon, and of heaven, weighed in the unerring balances of the sanctuary; while you are yet in a state of probation? Meditate and ponder over this faithful little work. If accompanied by the Divine blessing, it will test your faith and practice in the crucible and by the fire of God's word. It is intended to turn your spirit inside out—to lay bare every insidious enemy that may have crept in and lie lurking in the walls of Mansoul. It exhibits sin in all its hideous deformity, stript of its masquerade and disguises; so that it appears, what it really is, the great enemy to human happiness. It is calculated to stir up our pure minds to incessant vigilance, lest we should wander upon tempting, but forbidden paths; and be caught by Giant Despair, to become the object of his cruelty in Doubting Castle.
This work was first published in 1684, in a pocket volume, comprising nine sheets duodecimo; but became so rare, as to have escaped the researches of Wilson, Whitefield, and other editors of the collected works of Mr. Bunyan,—until about the year 1780, when it was first re-published in an edition of his works, with notes, by Mason and Ryland. The evident object of this treatise was to aid Christian efforts, under the Divine blessing, in stemming the torrent of iniquity, which, like an awful flood, was overspreading this country. The moral and religious restraints, which the government under the Commonwealth had imposed, were dissolved by the accession of a debauched prince to the throne of England; a prince who was bribed, to injure or destroy the best interests of the country, by the voluptuous court of France. He had taken refuge there from the storm; and had been defiled and corrupted beyond ordinary conception. The king and his court were surrounded by pimps, panders, courtesans, and flatterers. The example of the court spread throughout the country—religion became a jest and laughing-stock; and those who were not to be cajoled out of their soul's eternal happiness—whose vital godliness preserved them in the midst of such evil examples and allurements, were persecuted with unrelenting rigour. The virtuous Lord William Russel, and the illustrious Sydney, fell by the hands of the executioner: John Hampden was fined forty thousand pounds. The hand of God was stretched out. An awful pestilence carried off nearly seventy thousand of the inhabitants of London. In the following year, that rich and glorious city, with the cathedral—the churches—public buildings-and warehouses, replenished with merchandise—were reduced to ashes. The Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames and threatened destruction to our navy, and even to the government,—filling the court and country with terror. Still profligacy reigned in the court and country—a fearful persecution raged against all who refused to attend the church service. Thousands perished in prison, and multitudes were condemned to expatriate themselves. The timid and irresolute abandoned the faith,—desolation spread over the church of God. At this time, at imminent risk, John Bunyan not only fearlessly preached, but published his faithful Advice to Sufferers;' which was immediately followed by this important work, calling upon every one who named the name of Christ, 'at all hazards, to depart from iniquity.' They were words in season,' and were good,' like apples of gold in pictures of silver.' (Prov. 25:11)
The contrast in public manners must have been painfully felt by one, who had seen and enjoyed the general appearances, and doubtless many real proofs of piety, which prevailed under the protectorate of Cromwell. He was now called to witness the effects of open and avowed wickedness among governors and nobles, by which the fountains of iniquity were opened up, and a flood of immorality let loose upon all classes; demoralizing the nation, and distressing the church. It must have been difficult to form any thing like an accurate estimate of the number of those who abandoned their Christian profession. The immoral conduct of one bad man is more conspicuous than the unobtrusive holiness of ninety-nine good men; more especially, when a professor becomes profane. Thus Bunyan argues, 'One black sheep is quickly espied among five hundred white ones, and one mangey one will soon infect many. One also, among the saints, that is not clean, is a blemish to the rest, and as Solomon says, 'One sinner destroyeth much good.' p. 527. It is more congenial to our fallen nature to notice, and be grieved with, evil conduct, than it is to rejoice over that excellence which may cast the observer into the shade; besides the jaundiced fear that good works may arise from improper motives. These principles equally applied to the state of society under the Presbyterian government: but when the restoration to the old system took place, so vast a change passed over society, like a pestilence, 'that sin, through custom, became no sin. The superfluity of naughtiness,' says Bunyan, 'is at this day become no sin with many.' p. 509. 'There are a good many professors now in England that have nothing to distinguish them from the worst of men,' but their praying, reading, hearing of sermons, baptism, church fellowship, and breaking of bread. Separate them but from these, and every where else they are as black as others, even in their whole life and conversation.' p. 508. 'It is marvellous to me to see sin so high amidst the swarms of professors that are found in every corner of this land.' If the conduct of many professors were so vile, as there can be no doubt but that it was, how gross must have been that of the openly profane? It accounts for the wicked wit and raillery of Hudibras, when so many professors threw off the mask and gloried in their hypocrisy—Butler shut his eyes to the cruel sufferings of thousands who perished in jails, the martyrs to the sincerity of their faith and conduct. The falling away was indeed great; and Bunyan, with all earnestness, warns his readers that, 'To depart from iniquity is to shun those examples, those beastly examples to drunkenness—to whoredom—to swearing—to lying—to stealing—to sabbath-breaking—to pride—to covetousness—to deceit—to hypocrisy, that in every corner of the country present themselves to men.' p. 517. 'O the fruits of repentance thick sown by preachers, come up but thinly! Where are they found? Confession of sin, shame for sin, amendment of life, restitution for cozening, cheating, defrauding, beguiling thy neighbour,—where shall these fruits of repentance be found? Repentance is the bitter pill, without the sound working of which, base and sinful humour rest unstirred, unpurged, undriven out of the soul.' p. 519.
'I would not be austere,' said Bunyan, 'but were wearing of gold, putting on of apparel, dressing up houses, decking of children, learning of compliments, boldness in women, lechery in men, wanton behaviour, lascivious words, and tempting carriages, signs of repentance; then I must say, the fruits of repentance swarm in our land.' 'The tables of God's book are turned upside down. Love, to their doctrine, is gone out of the country.' 'Love is gone, and now coveting, pinching, griping, and such things, are in fashion; now iniquity abounds instead of grace, in many that name the name of Christ.' p. 529, 520. 'Alas! alas! there is a company of half priests in the world; they dare not teach the people the whole counsel of God, because they would condemn themselves, and their manner of living in the world: where is that minister now to be found, that dare say to his people, walk as you have me for an example, or that dare say, what you see and hear to be in me, do, and the God of peace shall be with you.' p. 520. Such was the general character of the parish priests, after the black Bartholomew Act had driven the pious and godly ministers from the parish churches. It is almost a miracle that Bunyan escaped persecution for his plain dealing. We cannot wonder, that under such teachers, 'Christians learned to be proud one of another, to be covetous, to be treacherous, and false, to be cowardly in God's matters, to be remiss and negligent in christian duties, one of another.' p. 525. A scandal was thus brought upon religion. 'Upon this I write with a sigh; for never more than now. There is no place where the professors of religion are, that is free from offence and scandal. Iniquity is so entailed to religion, and baseness of life to the naming the name of Christ, that 'All places are full of vomit and filthiness.' 'Ah! Lord God, this is a lamentation, that a sore disease is got into the church of God.' p. 529. It was a period when a more awful plague raged as to morals and religion, than that which, about the same time, had ravaged London with temporal death—the plague of hypocrisy—of naming the name of Christ, and still living in sin. 'Hypocrisies are of that nature, that they spread themselves over the mind as the leprosy does over the body. It gets in the pulpit, in conference, in closets, in communion of saints, in faith, in love, in repentance, in zeal, in humility, in alms, in the prison, and in all duties, and makes the whole a loathsome stink in the nostrils of God.' p. 538 These licentious times, in which we live, are full of iniquity.' p. 539. 'They change one bad way for another, hopping, as the squirrel, from bough to bough, but not willing to forsake the tree,—from drunkards to be covetous, and from that to pride and lasciviousness—this is a grand deceit, common, and almost a disease epidemical among professors.' p. 532. 'The sins of our day are conspicuous and open as Sodom's were; pride and covetousness, loathing of the gospel, and contemning holiness, have covered the face of the nation.' p. 534. The infection had spread into the households of professors. 'Bless me, saith a servant, are those the religious people! Are these the servants of God, where iniquity is made so much of, and is so highly entertained! And now is his heart filled with prejudice against all religion, or else he turns hypocrite like his master and his mistress, wearing, as they, a cloak of religion to cover all abroad, while all naked and shameful at home.' p. 536. 'He looked for a house full of virtue, and behold nothing but spider-webs; fair and plausible abroad, but like the sow in the mire at home.' The immoral taint infected the young. '0! it is horrible to behold how irreverently, how easily, and malapertly, children, yea, professing children, at this day, carry it to their parents; snapping and checking, curbing and rebuking of them, as if they had received a dispensation from God to dishonour and disobey parents.' p. 535. 'This day, a sea and deluge of iniquity has drowned those that have a form of godliness. Now immorality shall, with professors, be in fashion, be pleaded for, be loved and more esteemed than holiness; even those that have a form of godliness, hate the life and power thereof, yea, they despise them that are good.' p. 543.
This melancholy picture of vice and profligacy was drawn by one whose love of truth rendered him incapable of deceit or of exaggeration. It was published at the time, and was unanswered, because unanswerable. It was not painted from imagination by an ascetic; but from life by an enlightened observer—not by the poor preaching mechanic when incarcerated in a jail for his godliness; but when his painful sufferings were past—when his Pilgrim, produced by the folly of persecutors, had rendered him famous through Europe—when his extraordinary pulpit talents were matured and extensively known, so that thousands crowded to hear him preach—when his labours were sought in London and in the country—when his opportunities of observation had become extended far beyond most of his fellow-ministers. The tale is as true as it is full of painful interest. The causes of all this vice are perfectly apparent. Whenever a government abuses its powers by interfering with divine worship—by preferring one sect above all others; whether it be Presbyterian, Independent, or Episcopalian—such a requiring the things that are God's to be rendered unto Caesar, must be the prolific source of persecution, hypocrisy, and consequent immorality and profaneness. The impure process of immorality as checked by the rival labours of all the sects to promote vital godliness. Can we wonder that such a state of society was not long permitted to exist? In three troublous years from the publication of this book, the licentious monarch was swept away by death, not without suspicion of violence, and his besotted popish successor fled to die in exile. An enlightened monarch was placed upon the vacant throne, and persecution was deprived of its tiger claws and teeth by the act of toleration.
