Hebrews 12:14
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, etc. The primary meaning of the text seems to be that the Christians addressed "are to guard against differences among themselves; they are not to quarrel with one another, but every one is to be earnestly intent on his own sanctification;" for without holiness no one shall see the Lord with joy. Three chief points arise for consideration.

I. PEACE AS AN OBJECT OF PURSUIT. "Follow after peace with all men." Peace here is the opposite of strife, division, or misunderstanding amongst Christian brethren. "Seek peace, and pursue it." "Behold, bow good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" etc. (Psalm 133.). Notice:

1. The importance of the object of pursuit. "Peace." It is essential to spiritual progress, to Christian usefulness, and to the enjoyment of the Divine presence. Discord drives away the Holy Spirit, and is fatal to personal growth in grace, to mutual edification, and to successful evangelization.

2. The extent of this pursuit. "With all men." The primary meaning is "all their fellow-Christians." The context shows this. Our text immediately follows the exhortation to guard against any feeble Christian being turned out of the way, and it immediately precedes the exhortation to take heed that no one should fall short of the grace of God. And if the "all signified all mankind, the exhortation under consideration would be exceedingly unconnected. It is clearly the brethren who are here meant by all," as in Romans 14:19, "Let us follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." But in applying it to ourselves may we not take it in its widest signification? "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."

3. The limit of this pursuit. In our endeavors after peace we must not sacrifice anything which is essential to the pursuit of holiness. "First pure, then peaceable." Follow after peace, but not at the expense of Christian principle.

II. HOLINESS AS AN OBJECT OF PURSUIT. "Follow after... holiness," or, "sanctification." Delitzsch says, "Sanctification is not holiness, but is the putting on of it and becoming holy." But for popular speech we may use the term "holiness." Let us consider two inquiries.

1. What is holiness? It is, says Dr. Huntington, "that attribute which is the very crown of all the culture of humanity; for it carries the soul up nearest to the everlasting Fountain of wisdom, power, goodness, from which it came. It enters in only where repentance opens the way, and spiritual renewal puts the heart into wholesome relations with the Divine will. It is the peculiar gift for which the world stands indebted to revelation, and it is multiplied just in proportion as the heart is formed into the likeness of Christ's. It is the summit of manhood, but no less the grace of God. It is achieved by effort, because your free will must use the means that secure it; and it is equally the benignant inspiration of that Father who hears every patient petition."

2. How shall we pursue holiness? Not by efforts, however sincere and earnest, after self-reformation or self-improvement. It is assumed that the persons who are exhorted to follow after holiness have accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord. Supposing that we are sincere Christians, we should seek for holiness.

(1) By keeping our spiritual nature open to Divine impression and action. We must let Christ enter, and dwell, and work, and reign within us.

(2) By communion with Jesus Christ. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." "We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," etc. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

(3) By conscious and deliberate imitation of Christ. "Take my yoke upon you, anti learn of me." "I have given you an example," etc. (John 13:15). "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps." This imitation obviously includes endeavors to render complete and hearty obedience to the Divine will.

(4) By diligent use of Divine ordinances. The holy Book will be prayerfully and thoughtfully read, "the assembling of ourselves together" will be welcomed, and the ministry of the Word and the sacraments will be devoutly considered and accepted.

(5) This pursuit should be continuous. "It is not by fits and starts that men become holy. It is not occasional, but continuous, prolonged, and lifelong efforts that are required; to be daily at it; always at it; resting but to renew the work; falling but to rise again. It is not by a few rough, spasmodic blows of the hammer that a graceful statue is brought out of the marble block, but by the labor of continuous days, and many delicate touches of the sculptor's chisel. It is not with a rush and a spring that we are to reach Christ's character, attain to perfect saintship; but step by step, foot by foot, hand over hand, we are slowly and often painfully to mount the ladder that rests on earth and rises to heaven" (Dr. Thomas Guthrie).

(6) The pursuit both of peace and of holiness should be zealous. The word used by the writer in enjoining it shows this. It means to pursue rapidly, to follow eagerly, to earnestly endeavor to acquire. Half-hearted efforts are of little avail. As the miser seeks to amass temporal wealth, as the enthusiastic student strives after knowledge, so let us follow after peace and holiness. And with even greater eagerness should we pursue them because of their greater importance.

III. HOLINESS AS A QUALIFICATION FOR HEAVEN'. "Sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord."

1. Heaven is the place of the supreme manifestation of God. (Cf. Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 7:15; Revelation 22:3, 4.)

2. Holiness is an essential qualification for the perception of this manifestation. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." "The pure heart," says Tholuck, "itself is the organ whereby the vision of God becomes attainable by us." Without holiness a person has no more fitness for heaven than a blind man has for the enjoyment of a beautiful picture-gallery or a glorious landscape.

3. If it were possible for an unholy soul to enter heaven it could find no peace or happiness there, but would realize intense misery. "Heaven would be hell to an irreligious man; How forlorn would he wander through the courts of heaven! He would find no one like himself; he would see in every direction the marks of God's holiness, and these would make him shudder. He would feel himself always in his presence. He could no longer turn his thoughts another way, as he does now, when conscience reproaches him. He would know that the eternal eye was ever upon him; and that eye of holiness, which is joy and life to holy creatures, would seem to him an eye of wrath and punishment. God cannot change his nature. Holy he must ever be. But while he is holy, no unholy soul can be happy in heaven. Fire does not inflame iron, but it inflames straw. It would cease to be fire if it did not. And so heaven itself would be fire to those who would fain escape across the great gulf from the torments of hell. The finger of Lazarus would but increase their thirst. The very "heaven that is over their heads 'will be brass' to them" (Dr. S. H. Newman). Therefore, let Us "follow after peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." - W.J.

Follow peace.., and holiness.
I. TWO THINGS TO BE FOLLOWED. We are to follow peace and holiness; the two are consistent with each other and may be followed together. Peace is to be studied, but not such a peace as would lead us to violate holiness by conforming to the ways of unregenerate and impure men. We are only so far to yield for peace sake as never to yield a principle; we are to be so far peaceful as never to be at peace with sin: peaceful with men, but contending earnestly against evil principles. Courtesy is not inconsistent with faithfulness. It is not needful to be savage in order to be sanctified. Follow holiness, but do not needlessly endanger peace. Having thus hinted at the connection between the two, and how the two together make up a complete character, let us now take them one by one.

