HOLINESS"You must be holy because I am holy." Leviticus 11:44
Holiness! There is sweet music in the very name. It tells of sin subdued—of boisterous passions lulled—of fiery lusts becalmed—of miry paths made clean. It sets before us a pure walk, where peace and joy go hand in hand, and scatter heaven-born fragrance round.
Reader, this grace for a few moments claims your view. God's voice commends it to your love. May His might graft it in your heart.
Holiness! To cause this lovely plant to thrive—its roots to deepen—and its branches to bear fruit, is one grand purpose of the scheme of grace.
Fly back in spirit to the day, when sovereign love made its all-wise decrees, and life's fair book received the blessed names. We find election choosing souls in Christ. What is the final cause? It is, that they should be holy and without blame before God in love. Eph. 1:4. A holy stone is laid, that thence a holy fabric may arise. The will to save wills Holiness in the saved.
Predestination next draws the full chart of the believer's course. The path is Holiness. "A highway shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called the way of Holiness." Isa. 35:8. The holy pilgrims may not walk in mire. They all show features of a heavenly birth. "Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." Rom. 8:29. The God-like travelers must tread a godly road. When the due time is come, Jesus appears with full redemption in His hands. Doubtless the first note of the Gospel-trumpet is rescue by His death from sin's tremendous woe—payment by His blood of sin's immeasurable debt—endurance on His cross of the law's curse—satisfaction through His sacrifice of all God's claims. Wondrous achievement! Noble triumph! Worthy display of everlasting love and power!
But is this all? Are there not other waters in this well? Are there not other summits on this rock? Yes. Christ is redemption's overflowing cup. Christ is the uttermost of man's vast need. Hence He frees from the rule and sway of evil, as surely as from its endless pains. Holiness is the Redeemer's essence; and the redemption's end. Hark, the word loudly cries, "He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity." Tit. 2:14. "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world." Gal. 1:4. He sows the seeds of blood, that Holiness may bloom. He spares no price, that He may buy a holy treasure.
In the fair day of grace, the tender Shepherd seeks each straying sheep. Long they may wander in earth's desert waste—exposed to cruel foes—and famished by the weeds of nature's soil. But He well knows them, and they must know Him. So the sweet notes of His alluring call at last fall softly on their ears. They hear—they yield—they follow—they obey. The call is holy. 2 Tim. 1:9. 1 Thess. 4:7. Sin henceforth is avoided; abhorred; and a pure flock feeds in pure meadows.
Thus the whole Gospel-plan bears, as its mitre, "Holiness to the Lord." Its every step is turned towards Holiness. Its every part subserves a holy end.
Reader, perhaps you now may say, show me some picture of this beauteous grace. A ready text points upwards. The Lord's own voice proclaims, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." Lev. 11:44. Our God is Holiness, and Holiness is likeness to our God. "The new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." Col. 3:10. The new-born nature is similitude to God.
Let not man's cavils shade the brightness of this truth. Take no inferior standard. True Holiness is divine. It loves, what God loves. It shuns, what God shuns. Holiness is God in the heart—the life—the lips—the ways—the walk. It is a stream, in which each drop is heavenly and heavenward. It is a sun, in which each ray is from God's throne. God can propose no model but Himself. A lower thought would acquiesce in evil. Therefore the mandate is, "Be perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect." Matt. 5:48. Holiness falls short, when it falls short of God.
But perhaps you say, such glorious luster is too bright for sight. The heavenly sunshine dims the dazzled eye. But still draw near. God's Holiness, in human form, has visited and trod our earth. JESUS takes flesh and tabernacles here. His walk in our soiled paths is clean as on celestial pavement. Mark every act. Hear every word. They have one feature, Holiness. No trial spared Him. Hell's every snare was laid. No circumstance, which ever won, or drove, to sin, failed to put forth its craftiest wiles. But all was vain. Each wave rebounded from the holy Rock. In childhood—in youth's bloom—in riper age—to earthly parents, and to heavenly Father—to treacherous friends, and open foes—alone, abroad, in work, in rest, in ease, in agony, in life, in death. He showed one glorious front; He stood one glorious column—Holiness. There has been perfect Holiness on earth. Reader, your eye can scan—your mind can grasp this pattern. Such is the Holiness of God.
But some may add, this righteousness was wrought out for the Church. Christ kept each edict of the law for them. He places this obedience in their hands, as key to heaven—as the right to eternal life—as a title-deed to bliss—as a beauteous robe to shine in heaven's light. This is made over as the portion of His saints. Can they need more?