However interesting to the christian historian, and humbling to human pride, the facts may be which are here disclosed; it was not the author's intention thus to entertain his readers. No; this invaluable tract has an object in view of far greater importance. It is an earnest, affectionate, but pungent appeal to all professors of every age, and nation, and sect, to the end of time. The admonition of the text is to you, my reader, and to me; whether we be rich or poor, ministers or ministered unto, it comes home equally to every heart, from the mightiest potentate through every grade of society to the poorest peasant. May the sound ever reverberate in our ears and be engraven upon our hearts, 'Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'
The analysis of this book exhibits—How solemn a thing it is to name the name of Christ, as the author and finisher of our faith—God manifest in the flesh, to bear the curse for us, and to work out our everlasting salvation. The hosts of heaven rejoice over the penitent sinner ransomed from the pit of wrath. Is it possible for the soul that has escaped eternal burnings—that has experienced the bitterness and exceeding sinfulness of sin—that has felt the misery of transgression—that has been brought up out of that deep and horrible pit—to backslide and plunge again into misery, with his eyes open to see the smoke of their torments ascending up before him? Is it possible that he should heedlessly enter the vortex, and be again drawn into wretchedness? Yes; it is alas too true. Well may the Lord, by his prophet, use these striking words, 'Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out broken cisterns, that can hold no water.' (Jer. 2:12,13)
The extreme folly of such conduct would render the fact almost incredible, did we not too frequently witness it in others, and feel it in our own hearts. This volume places these facts plainly before us, and affectionately exhorts us to be watchful, and diligently to inquire into the causes of such evil, and the remedies which ought to be applied. It shews us the great varieties that are found in the tempers and qualities of God's children, in words calculated to make an indelible impression.
'But in this great house of God there will not only be golden and silver Christians, but wooden and earthly ones. And if any man purge himself from these [earthly ones], from their companies and vices, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, and meet for the masters use, and prepared for every good work.' p. 518 Bunyan earnestly cautions his readers to constant watchfulness, 'for sin is one of the most quick and brisk things that are.' p. 515. And jealousy over ourselves, lest our hearts should deceive us. 'The young man in the gospel that cried to Christ to shew him the way to life, had some love to his salvation; but it was not a love that was strong as death, cruel as the grave, and hotter than coals of juniper.' (Song 8:6) It cost nothing—no self denial, no sacrifice. 'Such will love as long as mouth and tongue can wag' will pray and hear sermons, but will not cut off a darling lust; such deceive their own souls. Some are allured but not changed: 'There is some kind of musicalness in the word; when well handled and fingered by a skilful preacher,' it has a momentary influence; 'they hear thy words, but do them not.' (Eze. 33:30) Above all things, beware of hypocrisy, for when it once enters, it spreads over the soul, as the leprosy does over the body. p. 521. 'He is the same man, though he has got a new mouth. p. 532. 'Many that shew like saints abroad, yet act the part of devils when they are at home. Wicked professors are practical atheists. 'The dirty life of a professor lays stumbling blocks in the way of the blind.' p. 545. 'A professor that hath not forsaken his iniquity, is like one that comes out of the pest-house, among the whole, with his plaguey sores running upon him. This is the man that hath the breath of a dragon; he poisons the air round about him. This is the man that slays his children, his kinsmen, his friend, and himself. They are the devil's most stinking tail, with which he casts many a professor into carnal delights, with their filthy conversations.' p. 530. 'Oh! the millstone that God will shortly hang about your necks, when the time is come that you must be drowned in the sea and deluge of God's wrath.' p. 530. Rather than thus rush upon Jehovah's fiercest anger, 'Tell the world, if you will not depart from iniquity, that Christ and you are parted, and that you have left him to be embraced by them to whom iniquity is an abomination.' p. 530. Thus faithfully and affectionately did Bunyan deal with his hearers and readers. And he takes an occasion, now in his maturer years, to confirm the sentiments which he had formerly published in his 'Differences in Judgment about Water Baptism no Bar to Communion.' 'It is strange to see at this day how, notwithstanding, all the threatenings of God, men are wedded to their own opinions, beyond what the law of grace and love will admit. Here is a Presbyterian, here an Independent, here a Baptist, so joined each man to his own opinion, that they cannot have that communion one with another, as by the testament of the Lord Jesus they are commanded and enjoined.' 'To help thee in this, keep thine eye much upon thine own base self, be clothed with humility, and prefer thy brother before thyself; and know that Christianity lieth not in small matters, neither before God nor understanding men.' I have often said in my heart, what is the reason that some of the brethren should be so shy of holding communion with those, every whit as good, if not better than themselves? Is it because they think themselves unworthy of their holy fellowship? No, verily; it is because they exalt themselves.' p.538. He goes on to declare that the difficulties which sin and Satan place in the way of the Christian pilgrim ought never to be concealed. Salvation is to be worked out with fear and trembling. It is only by divine aid, by dependence upon our heavenly Father, that it can be accomplished. 'To depart from iniquity to the utmost degree of requirement, is a copy too fair for mortal flesh exactly to imitate, while we are in this world. But with good paper, good ink, and a good pen, a skilful and willing man may go far.' p. 546, 547. Mr. Ryland's note on the Christian's trials is, 'when the love of sin is subdued in the conscience, then peace will flow in like a river, God will be glorified, Christ exalted; and the happy soul, under the teachings and influence of the all-wise, omnipotent Spirit, will experience sweet peace and joy in believing.' Millions of pilgrims have entered the celestial city, having fought their way to glory; and then, while singing the conqueror's song, all their troubles by the way must have appeared as sufferings but for a moment, which worked out for them an eternal and exceeding weight of glory, And then how blessed the song to him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto our God. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.—Geo. Offor.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FOLLOWING DISCOURSE
When I write of justification before God from the dreadful curse of the law; then I must speak of nothing but grace, Christ, the promise, and faith. But when I speak of our justification before men then I must join to these good works. For grace, Christ, and faith, are things invisible, and so not to be seen by another, otherwise than through a life that becomes so blessed a gospel as has declared unto us the remission of our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ. He then that would have forgiveness of sins, and so be delivered from the curse of God, must believe in the righteousness and blood of Christ: but he that would shew to his neighbours that he hath truly received this mercy of God, must do it by good works; for all things else to them is but talk: as for example, a tree is known to be what it is, to wit, whether of this or that kind, by its fruit. A tree it is, without fruit, but as long as it so abideth, there is ministered occasion to doubt what manner of tree it is.
A professor is a professor, though he hath no good works; but that, as such, he is truly godly, he is foolish that so concludeth. (Matt. 7:17,18; James 2:18) Not that works makes a man good; for the fruit maketh not a good tree, it is the principle, to wit, Faith, that makes a man good, and his works that shew him to be so. (Matt. 7:16; Luke 6:44)
What then? why all professors that have not good works flowing from their faith are naught; are bramble bushes; are 'nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.' (Heb. 6:8) For professors by their fruitlessness declare that they are not of the planting of God, nor the wheat, 'but tares and children of the wicked one.' (Matt. 13:37, 38)
Not that faith needeth good works as an help to justification before God. For in this matter faith will be ignorant of all good works, except those done by the person of Christ. Here, then, the good man 'worketh not, but believeth.' (Rom. 4:5). For he is not now to carry to God, but to receive at his hand the matter of his justification by faith; nor is the matter of his justification before God ought else but the good deeds of another man, to wit, Christ Jesus.
But is there, therefore, no need at all of good works, because a man is justified before God without them? or can that be called a justifying faith, that has not for its fruit good works? (Job 22:3; James 2:20, 26) Verily good works are necessary, though God need them not; nor is that faith, as to justification with God, worth a rush, that abideth alone, or without them.
There is, therefore, a twofold faith of Christ in the world, and as to the notion of justifying righteousness, they both concur and agree, but as to the manner of application, there they vastly differ. The one, to wit, the non-saving faith, standeth in speculation and naked knowledge of Christ, and so abideth idle: but the other truly seeth and receives him, and so becometh fruitful. (John 1:12; Heb. 11:13; Rom. 10:16) And hence the true justifying faith is said to receive, to embrace, to obey the Son of God, as tendered in the gospel: by which expression is shewed both the nature of justifying faith, in its actings in point of justification, and also the cause of its being full of good works in the world. A gift is not made mine by my seeing of it, or because I know the nature of the thing so given; but then it is mine if I receive and embrace it, yea, and as to the point in hand, if I yield myself up to stand and fall by it. Now, he that shall not only see, but receive, not only know, but embrace the Son of God, to be justified by him, cannot but bring forth good works, because Christ who is now received and embraced by faith, leavens and seasons the spirit of this sinner, through his faith, to the making of him capable so to be [justified].(Acts 15:9; Gen. 18:19; Heb. 11:11) Faith made Sarah receive strength to conceive seed, and we are sanctified through faith, which is in Christ. For faith hath joined Christ and the soul together, and being so joined, the soul is one spirit with him; not essentially, but in agreement and oneness of design. Besides, when Christ is truly received and embraced to the justifying of the sinner, in that man's heart he dwells by his word and Spirit, through the same faith also. Now Christ by his Spirit and word must needs season the soul he thus dwells in: so then the soul being seasoned, it seasoneth the body; and body and soul, the life and conversation.
