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CHAPTER 4

PROPERTIES OF HOLINESS

Gold has the same properties in all countries, by whatever name it may be called. The nature of love and of hatred never changes with the lapse of time. Holiness may present different manifestations in different circumstances, but its qualities are as unchanging as its Author. The views of men may vary, but it never varies. Examine it in detail or view it as a whole, its qualities never change.

The indistinct notions which many entertain of holiness, are owing to the fact, that they have never seriously considered what it is which constitutes holiness. They are like one who knows nothing of gold but its color, and is therefore ready to call every thing gold which looks like it. He who has any skill in the metals, is not so imposed upon. If he finds one of the required qualities, he searches for another, and not until he finds that a metal possesses all the properties that it should, does he pronounce it gold. So if you have holiness, you have all those moral qualities, which taken together, form that grand total of Christian graces, which the word of God denominates holiness. Let us look at some of these qualities.

We will first notice some of the things from which holiness implies deliverance. This is the more necessary, because the self-indulgent spirit which wealth and luxury always beget, Jays stress upon a few of the positive properties of holiness; without insisting upon laying aside every thing which is inconsistent with it. But the Bible has quite as much to say about the negative, as about the positive side of holiness. The first commandment reads,

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”—Ex. 20:3.

It was not enough to worship the true God—this, Solomon did, even in his backslidden state; but no false god must be worshipped. Of the ten commandments, nine contain negative provisions. They tell us what we shall not do. Nine prohibitions in the Ten Commandments, and but two positive precepts! From this we might infer that God sees that there is much greater difficulty in keeping us from doing wrong, than there is in leading us, in other respects, to do right. “Herod heard John gladly and did many things,” but he would not put away the woman with whom be was unlawfully living.

Cease to do evil; learn to do well” (Isa. 1:16), is God’s order. To require this, makes trouble. The Romans never scrupled to add another go to their Pantheon. They would readily have admitted Christ to that honor. But when the uncompromising Apostles demanded that their false gods should first be dethroned, Christ was rejected, and his disciples thrown to the wild beasts and to the flames. It was not the purity. so much as the intolerance of Christianity, that stirred up the fierce opposition which it encountered. The martyrs would have avoided their fate, if in addition to worshipping Christ they would have consented to worship Jupiter and Minerva. But they not only maintained that Christianity was true, but that it was exclusively true. They not only preached that, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” but that “he that believeth not shall be damned.” They were bold to declare, “Neither is there salvation in any other.” No terrors could induce them to join in the cry, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians,” or swear by the image of Csar. It was this opposition to all that was false, that brought them into trouble wherever they went.

In general, then, holiness implies deliverance from sin. It is the opposite of sin, as light is of darkness.

The Bible teaches us the possibility of having every wrong propensity of the soul destroyed. We are aware that some passages look, at the first view, as though the continuance of sin in the soul was unavoidable. Let us give the more prominent of these a careful and candid examination. The first to which we call attention is found in I Kings 8:46.—“ If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not.)” In the original Hebrew, the word that is translated “sinneth,” is in the future tense. “This tense,” says Stuart, in his Hebrew Grammar, page 207, designates all those shades of meaning which we express in English by the auxiliaries may, can, must, might, could, should, would,” etc. Thus “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.”—Gen. 3:2. The term “may eat,” is, in the original, in the future tense. So, also,

That they may fear thee.”—I Kings 8:40.

The phrase, “may fear,” is in the future tense in the Hebrew. The same is true of the phrase, “may know,” in the forty-third verse, “That all the people of the earth may know thy name.” Hence, a literal translation of the forty-sixth verse would read: “If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that may not sin.)” This teaches, not that every man does actually and necessarily sin, but that every one is liable to sin. It is possible that he may, but not necessary that he should sin. So, also, the supposition, “if they sin,” implies that they might sin, or they might not. It expresses a contingency that could not exist if sin were unavoidable. That they might not sin, is clearly implied in the declaration that if they did, God would be angry with them, and deliver them into the hands of their enemies, so that they should be carried into captivity. But as this was not necessary, it follows that it was not necessary that they should sin.