True, this righteousness is the wedding-dress, in which He decks His bride. It is her spotless beauty, and her coronet of gems. But it is more. The life of Jesus draws the clear portraiture of Zion's citizens. Heaven's courts, and atmosphere, and inhabitants, are all holy. None but the holy can there walk, and breathe, and taste delight. Heaven is no heaven to old sinful natures. To such, the sounding harps sound only discord. To such, the one employ is only misery. There is no pulse in common. Man must be Holiness—not to buy heaven—that is Christ's work only; not to fill merit's cup—that is Christ's gift; but to gain fitness to associate; to win capacity for bliss. Without Christ's righteousness, the gate cannot be passed. Without internal Holiness, the entrance is no gain. No Holiness, no heaven.
Mark next the SOIL, in which this flower has roots—the seed, from which it springs. Man's pride must here lie low. It never thrives in nature's field. Neither can hand of nature plant it. When sin came in, each gracious fiber died. The curse fell blightingly on earth, but most so on the human heart. The thorns and briers of the outward world are dismal emblems of the wilderness within. God's likeness was effaced at once, and hideous enmity established its one rule. How then can Holiness revive? Until the waste becomes a garden—the plant cannot be set; until heaven gives the seed, it can no where be found. God must prepare the soil. God must infuse the seed. The work is wholly God's.
But this is all arranged in the sure Covenant of grace. The Holy Spirit lends His aid. By His Almightiness, He forms anew the texture of the soul. He takes away the barren rock. He brings down scions from the garden of the Lord. He graciously inserts them. And thus true Holiness again lifts up its fruitful and its fragrant head.
Reader, be not deceived. Trust not to powers, which are powers none. You must gain help from God, or you can never be a holy man. The wish and the ability are both divine. Can darkness melt itself to light? Can rocky mountains flow in liquid streams? Can poison's stem produce the luscious grape? Can hatred love? Can the dry bones re-animate themselves? These changes cannot be. Neither can dead souls burst their tombs, and clothe themselves in self-made life. The mighty agent is above, and until He works, no work is done.
Reader, next mark the renovating MEANS. The wondrous engine is the Gospel-truth. The Spirit wins by charming notes. He opens ears to hear new melody. He gives the eye to see new scenes. He reveals Christ—the beauty of all beauty. He shows the cleansing blood—the sympathizing heart—the perfect refuge—the all-sufficient aid. These sights wave a transforming wand. A new affection subjugates the man. Jesus and purer hopes now occupy the mind. Darkness is passed. The true light shines.
The grace of faith springs up. This is the chain, which binds the soul to Christ, and makes the Savior and the sinner one. A channel is now formed, by which Christ's fullness plenteously flows down. The barren branch becomes a portion of the fruitful stem. Christ's vital juices permeate the whole. The limbs receive close union with the head, and one life reigns throughout the total frame.
Reader, would you be holy? There is only one way. All other roads lead down to deeper mire. Christ must come in. All is dark death, except where Jesus lives. All is pure life and loveliness, where Jesus reigns. Draw near and nearer to the Gospel-page. There gaze on Christ, until the soul's features melt into His likeness. The Gospel heard, and read, and loved, are the bright wings on which the Spirit flies. The Spirit's presence brings the Savior near. The Savior welcomed, is all Holiness begun. The Savior cherished, is all Holiness advancing. The Savior never absent, is Holiness complete. Holiness complete, is heaven's full blaze.
Believer, this subject has a warning voice. You mourn short-comings. You find the hated monster sin still striving for the rule. Evil is present, when you would do good. Help is laid up for you in Christ. Seek clearer interest in Him. Faith sows the seeds. Assurance brings in golden sheaves. They, who most deeply feel, that they have died in Christ and paid in Him sin's penalties, ascend to highest heights of godly life. He is most holy, who has most of Christ within, and relishes most fully in the finished work. It is defective faith, which clogs the feet, and causes many a fall.
We here discern why Gospel truth is so assailed with hate. It is the lever, which moves men's minds from sin. It is the sweet attractive to the heaven-pure path. Hence the sin-loving world turns angrily away. Evil is more congenial to the taste. Evil is sweet. Corruption rejects Christ.
But evil's sweets are a deceptive cup. The draught is poison. The drops prove only gall. Reader, delay not. Cast it from you. Peace with God only blooms beside the Gospel-road. There is no happiness, but on the Gospel-mount. True blessedness is holy oneness with the holy Savior. When He is near, what sorrow can distress? His smile dispels all gloom. His words of comfort make each burden light. Seek Holiness, and happiness in Christ. They are conjoined by God; and thus conjoined forever.
But if you madly turn to the false candle of this world's show, too late this truth will bar heaven's gate against you—Oh! heed it now, before "too late" arrives. "Holiness—without which, no man shall see the Lord." Heb. 12:14.
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