We know it is not the seeing, but taking of a potion, that maketh it work as it should, nor is the blood of Christ a purge to this or that conscience, except received by faith. (Heb. 9:14)
Shall that then be counted right believing in Christ unto justification, that amounts to no more than to an idle speculation, or naked knowledge of him? shall that knowledge of him, I say, be counted such, as only causes the soul to behold, but moveth it not to good works? No, verily. For the true beholding of Jesus to justification and life, changes from glory to glory. (2 Cor. 3:18)
Nor can that man that hath so believed, as that by his faith he hath received and embraced Christ for life before God, be destitute of good works: for, as I said, the word and Spirit comes also by this faith, and dwells in the heart and conscience. Now, shall a soul where the word and Spirit of Christ dwells, be a soul without good works? Yea, shall a soul that has received the love, the mercy, the kindness, grace and salvation of God through the sorrows, tears, groans, cross, and cruel death of Christ, be yet a fruitless tree! God forbid. This faith is as the salt which the prophet cast into the spring of bitter water, it makes the soul good and serviceable for ever. (2 Kings 2:19-22) If the receiving of a temporal gift naturally tends to the making of us to move our cap and knee, and binds us to be the servant of the giver, shall we think that faith will leave him who by it has received Christ, to be as unconcerned as a stock or stone, or that its utmost excellency is to provoke the soul to a lip-labour, and to give Christ a few fair words for his pains and grace, and so wrap up the business? No, no; 'the love of Christ constraineth us' thus to judge that it is but reasonable, since he gave his all for us, that we should give our some for him. (2 Cor. 5:14,15)
Let no man, then, deceive himself, as he may and will if he takes not heed with true notions, but examine himself concerning his faith, to wit; Whether he hath any? and if some, Whether of that kind that will turn to account in the day when God shall judge the world.
I told you before that there is a twofold faith, and now I will tell you that there are two sorts of good works; and a man may be shrewdly guessed at with reference to his faith, even by the works that he chooseth to be conversant in.
There are works that cost nothing, and works that are chargeable. And observe it, the unsound faith will choose to itself the most easy works it can find. For example, there is reading, praying, hearing of sermons, baptism, breaking of bread, church fellowship, preaching, and the like; and there is mortification of lusts, charity, simplicity, open-heartedness, with a liberal hand to the poor, and their like also. Now the unsound faith picks and chooses, and takes and leaves, but the true faith does not so.
There are a great many professors now in England that have nothing to distinguish them from the worst of men, but their praying, reading, hearing of sermons, baptism, church-fellowship, and breaking of bread. Separate them but from these, and everywhere else they are as black as others, even in their whole life and conversation. Thus they have chosen to them the most easy things to do them, but love not to be conscionably found in the practice of the other; a certain sign their faith is nought, and that these things, even the things they are conversant in, are things attended to of them, not for the ends for which God has appointed them, but to beguile and undo themselves withal.
Praying, hearing, reading; for what are these things ordained, but that we might by the godly use of them attain to more of the knowledge of God, and be strengthened by his grace to serve him better according to his moral law? Baptism, fellowship, and the Lord's supper, are ordained for these ends also. But there is a vast difference between using of these things, and a using of them for these ends. A man may pray, yea pray for such things, had he them, as would make him better in morals, without desire to be better in morals, or love to the things he prays for. A man may read and hear, not to learn to do, though to know; yea he may be dead to doing moral goodness, and yet be great for reading and hearing all his days. The people then among all professors that are zealous of good works are the peculiar ones to Christ. (Titus 2:14) What has a man done that is baptized, if he pursues not the ends for which that appointment was ordained. The like I say of fellowship, of breaking of bread, etc.. For all these things we should use to support our faith, to mortify the flesh, and strengthen us to walk in newness of life by the rule of the moral law. Nor can that man be esteemed holy whose life is tainted with immoralities, let him be what he can in all things else. I am of that man's mind as to practical righteousness, who said to Christ upon this very question, 'Well, master, thou hast said the truth;—for to love the Lord our God with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.' (Mark 12:28-33) To love my neighbour as myself, to do as I would be done unto, this is the law and the prophets. And he that is altogether a stranger to these things, how dwelleth the love of God in him; or how will he manifest to another that his faith will save him?
Satan is afraid that men should hear of justification by Christ, lest they should embrace it. But yet, if he can prevail with them to keep fingers off, though they do hear and look on, and practise lesser things, he can the better bear it; yea, he will labour to make such professors bold to conclude they shall by that kind of faith enjoy him, though by that they cannot embrace him, nor lay hold of him. For he knows that how far soever a man engages in a profession of Christ with a faith that looks on, but cannot receive nor embrace him, that faith will leave him to nothing but mistaken and disappointments at last.
The gospel comes to some in word only, and the faith of such stands but in a verbal sound; but the apostle was resolved not to know or take notice of such a faith. (1 Thess. 1:4, 5) 'For the kingdom of God, saith he, 'is not in word, but in power.' (1 Cor. 1:18-20)' He whose faith stands only in a saying, I believe, has his works in bare words also, and as virtual is the one as the other, and both insignificant enough. 'If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone.' (James 2:15-17) This faith, therefore, Satan can allow, because it is somewhat of kin to his own. (vs. 10)
Besides, what greater contempt can be cast upon Christ than by such wordy professors is cast upon him? These are the men that by practice say, the gospel is but an empty sound. Yet, the more they profess, the louder they proclaim it thus to be, to his disgrace, while they, not withstanding their profession of faith, hold and maintain their league with the devil and sin. The Son of God was manifest that he might destroy the works of the devil, but these men profess his faith and keep these works alive in the world. (1 John 3) Shall these pass for such as believe to the saving of the soul? For a man to be content with this kind of faith, and to look to go to salvation by it, what to God is a greater provocation?
The devil laugheth here, for he knows he has not lost his vassal by such a faith as this, but that rather he hath made use of the gospel, that glorious word of life, to secure his captive, through, his presumption of the right faith, the faster in his shackles.
It is marvellous to me to see sin so high amidst the swarms of professors that are found in every corner of this land. Nor can any other reason be given for it, but because the gospel has lost its wonted virtue, or because professors want faith therein. But do you think it is because of the first? no, the word of our God shall stand in its strength for ever; the faith of such therefore is not right; they have for shields of gold, made themselves shields of brass; or instead of the primitive faith, which was of the operation of God, they have got to themselves a faith that stands by the power, and in the wisdom of man. (2 Chron. 12:9, 10; Col. 2:12; 1 Cor. 2:4, 5) And, to say no more to this, for what is God so angry with this land, but for the sin of the professors that dwell therein, while they have polluted his name with their gifts, and with their idols? God, I say, has been provoked most bitterly by us, while we have profaned his name, making use of his name, his word, and ordinances, to serve ourselves, '0 Lord, what wilt thou do to this land.' We are every one looking for something; even for something that carrieth terror and dread in the sound of its wings as it comes, though we know not the form nor visage thereof. One cries out, another has his hands upon his loins, and a third is made mad with the sight of his eyes, and with what his ears do hear. And as their faith hath served them about justification, so it now serves them about repentance and reformation: it can do nothing here neither; for though, as was said, men cry out, and are with their hands upon their loins for fear; yet, where is the church, the house, the man that stands in the gap for the land, to turn away this wrath by repentance, and amendment of life? Behold the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the places of the earth, and the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. But what is the cause of all this?—For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. (Micah 1:5)
It is that that is observed by them that can make observation, that all that God has done to us already has been ineffectual as to cause that humility and reformation, by which his judgments must be turned away. Repentance is rare this day, and yet without doubt, that without which, things will grow worse and worse. As for them that hope that God will save his people, though but from temporal judgments, whether they repent and reform, or do otherwise, I must leave them and their opinions together: this I have found, that sometimes the repentance, even of the godly, has come too late to divert such judgments. And, how some of the godly should be so indulged as to be saved from punishment without repentance, when the true and unfeigned repentance of others will not deliver them, leaves me, I confess, in a wilderness! But that which is most of all to be lamented is, that sin, through custom, is become no sin. The superfluity of naughtiness is at this day become no sin with many. Surely this was the case with Israel, else how could they say when the prophets so bitterly denounced God's judgments against them, 'Because we are innocent, surely his anger shall turn from us.' (Jer. 2:35) When custom or bad example has taken away the conscience of sin, it is a sign that [that] soul is in a dangerous lethargy; and yet this is the condition of the most that profess amongst us this day. But to leave this and to proceed.
As there is a twofold faith, two sorts of good works, and the like, so there is also a twofold love to Christ; the one standing, or stopping, in some passions of the mind and affections; the other is that which breaks through all difficulties to the holy commandment to do it. Of both these there is mention made in the scripture; and though all true love begins at the heart, yet that love is but little set by that breaks not through to practice. How many are there in the world that seem to have the first, but how few shew the second. The young man in the gospel, (Mark 10:17) did by his running, kneeling, crying, inquiring, and entreating of Christ, to shew him the way to life, shew that he had inward love to Christ and his own salvation; but yet it was not a love that was 'strong as death,' 'cruel as the grave,' and hotter than the coals of juniper. (Song 8:6) It was a love that stopped in mind and affection, but could not break out into practice. This kind of love, if it be let alone, and not pressed to proceed till it comes into a labouring practising of the commandment, will love as long as you will, to wit, as long as mouth and tongue can wag; but yet you shall not, by all your skill drive this love farther than the mouth; 'for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.' (Ezek. 33:31)
Nor may this love be counted for that of the right kind, because it is in the heart, for the heart knows how to dissemble about love, as much as about other matters. This is feigned love, or love that pretends to dear affections for Christ, but can bestow no cost upon him. Of this kind of love the world is full at this day, especially the professors of this age; but as I said, of this the Lord Jesus makes little or no account, for that it hath in it an essential defectiveness. Thus, therefore, Christ and his servants describe the love that is true and of the right kind, and that with reference to himself and church.
