Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:8, Jude 1:23
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And to keep himself unspotted from the world.
~ Revelation 16:15, James 1:27c
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: ~ Luke 21:36, 2 Thessalonians 1:5
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. ~ Revelation 19:8
Joseph Caryl’s Farewell Sermon, Preached August 17, 1662.
Revelation 3, in the latter part of ver. 4. “And they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”
In the former part of this verse, you heard the commendation of those few names in Sardis. It was this: “They had not defiled their garments.” In this latter part you have their encouragement in their reward: “They shall walk with me in white.” In which encouragement I told you we might consider two things, or take it into two parts.
First, “That they should walk with Christ.”
Secondly, “They should walk in white.”
I have spoken to the former of these, “They shall walk with Christ,” and that the scripture holds forth under a two-fold notion:
First, as matter of duty. It is a duty to walk with Christ.
Secondly it is matter of promise. That they keep their garments undefiled, and live in high favour with Christ, they shall walk with Christ. We favour them that walk with us.
Walking with Christ notes to us three things.
1. That we have peace with him.
2. That we have intimacy with him.
3. That his being so much above us, we should have this favour from him.
And hence I noted the great privilege of the people of God, that they shall walk with Christ.
1. It notes the great satisfaction of the saints to walk with Christ; they shall be filled with his company.
2. How safe it is, and what safety there is to walk with Christ: he hath a wing to spread over them.
3. What opportunities such have as walk with Christ.
4. What liberty Such have as walk with Christ.
5. Such as walk with Christ, may be sure he will communicate his secrets to them, he will show them what they have to do.
2. We shewed you the great goodness of Jesus Christ, that he should take such creatures’ to walk with him such defiled creatures.
3. Then let us take heed of keeping our garments undefiled; lest Jesus Christ cast us out of his company, and we can no longer walk with Christ any more. Oh take heed of walking blameless in the ways of Christ.
These things were spoken from the first point. Now I come to the walking with Christ in white.
In opening the text, I told you “white” might be considered two ways.
1. As it respects our state, and so that by way of justification, and thus they shall walk with Christ; but this is not the “walking in white” the text means.
2. Here is a farther “walking in white,” and that is matter of reward to the people of God.
1. To walk with Christ in white, it is matter of honour, “white garments” are matter of honour. Princes, great kings “walk in white garments,” so the saints of God shall “walk in white,” Christ will honour them, and give them honor among them, because they have kept their garments undefiled. They shall “walk in white” like great princes, and honoured persons. “A good name is better than precious ointment,” they that are good indeed, they shall have a good name, they shall “walk in white.” To keep the conscience clean, is to keep the credit clean; and they who are careful not to blot their conversation, Christ will take care of their reputation, that they, be not blotted, that they walk with men in honour.
It was worthily spoken in the 11th of the Hebrews, “they kept their garments undefiled;” and it was by the power of faith, and they obtained a good report by faith, keeping themselves from the pollutions of the world, they, kept to themselves a good report. This honor and good report which we get by keeping our garments “undefiled” is sure. Abraham, had an honourable title, “Abraham my friend and a man after mine own heart.” Isa. xlv. 4, “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou wast honourable.” And not only so that the people of God are honourable in His eyes, but they also sometimes “walk in white,” in the eyes of the men of the world: he can give his people room in, the opinions of men, he moves their hearts to think well of them, and he opens their mouth to speak well of them; though indeed, the honour which they, who keep their garments undefiled, have in this world, it is most usually from, good men, from godly men, and, indeed, honour of them is most honorable.
It is not much to us what others say or think of us, what the wicked world judge of us, yet I say, God can and doth sometimes raise a testimony of honour for his people amongst carnal men of the world. Joseph would not defile his garments, he “walked in white” amongst men: true, he was cast into prison, what of that? he was respected by the keepers of the prison, afterwards he “walked in white.”
