CHRISTS FAMOUS TITLES
by William Dyer
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16
Out of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, comes better and sweeter honey, than out of Sampson's lion! That is the sweetest honey—which we suck out of Christ's hive—for the face of none is so lovely in a saint's eye, as the face of Christ; and the voice of none is so pleasant in a saint's ear—as the voice of Christ. Oh Christian! the God whom you serve is so excellent, that no good can be added to him; and he is so infinite, that no good can be diminished in him. He makes others happy—and yet is not the less happy; he shows mercy to the full—and yet remains full of mercy. Oh come eat and drink abundantly! Oh beloved, there is no fear of excess here, though one drop of Christ is sweet—yet the deeper, the sweeter.
The wine that Christ draws, is the best wine that a Christian drinks! The whole book of Canticles is bespangled with the praises of Jesus Christ; the subject matter of this book is a declaration of the mutual fellowship of love and affection between Christ and his church; what spiritual entertainment is given on both sides, with the sweet contentment they have in each other's beauty! Here you may see the King in his glory—and the spouse in her beauty! Here you may see Christ giving her sweet promises, adoring her with many excellencies, communicating his love, and commending her graces! Here you may also see the church even ravished with the consideration and contemplation of Christ's love and beauty! His beauty is breath-taking, his love is ravishing, his voice is pleasing, his goodness is drawing, his manifestations are enticing! He is the beloved Son—and the Son of love; he is nothing but love—to those who are his love.
But I shall no longer entertain you with a crumb at the door—but carry you to the chapter out of which my text is taken—and so lead you to the cabinet where the jewel lies!
Brethren and beloved, you have a glorious description of Christ in this chapter, and that from verse 10 to 16. where the spouse is setting forth the riches, the dignity, the excellency, the beauty, the majesty, the glory, the preciousness, and loveliness of Jesus Christ. "My Beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven. His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels. His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh. His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite. His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars. His mouth is sweetness itself! He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." And thus she sets forth her beloved, and at last winds up all with this rare expression, "He is altogether lovely!"
This text is a sacred cabinet, which contains in it:
First, The Jewel Christ, in this word, HE.
Secondly, The value of the Jewel, ALTOGETHER LOVELY.
The observation, or doctrine, is this, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely. He is the most amazing and delightful object. The very name of Jesus Christ, is as precious ointment poured forth. It is said, that the letters of his name were found engraved upon Ignatius' heart. Jesus Christ is in every believer's heart, and nothing can do better there; for "he is altogether lovely!" That Jesus Christ is thus transcendently lovely, will appear in four kinds of ways:
First, by titles.
Secondly, by types.
Thirdly, by resemblance.
Fourthly, by demonstrations.
I shall only speak to the first of these—his TITLES. Our Lord Jesus has seven famous and lovely titles, which are as so many jewels of his crown.
First, The Desire of all Nations.
Secondly, The King of kings.
Thirdly, The Mighty God.
Fourthly, The Everlasting Father.
Fifthly, The Prince of Peace.
Sixthly, The Precious Elect one.
We will begin with the first of these famous titles, namely,
THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS
This title you have in the second chapter of Haggai and 7th verse: "And the Desire of all Nations shall come." But you shall say, "How is Christ the Desire of all Nations? Do not all the nations abhor him and say, We will not have this man to rule over us!" "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One," Psalm 2:2. The kings of the earth are afraid—lest Christ's government should un-king them. The rulers are jealous—lest he will depose them from their noble places; they are jealous, lest Jesus will encroach upon their power and privileges. Kings are afraid of him, and think themselves but half kings, where Christ sets up his power and discipline. Merchants are afraid of him—lest he should take away their gain. Lawyers are afraid of him—lest the laws of Christ should overtop the unrighteous laws of the land. The people are afraid of him—lest he should compel them to subjection to the law and way which their souls abhor. Oh, how long has the world rebelled against Jesus Christ, and his government!
But tell me, Have the people gained anything by resisting Christ, his gospel and government? by hating his servants, and by scorning his holy ways? I shall leave you to judge of this.
But, beloved, for all this, Jesus Christ is the Desire of all Nations. And that I shall show in five particulars. Though Jesus Christ is not actively desired by all nations—yet he is rightly called, the Desire of all Nations.