First, with reference to himself. 'If a man love me,' saith he, 'he will keep my words.' (John 14:23) And again, 'He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.' And, 'He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings.' 'And the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.' Behold you now where Christ placeth a sign of love, it is not in word nor in tongue, not in great and seemingly affectionate gestures, but in a practical walking in the law of the Lord. Hence such, and such only, are called the undefiled in the way. You know who says, 'I am the way.' 'Blessed,' saith David, 'are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.' (Ps. 119:1)
But here again the hypocrite will give us the slip by betaking himself to exterior matters, as to his 'mint and anise and cummin.' (Matt. 23:23) Still neglecting the more weighty matters of the law, to wit, judgment, mercy, faith; or else to the significative ordinances, still neglecting to do to all men as he would they should do to him. But let such know that God never ordained significative ordinances, such as baptism, the Lord's supper, or the like, for the sake of water, or of bread and wine; nor yet because he takes any delight that we are dipped in water, or eat that bread; but they were ordained to minister to us by the aptness of the elements, through our sincere partaking of them, further knowledge of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and of our death and resurrection by him to newness of life. Wherefore, he that eateth and believeth not, and he that is baptized, and is not dead to sin, and walketh not in newness of life, neither keepeth these ordinances nor pleaseth God. Now to be dead to sin, is to be dead to those things forbidden in the moral law. For sin is the transgression of that, and it availeth not to vaunt that I am a saint and under this or that significative ordinance, if I live in' the transgression of the law.'(1 John 3:4) For I am convicted of the law as a transgressor, and so concluded to be one that loveth not Christ, though I make a noise of my obedience to Christ, and of my partaking of his significative ordinances. The Jews of old made a great noise with their significative ordinances, while they lived in the breach of the moral law, but their practice of significative ordinances could not save them from the judgment and displeasure of their God. They could frequent the temple, keep their feasts, slay their sacrifices, and be mighty apt about all their significative things. But they loved idols, and lived in the breach of the second table of the law: wherefore God cast them out of his presence: hark what the prophet saith of them, (Amos 4:4) 'Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free-will offerings: for this liketh you, 0 ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God.' Thus, as I said, the hypocrite gives us the slip; for when he heareth that love is in the keeping of the commandments of God, then he betakes him to the more external parts of worship, and neglecteth the more weighty matters to the provoking of the God of Israel.
Second, As love to God is shewed by keeping of his commandments; so love to my neighbour, is the keeping of the commandments of God likewise. 'By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God,'—in us, both to God and man, 'that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.' (1 John 5:2, 3) He that keepeth not God's commandments, loves neither God nor men.
Thus then we must learn to love one another. He that keepeth God's commandment, doth to his brother what is right, for that is God's commandment. He that keeps God's commandment, doth to his brother even as he would be done unto himself, for that is God's commandment. He that keeps God's commandment, shutteth not up his bowels of compassion from him, for the contrary is his commandment. Further, he that keepeth God's commandment sheweth his brother what he must do to honour the Christ that he professeth, aright: therefore, he that keeps the commandment, loves his brother. Yea, the keeping of the commandment is loving the brethren.
But if all love, which we pretend to have one to another, were tried by this one text, how much of that that we call so, would be found to be nothing less? Preposterous are our spirits in all things, nor can they be guided right, but by the word and Spirit of God; the which, the good Lord grant unto us plentifully, that we may do that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yea, and that there may, by them, be wrought sound repentance in us for all that hath been done by us amiss, lest he give 'Jacob to the spoil, and Israel to the robbers;' for that they have sinned against him by not walking in his ways, and by not being obedient to his law. (Isa. 42:24)
Let me add, lest God doth not only punish us in the sight, and by the hand of the wicked; but embolden them to say, it was God that set them on; yea, lest they make those sins of ours, which we have not repented of, not only their bye-word against us to after generations, but the argument, one to another, of their justification for all the evil that they shall be suffered to do unto us: saying, when men shall ask them, 'Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?' (Deut. 29:24; 1 Kings 9:8; Jer. 22:8) 'Even because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, and walked not in his ways.'
A HOLY LIFE THE BEAUTY OF CHRISTIANITY
'AND, LET EVERY ONE THAT NAMETH THE NAME OF CHRIST DEPART FROM INIQUITY,—2 TIM. 2:19
TIMOTHY, unto whom this epistle was writ, was an evangelist, that is, inferior to apostles and extra-ordinary prophets, and above ordinary pastors and teachers. (2 Tim. 4:5; Eph. 4:11) And he with the rest of those under his circumstances was to go with the apostles hither and thither, to be disposed of by them as they saw need, for the further edification of those who by the apostolical ministry were converted to the faith: and hence it is, that Titus was left at Crete, and that this Timothy was left at Ephesus. (1 Tim. 1:3) For they were to do a work for Christ in the world, which the apostles were to begin, and leave upon their hands to finish. Now when the apostles departed from places, and had left these evangelists in their stead, usually there did arise some bad spirits among those people, where these were left for the furtherance of the faith. This is manifest by both the epistles to Timothy, and also by that to Titus: wherefore Paul, upon whom these two evangelists waited for the fulfilling of their ministry, writeth unto them while they abode where he left them, concerning those turbulent spirits which they met with, and to teach them how yet further they ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. And to this purpose he gives them, severally, divers instructions, as the judicious reader may easily understand, by which he encourageth them to the prosecution of that service which for Christ they had to do for those people where he had left them, and also instructeth them how to carry it towards their disturbers, which last he doth, not only doctrinally, but also by shewing them, by his example and practice, what he would have them do.
This done, he laboureth to comfort Timothy with the remembrance of the steadfastness of God's eternal decree of election, because grounded on his foreknowledge; saying, though Hymeneus and Philetus have erred from the faith, and, by their fall, have overthrown the faith of some, 'Yet the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.' Now lest this last hint should still encourage some to be remiss and carnally secure, and foolish, as I suppose this doctrine abused, had encouraged them to be before; therefore the apostle immediately conjoineth to it this exhortation; 'And, let every one that nameth; the name of Christ depart from iniquity.' Two truths strangely, but necessarily joined together, because so apt to be severed by the children of men; for many, under the pretence of their being elected, neglect to pursue holiness; and many of them again that pretend to be for holiness, quite exclude the doctrine and motives that election gives thereto. Wherefore the apostle, that he might set men's notions as to these things right, he joins these two together, signifying thereby, that as electing love doth instate a man in the blessing of eternal life; so holiness is the path thereto; and, that he that refuseth to depart from iniquity shall be dammed; notwithstanding he may think himself secured from hell by the act of God's electing love. For election designeth men not only to eternal glory, but to holiness of life, a means, thereto. (Eph. 1:4, 5) And the manner of this connection of truth is the more to be noted by us, because the apostle seems to conjoin them, in an holy heat of spirit, saying, 'The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.' And, 'let every one that shall but so much as name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity;' or, as who should say, God will be revenged upon them for all, or, notwithstanding, they appropriate unto themselves the benefits of election.
In the text we have, FIRST, An exhortation. SECOND, The extension of that exhortation. The exhortation is, That men depart from iniquity. The extension of it is, to them, all of them, every one of them that name the name of Christ. 'And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.'
[FIRST, THE EXHORTATION—THAT MEN DEPART FROM INIQUITY]
In the exhortation there are several things to be taken notice of, because insinuated by the apostle. The first is, that iniquity is a very dangerous and hurtful thing, as to the souls of sinners in general; so to them that name the name of Christ.
First, Iniquity is a very dangerous and hurtful thing to men in general; for it is that which did captivate the world at the beginning, and that made it a bond-slave to the devil. It has also done great hurt to mankind ever since. To instance a few things:
1. It is that which hath stupefied and besotted the powers of men's souls, and made them even next to a beast and brute in all matters supernatural heavenly. (2 Peter 2:12) For as the beast minds nothing but his lusts and his belly, by nature, so man minds nothing but things earthly, sensual, and devilish, by reason of iniquity.
2. It has blinded and darkened the powers of the soul, so that it can neither see where it is, nor which is the way out of this besotted condition. (Eph. 4:18)
3. It has hardened the heart against God, and against all admonition and counsel in the things of the gospel of Christ. (Rom. 2:5)
4. It has alienated the will, the mind, and affections, from the choice of the things that should save it, and wrought them over to an hearty delight in those things that naturally tend to drown it in perdition and destruction. (Col. 1:21)
5. It has made man odious in God's eyes, it has provoked the justice of God against him, and made him obnoxious to hell-fire. (Ezek. 16:5)
6. Yea, it so holds him, so binds him, so reserves him to this, that not he himself, nor yet all the angels of heaven, can deliver him from this deplorable condition. (Prov. 5:22)
7. To say nothing of their pleasure and delight that it makes him take in that way to hell in which he walketh. (Isa. 66:3; Prov. 7:22, 23) Never went fat ox so gamesomely to the shambles, nor fool so merrily to the correction of the stocks, nor silly bird so wantonly to the hidden net, as iniquity makes men go down her steps to the pit of hell and damnation. O it is amazing, it is astonishing to consider what hurt sin hath done to man, and into how many dangers it has brought him; but let these few hints at this time suffice as to this. I will now speak a word to the other particular, namely,
Second, That as iniquity is dangerous and hurtful to the souls of men in general, so it is to them that name the name of Christ. As to the so and so naming of him, to that I shall speak by and by, but at this time take it thus: That religiously name his name. And I say iniquity is hurtful to them.
