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ter that we make the change. Then Christ in his riches and glory must be put in the balance with the one thing, and when the soul sees the transcendent excellency of Christ, that will captivate the affections from the one thing to Christ, as the pearl of great price; for till the soul put Christ in the room of that one thing, the heart will never get over it.
We must take him in all his offices, for it in particular, and that first as a Prophet. When we are to grapple with that one thing, look to Christ as a prophet in that particular, giving yourself up to him to be taught and enlightened in the knowledge of the evil of it the way to be led over it. This is the way to bring a strengthening light into your soul against it. "He that followeth me, saith Jesus, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." See David's experience, Psal. xvii. 4. But when men will hold fast their sin, then their habitation is in the midst of deceit, through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord.
As your Priest, as for all, so for that particular, were you to look to the merit of his blood, and that first for the pardon of it, as taking its guilt; and next for sanctification, as producing the removal of the power of sin, and of the Spirit for that end. For this blood cleanseth us from all sin. Thus the blood of Christ purgeth sin; as when his side was pierced, blood and water came out together; so when the soul receives a pierced Christ by faith, his blood operates in the soul both pardon and purity, Heb. ix. 14. And as the fire that burned the incense, was brought from the altar of burnt offering, so the spirit that burns up corruptions flows from Christ sacrificed for us, in whom our old man was virtually crucified with him. Look to him also in his intercession. That is a part of what he intercedes for, victory to his people in their combats. He sits in heaven as Moses did on the top of the hill while they fight in the valley, Exod. xvii. 11. and we should combat our lusts with our eye on him, as at the Father's right hand, concerned for us in the combat.
Look to him also as a King, and your King for that in particular, and this do when first under the sense of your inability to overcome it, and with a desire to have it rooted out, you lay it before him, that he may exert his kingly power in subduing it; and forasmuch as he hath offered himself to subdue sin to all that will, accept of him as yours with an eye to that very thing, saying, Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God. This is to put yourself under his shadow.-And next, when under the assaults you flee to him for protection, as the damsel attacked in the fields, crying for help from him.
Again, We must do all this, believing the promises suited to that The word of promise is excellent armour for victory over sin. The promise assures us of victory and so strengthens the battle. It brings in the bosom of it, "They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength." It puts God's faithfulness and the believer's victory in one bottom, so that if any fail, both fail together. God has made the promise, Micah vii. 19. He will subdue our iniquities, and it is our duty to put him in remembrance of it. Say not the promises belong to you, if you be not willing to part with all sin and take Christ. You may as well think to fight casting away your weapons, as to overcome sin not believing the promises. This is to set against it in the way of believing.
Direction 3. Join prayer with fasting upon that particular account. It is reasonable the remedy be proportioned to the disease. Pray much against it always. Let it be a chief matter of concern ; and set some time apart by yourselves alone, to wrestle with God against that very thing, and enter into resolutions against it in the strength of the Lord. The wall should surely be strongest where the water beats with the greatest violence.
Lastly, Keep a strict watch against it, beware of occasions to it, Rom. xiii. 14. This will starve and weaken it. Resist it in the first motions thereof. It is with sin as with a fire, the longer it burns, the stronger it grows; and as a water, the farther it runs, it becomes the larger. If we cannot quench a spark, how shall we quench a flame. Be resolute then, for it is possible to overcome it. Amen.
Ettrick, September, 1710.
[Same Subject Continued.]
AMIABLE PROFESSORS FALLING SHORT OF HEAVEN.
MARK X. 21. (Second clause.)
Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor.
GOD will readily meet people with a special trial in the one thing lacking. They will likely be struck on the sore heel, and get strokes there, where they are least able to endure them.
I shall first show how this is done, and then give reasons for the doctrine.
I. I am to show how this is done. The Lord has many ways of doing it.
1. Sometimes in the fury of his jealousy, he removes the idol of jealousy out of the way. Men set their hearts on some things in preference to others, and God directs his hand against these things in a special manner. He takes from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters. They lay themselves down to rest in something besides God, and he draws the pillow from under their head. There is not a readier way to make people quit of a thing, than to make an idol of it.
2. Sometimes by the reducing of a man to the necessity of quitting either that one thing, or his profession and pretension to Christ, as in the text. This touches a man to the quick. When Christ and the world go together, a man may follow both with ease, and get his good name among others, and opinion of himself, kept up; but when they part, he must betake himself to one of them only, and either lose that limb or lose the whole body, which is hard work go as it will. People are readily brought into this in the time of a storm on the church: even as where there is a hole in a house the storm will seek in there, though it may escape notice in the summer.
A 3d way is, the wind is still blowing in a man's face with respect to that one thing, providence crossing him in it, and denying it to him, which makes a combat betwixt providence and the man's heart, the one pressing forward, the other driving back. So it was in Jonah's case. A man sets his heart on one thing above all things; and God denies him that one thing above all things. There is a crook in his lot, his heart cannot bend to it, and God will not make it straight; and let him do what he will it remains still crooked; for God will have the man's heart either bow to it or break, Eccles. i. 15. see Hosea ii. 6, 7.
