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therefore, the great transaction between Christ and the soul is held out under the notion of buying, in which a man does indeed in one sense, namely, as to his portion, give away his money : but he obtains something instead of it, which is better to him than his money. He gets Christ, the pearl of great price, the one thing needful.
5. The soul is disposed to part with them, when the Lord calls for them; has an habitual readiness to part with them for Christ. It is true, indwelling corruption is ready to hold the grip too fast, even when the Lord calls for a delivery; yet every soul closing with Christ has an honest resolution to part with all for him actually, when he shall please to put them to the trial. The grace of God looseth them at the root, when it first comes into the soul, rooling and grounding them in love to Christ; which root of the righteous shall never be moved.
6. There is in the soul a new power of living, without them, on Jesus Cbrist; a life which is an absolute mystery to every Christless soul : Jobu vi. 57, “ As the living Father bath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." If in this spiritual bargain they have quit with their money, on the purchase made, they can live without it, else would they never have quit with it. Though all temporal things fail them, yet can they rejoice in the Lord as their portion, and joy in the God of their salvation, Hab. iii. 18. If father and mother should leave them, they can satisfy themselves in the Lord's taking them up. If they should lose all relations for him, his relation to them is, in their eyes, more than sufficient to make up the loss. If they should not know where to hide their heads, or how to get food in a hiding-place, he is to them, not only a refuge for protection, but a portion for maintenance, Psalm cxlii. 4, 5. If all their substance should be taken from them, the Almighty shall be the gold and silver of their strength, Job xxii. 25. Yea, though natural life should go in his cause, himself is their life, a life which cannot be taken from them; for, Col. iii. 4,“ When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory."—We now proceed,
II. To confirm the doctrine of the text, or shew, 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 this purpose, consider,
1. That the soul cannot truly lay hold on Christ, but it must of necessity part with the world. The embracing of Christ infers naturally the loosing our hold of the world : Matth. vi. 24, “No mau can serve two masters. Yo cannot serve God and mammon." may as soon grasp heaven and earth at once in our arms, as fix on Christ, and not loose our hold from all things besides him. If you
would look op to the heavens, you must look away from the earth. The world is the term from which Christ calls us : Song iv. 8, “ Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon.” Men may keep his company, with the world under their feet, but not with the world in their heart.-Consider,
2. It is impossible that the love of God, and the love of the world, (the persons and things of the world), can at the same time be predominant in the heart. One of them must of necessity be uppermost. If the love of God be predominant, then it will command the love of all worldly things to yield; and these things will be disposed of, so as may best please him that has the chief room in our hearts. All the streams of our love to things below, will be swallowed up in the depth of our love to Christ: but this will be swallowed up by none; for this love is strong as death. Many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it. If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned; see Heb. xi. 25, 26. If the love of the world predominate, then it leaves no love to the Lord, because no predominant love of the world is consistent with the true love of God : 1 John ii. 15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” This proves the man no disciple of Christ, Matth. vi. 24; James iv. 4; 2 Tim. iii. 4, 5.—Consider,
3. That if Christ be not dearer to us than the world, there is no universal resignation, which is necessary to prove the sincerity of the heart : Acts ix. 6,“ Lord, wbat wilt thou have me to do!” 2 Cor. viii. 5.-" But first gave their ownselves to the Lord.”—If this be wanting, there is nothing done ; we give not to the Lord what he seeks, namely, that we be all his. If we deal thus in this solemn transaction, we do but lie to the Holy Spirit, as Ananias and Sapphira, keeping back part of the price. This is a sure evidence that grace is not effectually at work with us, else we would have been a willing people; we would have made no reserves in closing with Christ.-Consider,
4. That if Christ is not loved supremely, there is a root wanting, the fruit of which is necessary to evidence sincerity. (1.) There is no root of universal obedience, the want of which will leave us ashamed, Psalm cxix. 6. There will always be, in this case, ono thing lacking, that will mar all other good things about us. There will always be some idol of jealousy that gets Christ's room ; somo offending right hand spared, that will bring the whole body to hell at length. (2.) There is no root for Christian suffering, bearing the cross of Christ, which is a cross of Christ's choosing, not of our own.
Our part is, to take up the cross that Christ lays down to us; and without this we cannot be his disciples. And when Christ lays on his cross, it is found, that readily he will have the man tried in that which of all things lies nearest his heart, and bids fairest for Christ's room: so that, if any thing be dearer than Christ, the cross readily discovers it, and the man's hypocrisy with it.