I. Follow PEACE, "peace with all" says the text — an amplification of the expression. Follow peace with all the Church. Hold what you believe with firmness, for you are not to trifle with God's truth; but wherever you see anything of Christ, there confess relationship, and act as a brother towards your brother in Christ. Follow peace with all, especially with all your own relatives and friends at home. Call we that man a Christian who will not speak with his own brother? Follow peace with all your neighbours. & Christian man should not make himself hated by all around him, yet there are some who seem to fancy that they are true to their religion in proportion as they make themselves disagreeable. Win your neighbours by your willingness to oblige; disarm their opposition, if possible, by courtesy, by charitableness, by kindness. Follow peace with all — even with persecutors. The anvil after all breaks the hammer, because it bears every stroke and returns none; so be it with the Christian. The text says —

II. "FOLLOW peace," and the word "follow" indicates a hunter in pursuit of his game. He tracks the footsteps of his prey, he follows it over hill and dale, by the edge of the precipice, over the dangerous ridge, across the brook and along the river, through the wood and down the glen. Follow peace in this way; that is, do not merely be peaceful if nobody irritates you, but go out of your way to be peaceful; give up many things that you have a right to enjoy; the respect that is due to you be willing to forego; in fine, yield all but truth for peace sake. "Charity suffereth long, and is kind." "Charity beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Often the Alpine hunter, when pursuing the chamois, will leap from crag to crag, will wear out the live-long day, will spend the night upon the mountains cold brow, and then descend to the valleys, and up again to the hills, as though he could never tire, and could never rest until he has found his prey. So perseveringly, with strong resolve to imitate your Lord and Master, follow peace with all. The next object of pursuit is a still higher attainment — would God we had reached it.

III. "Follow peace with all men, and HOLINESS." The amplification of the term "holiness" is the solemn declaration, "without which no man shall see the Lord." I understand by this sentence, in the first place, that no person who is unholy can see or understand Christ the Lord, or God His Father; that is to say, he does not know who Christ is so as to have any real fellowship with Him. He may know His name and know His history, and have some theoretical ideas of what the Redeemer did and is, but he cannot discern the spiritual character and teaching of the Lord. But perhaps the great meaning lies in this — without holiness no man can see the Lord in heaven at last. He will see Him on the throne of judgment, but he cannot see Him as his Friend, he cannot see Him in that beatific vision which is appointed for the sanctified, he cannot see Him so as to find joy and delight in the sight of Him. Now, see, the text says, "Follow holiness"; follow it, that is to say, you will not gain it by standing still. Nobody ever grew holy without consenting, desiring, and agonising to be holy. Sin will grow without sowing, but holiness needs cultivation. You must pursue it with determination, with eagerness, with long-continued perseverance, as a hunter pursues his prey.

II. Two THINGS TO BE AVOIDED. "Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God." The first thing to be avoided is failure. There are some persons who for a time exhibit many outward evidences of being Christians, but at last the temptation comes most suitable to their depraved tastes, and they are carried away with it. They fail of the grace of God. Like a man in business who makes money for a time, but fails in the end. Some have maintained an admirable character to all appearance all their lives, and yet have failed of the grace of God because of some secret sin. It says, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God." The word is " episcopountes," a word which signifies overseeing, being true bishops, looking diligently as a man on the watchtower watches for the coming foe. See the sentry pace the rampart, he looks in one direction and he sees the brushwood stirred, he half thinks it is the foe, and suspects an ambush there; he looks to the front, across the sea, does he not discern a sail in the distance? The attack may be from the seaboard; he looks to the right, across the plain, and if even a little dust should move he watches lest the foe should be on foot. So in the Church of God each one should be on his watchtower for himself and for others, watching diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God. The second thing to be avoided is uprising evil: "Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." In the centre of my lawn horse-radish will sprout up; after the smallest shower of rain it rises above the grass and proclaims its vitality. There was a garden there once, and this root maintains its old position. When the gardener cuts it down, it resolves to rise again. Now, if the gardener cannot get it quite out of the ground, it is his business constantly to cut it down. We are but men, and even when associated in church-fellowship, each one brings his own particular poisonous root, and there are sure to be bad roots in the ground. We are to watch diligently lest any of these poisonous roots spring up, for if they do they will trouble us. Sill and error always bring sorrow and division, and thereby many are defiled.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

How beautiful and solemn are these words, like the swelling cadence of heaven's own music. Evidently they do not emanate from this sorrow-stricken and warring world; they are one of the laws of the kingdom of heaven, intended to fashion our life on earth.

I. THERE IS OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS GOD. "Follow after holiness." In R.V. this is rendered "sanctification." And this in turn is only a Latin equivalent for "setting apart," as Sinai among mountains, the Sabbath among the days of the week, the Levites among the Jews, and the Jews among the nations of the earth. But after all there is a deeper thought. Wily were people, places, and things, set apart? Was it not because God was there. We can never be holy apart from God, but when God enters the spirit of man, He brings holiness with Him. Nay, the presence of God in mall is holiness. He is the holy man in whom God dwells. He is the holier, in whom God dwells more fully. He is the holiest, who, however poor his intellect and mean his earthly lot, is most possessed and filled by the presence of God through the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Why then does the sacred writer bid us "follow after holiness," as though it were an acquisition? Because, though holiness is the in-filling of man's spirit by the Spirit of God, yet there are certain very important conditions to be observed by us, if we would secure and enjoy that blessed gift.

1. Give self no quarter. It is always asserting itself in one or other of its Protean shapes. It may show itself in religious pride, in the satisfaction with which we hear ourselves remarked for our humility. It will need incessant watchfulness, because where self is there God cannot come. He will not share His glory with another.

2. Yield to God. He is ever seeking the point of least resistance in our natures. Help Him to find it, and when found, be sure to let Him have His blessed way.

3. Take time to it. This is not natural, but it may become as second nature by habitual diligence.

II. THERE IS OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS MEN. "Follow after peace." The effect of righteousness is always peace. If you are holy, you will be at peace. Peace is broken by temptation, but the holy soul has learnt to put Christ between itself and the first breath of the tempter. Peace is broken by care, dissatisfaction, and unrest, but the Lord stands round the holy soul, as do the mountains round Jerusalem, which shield off the cruel winds, and collect the rain which streams down their broad sides to make the dwellers in the valleys rejoice and sing. Others may be fretful and feverish, the subjects of wild alarms, but there is perfect peace to the soul which has God, and is satisfied. But there must be a definite following after peace. The temperaments of some are so trying. Hence the need of endeavour and patience and watchfulness, that we may exercise a wholesome influence as peacemakers.

1. Avoid becoming a party to a quarrel. It takes two to make a quarrel: never be one.

2. If opposed to the malice of men, do not avenge yourselves. Our cause is more God's than it is our own. It is for Him to vindicate us, and He will.