First, Because he is most desirable in himself, and all things that are desirable are in him. Beauty is in Christ, bounty is in Christ, riches and honor are in Christ. Jesus Christ is the treasure hidden in the gospel, the pearl of great price; he is the sun in the firmament of the Scriptures, whom to know is everlasting life; he is a spring full of the water of life, a hive of sweetness, a storehouse of riches, a river of pleasures, wherein you may bathe your souls to all eternity!
Oh! he is fullness and sweetness. "He is the chief among ten thousand," Canticles 5:10. "He is more precious than rubies; and all the things you can desire are not to be compared to him," Proverbs 3:15.
Alas! what are all the crowns and kingdoms of the world, all the thrones and scepters of kings, compared to Christ! I say what are the treasures of the east, the gold of the west, the spices of the south, and the pearls of the north, compared to him? These, or whatever you imagine, are not to be compared unto the blessed Jesus! Beloved, the glories and excellencies of Christ excel all others. As all waters meet in the sea, and as all the lights meet in the sun; so all the perfections and excellencies of all the saints and angels meet in Christ! Nay, sirs, Christ has not only the holiness of angels, the loveliness of saints, and the treasure of heaven—but also the fullness of the Godhead; the riches of the Deity are in him! Col. 1:19. "For it has pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell," fullness of grace, fullness of knowledge, fullness of love, fullness of glory. He is lovely to the Father, lovely to the angels, lovely to the saints, and lovely to the soul.
And therefore he may well be called the Desire of all Nations, for all desirable things are in him.
Secondly, Jesus Christ is called the Desire of all Nations, because his desire is after all nations, though he has no need of them; he has thousands of angels before him, and ten thousand daily minister unto him; yet such infinite love does he bear to the sons of men in whom there is no loveliness, that he himself says, "My delight is with the sons of men," Proverbs 8:31. That our Lord Jesus has a strong desire after the nations to convert them, and save the nations, will appear by three things:
First, By what he did before he came into the world.
Second, By what he did when he was in the world.
Third, By what he does now that he has left the world.
First, Our Lord Jesus had a great desire after the poor nations before he came into the world—or else he would never have left his crown, his royal court, his Father's bosom, his glorious robes, to come into this world—to be spit upon by men, and to be murdered by men! Nay, he did not only become a laughing-stock to men—but a gazing-stock to angels. Now, beloved, do you not think that Jesus Christ had a great desire after the nations' good, that he would leave all his glory, and greatness, and pomp, and riches—to come into this world, to be poor, to be hungry, to be weary, to be tempted, to be betrayed, to die?
But you may perhaps say, that Christ little thought his own countrymen would have shed his blood, and that one of his own friends would betray him.
Why, beloved, do you think he did not know it? yes, he knew it before he came into the world, how he would be abused in the world, that the Jews would crucify him, and that Judas would betray him, John 6. He knew it from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who would betray him. Christ knew it before he came from heaven, what cruel treatment he would have upon earth. Now, beloved, put all this together, and tell me, had not Jesus Christ a desire after us before he came to us, that he would uncrown himself—to crown us; and put off his robes—to put on our rags; and come out of heaven—to keep us out of hell? He fasted forty days—that he might feast us to all eternity. He came from heaven to earth—that he might send us from earth to heaven!
The Son of God became the Son of man; that we, the sons of men, might become the sons og God; and all this he did to save the nations!
Secondly, He had a longing desire after the nations when he was in the world. Oh! Christ would gladly have saved the nations, and healed them, and enlightened them; therefore he sends forth his apostles, Matthew 28:19. and bids them, "Go and teach all nations." The people were in his eyes, and upon his heart; and so in Matthew 22, Christ sends forth his servants, once, twice, thrice, as if he would take no denial—but they would not come. Nay, beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ did not only send others to poor souls, to beseech them, to entreat them to come in, to repent, and to believe in their Savior, that their souls might be saved; but he went himself and desired them. Nay, that is not all, beloved, he cried to them, and said, "If any man thirsts—let him come unto me and drink!" John 7:37.