Yon, then, that are to sit down at the Lord's table, may see how you are to manage this solemn transaction, so as that it
be ra. tified in heaven. If you take Christ, let these go their way. Lay down your
all at Christ's feet, with all solemn seriousness; if there be aught kept back, you do bat ruin your own souls. The laws of Christ's school are read before you. Examine yourselves this night, whether ye be content with Christ on these terms or not. If you be not, it will be unnecessary, and even criminal, for you to come to his table; you cannot be his disciples. If you be content, then give up your all to him, and lay down your all at his feet. Because of the deceitfulness of your heart, it will be good to be very distinct and particular in this point, on which eternity depends.—In consequence, I would advise you,
1. To give up with all your lasts. You have held the grip long, let it now go: “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols ?" Hos. xiv. 8. Let none escape, let there be no reserved morsel, as you would not quit your lot and portion in Christ. Let every man give up with “ the iniquity he knoweth,” as the phrase is, 1 Sam. iii. 13. If there be any bosom-lust, which has been a signal competitor for the heart with the Lord, let it be given up with in a particular manner. Sure, if lawful things must be laid at the Lord's feet, unlawful must much more be laid down.—I would ad
2. To lay down at the Lord's feet your nearest and dearest relations, so as that you may never break with Christ for them : his favour, truths, and ways, must be dearer to you than they. And sure I am, if thou meetest with Christ at his table, thou wilt say, “ Henceforth know we no man after the flesh.” “I will love may father, mother, wife, children, brethren, and sisters; but my Lord Jesus more than all.”
3. Lay down at the Lord's feet your substance in the world, be it great or small, houses and lands, goods, &c. that he may dispose of them as he may see meet. Times have been, and they are like to return, wherein the Lord has sent for these things from professors, eren by wicked messengers, as he sent for the ass and colt, Matth. xxi. 3,“ Saying, The Lord hath need of them.” And they that had before fairly given them, with themselves, to the Lord, did not stand to deliver him his own: "Go thou, and do likewise.”
4. Lay down at the Lord's feet, your credit and esteem in the world. This is often a great idol, and goes betwixt many a man and Christ. There are few that ever have it, but suffer an eclipse in some time or other. God even sends for his people's credit, to be a stepping-stone for his glory. But if thou makest sure work in this transaction, thou wilt even be content at his call to creep down, and lie among the pots, till he himself bring thee out again. Thou wilt be content to commence a fool to the world, that thou mayest be wise to God.
5. Lay down at the Lord's feet, your ease and liberty : Acts xxi. 13, “ I am ready,” said Paul, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus." The flesh will cry, “Man, spare thyself ;” but the spirit must offer all to the Lord. Thou wilt not break with Christ, though thou shouldst never get an easy hour, but be hunted as partridges, till in heaven. He to whom his ease and liberty is dearer than Christ, is a slavo to the devil, and cannot be Christ's disciple.
6. Lay down at Christ's feet, your desires. Your desires shall be to your spiritual Husband, who shall choose for you your inheritance, Psalm xlvii. 4. If he shall grant your lawful desires, it is well; if he see meet to refuse them, it must even te well also in your eye ; you are to take himself, and give up with your own will, and say, Thy will be done.
Lastly, Lay down at the Lord's feet, your life. Let your bodies be given now to the Lord, not only for service, but also for a sacrifice, if he requires it. The text makes it plain, none go to heaven but martyrs, either in action or in affection. It may be the Lord may have use for your strength, for your health, it may be for your blood. Resign all to him now. If you hate not your life, you cannot be his disciple. Be not deterred from the sacrament by this, for, by the word of God, the way to heaven is no easier. But when the time comes, that the saints are to be carried to the table above, they will not be supposed to stand and look on, as when they preseat themselves before the lower table; the fearful and unbelieving shall be excluded from that table, Rev. xxi. 8. It is necessary at all times that people should manage matters thus when they sit down at the Lord's table, but especially at this time, when the cloud of the church's trouble is gathering so fast, and our peace is flying from us. That party has now got the ascendant, whose temper always has been to breathe out threatenings, cruelty, and blood, and furiously to drive their plough over the back of the church, and to make their furrows deep, till the righteous Lord do cut the cords of the ungodly crew. They have brought in their superstitions already, by the favour of a toleration which reflects shame on themselves before the world, as if they were men of no faith, but as to one article. By their means we are threatened with idolatry, and with a French government. But God sits in heaven, and can bring order ont of confusion. Let us prepare for whatsoever may come, honestly committing all to the Lord, and he will raise the sincere soul above itself, and give the back to bear its own burden, if we be but willing to stoop, and take it on for his sake. He left all for us, and shall we account any thing too much for him? However, this is the settled law of heaven, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Amen.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.*
LUKE xvi. 26,
wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life
also, he cannot be my disciple. HAVING, in the preceding, discourse, attended to what was proposed as the first and second heads of method, I now proceed,
III. To offer some reasons why Christ is dearer to his true disciples than what is dearest to them in the world.—Among other reasons, the following are mentioned.
1. Because to every trus disciple, sin, of all bitter things, is the bitterest. A man will get a clearer view of the stars from the bottom of a deep pit, than from the top of a high mountain ; and the lower that a man is laid in humiliation for sin, Christ will be the dearer to him. Many things, nay, almost any thing, is dearer to most persons than Christ. Why so ? Because any bitter thing is more bitter to their depraved taste than sin. As when God intended to endear the promised land to the Israelites, and make them content to leave the flesh-pots of Egypt, Exod. i. 14, their lives then were made bitter to them; eo God gives his people deep wounds for sin, till their consciences be made to dread it, and their