07 August, 2014
The Way of Holiness---Observations and Doctrine Part 3
Observe in our text the subject spoken, that is, the way to salvation: "A highway will be there." This highway is the common and only way to heaven, for the way to heaven is but one. There is none who ever get to heaven except they walk in this way: some men don't get to heaven one way and others another, but it is one highway that is always traveled by those that obtain heaven.
It is the same narrow way that Christ tells us of. Some don't go to heaven in a broad way, and others in a narrow; some in an easy and others in a difficult way; some in a way of self-denial and mortification, and others in a way of enjoyment of their lusts and sinful pleasures; some up hill and others down: but the way to heaven is the same, and it is the highway here spoken of. There is only one highway, or common road, and no by-paths that some few go to heaven in, as exceptions from the rest.
If we seek ever so diligently, we shall never find out an easier way to heaven than that which Christ has revealed to us. We cannot find a broader way, but if we go to heaven, the way is so narrow that we must rub hard to get along and press forward. The kingdom of heaven must suffer violence; it must be taken by force, or else it never will be taken at all. If we don't go by the footsteps of the flock, we shall never find the place where Christ feeds, and where he makes his flock to rest at noon.
It appears that the way here spoken of is the way of salvation, by the last verse of the chapter. When speaking of this way, it is said, "the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion," etc. "Zion" is the common appellation by which, in the Old Testament, the church both militant and triumphant is signified.
In the words observe the holy nature of this way described: first, by the name by which it is called, "the way of holiness"; "and it shall be called the way of holiness." Secondly, the holiness of those that travel in it, and its purity from those that are unclean, or unholy; "the unclean shall not pass over it." No wicked person shall ever travel in this way of holiness. To the same purpose is the next verse, "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there." That is, none of the wicked men of this world, which are like lions or ravenous beasts more than like men: in their eager raging and lustful appetites and evil affections, or by their insatiable covetousness, are like hungry wolves, are violently set upon the world and will have it, whether by right or by wrong. Or make themselves like ravenous beasts by their proud, invidious, malicious dispositions, which is directly contrary to a Christian spirit and temper. They are more like wild beasts than Christians, that are wrongful and injurious, are all for themselves and the satisfying their own appetites, and care nothing for the welfare of others, their fellow-men that are of the same blood, make a god of their bellies--and therein resemble tigers and wolves.
"Now," says the Prophet, "none Such shall go upon this highway to Zion; such unclean and ravenous beasts shall be found there. No, but the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion." This way is a way of holiness and not to be defiled by wicked persons. That in Revelation 21:27 will serve well for an explanation of these words; "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
Those only who are holy--are in the way to heaven.
Many are not sensible enough of the necessity of holiness in order to salvation. Everyone hopes for heaven, but if everyone that hoped for heaven actually went there, heaven would be full of murderers, adulterers, swearers, drunkards, thieves, robbers, and licentious debauchers. It would have been full of all manner of wickedness and wicked men, such as the earth abounds with at this day. There would have been those there that are no better than wild beasts, howling wolves, and poisonous serpents; yes, devils incarnate, as Judas was.
What a wretched place would heaven be--if it were so! That pure, undefiled, light and glorious place, the heavenly temple, would be as the temple of Jerusalem was in Christ's time, a den of thieves; and the royal palace of the Most High, the holy metropolis of the creation, would be turned into hell. There would be no happiness there for those that are holy. What a horrible, dreadful confusion would there be--if the glorious presence of God the Father; the glorified Lamb of God; and the Heavenly Dove, Spirit of all grace and holiness; the spotless, glorified saints; and the holy angels--were all mixed up together with wicked men, beasts and devils!
Therefore, it behooves us all to be sensible of the necessity of holiness in order to salvation; of the necessity of real, hearty and sincere, inward and spiritual holiness, such as will stand by us forever and will not leave us at death, that sinners may not be so foolish as to entertain hopes of heaven, except they intend forthwith to set about repentance and reformation of heart and life.