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there is in them to draw men to him. And this is the apostle's argument: "That ye may have fellowship with us." 1 John, 1 : 3. Why, what is there in your fellowship to invite men to you? "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Who can but covet the company of them who keep company every day with God? Great is the efficacy of visible holiness upon the hearts of men; either working in fellowship with the word, or working solitarily without the word. Where God is pleased to afford the word unto men, there the practical holiness of saints is of great use in enforcing it upon their hearts. When the lives of christians speak to the eyes of men, what the Gospel does to their ears; when we so preach, and you so believe and live; when we draw men by our doctrines, and you draw with us by your example; when we "hold forth the word of life" doctrinally, and you hold it forth practically, as Phil. 2: 16; where is the heart that can stand before us? Oh! when the plain and powerful Gospel pierces the ears of men, and at the same time the visible holiness of professors so shines that they must acknowledge that God is in you of a truth; then it will take effect upon the souls of men; then will Christ see of the travail of his soul daily.
Yea, if God deny the word to men, yet this practical holiness may be to them an ordinance for conversion. In this way souls may be won to Christ without the word, as the apostle speaks. 1 Peter, 3:1. Though pulpits should be silent, and vision fail; yet, if your lives but preach the reality, excellency, and sweetness of Jesus Christ and his ways; if you in this way preach down the love of the world, and let men see what poor vanities these are; and preach up the necessity and beauty of holiness; surely you, even you may be honored to bring many souls to Christ, to "turn many to righteousness," and cause many to bless God, on your behalf, in
the day of visitation. This is the use God hath for the holiness and purity of your lives; and doth not this constrain you? What, not when it may prove the means of eternal life to others? Surely, if you have any bowels of mercy you cannot hide from others that whereby they may be saved. How can you, instead of "holding forth the word of life," (which is your manifest duty,) visibly hold forth the works of death before men? Have you been blessed by the faithfulness of others, and shall none be helped by you towards heaven? Dare you say, let others shift as well as they can, find the way to heaven by themselves as they can, they shall have no benefit by your light? If such be the language of your heart or life, you are christians of a different stamp and spirit from any we find described in Scripture. Should you not rather say as the lepers did,
Do we well to hold our peace," 2 Kings, 7 : 9, whilst others are perishing? If the lips of ministers are silenced, shall the lives of christians be also silent? Shall poor sinners neither hear any thing from us, nor see any thing from you, that may help them to Christ? The Lord have mercy then upon the poor world, and pity it, for its case is desperate. Oh "put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercy." Destroy not, by the looseness of your conversation, so many souls; for your scandalous falls are like a bag of poison put into the spring which supplies the whole city with water.
2. Another use God makes of the holy lives of his children is to recover the credit of religion, which, by the apostacies of hypocrites and scandalous falls of careless professors, is wounded and exposed to contempt. Much reproach by this means is brought upon religion, and how shall that reproach be rolled away, but by your strictness and purity? By this the world must be convinced that all are not so. Though some be a blot to the name of Christ, yet others are his glory. The more
others disgrace religion, the more God expects you to honor and adorn it. I remember Chrysostom brings in the persecutors speaking to two renowned martyrs, after this manner, Why are you so nice and scrupulous ? See you not that others of your rank and profession have done these things? To which they returned this noble answer, "For that very reason we will stand out like men, and will never yield to sin." There is a holy impulse in the zeal of a christian, which makes it the more bright in the midst of obstacles, as fire burns most vehemently in the coldest weather. If men make void God's law, therefore will David love his commandments above gold. Psalm 119: 127.
3. God makes your holy living an encouragement to his ministers. And indeed it is of no small use to refresh their hearts, and strengthen their hands in their painful work: "Now we live," saith the apostle, "if ye stand fast in the Lord." 1 Thess. 3: 8. He speaks as if his very life lay at the mercy of the people, because so much of its joy and comfort consisted in their regularity and stedfastness. God knows what a hard duty his poor ministers have, and how many discouragements attend them in their work; hear how one of them expresses it: "Ministers would not be grey-headed so soon, nor die so fast, notwithstanding their great labors, if they were but successful; but this cuts to the heart, and makes us bleed in secret, that though we do much, yet it comes to nothing. Our work dies, therefore we die-not so much that we labor, as that we labor in vain."-Lockyer on Colossians. Christians, you hear our case, you see our work. Now a little to cheer our spirits in the midst of our hard and killing labors! God sends us to you for a little refreshment, that, by beholding your holy and heavenly conversation, your cheerful obedience, and sweet agreement in the ways of God, we may be comforted in all these troubles. 2 Thess. 1: 3, 4.
4. God hath further use for the holiness of your lives, in smiting the consciences of his and your enemies. There is awful majesty in holiness, and when it shines upon the conscience of a wicked man, it makes him stoop and do obeisance to it, which turns to a testimony for Christ and his ways before the world. Thus Herod was overawed by the strict and holy life of John; he feared him, knowing that he was a just and holy man. That bloody tyrant was convinced in his conscience of the worth and excellency of this servant of God, and was forced to reverence him for his holiness. How much is it to the honor of holiness, that it conquers its very persecutors, and makes them stoop to the meanest servant of God! It is said of Henry II. of France, that he was so daunted by the heavenly majesty of a poor tailor who was burnt before him, that he went home sad, and vowed that he would never be present at the death of such men any more. When Valens the emperor came in person to apprehend Basil, he saw such majesty in his very countenance that he reeled at the sight of him, and had fallen backward to the ground had not his servants supported him. O holiness, holiness, thou art a conqueror! So much, O christians, as you show of it in your lives, so much you preserve your interest in the consciences of your enemies. Cast off this, and they presently despise you.
5. God will use the purity of your walk to judge and convince the world in the great day. It is true, the world shall be judged by the Gospel, but your lives shall also be produced as a commentary upon it; and God will not only show them by the word how they ought to have lived, but bring forth your lives and ways to stop their mouths, by showing how others did live. This I suppose is intended in that text, "The saints shall judge the world, yea, we shall judge angels," 1 Cor. 6: 2, 3; that is, our examples are to condemn their lives and
practices; as Noah, Heb. 11 : 7, is said to condemn the world by building the ark; that is, his faith in the threatening, and obedience to the command, condemned their supineness, infidelity, and disobedience. They saw him every day about the work, diligently preparing for a deluge, and yet were not moved with fear; this left them inexcusable. So when God shall say in that day to the careless world, Did you not see the care and diligence, the holy zeal, watchfulness, and self-denial of my people, who lived among you? How many times have they been watching and praying, when you have been drinking or sleeping! Was it not easy to reflect, when you saw their pains and diligence, Have not I a soul to be saved as well as they; a heaven to win or lose, as well as they? Oh how speechless and inexcusable will this render wicked men! Yea, it shall not only be used to judge them, but angels also. How many shocks of temptations have poor saints stood; whereas angels fell without a tempter! They stood not in their integrity, though created with such excellent natures How much then are you concerned on this account to walk blamelessly! if not, instead of judging them, you shall be condemned with them.
Thus you see what use shall be made of your lives and actions. Oh then, since you are under such obligations to a holy life, and are so wonderfully assisted in it; and since God employs the holy living of his people for such admirable ends, both here and in the world to come, see that ye be holy in all manner of conversation." See that, "as ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, ye so walk in him;" always remembering, that for this very end Christ hath redeemed, or "delivered you out of the hands of your enemies, that you might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of your lives." Luke, 1:74, 75. To how