Oh! how earnest was Jesus Christ with poor souls to come to him. "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Matthew 10:28. So in Luke 14:23. "Go to the highways, and compel them to come in, that my house may be full."
Do you see this—what vehement desires Jesus Christ had after the nations and souls of men, that he might ever make them happy, when he was in the world; and he has the same desire still. How often would Jesus Christ have healed the Jews, that poor nation, as he himself speaks in Matthew 23:37. "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers in her young ones, and you would not." Nay when he has done all this, he does not leave them—but weeps over them; his eyes were wet—because their eyes were dry. So this is clear from what Christ did when he was in the world, that he desired much the healing and converting of nations.
First, In his bearing with them.
Secondly, In his offers unto them.
Thirdly, He has a great desire after the nations, now he has left the world—and though he has gone to heaven, and entered into glory, and there sits at the right hand of the Father; yet, I say, his desires are as much after poor souls as ever. This will appear by two things:
Firstly, In his forbearance and long-sufferance. Oh! how long has Christ borne with the sinful nations, and yet he bears with them still, notwithstanding they have broke his laws, and despised his gospel, and scorned his ordinances, and shed his saints' blood, and grieved his Spirit, and abused his mercies! This and much more have they done, and yet he spared them that he might be gracious to them, Isaiah 30:18. "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion."
Now, beloved, do you think that Jesus Christ would take all this at the nations' hands—but that he is unwilling to destroy them, and most willing to save them.
Secondly, His love appears, not only by his bearing with them—but by his offers to them. Oh beloved, how does God stand day after day, month after month, and year after year, offering himself, his Son, his mercy, his love, his grace, and his glory—to poor souls!
Many have the space of repentance, who have not the grace of repentance.
Now my brethren, by these things you may see that Jesus Christ has a great desire after the nations.
Thirdly, Jesus Christ is called the Desire of all Nations, because it is he alone, who can make any person, family, or nation, truly desirable.
Oh! beloved, what is the reason that the Lord Almighty prefers his people before all the sons of men? The Lord prefers his little remnant before all the world besides, Exod. 19:5, "You will be my treasured possession!" "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor," Proverbs 12:26. Though his neighbor is a king, or emperor, or a pope—yet if he is righteous, he is more excellent than them; they are but base born. Believers be these worthies, of whom the world was not worthy, Hebrews 11:38. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, God's holy nation, his very own possession!" 1 Peter 2:8. Believers are not only diligent Christians—but excellent Christians.
Now, what is the reason, beloved, that the saints are thus excellent above all others? Is it for their birth, breeding, or learning, or riches, or greatness, or honor? No, no! It is for none of these; but if you would know the reason, it is because Christ is formed in them, and married to them; they have the new name, the new nature, the new heart, the new spirit! Oh, this is the reason! If there were anything beside Christ that would make any nation, or family, or person truly desirable, it must be either birth, or greatness, or learning, or riches, or beauty, or wisdom, or strength; now all these do not make any one desirable, for if they did, then those who reign over the nations would be the most desirable people under heaven, because they have the most of these.
"He has made us to be kings and priests unto our God." Revelation 1:5. Oh! Christ has made every believer a king! It is Christ's beauty that makes us beautiful; it is his riches that makes us rich; it is his righteousness that makes us righteous! He alone makes us truly honorable, and desirable. Well may Christ be called the Desire of all Nations—for it is he who can make a nation desirable.
Fourthly, Jesus Christ is called "the Desire of all Nations," because all nations stand in need of him; Nay, not only all nations—but all people, young and old, rich and poor, high and low. He who will be saved—must have a Savior to save him, or else he can never be saved. The apostle tells us, Acts 4:12, "Neither is their salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we can be saved." And Christ says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6. So that not only all nations—but all people stand in need of him.
You may go to heaven without health, without wealth, without honor, without pleasure, without friends, without learning—but you can never go to heaven without Christ.
What will you do, if you begin to die naturally—before you begin to live spiritually? If the tabernacle of nature be taken down—before the temple of God be raised up in your soul; if your paradise be laid waste—before the tree of life be set up in it; if you give up the spirit—before you ever receive the Holy Spirit; if the sun of your life be set within you—before the Sun of Righteousness shines upon you; if the body is fit to be turned into the earth—before the soul is fit to be taken to heaven? If the second birth has no place in you—the second death shall have power over you!
