1 John 3:3
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Sermons
A Purifying HopeJames Wells.1 John 3:3
Christian HopeGeo. Robson.1 John 3:3
Christian Hope Influencing Present Christian LifeW. M. Taylor.1 John 3:3
Hope Making PureJ. W. Earnshaw.1 John 3:3
Purification by HopeC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:3
Purifying HopeJ. H. Hughes.1 John 3:3
Purifying Power of HopeGeo. Cooper, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Christian's HopeT. Manton, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Christian's HopeD. Dickson, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Christian's HopeBp. S. S. Harris.1 John 3:3
The Christian's Hope and its FruitsA. Jenour, M. A.1 John 3:3
The Christian's Hope and its ResultsR. P. Buddicom, M. A.1 John 3:3
The Divine Hope Perfecting the Sinless Family LikenessR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Great Hope of the Sons of God, and its Influence on LifeE. L. Hull, B. A.1 John 3:3
The Hope of Future Glory Excites to HolinessR. South, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Influence of the Christian Hope on the Christian CharacterC. Vince.1 John 3:3
The Lost Purity RestoredH. Bushell, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Pattern of PurityR. Sibbes.1 John 3:3
The Practical Influence of the Believer's HopeEdward Craig, M. A.1 John 3:3
The Purifying Effect of Hope in ChristH. J. Hastings, M. A.1 John 3:3
The Purifying HopeChristian Treasury1 John 3:3
The Purifying Influence of HopeA. Maclaren, D. D.1 John 3:3
The Purifying Power of HopeG. E. Jelf, M. A.1 John 3:3
The Self Purifying HopeFamily Churchman1 John 3:3
A Christian's High Condition and HopeJ. N. Pearson, M. A.1 John 3:1-6
Adopting Love of the FatherJohn Eadie, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
Children of GodNewman Smyth.1 John 3:1-6
Children of GodD. Wilcox.1 John 3:1-6
Christians UnknownW. H. Lewis, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
God's Adoptive LoveJ. Morgan, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
Slighted by the WorldScraggs.1 John 3:1-6
Sons of GodS. E. Pierce.1 John 3:1-6
The Dignity of Human Nature and its Consequent ObligationsCharles Lowell.1 John 3:1-6
The Divine Birth -- the Family LikenessR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The FatherJ. J. Eastmead.1 John 3:1-6
The Father's Love and the Children's BlessednessM. G. Pearce.1 John 3:1-6
The Hidden LifeC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:1-6
The Love that Calls Us SonsA. Maclaren, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The Manner of Love Bestowed Upon UsW. Mudge, B. A.1 John 3:1-6
The Present Relationship and Future Prospects of the FaithfulH. P. Bower.1 John 3:1-6
The Privileges of the GoodSamuel Roberts, M. A.1 John 3:1-6
The Sons of GodT. Manton, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The Spiritual Sonship1 John 3:1-6
The Wonderful Love of God as Displayed in Human RedemptionW. Lloyd.1 John 3:1-6
The World Does not Know ChristC. Stanford, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The World Knoweth Us NotT. Manton, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
What Manner of LoveA. H. M. H. Aitken.1 John 3:1-6
Righteousness and Sin in Relation to Children of GodR. Finlayson 1 John 3:1-12
The Present and the Future of the GoodW. Jones 1 John 3:2, 3
Beloved, now are we children of God, etc. Here is -

I. A GLORIOUS FACT OF PRESENT EXPERIENCE. "Beloved, now are we children of God."

1. As sharing in his life.

2. As morally resembling him

3. As possessing the filial spirit.

II. A GRACIOUS MYSTERY AS TO OUR FUTURE CONDITION. "And it is not yet made manifest what we shall be." Ebrard: "While we are already God's children, we are nevertheless yet in the dark as to the nature of our future condition."

1. The mode of our being in the future is at present a mystery to us. We know that the soul exists consciously and at once after passing from our present mode of life. We infer this from such Scriptures as these: "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43); "We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8); "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.... Having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better" (Philippians 1:21, 23). But how the soul exists when it has departed from the "natural body," or what is its mode of existence, we know not. At present the body is the organ and instrument of the soul. Does the soul after death require some vehicle of expression, some instrument of action? If so, of what kind will these be? Or will the soul be independent of such things? What is the clothing (2 Corinthians 5:2-4) which awaits the soul when it passes from the earthly house of this tabernacle? Of these things we know nothing. "It is not yet made manifest what we shall be."

2. The exaltation of our being in the future is at present a mystery to us. The glory of our future being and condition is hidden from us as yet. What developments of being await us, to what services God will appoint us, with what honours he will crown us in the hereafter, - of these things we are altogether ignorant. Presumptuous are they who speak of the details of the condition and circumstances and occupations of the children of God after death. They who knew something of these things and were recalled to this life maintained unbroken silence concerning them (Luke 7:11-16; John 11:38-44). Paul was caught up into Paradise, but he said that it was not lawful to utter what he heard there (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Wisely and graciously God has left a veil over our future condition and circumstances. Mystery in these things is perhaps inevitable. Probably in our present condition we have no symbols by which the future glories could be revealed unto us. Our languages could not describe them. Music, as we have it, could not express them. Painting could not set them forth. Moreover, mystery in these things is merciful. We could not bear the revelation of the bright future, and continue in the faithful and patient performance of our duties in the present. There is one sense in which the children of God will ever say, "It is not yet made manifest what we shall be." Their progress will be interminable. The development of their being and blessedness will never come to an end.

III. A GRAND ASSURANCE AS TO OUR FUTURE CONDITION. "We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is." (It seems to us that the rendering should be, "if it shall be manifested." But the chief points of the apostle's teaching are the same whether, we translate, "if it" or "if he shall be manifested.") Here is an assurance:

1. Of moral assimilation to God in Christ. "We shall be like him." Like him in character and sympathies and aims. Like him too, in some respects, corporeally; for he "shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory" (Philippians 3:21).

2. Of the vision of God in Christ. "For we shall see him even as he is." Some measure of likeness to him is indispensable to our seeing him. Spiritual resemblance to him qualifies the soul to see him even as he is. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." But the truth here is that the vision of God in Christ will perfect the likeness of his children unto him. Ebrard: "The being like unto God will be effected by the beholding of God." The vision of God is transforming in its effect. After Moses had been with the Lord forty days and forty nights upon Mount Sinai, when he came down from the mount the skin of his face shone, and the people were afraid to come nigh him (Exodus 34:29-35). "We all, with unveiled face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). By the operation of the same principle, when the children of God see him as he is they will become like unto him. How blessed and inspiring is this assurance! To see him and to be like him has been the dearest hope of the noblest souls. Thus David, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness," etc. (Psalm 18:15); and St. Paul, "Having the desire to depart and be with Christ;" and St. John, "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein; and his servants shall do him service; and they shall see his face." "We shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is."

IV. A SALUTARY INFLUENCE OF OUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE ON OUR CONDITION IN THE PRESENT. "And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself," etc.

1. The character of this hope. It is the assured expectation and the sincere desire of the vision of God in Christ, and of complete moral assimilation to him.

2. The ground of this hope. "This hope set on him." On what he has promised, and on what he is, his children base their great hope. "God is not a man, that he should lie," etc. (Numbers 23:19); "In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal" (Titus 1:2).

3. The influence of this hope. "Purifieth himself, even as he is pure." It is clearly implied that, while in this world, the children of God need moral purification. They are not yet entirely freed from sin, and sin pollutes the soul. Their sanctification is not yet perfected. But the precious and assured hope which they cherish stimulates them to seek for perfect moral purity. To indulge in sin, or to cease to strive after holiness, would be virtually to renounce their hope. They endeavour to attain to a holiness like unto that of Christ - to be pure as he is pure. His purity is the pattern of theirs. So that we have here a test of Christian character. Does our religion exert a sanctifying power in our hearts and lives?

"O Living Will, that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow through our deeds and make them pure?"


(Tennyson.) - W.J.