3. Do not give cause of offence. If you are aware of certain susceptibilities on the part of others, where they may be easily irritated, avoid touching them, if you can do so without being a traitor to God's holy truth.

III. THERE IS OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS OUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS. "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God." It is a beautiful provision that love to a common Lord attracts us into the fellowship of His disciples, and as no individual life truly develops in solitariness, so no Christian is right or healthy who isolates himself from the communion of saints. But we go not there only for selfish gratification, but that we may look after one another, not leaving it to the officers of the host; but each doing our own share. There are three dangers.

1. The laggards. This is the meaning of "fail." The idea is borrowed from a party of travellers, some of whom lag behind, as in the retreat from Moscow, to fall a prey to Cossacks, wolves, or the awful sleep. Let us who are in the front ranks, strong and healthy, go back to look after the weaklings, who loiter to their peril.

2. The root of bitterness. There may be some evil root lurking in some heart, hidden now, but which will bear a terrible harvest of misery to many. So was it in Israel once, when Achan conceived thoughts of covetousness, and brought evil on himself, and mourning on the host whose defeat he had brought about. If we can discover the presence of such roots of bitterness, let us, with much searching of our own souls, humility, and prayer, root them out, ere they can spring up to cause trouble.

3. The profane and earthly minded. Of these Esau is the type, "who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." Alas! are there not many such? For one momentary gratification of the flesh, they forfeit not their salvation perhaps (we are not told that even Esau forfeited that), but their power to lead, to teach, to receive and hand on blessing to the Church.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY REQUIRED: "Follow peace." The word "follow" is full of meaning. It implies strong desire, and vigorous endeavour; both the inward and outward man are to be engaged in this necessary and delightful service. It is also implied that we shall meet with many obstacles and difficulties in the way, both from the corruptions of our own hearts, and the perverse disposition of others: so that we shall need invincible perseverance.

1. In following after peace, we must pray that our own hearts and the hearts of others may be inclined to peace; we to propose, and they to accept it, and both to maintain it when once it has been established.

2. It becomes us to avoid whatever might become an obstacle to peace. Pride must be mortified; the pride of riches, of talents, and of reputation. Let us also beware of covetousness; for the love of money has separated those who would otherwise have been happily united. In order to preserve peace it is necessary also to discountenance slander and reproach, and to guard against ill-grounded jealousies and evil surmisings. Nothing can prosper where these propensities are indulged; they are the bane of confidence, and the rottenness of friendship.

3. We must endeavour to exercise those graces which have a pacific and uniting tendency. Of this description are humility, meekness, and love. Of the exercise of such virtues it may be said, as Tertullus did of the actions of Felix, by them we enjoy much quietness.

4. As the desire of peace should excite to the exercise of grace, so also to the faithful discharge of duty. We should do unto others, as we would have others in like circumstances do unto us. It becomes us to be courteous in our deportment, neither envious of those in superior circumstances, nor haughty towards others whom providence has placed beneath us. Let us also forget ill services, and requite good ones. Above all, let us mark those who would sow the seeds of strife, and avoid them, as we would a rock or quicksand, or a house infected with the plague.

5. Let us remember that a mild and peaceable disposition is one of the greatest ornaments to the Christian character. In this we shall resemble the ever blessed God, who is emphatically styled the God of peace. Jesus is also called the Prince of Peace, and His gospel is the gospel of peace; His followers therefore ought to be men of peace.

II. THE EXTENT OF THE DUTY: "FOLLOW peace with all men."

1. We must follow after peace with men of all ranks and conditions in life. We should behave with reverence towards those above us, and with courtesy towards those below us; avoiding on the one hand a proud spirit, and on the other, whatever is mean and grovelling.

2. With men of various tempers and dispositions. If masters are froward, servants should he submissive. If neighbours are unkind, ye must be patient towards them, and towards all men. Virtue of every kind shines the brighter, when contrasted with its opposite, and gains a victory over it.

3. We must follow peace with men of every character and description, let their principles be what they may; with the righteous and the unrighteous, with both saints and sinners, in (he Church and in the world.

4. Christians of other denominations, and of different religious sentiments, are entitled to our attention and benevolent regard.

5. We must follow peace, even with our enemies. We must do good, where nothing but evil is to be expected in return.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

I. Attend to THE EXPLANATION OF THE TEXT, "Follow peace with all men."

1. Consider, in the first place, the object which you must follow — peace with all men. All believers in Christ are the children of peace, and therefore, as far as is possible, they must live peaceably with all men. What is it that constitutes the happiness of heaven? It is the perfect and everlasting reign of peace.

2. That peace which we ought to cultivate sometimes flies away. That peace often departs from nations cannot be denied; that it often flies away front families is equally evident; and that it is not always found in the Church is a matter of deep and bitter lamentation.

3. When peace has departed it must be followed: "follow peace." Some imagine that if they had no hand in driving peace away, nothing is required from them to bring it back again. But though the driving away of peace from a congregation may have been the work of a few, it is the duty of all to endeavour to bring it back again. Others, again, say, We will not prevent the return of peace, we wilt sit still and wait for its return, and when it comes we will give it a most hearty welcome. This is well so far as it goes, but it is not enough. In the pursuit of peace there must be mutual forgiveness. Have you obtained forgiveness of God? then you will reckon it both your duty and your privilege to forgive others. And be it remarked farther, that this forgiveness must be frank, and hearty, and open. In the pursuit of peace you must sacrifice your feelings, your prejudices, your angry passions, and even your interests. Blessed are the peace-makers; and blessed especially are those who make the greatest sacrifices to maintain, or to restore peace. In the pursuit of peace everything must be avoided which has a tendency to prevent the return of peace. The grounds of difference should be buried in perpetual oblivion. Even angry, discontented, suspicious looks must be avoided. A man can fight with his eyes, as well as with his tongue, or with his hands; as, therefore, there must be hearts of love, and actions of love, there must be also looks of love. In the pursuit of peace you must abound in prayer.


1. The authority of God enjoins this duty. God hath called us to peace. The fruit of the Spirit is peace. If, therefore, you desire to enjoy the favour of God, which is life; or if you dread the anger of God, which is perdition, follow peace with all men.

2. Consider the Master whom you profess to serve. Is He not the Prince of Peace? Has He not made peace by the blood of His Cross? Is not His gospel, which you all profess to believe, the gospel of peace?

3. Consider the injury which you do to the Church by these unseemly contentions.

4. Consider that the hour of death is coming. You cannot die comfortably if you are not at peace with all mankind. Hasten, then, in pursuit of peace, and give yourself no rest until you have overtaken it and brought it back.

(W. Smart.)