In the whole Chaldean court, Daniel was one that “walked in white” with common men of the world; first with the prince of the Eunuchs, he had tender favour with him; he told him, he would not disobey God, to please men; yet he did not rail against him, and call him a stubborn fellow, because he would not bow to Baal: and afterwards Daniel was as great a man as any in all that province, he “walked in white.” God hath created testimonies of honour for his people from some men of the world; yea, they many times put white garments upon them. So it was with Christ, in Matt, xxvii. and verse 4: common men put a good report upon Christ, a white garment; “Truly,” saith the Centurion, “this was the Son of God. Truly, this was a righteous man,” saith he. When he saw how he carried himself at his death, he gave him a good report. Thus it doth come to pass, God doth sometimes keep up their honour in the world, who will not defile their garments, nor touch the sacrifice of Baal; and it follows so with them, that the Lord shall clear up their credit and reputation, and they shall walk in white, in honour before the men of the world, Rev. vi. 11; where the souls under the altar are spoken of, who were miserably used in this world, white robes were given them, to every one of them, that is, their evidences were cleared.
This may teach us the readiest way to the white robe, to the robe of honour; it is to keep us from being defiled with sinful practices. Certainly they who please God, he can make the world to honour them; if God approves us, he can make the world approve us too; yet we must not think to have all speak well of us. Yet this we may say, if we keep our garments undefiled, we shall walk in white in the eyes of men; if God see our garments in the dirt, and spotted with the filth of the world, it will spoil the honour we should have in the world. As it was said of Arius, when his garments were defiled, they called him Satanarius, that is to say, devilish. Thus it may be, for the Lord hath a time to take our good name from us, to cause our light of honour to be taken from us.
And as he hath caused us to walk in the white of honour in the world, so he doth sometimes cause us to walk in reproach with the world. They who defile their garments, lose their honour with men, and they lose their joy they should have hereafter, Mai. ii. 9: “You have departed from my law, therefore will I make you contemptible in the eyes of all men.” It is a design of the spirit of wickedness to draw men to sin that they may upbraid them; that I conceive is the sense of the apostle, Gal. vi. 13. “For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law, but desire to have you circumcised, that they might glory in your flesh,” saith he. Oh, there are some of this wicked spirit, that would draw men to such and such wickedness, not that they joy in their returning, but that they might glory in their flesh; when as they who stand fast, do even force a good testimony from their enemies: so it was the unhappy chance of Cranmer, the Pope did persuade him to subscribe, and did he get any honour by it? No, truly, they did upbraid him, and reproach him, and so he had died in a raving condition, bad not the Lord been merciful to him. I remember a speech of St. Austin, about drinking of healths: “Oh,” say they, “it is upon the king’s birth-day, and we cannot avoid it; if we deny it,” say they, “we shall be reproached and scorned of all men,” He gives them many answers to it, one of which (as I remember) was this: “God will so work, that if you will not comply with them, they in their hearts will honour you; and whereas, if you did comply with them, they would dishonour you, and say you are base spirited.” That is one thing of this point, that keeping close to Jesus Christ will get you this reward; you shall walk with him in the white of honour with his people, and it may be with the world too.
2. “They shall walk in white,” in the white of peace and joy, and inward comfort.
I shewed you in the opening of the text, how the Scripture calls that walking in white, then the point is this: whatever becomes of the other white of honour in the world, they shall be sure of this, that abundance of peace, and joy, and comfort, shall possess their souls that keep their garments white; they shall walk in the inward white of joy and peace with Jesus Christ, and this is a blessed reward.
Indeed now this joy, this white of joy, arises in the soul three ways.
1. From the testimony of their own consciences. O they who have a good testimony from their own consciences, walk in white, 2 Cor. i. 12. “We have this for our rejoicing, the testimony of our consciences, that in all simplicity, and godly sincerity, we have our conversation in heaven that is, walking in white. This is our rejoicing, our conscience speaks well of us, and kindly to us; and who is able to express the sweetness of this thing? None can know what this is, but they that have it, as it is said of the “new name written upon the white stone,” Rev. ii. 17. It is a thing beyond expression, what the joy and peace of a good conscience is! Now this I say, that our white garments, and our walking in white, ariseth from the testimony of our consciences.