And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure
I. WE MUST LOOK HERE, AS ALWAYS, TO CHRIST. He had a hope in God, or upon God; a hope having God for its object, and God for its ground and warrant. And it was substantially the same hope that we have as children that He had as the Son. True, He could not say, with reference to Himself, and His own knowledge or consciousness, "It doth not yet appear what I shall be"; at least not exactly as we say it. He knew better what He was to be than we can know what we are to be. But even He, in His human nature and human experience, did not adequately know this; for even He walked by faith and not by sight. It really did not yet appear what He was to be. One thing, however, He did know, that whatever the future discovery or development, to Himself or others, of His Sonship was to be, it would be all in the line of His being like the Father; and being like the Father through seeing Him as He is. To see God as He is, when the present strange problem — a dispensation of long suffering patience, subservient to a dispensation of present mercy and salvation, and preparatory to a dispensation of retribution and reward — is at last solved — to see God as He is, when the shifting shadows of time flee away, and the repose of the final settlement of all things come; — that was to Christ a matter of hope; exactly as it is to us. It must have been so. And if it was so, is it too much to say that this included, even in His case, the idea of His hoping to be like God, when He was thus to see Him as He is, in a sense and to an extent not within the reach and range of His human experience, when it was among the ordinary conditions of humanity here on earth that He had to see Him? That was His trial, as it is ours; to be in a position in which, seeing God as He is, and being consequently thoroughly like Him, in respect of full and ultimate contentment, complacency, satisfaction, and joy, is "a thing hoped for." It is in such a position that our purifying of ourselves is to be wrought out, even as it was in such a position that His being pure was manifested and approved. We have to realise our sonship, as He had to realise His Sonship, in a world that knows not God; and we have to realise it, like Him, in hope. So realising it, and having this joint hope with Him in God, we purify ourselves as He is pure.

II. WITH ALL THIS THE COMMISSION OF SIN IS INCOMPATIBLE. "He that doeth righteousness," and he alone, "is born of God" (1 John 2:29). The doing of sin is inconsistent with so righteous a parentage; for it is the doing of that which is against law (ver. 4). Sin is lawlessness; insubordination to law. It is to be so regarded; especially by us who, on the one hand, being born of God, make conscience of doing righteousness as God is righteous (1 John 2:29); and who, on the other hand, having this hope in God — that we are to be like Him when we shall see Him as He is — make conscience of purifying ourselves, as our model, His own beloved Son, is pure (1 John 3:2, 3). We are to look upon sin as a breach of law. That is our security against committing sin, and so compromising the righteousness which we do, and the purity to which we aspire.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

I. THAT EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN IS ANIMATED BY THE HOPE OF BEING WITH CHRIST. We make three remarks relative to this hope.

1. It is well founded.

2. It is soul sustaining. Great is the power of genuine hope.

3. It is increasingly active.

II. THAT THE POSSESSION OF THIS HOPE TENDS TO PROMOTE PERSONAL HOLINESS. "Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself." He not only feels obliged to cultivate personal purity, but, stimulated by this hope, he makes every effort to become pure. We shall make two or three inquiries relative to personal purity.

1. What is its nature?

2. How is it promoted?

3. What are its evidences? "He purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

(J. H. Hughes.)

Family Churchman.
I. THE WORK OF SELF-PURIFICATION.

1. This is a personal work, not only accomplished in us but by us.

2. It includes such things as —(1) Purity of imagination. This is the very fount of our hearts. The issues of life are from hence. Beware what books we read, etc.(2) Purity of word. Our Lord teaches this. Watchfulness is needed.(3) Purity of conduct. Struggles with the flesh, especially in youth. "Keep thyself pure."

II. THE MOTIVES TO THE WORK OF SELF-PURIFICATION.

1. Hope of the coming of Christ — "when He shall appear."

2. Hope of likeness to Christ...we shall be like Him."

III. THE PATTERN OF THIS WORK — "as He is pure." What a height! But the higher we aim the higher we reach. A painter, a sculptor, a poet, all work to some ideal.

(Family Churchman.)

Hope is a feeling that animates every human bosom; that forms the motive power to active exertion, is the soul of enterprise, and is one of the main springs that keep the world itself in motion. Is the morning of life fair and promising? Hope gives freshness to the scene, and buoyancy to the spectator. Is the meridian of life bright and prosperous? Hope casts its radiant glories over life's pathway, and infuses its sweet ingredients into life's enjoyments. In a word, hope is the great cordial of human life, the lightener of all our cares, "the sweetener of all our joys, and the soother of all our sorrows."

I. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE.

1. The points of resemblance, or rather of agreement, it bears to hope in general, are the three following:(1) Like every other hope, "this hope" has reference to what is good. In this respect hope differs from fear, which is the dread of evil, present or prospective, real or imaginary.(2) Like every other hope, this hope has reference to good, yet future in its realisation and enjoyment. In this respect hope differs from both faith and possession —(a) It differs from faith, which credits things that are past as well as things that are future, threatened evils as well as promised blessings;(b) It differs also from possession. "But hope that is seen is not hope" — that is, the thing hoped for, when realised, is no longer hope, but possession and enjoyment.(3) Like every other hope, this hope has reference to what is attainable. And in this respect hope differs from desire. We may desire some future good, real or imaginary, which is far beyond the reach of attainment; but we cannot be said to hope for what is unattainable. And just in proportion as the possibility, and especially the probability of its attainment, seems great or small, certain or uncertain, will hope or expectation be strong or weak, lively or languid.

2. The points of contrast are chiefly two.(1) That hope is a mere natural emotion, "springs eternal in the human breast," is produced by natural objects, and common to all natural men; this hope is a Christian grace, is produced by the Spirit of God, through faith in the gospel is fixed on the things of the spirit, and is common to all that are spiritual.(2) The future and attainable good things, on which that hope is fixed are all earthly and material, "seen and temporal"; the future and certain good things on which this hope is fixed are all spiritual and heavenly, "unseen and eternal."

II. THE FOUNDATION OF THIS HOPE. In this the goodness of this hope consists, and appears still more manifest than in its nature. Christ, in His person, in His mission and mediation, and especially in His work of propitiation, finished on the Cross and accepted by the Father, is the true and only foundation of a sinner's hope. Jesus Christ, in His propitiatory work, is not merely the foundation, but the only foundation of a sinner's hope toward God. The mere mercy of God, apart from the mediation of Christ; their comparative goodness, as not being so bad as some other men; their descent from godly parents; their Christian profession; the soundness of their faith and the orthodoxy of their creed; their many prayers and their great charity — these are sonic of the countless foundations which deluded mortals have tried on which to build their hopes lot eternity. What are they, but the sandy foundation of the foolish builder? Not only must the foundation be revealed to faith, the revelation must be received by faith, in order to have this hope on Him. Every man must have faith in Christ before he can have this hope on Him. "Christ must be in him" before Christ can be to him "the hope of glory." And every man must "be in Christ" ere he can have or exercise this hope on Christ.

III. THE OBJECT OF THIS HOPE.

1. Perfect likeness to Christ. The many sons whom He has brought unto glory shall be perfectly like Him, not only in immortality, but also in moral excellence; not only in holiness, but also in happiness. Their minds, like His, shall be filled with heavenly light; their imaginations, like His, shall be filled with heavenly purity; their wills, like His, shall be filled with heavenly righteousness; their consciences, like His, shall be filled with heavenly peace; their hearts, like His, shall be filled with heavenly love; and their bodies, like His, shall be clothed with heavenly glory.

2. The full enjoyment of Christ. We shall see Him in all His glory, in the glory of His Father, and in the glory of all the holy angels with Him.

IV. THE INFLUENCE OF THIS HOPE. Every man having this hope on Christ is not only the subject of sanctification, but likewise the agent of its progressive advancement in his own soul and life.

1. This hope is a Christian grace; and, like every Christian grace, forms part of sanctification, and contributes to its increase and advancement to perfection. For it is influenced by means and by motives felt, by arguments adduced, by examples exhibited, by goodness experienced, and by promises given unto us.

2. This hope forms an essential element of their new nature; it is the constant attendant and efficient assistant in their spiritual life. What assistance does it give to them in its course? Is the Christian life compared to a race? This hope casts aside every incumbrance, braces every limb, strains every nerve, and puts forth every energy to reach the goal and gain the prize.

3. This hope furnishes the best counteractive of the adverse and conflicting influences of the world. It is the ship's best ballast during the voyage of life. It is its subject's best reminder of what he is, whither he is going, and how he is to occupy his Lord's talents till He comes.

4. This hope is the chief prompter to life's activities, in whatever state its possessor may be found. Forevery man that hath this hope knows, delights in, and seeks after, conformity to the will of God, which is our sanctification. He knows also that indolence and inaction are among the chief incentives to "the pleasures of sin," which are contrary to the will of God and inimical to our sanctification. But this hope which he has, is not the dead hope of the formalist, or the hypocrite, nor the dying hope of the worldling, but the lively hope of the sons of God. It makes them all alive to God's requirements, and lively in His service, in His House, in His cause, and in His kingdom in the world.

V. THE PATTERN OF EVERY MAN HAVING THIS HOPE. Christ is at once the foundation on which he builds his hope for eternity, and the pattern of purity he imitates in purifying himself. He has not yet attained, neither is he already perfect. But it is the present pursuit, the daily, habitual practice of every man having this hope: he purifieth himself, and he will continue to purify himself, as certainly as he will hope, to the end; when the purifying process will be perfected, and the conformity to the perfect pattern of purity will be complete.