There are many particular duties in which Christianity and worldly wisdom meet, both recommending the same course. One of these is the duty mentioned in the text, viz., that of being at peace with others. A wise adviser of this world tells any one who consults him as to his conduct in life, to beware especially of getting into quarrels with people. He tells him not only to avoid actual quarrels, but to cultivate a peaceful temper. The gospel tells us to do the same. The reason which worldly prudence suggests is the quiet and happiness of life, which are interfered with by relations of enmity to others. The reason which religion gives is the duty of brotherly-love, of which the peaceful disposition is a part. But the frequency of the advice, under either aspect, is remarkable, and shows that there is some strong prevailing tendency in human nature to which it is opposed. When we examine, then, the tempers of men, to see what there is in them which is so strongly opposed to this precept of following peace, the first thing we observe is, that people rush into quarrels from simple violence and impetuosity of temper, which prevents them from waiting a single minute to examine the merits of the case, and the facts of the case, but carries them forward possessed with a blind partiality in their own favour, and seeing nothing but what favours their own side. Again, there is the malignant temper, which fastens vindictively upon particular persons, who have been either the real or supposed authors of some disadvantage. Men of this character pursue a grudge unceasingly, and never forget or forgive. But impetuosity and malignity are not the only tempers which are opposed to the law of peace, and to the peaceful disposition. There are some very common habits of mind, which, without being so conspicuous in their manifestations, lead to a great deal of enmity of a certain kind — sometimes open enmity, sometimes, when this is avoided, still to bad relations towards others. There are many persons who can never be neutral or support a middle state of mind. If they do not positively like others, they will see some reason for disliking them; they will be irritable if they are not pleased; they will be enemies if they are not friends. They cannot bear to be in an attitude of mind which does not give active employment to the feelings on one side or the other. On this principle many of their neighbours are eyesores to them and the very sight of them interrupts their repose, when there is no real occasion for any such feelings; inasmuch as if they have furnished no cause for pleasure, they have not furnished any cause for pain either. And now, what I want to observe is, how completely this rule is opposed to the law which the apostle lays down, of "following peace with all men." When we examine what the relation of peace is, we find that it is exactly that relation towards others which the temper I have described has such a difficulty in adopting, and which is so repugnant to its taste. It is not a state of active love and affection, for these we do not call being at peace, but something more: nor is it a state which admits of any ill-feeling; but it lies between the two, comprehending all kindly intentions, forbidding the least wish for another's injury, avoiding, as much as possible, dispute and occasion of offence; consulting order, quiet, and contentment, but not arriving at more than this. Peace implies the entire absence of positive ill-will. The apostle then says that this is our proper relation toward all men. More than this applies to some, but as much as this applies to all. He would have us embrace all men within our love, so far as to be in concord with them, not to be separated from them. Be in fellowship, he says, with all men, so far as to have nothing wrong in your relation to them, nothing to disunite: follow peace with all men. Is any other principle of conduct and kind of temper indeed fit for this world in which we live? The great mass of those even whom we know and meet with in the intercourse and business of life must be comparatively nothing to us. More than this, they must be often persons who are not made after a model that we like, persons who do not sympathise with us or elicit sympathy from us. True and genuine intercourse and communication between minds, if it could be obtained, might clear up a good deal of this cloud, and remove the barrier which separates one man from another: but this is not given, and if it were, there still remains dissimilarity of tempers, gifts, and tastes, The apostle then lays down a plain rule with respect to the whole of this large section — viz., to be at peace with them. I have shown that there is a kind of temper and disposition which, without impetuosity, and without malignity, is still in opposition to the law of peace, and does in fact produce a great deal of latent, if not open enmity, in the world. I will now mention one or two reasons which have a great deal to do in promoting this temper. In the first place, it is very irksome to keep watch over ourselves, and to repel the intrusion of hostile thoughts by the simple resistance of conscience, when we are not assisted by any strong current of natural feeling in doing so. This is a difficult duty. But those who say that they either like or dislike, avoid and evade this duty. Another reason which tends to keep up the disposition which I have been describing is, that the hostile class of relations are evidently accompanied by their own pleasures in many temperaments. They furnish an excitement to them; and, at the bottom, they prefer it to a state of peace on this account, because there is agitation and a flutter of spirits in this relation; whereas peace is repose, and does not offer this play to the mind and temper. They would rather a great deal be in a state of irritation with any person for any reason than feel at all dull. To be dull is the greatest trial to them. They will stir up the scene at any rate, even at the cost of renewing vexatious subjects. It breaks the level of life; it varies the flatness of it. It is a stimulant; it keeps the spirits in motion. So, too, is the justification of dislike; the explanation how it arose and was called for. All this is much more to the taste of many than being at peace. They are not conscious of any deep malignity, but they derive a pleasure still from the disturbance of the ground, the agitation of the elements of life, which they take care shall not subside into complete repose. It was with the entire knowledge of these weaknesses and frailties of human nature, and these elements of disturbance, even in minds of average goodness, that St. Paul said — "Follow peace with all men." You must not, he says, be at peace only with those to whom you are partial; that is easy enough; you must be at peace with those toward whom you entertain no partiality, who do not perhaps please you, or suit you. That is the rule of peace which the gospel lays down, and it must be fulfilled by standing guard at the entrance of our hearts, and keeping off intruding thoughts. And he says again that we must not seek excitement from the petty quarrels and discords of life, from prejudice and antipathies, and the commotion which is bred out of them. This is a poor and morbid pleasure which impoverishes and lowers every mind that indulges in it. Let us "follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." It is not without design that these two were connected together by the apostle — following peace and holiness. A life of enmities is greatly in opposition to growth in holiness. All that commotion of petty animosity in which some people live, is very lowering, it dwarfs the spiritual growth of persons. In a state of peace the soul lives as in a watered garden, where, under the watchful eye of the Divine Source, the plant grows and strengthens. All religious habits and duties — prayer, charity, and mercy, are formed and matured when the man is in a state of peace with others — with all men; when he is not agitated by small selfish excitements and interests which divert him from himself and his own path of duty, but can think of himself, what he ought to do, and where he is going.

(J. B. Mozley, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS THIS PEACE? Peace is threefold.

1. Above us: namely, reconciliation with God.

2. Within us: namely, an inward conformity of sanctified faculties, of mind, will, and affections.

3. Without us: with the creatures, especially with man, which our text speaketh of. And this external peace of man with man is nothing else but an holy agreement and consent of minds, speeches, and carriage in all good things.


1. Seek it out, and beat it out, as dogs at a loss: if we cannot find the track in one place, seek it in another.

2. Follow it with earnestness, as hunters follow their game earnestly, with strong intention, not as on a cold scent.

3. With desire to take it; for so do they.

4. With pleasure and delight in taking it. Our souls must delight in the purchase of peace. Thus Abraham hunted after peace with Lot, and obtained.