2. As from the testimony of our consciences, so from that testimony which is greater than our consciences, the Spirit shedding abroad of divine love. Thus it is with those that do not defile their garments, but endure anything, rather than defile their garments, Rom v. 3, 4, 5.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations, knowing tribulations worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed; and whence was all this? because of the Holy Ghost which was given to us; this causeth joy unspeakable, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with out spirits, that we are the children of God.” This witness doth cause wonderful joy; much more than the witness of our own consciences.
3. This joy doth arise from a well-grounded hope, which that soul hath that keeps himself clean; hope of enjoying heaven at last, hope of future glory, is our present joy, Rom. v. 2: “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Now they who keep their garments white, have good ground of hope of the love of God; therefore this must needs cause them to walk comfortably, as they who have this hope purify themselves; so they who purify themselves have good ground of their hope, and therein great cause to rejoice, 1 Pet. i. 5, 6: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last times, wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through many temptations.”
We walk in white, in hope we have of that inheritance. Now lay these three things together: if they who keep their garments undefiled, have the testimony of their own consciences, and the testimony of the Spirit shedding the love of God in their hearts, and a well- grounded hope of future glory, how can it be but these must walk in white with Jesus Christ? that is, in comfort and joy of the Spirit, and of their own spirits.
Thus David walked; he had abundance of joy upon his conscience of his own integrity, and of keeping his heart and hands clean from those iniquities his enemies charged him with, Psal. iii.: “The Lord shall judge his people. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.”— He appeals to the Lord,— “The Lord shall judge his people. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness.” Thus he appeals to God himself; he had so much confidence, that his heart gave him, he kept himself from those sins.
So Job walked in white; though his friends blacked him exceedingly, yet he walked in white in his conscience, Job xvi. 10: “Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” I have not only a witness in my conscience, but my witness is above. He walked in white, notwithstanding all his afflictions from God and his friends. Hezekiah walked in this white, when death looked him in the face: “Lord, thou knowest I have walked uprightly with thee.”
1 need not stay in the proof of the thing; let me make some use and improvement of it.
Use. Is this blessed reward to those who keep their garments white, to walk in the white of peace and joy? Then here we see the happiness of all those who are true to Christ and his ways, Psal. cxix. I. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord/’ It is just in the language of the text; they indeed shall walk in white. It is a great part of our blessedness to have peace of conscience, and inward joy. Oh how much better is it, than the peace and joy of this world, and the comforts of this world? Prov. xv. 13. “A merry heart,” or as another translation saith, “A good conscience,” and indeed a merry heart and a good conscience do but one explain the other: a “merry heart,” or, a good con-science, is a “continual feast.” Here is no surfeiting in this feast, but a continual music, continual joy and comfort; Oh how blessed are they who are undefiled in the way!
That which Christ said of the lily, “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these,” so may I say of the lily white soul that keeps himself white in the world, who keeps himself white in matter of practice and worship, “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these lily-white ones.” Oh the rivers of consolations that flow to them that keep themselves out of the puddles of the world! If you keep yourselves from the puddles of the world, from the dung of the world, ye shall have rivers of joy flowing into your souls. I may say to all such, as Solomon saith, Eccles. xi. 9. “Go thy way it is a familiar speaking to them: Go thy way, blessed soul, eat thy bread with joy, though the world feed thee with the bread of adversity, and though the world give thee nothing but the water of affliction, yet let thy garments be always white; though the world clothe thee in mourning, and cause thee to prophesy in sackcloth with the witnesses yet be of good comfort, O lily-white soul, for God now accepteth thy works; now drink thy wine with a merry heart, thy labour, thy ambitious labour is that, whether present or absent, thou mayest be accepted, of him, thou hast the fruits of thy labour, the Lord accepts thy works, therefore rejoice in it Here is the happiness of those who keep themselves clean from a defiled, and a defiling world.
2. This point gives us an account why the servants of Christ stand so strictly upon their terms with the world, even while some call it peevishness others ignorance otters wilful stubbornness.
