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exterior parts of the soul. John xiii. 10. “He that is washed needeth not, save to wash his feet.”
4th. The heart that is pure will be continually endeavouring to cleanse itself from all remaining filthiness. Though there be remains of impurity, yet the new nature is so contrary to it that it will never rest or be quiet, but will always be cleansing itself; like a vessel of fermenting liquor, it will continue working, till it has worked itself clear, and cast off all the filth, and sediment. Or like a stream of good water, if the water be in itself sweet and good, however it may be defiled from the muddy banks, it will refine as it runs, and will run itself clear again, but the fountain that yields impure water will never cleanse itself. So he who is pure in heart will never suffer himself to live in any sin. If he be overtaken in a fault he will return and cleanse himself again by repentance, and reformation, and a more earnest care that he may avoid that sin for the future.
The remaining corruption that is in his heart will be his great and continual burden, and he will be endeavouring to cleanse himself more and more; he will not rest in any supposed degree of purity, so long as be sees any degree of impurity remaining, but he will be striving aster progress in the mortification of sin and in the increase of holiness.
5th. The heart is said to be pure, especially with respect to its cleanness from, and opposition to, the last of uncleanness. This kind of wickedness we find to be more especially called uncleanness and filthiness in scripture ; it brings a peculiar turpitude upon the soul, and defiles the temple of God. i Cor. ii. 17. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." Pureness in scripture is sometimes used only in this restrained sense, with respect to freedom from fleshly impurities. So it seems to be, Philip. iv. 8. “ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pare, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Now this sort of purity of heart is absolutely necessary in order to our coming to see God. There must be a renunciation of all impure and lascivious practices and conversation. They who live in the indulgence of such a lust in one kind of practice or another, or though it be only with their eyes or in their thoughts, are of impure hearts, and shall never come to see God unless they have new hearts given them.
They that have pure hearts, abhor and are afraid of such things. Jude 23. They take heed that they do not prostitute their souls to so much as mental and imaginary, much less to practical, impurities, and works of darkness.
Secondly. The heart is said to be pure, in respect to its being endowed with positive qualities, that are of a contrary nature to spiritual filthiness.
Though purity in strictness be only a freedom from filth, yet there are positive qualities of mind that seem to be implied in purity of heart; which may be reckoned a part of it, because of their contrariety to filthiness. The heart by reason of them is still more remote from defilement, as a greater light may be said to be purer than a lesser; for although the lesser light has no mixture of darkness, yet the greater light is still more remote from darkness.
1st. He is pure in heart, who delights in holy exercises. Those exercises that are holy are natural and pleasant to him, he sees the beauty there is in holiness, and that beauty has such strong influence upon his heart that he is captivated thereby. He delights in the pure and holy exercise of love to God, in the fear of God, in praising and glorifying God, and in pure and holy love to men. He delights in holy thoughts and meditations. Those exercises of the understanding that are holy, are most agreeable to him, and those exercises of the will. Such inclinations, desires, and affections, are most delightful, which are' spiritual and holy.
2d. He is pure in heart, who chooses and takes the greatest delight in spiritual enjoyment. A spiritual appetite is that which governs in his soul, and carries him above the mean lust and defiled enjoyments of this world, towards spiritual and heavenly objects. The enjoyments which he chooses and chiefly desires, such as seeing God and enjoying communion with him, are enjoyments of the most refined and pure nature. He hungers and thirsts after the pure light of the New Jerusalem.
2. To be pure in heart is the sure way to obtain the blessedness of seeing God. This is the divine road to the blissful and glorious presence of God, which, if we take it, will infallibly lead us thither.
God is the giver of the pure heart, and he gives it for this very end; that it may be prepared for the blessedness of seeing him. Thus we are taught in ihe scriptures. The people of God are sanctified, and their hearts are made pure, that they may be prepared for glory, as vessels are prepared by the potter for the use he designs. They are elected from all eternity to eternal life, and have purity of heart given them, on purpose to fit them for that to which they are chosen. Rom. ix. 23." And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared to glory."
We read of the church being arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, by which is signified the church's purity; and it was to fit it for the enjoyment of Christ. Rev. xix. 7, 8. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give bonour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready; and to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white : for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.” And in the xxi. chap. 2 verse, the church thus purified, is said to be as a bride adorned for her husband. “And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Therefore if God gives the pure heart to fit and prepare us for the vision of himself, he will obtain his own end; for who can prevent him from doing what he purposes?
God also hath promised it. He hath given his faithful word for it in our text; and to the same purpose is Ps. xxiv. 3, 4.
" Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." And again, Isaiah xxxiii. 15, 16, 17. “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly: he that despiseth the gain of oppression, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutleih his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: bread shall be given him; his water shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.”