Though the nations need nothing more than Christ—yet they slight nothing more than Christ.
Tell me how you will live when you die—who are dead while you live.
Oh, beloved, is it not sad that the nations should resist Christ, his gospel and government as they do!
Indeed, if men might be their own judges, then Christ had no enemies, we are all his friends. If the Jews might so have been their own judges, it was not the Son of God whom they crucified—but an enemy to Caesar. It was not Paul as a saint whom they persecuted—but one that they found to be a pestilent fellow; some men will say now, they do not persecute the saints of God—but seditious lunatics; but God will shortly take off the veil of hypocrisy from their faces!
Oh grieve for them, that cannot grieve for themselves!
And thus you see that all nations stand in need of Christ, who is the Desire of all Nations.
Fifthly, Our Lord Jesus is called the Desire of all Nations, because when he sets up himself in anyone as their desire—then they run after him, and count nothing too dear for him! So the church of God, Isaiah 26:8, 9. "The desire of our soul is to your name; with my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early."
Oh! when the Desire of all Nations once sets up himself in the soul—then he becomes the desire of the soul.
When he had thus endeared himself to their souls, they count nothing too dear for him—all shall be at his command: their gold, their silver, their strength, their lives. Revelation 12:12, "They did not love their lives in the face of death." So that, beloved, let men be enemies to Jesus Christ—yet as soon as Christ sets up himself in their hearts, they will love him, own him, serve him, and suffer for him!
Now, sirs, put all these together, and it will fully prove Christ to be the Desire of all Nations.
I shall make but a short application of it, and so conclude.
Is it so, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Desire of all Nations, and that all things desirable are in him? Oh then, let me beg of you, oh let me beseech you, for the Lord's sake, and for your soul's sake—make Christ Jesus the desire of your souls!
He is the Desire of all Nations—and shall he not be the desire of your soul? Whom will you love, if not the KING of saints? Whom will you long for, if not for the Desire of all Nations? Whom will you prize, if not the Prince of Peace? He is the Son of God, before whom angels and archangels, and all the host of heaven bow. He is the glory of glories, the crown of crowns, the heaven of heavens! He is a light in darkness, joy in sadness, riches in poverty, life in death! It is he who can resolve all your doubts, secure you in danger, save your souls, and bring you to glory, where all joys are enjoyed! Oh therefore, give all glory to him, and yourselves to Him. So much, or so little for this time.
Doctrine: That Jesus Christ, is infinitely and superlatively lovely. "Yes, he is altogether lovely! This is my beloved, and this is my friend!" Song of Songs 5:16
I now proceed to the second title, which is given to the Lord
Jesus Christ, and that is King of kings.
THE KING OF KINGS
"On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS!" Revelation 19:16
Beloved, Jesus Christ is a threefold king:
First, His enemies King.
Secondly, His saints King.
Thirdly, His Father's King.
The first, he rules over.
The second, he rules in.
The third, he rules for.
I shall begin with the first, and take them in order.
First, Christ is his ENEMIES King.That is, he is King over his enemies. Christ is a King above all kings, and over all kings, and therefore the Scripture calls HIM, "King of kings!" as you have it in 1 Timothy 6:15. Christ is a King above all kings; for if he were not a King above all kings—he could not be a King over all kings. Two Scriptures prove that Jesus is a King above all kings. God the Father says, "I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth." Psalm 89:27. Now, who is the first-born? Why, it is Jesus Christ; as he is elsewhere called, "the first-born of every creature." "Now," says God, "I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth: higher in glory, higher in power, higher in majesty!" So in Revelation 1:5—there Christ is called, "the Ruler of the kings of the earth."
Alas! alas! what are all the mighty men, the great, the honorable men of the earth—compared to Jesus Christ! They are but like a little bubble on the water; for if all the nations, in comparison to God, be but as the drop of the bucket, or the dust of the balance, as the prophet speaks in Isaiah 40:15— Oh how little then must be the kings of the earth!