What is the reason? the reason is, because they understand in some measure, and have had experience in some measure what it is to walk in some measure with Christ in white, and it hath left such a relish upon their souls, that they would not lose it for all the dainty morsels of this world: they had rather indeed walk with Christ in white, than walk with the world in scarlet; therefore they must stand upon their terms, Prov. x. 32. “The tips of the righteous know what is acceptable the lips are instruments of speech, not faculties of knowledge–Aye, but there is a great deal of commerce and converse between the speech and the understanding, and a righteous man will speak nothing with his lips, but what he understands; therefore be is said to understand. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: to whom? “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable to God/for they are acquainted with his rule, and God hath shown them his covenant, he hath shewed them the pattern of his house, and the way of his worship. Now because they are pretty well skilled, and know what is acceptable to God, therefore they will run any hazard, undergo any affliction, rather than do any thing that will not please God, or be hurtful to their own consciences; they are afraid of losing their peace, and comfort, and joy with God, therefore they will not let go the ways of God, as Job saith, Job xxvi. 6. “I hold fast my integrity, and my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live:” as if he had said, You my friends have reproached me, but I am resolved my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
The heart or conscience is a busy faculty, and hath many offices, it records what we do, and comes as a witness. The conscience is judge of what we do, and accordingly reproves what we do amiss; therefore saith Job, “I will take care of this:” I am more afraid of the reproach of conscience, than of any man whatsoever; therefore I will not do any thing that may cause my conscience to reproach me as long as I live. This is upon the heart of God’s people, they are resolved, let men reproach and rail against them as much as they will, their hearts shall not reproach them.
3. In the third place, let it be a word of caution and admonition to all at this day, to take heed of defiling their garments: if you defile your garments, Christ will pronounce another sentence, he will pronounce a sentence against you; he hath threatening for those who defile their garments, in the place of rewards, for those who keep them clean; they who defile garments, shall walk in garments of black, in the black of dishonour as Job saith, “I walk all day mourning without the sun:” the sun of righteous ness shall not shine upon them. Oh what bitter–and sore things have many tasted for defiling their garments, when for favour of men, or to please men, they have stained their own garments! What sad bitter things have been upon them, how hath conscience risen up against them! O take heed of the after-claps of conscience, I may say, take heed of the thunder-claps of conscience; for they will come upon you one time or other, if you defile your garments. As they who to please men defile their garments, often fall into their displeasure, whose favour they sought: so oftentimes such fall into displeasure with themselves, or to be sure they shall at last. There is many a one lives under the disfavor of his own conscience, many a one that his conscience will not give him a good word, of a good look, whence hath it been? they have defiled their garments. They who venture to do things displeasing to God, shall not long be pleasing to themselves.
The story speaks of Francis Spira, that to please men, to save an estate, he defiled his garments; and he presently fell into rebuke of himself, and lived under the rebuke of his conscience a long time.
Job viii. 15. speaking of the hypocrite, “his hope shall be cut off;” the word signifies to loath, so some translate, “his hope shall be a loathing to him, he shall loath his hope.” There is a two-fold loathing: first, a loathing to repentance; that is, a gracious loathing, a loathing ourselves for our sins against God And there is a loathing of despair, and that is the loathing there meant: the hypocrite shall loath his own hope; that is, he shall loath it despairingly. It is an affliction to be loathed by men, but it is a dreadful judgment to be loathed of ourselves despairingly; this is the suburbs of hell, for this will be the portion of the damned for ever, for their vanity, for their madness, it is next to the regions of hell, for their worm dieth not; and that is the worm of conscience. Oh therefore take heed, conscience may be silent, yea it may flatter for a time, but when conscience is provoked it will speak, yea thunder.
There is no such thundering preacher in the world as conscience is, the thundering of Mount Sinai is not like the thundering of our conscience.
Fourthly and lastly, let it be for exhortation and encouragement, for Christ here makes it an encouragement, so let this be an encouragement to keep our garments undefiled, the remembrance that we shall walk with him in white, in the white of peace and joy in this world. Who would not walk in this white? Who would not be among those who keep their garments white in the midst of a defiled and defiling world?