Most of the above remarks will apply to the passage found in Eccl. 7:20,—“For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not.” The word, “sinneth,” is, in the original, in the future tense, and should also be rendered, “may sin.” This passage teaches the doctrine that runs all through the Bible, that we are never secure from the danger of falling. In our best estate, when grace has done the most for us, we have great need to “watch that we enter not into temptation,” to “keep our bodies under, and bring them into subjection,” lest we should “become castaways.”

Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin.”—Prov. 20:9.

This passage is intended to reprove the boasting of a self-righteous, conceited Pharisee, who not only claims a goodness he does not possess, but ascribes his fancied purity to himself. If we offer up, in fervent desire, and a faith that will not be denied, the prayer of David: “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” who shall say this prayer will not be answered? God alone is able to unify the soul. It is only by coming to Him in importunate supplication that we can obey the Apostle’s direction,

Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”—James 4:8.

In this way alone can God’s command be met.—

O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness that thou mayest be saved.”—Jer. 4:14.

If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.”—Job 9:20.

In this chapter Job treats of the majesty and holiness of God. In the 15th verse he says: “Whom though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my Judge.” Before the purity of God he counted his righteousness as nothing, however he might lift up his head in the presence of his fellow man. Thus, in the verse above, we understand Job to say: “If I justify myself (before God) ; mine own mouth,” in the prayers that I make for the mercy of the Lord, “shall condemn me.” He did justify himself most triumphantly before man, and repelled the accusations which his friends, unable to reconcile his afflictions with the supposition of his innocence, had brought against him. If I say, “I am perfect” in God’s sight, of myself, “it shall also prove me perverse.” His perfect humility, here manifested, justifies the testimony that the Lord, who cannot be deceived, gives in his favor.

Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.”—Job 1:8 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.”—Job 14:4

This text refers to the natural depravity that belongs to every one that is born into the world-to what is commonly termed original sin. It teaches that all are by nature depraved, not that this depravity -cannot be removed by grace.

The Septuagint—the Greek version of the Old Testament, from which our Saviour and the Apostles generally quoted, thus renders it: “For who is pure from corruption? Not one, although his life upon earth be one day.”

Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.”—Isa. 6:5.

This is true of all while in their natural, unsanctified condition, yet let us read on and we shall see that the SPIRIT OF GOD, represented by “a live coal” “from off the altar” touched his lips, “so that his iniquity was taken away,” and his “sin was purged.”

All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.Isa. 64:6.

The Jews were exceedingly corrupted in the days of Isaiah. The prophet being humbled and alarmed at the general wickedness of his people, confesses it in the first person, as ministers generally do on such occasions. It is the hypocritical professions of the Jews—a strict observance of the forms and ceremonies of religion while living in sin—that the prophet compares to filthy rags.

I am carnal, sold under sin.”—Rom. 7: 14.

In this connection, the Apostle speaks of his inward experience:

1. As an unawakened Jew: “I was alive without the law once.

2. As a converted sinner: “But when the commandment came” to my comprehension, “sin revive, and I died;” my hopes perished.

3. As a believer in Christ: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Now, “being made free from sin,” and become truly the “servant of God,” he had his “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

That the Apostle, in the above passage, refers to himself prior to his conversion, is the opinion of President Edwards, a Congregationalist divine, who for learning and piety, and philosophical acumen, never had a superior in this country; who says: “The Apostle Paul, speaking of what he was naturally, says, ‘I am carnal, sold under sin.” ’

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.I John 1:8.

That this refers to man in his natural condition, is evident. The apostle is speaking about the power of Jesus’ blood that cleanses us from all sin. It is those who, falsely and dangerously trusting to their own morality and their naturally amiable dispositions, say that they do not need to be “cleansed from sin,” to whom the Apostle applies the above verse. But, being convinced that we are sinners, both by nature and by practice, he assures us that,

if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”—I John 1:9.

These we believe are the strongest passages ever brought forward to prove the necessary continuance of sin. Look at them candidly, and you will be satisfied that we have given their true meaning. Let us ask, beloved reader, are you at the present time saved from sin? You may have been once. That cannot help you now. It only makes your condition still more deplorable, if you are still under the dominion of sin. Seek deliverance at once. Give no quarters. Let every sin die. That is a false holiness which does not deliver from all sin. Salvation from sin can alone secure salvation in Heaven.

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