Imatges de pÓgina
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1. That it is no easy thing to be a Christian. A parcel of external performances do not make a Christian, nay nor even internal things also, without the genuine spirit of duties, performances, and attainments : that the great thing which makes the difference is, not so much what is done, as how it is done, the principles, ends, manner, &c. of doing it.-We may learn,

2. That a man may go a very great length in religion, and notwithstanding be naught in God's esteem. A person may look so like a true Christian, that he may deceive both saints and sinners like him who is said to have made an image with such motion, that others thought it had life. Nay, I know not but he may deceive the devil himself: Jer. xvii. 9, " The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it ?" like him who is said to have painted grapes so lively, that the birds came and picked at them. He may deceive himself like the Laodiceans, and go to death with the delusion, like the foolish virgins.- We may learn,

3. That however far the hypocrite goes, the true Christian goes beyond him; and therefore we must not, we ought not, to satisfy ourselves as to the point of sincerity, unless there be something in us which is not to be found in hypocrites. And therefore I exhort you to put yourselves to the trial. Try yourselves whether you be in Christ or not, whether you be sincere Christians or not.-Consider,

(1.) True religion is very rare at all times : Matth. vii. 14, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The miserable decay and untenderness among all sorts of persons, shew it to be especially rare at this time, in which we may say, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men,” Psalm xii. 1. Consider,

(2.) That we are like to see trying times, in which the Lord will set his furnace in Zion. God has appeared often seasonably and wonderfully for our deliverance; but the generation is not bettered, but rather growing worse and worse in all points. This is a forerunner of a fearful stroke. Now, Sirs, a shew of religion may do in a time of ease and peace, but when that trial comes, it will be hard to bear up without the reality.-Consider,

(3.) That death and judgment will try us all. We may put off the trial as we will for a time, there is however no shifting of it altogether. God will not bo mocked.-Consider,

Lastly, That it will be a terrible disappointment to be awakened out of dreams of heaven, by falling into hell. It will be no time to seek oil, when the Bridegroom is come, and hath shut the door.

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We have in view an ordinance that calls to self-examination : 1 Cor. xi. 28, “ But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” Therefore bestir yourselves, and consider your state. Study the spirituality of religion, that you may thus approve yourselves to the heart-searching God. Amen,

THE STATUTE-LAW OF DISCIPLESHIP.

SERMON XXXIII.

LUKE siv, 26,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,

and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he
cannot be my disciple.

He is a fool who joins himself to any society, before he has weighed with himself how he can comply with the laws and rules of that society. In vain do we propose to be a disciple to any person, if we

are not disposed, to submit to his discipline. Man is born like a wild ass's colt, naturally untractable and unteachable; the Son of God has set up his school amongst us; many who externally belong to it stand at a distance from him, as rude and unpolished by grace as when they first came to it. There is a solemn and awful entry into the school of Christ before us, and it cannot be unsuitable, especially on such a season as this, to stand and hear, out of the mouth of the great Master, the necessary qualifications of all such as will be reckoned his disciples indeed. This we have in the text.-In which there is observable,

1. A case supposed; and there are two things in it. For this case, though the case of many, is like the legs of the lame, which ara not equal.-In it, first, there is a fair profession. The man cometh to Christ, not in the way of believing on him, as this word is often used, the expression here can by no means be thus explained; but in the way of an outward profession, joining himself with his followers, taking on him the name of his party. The occasion of the words clears this. Multitudes went with him, and they were ready to value themselves because they kept good com

* Delivered at Selkirk, Saturday, Oct. 11, 1712.

pany. The Lord turns to them, and tells them, that it was another thing to be a disciple of his than most of them took it to be. He lays the matter so plainly before them, as would make it easy to conclude, that most who followed him now would leave him afterwards ; and that when it came to the trying pinch, he would have but a thin backing ; therefore they should in time consider what they are doing. In the case there is, next, a foul and false heart.

The man

comes to Christ, and brings not his heart with him, but leaves it at home with his father or mother, &c. or keeps it still hugging and embracing his dear self, his life, so that he cannot embrace Christ, more than a man can take both heaven and earth in his arms at once. Christ must be dearer to his disciples than what is dearest to them in the world. The dearest persons are father, mother, &c. The dearest thing is life. That which makes this case so bad is, that they are dearer to the man than Christ. He hates not his father, mother, &c. He who taught us in the law, to love our neighbour as ourselves, does not contradict this here, but speaks out what was implied there, that we must neither love our neighbour nor ourselves,

It is not an absolute, but a comparative batred which is here meant; that is, a less love : Gen. xxix. 31, “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated :" that is, less loved than Rachel. Similar instances occur, as in Deut. xxi. 15; John xii. 25. And thus it is explained, Matth. x. 37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” A man must leave father and mother to cleave to his wife ; but he must leave his wife, yea, and his life also, to cleave to Christ.

