not I apply my power, to serve him who did reach forth his own power to convert me? A long way I have to go, and I must do it in a span of time; so many temptations to overcome, so many corruptions to shake off, so many promises to believe, so many precepts to obey, so many mysteries to study, so many works to finish, and so little time for all: my weaknesses on one side, my businesses on another, mine enemies and my sins round about me take away so much, that I have scarce any left to give to God. And yet, alas! if I could serve God on earth, as he is served in Heaven; if I had the strength of angels and glorified saints, to do his will; it would come infinitely short of that good will of God in my redemption, or of his power in my conversion. If God should have said to all the angels in Heaven, "There is such a poor wretch posting with full strength towards Hell, go stand in his way and drive him back again,"-all those glorious armies would have been too few to block up the passage between sin and Hell, without the concurrence of God's own spirit and power; they could have returned none. other answer but this, We have done all we can to persuade and turn him, but he will not be turned." If then the Lord did put to his own power to save me, great reason there is that I should set my weak and impotent faculties to honour him; especially since he hath been pleased both to mingle with his service great joy, liberty, and tranquillity here, and also to set before it a full, a sure, and a great reward, for my further animation and encouragement thereunto.


The fourth thing, observed in this verse, was the attire, wherein Christ's people should attend upon his service, "in the beauties of holiness." These words refer to those before; and that either to the word "people" or to the word "willing.” If to "people," then they are a further description of Christ's subjects or soldiers; they shall be all like servants in princes' courts, beautifully arrayed, like the priests of the law that had garments of beauty and glory;-and so Schindler expounds it, in societate sacerdotum.' If to the word “willing,” then it notes the ground and inducement of their great devotion and subjection unto Christ's kingdom, that, as the people came up in troops to the Lord's house, which was the beauty of his holiness, or, as men do flock together to the sight of some honourable and stately solemnity; so Christ's

people should, by the beauty of his banners, be allured to gather unto him, and fly in multitudes as doves unto their windows. Which way soever we understand the words, we may from them observe,-First, That holiness is a glorious and a beautiful thing. The holy oil with which all the vessels of the sanctuary were to be consecrated, was a type of that Spirit which sanctifieth us, and maketh us kings and priests unto God; and it was to be compounded of the purest and most delicate ingredients, which the art of the apothecary could put together. Therefore our Saviour still calleth his spouse "the fairest of women',"-to note, that no other beauty in the world is to be compared with holiness. Therefore our faith and holiness is called "a wedding garments," at which solemnity men use, above all other, to adorn themselves with their costliest and most beautiful attire. Therefore we are said to "put on the Lord Jesus"," and to "put on bowels of mercy, and humbleness of mind, and meekness "," &c.; and therefore likewise the church is compared to a bride, decked in her choicest ornaments and jewels, broidered work, silk, fine linen, bracelets, chains, jewels, crowns, gold, silver, perfect comeliness, garments of salvation, and of praise, robes of righteousness, &c. And Christ the husband of this spouse a, "the chiefest and most amiable of ten thousand," even "altogether lovely ";" the "desire of all nations," and the allurement of all hearts that can look upon him. And Jerusalem, the palace of this glorious couple, described by the most precious stones, and desirable things which can be thought on: jasper the wall, gold the pavement, pearl the gates, precious stones the foundation, and the Lord the light thereof. Of ourselves, by reason of sin, we are full of filthiness and deformity in flesh and spirit, clothed with filthy garments, and overspread, from the head to the foot, with blains and putrefaction. It is only the holy Word of God, which maketh us clean from our filthiness, and from our pollutions. "By the washing of water through the Word, Christ sanctifieth us,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

that he may present unto himself ἔνδοξον ἐκκλησίαν, a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, that it might be holy and without blemishh" And therefore the apostle St. Peter exhorteth Christian women to adorn the inner man of the heart with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God (whose pure eye they ought rather to please, than the wanton eye of man) of great price1. And the truth hereof may be proved, even from the practice of hypocrites themselves: for no man will counterfeit villanies, and make a show of the vices, which indeed he hath not, except he be desperately thereunto swayed by a humour of pleasing his wicked companions. And therefore St. Austin complaineth of it as a prodigious corruption of his nature, that he did sometimes belie himself to his wicked associates, and boasted of the wickedness which he durst not practise. No woman will paint herself with dung; or spread ink upon her face. It must be beautiful in itself, which any man will ordinarily counterfeit: so that holiness hath the prerogative of an enemy's suffrage, which is one of the strongest evidences, to testify the beauty and excellency thereof.