Let me give you but a three-fold consideration to stir you up to an exceeding exactness and carefulness not to defile your garments, seeing there is such a reward promised, such a habit of white promised as this white, wherein we shall walk with Jesus Christ. It is an angelical happiness, so much Heaven is come down upon ye while ye have this white. It is Heaven before Heaven, Mat. xxviii. 3. The angel that came down to the sepulchre of Christ, his raiment was white as the light The martyrs, when they had angelical apparitions, they always appeared to them in white; as one upon the rick thought he felt an angel supplying him, while his enemies tormented him.
Christ calls the Pharisees “whited sepulchers,” they are whited, but whited sepulchers; that is a woeful condition to be whited like a sepulcher. Thus it is with those who defile themselves, they are whited walls and whited sepulchers. They that keep themselves white shall walk in white, shall have angelical glory.
Secondly, Consider this white, or walking in white, is Stich as conquers all the blackness of this world. It is riot possible for the world to alter the colour of this white, how much dirt soever they put upon it; this white Will be white still, they cannot turn it to be black; they cannot take away this peace, this joy from us; they cannot Strip us of this habit; they may pull off your fine garments, but you cannot be stripped of this white. Your joy shall no man take from you,” 2 Cor. vi. 20.—As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet freely possessing all things. The world may put us into a sad estate as to the world, yet we are not out of our white garments, always rejoicing, Heb. iii. 13. Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, and the flock shall be cut off’ from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls, this cannot take away the white garments; no, saith the prophet, “yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation.” It is a conquering joy, turns all sorrow into joy, and blackness to white, therefore keep clean.
Thirdly, Consider this: this white of peace and joy, as it is a joy unconquerable, so it is that will be with us most when we most need it, when worldly joys are farthest from us then this joy will be near to us. That is a marvelous comfort to have comfort in its season. The martyrs who have kept themselves white, have had this white, and walked in this white; but when they had most need of it, and come actually to suffering, than they have had most of it. This is a blessed thing! this the martyrs of Jesus Christ hath given witness of, although they have had peace and joy in their consciences at other times, yet never so much as in the hour of temptation. When they have been cast into the coal-house, they have had white garments; when they have been cast into prisons and dungeons, how have they rejoiced! It is said of Paul and Silas, they were men that kept their garments undefiled, and they had a great deal of peace and joy; when they Were put in the stocks and dungeon, then they sung at midnight: what an enlargement of heart had they at that time!
So in the stories of ancient and latter times, how have they rejoiced, and gone triumphing to the gibbet! for then Christ gives most of this white. It hath been the use of persecutors to put filthy garments upon the martyrs, drawing pictures of devils upon them; and as their malice hath risen to the height (that in the time of sufferings) to make them look like devils, then the love of Christ hath risen to the height, and they have been full of peace and joy at that time; therefore be encouraged to walk with Christ in this white. This white is an angelical habit, it is an un- conquerable habit, and it is that will be with us most when we have most need of it. I should have added a third, that walking with Christ is an honour, and it is walking in the white of peace and joy.
So, thirdly, it is a truth of walking with Christ in the white of glory, as in the transfiguration, which was a type of Heaven, “his raiment was white, so as no fuller on earth was able to whiten it and that is it which I might have spoken of to you, that they who keep their garments undefiled here, shall be sure of that, to walk with Christ in glory hereafter. If we should miss of the white of honour, and have not much of the white of joy, yet be sure we shall Walk with Christ in the white of glory.
I would only say this to you, that as I have from thi9 text, and many more, laboured to bring poor souls into a white state, to a state of justification, to a state of holiness; and as I have been pressing you to keep your garments white, that you may be in the habit of white as your reward; so it shall be the desire and prayers of thy heart, that if I should have no more opportunities among you, that as you have been stirred up to get into this white of grace, that you and I may meet in the white of glory, where we shall never part.
Here are three whites: the white of honour is good, the white of peace and joy is very good, the white of glory is best of all; that is the answer of all our prayers, and that is the issue of all our working; then we shall have as much as we can hold for ever.