1. It plucks many a one of them from Christ and the religious profession of him. I have even seen, that men who have devoutly and religiously professed Jesus Christ, have been prevailed withal, by iniquity, to cast him and the profession of his name quite off, and to turn their backs upon him. 'Israel,' saith the prophet, 'hath cast off the thing that is good.' (Hosea 8:3) But why? 'Of their silver and their gold have they made them idols.' The sin of idolatry threw their hearts from God; their love to that iniquity made them turn their backs upon him. Wherefore God complains, that of forwardness to their iniquity, and through the prevalence thereof, they had cast him behind their back. (Ezek. 23:35)
2. As it plucks many a professor from Christ, so it keeps many a one from an effectual closing with him. How many are there that religiously profess and make mention of the name of Christ, that yet of love to, and by the interest that iniquity hath in their affections, never close with him unto salvation, but are like to them, of whom you read in Paul to Timothy, that they are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim. 3:1-7)
3. And concerning those that have indeed come to him, and that have effectually closed with him, and that name his name to good purpose; yet how hath iniquity hurt and abused many of them. (1.) It has prevailed with God to hide his face from them, a thing more bitter than death. (2.) It has prevailed with God to chastise, and to afflict them sorely, a thing in which he taketh no pleasure. (Lam 3:33) (3.) It has provoked God to give them over to the hand of the enemy, and to deliver them to the tormentors. (Jer. 12:7; Matt. 18:34) (4.) It hath brought them to question their interest in Christ, and whether they ever had grace in their souls. (Psa. 31:22) (5.) And for those that have yet believed they were in his favour, this iniquity hath driven them to fear that God would cast them away, and take all his good things from them. (Psa. 51)
Yea, he that would know the hurt that iniquity hath done to them that name the name of Christ, let him consider the cries, the sighs, the tears, the bemoanings, the bewailings, the lamentations, the sorrows, the confessions, the repentings and griefs wherewith they have been attended, while they have complained that they have been put in the stocks, laid in the dungeon, had their bones broken, suffered the terrors of God, been distressed almost to distraction, and have been fed with gravel, gall, wormwood, and with the water of astonishment, for days, yea, years together. (Job 13:27; Psa. 6:6; Psa. 31:9, 10; Psa. 38:8; Psa. 60:3; Psa. 88; Psa. 116:3; Jer. 8:14; Jer. 23:15; Jer. 31:18; Lam. 3:4, 16; Ezek. 4:16; 2 Cor. 12:21) By all which, and many more which might be mentioned, it appears that iniquity is a dangerous and hurtful thing.
[SECOND, THE EXTENSION OF THE EXHORTATION—TO EVERY ONE THAT NAMETH THE NAME OF CHRIST.]
But I proceed, and come in the next place to the extension of the exhortation, namely, that it reacheth to all those that name the name of Christ. 'And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'
To handle this a little, and to shew you what the apostle here means by naming of the name of Christ: he meaneth not an irreligious naming of that worthy name, nor those that name it irreligiously. This is evident, because he passeth by their manner of naming of it without the least reproof, the which he would not have done had the fault been in their manner of naming of the name of Christ. Now I say, if he intendeth not those that name the name of Christ irreligiously, then, though the exhortation, 'let every one,' seems to extend itself to all, and all manner of persons, that any ways name the name of Christ, yet it is limited by this, to wit, that rightly, religiously, or according to the way of the professors of Christ, name his worthy name. And it must needs be so taken, and that for these reasons:
First, For that, as I said before, the apostle taketh no notice of their manner of naming of his name, so as to reprove any indecency or unseemliness in their naming of him; wherefore he alloweth of the manner of their naming of him.
Secondly, because the apostle's design in this exhortation was, and is, that the naming of the name of Christ might be accompanied with such a life of holiness as might put an additional lustre upon that name whenever named in a religious way; but this cannot be applied to every manner of naming the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man shall name the name of Christ unduly, or irreligiously, though he shall never so much therewithal depart from iniquity, and be circumspect to the utmost in all civility and morality, yet he answers not the apostle's end, which he seeks by this his exhortation. For,
1. Suppose a man should name the name of Christ vainly, idly, in vain mirth, wantonness, false or vain swearing, or the like, and shall back this, his manner of naming the name of Christ, with all manner of justness and uprightness of life, would this answer the apostle's end in this his exhortation? Verily no; for this manner of naming the name is worthy reprehension; 'Thou shalt not take my name in vain,' or vainly make use thereof: and moral goodness attending the so-naming of the name of Christ will do more hurt than good. (Ex. 20)
2. There is a reproachful and scandalous naming of the name of Christ, such as the Jews and Pharisees did accustom themselves unto, as to call him Jesus, the deceiver; and Christ, in a way of scorn and contempt. Nor were these men quite destitute of that which put a lustre upon their opinions; for, said the Lord Christ himself unto them, 'Ye indeed appear beautiful outward.' (Matt. 23:27)
3. There is such a naming of the name of Christ as to make it a cloak for false and dangerous errors: that men, by the use of that name, and the putting of it upon such errors and delusions, may put off their errors to others the better. 'Many shall come in my name, to wit, with their delusions, presenting them, in my name, to the world, and shall put them off, in my name, to the destruction of the soul. (Matt. 24:5) Now, can any imagine that the apostle should extend his exhortation to such, that they, thus continuing to name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity. To what end should such be comprehended in this of exhortation of his? to no purpose at all: for the more an erroneous person, or a deceiver of souls, shall back his errors with a life that is morally good, the more mischievous, dangerous, and damnable is that man and his delusions; wherefore such a one is not concerned in this exhortation.
4. There is a naming of the name of Christ magically, and after the manner of exorcism, or, conjuration; as we read in the Acts of the apostles. vagabond Jews, the exorcists, there say, 'We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth.' (Acts 19:13-15) Thus they called over them that had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus. But what if these should clothe this, their devilish art, and devilish way, of using or naming of the name of the Lord Jesus, with departing from iniquity, so as to commend their whole life to by-standers, for such: as is morally good: what advantage would Christ, or Paul, or the gospel, get thereby? verily none at all; but rather damage and reproach, as will soon appear to any man's reason, if it be considered that goodness of life, joined to badness of principles is like the devil clothed in white, or Satan transformed into an angel of light. And Paul was grieved in his spirit, when the wench that had a spirit of divination did acknowledge him to be the servant of the most high God, for he knew it would nothing further, or help forward, the Lord's design, but be rather an hinderance thereto. For when witches and devils come once to commend, or make use of the name of Christ, Christ and Paul like it not; therefore Paul's exhortation, which here are presented with by the text, is not extended to any of the four sorts aforenamed, but,
Third, To those upon whom his name is called, they should depart from iniquity. I say those whom God has so far dignified, as to put the name of Christ upon them. (Acts 15:17) And I will add, that apply that name to themselves. And the reason is, because God is now concerned. (ch. 11:26) God has changed thy name from Pagan to Christian, and thou choosest to call thyself by that name, saying, 'I belong to Christ.' Now thou must depart from iniquity, for that notice is taken of thee, both by heaven and earth, that thou art become a disciple, and 'let every one that' so 'nameth the name of Christ,' or that nameth it, being himself by God and himself put under such circumstances as these, 'depart from iniquity.' (1 Peter 4:16)
Fourthly, It is spoken to those that name the name of Christ either in the public or private worship of God, being themselves professed worshippers of him; and the reason is, for that the ordinances, as well as the name of God, is holy, and 'he will be sanctified in them that come nigh him.' (Lev. 10:3) He therefore that approacheth the presence of Christ in prayer, or any other divine appointment, must take heed of regarding 'iniquity in his heart.' (Psa. 66:18) Else the Lord will stop his ears to his prayers, and will shut his eyes, and not take notice of such kind of worship or worshippers.
Fifthly, Those that the apostle in this place exhorts to depart from iniquity are such as have taken unto themselves the boldness to say, that they are in him, abide in him, and consequently are made partakers of the benefits that are in him. 'He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.' (1 John 2:6) And the reason is, because Christ is a fruitful root, and a free conveyer of sap into the branches; hence it is written, that 'the trees of the Lord are full of sap.' (Psa. 104:16) So then, he that nameth the name of Christ by way of applying to himself his benefits, and as counting that he is found of God in him, and so abideth, ought himself to walk even as he walked, that he may give proof of what he saith to be true, by bearing forth before men that similitude of righteousness that is in his root and stem: for such as the stock or tree is, such let the branches be, but that cannot be known but by the fruit: 'ye shall know them by their fruit.' (Matt. 7:16) So then, he that thus shall name the name of Christ, let him depart from iniquity: yea, let every such man do so.