III. WITH WHOM MUST WE FOLLOW PEACE? With all men. To embrace peace with good men is not hard for a good man; for they will hardly be put out of the way, and are soon led in again; but to hold peace with evil men is praiseworthy. But with some men we must not have peace, and with many men we cannot have peace. For the former: Israel must never seek the peace of Moabites and Ammonites (Deuteronomy 23:6), and the same of the Canaanites (Ezra 9:11). If it be so by special revelation, which is no rule for the common course. But peace cannot be had with all men; some will not be at peace: wicked men will have no peace with godly men. As soon shall you reconcile darkness to light, fire and water, heaven and hell, as Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jews and Samaritans.

1. Though we cannot have it with all men, we must follow it with all men. If thou seekest it though thou canst not find it, it is enough for thee. First, so far as is possible (Romans 12:18). If it be not possible to recover peace but upon bad conditions, let it go; we must prefer many things before peace, as —(1) We must prefer peace with God before peace with men.(2) We must prefer piety, and purity of religion before peace.(3) We must prefer grace before peace: so the apostles everywhere, grace and peace. I must walk in the way of grace whether I meet with peace or not.(4) We must prefer peace of conscience before peace with men. Secondly, there is another rule of limitation (Romans 12:18), so far as lieth in us. For it lieth not in us often to obtain peace. It may be our lot to deal with contentious, envious, proud, quarrelsome persons, that Scorn to capitulate with us, and defy peace with us, as they do our persons. Or we may have to deal with devouring men that will have no peace, unless they may swallow our names, and estates, and carry all afore them with horrible lies and suggestions. What can we do, where is so little hope of peace? Only thus: thou must have peace so far as is in thee. Motives to be considered thereunto. Christ hath died to bequeath peace. Peace with holiness makes up a full harmony in heaven and in earth. Holiness joins us with God, peace with men. Take harmony and peace out of the world, it is dissolved, heaven and earth must fall asunder. Take harmony and consent out of the body, the members are at war, and the whole tends to dissolution. Take peace from men, it is all one as to take the breath from the body, the sun out of the world. Heaven is a place of peace, and the blessedness of it belongeth only to them that make peace, and keep peace (Matthew 5:9).

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

Dean Stanley said to the crowd of children at Westminster Abbey, on Innocents' Day, December 28th: "I knew once a very famous man, who lived to be very old — who lived to be eighty-eight. He was always the delight of those about him. He always stood up for what was right. His eye was like an eagle's when it flashed fire at what was wrong. And how early do you think he began to do this? I have an old grammar which belonged to him, all tattered and torn, which he had when a little boy at school; and what do you think I found written, in his own hand, in the very first page? Why, these words: ' Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace, to silence vicious tongues — be just, and fear not.' That was his rule all through life, and he was loved and honoured down to the day when he was carried to his grave." Peaceable holiness: — It was a saying of the pious Richard Baxter, recorded by himself in the "History of his own Times": "While we wrangle here in the dark we are dying, and passing to that world which will decide all our controversies: and the safest passage thither is by peaceable holiness."

Of all the birds the dove is the most easily alarmed and put to flight at hearing a shot fired. Remember that the Holy Ghost is compared to a dove; and if you begin to shoot at each other, the Heavenly Dove will take wing and instantly leave you. The Holy Spirit is one of love and peace, not of tumult and confusion. He cannot live among the smoke and noise of fired shots: if you would grieve the Holy Spirit and compel Him to retire, you have only to commence firing at one another, and He will instantly depart.

(Williams of Wern.)

When the troops of Monmouth were sweeping the bridge (at the battle of Bothwell Brig), and Claverhouse, with his dragoons, was swimming the Clyde, the Covenanters, instead of closing their ranks against their common foe, were wrangling about points of doctrine and differences of opinion. In consequence, they were scattered by enemies whom, if united, they might have withstood and conquered.

(T. Guthrie.)

Tinling's Illustrations.
Dr. Gutzlaff, who spent three years as a missionary in Siam, said: "The Siamese looked with great anxiety upon the part which the English would take in the war between Quedah and themselves. When the king first heard of their neutrality, he exclaimed: ' I beheld, finally, that there is some truth in Christianity, which formerly I considered very doubtful.' This favourable opinion influenced the people to become friendly with us. The consequence was that we gained access to persons of all ranks and of both sexes."

(Tinling's Illustrations.)

Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
I. THE HIGHEST END OF BEING. TO "see the Lord" means to have loving fellowship with Him who is infinite Love.


1. God cannot be so seen as to be admired through the medium of a corrupt heart.

2. God cannot be so seen as to be admired, through the medium of a guilty conscience.CONCLUSION:

1. This subject serves to expose some popular religious errors.

(1)That the grand end of human existence is to get to heaven as a place. No; the true heaven of humanity is a loving vision of a loving God.

(2)That future happiness is to be obtained by the adoption of certain creeds, attendance to certain rites and ceremonies, and a punctual observance of all the ordinances of religion. No; holiness is wanted, nothing else.

2. This subject serves to show the infinite value of the work of Christ.

3. This subject serves to reveal wherein true wisdom consists.

(1)The choice of the highest end.

(2)The employment of the best means to attain the end.

(3)The application of the best time for the employment of the means. Now.




1. Grace is the source of it.

2. Constant progress is necessary to it.

3. Diligence is a requisite in it.


1. Troublers are destroyed by it.

2. Backsliding is prevented by it.

3. Influence for good is increased by it.

4. There is no heaven without it.


I. First, then, YE ARE ANXIOUS TO KNOW WHETHER YE HAVE HOLINESS OR NOT. NOW, if our text said that without perfection of holiness no man could have any communion with Christ, it would shut every one of us out, for no one, who knows his own heart, ever pretends to be perfectly conformed to God's will. It does not say, "Perfection of holiness," mark; but " holiness." This holiness is a thing of growth. As the Spirit of God waters it, it will grow till the mustard-seed shall become a tree. Well, now, let us note four sorts of people who try to get on without holiness.

