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and darkness are round about him," take down thine harp
"There shall we see his face,
And never-never sin ;
There from the rivers of his grace,
Drink endless pleasures in."
Observe the connexion between the purity and the vision. Who are the heirs of this privilege? "The pure in heart." It is impossible, my brethren, to destroy the relation between sin and misery on the one hand, and holiness and happiness on the other. The corrupt mind feels no pleasure in the contemplation of the works and ways of the blessed God. It cannot, therefore, be reasonably supposed, that it should desire the bliss of heaven for the sake of enjoying his presence and attaining to his holiness in that happy place. Let us, therefore, spend a few moments in the development of the connexion established in the text.
First. It is founded on the nature of the Divine Being. To the question which a proud monarch once asked, with impious arrogance-Who is the Lord? the Bible, replies, "I, the Lord your God am holy," or, "the Holy One." It is affirmed of him, that "he is righteous in all ways and holy in all his works." When he condescends to display his benevolence and grace, he speaks in this wise of himself." Thus saith the high and lofty one, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy."* When the seraphim of heaven pay their homage at his throne, they veil their faces with their wings, and cry one to another" Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts."+ And when the saint on earth addresses him, he exclaims,
"Thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."* And is this the glorious Being with whom we have to do? Then how important does purity appear! Ah! the most eminent believer has great reason to adopt the prayer of the Psalmist: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified."+
Secondly. It is founded in moral fitness. 66 What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" A sensual and polluted mind hath no moral adaptation for such pure and exalted fellowship. There is an entire contrariety between the contemplation and love of the purity of God, and the indulgence of carnal appetites and desires. None but the pure love the pure, and none but such can see the Lord.
Thirdly. The connection is founded in equity. The man who is determined to live in sin in this life, will never be able to complain of any injustice done him when he suffers the penalty of his sins in the life which is to come. The relation of the present to the future is not arbitrary— it is perfectly righteous and natural. The presumption of living without God in this world, and of dwelling with him in another, is a flagrant insult to every maxim of divine government and equity. The renewed in heart shall see him, but the impenitent shall not; for this is the unchangeable decision-"Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."§
Ps. xxii. 3. † Ps. cxliii. 2. 2 Cor. vi. 14-16. § Gal. vi. 7, 8,
Finally. It is founded in reason. If it be perfectly rational to expect nought but sorrow from sin, on the one hand, it is equally reasonable to look for happiness, as the natural result of moral purity, on the other. Every tree, it has been remarked, produces its own kind of fruit. Holiness in the heart will lead to its divine author, as its proper tendency and end. The two principles which the apostle states are inseparable. "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."* They who have experienced this blessed change in their character and taste, shall dwell with God, and be for ever happy. This is what they desire, and it is the object of all their wishes. 66 'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."+
In the conclusion of our reflections on this practical subject, let us remark four things:
First. How wide the difference between the judgment of men and the approbation of God. The very name of Puritan has been the watch-word of the scorner, the song of the drunkard, and the occasion of wicked mirth to the infidel. Be it so; if an approving conscience, and a smiling God, are our's, what does the reproach of the world signify? "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household." A Christian should not covet the friendship of a world that put his Lord to death. But while obloquy and contempt are to be expected, we will wear them as marks of honour, well knowing that, in a little time, heaven will make amends for all.
Rom. vi. 22.
+ 1 John iii. 3.
# Matt. x. 24, 25.
Secondly. How awful the doom of the unholy. It is intimated in the text, "that they shall not see God." Ah! what darkness and sorrow are their's. The sentence cannot be recalled; its execution may be delayed, but it cannot be avoided; the justice of the Divine Being, which stamps the decision, cannot be bribed. The last page of Revelation records the solemn denunciation:-"The time is at hand he that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still."* The seal of perpetuity will then be affixed to human character. It forbids future discipline; it excludes ulterior opportunities of moral improvement. Where the tree falls, there it lies; and according to the seed is the harvest. And will this dreadful destiny be your's? Are you ripening for the enjoyment of heaven, or "waxing worse and worse" for hell? Could I command it, I would employ that warning voice, which should reach the heart, and turn the wanderer from his fatal course! Awake, thou that sleepest in thy sins, and Christ shall give thee light. "Turn unto the strong hold, thou prisoner of hope," and escape the perdition that overhangs thy head.
Thirdly. What a motive to perseverance is here supplied. You may indeed have made much progress in the heavenly course, but you must still advance. The Bible marks out no spot in the way where we are to stand still. Its uniform direction, in all duties and graces is-go forward. Whatever attainments we have made, we must still press towards the mark; however large a portion of the divine image we may have obtained, "there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." Go on, brethren, you will still see other travellers before you. I earnestly exhort you never to rest satisfied till you receive the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."+
Lastly. How beautiful is the view of heaven which it discloses. See, it is a state of unsullied purity, of blissful vision. The sacred volume has drawn aside the veil, and shown us a few gleams of the holiness of the celestial city. On the gates we read this inscription, "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."* Around the throne we behold a multitude of happy spirits, free from every tinge of impurity, and delivered from every pang of sorrow. "What are these which are arrayed in white robes; and whence came they?" The angel of the Lord replies, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."+