This is the only way to come to this blessedness. First. It is no way fit or suitable that those who have not pure hearts, should be admitted to this privilege. It would be most insuitable for those who are all over defiled with the most loathsome filth, to be admitted into the glorious presence of the King of heaven and earth. It would not become the majesty of God, to allow those who are so abominable to come into his blessed presence; nor is it at all becoming his holiness, whereby he is of purer eyes than to behold such pollution.
It becomes persons when they come into the presence of a king, so to attire themselves, that they may not appear in a sordid babit, and it would be much more unsuitable still, for any to come all defiled with filth; but sin'is that which renders the soul much more loathsome in the sight of God. This spiritual filth is of a nature níost disagreeable to that pure, heavenly light; it would be most unsuitable to have the pollution of sin and wickedness, and the light of glory, mixed together; and it is what God never will suffer. It would be a most unbecoming thing for such to be the objects of God's favour, and to see the love of God, and to receive
the testimonies of that love. It would be most unsuitable for the glorious and most blessed God to embrace in the arms of his love, that that is infinitely more filthy than a reptile.
Secondly. It is naturally impossible that the soul which is impure, should see God. The sight of God's glory, and impurity of heart, are not compatible in the same subject. Where spiritual defilement holds possession of the heart, it is impossible that the divine light which discovers God's glory, should enter. How can he, who is under the power of enmity against God, and who only hates God, see his beauty and loveliness at the same time? Sin, so long as it has the government and possession of the soul, will blind the mind and maintain darkness. As long as sin keeps possession, the heart will be blinded through its deceitfulness.
Thirdly. If it were possible for them to see God, they could not find any blessedness in it. What pleasure would it give to the soul that hates holiness, to see the holiness of God; what pleasure to them who are God's enemies, to see his greatness and glory! Wicked men bave no relish for such intellectual, pure, and hloy delights and enjoyments. As we have observed already, to have a relish for spiritual enjoyments, is one part of the purity of heart spoken of in the text.
Fourthly. It is impossible that such should be the objects of God's favour and complacence, and therefore they cannot have this part of the blessed-making vision of God, viz. the seeing of his love. It is impossible that God should take pleasure in wickedness, or should have complacence in the wicked, and therefore they cannot have the blessed-making vision of God, for seeing the love of God is an essential part of it. Jf a man sees how glorious God is, and has not this consideration with it, that he has a property in this glory of God; if he cannot consider this glorious being as his friend; if he takes no pleasure in him, but, on the contrary, loathes and abhors him, the sight of God will be to him no blessedness.
APPLICATION. 1. Hence we learn how great a thing it is to be an upright and sincere Christian; for all such are pure in heart, and stand entitled to the blessedness of seeing the most high God. The time is corning when they shall assuredly see him ; they shall see him who is infinitely greater than all the kings of the earth; they shall see him face to face, shall see as much of his glory and beauty as the eyes of their souls are capable of beholding. They shall not only see him for a few moments, or an hour, but they shall dwell in his presence, and shall sit down for ever to drink in the rays of his glory. They shall see him invested in all this majesty, with smiles
and love in his countenance ; they shall see him, and converse with him, as their nearest and best friend.
Thus shall they see him soon. The intervening moments fly swiftly, the time is even at the door, when they shall be admitted to this blessedness.
2. Let the consideration of this subject put us all upon inquiring, whether we ourselves are pure in heart. Is our religion of that kind which has its seat chiefly in the heart, or doth it chiefly consist in what is outward in morality and formality? Have we ever experienced a change of heart; have we a right spirit renewed within us; have we ever seen the odiousness and filthiness that there is in sin; is it what we hate, wherever we see it; and do we especially hate it in ourselves, and loath ourselves for it; is it the object of our hatred as sin, and as it is against God?
And are there any that now hear me, who think themselves to be Christians, who do yet, either in their imaginations and thoughts, or in any secret practice, allow and indulge the lust of uncleanness, and live in such a way? If it be so, they had great need to bethink themselves whether or no they are not of that generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not cleansed from their filthiness. If they imagine that they are pure in heart, and live in such wickedness, their confidence is vain presumption. Inquire whether holy exercises and holy employments are the delight of your soul, and what you take pleasure in above all other things in which you can be engaged. Are the enjoyments that you choose, and take the greatest delight in, spiritual and heavenly enjoyments ? Is the seeing of God, and conversing with him, and dwelling in his presence for ever, what you should of your own accord choose above all other things ?"
3. I would earnestly exhort those who hear me, to make to themselves a pure heart. Though it be God's work to give it, yet it is as truly your work to obtain it; though it be God's work to purify the heart, yet the actual, or rather the active procuring of it is your act. All pure and holy exercises are man's acts, and they are bis duty. Therefore we are commanded to make us a new heart, and a right spirit. Ezek. xviii. 31. “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die?"
We must not think to excuse ourselves by saying that it is God's work, that we cannot purify our own hearts; for though it be God's work in one sense, yet it is equally our work in another. James iv. 8. “ Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded." If you do not engage in this work yourselves, and purify your own hearts, they never will be pure. If you do not