1. First, there is the Pharisee. The Pharisee goes to work with outward ceremonies.

2. Then there is the moralist. He has never done anything wrong in his life. Ah, but this is not holiness before God.

3. Another individual who thinks to get on without holiness, and who does win a fair reputation in certain circles, is the experimentalist. You must be aware that there are some professed followers of Christ whose whole religious life is inward; to tell you the truth, there is no life at all; but their own profession is that it is all inward. You may say what you will about what you dream you have felt, you may write what you please about what yon fancy you have experienced; but if your own outward life be unjust, unholy, ungenerous, and unloving, you shall find no credit among us as to your being in Christ. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

4. There is another class of persons, happily fewer than they once were, but still there are some among us still — opinionists, who think they can do without holiness. They have learned a sound creed, or perhaps an unsound one; they think they have got hold of the truth, that they are the men, and that when they die the faithful will fail from among men. They understand theology very accurately. They are wiser than their teachers. Down with thy hopes! Heart-work, carried out afterwards into life-work, this is what the Lord wants, You may perish as well with true doctrines as with false, if you pervert the true doctrine into licentiousness.

5. But to help you still further, brethren, that man is destitute of true holiness who can look back upon his own past sin without sorrow.

6. And I am quite sure that you know nothing of true holiness if you can look forward to any future indulgence of sensual appetites with a certain degree of delightful anticipation.

7. Again, methinks you have great cause for questioning, unless your holiness is uniform. Some farmers I know in the country maintain a creditable profession in the village where they live; they go to a place of worship, and very good people they are: but there is a farmers' dinner once a year; it is only once a year — we will not say anything about how they get home — the less that is said the better for their reputation. "It is only once a year," they tell us; but holiness does not allow of dissipation even " once a year." And we know some who, when they go on the Continent, for instance, say, "Well, we need not be quite so exact there"; and therefore the Sabbath is utterly disregarded, and the sanctities of daily life are neglected, so reckless are they in their recreations. Well, if your religion is not warranted to keep in any climate it is good for nothing.

8. Then, let me further remark, that those who can look with delight or any degree of pleasure upon the sins of others are not holy.

II. Now, then, for the second point: "WITHOUT HOLINESS NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD"; that is to say, no man can have communion with God in this life, and no man can have enjoyment with God in the life to come without holiness. "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" If thou goest with Belial dost thou think Christ will go with thee?

III. I come to my last point, which is PLEADING WITH YOU. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." But I hear one say, "It is impossible; I have tried it and I have broken down: I did try to get better, but I did not succeed; it is of no use, it cannot be done." You are right, my dear friend, and you are wrong. You are right, it is of no use going about it as you did; if you went in your own strength, holiness is a thing you cannot get; it is beyond you. But you are wrong to despair, for Christ can do it; He can do it for you, and He can begin it now. Believe on Him and He will begin with you; in fact, that believing will be the fruit of His having begun with you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. HOLINESS MAY BE CONSIDERED AS OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW OF GOD, OR AS CONFORMITY TO HIS MORAL CHARACTER. It is, however, quite immaterial which definition we adopt. As "love is the fulfilling of the law," and as " God is love," to obey the law, is to be like God in moral character.


1. It is so by the unalterable appointment of God.

2. It appears from the character of God.

3. From the fact that none of the sources or means of happiness, which the wicked possess in this world, will exist in heaven.

4. From the fact that the character of man becomes unchangeable at death.

5. From the nature of the soul.

6. If we consider what heaven is. Every being there reflects the image of God. Everything we hear in that world is the voice of praise and thanksgiving — the universal burst of gratitude, and wonder, and love, in songs of joy and transport, filling all its arches, and making all its pillars tremble.Remarks:

1. Every impenitent sinner may be convinced, from his own experience, of the necessity of a new heart to fit him for heaven.

2. Christian brethren, "what manner of persons ought ye to he in all holy conversation and godliness?"

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

Valuable as peace is, we are not to sacrifice truth or righteousness in order to obtain it.

I. EXPLAIN THE EXHORTATION: "Follow after holiness." Men in general make no pretension to holiness; and some who do, know not what it is. Many imagine that it consists merely in chastity, or putting a restraint upon the sensual appetite, which is only a particular branch of that purity to which we are here exhorted. Others suppose that it extends no farther than to outward decency of conduct, or general regularity of behaviour. Though these things do not constitute real holiness, but fall very far short of it; neither does it imply an absolute freedom from all imperfections as some have vainly imagined. Sorrow for sin, and a hatred of it, take place in every renewed heart, but not an entire exemption from its being. Holiness, however, though it is not in the present life what some make it to be, nor what the saints wish it to be, yet it is the beauty and ornament of the soul. All moral excellences are included in it; and all spiritual consolation, which is the most satisfying, is derived from it. It is our brightest resemblance to God; our principal glory in this world, and our highest happiness in the next.

1. Holiness is the fruit of sovereign and effectual grace (Ezekiel 36:25, 26).

2. True holiness is seated in the heart. It is not an outward name, but an inward nature; a Divine principle implanted.

3. Holiness is not a single grace, but an assemblage of all the graces, and extends to all the duties of the Christian life. It is not like a single luminary, but a constellation, where numerous planets intermingle their lustre and their beauty, and give additional brightness to the whole. It is not meekness, humility, faith, hope, or charity; but all these united. Thus the Church, the spouse of Christ, is described as coming up out of the wilderness, perfumed with myrrh, and frankincense, and all powders of the merchant.

4. All true holiness in man is through the mediation of Christ, and is derived from Him as the Head of His mystical body. In Him it is concentrated, like light in the sun; in us it is as light in the air, emanating from His fulness. We begin to be holy when we begin to know Christ; and we grow in holiness as we increase in the knowledge of Him. Real saints are a living image of the invisible Saviour.

5. True holiness is an abiding principle, consisting in the habitual rectitude of all the powers and faculties of the soul. It is a well of water springing up, amidst innumerable obstructions, to eternal life; a light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Those who seek after holiness, shall always find it; and those who love it shall never lose it.

6. We are to " follow" after holiness, so as to make it the object of intense and continual pursuit; to leave no duty unperformed, no means untried, in order to obtain it in a still higher degree. For this purpose let us search the Holy Scriptures, attend upon holy ordinances, keep company with holy men, and be daily conversant with holy things. Above all, let us earnestly implore the powerful influences of the Holy Spirit.

II. CONSIDER THE MOTIVE by which the exhortation is enforced: "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

1. Observe, "no man," no individual, not one of all the human race, whatever be his expectations or attainments, whatever opinion he may have of himself, or whatever opinion others may entertain concerning him.

2. He shall not " see the Lord." It is as it were written over the gate of heaven, Nothing enters here that defileth. The wicked shall indeed have a sight of God, in some respects; but it shall be to their everlasting sorrow and confusion. They shall behold Him as Balaam did, but not nigh; at an awful unapproachable distance they shall see Him, but not for themselves; as a Judge and Avenger, but not as a Friend or a Father.

