What a pitiable, miserable condition are they in--to step out of this world into an uncertain eternity, with an expectation of finding themselves exceedingly happy and blessed in the highest heaven--and all at once find themselves undeceived, and sinking in the bottomless pit!
TRIALIf none are in the way to heaven but those that are holy, let us try and examine ourselves by this doctrine to see whereabouts we are, and see whether or not we are in the way to heaven. To know which way we are going, whether towards heaven or hell; for if we think ourselves in the road to heaven, but are traveling to the place of torment all the while, and continue deceived, without doubt fire and brimstone will undeceive us! If we find ourselves in the broad way to destruction, how dare we stir a step further. If we would know whether we are holy or not, let us try ourselves by then five following things:
First. Meditate on the holiness of God, and see if you cannot see a conformity, a likeness in your mind. There is no likeness or comparison in degree—we speak not of that—but yet there is a likeness in nature between God and the soul of the believer he holy soul, when it thinks and meditates upon God's nature, finds a pleasure and delight, because there is an agreeableness in his new nature to the divine perfections. If those that think themselves in the way to heaven, that are unholy in the meantime in their hearts, would compare themselves and their nature to the holy nature of God--such a glorious light as the holiness of God would quickly discover their rottenness and unsoundness.
Second. See if you can see any resemblance in your life to the life of Christ. It is not supposed that ever any copy comes near to this original, nor ever will; but yet they may perceive whether the same spirit, the same temper and disposition, in a lesser degree--is in them, that was manifested by he life and conversation of Jesus Christ.
Third. Is there an agreeableness between your souls and the Word of God? The Bible is the epistle of Christ that he has written to us; now, if the same epistle is also written in our hearts that is written in the Scriptures, it may be found out by comparing. Have you love to all God's commands and a respect to them in your actions? Is it your delight to obey and hearken to the will of God? Do you obey them of choice? Is it what you would choose to do if God had not threatened to punish the breach of them?
Fourth. Do you find by a comparison a likeness and agreeableness between your hearts and lives, and the hearts and lives of those holy men that we are assured were such by the Word of God? Do you walk with God as Enoch did, or distinguish yourselves by your piety in the midst of wicked examples--as Noah did? And when you read the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets, wherein holiness is drawn to the life, you may viewing so exact a picture discover whether you have not the root of the matter in you, though it be much obscurer in you than in them. When we read the Psalms of David, we may clearly see what David's holiness was, by that spirit that is breathed there. When we read the Epistles of the apostles, we may know what is a truly evangelical spirit--and whether such a spirit reigns in our souls.
Fifth. Do you in a measure imitate the saints and angels in heaven? They spend their existence to the glory of God; they love him above all things, are delighted with the beauties of Jesus Christ, entirely love one another--and hate sin. And those that are holy on earth have also a resemblance and imitation of them--they are of an heavenly temper, of heavenly lives and conversions.
EXHORTATIONExhort all to holiness. You have heard what holiness is and of the necessity of it, the absolute necessity in order to escaping hell; what we must have or die forever, must be forever forsaken. Now, nothing is so necessary to us as holiness; other things may be necessary to discover this life, and things that are necessary men will strive for with all their might, if there is a probability of obtaining them. How much more is that to be sought after, without which we shall fare infinitely worse than die ten thousand deaths!
This is motive enough without any other; for what can be a greater motive than necessity? But besides that, if it were not necessary, the amiable and excellent nature of it. is enough to make it worthy the most earnest seeking after.
Holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. Men are apt to drink in strange notions of holiness from their childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour, and unpleasant thing. But there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. It is the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties. It a divine beauty, makes the soul heavenly and far purer than anything here on earth—this world is like mire and filth and defilement compared to that soul which is sanctified. It is of a sweet, lovely, delightful, serene, calm, and still nature. It is almost too high a beauty for any creature to be adorned with; it makes the soul a little, amiable, and delightful image of the blessed Jehovah. How may angels stand with pleased, delighted, and charmed eyes, and look and look with smiles of pleasure upon that soul that is holy!
Christian holiness is above all heathen virtues, of a more bright and pure nature, more serene, calm, peaceful, and delightsome. What a sweet calmness, what a calm ecstasy--does it bring to the soul! Of what a meek and humble nature is true holiness; how peaceful and quiet. How does it change the soul, and make it more pure, more bright, and more excellent than other beings!