A 4th way is, God's making men's plague and punishment arise out of their sin, that one thing lacking, that they are most grievously wounded with the serpent they have hugged most. The Jews preferred Cæsar to Christ, and God made Cæsar their scourge. Many times God makes people's idols to be the great crosses they have in the world. Thus Isaac's fond love to Esau was punished, Gen. xxv. 28. compare chap. xxvi. 35.—Whatever gets more of the heart than God gets, will readily turn upon the person himself with a stroke.
A 5th way is, by a flood of temptation beating on a man's weak side. That one thing may lie undiscerned while there is no temptation to draw it forth; but temptation will exhibit a man in his own
colours, witness Judas and Demas. Whatever it be a man lacks, the storm of temptation will readily find it out. There will not want temptations suitable to the sin. So they get temptations of that sort, which of all they are the least able to resist. Let us now,
II. Give the reasons of the doctrine.
1. Hereby the Lord vindicates the glory of his omniscience, levelling the stroke against that which has the chief room in the heart, he thereby discovers a special eye on the idol of jealousy, and teacheth men that nothing can be so hid or smoothed over, but he will know it thoroughly. Of the church of Thyatira he says, "I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give to every one of you according to your works."
2. Because God hath a special hatred of that one thing, and that because it is a sin to which the heart cleaves most; and always the more the heart cleaves to any thing, the more is the Lord provoked. It is that which of all things takes up his room in the heart most; no wonder then a holy God leaves special marks of indignation upon it.
3. For the discovery of their state before the Lord. Hereby God discovers hypocrites, while these strokes on that one thing lacking makes the heart cleave more fast to it, and discovers that hold which it hath of the heart. This may be the mean whereby God discovers a person's own naughtiness to himself. And hereby the sincerity of others is discovered, while they forego that which otherwise they have least will to part with at God's command, Psal. xviii. 23. This makes them like Abraham who showed that he feared God by not withholding his only Son from him.
4. To wean their hearts from it, Hosea ii. 6, 7.-God refuseth to give men ease in their idol of jealousy that they may give up with it. He puts gall in the breast of the one thing, that the heart may be weaned from it. With the more ease one enjoys an idol, it grows the stronger; but the more strokes that are made on it, it is in the fairer way to be broken.
Use of information. 1. The way to remove any thing from us, or to make it uneasy to us is to make an idol of it. The fixing of the heart upon any thing inordinately, is that which makes it a mark to the arrows of God, Ezek. xxiv. 25. So here, the world is his idol, and now he must part with it or God's favour.
2. Where there is one thing lacking, there is an open fountain of much misery. Where the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. What is said 1 Tim. vi. 10. we may here apply; "The love of money is the root of all evil.” Men by that one thing
lay themselves open to sharp trials from God, as in the text, and to terrible temptations from the devil. While one thing is lacking, there is something for a holy God to aim his stroke particularly against; and something for Satan to fix his temptation where it will most surely take effect.
3. Then there is no lasting rest in the bosom of an idol. There will always be such a reckoning at length as Samson got. They will not rest very long there, but they will find thorns under their heads. Stolen waters may be sweet a while, but they will be bitterness in the end.
4. This may let you see the evil in that one thing lacking. It cannot but be singularly evil which he levels his stroke against. And such is that idol be what it will. It is that which is set up specially in God's room that gets the cream of the affections, and is the great hinderance between people and heaven.
5. Then where you find you are trysted with special trials, look that your sin lie not in that, wherein your affection lies. It will readily be found so. If the Lord in his providence cross thee in such a thing, look that the heart hath not been too much wedded to it. If you meet with many temptations in one particular, take heed that be not a very weak side of yours, that you must either get made stronger, or you will lose all.
Use 2d. of Exhortation. 1. If there be any side in thee weaker than another, then expect a trial on that side.
2. When thou art meeting with trials in that way, join in with the hand of God against that one thing lacking. If you have discovered the one thing, you may likewise see how the Lord is trysting you with special trials in that point. When then God is at work against it, be you so too.
Motive 1. Not a trial you meet with in that way, but it is the voice of God to you to mortify it. If you find God has made a wall, as Hosea ii. 7. it is for that end that you may return. Why would he stop you or make your way uneasy, if he were not calling you to
2. You have the advantage of help towards the victory over it. The more bitter God makes it to you, it may be the easier to part with it.
3. If you continue it still, take heed that the vizor be not pulled off your face by a temptation suited as in the text.
Lastly, The Lord in that case hath you upon your trials for eternity; and if you be right metal you will not perish in the furnace: you will stand by resting on God, whatever he take from you. You will rather quit the one thing than Christ.