3. "Without holiness " no man shall see the Lord. Not that holiness is the meritorious or procuring cause of salvation; for when we have done all that we can do, even through Divine assistance, we are unprofitable servants. Holiness accompanies salvation, and prepares for it, but not in a way of desert. Nevertheless, holiness is absolutely necessary to eternal life —

(1)By a Divine and unalterable constitution.

(2)Holiness is necessary as a preparative for heaven. It is both our evidence and meetness, not in form or shadow, but in substance and reality.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

There are, unhappily, many who will talk of the everlasting covenant, and of the inscription of their own names on its pages, with as much assurance as though God had made them a special revelation; and it were at least to be expected, that with all this assumption of superior revelation there should keep pace a striving after superior holiness. It were, at least, to be hoped, that they who pronounce themselves sure of heaven, would put forth more than ordinary tokens of an increasing fitness for heaven; for it is indeed a strange anomaly if, knowing as we do, that there shall enter into the New Jerusalem nothing that defileth, and nothing that worketh abomination, men who have a title of admission, chartered and signed, may go on in recklessness and unrighteousness of living; and too commonly they who are fondest of solving all doubts by an appeal to God's covenant, are just those who could obtain no satisfactory verdict from their own life and conversation. Our business is not so much the depending on our election as the ascertaining our election; and it is, therefore, to use the mildest language, a beginning at the wrong end, when men assume that they are elected, and then go on to be confident. The safe and the direct course is to observe whether they are changed men, and renewed men, and God-fearing men, and then to infer, though with the very deepest humility, that they are elected men. We have no such text in the Bible as this — "Election, without which no man shall see the Lord"; but we have this — "Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." We go on to observe that there is a peculiarity in the expression, "no man shall see the Lord," which marks a reference to the present life yet more than to the future. "Every eye shall see Him," is St. John's declaration, when looking on to the Second Advent of Christ. We know that without a single exception the descendants of Adam shall stand face to face with the anointed Judge of human kind, so that the holy and the unholy shall alike behold Him, though the one rejoicingly, while the other shall shrink from His presence; and therefore we cannot uphold it as literally true, that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," if it be on the future that we mainly fix our contemplations. But a most extensive, and at the same time a most interesting field of inquiry will open before you, if we consider the words as applicable to the present life, though, of course, without excluding a reference to the next life. The passage would seem decidedly to announce, that holiness, in some degree or other, is indispensable to the obtaining any knowledge whatever of Christ. We admit, indeed, that a thorough historical acquaintance may be obtained, whilst there is a bold persisting in a course of iniquity. But our text shows, that to whatever extent this scholastic knowledge of the scheme and nature of Christianity can be ascribed, there can be gained no sight of Christ Jesus Himself until some inroads be made on the sinfulness of our nature. And when a man is converted, and therefore "renewed in the spirit of his mind" — that is, the organ is obtained through which the Lord is beheld — the strength and clearness of his looking upon Christ will ever after be exactly proportioned to the advance of sanctification. If the Christian fall into gross sin, or if he conform himself to the passions and prejudices of the world, or if he encumber himself unnecessarily with cares and anxieties, the retardation in holiness will tell on the strength of the newly-acquired vision, and the view of Christ will become so obscure, that fresh witness will be given to the fact of holiness being indispensable to seeing the Lord. And, on the other hand, let the Christian be prosecuting an uncompromising warfare with corruption — let him be proceeding daily with a dominant step towards higher attainments in practical piety, and you will find that his sight of the Redeemer is continually improving. The mysteries of Christ's person, the loveliness of His character, the might of His attributes, these open increasingly and shine out more vividly; and thus there is gathered an accession of proof that holiness is indissolubly connected with seeing the Lord. We would never give up that grand fundamental principle that faith is the gift of God, and that, consequently, no man can see the Lord, according to the definition we have sought to establish, unless a telescope, so to speak, be put into his hands by the Holy Ghost, and directed towards that illustrious Being in whom the natural eye discerns nothing of comeliness or form. But at the same time we are to the full as anxious to withstand the unwarranted opinion, that there can be no preparation made by the man himself; that because faith must be strictly the gift of God, all we have to do is to wait for its reception. We are assured from the Bible that it is very possible to resist the Holy Ghost, and to grieve the Holy Ghost, and that, consequently, the case is of common occurrence in which this Divine agent comes unto men, bringing with him the telescope, or the organ of vision, and then opposed by their passions and lusts, departs without bestowing the precious donation. And hence we set it forth as an indisputable position that it lies in man's power, and is manifestly man's business to remove impediments to the operations of God's Spirit, and that though he cannot give himself the Spirit, he may throw off very much that may withstand the approaches of that Spirit. Let us go on to endeavour to show you how holiness would affect the clearness of all future contemplations of Christ. There remains nothing to be added to the work of the Saviour, in order that it may be available to the complete justification of the sinner. But, then, does imputed righteousness at all interfere with personal holiness? Not one jot. There is to be wrought in us a righteousness which is quite independent of that perfect righteousness which has been wrought out for us by Christ. The righteousness of Christ is that meritorious righteousness which deserves for us heaven; the righteousness which is wrought in our spirits is that qualifying righteousness which prepares us for heaven. And if it be thus certain that holiness, personal, inwrought holiness, is essential to that sight of the Lord which shall constitute the great bliss of heaven, we may justly argue that it is essential to those contemplations of the Saviour which are our foretastes of that bliss whilst we sojourn upon earth. And this, in other words, is the proposition laid down in our text, though the proof of that proposition may be thrown into easier and yet more popular shape. How can the man who is falling back into sin have his eye upon Christ, who condemned sin in the flesh? How can the individual who, after professedly renouncing the world, suffers himself to be entangled in its follies and allured by its flatteries, be looking fixedly towards Christ — Christ who said, "Marvel not if the world hate you; ye know that it hated Me before it hated you"? How can that disciple have a comforting assurance of the sacrifice of Christ in his own stead and in his own behalf, who by his lax and inconsistent conversation would falsify the account of Holy Writ, that "the grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world"? Whenever you find that you have no clear evidence of an interest in Jesus — that there is a sensible interruption of the hope and assurance which have been wont to flow ill and gladden the soul-then let a recurrence to the sentiment of our text bring to your notice the reason, which in all likelihood best accounts for the change. Christ cannot be seen without holiness. Therefore search ye and determine whether the luminary be not riding as high and as bright as before in the firmament, and whether the sole cause why the murkiness is around you, and deep gloom seems wrought into the overhead canopy, be not in the passions which have been gratified, the concessions made, and the resolutions relaxed, so that from the witherings of a once flourishing holiness have gone up vapour and mist, which have darkened the sun, and intercepted the rich light which fell around your path. It is not that Christ withdraws His lustre; it is only that men, through carelessness, or lukewarmness, or conformity to the world, destroy the keenness of the spiritual vision. We reject, therefore, as presumptuous and insulting to God, all pretensions to privileges and rights which are independent on holiness, in thought, word, and deed; we refuse to take our test from what men style their experience; but we go alone, without hesitancy, to their practice.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. THE NATURE OF HOLINESS. The most intelligible description of holiness as it is inherent in us, may be this, "It is a conformity in heart and practice to the revealed will of God." Now His revealed will comprises both the law and the gospel: the law informs us of the duty which we as creatures owe to God; and the gospel of the duty which, as sinners, we owe to God as reconcilable through a Mediator. Our obedience to the former implies the whole of morality, and to the latter the whole of evangelical graces, as faith in a Mediator, repentance, &c. From this definition of holiness it appears that it is absolutely necessary to see the Lord; for unless our dispositions are conformed to Him, we cannot be happy in the enjoyment of Him. I shall expatiate upon the dispositions and practices in which holiness consists, or which naturally result from it; and they are such as follow:

1. A delight in God for His holiness. Self-love may prompt us to love Him for His goodness to us; and so many unregenerate men may have a selfish love to God on this account. But to love God because He is infinitely holy, is a disposition natural to a renewed soul only, and argues a conformity to His image.

2. Holiness consists in a hearty complacence in the law of God, because of its purity. The law is the transcript of the moral perfections of God; and if we love the original we shall love the copy.

3. Holiness consists in a hearty complacence in the gospel method of salvation, because it tends to illustrate the moral perfections of the Deity, and to discover the beauties of holiness. The gospel informs us of two grand pre-requisites to the salvation of the fallen sons of men, namely, the satisfaction of Divine justice by the obedience and passion of Christ, that God might be reconciled to them consistently with His perfections; and the sanctification of sinners by the efficacy of the Holy Ghost that they might be capable of enjoying God, and that He might maintain intimate communion with them without any stain to His holiness.

4. Holiness consists in an habitual delight in all the duties of holiness towards God and man, and an earnest desire for communion with God in them. This is the natural result of all the foregoing particulars. If we love God for His holiness, we shall delight in that service in which our conformity to Him consists; if we love His law, we shall delight in that obedience which it enjoins; and if we take complacence in the evangelical method of salvation, we shall take delight in that holiness without which we cannot enjoy it.

5. To constitute us saints indeed, there must be universal holiness in practice. This naturally follows from the last, for as the body obeys the stronger volitions of the will, so when the heart is prevailingly disposed to the service of God, the man will habitually practise it.


1. Endeavour to know whether you are holy or not by close examination.

2. Awake, arise, and betake yourselves in earnest to all the means of grace.


1. The unchangeable appointment of God excludes all the unholy from the kingdom of heaven; (see 1 Corinthians 9:6; Revelation 21:27; Psalm 5:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).

2. The very nature of things excludes sinners from heaven; that is, it is impossible in the nature of things, that, while they are unholy, they could receive happiness from the employments and entertainments of the heavenly world.

(Pres. Davies.)

This being the larger idea, explains and covers the lesser one of "peace with all." As when the tide recedes, the waters fret and raise angry surfs upon the sunken rocks, but when it has advanced in full flow these rocks are submerged, and there is deep stillness over them, so in the full tide of consecration unto God all causes of disquietude are swallowed up and covered.

(A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)

At heaven's gate there stands an angel with charge to admit none but those who in their countenances bear the same features as the Lord of the place. Here comes a monarch with a crown upon his head. The angel pays him no respect, but reminds him that the diadems of earth have no value in heaven. A company of eminent men advance dressed in robes of state, and others adorned with the gowns of learning, but to these no deference is rendered, for their faces are very unlike the Crucified. A maiden comes forward, fair and comely, but the celestial watcher sees not in that sparkling eye and ruddy cheek the beauty for which he is looking. A man of renown cometh up heralded by fame, and preceded by the admiring clamour of mankind; but the angel saith, "Such applause may please the sons of men, but thou hast no right to enter here." But free admittance is always given to those who in holiness are made like their Lord. Poor they may have been; illiterate they may have been; but the angel as he looks at them smiles a welcome as he says, "It is Christ again; a transcript of the holy child Jesus. Come in, come in; eternal glory thou shalt win. Thou shalt sit in heaven with Christ, for thou art like Him."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

"There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth." Heaven is not like Noah's ark, that received clean and unclean. A sinner is compared to swine (2 Peter 2:22), and shall a swinish creature tread upon the golden pavement of heaven? Indeed the frogs came into king Pharaoh's court, but in heaven there is no entertainment for such vermin.

(T. Watson.)

Governor Corwin says that some church members will have to make a great many explanations, before St. Peter, the reported keeper of the gate of heaven, will let them in. The character of others is so unequivocal that none will be required: the gate will fly wide open before them.

When we speak of holiness in man, we speak of that positive character which reveals itself by the exercises or manifestations of a high moral character, which repeatedly shows itself in some men as the occasion may call forth. It is not a separate and distinct grace like humility, truth, temperance, or meekness, neither is it a union of all the graces in such a way as light is the union of the primary rays of the sun. It is not an amalgamation of all the graces, but they are the means by which it shows itself in different directions and situations. There is a decided distinction between it and justice and meekness. The possession of one or other of these virtues does not imply holiness, but where holiness is, each of these graces will duly appear, h man may be temperate or just without being holy; but if he be holy all the graces will display themselves in him as a matter of course. Each of the graces will appear in him in their own proper occasions. Holiness is not one good quality, but the hand that moves beneath and around all of them. It is not one good action, but the principle that inspires all good actions; I might almost say it is like some essence we can hardly get at. It is not itself so much as the goodness of everything good in us; it is the virtue of virtues; or, in the words of an American theologian, it is not a head or part, but a complete whole, and by that we are to understand not a collection of properties, but a generic disposition which regulates all the movement of a Christian's existence. Holiness, therefore, is the moral nature or character of God; and in man it is his moral nature, so that he who possesses it is a partaker of God's nature. Thus we come back to the definition from which we set out. Holiness is God's likeness, and when a man is disposed to think as God thinks, act as God acts, and seeks to live in unison with God and His character, then we have real and true holiness.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

"I cannot love God," said a thoughtless man, "for I have never seen Him." "Canst thou not?" responded his companion; " then thou canst do less than the little blind child who sits under the shade of the chestnut tree on the village green. She can love her father and mother, though she has never seen them, and will never see them to the latest hour of her life." There is truth here. It requires a special faculty to see God. And it is a terrible fact that this sense, the power of God-consciousness, is often all but entirely destroyed by sin.

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