Levi gave a practical commentary on this text, Deut. xxxiii. 9, “ Who said unto his father, and to his mother, I have not seen, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children; for they observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.” And so did that disciple-like resolution of Jerome : “If my father should stand before me,” says he, “my mother hang upon me, my brethren press about me, I would break through my brethren, throw down my father, tread under feet my mother, to cleave to Jesus Christ.” So said a certain Datoh schoolmaster, being asked, if he loved not his wife and children? Yes,” says he, “if all the world were gold, and mine to dispose of, I would give it all to live with them, though but in a prison; yet is my soul and my Lord Christ dearer than all.” But perhaps this is only the attainment of few. Mistake it not, but hear,

2. Christ's verdict upon the case, and venture not to distinguish where the law makes no distinction : “If any man come to me, and hate not, &c., he cannot be my disciple." Be he or she who

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they will, they cannot be Christ's disciples, if Christ be not dearer than what is dearest to them in a world. Nominal disciples they may be indeed, but real they cannot be, they cannot bear aftlictions for Christ, because they want such affections to him as are necessary to make them go in the strait and narrow way which leads unto life. From this subject I would take this

DOCTRINE, That no man can be a true disciple of Christ, to whom Christ is not dearer than what is dearest to him in the world.

For illustrating this subject, I shall,

I. Speak to the nature of this necessary qualification of a true disciple of Christ.

II. Confirm the doctrine of the text.

III. Offer some reasons why Christ is dearer to his true disciples, than what is dearest to them in the world. And,

IV. Conclude with some improvement.
We are then,

I. To speak to the nature of this necessary qualification of a true disciple of Christ. There are in it,

1. An esteem of Christ above all : Psalm xlv. 2, “ Thou art fairer than the children of men, grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." Christ is the highest and most glorious object in the practical judgment of all his true disciples : Psalm lxxiii. 25, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” They do not only think him the best portion, considering things in the general, in which sense he has even the commendation of those who slight him; but they look upon him as best for them, in whatever circumstances they may be; this is the character of a true disciple: Matth. xi. 6, “ And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” As the sparkling stars hide their heads when the sun ariseth, so all things in the world lose their lustre when the glory of God appeareth to them, shining in the face of Jesus; though to others there is in him no beauty.

2. The heart renounceth its property in all things of the world, in the day of its closing with Jesus Christ. As a rebellious son, turned out of his father's house into an uninhabited land, takes that as his property which he falls upon by the right of first finding; but when he has access to return, he quits it, that he may enjoy his father's estate : so Adam and his children being driven out of paradise, and banished from the presence and enjoyment of the Lord himself, they take up with what created comforts they stumble upon in their blind rambling through the wilderness of this world, as

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their own portion ; but returning and taking Christ, they part with these, their souls returning into their quiet rest. The natural man, being alienated from the life of God, takes a dead hold of created things, as suited to his corrupt state, and therefore his own by choice ; hence so many carnal “ mys,” but not a word of “my God” amongst them : Hos. ii. 5, “She said, I will go after lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.” This is very uulike to Psalm xviii. 1, 2, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Now, when the soul begins to live, it quits that greedy grip of carnal things, and begins to fall off from the world; that bond of iniquity which bound the heart and the world together being broken; so that the disciple of Christ looks on all he has as no more his own.

3. The soul resigns all to the Lord, lays all down at the Lord's feet, to be disposed of as he will: 1 Sam. iii. 18, “Eli said, it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” 2 Sam. xv. 26, David said, Behold, here am I, let the Lord do with me as seemeth good unto him.” If the Lord have use for his comforts in the world, he, and all that are his, are for his part at his service. Though they were his before, he now makes a free-will offering of them all to the Lord; so that, in very deed, all that a true disciple of Christ has, are dedicated things, consecrated to God. He may not, he dare not, revoke the grant; they must be used, as God who is the proprietor doth direct, whose will must not be disputed in the disposal of his own; they can be no more for profane, but holy uses. And if, through the prevalence of corruption, he has put his hand to that which is not holy, Christ's discipline will make him bring it back with the tear in his eye. Never a soul closes with Christ aright, that layeth not all its enjoyments, even life itself, at his feet.

4. The soul accepts of Christ for, and instead of the things resigned. God does not require us, nor will the heart ever part with these, but for a better: Matth. xiii. 45, 46, “ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” The man takes Christ instead of father, mother, and all things; for it is impossible that man can be self-sufficient. The heart of man is an empty, hungry thing, that must needs have something to feed upon; and let men ply their hearts with the utmost diligence, they will still find it impossible to draw the husks of the world out of their hearts, unless something better is set before them. They must see heaven, before they will be drawn from earth;

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