Holy Life - The Beauty of Christianity

Contents:
Author: John Bunyan

CHAPTER 1
THE TEXT OPENED

And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.

2 Timothy 2:9.

Timothy, unto whom this epistle was written, was an Evangelist, that is, inferior to the Apostles and extraordinary Prophets, and above ordinary Pastors and Teachers. Chap. 4:5; Ephesians 4:11, And he, with the rest of those under his circumstances, was to go with the Apostles hither and thither, to be disposed of by them as they saw need, for the further edification of those who by the apostolical ministry were converted to the faith. And hence it is, that Titus was left at Crete, and that this Timothy was left at Ephesus. 1 Timothy 1:3. For they were to do a work for Christ in the world, which the Apostles were to begin, and leave upon their hand to finish.

Now when the Apostles departed from places, and had left these Evangelists in their stead, usually there did arise some bad spirits among those people, where these were left for the furtherance of the Faith. This is manifest by both the epistles to Timothy, and also by that to Titus. Wherefore Paul, upon whom these two Evangelists waited for the fulfilling of their ministry, writeth unto them while they abode where he left them, concerning those turbulent spirits which they met with, and to teach them how yet further they ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth. And to this purpose he gives them severally divers instructions, (as the judicious reader may easily understand), by which he encourageth them to the prosecution of that service, which for Christ they had to do for those people where he had left them; and also instructeth them how to carry it towards their disturbers, which last he doth, not only doctrinally, but also by showing them, by his example and practice, what he would have them do.

This done, he laboreth to comfort Timothy with the remembrance of the steadfastness of God’s eternal decree of election, because grounded on his foreknowledge; saying, though Hymeneus and Philetus have erred from the faith, and, by their fall, have overthrown the faith of some; "yet the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." Now lest this last hint should still encourage some to be remiss, carnally secure, and foolish, (as I suppose this doctrine abused, had encouraged them to be before); therefore the Apostle immediately conjoineth to it this exhortation: "And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." Two truths strangely, but necessarily joined together, because so apt to be severed by the children of men; for many under the pretense of their being elected, neglect to pursue holiness; and many of them again that pretend to be for holiness, quite exclude the doctrine, and motives that election gives thereto. Wherefore the Apostle, that he might set men’s notions as to these things right, joins these two together, signifying thereby, that as electing love doth instate a man in the blessing of eternal life, so holiness is the path thereto; and, that he that refuseth to depart from iniquity shall be damned, notwithstanding he may think himself secured from hell by the act of God’s electing love. For election designeth men, not only to eternal glory, but to holiness of life, as a means thereto. Ephesians 1:4, 5. And the manner of this connection of truth is the more to be noted by us, because the Apostle seems to conjoin them in a holy heat of spirit, saying: "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." And, "Let every that" shall but so much as "name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity;" as if he would say, ’or, God will be revenged upon them for all their sins, notwithstanding, they appropriate unto themselves the benefits of election.’

In the text we have, I. An Exhortation. II. The Extension of that exhortation. The exhortation is, That men depart from iniquity. The extension of it is, to them, al of them, every one of them that name the name of Christ. "And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity."

I. In the Exhortation there are several things to be taken notice of, because insinuated by the Apostle.

The first is, that iniquity is a very dangerous and hurtful thing, as to the souls of sinners in general, so to them that name the name of Christ.

It is a very dangerous, and hurtful thing to men in general; for it is that which did captivate the world at the beginning, and that made it a bondslave to the devil. It has also done great hurt to mankind ever since.

To instance a few things:

1. It is that which has stupified and besotted the powers of men’s souls, and made them even next to a beast and brute in all matters supernatural and heavenly. 2 Peter 2:12. For as the beast minds nothing but his lusts and his belly, by nature, so man minds nothing but things earthly, sensual, and devilish, by reason of iniquity.

2. It has blinded and darkened the powers of the soul, so that it can neither see where it is, nor which is the way out of this besotted condition. Ephesians 4:18.

3. It has hardened the heart against God, and against all admonition and counsel in the things of the gospel of Christ. Romans 2:5.

4. It has alienated the will, the mind, and affections, from the choice of the things that should save it, and wrought them over to a hearty delight in those things, that naturally tend to drown men in destruction and perdition. Colossians 1:21.

5. It has made man odious in God’s eyes, it has provoked the justice of God against him, and made him obnoxious to hell fire. Ezekiel 16:5.

6. Yea, it so holds him, so binds him, so reserves him to this, that not he himself, nor yet all the angels of heaven, can deliver him from this deplorable condition. Proverbs 5:22.

7. To say nothing of the pleasure and delight that it makes him take in that way to hell in which he walketh. Isaiah 66:3; Proverbs 7:22-25. Never went fat ox so gamesomely to the shambles, nor fool so merrily to the correction of the stocks, nor silly bird so wantonly to the hidden net, as iniquity makes men go down her steps to the pit of hell and damnation.

O it is amazing, it is astonishing to consider what hurt sin has done to man, and into how many dangers it has brought him; but let these few hints at this time suffice as to this.

I will now speak a word to the other particular, namely: that as iniquity is dangerous and hurtful to the souls of men in general, so it is to them that name the name of Christ. As to the naming of him, to that I shall speak by and by; but as this time take it thus: Them that religiously name his name. And I say iniquity is hurtful to them.

1. It plucks many a one of them from Christ and the religious profession of him. I have even seen, that men who have devoutly and religiously professed Jesus Christ, have been prevailed with, by iniquity, to cast him and the profession of his name quite off, and to turn their backs upon him. "Israel," saith the Prophet, "has cast off the thing that is good." Hosea 8:3. But why? "Of their silver and their gold they have made idols." The sin of idolatry drew their hearts from God; their love to that iniquity, made them turn their backs upon him. Wherefore God complains, that of forwardness to their iniquity, and through the prevalence thereof, they had cast him behind their back. Ezekiel 23:35.

2. As it plucks many a professor from Christ, so it keeps back many a one from an effectual closing with him. How many are there that religiously profess and make mention of the name of Christ, that yet of love to, and by the interest that iniquity hath in their affections, never close with him unto salvation, but are like to them, of whom you read in Paul to Timothy, that they are "ever learning and never come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-7.

3. And concerning those that have indeed come to him, and that have effectually closed with him, and that name his name to good purpose; yet how hath iniquity hurt and abused many of them.

(1.)It has prevailed with God to hide his face from them, a thing more bitter than death.

(2.)It has prevailed with God to chastise, and to afflict them sorely, a thing in which he taketh no pleasure. Lamentations 3:33.

(3.)It has provoked God to give them over to the hand of the enemy, if not to deliver them to the tormentors. Jeremiah 12:7. Matthew 18:34.

(4.)It hath brought them to question their interest in Christ, and whether they ever had grace in their souls. Psalm 31:22.

4. And for those that have yet believed they were in his favor, this iniquity has driven them to fear that God would cast them away, and take all his good things from them. Psalm 51.

Yea, he that would know the hurt that iniquity hath done to them that name the name of Christ, let him consider the cries, the sighs, the tears, the bemoaning, the bewailings, the lamentations, the sorrows, the confessions, the repentings and griefs, wherewith they have been attended while they have complained that they have been put in the stocks, laid in the dungeon, had their bones broken, suffered the terrors of God, been distressed almost to destruction, and have been fed with gravel, gall, wormwood and with the water of astonishment, for days, yea, years together. Psalm 38:8; 31:10; 6:6; Jeremiah 31:18; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Psalm 106:3; 31:3, 4; Job 13:27; Psalm 88; Lamentations 3:4; 3:16; Jeremiah 8:14; 23:15; Psalm 60:3; Ezekiel 4:16. By all which, and many more which might be mentioned, it appears that iniquity is a dangerous and hurtful thing.

II. But I proceed, and come in the next place to the Extension of the exhortation.

Namely, that it reacheth to all those that name the name of Christ. "And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." To handle this a little, and,

First, to show you what the Apostle here means by naming the name of Christ. He meaneth not an irreligious naming of that worthy name, nor those that name it irreligiously. This is evident, because he passed by their manner of naming it without the least reproof, the which he would not have done, had the fault been in their manner of naming the name of Christ. Now I say, if he intendeth not those that name the name of Christ irreligiously, then, though the exhortation (let every one) seems to extend itself to all, and all manner of persons, that any ways name the name of Christ, yet it is limited to this, namely, them that rightly, religiously or according to the way of the professors of Christ, name his worthy name. And it must needs be so taken, and that for these reasons:

1. Because, as I said before, the Apostle taketh no notice of their manner of naming his name, so as to reprove any undecency or unseemliness in their naming him; wherefore, he alloweth of the manner of their naming him.

2. Because, the Apostle’s design in this exhortation, is, that the naming of the name of Christ, might be accompanied with such a life of holiness, as might put an additional lustre upon that name whenever named in a religious way; but this cannot be applied to every manner of naming the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man shall name the name of Christ unduly, or irreligiously, though he shall never so much therewithal depart from iniquity, and he circumspect to the utmost in all civility and morality, yet he answers not the Apostle’s end which he seeks by this his exhortation. For,

(1) Suppose a man should name the name of Christ vainly, idly, in vain, in mirth, wantonness, false or vain swearing, or the like, and shall back this his manner of naming the name of Christ, with all manner of justness and uprightness of life, would this answer the Apostle’s end in this his exhortation? Verily no; for this manner of naming the name is worthy of reprehension. "Thou shalt not take my name in vain," that is, vainly make use thereof; and moral goodness attending the so naming of the name of Christ, will do more hurt than good. Exodus 20.

(2) There is a reproachful and scandalous naming of the name of Christ, such as the Jews and Pharisees did accustom themselves unto, as to call him Jesus the deceiver; Christ, in a way of scorn and contempt. Nor were these men quite destitute of that which put a lustre upon their opinions; for, said the Lord Christ himself unto them, "Ye indeed appear beautiful outward. Matthew 23.

(3) There is such a naming of the name of Christ, as to make it a cloak for false and dangerous errors; that men, by the use of that name, and the putting of it upon such errors and delusions, may put off their errors to others the better. "Many shall come in my name," namely, with their delusions, presenting them, in my name, to the world, and shall put them off, in my name, to the destruction of the soul. Matthew 24:5. Now, can any imagine that the Apostle should extend his exhortation to such, that they, thus continuing to name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity. To what end should such be comprehended in this exhortation of his? To no purpose at all: for the more an erroneous person, or a deceiver of souls, shall back his errors with a life that is morally good, the more mischievous, dangerous, and damnable, is that man and his delusions; wherefore such a one is not concerned in this exhortation.

(4) There is a naming of the name of Christ magically, and after the manner of exorcism, or conjuration; as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. The vagabond Jews, the exorcists, there say,

"We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth." Acts 19:13-15

Thus they called over them that had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus. But what if these should clothe this their devilish art and their devilish way, of using or naming the name of the Lord Jesus, with departing from iniquity, so as to commend their whole life to bystanders for such as is morally good; what advantage would Christ, or Paul, or the Gospel, get thereby? Verily none at all, but rather damage and reproach; as will soon appear to any man’s reason, if it be considered that goodness of life joined to badness of principles, is like the devil clothed in white, or Satan transformed into an angel of light. And Paul was grieved in his spirit, when the girl that had a spirit of divination, did acknowledge him to be the servant of the most high God, for he knew it would nothing help forward the Lord’s design, but be rather an hindrance thereto. For when witches and devils come once to commend, or make use of the name of Christ, Christ and Paul like it not; therefore, Paul’s exhortation, which here we are presented with by the text, is not extended to any of the four sorts aforenamed; but,

First. To those upon whom his name is called; they should depart from iniquity. I say those whom God has so far dignified, as to put the name of Christ upon them, (Acts 15:17), and I will add, that apply that name to themselves. And the reason is, because God is now concerned. Chap. 11:26. God has changed thy name from Pagan to Christian, and thou choosest to call thyself by that name, saying, "I belong to Christ." Now thou must depart from iniquity, for notice is taken of thee both by heaven and earth, that thou art become a disciple; and let every one that (so) nameth the name of Christ, or, that nameth it, (being himself by God and himself put under such circumstances as these), "depart from iniquity." 1 Peter 4:16.

Secondly, It is spoken to those that name the name of Christ either in the public or private worship of God: being themselves professed worshippers of him: and the reason is, for that the ordinance as well as the name of God is holy, and "he will be sanctified in them that come nigh him." Leviticus 10:3. He therefore that approacheth the presence of Christ in prayer, or any other divine appointment, must take heed of "regarding iniquity in his heart," prayers, and will shut his eyes, and not take notice of such kind of worship or worshippers.

Thirdly, Those that the Apostle in this place exhorts to depart from iniquity, are such as have taken unto themselves the boldness to say, that they are in him, abide in him, and consequently are made partakers of the benefits that are in him.

"He that saith he abideth in him,

ought himself to walk even as he walked." 1 John 2:6

And the reason is, because Christ is a fruitful root, and a free conveyer of sap into the branches; hence it is written, "That the trees of the Lord are full of sap." Psalm 104:16. So then, he that nameth the name of Christ by way of applying to himself his benefits, and as counting that he is found of God in him, and so abideth, ought himself to walk even as he walked, that he may give proof of what he saith to be true, by bearing forth before men that similitude of righteousness, that is in his root and stem: for such as the stock or tree is, such let the branches be, but that cannot be known but by the fruit: "By their fruit ye shall know them." Matthew 7:16. So then, he that thus shall name the name of Christ, let him depart from iniquity: yea, let every such man do so.

Fourthly, The exhortation is spoken to them that name Christ as their Sovereign Lord and King; let them depart from iniquity.

"The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver,

the Lord is our King; he will save us." Isaiah 33:22

These are great words: and as they cannot be spoken by every one; so they ought not to be spoken lightly by them that can. Nor may he that claims so high a privilege, be but obedient, submissive, apt to learn, conscientiously to put in practice what he hath learnt of his Judge, his Lawgiver, and his King. Lest when some shall hear him say, that Christ by name is his Lawgiver and his King, (and shall yet observe him to do things evil, and to walk in ways that are not good), they should think evil, and speak so of his King; saying, ’Learnt you this of Christ your King? or doth your King countenance you in ways that are so bad? or do you by thus and thus doing, submit to the laws of your King?’ Yea, your King, his name and gospel shall bear the burden of the evil, together with the shame thereof, if thou that namest the name of Christ, shalt not depart from iniquity.

Lastly, Whatever man he be that by his naming of the name of Christ shall intimate that he hath any reverence, or love to, or delight in that Christ, whose name he nameth, that man should depart from iniquity, not only for the reasons that are above mentioned, but for those that may be named afterwards.

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Chicago: John Bunyan, "Chapter 1 the Text Opened," Holy Life - The Beauty of Christianity, ed. George Offor in A Holy Life—The Beauty of Christianity, the Works of John Bunyan (London: Blackie and Son, 1856), Original Sources, accessed April 23, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CZGULGJASV5YGVR.

MLA: Bunyan, John. "Chapter 1 the Text Opened." Holy Life - The Beauty of Christianity, edited by George Offor, in A Holy Life—The Beauty of Christianity, the Works of John Bunyan, London, Blackie and Son, 1856, Original Sources. 23 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CZGULGJASV5YGVR.

Harvard: Bunyan, J, 'Chapter 1 the Text Opened' in Holy Life - The Beauty of Christianity, ed. . cited in 1856, A Holy Life—The Beauty of Christianity, the Works of John Bunyan, Blackie and Son, London. Original Sources, retrieved 23 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CZGULGJASV5YGVR.