Sixthly, This exhortation is spoken to them that name Christ as their Sovereign Lord and King: let them 'depart from iniquity.' 'The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; he will save us.' (Isa. 33:22) [These] are great words; and as they cannot be spoken by every one, so they ought not to be spoken lightly by them that can. Nor may he that claims so high a privilege be but obedient, submissive, apt to learn, conscientiously to put in practice what he hath learnt of his Judge, his Lawgiver, and his King. Lest when some shall hear him say that Christ, by name, is his Lawgiver and his King, and shall yet observe him to do things evil, and to walk in ways that are not good, they shall think evil, and speak so of his King; saying, Learnt you this of Christ your King? or doth your King countenance you in ways that are so bad? or, do you by thus and thus doing submit to the laws of your king? yea, your King, his name and gospel shall bear the burden of the evil, together with the shame thereof, if thou that namest the name of Christ shalt not depart from iniquity.
Lastly, Whatever man he be that by his naming of the name of Christ shall intimate that he hath any reverence of love to, or delight in that Christ, whose name he nameth, that man should depart from iniquity, not only for the reasons that are above mentioned, but for those that may be named afterwards.
But having thus far opened the word, and shewed who and what manner of man the apostle had in his eye, in this his exhortation, I shall come, in the next place, to make some observations upon the text. As,
That it is incident to men to name the name of Christ religiously, that is, rightly as to words and nations, and not to 'depart from iniquity.' This was the occasion of this exhortation, for Paul saw that there were some that did so; to wit, that named the name of Christ well, as to words, but did not depart from iniquity. Some such he also I found among them at Corinth, which made him say, 'Awake to righteousness, and sin not.' (1 Cor. 15:34) He found such at Ephesus, and cries out to them most earnestly, saying, 'Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.' (Eph. 5:14) For albeit they were professors of Christ, yet they lived too much like those that were dead in trespasses and sins, This he also found among the Hebrews, wherefore he saith to them, 'Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.' (Heb. 12:1) These professors are easily beset with sin, yea, it did hang upon them as weights to hinder them from making of that profession of Christ, whose name they named, as beautiful as did become both him and them.
In my discourse upon this subject, I must endeavour to shew you two things. FIRST, What Paul means when he saith, 'depart from iniquity.' SECONDLY, Why some, that as to words, rightly name the name of Christ, do not 'depart from iniquity.'
The first of those doth need some explanation, because in some sense even the best of saints cannot depart from sin, or iniquity.
1. Because as to the being of it, it is seated and rooted in their flesh, and hath its dwelling there. Yea, it hath, and so will have an abiding there, so long as man is on this side that state of perfection, which is not to be enjoyed while we are in the flesh: 'for in me, that is, in my flesh,' sin dwells, (Rom. 7:18) nor doth any thing else but sin dwell there: 'for in me, that is, in my flesh, said Paul, 'dwelleth no good thing:' therefore the apostle must not be understood as if he intended to insinuate that there was a possibility that the nature and being of sin could be plucked up by the roots, and so cast clean away from us, as to the very nature thereof. No, that will abide with us, for it hath its dwelling in us.
2. And as they cannot depart from the nature, of it as such, that is, as they cannot be rid of the being of sin, so neither can they depart from the motions and stirrings of sin, no more than they can stir from the motions or stirrings of their natural senses, or of their natural reason: the motions of sin, which Paul also calls the lusts thereof, will be where the nature and being of sin is, because it is not dead; for that which liveth, what manner of life soever it hath, will have motion according to the manner of life which it hath; and sin being one of the most quick and brisk things that are, it will also have its motions and lusts accordingly. Hence Paul says, it lusts, and will lust, where it is and dwells; though the very Spirit of God and the utmost diligence of a Christian be also there to oppose it. (Rom. 6:12; Gal. 5:17)
3. Again, as the being and motions of sin will be with us, so also will it in its endeavours. It will endeavour to overcome us, and to make us captives to itself and to Satan; and these endeavours will be with us. (Eph. 6:11, 12; 2 Cor. 10:5; Heb. 12:4) Nor can we so depart from iniquity, as to be utterly rid of all sense and feeling of what endeavours there are in sin and iniquity to be master and lord, and reign. Sin will endeavour to defile the mind, to defile the conscience, to defile the life and conversation; and this endeavour, as endeavour, we cannot depart from; that is, cause that it should not be in our flesh; for there it will be, since sin in its being is there.
4. As the being, motions, and endeavours of sin will still abide in our flesh, so consequently will its polluting fumes be upon us; nor doth the apostle mean, when he bids us depart from iniquity, that we should think that we can so be, or so do, in this life, as that our being or doing should not smell of the strong scent of sin. 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.'( Job 14:4) 'We are all as an unclean thing, and' therefore 'all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.' (Isa. 64:6) The scent, the smell, the rank and odious stink of sins abide upon, yea, and will abide upon us, when most spiritual here, and upon our most spiritual actions too, until they be taken away by Christ. Thus far, therefore, we cannot be concerned in the exhortation. For should Paul exhort us to depart from the being, motion, endeavour, and polluting fumes and scent of sin—I mean so to depart from them, as that there shall no such thing have place, or motion, or striving, or scent in, or upon us—he would exhort us to that which is altogether impossible for us to perform, yea, to perform through that working of the Spirit of God, which is to be with us and in us here. Yea, he must exhort us to that which be could not perform himself. But such exhortations did not stand with the wisdom of an apostle. Wherefore there is a certain meaning in this exhortation, from the which if we swerve, we shall both wrong the apostle and ourselves.
FIRST—Let us inquire then what Paul should mean, where he bids them 'that name the name of Christ depart from iniquity.' And for our better understanding of him, we must consider that there is an iniquity that is inherent in us, and an iniquity that is apart, and at a distance from us. Now if he means, as certainly he doth, that they that name the name of Christ should depart from that sin and iniquity that is in themselves; then, though he cannot mean that we should separate that from our persons, for that is impossible, yet he would have us,
First, Take off and withdraw our MINDS and AFFECTIONS therefrom. And he tells us that they that are Christ's do so. 'And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.' (Gal. 5:24) Sinful lusts and sinful motions our minds and affections should depart from them. There are the affections and lusts of sin; and there are the affections and lusts, or desires of the soul; and again, there are the affections and lusts of the new man in saints. Now this is that that the apostle would have, to wit, that the affections and passions of our souls should not choose but depart from the affections and lusts of our old man, and should be renewed and made willing to be led by the Holy Ghost from them. 'This I say,' says he, 'Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.' (ver. 16)
Wherefore, when he saith, depart from iniquity, if he means from our own inherent iniquity, then he must mean thus, take your mind and your affections off, carry your minds away from them, set your minds and affections upon other objects, and let your minds and affections be yielded up to the conduct of the word and Spirit of God, 'Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.' (Rom. 6:12) Now a man, in mind and affections, may depart from that which yet will not depart from him; yea, a man in mind may depart from that which yet will dwell in him as long as he lives.
For instance, there are many diseases that cleave to men, from which, in their minds, they willingly depart. Yea, their greatest disquietment is, that so bad a distemper will abide by them, and might they but have their desire accomplished, they would be as far therefrom as the ends of the earth are asunder, and while they are found to continue together, the mind departs therefrom, and is gone either to God or to physicians for help and deliverance from it.
And thus it is with the saint, and should be with every one that by way of profession nameth the name of Christ, he should depart from his indwelling sin, with his mind. 'With his mind he should serve the law of God.' (Rom. 7:25) And this is an excellent thing to do, and can be done by none but such as are possessed with an excellent spirit. Ah! to find a man that really departs from himself, and that draweth the affections of the soul, from the affections and lusts of his flesh is rare thing. (Ezek. 11:19-21) The heart of the most of professors goeth after their detestable lusts, and after their inward abominations. But such shall of the flesh reap corruption,' notwithstanding they name the name of Christ. (Gal. 6:8)
Sin is sweet to him that is nothing but flesh, or that can savour nothing but what is of the flesh. (Job 20:12) Nor can it be that be that is such should depart from himself, his sweet self. (Rom. 8:5-8) No, they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; wherefore they that are in the flesh, though they profess religion and name the name of Christ, cannot please God; for such, instead of walking in and after the Spirit, have put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their faces, to hinder their departing therefrom. (Ezek. 14:7, 8) nor will all their inquiring of God, nor their seeking and praying to him, keep them from stumbling and falling, and splitting themselves in sunder upon the rocks and ruins that are provided for them, as a reward of the evil of their doings. (Job 14:16) Yea, they shall suck the poison of asps, and the viper's tongue shall slay them, notwithstanding all their profession.
Question. But some may say, how shall I know that I do depart from the iniquity of my flesh, from the iniquity that is in me.
Answer. I shall answer this question briefly thus:
(1.) How is iniquity in thine eye, when severed from the guilt and punishment that attends it? Is it as separate from these, beauteous, or ill-favoured? I ask thee how it looks, and how thou likest it, suppose there were no guilt or punishment to attend thy love to, or commission of it? For if in its own nature it be desirable to thy mind, and only therefore shunned for fear of the punishment that attends the commission of it, without doubt thou art none of them that do depart from it; all that thou dost is, thou shunnest the sin, not of abhorrence of the sin, but for fear of the punishment that attends it. Like the thief that yet refuseth to take away his neighbour's horse, not of hatred of theft, but for fear of the gallows.
(2.) How dost thou like thyself, as considered possessed with a body of sin, and as feeling and finding that sin worketh in thy members? doth this yield thee inward pleasedness of mind, and a kind of secret sweetness, or bow? for to be sure, where a sanctified mind is, there is nothing more; odious in itself, nor that makes a man so in his own eyes, as doth this sight, the sight of sin in him, of the working of lust in him. (Job 42:6; Ezek. 16:63; Rom. 6:12) It is this that makes the good man ashamed, that makes him blush, and that makes him abhor himself.