Nay, beloved, Christ Jesus is not only above the kings of the earth, and higher than kings—but he is higher than the angels. Yes, he is the head of angels; and therefore all the angels in heaven are commanded to worship him! Col. 2:12, "He is the head of all principalities and powers," which includes angels. And in Hebrews 1:6. "Let all the angels of God worship him." God will have the angels worship Christ—as well as men.
Oh, sirs, Christ is a King, before whom angels veil their faces, and kings of the earth cast down their crowns!
Again, as he is a King above all kings—so he is a King over all kings too. Jesus Christ is an universal King. He is the King over all kingdoms, over all nations, over all governments, over all powers, over all people! Daniel 7:14, "He was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.'' You here see that Christ is not only King of saints—but King of nations too! Therefore you find in Psalm 2:8, "Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth Your possession!" The very heathen are given to Christ, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.
As the Lord Jesus Christ has all the kingdoms of the earth given to him—so likewise he has all power given to him. If this were otherwise, he would have no ability to rule his kingdoms. Matthew 28:18, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Oh, here is a text that should revive the hearts of saints! So that it is he who binds kings in chains, and princes in fetters of iron! It is he who allows no man to do them wrong; yes, he reproves kings for their sakes, and breaks mighty kings in pieces for the saints' sake! And therefore it is he who over-rules kings, and overcomes the kings of the earth that make war with the saints!
Revelation 17:14, "These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them," and why? "Because he was King of kings, and Lord of lords!" This is the first, Jesus Christ is his enemies King, that is, he is a King above their kings, and over their kings. As Jesus Christ is his enemies King—so he is his saints King.
Secondly, Christ is his SAINTS King.I will give you two Scriptures to prove it: Revelation 15:3. There Jesus Christ is called the saints' King, "O King of saints." So also in Matthew 21:5, "Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey—even on a donkey's colt." So that by these two Scriptures, you see Jesus Christ is King of saints.
Now, beloved, I beseech you here to listen carefully. Jesus Christ you see, is King of the wicked, and of the godly; but as for the wicked, he rules over them by his power and might; but the saints, he rules in them by his Spirit and graces. Now to this the Scripture witnesses, that Jesus Christ rules in the saints, and is the King of the saints; and therefore it tells them, Col. 1:27, "Christ in you the hope of glory," and elsewhere, "Know you not that Christ is in you." Mark, Christ must be in you, "Christ in you the hope of glory." So in Psalm 24:7, "Lift up your heads, O you gates, and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in." Here Christ is called the King of glory; and the psalmist calls upon men to open their hearts that the King of glory may come in. So in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me."
Oh this is Christ's spiritual kingdom, and here he rules in the hearts of his people, here he rules over their consciences, over their wills, over their affections, over their judgments and understandings; and therefore he is called the King of saints. It is true, other kings may bear rule ever the estates of men; but as for the soul—that only belongs to Christ! Therefore believers are said to be all glorious within. "The king's daughter is all glorious within," Psalm 45:13. The King of glory rules there, and dwells there! God dwells in the highest heavens—and in the humble hearts. Christ is not only the King of nations—but King of saints; the one he rules over, the other he rules in.
Thirdly, Jesus Christ is his FATHER'S King.So his Father calls him in Psalm 2:6, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." Well may he be our King—when he is God's King. But you may say, How is Christ the Father's King? Because he rules for his Father. There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus Christ:
First, A spiritual kingdom, by which he rules in the hearts of his people, and so is King of saints.
Secondly, A providential kingdom, by which he rules the affairs of this world, and so he is King of nations. Now, beloved, the Scripture says, "That the Father has put all things in Christ's hands." And the apostle tells us, "God has put all things under his feet." The Father judges no man—but has committed all judgment to the Son, and he has appointed him over his own house. Now, as Christ has all, so he does all, and rules all for his Father; and therefore the Father calls him his servant. Isaiah 41:2, "Behold my servant." He rules for his Father, and does his Father's will. So that, beloved, in these respects, Christ is a King.
Now I shall lay down some things wherein the Lord Jesus infinitely excels all other kings of the earth.
First, Jesus is a King, who, in a spiritual sense, makes all his subjects kings."He has made us kings and priests to our God!" Revelation 5:10. He has a crown of glory for every subject. Oh, what a glorious King is this!