This point will more distinctly appear, if we consider either the author, nature, properties, or operations of this holiness. First, The author is God himself by his Spirit. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly," saith the apostle, and "the God of peace make you perfect to do his will !" Therefore the Spirit is called a Spirit of holiness;' by the power whereof Christ, rising from the dead, was "declared to be the Son of God","to note, the answerableness between raising from the dead, or giving life where there was none before, and the sanctification of a sinner. Therefore the apostle calleth it, the renewing of the Holy Ghost", and the forming of Christ in us, the quickening, and creating us to good works.' By all which we may note, that what beauty the creation brought upon that empty and unshaped chaos, when it was distributed into this orderly frame, which we now admire; or what beauty the reunion of a living soul unto a dead and ghastly body doth restore unto it; the same beauty doth holiness bring unto the soul of a man,

h Ephes. v. 27. m Rom. i. 4.

il Pet. iii. 3, 4. n Tit. iii. 5.

k 1 Thes. v. 23. o Gal. iv. 19.

1 Heb. xiii. 20, 21. P Ephes. ii. 5, 10.

which was filthy before. But yet further we must note, that God did not make man, as other ordinary creatures, for some low and inferior use, (and yet Solomon saith, that "they were made all beautiful in their time") but there was a pause, a consultation, a more than common wisdom, power, and mercy revealed in the workmanship of man. For God made man for his own more peculiar delight, company, and communion; one whom he would enter into a more intimate league and covenant withal; "The Lord hath set apart the man, that is godly, for himself;-This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise:" I will magnify the beauty of my glorious virtues in those, whom I have sanctified for myself. Thus we find what perfect comeliness the Lord hath bestowed upon his people, when he entered into covenant with them, and made them his own; one of which was always to lean on his bosom, and to stand in his own presence. The church is the Lord's own house, a temple " in the which he will dwell and walk: it is his throne in which he sitteth as our 'prince and law-giver.' And, in this regard, it must needs be extraordinary beautiful; " for the Lord will beautify the place of his sanctuary, and will make the place of his feet glorious *." Now then, if "by holiness we are made God's building," and that not as the rest of the world is for his creatures to inhabit, but as a temple' for himself to dwell in, as a gallery a for himself to walk and refresh himself in; certainly, holiness, which is the ornament and engraving of this temple, must needs be a glorious thing; for there is much glory and wisdom in all God's works.


Secondly, If we consider the nature of holiness, it must needs be very beautiful. In general, it consists in a relation of conformity, as all goodness, save that of God doth; for no creature is so absolute, as to have its being from itself, and therefore its goodness cannot consist in any thing which hath its original in itself. It is the rule and end which denominateth the goodness of any created thing that therefore which ought not to work for its own end, ought not to work by its own rule; for he who is lord of an end, must needs be lord of the means and directions which lead unto that end.

9 Psalm iv. 3. u 2 Cor. vi. 16. vii. 5.

r Isai. xliii. 21. * Jer. iii. 13.

s Ezek. xvi. 8, 14. y Isai. 1x. 13.

1 Tim. iii. 15. a Cant.

21 Cor. iii. 9.

And this is indeed the ground of all sin, when men make themselves, their own will, wit, reason, or resolutions, to be the spring and fountain of all their actions. Therefore sin is called our own ways,' and the lusts of our own hearts, and our own counsels; because it is absolutely from ourselves, and hath no constituted rule to moderate and direct it. Impossible it is for any creature, as it comes out of God's hands, to be without a law, or to be an original law unto itself: for as he who hath none over him, cannot possibly be subject unto any law, inasmuch as the law is but the declaration of a superior's will, what he requires to be done, and what he threateneth on default thereof to inflict; so he that is under the wisdom and ends of another, must needs likewise be subject to the laws which his will prescribes for advancing and compassing his own ends; who if he be, in his own nature and ends, most holy, must needs be holy in the laws which he enacts. By all which we may observe, that holiness consisteth in conformity; so that according to the excellency of the pattern, whereunto it refers, so is the measure of its beauty to be conjectured. And the pattern of our holiness is God himself; "Be ye holy, as your Father which is in Heaven, is holy." Other creatures have some prints and paths of God in them, and so are all beautiful in their time; but man had the image of God created in him: his will was set up in our heart as a law of nature, most pure, right, holy, good, wise and perfect, and that law did bear the same relation to man's life, as his soul doth unto his members, to animate, form, and organize every motion of the heart, every word of the mouth, every action of the soul and body, according unto the will of God. When, after this, man threw his image, and God was pleased in mercy again to renew holiness in him, he did it again by another pattern, or rather the same, exhibited in another manner. He made him then conformable to the image of his Son, the heavenly Adam,— who is himself the image of the invisible God, the express character of his Father's brightness, a sun of righteousness, a morning star, the light of the world, the fairest of ten thousand. So that compare holiness with the first original draught thereof in Paradise, the nature of Adam, as it came


[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »