Follow Peace with all MEN, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Heb. 12:14.

Before we enter upon the regular discussion of this subject, it may not be improper to make a few general remarks upon this Epistle, of which our text is a part. We find no other Epistle written, either by Paul himself, or any of the Apostles, bearing the same title of address, or indeed any other title or appellation, by which the Jews as a people had ever been known or distinguished. It is true the Apostle James addressed the twelve tribes; but they are not viewed as a body politic or ecclesiastic, but in a scattered situation, but here they are addressed as an outwardly organized church, in full fellowship with all the visible body of the Redeemer, and I think there is reason to believe that this church of the Hebrews was composed of a portion of the Jewish church and nation, who had all along retained their standing as regular members of the ancient church and kingdom of God, and not having forfeited their privilege of membership through unbelief, by rejecting the Savior, and now having submitted to the ordinances of the Gospel, they thus passed from the old dispensation, into the new, without having ever been broken off from outward membership in God's church and kingdom here upon earth. And I think this view of the matter perfectly corresponds with the idea couched under the metaphor of the good olive in the twelfth chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans, the good olive there was introduced as a figure of that ancient church or kingdom of God, which was founded upon the covenant of grace according to that dispensation of it, which was made in the family of Abraham; and here we find that the good olive was not cut down, was not torn out of root, was not destroyed, but some of its natural branches were broken off. This plainly supposes that other branches were not broken off, and we are told that the gentile converts and branches, who were wild by nature, were grafted into the good olive, among the natural branches that remained; and together with them partook of the sap and fatness of the good olive. Here my friends we may see that this good olive that had been planted nearly two thousand years before, had still sap and fatness, and was capable of making its branches bear fruit and this was God's ancient covenant with Abraham, upon which his Church and Kingdom upon earth was built, and this same covenant will continue to be the foundation of God's Church and Kingdom upon earth till time shall have an end. For other foundation can no man lay, than that already laid; the Apostles and Prophets. Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. He was the chief corner stone of the church under the old dispensation, as well as under the new; and although the Apostle Paul elsewhere speaks of this same covenant being found faulty and having waxed old, and ready to vanish away, in order that a new and better covenant might be introduced in its place. Yet the whole means nothing more than this; viz: a new dispensation of the same old covenant; together with a change of administration and ordinances: and with an abundant supply of far richer and better blessings; but till time shall end, it may be said of every individual who shall ever come into the world,--if you are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The reason my friends of all this introductory preamble is, that we may have correct views of this Church, unto which the Apostle was now writing. It was not composed of new converts, as the gentile churches were; but of old members and their families, translated from one church state into another, and taking along with them a number of their Jewish prejudices and peculiarities. And according to this view of the matter, the Apostle begins, and in all foregoing chapters of this epistle, we find him chiefly engaged to teach these Hebrews the first principles of the doctrines of the Christian religion. In the first chapter he holds up our Saviour in his dignified character of God, man, mediator, tells that he was the Creator of the world, and that he that created all things was God. And that even in his debased state, the Godhead being veiled in humanity, he was far superior to the angels; for even in that capacity he was a mighty Saviour--the captain of man's salvation--whereas the angels, although mighty principalities and powers, were all but ministering spirits at his control, and by him sent forth to minister, or serve those, his humble followers who shall be heirs of Salvation.

He next runs the parallel between Christ and Moses, and here he shows, that Christ, even as a man, was as much more worthy of glory than Moses, as he that hath builded a house is worthy of more glory than the house he hath built: and that although Moses was faithful in all his house; yet it was only as a servant, not as a son; but Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, &c. He then takes a view of the levitical priesthood. Shows that it was only limited and temporal, whereas, the priesthood of Christ was eternal. Then the Jewish sacrifices. Shows that they could never answer the purpose for which sacrifice was intended; that was to take away sins, that nothing short of the sacrifice which Christ made when he, through the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot unto God, could take away sins.

But my friends, although I have already been somewhat tedious in the way of introduction, still I beg leave to make one further remark before I come to the text; that is--the representation I have given of this church, makes it appear somewhat similar to a Presbyterian, Episcopalian, or any other church where infant membership is tolerated; and all such churches are sure to be crowded with members who have a profession without the life and power of godliness, and an attachment to learning, order, and discipline without grace; and are most likely of all others in the world to be opposers and persecutors of the work of God's spirit, whenever it makes its appearance. And such professors, though they may even be rulers in the church, need to be exhorted to seek God to convert their souls as well as the openly profane; accordingly we find the Apostle's doctrinal instructions all through this Epistle, mixed with appropriate cautions and exhortations, urging the necessity of laboring to enter into the rest of faith--guarding against apostacy--sinning wilfully and doing despite to the spirit of Grace &c. And of attaining to purity of heart, piety, and true holiness, without which they never could see the face of God in peace, particularly as he draws to a conclusion in this and the ensuing chapter, his words are chiefly hortatory and in short detached sentences. The words of our text are of this description.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. This is a little short verse, consisting of only fifteen words, included in a little more than two short lines, but oh! what a treasure it contains. Here are directions given, showing us how we may attain to happiness, both in this world and that which is to come. Yes my friends, even in this world of trouble and misery, for Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come, and these directions are genuine; there is no mistake in them; they are the words of God, and are sent to us from Heaven. The text you may observe has two members, and each member contains a very important duty, and although all the duties of the christian religion are systematically connected together; yet there are different species of duties; the duty contained in the first member of the text, is of the relative kind; it relates to our civil, social, and religious intercourse with our fellow creatures here upon earth. That in the second member of the text, I called duty, because it is expressed in the singular number, viz: holiness; but it is a complication of all other duties, therefore it is plural in its signification. But as I have taken up too much time in the introduction, and as I designed chiefly to dwell on the latter member or branch of the text; I will therefore pass lightly over the first, and so hasten on to the Second.

Follow peace with all men. I have before said, that this is the way to happiness here upon earth, and of this any one may be sensible, by observing the difference between those sensations we feel, when we know all men love and are at peace with us, and those we feel when we have enemies lying in wait to destroy us. It is certain there is no happiness to be enjoyed in living in strife and enmity, unless some may account it a happiness when they have it in their power to gain a victory over an adversary; but surely this is a fiend like happiness, and such as devils feel when they have been successful in perpetrating some act of wickedness. But mankind are capable of better things. And oh! how happy the whole human family might be if every individual was engaged to live according to this gospel precept, viz: follow peace with all men, but this is not be expected in the present lapsed state of society, offences must needs come; but surely christians should be always engaged to walk in the examples and precepts of their Lord and Master, to do good unto all men, to provoke unto love and good works, to overcome evil with good, not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, and thus exercise the fruits of charity towards all with whom they have any intercourse. Charity sufficeth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, and surely if christians were always engaged to live according to these precepts, they would eat the fruit of their doings. I will now pass on to the Second member or branch of the text, viz: without holiness no man shall see the Lord.

The word holiness, my friends, is a word of some latitude of meaning, it is various in its applications, and different in its degrees, it will apply to things animate and inanimate, and in some cases perfectly consistent with its opposite, unholiness. I will therefore, in what I may further say on this subject, endeavor,

1st. To explain holiness according to the common acceptation of the term.

2nd. Show what that holiness is, without which no man shall see the Lord.

I say then that the word, holiness is synonymous with the word sanctification or sanctify, and the true force and meaning of both are separation and dedication or devotion. Any thing when separated from common uses and devoted or dedicated to sacred purposes, is then said to be holy. Thus the Mount of Zion on which the city of Jerusalem stood, was called "the holy hill" of Zion. It was the spot of ground where God chose to place his name, and which was devoted and dedicated by the leaders of the people to be the place on which the national worship of God should be established, and it is often in scripture held forth as an emblem of the gospel church, and sometimes even of Christ's church in a triumphant state. The city Jerusalem was called the holy city. Why? Because it stood on the holy hill of Zion, and was the city of the great King, where the great King of kings had placed his name, and where God's anointed sat upon his throne in God's stead, and was a God unto the people. The Temple was holy in still a higher degree; there the immediate worship of God was performed, and there the symbols of his presence were continually to be seen. The vessels of the Temple, together with all its utensils, even the gold and the silver were all holy, inasmuch as all were devoted and dedicated to God, for the ornament, use, and service of the Temple and Temple worship. But the Priests were in a more especial manner holy; inasmuch as they were persons whom God chose to approach unto him, to minister about holy things, and be as it were mediators between God and the people. It was not lawful, therefore, for any priest to defile himself by engaging in any worldly business or traffic, such as were common to other men. God was peculiarly the Priest's inheritance, and had appointed them their labor and portion; all the business of their whole lives was to minister about holy things, and they were to live by the Altar. If therefore any Priest, in conformity to his own choice and inclination, should have turned a part of his attention to manual labor, or to some profitable trade or traffic, under the pretence of necessity to gain a more full and plentiful support for himself and family, he would thereby have violated the laws of God's Kingdom, and incurred the guilt of sacrilege in converting his own time and talents to answer his own selfish purposes, as if he had been his own property, and at his own disposal; whereas the reverse was the case. He was God's peculiar property, and God had a peculiar claim to his whole time and services in the work of the holy ministry, and that without any intermission during his ministerial capacity, and was responsible for his support while he continued in the line of his duty.

But although the Priests were so holy in their office, some of them were wicked in their lives, witness the two sons of Eli. Hophni and Phineas. And this is one instance of what we alluded to before; of holiness being consistent with its opposite, unholiness. The case of Saul was another, he was annointed with the holy oil to sit in God's seat, and be a god to the people--still he was a wicked man--yet oh! how fearful was David to lift up his hand against him, because he was the Lord's annointed, though he was seeking David's life to destroy it.

The nation of the Jews was a holy nation; because in their infancy they were devoted to God in the ordinance of circumcision, they are therefore often called in Scripture, God's holy Nation, his peculiar people, &c., yet their history shows that very many of them, and in very many instances, were grossly wicked and rebellious against God. But we will come to Gospel times.

And here I may observe as before, that a spot of ground separated from common purposes and set apart for a house of public worship to be set thereon, is holy ground, so also is that house together with all its necessary appendages, so also a minister of the Gospel, although he may not be what he really should be, yet on account of the sacredness of his office is a holy man, but if he is in reality what he pretends to be, he will be a thousand fold more so, for then he will not only be outwardly separated from all the rest of his fellow men by the sacredness of his office, but will actually be engaged under the influence of the Holy Ghost to manage the affairs of an embassage between the King of Heaven and his revolted and rebellious subjects here upon earth. Then with regard to the sacredness of his character and office, he will see the necessity of keeping himself as much as possible secluded from all worldly callings and avocations of every kind, and to avoid all unnecessary intercourse with his fellow men, any further than he can make the whole subservient to the great business in which he is engaged; that is the conversion of souls and the increase of his master's kingdom here upon earth, for no man thus employed entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. A man thus engaged in this great work, will see the necessity of devoting his whole time and talents to the great object of his mission and of giving himself wholly to these things, and that during life or his ministerial capacity, he will therefore endeavor to know nothing else but Jesus Christ and him crucified. And as he preaches the necessity of death to the world, so he shows by his example and practice that he lives as a stranger and sojourner upon earth according to the Gospel which he preaches. Such a man is worthy of double honor; but as there is no other test to the Gospel ministry but the calling of God and unction of the Holy Ghost, men so disposed may intrude themselves into the ministry without proper authority, under the pretence of having been called and sent; but such cannot deceive the head of the church, their whole conduct lies open before him. But again; every baptized infant is by its baptism made a member of Christ's outward visible church, in which his invisible is included, and where God's honor delights to dwell, and therefore on the account of its baptism it is reputed holy, and when all such are collectively viewed as a body it is called Christ's holy visible church. But it is not the holiness thus acquired, either by circumcision among the Jews or baptism among christians, that will ever qualify any person for the enjoyment of God in glory. You will say what is it then, that will?

This brings us to the second things proposed. To show what that holiness is without which no man shall see the Lord. And here my friends we may briefly say, that that holiness which prepares a person for the enjoyment of God in glory was the very thing prefigured and pointed at in the two aforementioned ordinances, in outward circumcision, the circumcision of the heart was alluded to; and in outward baptism, the baptism of the spirit was alluded to; but as outward circumcision availed nothing with the circumcision of the heart, so also outward baptism avails nothing without the baptism of the spirit. But in either case, the inward circumcision of the heart, or baptism of the spirit, which is the thing signified by the outward ceremony is availing, and will answer the purpose for righteousness and true holiness without the outward. Circumcision was performed by the shedding of blood; this pointed to the blood that was to be shed on Mount Calvary for the remission of sins. When therefore a circumcised Jew was enabled to look through all the types and shadows of the day with his whole heart to that blood that was to be shed on Mount Calvary for the remission of his sins and the salvation of his soul, and continued looking and waiting till he at last received the circumcision of the heart, which was the same thing as receiving the baptism of the spirit in a gospel day; and with that circumcision of the heart he received the spirit of holiness; even the love of God shed abroad in his heart, and then his delight was continually in the Lord, and in his most holy law, and in all the works of charity and mercy, and now, and never before, had he attained to that holiness which qualified for the enjoyment of God both here and hereafter, and without which no man shall ever see the Lord. So in the gospel day, when any parents devote and dedicate their children to God in the ordinance of baptism; the profession and promise on the part of the parents are, that they will bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord--that they will teach them the knowledge of their fallen, depraved natures, the necessity of the baptism of the spirit to make them holy in heart, and qualify them to bring forth the fruits of holiness in their lives, and the necessity of coming to Jesus Christ as the only way to obtain the baptism of the spirit, seeing he is the only door into the sheep fold, and the only head of influences for his church and people, who are members of his body. But if such parents neglect those duties to their children, and don't lead them to Christ in order that they may receive the baptism of the spirit; then such children will grow up and fill the church with empty, carnal members, who will be as much opposed to the self denying doctrines of the cross as any others, and as much in the spirit, and friendship, and fellowship of the world. And so they may pass away their lives like a dream of the night, and notwithstanding their water baptism, at last go down to the chambers of death by multitudes under the accumulated curses of gospel slighters and Christ despisers, and neglecters of the great salvation.

But on the other hand, when parents faithfully discharge those duties to their children in bringing them up for God, and their godly admonitions are blessed to that purpose, and for this there is a sure promise in the word of God, then such children will be brought to see and mourn the depravity of their natures, which, as a corrupt fountain will be continually sending forth polluted streams; they will see that they are altogether as an unclean thing, and that in and of themselves they can do nothing that is spiritually good, and thus they will be brought to see the necessity of looking to Christ for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and by thus looking to him and believing on him, they will receive the baptism of the spirit; even the spirit of Christ to rest upon them and to dwell and abide in them, for this spake he of the spirit which they that believed on him should receive. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his--and if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness; and thus by receiving the spirit of Christ, the believer, now in Christ, will be enabled to bring forth all the fruits of the spirit--yea, all the words of fervent charity in their lives; that is, to love God with their whole heart, and their neighbor as themselves, and against such there is no law; for all the law is fulfilled in one word, that is love; therefore the law can find no fault, spot, nor blemish in such persons, seeing love is the fulfilling of the law, and these are they who will be found at last to have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And this my, friends, is alone that holiness which fits and qualified a person for the happy enjoyment of God both here and hereafter, and without which none shall ever see the Lord.

But here some will say, the old man has got to preaching up perfection. Well, my friends, perfection is what is wanted, and without it no one will ever see the face of God in peace; for nothing that is impure can abide in his presence, and where or when is it to be obtained? do you say, not till we are ushered into the presence of God by death? Christ says, if we die in our sins, where I am ye cannot come; therefore we must obtain it in this world or not at all, and the sooner the better, for we know not how suddenly we may drop off the stage of action, into an unchanging eternity. God is perfect, and Christ exhorts us to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect. Christ in believers, the hope of Glory is perfect, and John says that all that have this hope in them, purifieth themselves even as God is pure; here is the perfection we plead for even purity of heart. Christ says blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. The change which Christians undergo from nature to grace, is a perfect change; for with such old things have passed away, and behold all things are become new, the spirit of God which dwells in all true believers is perfect, and his work, as it relates to the new creation or inner man, is a perfect work.

And here I wish you to take notice, that in christians there is a twofold man; that is the outward and the inward man, and which in scripture is called the old and new man. These two different natures have each one the essence and all the essential properties of two separate and distinct men of two separate and distinct natures. The inner or new man is the new creation, and is renewed in knowledge after the image of him who created it. Now here is perfection, else it would not be in the image of God who created it; but the old man is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

When any person obtains the baptism of the spirit, then is he sealed by the spirit unto the day of redemption, then is Christ formed in them the hope of Glory, then are they put in possession of eternal life, even that life which shall never, never have an end. For this is the true God, and eternal life. And this life is in believers, and thus life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel, for though the body is dead because of sin, the design of the gospel was not to immortalize the body; it still remains under the sentence of death, and must see corruption because of sin; yet the spirit is immortalized and is life because of righteousness, and will never taste of death. Not only so but the body will at last also be immortalized by this same spirit which dwells in believers. For if the spirit of him that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead dwell in you; he will also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit which dwells in you, such persons as these shall never fall away, neither shall any be able to pluck them out of the Redeemer's hands, and they and they only shall see the face of God in peace, and spend an eternity in his presence; if any fall away it is because they were never sealed unto the day of redemption, never had Christ formed in them the hope of Glory which is the true God and eternal life.

This was the last sermon which Father McAdow delivered, when he was near 80 years old. The application to the discourse was very pointed and feeling, impressing on all the necessity of making immediate and certain preparation for eternity, warning all of the danger of passing their day of grace, and at last being found with those that an never see the face of God in peace. Several times during the discourse he shed tears freely, he was confident that his work was about done, and felt that he could not often if ever again have it in his power to plead with sinners, immediately to close in with Christ and be prepared to meet God at last in peace, and spend an eternity in his presence.

*This was the last sermon preached by Father McAdow, when he was near 80 years old. We have received the manuscript from his son S. N. McAdow.

[Source: The Theological Medium Vol. 1 No. 6, February 1846, pages 126-134]