(3.) How look thy duties in thine eyes, I mean thy duties which thou doest in the service of God? I say, how look the best of these, the most warm and spiritual of these, since not one of them can be performed, but they do catch the stain of sin, as coming from thee? or art thou through the ignorance that is in thee as [one] unacquainted with these things?
(4.) Why wouldst thou go to heaven? Is it because thou wouldst be saved from hell, or because thou wouldst be freed from sin? I say, wouldst thou go to heaven, because it is a place that is holy, or because it is a place remote from the pains of hell? I ask again, wherein dost thou think the blessedness of heaven consists? is it in the holiness that is there, or in the freedom that is there from hell? There is not a man alive but would go to heaven, that he may be saved from hell: but how many would go thither that they might be saved from the pleasures of sin, from the inward pleasure of sin; of that I will be silent, though surely they are those that are out of love with sin, and that do depart from iniquity.
Verily, my brethren, it is a great thing to depart from iniquity; it is a great thing to have my will, my mind, and my affections departing from it. But,
Second, As they that depart from iniquity withdraw their minds and affections from the lusts and motions of it, so they depart also from the OCCASIONS of it; there are occasions by which sin worketh to bring forth the fruits thereof, and some seek those occasions. (Rom. 14:13; 1 Tim. 5:4; Ex. 23:7; Prov. 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:16) But he that hath set himself to depart from sin in himself, will not seek occasions from abroad to do it. Such a man as will keep far from an evil matter will not company with a person that pollutes and defiles, nor will he come near the door of the adulteress's house; he will shun profane and vain babbling, for fear of the ungodliness that attends it; he will walk with wise men that he may be wise, knowing that 'a companion of fools shall be destroyed.' (Prov. 13:20)
Now there are occasions given and occasions taken to sin against the Lord Jesus; but he that departeth from iniquity departeth from them both. He is not for giving any occasion to others to sin; he had rather wrong himself and put up with injuries done, than give occasion to others to do iniquity; and as he is for giving none, so neither is he for taking any: he is for partaking of no man's sins, but for keeping of himself pure. (1 Tim. 5:22)
Third, To depart from iniquity, is to depart from it in those EXAMPLES that are set before us thereto: occasions and examples are sometimes the same, but there may be occasions to sin where there are no examples thereto, and therefore in that they differ. And to depart from iniquity is to shun and depart from those examples, those beastly examples, that in every corner of the country present themselves to men.
Examples to drunkenness; examples to whoredom; examples to swearing, to lying, to stealing, to sabbath-breaking, to pride, to covetousness, to deceit, to hypocrisy, and to what not, are now-a-days common among men, and he that is to seek in this matter, and that know not how to be expertly base, may have patterns and examples thereto in every hole. But to depart from iniquity is to depart from sinful examples, to shut the eyes at them, to turn the back upon them, and to cry out to heaven for grace to be kept in the path of life. And, 'Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'
Fourth, To depart from iniquity is to depart from the ENTICINGS of iniquity. There is that in iniquity that is of an enticing nature. Its pleasures, profits, honours, delights, and sweetnesses are enticing, and he that hankers after these is not departed nor departing from iniquity. A man must be weaned from these things, and must find some things somewhere else that are better than these, else he cannot depart from iniquity.
Question. But some may say, I go from it and it follows me; I reject it and it returns upon me; I have said it nay, a thousand times, and yet it offereth itself and its deceits to me again, what would you have me do?
Answer. I would answer thus; Departing from iniquity is not a work of an hour, or a day, or a week, or a month, or a year; but it is a work that will last thee thy lifetime, and there is the greatness and difficulty of it: were it to be done presently, or were the work to be quickly over, how many are there that would be found to have departed from iniquity; but for that it is a work of continuance, and not worth anything, unless men hold out to the end, therefore it is that so few are found actors or overcomers therein. Departing from iniquity, with many, is but like the falling out of two neighbours, they hate one another for a while, and then renew their old friendship again.
But again, since to depart from iniquity is a work of time—of all thy time, no wonder if it dogs thee, and offereth to return upon thee again and again; for THAT is mischievous, and seeks nothing less than thy ruin: wherefore thou must, in the first place, take it for granted that thus it will be and so cry the harder to God for the continuing of his presence and grace upon thee in this blessed work, that as thou hast begun to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, and begun to depart from iniquity, so thou mayest have strength to do it to the last gasp of thy life.
And further, for that departing from iniquity is a kind of a warfare with it, for iniquity will hang in thy flesh what it can, and will not be easily kept under; therefore no marvel if thou find it wearisome work, and that the thing that thou wouldest be rid of, is so unwilling to let thee depart from it.
And since the work is so weighty, and that it makes thee to go groaning on, I will for thy help give thee here a few things to consider of: and [remember],
1. Remember that God sees thee, and has his eyes open upon thee, even then when sin and temptation is lying at thee to give it some entertainment. This was that that made Joseph depart from it, when solicited to embrace it by a very powerful argument. (Gen. 34:6-7)
2. Remember that God's wrath burns against it, and that he will surely be revenged on it, and on all that give it entertainment. This made Job afraid to countenance it, and put him upon departing from it; 'For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.' (Job 31:23)
3. Remember the mischiefs that it has done to those that have embraced it, and what distress it has brought upon others. This made the whole congregation of Israel tremble to think that any of their brethren should give countenance to it. (Josh. 22:16-18)
4. Remember what Christ hath suffered by it, that he might deliver us from the power of it. This made Paul so heartily to depart from it, and wish all Christians to do so as well as he. (2 Cor. 5:14)
5. Remember that those that are now in hell-fire went thither for that they loved iniquity, and would not depart from it. (Psa. 9:17; 11:6)
6. Remember that a profession is not worth a pin, if they that make it do not depart from iniquity. (James 2:16, 17)
7. Remember that thy death-bed will be very uneasy to thee, if thy conscience at that day shall be clogged with the guilt of thy iniquity. (Hosea 7:13, 14)
8. Remember that at the judgment-day Christ will say to those, Depart from me, that have not here departed from their sin and iniquity. (Luke 13:27; Matt. 25:41)
Lastly, Remember well, and think much upon what a blessed reward the Son of God will give unto them at that day that have joined to their profession of faith in him a holy and blessed conversation.
Having thus briefly showed you these things, I shall come in the next place,
SECOND, To show you, why some, that as to words rightly name the name of Christ, do not depart from iniquity. That it is incident to men to name the name of Christ religiously, and not to depart from iniquity, I have proved already, and now I must show you why it is so, and the reasons are of three sorts:
First, Some profess him, yet have not saving faith in him, nor yet received grace from him. That some profess him that have not faith in him, nor received grace from him, I will make appear first; and then that they do not depart from iniquity, shall be shown afterwards.
That the first is true consider, Christ says to his disciples, 'There are some of you that believe not.' And again, 'For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.' (John 4:64) Now if they believe not, they have none of his grace in them; for faith is the first and head grace, the beginning and leading grace; he, therefore, that is destitute of that is empty of all the rest. Besides, other scriptures also confirm this truth. James calls I some of the professors of Christ that were in his day vain or empty men. (James 2:20) That is, men void of grace. And the apostle suggesteth in the very words below the text, that as in God's house there are golden and silver saints, so there are also earthy and wooden ones. For 'in a great house' as God's is, 'are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour.' (2 Tim 2:20) That is, some for heaven and some for hell. (Rom 9: 20-23)
Now they are these wooden and earthy professors that he aimeth at in the text; to wit, that they should depart from iniquity, or else their profession would do them no good, and these also that he despaireth of in the next words, saying, But in this great house of God there will not only be golden and silver Christians, but wooden and earthly ones: And if any man purge himself from these, from these men's companies, and from these men's vices, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared to every good work. From all which it is gathered that there are some that name the name of Christ in a way of profession, that have neither faith nor grace in them, and so, consequently, that do not depart from iniquity. For,
These want that principle, that holy and blessed principle, that should induce them thereunto; to wit, the great and principal graces of the Spirit, and they are four.
1. As I have said, they want FAITH, that heart-purifying grace, for the heart is purified by faith. (Acts 15:9) I have showed you already that departing from iniquity must be with the mind and affections, or with the heart. But how can that be, where the heart is not sanctified and made holy? For, an unsanctified mind cannot depart from iniquity, no more than the Ethiopian can change his skin. (Jer. 13:3) But nothing can purify the heart but faith. Therefore nothing can make a professor depart from iniquity where faith is wanting. So then, when men professedly name the name of Christ without having holy faith in him, they still abide by their iniquity; they depart not from their iniquity, but rather make of their profession a cloak for their iniquity, for their malice, and for their covetousness, and the like. (1 Thess 2:15; 1 Peter 2:16) It is not profession, but faith, that bringeth God and the soul together; and as long as God and the soul are at a distance, whatever profession is made, there is not a departing, not an heart-departing from iniquity. Wherefore to these professors James writeth thus, 'Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.' (James 4:8) Men, far from God, cannot think reverently of him, nor so speak and profess him, as standeth with the nature of gospel religion; wherefore God saith, draw near hither, that is by faith; and again, 'let them come near, then let them speak,' then let them profess. (Isa 41:1) Without faith a man cannot please God, because he cannot without it stand before him in the spotless righteousness of Christ, nor yet depart from iniquity, and live a holy life. (Heb 11:6)
There are three things in faith, that directly tend to make a man depart from iniquity. (l.) It apprehendeth the truth of the being and greatness of God, and so it aweth the spirit of a man. (2.) It apprehendeth the love of this God in Christ, and so it conquereth and overcometh the spirit of a man. (3.) It apprehendeth the sweetness and blessedness of the nature of the Godhead, and thence persuadeth the soul to desire here, communion with him, that it may be holy, and the enjoyment of him, when this world is ended, that it may be happy in, and by him, for ever.