1. A warning to sinners. You too have a hope. Granted. But your hope is not" this hope," yourselves being judges. It is of nature, not "through grace." Being a mere natural emotion, it is subject to incessant fluctuation and sudden extinction. Your hope, besides, exerts a baneful, corrupting influence over your whole spirit and soul and body. It blinds the mind to the truths, the promises, and blessings of the gospel of Christ; alienates the heart from the life of God; and by stimulating to the exclusive pursuit of the things of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the pleasures of sin, the whole faculties and feelings of the inner man become contracted, corrupted, and defiled. And if the influence of your hope be so baneful, what must be the end of it? The end of these things is death — to the body, and to the soul.

2. An incentive to saints. Having this hope on Christ, see that ye purify your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren. The Holy Spirit, by whom this hope is inspired, that dwelleth in you, is its best supporter and friend. Therefore "quench not the Spirit." Sin is the greatest enemy to this hope and to its purifying influence. Therefore, "stand in awe and sin not."

(Geo. Robson.)

That is a very remarkable "and" with which this verse begins. The apostle has just been touching the very heights of devout contemplation. "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." And now without a pause, and linking his thoughts together by a simple "and," he passes from the imaginable splendours of the beatific vision to the plainest practical talk, Mysticism has often soared so high above the earth that it has forgotten to preach righteousness, and therein has been its weak point. But here is the most mystical teacher of the New Testament insisting on plain morality as vehemently as his friend James could have done. The combination is very remarkable. Like the eagle he rises, and like the eagle, with the impetus gained from his height, he drops right down on the earth beneath!

I. IF WE ARE TO BE PURE, WE MUST PURIFY OURSELVES. There are two ways of getting like Christ, spoken about in the context. One is the blessed way, that is more appropriate for the higher heaven, the way of assimilation and transformation — by beholding: "If we see Him" we shall be "like Him." That is the blessed method of the heavens. Ah! but even here on earth it may to some extent be realised. Love always breeds likeness. And there is such a thing, here on earth and now, as gazing upon Christ with an intensity of affection and simplicity of trust, and rapture of aspiration, and ardour of desire which shall transform us in some measure unto His own likeness. But the law of our lives forbids that that should be the only way in which we grow like Christ. The very word "purify" speaks to us of another condition; it implies impurity, it implies a process that is more than contemplation, it implies the reversal of existing conditions, and not merely the growth upwards to unattained conditions. And so growth is not all that Christian men need; they need excision, they need casting out of what is in them: they need change as well as growth. Then there is the other consideration, viz., if there is to be this purifying it must be done by myself. To take a very homely illustration, soap and water wash your hands clean, and what you have to do is simply to rub the soap and water on to the hand, and bring them into contact with the foulness. And so when God comes and says, "Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings, your hands are full of blood," He says in effect, "Take the cleansing that I give you and rub it in, and apply it: and your flesh will become as the flesh of a little child, and you shall be clean." That is to say, the very deepest word about Christian effort of self-purifying is this — keep close to Jesus Christ. You cannot sin as long as you hold His hand.

II. THIS PURIFYING OF OURSELVES IS THE LINK OR BRIDGE BETWEEN THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE. The act of passing from the limitations and conditions of the transitory life into the solemnities and grandeurs of that future does not alter a man's character, though it may intensify it. You take a stick and thrust it into water; and because the rays of light pass from one medium to another of a different density, they are refracted, and the stick seems bent; but you take the human life out of the thick, coarse medium of earth and lift it up into the pure rarefied air of heaven, and there is no refraction; it runs straight on! The given direction continues; and where'er my face is turned when I die, there my face will be turned when I live again. Don't you fancy that there is any magic in coffins, and graves, and shrouds to make men different. The man is the same man through death and beyond. Death will take a great many veils off men's hearts. It will reveal to them a great deal that they do not know, but it will not give the faculty of beholding the glorified Christ in such fashion as that the beholding will mean transformation. "Every eye shall see Him," but it is conceivable that a spirit shall be so immersed in self-love and in godlessness that the vision of Christ shall be repellent and not attractive; shall have no transforming and no gladdening power.

III. THIS SELF CLEANSING IS THE OFFSPRING OF HOPE. There is nothing that makes a man so down hearted in his work of self-improvement as the constant and bitter experience that it seems to be all of no use; that he is making so little progress. Slowly we manage some little patient self-improvement; gradually, inch by inch and bit by bit, we may be growing better, and then there comes some gust and outburst of temptation; and then the whole painfully reclaimed soil gets covered up by an avalanche of mud and stones, that we have to remove slowly, barrow load by barrow load. To such moods then there comes, like an angel from heaven, that holy, blessed message, "Cheer up, man! 'We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.'" A great deal of the religious contemplation of a future state is pure sentimentality, and like all pure sentimentality is either immoral or non moral. But here the two things are brought into clear juxtaposition, the bright hope of heaven and the hard work done here below. Now, is that what the gleam and expectation of a future life does for you?

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A great hope, a great duty, a great example are here put before us.

I. WHAT IS THE HOPE? An agnostic would say there is none; for the apostle plainly tells us that though "we are now the children of God, it doth not yet appear what we shall be." But then "hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why does he yet hope for?" This hope, of which St. John tells us, is set on Jesus our Lord. It is not the hope of the Pharisee, trusting in himself apart from Christ. It is not the hope of the man of the world, who considers that he is no worse than others, though, like them, he does neglect Christ. It is the hope of the penitent and faithful follower of Christ, who walks by faith in the unseen Saviour, and casts himself for pardon, acceptance, and strength on Him. And this hope, as he learns it in Holy Scripture and in holy living, becomes gradually clear and definite to him.

II. WHAT A DUTY IS LAID UPON US! The hope is so glorious that it fires us to seek its fulfilment. It is a long and difficult task, this of purifying ourselves. In many of us it needs a deep thinking on old, forgotten ways. In all of us the field to be cleansed is very wide, and the roots of the vicious, deadly weeds are far down below the surface. How much it means — to purify oneself! There must be purity of heart, but "the heart is deceitful above all things," and how shall we know it? There must be purity in the affections; but, even in our highest relationship, we are prone to selfishness. There must be purity for our body; but fleshly lusts keep warring against the soul. There must be purity of speech; but certain companionships, and our own forgetfulness of God's presence, make this very difficult: and one word of uncleanness may "set on fire the whole course of nature" in us, and destroy our growth in grace. There must be purity in the eye, turning it away from beholding vanity; purity in the ear, casting out as evil the filthy communication of the thoughtless and the profligate; purity in the mind, lest it absorb the things it hears, or take delight in the writings of hell, or pervert even holy teaching to the purposes of sin. Yes, and there must be purity of intention — a high aim in dealing with all men, the setting of a guard over ourselves when danger is near, a resolute acting on that Divine and comfortable saying, that "to the pure all things are pure." Oh, may we all go forward in this holy, difficult, blessed duty, while we have the Light to walk by, and the Cross to be our guide!

III. And remember, once more, WHOSE LIGHT THIS IS, AND WHOSE CROSS. It is His glorious example which should help us most — the example of Him who died for us, who liveth for us.

(G. E. Jelf, M. A.)

Let us see —

I. IF WE CAN FORM A FIT CONCEPTION OF WHAT PURITY IS. If we refer to examples, it is the character of angels and of God — the simplicity, the unstained excellence, the undimmed radiance, the spotless beauty. Or it is God, as represented here on earth, in the sinless and perfect life of Christ. If we go to analogy, purity is, in character, what transparency is in crystal. It is water flowing, unmixed and clear, from the mountain spring. Or it is the white of snow. Or it is the clear open heaven, through which the sparkling stars appear, hidden by no mist of obstruction. Or it is the pure light itself in which they shine. A pure character is that, in mind, and feeling, and spirit of life, which all these clear, untarnished symbols of nature, image, in their lower and merely sensible sphere, to our outward eye. Or, if we describe purity by reference to contrasts, then it is a character opposite to all sin, and so to most of what we see in the corrupted character of mankind. It is innocent, just as man is not. It is incorrupt, as opposed to passion, self-seeking, foul imaginations, base desires, enslaved affections, a bad conscience, and turbid currents of thought. It is the innocence of infancy without the stain — that innocence matured into the spotless, positive, and eternally established holiness of a responsible manhood. Or we may set forth the idea of purity under a reference to the modes of causes. In the natural world, as, for example, in the heavens, causes act in a manner that is unconfused and regular. All things proceed according to their law. Hence the purity of the firmament. In the world of causes, it is the scientific ideal of purity that events transpire normally, according to the constitutive order and original law of the creation. Or, finally, we may describe purity absolutely, as it is when viewed in its own positive quality. And here it is chastity of soul, that state of the spiritual nature in which it is seen to have no contacts or affinities but such as fall within the circle of unforbidden joy and uncorrupted pleasure. In all these methods we make so many distinct approaches to the true idea of spiritual purity.

II. Distant as the character is from anything we know in this sad world of defilement and corrupted life, still IT IS THE AIM AND PURPOSE OF CHRISTIAN REDEMPTION TO RAISE US UP INTO THE STATE OF COMPLETE PURITY BEFORE GOD. The call of the Word is, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." It would seem, on looking at the manifold array of cleansing elements, applications, gifts, and sacraments, as if God had undertaken it as the great object and crowning mercy of His reign, to effect a solemn purgation of the world. But a question rises here of great practical significance, viz., whether, by a due improvement of the means offered in Christ, or by any possible faith in Him, it is given us to attain to a state which can fitly be called purity, or which is to itself a state consciously pure? To this I answer both "Yes," and "No." There may be a Christian purity that is related to the soul as investiture, or as a condition superinduced, which is not of it, or in it, as pertaining to its own quality or to the cast of its own habit. The point may be illustrated by a supposition. Let a man, habitually narrow and mean in his dispositions, fall into the society of a great and powerful nature in some one distinguished for the magnanimity of his impulses. Let this nobler being be accepted as his friend, trusted in, loved, admired, so as virtually to infold and subordinate the mean person, as long as he is with him, to his own spirit. This, at least, we can imagine, whether any such example ever occurred or not. Now it will be seen that, as long as this nobler nature is side by side with the other, it becomes a kind of investiture, clothes it, as it were, with its own impulses, and even puts it in the sense of magnanimity. Consciously now the mean man is all magnanimous, for his mean thoughts are, by the supposition, drunk up and lost in the abysses of the nobler nature he clings to. He is magnanimous by investiture; that is, by the occupancy of another, who clothes him with his own character. But if you ask what he is in his own personal habit, cast, or quality, he is little different possibly from what he was before. He has had the consciousness waked up in him of a generous life and feeling, which is indeed a great boon to his meagre nature, and if he could be kept for long years in the mould of this superinduced character he would be gradually assimilated to it. But if the better nature were to be soon withdrawn by a separation, he would fall back into the native meanness of his own proper person, and be what he was with only slight modifications. Now Christ, in His glorious and Divine purity, is that better nature, which has power, if we believe in Him with a total, all-subjecting faith, to invest us with a complete consciousness of purity — to bring every thought into captivity to His own incorruptible order and chastity. To illustrate how far it is possible for this purifying work to go on in the present life, I will simply say that the very currents of thought, as it is propagated in the mind, may become so purified that, when the will does not interfere, and the mind is allowed, for an hour, to run in its own way, without hindrance, one thing suggesting another, as in reverie, there may yet be no evil, wicked, or foul suggestion thrust into it. Or in the state of sleep, where the will never interferes, but the thoughts rush on by a law of their own, the mixed causes of corruption may be so far cleared away, and the soul restored to such simplicity and pureness, that the dreams will be only dreams of love and beauty — peaceful, and clear, and happy; somewhat as we may imagine the waking thoughts of angels to be.

III. Having this view of Christ and His gospel as the plan of God for restoring men to a complete spiritual purity, seeing that He invites us to this, gives us means and aids to realise this, and yields to them that truly desire it a hope so high as this, I inquire IN WHAT MANNER WE MAY PROMOTE OUR ADVANCEMENT TOWARD THE STATE OF PURITY, AND FINALLY HAVE IT IN COMPLETE REALISATION? And, first of all, we must set our heart upon it. We must see the degradation, realise the bitterness, confusion, disorder, instability, and conflict of a mixed state, where all the causes of internal action are thrown out of God's original law. We must learn to conceive, on the other hand — and what can be more difficult? — the dignity, the beauty, the infinitely peaceful and truly Divine elevation of a pure soul. St. Francis de Sales had been able, in his knowledge of the cloistered men and the cloistered life, to see how necessary it is for the soul to be aired in the outward exposures of the world; and, if we do not stop to question the facts of his illustrations, no one has spoken of this necessity with greater force and beauty of conception. "Many persons believe," he says, "that as no beast dares taste the seed of the herb Palma Christi, so no man ought to aspire to the palm of Christian piety as long as he lives in the bustle of temporal affairs. Now, to such I shall prove that, as the mother pearl fish lives in the sea without receiving a drop of salt water, and as, toward the Chalidonian Islands, springs of fresh water may be found in the midst of the sea, and as the fire fly passes through the flames without burning its wings, so a vigorous and resolute soul may live in the world without being infected with any of its humours, may discover sweet springs of piety amidst its salt waters, and fly among the flames of earthly concupiscence without burning the wings of the holy desires of a devout life." Having this determined — that he who will purify himself, as Christ is pure, must live in the world — then one thing more is needed — viz., that we live in Christ, and seek to be as closely and intimately one with Him as possible. And this includes — First, a willingness wholly to cease from the old man, as corrupt, in order that a completely new man from Christ may be formed in you. Secondly, the life must be determined implicitly by the faith in Christ.

IV. SOME OF THE SIGNS BY WHICH OUR GROWTH IN PURITY MAY BE KNOWN. Fastidiousness, I will first of all caution you, is not any evidence of purity, but the contrary. No, the true signs of purity are these — That we abide in the conscious light of God, while living in a world of defilement, and know Him as a presence manifested in the soul. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Purity sees God. A good conscience signifies the same; for the conscience, like the eye, is troubled by any speck of defilement and wrong that falls into it. A growing sensibility to sin signifies the same; for, if the conscience grows peaceful and clear, it will also grow tender and delicate. If you are more able to be singular and think less of the opinions of men, not in a scornful way, but in love, that again shows that the world's law is loosing its power over you, and your devotion to God is growing more single and true. Do you find that passion is submitting itself to the gentle reign of God within you, losing its heat and fierceness, and becoming tamed under the sweet dominion of Christian love? That again is the growth of purity.

(H. Bushell, D. D.)

1. Is it possible for any man to purify himself? Is it not the Spirit of God that must work in us "both to will and to do"? To this I answer, that we must distinguish of a twofold work of purification.(1) The first is, the infusing of the habit of purity or holiness into the soul, which is done in regeneration or conversion; and in this respect no man living can be said to purify himself.(2) The other is the exercising of that habit or grace of purity, which a man received in conversion; by the acting or exercising of which grace he grows actually more pure and holy. And in this respect a man may be said in some sense to purify himself, yet not so as if he were either the sole or the prime agent in this work.

2. But admitting that a man may purify himself in the sense mentioned, yet can he do it to that degree as to equal the purity of Christ Himself? — to "purify himself even as He is pure"? To this I answer, that "even as," denotes here only a similitude of kind, not an equality of degree; that is, he that hopes for glory, gets his heart purified with the same kind of holiness that is in Christ, though he neither does nor can reach it in the same measure of perfection: he gets the same meekness, the same spiritual mindedness and love to the Divine precepts; that is, the same for kind.

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED AND INCLUDED IN A MAN'S PURIFYING OF HIMSELF, HERE SPOKEN OF IN THE TEXT. Now that which a man is to remove and to purify himself from is —

1. The power of sin.(1) Wherein it consists.(a) A most serious and hearty bewailing of all the past acts of sin by a continually renewed repentance. We may here compare the soul to a linen cloth, it must be first washed to take off its native hue and colour, and to make it white; and afterwards it must be ever and anon washed to preserve and to keep it white. In like manner the soul must be cleansed, first from a state of sin by a converting repentance, and so made pure, and afterwards by a daily repentance it must be purged from those actual stains that it contracts, and so be kept pure. Till it be our power and privilege not to sin, it is still our duty to repent.(b) The purifying ourselves from the power of sin consists in a vigilant prevention of the acts of sin for the future. If we would keep our garment clean it is not sufficient to wash it only, unless we have also a continual care to keep it from trailing in the dirt. For a restraint of ourselves from the committing of sin bereaves the power of sin of that strength that it would certainly have acquired by those commissions. While a beast is kept in and shut up he still retains his wild nature; but when he breaks out and gets loose his wildness is much more hurtful and outrageous. Now, for the keeping of sin from an actual breaking out, a man should observe what objects and occasions are apt to draw it forth, and accordingly avoid them.(c) The purifying ourselves from the power of sin consists in a continual mortifying and weakening the very root and principle of inherent corruption. Sin is not only a scar, or a sore, cleaving to one part or member, but it has incorporated itself into the whole man (Job 25:4). A man draws so much filth from his very conception and nativity, that it is now made almost as natural and essential to him to be a sinner as to be a man. Now the chief work of purification lies in the disabling and mortifying this sinful faculty. The power of godliness must be brought into the room of the power of sin.(2) The means by which it is to be effected —(a) The first is, with all possible might and speed to oppose the very first rising and movings of the heart to sin; for these are the buds that produce that bitter fruit; and if sin be not nipped in the very bud, it is not imaginable how quickly it will shoot forth. When an enemy is but rising, it is easy to knock him to the ground again; but when he is up, and stands upon his legs, he is not then so easily thrown down.(b) A second way to purify ourselves from the power of sin is to be frequent in severe mortifying duties, such as watchings and lastings, the use of which directly tends to weaken the very vitals of our corruption. For they are most properly contrary to the flesh; and whatsoever opposes that proportionably weakens sins. Better were it for a man to restrain an unruly appetite, and to stint himself in the measures of his very food and his sleep, than by a full indulgence of himself in these to pamper up his corruption, and give it strength and activity to cast off all bonds, till at length it becomes unconquerable.(c) A third way to purify ourselves from the power of sin is to be frequent and fervent in prayer to God for fresh supplies of sanctifying grace. There is no conquest to be had over sin but by grace, nor is grace any way so effectually to be procured as by prayer. A praying heart naturally turns into a purified heart.

2. I proceed now to the other thing from which we are to purify ourselves, and that is, the guilt of sin. In speaking of which I shall show —(1) Negatively, what cannot purify us from the guilt of sin.(2) Positively, what alone can.(a) For the first of these. No duty or work within the power and performance of man, as such, is able to expiate and take away the guilt of sin. In this matter we must put our hands upon our mouths, and be silent forever.(b) In the next place therefore positively, that course which alone is able to purify us from the guilt of sin, is by applying the virtue of the blood of Christ to the soul by renewed acts of faith. It is from His crucified side that there must issue both blood to expiate and water to cleanse our impieties. Faith also is said to purify the heart (Acts 15:9). But how? Why certainly, as it is instrumental to bring into the soul that purifying virtue that is in Christ. Faith purifies, not as the water itself, but as the conduit that conveys the water.

II. HOW THE HOPE OF HEAVEN AND A FUTURE GLORY COMES TO HAVE SUCH A SOVEREIGN INFLUENCE UPON THIS WORK.

1. First upon a natural account; this hope purifies, as being a special grace infused into the heart by the Holy Ghost, and in its nature and operation directly contrary to sin: as heat is a quality both in nature and working, contrary to and destructive of cold. When leaven is cast into the lump it presently begins to work and to ferment, till by degrees it has thoroughly changed the whole mass. In like manner every grace will be incessantly working, till it has wrought over the heart to its own likeness. Now hope is one of the principal graces of the Spirit, so that we have it marshalled with faith and charity, and placed immediately after faith in regard of the method of its operation, which is immediately consequent upon that of faith. For what faith looks upon as present in the promise, that hope looks upon as future in the event. Faith properly views the promise, hope eyes the performance.

2. The hope of future glory has an influence upon this work of purifying ourselves upon a moral account; that is, by suggesting to the soul such arguments as have in them a persuasive force to engage it in this work.(1) The necessary relation that this work has to the attainment of heaven, as the use of the means to the acquisition of the end.(2) It is purity alone that can fit and qualify the soul for so holy a place. He that is clothed in filth and rags is not a fit person to converse and live in a court; nor is there anyone who designs the course of his life in such a place but will adorn and dress himself accordingly.(3) The obligation of gratitude. If I expect so great a gift at God's hands as eternal happiness, even humanity and reason cannot but constrain me to pay Him at least a temporary, short obedience. For shall I hope to be saved by Him whom I strike at and defy? Or can I expect that He should own me in another world when I reject, despise, and trample upon His commands in this?(4) Purity is the only thing that can evidence to us our right and interest in those glorious things that we profess ourselves to hope for.

(R. South, D. D.)

The one great object of the revelation which God has given us, is to make us happy in making us holy. To this end every part of revealed truth more or less directly tends.

I. THE CHRISTIAN'S HOPE — WHAT IT IS. This hope is, that he shall in every respect, in body as well as in soul, be made wholly like his Saviour. Further, observe that this is a real hope. It is not a mere wish, a doubtful surmise, a faint desire; it is a sure and certain hope. "We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him." And, let me add, that hope implies not only a bare expectation, but expectation accompanied with desire, consequently, if the great subject of his hope be the presence of Christ, that presence is what the Christian will desire above all things, and feel to be the perfection of happiness.

II. THE EFFECTS OF THIS HOPE. "Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." Now, observe in this the implied certainty of the connection between the hope of the Christian and the life of the Christian; between the sure anticipation of glory hereafter and holiness here. Here, then, are two points we have to consider the extent to which the Christian attains purity, and how far the work of purification is his own. With reference to the first point the meaning manifestly is not that the Christian is even now actually as pure as Christ, but that he endeavours to make himself so. But in what sense is this work his own? The Christian does not, as an independent agent, purify himself. The idea is absurd, and involves an impossibility. But although the work of purification is God's, we are not mere machines, nor does He treat us as such. He deals with us as with rational, intelligent beings, capable of discerning between good and evil, and of choosing for ourselves.

(A. Jenour, M. A.)

I. THE OBJECT OF A CHRISTIAN'S HOPE.

II. THE FOUNDATION OF THESE HOPES. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." The foundations of such high expectations should be strongly laid; and they are strongly laid, even in the grace of God's adopting love.

III. What is the PRACTICAL RESULT of this hope within a believer's heart? It is equally powerful and universal.

(R. P. Buddicom, M. A.)

I. THE GREAT HOPE OF THE SONS OF GOD — "To be like Christ," and that implies an unbounded progress towards perfection. To be like Christ implies two things: perfect communion with God, as the blessedness of life; and perfect self-sacrifice, as the law of life. These were the two great features of Christ's human character: to have them is our destiny; to have them is to be perfect.

II. ITS INFLUENCE ON LIFE — "He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." To the question, How shall I realise an aim so glorious? John answers — Hope for it — and the hope will gradually become the means of fulfilling itself.

1. As an unconscious influence.

2. As a safeguard against life's temptations.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

I. THE PRESENT PRIVILEGES AND FUTURE HOPE OF THE CHRISTIAN.

1. The present privilege of the Christian is to look up to God as his Father.

2. But this state of privilege is preparatory to something still higher, more precious and valuable.

II. IS WHOM AND ON WHAT BASIS IS HE PERMITTED TO ENTERTAIN SO GLORIOUS AND EXALTED A HOPE?

1. He has this hope in Christ Jesus our Lord; in God who hath given us His eternal Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and the Holy Spirit to them that obey Him.

2. His hope rests upon the work of Christ upon earth and His glorification in heaven.

III. THE EFFECT OF THIS HOPE ON THE BELIEVER'S HEART AND LIFE.

1. This hope is calculated altogether to ensure his sanctification, to cleanse and sublimate his soul.

2. But what is the effect of hope in bringing about this purification? Much every way. The hope of the Christian is altogether calculated to elevate the soul and ennoble the character. Is he the inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, and shall he not prepare himself to take possession of his inheritance?

IV. BUT AFTER WHAT MODEL MUST WE PURIFY OURSELVES? We must purify ourselves "even as He is pure." He must propose to himself no faulty or defective pattern.

(H. J. Hastings, M. A.)

I. The first thing here implied is INCORRUPTION. In purity or in holiness there is incorruption, or incorruptibility. "Every man that hath this hope" has a knowledge of his entire corruption and depravity; and he consequently comes, in his faith, in his desires, in his hope, out of this, and his hope centres in an incorruptible God. He has an incorruptible religion; God the Father appears in His incorruptibility in all the love of His heart, God the Son appears in His incorruptibility, God the Holy Ghost appears in His incorruptibility. We shall be invigorated to all eternity with all the freshness of incorruptibility.

II. Purity signifies also QUALIFICATION. "Every man that hath this hope," comes out of his own thoughts into God's thoughts, comes out of his own sentiments into God's sentiments, comes out of his own ways into God's ways; and therefore we read of a man's "ceasing from his own wisdom." What is the whole object of the gospel towards us? Why, to make known the mind of the Lord concerning us; and if I know the mind of God concerning me, that what He has done is for me, that His Holy Spirit is for me, that His testimony in the Holy Scripture is for me, why, being of one mind with Him, I am fit to live with God. There is no collision; there is perfect harmony.

III. Purity also supposes RIGHT. "Every man that hath this hope" conies out of his state of having no right to anything, into a right and title to the things of eternity. And what is our right to eternal glory? Why, that question may be answered several ways, but I answer it in these few words: our right to eternal glory is the authority of God.

IV. Purity supposes also LIBERTY. Where is our bondage? In sin. Sin is our bondage. The flesh, the law, the world — these things are our bondage. But holiness purity is our liberty. Then "every man that hath this hope" comes into liberty. Christ having led captivity captive, has for Himself and for us perfect liberty. What is to hold Him? The law is established, the covenant confirmed, the promises Yea and Amen: He has dominion over all worlds.

(James Wells.)

1. The workman is "everyone that hath hope in Him," everyone that looks to be like the Lord Jesus in the kingdom of glory, he is the man must set about this task.

2. The work is a work to be wrought by himself; he is a part of the Lord's husbandry, and he must take pains as it were to plough his own ground, to weed his own corn, he must purify himself; this is the work.

3. The pattern by which he must be directed is the pattern of the Lord Jesus Christ's purity.

I. THAT A MAN THAT IS CARELESS OF PURIFYING HIMSELF, THAT MAN MUST HAVE NO HOPE. Shall we encourage men to that hope, that they shall carry with them to hell? May we say, thou mayest hope to be like Christ in glory, when thou dost not labour to be like Him in purity in this world? We should betray that soul. And do you know, this is the beginning of salvation. When a man hath run hitherto in a naughty course, and now comes to be resolved in his conscience, that if he continue thus he shall perish, I say the revolving of his conscience that way is the beginning of his conversion.

II. WHOSOEVER HOPES TO BE SAVED MUST SET HIMSELF UPON THIS WORK, TO PURIFY HIMSELF. But here is as great a difficulty as the other. Doth it lie in the power of a man to purify himself? That is the work of God (Psalm 51:10). You must not make one truth of God to destroy another; therefore, for the clearing of it, consider what the apostle writes (Philippians 2:12). God doth not work things in us or with us, as we do with a spade or a shovel; that is, that we shall be mere patients only, but He works with us suitably to the reasonable soul He hath bestowed upon us. Though principally God, yet there is a concurrence between God and thee; and this is grace, when thy will is made active and able to do things, that now the things done by God's grace are attributed to men. How may it be done? The examples of the world are like a stream that carries a man clean out of the way of purity.

1. Remember we come to do service to a Father; that is, for encouragement.

2. No means in the world so effectual as when a man would go to Christ to look to His ordinances. What are they? His word and His sacraments.

3. Then go and read a lecture to thyself of watchfulness. What it is to watch, that implies when a man is in great danger to be surprised, that all is untrusty within him, and false abroad; then reason, I had need of a strong watch of every side; I have a false nature, and this flesh of mine is ready to betray me into the hands of the world and of the devil; therefore there must be a marvellous strong guard.

III. THE PATTERN TO WHICH WE SHOULD CONFORM OURSELVES. The glass we should imitate is our Saviour Jesus Christ, as He is pure. It is not meant thou shouldst ever hope to be as pure in quantity. "As" is not a note of quantity, but of quality — it shows a likeness. A man that would have his child to write a fair hand, he will not give him an ill copy to write by, but as fair as may be, though there be no possibility the child should write so well as it. So we cannot possibly attain to that purity in Christ, yet the copy must be fair. Scholars, if they will have an elegant style, they set the best orators before them. Thus, though the law of God be perfect, though such a thing as a man is not able to fulfil, yet it is a fit pattern; the copy must be fair, that I may mend my hand by it. And thus, if we go on following our pattern, as the scholar's hand, by practice, mends every day, though it never come near the copy, so shall we grow in grace.

(R. Sibbes.)

The apostle is here speaking of true Christians only. "Now are we the sons of God." They have been brought into closer relationship to Him, through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have received the grace of adoption, and are members of His family. Then the apostle turns our thoughts from the true Christian's present advantages to his coming blessedness. They shall see their Saviour as He is. Having spoken of the believer's position and prospects, the apostle proceeds to state a third great matter — the influence which a Christian's expectation for the future should have on his consecration for the present. The confidence that he will one day be with Jesus, the confidence that he will one day be fully like to Jesus — that helps to make him, in some measure, like to Jesus, even on this side the grave. He that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. Heaven is largely unknown. Eye hath not seen it, heart hath not conceived its joys; but enough is revealed to make the hope of being there one of the mightiest agents in moulding the character of man, even in this mortal state. What we shall be there is to regulate what we are here. There, there are harps of gold and songs of triumph; there, the light that never fades. From us all that is far away; far from us in point of time and place and character. But yet it is intended by God to work upon us here and now. Through all the intervening space that heavenly glory is to stretch forth its hand, and touch our souls and transform them into the image of our Lord and Master. Let me in the next place direct your attention to some of the details of this great matter. There is no grace of Christian character, to be acquired here, which may not be fostered by the thoughts of what we shall have there. There is that first of all the graces Faith — the foundation stone in the temple of Christian character, the root out of which all other fruits of the Spirit do grow. Maybe some of you have sore conflict with doubts. You have tried many expedients without being satisfied. Have you tried what a clearer hope of heaven will do? If amidst the darkness of this mortal state you can yet read your "title clear to mansions in the skies," you will then remember that there is no night there; you will be able to say with the greathearted Arnold of Rugby, "In the presence of an admitted mystery, I can lie down as calmly and contentedly as in the presence of a perfectly comprehended truth." Next to faith, the apostle Peter mentions courage. Add fortitude to your faith. Because he is a soldier, a Christian needs to be brave. There will be no cowards in heaven; and there ought to be none in the visible Church below. You will remember what they tell of Nelson, when he had cleared his deck for action and was about to enter into the deadliest struggle with the adversary. "Now," he says, "now for Westminster Abbey or the peerage!" He looked beyond all the darkness and danger of the bloody conflict. "If I fall," said he, "they will bury me among the noble dead; if I survive, they will give me a place among the noble living." Therefore had he no fear. Therefore was he forgetful of peril. The sight of the future glory inspired him with all the courage the occasion required. Maybe some of you have sadly felt your lack of soldierly courage. You have wanted the boldness to say "no," when asked to do some forbidden thing; or if you had the courage to say "no," you had not the courage to give the real reasons for so saying. It is in the latter respect that so many fail. I am sure I speak to some who have often been ashamed of their shamefacedness and faithlessness. They have mourned over their want of soldierly fortitude, and have longed for more of the heroic spirit that could dare anything for Jesus' sake. Have you ever tried the power of a clearer, stronger hope of heaven? The bravest soldiers of the Cross have been men who drew their inspiration from the world to come. Temperance is a grace of character we have to cultivate in this life. Some of you are saddened by your felt want of this Christian moderation. You feel a constant peril of the world getting too much power over you. The saints of God have tried many remedies for this. Simeon Stylites built his high pillar, and lived on the top of it for thirty years. I am not aware that his worldly mindedness was much diminished by it. The only effective cure is that which God's Word prescribes, "Set your affections on things above." Until you get the other world into its right place in your hearts, you will never keep the present world in all due subordination. The starry circle of Christian graces is not yet complete. There must be patience. as well as temperance. What would patience be if it had no hope of heaven to sustain it? It would never be strong enough to do its perfect work. It would languish and die in many a heart. It was never before the mighty thing it hath been since Christ "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." Some of you, maybe, have heavy burdens to carry, and you long to carry them more like Christ carried His Cross — without one word of complaint, without one feeling of discontent. Sometimes your greatest trouble is that you cannot bear your troubles. You know what you ought to do, you desire to do it; but, while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. You must try this expectation, a bright hope of heaven. This expectation has never failed. I have seen an aged Christian who has toiled through many a weary year and was a poor man still. Age and infirmity had weakened his efforts, but still he must work to earn his daily bread. Yet have I seen such a one free from all fretfulness and murmuring. He had hope in Christ; and that hope did soar away to heaven, and then came back again with leaves from the tree of life. I pass by other virtues we have to cultivate to speak of those which are last but not least in the apostle's inventory of Christian graces — brotherly kindness and charity. Amidst all our divisions and differences, what power of reconciliation there is in the thought: We go to the same home, to join in the same song, to cast our crowns at the feet of the same Divine Saviour!

(C. Vince.)

No sacred inspiration, no emancipating impulse, no consecrating motive, no uplifting enthusiasm, no grand ethical or spiritual force of any sort, can spring from self-despite. Good is not born of evil nor of the mere contemplation and realisation of evil. Convince a man that he is a low creature, a mere animal, evolved fiord lower types, and he will go far toward proving the doctrine true. Make out that a man is the slave of circumstances, the victim of base necessity, and the slave of circumstances and the victim of base necessity will he be. Helpful moral ministry lies in the revelation of the noble and divine in man, the elements of worth, the germs, the potencies of good. The grand characteristic of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it makes a man feel that he is a being of capacity and worth, one whom God loves and cares for, desires to redeem and save, and purposes to do great things by, counting not the cost the process of His grace involves. It sets forth the ideal relation of man as the child of God. What soul but recognises this as the highest, deepest, grandest truth concerning it? What so accentuates the evil into which men have actually fallen as the light of this sublime truth? And what so brings the sense of shame with regard to evil in ourselves and starts the reactions of repentance and resolve, as to realise from what height we have fallen into it, what better purpose our sin has foiled, and with what pain and grief it is regarded by those who know us best and love us most! This is the effect of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the soul. It reveals the man to himself, shows him what he truly is, and awakens the instincts which belong to his deepest affinities and relations. It makes him feel how foreign sin is to his real nature and life, and starts the yearning after goodness. It sets the child of God crying out unto and claiming his Father. Nothing is so terrible as the theory — call it philosophy, science, rationalism, agnosticism, or what you will — that man is abandoned to the evil into which he has fallen, with no help for his recovery. This subverts all the moral principles and paralyses all the moral forces of a life and opens the way for all manner of delusions, sophistries, subterfuges, and shams. But that is a grand, Divine, redeeming, saving religion which shows man that he is a child of God, awakens the instincts of this relation, and leads him into the actual and effectual realisation of what he natively and ideally is, enabling him to say, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." But that will not do for man what he needs which destroys aspiration, and allows to settle upon him the dull satisfaction of a finality, the thought that he has attained to the highest, and that there is no grander possibility and idea calling to him, and challenging endeavour. Man's true life is one of progress and growth. And it is another eminent characteristic of Christianity that it meets this requirement. It sets before man lofty ideals. But something has grown certain by that which already is. We know that our perfecting must come in our religion, not out of it; in our Divine sonship, not out of it. Oh, the sadness of those whose religion has failed them, or who have become stolid and moribund in it, to whom it has become a memory, but ceased to be a hope, and whose good days are behind them! Christianity, where it has a true effect, makes us know that, if certain influences could act upon us completely, if we could be perfect correlation to certain forces, the result would translate and fulfil all our best desires. It is the nature and inevitable effect of hope to train the life into preparation for its own realisation, and to purify it of all that is inconsistent therewith. We pitch our lives at the height of the good we anticipate. The ideal draws us into itself. Thus, hope is the beginning of its own fulfilment. Especially is this the case if the hope be centred, as every great and noble hope must be, by a heart of living personality, and the looked for event is to give to us, and give us to, not only somewhat, but some one. We see this in the forecast of and preparation for the great, solemn, tender, and sacred relations of the present life. How the anticipation of these lifts up the life to their plane! Change is impending by which our life is going to be translated from the present scene and setting, with their poverty and hardness, to a condition of affluence and advantage. How we set our lives in the order of the new days and ways! We say, "I shall do this and that by and by," and we begin to do this and that now; "I shall have this and that when the change has come," and the anticipation already moulds our tastes and consciousness; "my friend lives thus and so," and we begin to live like Him with whom we are soon to be. The provincialisms fall off from us as we contemplate the grand capital of being. The prodigal, through all his homeward journey, must have been becoming ever more and more a son, because he was going to his father. Hawthorne has given profound truth pictorial form in his allegory of "The Great Stone Face:" The young man, Ernest, had heard, when a child, from his mother's lips, the local prophecy, that some day there should come to the valley one bearing an exact resemblance to the great stone face which they could see in the neighbouring mountain, and being the greatest and noblest personage of the time, should be a great blessing to those among whom he lived; and he had taken the prophecy more seriously than the other inhabitants of the valley. As he had greater faith, he had the power of seeing more clearly than his neighbours the grandeur of the strange, stony outline, and so the prophecy meant more to him than the rest, and the hope of its fulfilment entered more deeply into his life. Ever as the years passed that hope became stronger and of richer meaning. When this one and that one came to the valley and was regarded as the fulfilment of the prophecy — Mr. Gathergold, the millionaire; General Blood and Thunder, the military hero; Old Stony Phiz, the eminent statesman; and the poet, whose wondrous songs glorified both nature and humanity, and had such meaning and charm for Ernest himself, his hope was most eager and rejoicing; but he was always the first to discover that the prophecy was not yet fulfilled. But ever as the prophecy's fulfilment was thus deferred, the great stone face seemed to whisper to him, "Fear not, Ernest; he will come." As he thus dearly cherished the hope of the great man's coming, he gave himself to doing good, preparing the valley for the great benefactor's arrival, doing in his imperfect way what he thought the great one who would fulfil the prophecy would do in his better way when he came. He learned a heavenly wisdom and became involuntarily a preacher, the pure and high simplicity of his soul, which dropped silently in good deeds from his hand, flowing also from his lips in words of truth, so that the people came to him with their needs and troubles, felt in his presence the benignity of the great stone face, and had a greater confidence that one would come who resembled it, until at length, when Ernest had grown old, and with the grey about his face like the mists which often hung about the face in the mountain, the people saw that he resembled it. His hope had configured his features, even as the character of which they were the expression. And the people said, "The man resembling the great stone face is with us;" but Ernest the more firmly believed that a wiser and better than himself would yet appear. Thus is it ever with our noblest hopes. Thus is it with the grandest of all hopes — that of seeing God. All grossness, triviality, selfishness, sordidness, falsity, scorn, bitterness, and contempt are purged from the heart where such hope abides. Pessimism is the grave of heroism, aspiration, the nurse of noble purpose and generous ardour. He who believes the worst will be, will be his worst. He who believes the best will be, will be his best. And he who hath the hope of seeing Christ and being like Him, will purify himself even as He is pure. The life that is pitched only at temporal ends will be weak in its ethics and liable to allow itself large licence as to means. But when one has attained to the love of the highest and has come to realise that "the highest is the most human too," the soul then knows that it belongs to the highest and must be joined to the highest, and the life is governed by sublime attraction. The great question in regard to every life is, Does it respond to the highest, does it cleave to the best? The great Elder Brother, revealing your Divine sonship, making possible its realisation, and setting before you the glory of its consummation, claims you for Himself, claims you for the Father whom He reveals, claims you for the life for which you were made.

(J. W. Earnshaw.)

I. A CHRISTIAN IS DESCRIBED BY HIS HOPE. Hope is a special act of the new life, and an immediate effect of our regeneration. The animal life fits us to live here, but the spiritual life hath another aim and tendency; it inclineth and disposeth us to look after the world to come.

1. The nature of it. It is a certain and desirous expectation of the promised blessedness: the promise is the ground of it; for hope runneth to embrace what faith has discovered in the promise (Titus 1:2).(1) The expectation is certain, because it goeth upon the same grounds that faith doth, the infallibility of God's promise, backed with a double reason, both of which do strongly work upon our hope. First, the goodness of Christ; He would never proselyte us to a religion that should undo us in this world, if there were not a sufficient recompense appointed for us in another world (1 Corinthians 15:19). Secondly, the simplicity, and faithful and open plainness which Christ ever used; this is pleaded (John 14:2).(2) The expectation is earnest and desirous, because it is as great a good as human nature is capable of.

2. The necessity of this hope, which is twofold —(1) To support us under our difficulties. How else could we subsist under the manifold troubles of the present life. Oh, how would a Christian be tossed up and down, and dashed against the rocks, if he were without his anchor!(2) To quicken our diligence, and put life into our endeavours and resolutions, that we may not faint in the way to heaven (Acts 24:16). All the world is led by hope; it is the great principle which sets everyone a work in his vocation and calling. The merchant trades in hope, the husbandman ploughs in hope, and the soldier fights in hope. So what sets the Christian a work, notwithstanding the difficulties which attend his service, the temptations which assault his constancy, the calamities which attend his profession, but only hope? You see to what to turn your eye, and direct your pursuit; it is the everlasting fruition of the ever-blessed God. Secondly, this hope. It is not said he that hath hope in Him, but he that hath this hope; it is not a sensual enjoyment which is propounded as our blessedness, but seeing God as He is, and being like Him; if our hearts be set upon the vision and likeness of God, we will be purifying ourselves more and more. It is not a sensual paradise, but a pure sinless state. Thirdly, this hope in Him. If we expect to receive it from God, we must receive it upon God's terms, and according to His manner of promising it. Now He promiseth it not absolutely, but conditionally, to the pure and holy, and to none else. Fourthly, observe the quantity of the proposition; it is not particular nor indefinite, but it hath an expression of universality affixed; every man that hath this hope. It is not spoken of some eminent saints, who shall have a greater degree of glory than the ordinary sort of Christians, but of all who have any interest or share in it.

II. THE PURITY AND LIKENESS TO CHRIST, WHICH IS THE EFFECT OF THIS HOPE.

1. Here is an act done on the believer's part, he "purifieth himself," or a serious endeavour of purity and holiness. God giveth the new nature, first infuseth the habits of grace, and then exciteth them; and being renewed and excited by God, we set ourselves to seek after holiness and purity in heart and life.

2. It noteth a continued act; it is not he hath purified, but, he purifieth himself; he is always purifying, making it his daily work to clarify and refine his soul, that it may be fit for the vision of God, and the fruition of God.

3. It noteth a discriminating act, "He purifieth himself." It is not said, should purify of right, de jure, but de facto; he is, and will be in this work. It is not laid down here by way of precept, or as a rule of duty, which yet would be binding upon us, but as an evidence and mark of trial, whereby the heirs of promise are notified and distinguished from others.

4. It noteth an unlimited endeavour, "He purifieth himself." He doth not say from what, he leaveth it indefinitely, because he would include all sin, and exclude none. There must be an endeavour after universal purity. If you will have me descend to particulars, let me warn you of two things — first, fleshly lusts (1 Peter 2:11); and, secondly, worldly lusts (Titus 2:12).

III. I NOW COME TO THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BOTH THESE.

1. You may take notice of the suitableness of our heart to the object, or the things believed and hoped for. That which we hope for is conformity to Christ, a pure immaculate state of bliss. Men are as their hopes are; if they pitch on carnal things, they are carnal; if upon worldly things, they are worldly. Our affections assimilate us into the objects they fix upon.

2. It is the condition indispensably required of us; it is not an indifferent thing whether we will be holy, yea or no, but absolutely necessary. Heaven is the portion of the sanctified (Acts 26:18).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THE STANDARD OF PURITY IS CHRIST.

1. We should consider Him attentively as the means of elevating our views of holy obedience by His blessed example, and of stimulating us to seek for higher attainments in grace than we are likely to find by our very imperfect knowledge of our yet imperfect brethren.

2. The moral sight, like the mariner's, acquires by practice an almost inconceivable keenness; and the highest points of moral beauty in the temper and conduct of Jesus are only visible to him who looks on Him and His perfections continually with ardent attachment, with keen and steady scrutiny, and with holy desire to follow in His steps.

II. THE PRINCIPLES OF PURIFICATION which are in operation in the Christian's mind.

1. A sense of the love and mercy of God in this dispensation of salvation.

2. Filial affection to God, as having become His child.

3. The expectation of the promised blessing.

4. The spiritual influence by which his belief is maintained.

III. THE RESULT ACCOMPLISHED in the believer's mind.

1. He that has the Christian hope, obtains a purity of thought and intention.

2. He attains to the purifying of his tempers and dispositions.

3. He attains to the purifying of the affections.

4. He attains to purity of conversation in the world, and of intercourse with his fellow men.

5. He attains to purity of conscience.

(Edward Craig, M. A.)

I. ITS OBJECTS.

1. The second and glorious appearance of Christ.

2. Complete resemblance to His image.

3. The contemplation of His glory and the enjoyment of His love as the means of perfecting this resemblance.

II. ITS CERTAINTY.

1. Think on what it rests: not on the schemes of men, which a thousand unforeseen events, and even the failure in a single instance of the means which are employed to accomplish them, may render abortive; but on the purposes of God towards those who are in Christ Jesus — on the determination of infinite wisdom, which no event can thwart.

2. Think of the security of its foundation: this is the work and the grace of Christ.

3. Think, again, what the character and origin of this hope is. It is the hope of seeing Christ, and being like Him; it is the fruit of the Spirit which is shed abroad in the heart.

III. THE PURIFYING INFLUENCE OF THIS HOPE.

1. The hope of Christ's appearance must have a purifying effect on all who truly possess it, because without holiness it is absolutely impossible for them to inherit His glory.

2. The very nature and object of this hope have a purifying tendency. Why is it that the Christian longs for the manifestation of the sons of God? Not merely, or chiefly, because then he shall no more struggle with the distresses, or toils, or sorrows of life; but because then his grateful affections shall flow out in perpetual streams of adoration and obedience towards God and the Lamb; not checked, as at present, by any obstruction of temptation and sin. And can the love and dominion of sin subsist in union with such a hope as this?

(D. Dickson, D. D.)

The Christian is a man whose main possessions lie in reversion. Most men have a hope, but his is a peculiar one; and its effect is special, for it causes him to purify himself.

I. THE BELIEVER'S HOPE.

1. It is the hope of being like Jesus. Perfect, glorious, conqueror over sin, death, and hell.

2. It is based upon Divine love.

3. It arises out of sonship.

4. It rests upon our union to Jesus.

5. It is distinctly hope in Him.

6. It is the hope of His second Advent.

II. THE OPERATION OF THAT HOPE.

1. The believer purifies himself from —

(1)His grosser sins. From evil company, etc.

(2)His secret sins, neglects, imaginings, desires, murmurings, etc.

(3)His besetting sins of heart, temper, body, relationship, etc.

(4)His relative sins in the family, the shop, the church, etc.

(5)His sins arising out of his nationality, education, profession, etc.

(6)His sins of word, thought, action, and omission.

2. He does this in a perfectly natural way.

(1)By getting a clear notion of what purity really is.

(2)By keeping a tender conscience, and bewailing his faults.

(3)By having an eye to God and His continual presence.

(4)By making others his beacons or examples.

(5)By hearing rebukes for himself, and laying them to heart.

(6)By asking the Lord to search him, and practising self-examination.

(7)By distinctly and vigorously fighting with every known sin.

3. He sets before him Jesus as his model.

(1)Hence he does not cultivate one grace only.

(2)Hence he is never afraid of being too precise.

(3)Hence he is simple, natural, and unconstrained.

(4)Hence he is evermore aspiring after more and more holiness.

III. THE TEST OF THAT HOPE. Actively, personally, prayerfully, intensely, continually, he aims at the purification of himself, looking to God for aid.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The hope of the Christian is the one worthy, enduring hope that is capable of lifting man above the earth and leading him to heaven. For all earthly and human ideals are too near the man to last him more than a little while. No sooner does he propose one such to himself, and begin to mount toward it, than it begins to lose its excellence as he draws nigh to it, and soon it has no power to hold his affections. There is no imaginable state that he cannot so disenchant except heaven, and no model that he cannot unidealise except the Son of God. Therefore, every mere earthly hope is unworthy to rule a man, and if he have no higher, will at last degrade him; because man is greater than any earthly honour he can aspire to, and greater than the world he lives in, and greater than all its achievements and glories — yes, greater than anything except God. Here, now, is the eternal grandeur of Christ's religion. It proposes the only worthy and enduring hope to man. It says to you and to me, "If you will you may be God-like, for you are the sons of God. And you may be like Him if you will, and see Him as He is." This is the way to the stars. And Jesus, our Elder Brother, has gone before, and opened the way for aspiring man to follow. Behold, they go to Him, out of every nation. One by one they shake off all meaner desires, and lay all meaner purposes down, and as they climb toward Him along the various paths of suffering and of duty their hearts are filled with a common hope — to be like Him, and see Him as He is.

(Bp. S. S. Harris.)

In the moulding room of an iron foundry you may see workmen making in fine sand the moulds into which the molten iron will be poured in a day or two. It is delicate work, requiring care and skill. Compared with it, the pouring of the molten iron into the mould seems very easy. But it is not. Air bubbles that weaken the iron are more dangerous than a wrong pattern. It is a great thing to get a good ideal of life. But to work out the ideal, to make it real, to get the work just like the perfect pattern, is no easy thing. There are more failures from the want of faithfulness and skill in the worker than from the want of a good model of the work to be done. Hope has a purifying power.

1. Because it knows that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.

2. Because it creates an atmosphere of life that is death to personal impurity.

3. Because it encourages us to believe that the work of our being made like Christ will be accomplished. "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."

4. Because we grow like those we ardently love.

(Geo. Cooper, D. D.)

There is, in one of the valleys of Perthshire, a tree which sprang up on the rocky side of a little brook, where there was no kindly soil in which it could spread its roots, or by which it could be nourished. For a long time it was stunted and unhealthy, but, at length, by what may be called a wonderful vegetable instinct, it has sent a fibre out across a narrow sheep bridge, which was close beside it, and that fixed itself in the rich loam on the opposite bank of the streamlet, whence it drew sap and sustenance, so that it speedily became vigorous. Now, what that tiny bridge was to the tree, the Resurrection of Christ is to the believer. The Christian life on earth is growing in an unkindly soil; and if it could find no better nourishment than that can furnish it would die; but, taught by the Holy Spirit of God, through faith in the resurrection and ascension of the Lord, it sends a rootlet across the river into the better land, and draws from that all the support it needs to keep it fresh and healthy.

(W. M. Taylor.)

Christian Treasury.
Let thy hope of heaven moderate thy affections to earth. You that look for so much in another world may be very well content with a little in this. Nothing more unbecomes a heavenly hope than an earthly heart. You would think it an unseemly thing to see some rich man, that hath a vast estate, among the poor gleaners in harvest time, as busy to pick up the ears of corn that are left in the field as the most miserable beggar in the company. Oh, how all the world would cry shame of such a sordid man! Well, Christian, be not angry if I tell thee that thou dost a more shameful thing by far, if thou, who pretendest to hope for heaven, be as eager in the pursuit of this world's trash as the poor carnal wretch is who expects no portion but what God hath left him to pick up in the field of this world. Certainly thy hope is either false, or at best very little. The higher the summer sun mounts above the horizon, the more force it bears to clear and heat the air with his beams; and if thy hope of salvation were advanced to any ordinary height in thy soul, it would scatter these inordinate desires after this world, with which now thou art choked up, and put thee into a greater heat of affection after heaven.

(Christian Treasury.)

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