But without faith these things cannot be apprehended, and therefore those that want it, whatever; their profession is, they will not depart from iniquity.
2. [They want REPENTANCE.] Repentance is another of the great and principal graces which the Holy Ghost worketh in the heart. Wherefore, without this also there can be no departing from iniquity. It is in vain to expect it of any man, let his profession be never so stately and great, if he is a stranger to sound repentance. How many are there in our day, since the gospel is grown so common, that catch up a notion of good things and from that notion make a profession of the name of Christ, get into churches, and obtain the title of a brother, a saint, a member of a gospel congregation, that have clean escaped repentance. I say, they have catched up a notion of good things, and have through that adventured to name the name of Christ, quite forgetting to take repentance with them. Repentance should be, and is one of the first steps into the true gospel profession. (Mark 1:15; Prov 3:7; 16:6) But some know nothing of it, until they come to the end of all, and their repentance will do them no good. Repentance is not but where the true fear of God is; yea, the fear of God is one ground of repentance. Repentance is the scouring grace, it is that which purges. Repentance is, as I may call it, that bitter pill without the taking, and sound working of which, base and sinful humours will rest unstirred, unpurged, undriven out of the soul. Can repentance be where godly sorrow is not? or can repentance be where the fruits of repentance are not? O the fruits of repentance, thick sown by preachers, but it comes up but thinly! (Mark 1:4,5; Rom 6:21; Jer 7:3,5) Where shall the fruits of repentance be found? Confession of sin is one fruit of repentance; shame for sin is another fruit of repentance; amendment of life is another fruit of repentance; restitution for couzening, cheating, defrauding, beguiling thy neighbour, is another fruit of repentance. (Luke 19:5-8) Yea, if you would see the fruits of repentance as described by the Holy Ghost, and put together for the further conviction and shame of the impenitent professor, look into the second epistle to the Corinthians, 12:9-11.
But this is a day that was never read of, a day wherein conversion is frequent without repentance; such a conversion as it is, and therefore doth the church of God now swarm with them that religiously name the name of Christ, and yet depart not from iniquity. Alas! all houses, all tables, all shops, have hanging up in them the sign of the want of repentance. (Eccl 7:27,28) To say nothing of the talk, of the beds and the backs of most that profess, by which of these is it that one of a thousand for men; and for women, one of ten thousand, do show that they have repentance? No marvel then that the name of Christ is so frequently mentioned there, where iniquity dwells, yea, reigns, and that with the consent of the mind.
I would not be austere, but were wearing of gold, putting on of apparel, dressing up houses, decking of children, learning of compliments, boldness in women, lechery in men, wanton behaviour, lascivious words, and tempting carriages, signs of repentance; then I must say, the fruits of repentance swarm in our land; but if these be none of the fruits of repentance then, O, the multitude of professors, that religiously name the name of Christ, and do not depart from iniquity. But,
3. [They want LOVE.] Love is another of those great and principal graces which the Holy Ghost worketh in the heart; wherefore let profession be never so high, yet if love be wanting there, to be sure such professors 'depart not from iniquity,' (1 Cor 13) Hence all profession, and subjecting to profession, are counted nothing, where love is not. Love is counted a most infallible sign that a man is in a state of salvation. 'He that loveth dwells in God, is born of God, and knoweth him.' (1 John 4:7,16,21) Love divideth itself, to God, and to my neighbour. Love to God is, that we keep his sayings, his commandments, his laws. 'If a man love me,' saith Christ, 'he will keep my words;—and he that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings.' (John 14:23,24) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.' (1 John 5:3) So then, that professor that hath not love, cannot depart from iniquity. (l.) Where no love is, men cannot be tender of the name of God, they are not afflicted because men keep not God's law. (Psa 119:136; 1 Col 13:5) (2.) Where no love is, men cannot deny themselves of that which otherwise they might lawfully do, lest the weak should fall, and the world be destroyed. (Rom 14:15) (3.) Where love to God is, there is hatred against iniquity; 'ye that love the Lord, hate evil.' (Psa. 97:10)
A man cannot love God that loves not holiness; he loves not holiness that loves not God's word; he loves not God's word that doth not do it. It is a common thing to find men partial in God's law, setting much by small things, and neglecting the weightier matters, paying tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and neglecting the weightier matters. These turn the tables of God's book upside down; making little laws of great ones; and great ones of little ones; counting half an hour's bodily service better than a moral life. Love! love is gone out of the country; love to the doctrine of the first table, love to the doctrine of the second table. O how many professors, in God's eyes, are accounted of no more than sounding brass, for want of this ornament, love! (1 Cor 13)
To speak nothing of the first table, where is he that hath his love manifested by the second? where are they that feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and send portions to them, for whom nothing is prepared? Where is Paul that would not eat meat while the world standeth, lest he made his brother offend? (1 Cor 8:13) Where is Dorcas, with her garments she used to make for the widow, and for the fatherless? (Acts 9:36-39) Yea, where is that rich man that, to his power, durst say as Job does? as recorded in Job 30:25; 31:13,32. Love! love is gone, and now coveting, pinching, griping, and such things are in fashion: now iniquity abounds, instead of grace, in many that name the name, of Christ. They want love, and therefore cannot depart from iniquity.
4. [They want HOPE.] Hope is another of those great and principal graces, which the Holy Ghost worketh in the heart, and without which, let a man be never so high in profession, and so open in naming the name of Christ, he cannot depart from iniquity. As was said before of faith, so we say now of hope. 'And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' (1 John 3:3) Here is that excellent office, or rather effect of hope made manifest, it purifieth, it cleanseth a man; it makes him make the Lord Jesus his example, as well as his Saviour. He purifieth himself even as he is pure; to wit, in soul, in body, in spirit, in life and conversation. Hope of life, eternal by Christ, makes a man purify himself in obeying the truth through the Spirit. Hope to be with Christ hereafter, will make me strive to believe him here. Hope of being with angels then, will make a man strive to live like an angel here. Alas! alas! there is a company of half-priests in the world, and they cannot, they dare not teach the people the whole counsel of God, because in so doing they will condemn themselves and their manner of living in the world; where is that minister now to be found that dare say to his people, Look on me, and walk as you have me for an example? or that dare say, What you see and hear to be in me, do, 'and the God of peace shall be with you ?' (Phil 3:17; 4:9) These men had hope and hope purified them to an example, till they became patterns to others. Is not this now far off from some professors in the world? Are they purified, are they clean that name the name of Christ? are they weaned from that milk, and drawn from the breasts? No, nor their profession is not attended with grace; they name the name of Christ; well, but they do not depart from iniquity. Let a man believe a lie, and according to the reality of his belief, such will his obedience be; let a man hope for that for which he hath no ground to hope, yet his hope will work with him according to the power thereof; and yet we have a generation of men that profess the blessed gospel, which yieldeth the most substantial ground for faith and hope; yea, we have a company of men that will be naming the name of Christ, which is the sweetest, the most taking, and desirable name that is named among the sons of men, and for all that, this gospel, this worthy name, nor yet their naming of it, doth make them depart from iniquity. But what's the reason? why, they have taken up a profession, but want the grace of Christ; the faith, the repentance, the love and hope of the gospel. No marvel then, if they abide among the wooden sort of professors: no marvel then, though the iniquity of their heels still follows them, and that it droppeth from them wherever they go. But so much for the first reason, why men do name the name of Christ and yet do not depart from iniquity.
Second, The second reason, why some that name the name of Christ, depart not from iniquity, is, for that, though they rest not in bare notions, as those forementioned, yet they take up as they, short of the saving grace of God. There are bare notions, there are common workings, and there is a work that is saving, and that will do the soul good to eternity.
1. There are bare notions, and they that have them are such unto whom the gospel comes IN WORD ONLY. (1 Thess 1:5; 1 Cor 4:19,20) Such whose religion stands in word only, and is not attended with a power suitable; that is, there goeth not along with the word, a power sufficient to subdue, and work over the heart to a cordial and gracious close with that word that comes to them. Yet such is the noise and sound of the word, that they are willing to become professors thereof; there is some kind of musicalness in it, especially when well handled and fingered by a skilful preacher. And lo, saith God unto such preachers, when their auditory is made up of such kind of hearers, 'And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song,' or as one that sings a song of loves, 'of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words but they do them not.' (Eze. 33:30-32)
2. But then, besides these, there is another sort, and they go further than these. For to them the word came, not in word only, but also in POWER: though not in that or in such a power as is sufficient absolutely against all attempts whatsoever to bring the soul to glory. Of these we read in several places; to wit, that they have tasted of the powers of the world to come; but not so as to bring them safe to glory. Yet thus far they go. (1.) They attain light or illumination, to see much of their state by nature with. (Heb 6:4) (2.) This light standeth not in bare speculation, but lets fall upon the conscience convincing arguments to the bowing and humbling of the spirit. (1 Kings 21:27-29) (3.) They submit to these convictions, and reform, and may for a time not only come out from them that live in error, but escape the pollutions of the world, by the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 2:18-20; Gal 3:4; 4:20) (4.) Yea, so powerful will this dispensation be, that it will prevail with them to do and suffer many things for the vindication of the truth of that gospel which they profess. For the word will be sweet unto them. Christ, the gift of God, will be relished by them. (Heb 6:4,5) The powers of the world to come will be in them. Some workings of the Holy Ghost will be in them. And joy, which is as oil to the wheels, will be with their souls. (Luke 8:13)