Oh, sirs, it is better to be a poor member of Christ—than the head of a nation! Oh, how infinitely happy are all Christ's subjects! They are all kings, all heirs, all favorites, all sons! The true believer is the only happy man. Alas! where is there such a king to be found—who makes all his subjects kings? There are many kings that undo their subjects—but Christ makes his subjects kings! There are many kings who make their subjects beggars—but Christ makes his subjects kings! There are many kings who put their subjects to death—but Christ died that his subjects might live! There are many kings who give their subjects titles—but Christ gives all his subjects heaven!
Sirs, in a word, this is the greatest nobility, to be the servant of the great God; he is nobly descended, who is born from above. Oh, how many lords has that man—who has not Christ for his Lord! every sin is his lord, and every lust lords it over him. Now where Jesus Christ comes to be King, he makes them kings to his Father, and kings over their lusts. Now, beloved, here is the excellence and happiness of our King—he makes us all kings, and gives all crowns of glory!
Secondly, Jesus Christ is the most just and RIGHTEOUS King.He reigns in righteousness, he brings peace by righteousness. He makes us righteous, and therefore he is called, "The LORD our righteousness," Jeremiah 23:6. Now, beloved, other kings often deal unjustly, they bear the sword to execute wrath upon the innocent, and strengthen the hands of evildoers! They justify the wicked—and condemn the godly! They break oaths, and falsify their treaties! Many times they oppress their subjects, and wrong their people! And therefore the Scripture says, "When the wicked rule—the people groan!" Proverbs 29:2.
But now, beloved, Jesus Christ, as he is a righteous King—so he rules in righteousness, and you shall have nothing but righteous dealing from him; mind this text of Scripture, which infinitely speaks out Christ's righteous dealing with poor souls, in Revelation 15:3. "Just and true are your ways." Mark who is just and true here. Why, it is the King of saints! "Just and true are your ways, O King of saints." Justice and truth well befits the King of saints.
In Proverbs 3:17 it is said, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" speaking of wisdom, which is meant of Christ. Oh, what a golden King is here! What a glorious King is here! He is just and true, and all His ways are pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. Oh, sirs, this is the excellency of Christ, He oppresses nobody, He wrongs nobody! He infinitely excels all the kings of the earth in righteousness, for all His ways are just and true.
Thirdly, Christ is a King who lives forever, and reigns FOREVER!Other kings they are but of yesterday, they are soon dead and gone. What is become of all those great and mighty kings that we read of? Why, they are gone like a tale—like a dream! But it is not so with the King of saints—he is King forever, he reigns forever! And therefore the apostle calls him the immortal and eternal King, because he lives forever. 1 Timothy 1:17. So in Hebrews 7:25, speaking of Christ, "He lives forever to make intercession for us." Now, beloved, here is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ—he lives forever! Other kings die, and their subjects may do what they will—but Jesus lives forever!
Fourthly, Jesus Christ is a King that has a perfect KNOWLEDGE of all His subjects!Oh, sirs, earthly kings and princes do not know all their subjects; nay, they know very few. Alas! they do not know a quarter of them! They are not acquainted with all the wrongs, and needs, and miseries, that their poor subjects lie under.
The Lord Jesus infinitely excels all other kings—in that He has a perfect knowledge of all His subjects! He knows them all by name. He knows—all their thoughts, all their needs, all their ways, all their conditions. So say I to you, sirs, Your King knows—all your necessities, all your sufferings, all your troubles, all your fears!
Yes, and "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19. Oh, this is a sweet Scripture! Oh, poor souls, Christ knows everything about you! This is our great happiness, that we have a King who knows us so well. Oh, here is the excellency of our King!
Fifthly, Jesus Christ is an ENTHRONED King!But, beloved, this is not all; Christ does not only sit there Himself—but He has promised that all who overcome, shall sit down with Him upon His throne! "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21. Mark sirs, Christ promises all His subjects—that they should sit upon the throne with Him!
Now, I wonder where there is any king but Christ, who will allow his subjects to sit upon his throne with him. Alas! this would be treason for a man to attempt it!
I have read of a king, whose crown fell off his head and into the water, while passing over a river. One of his poor servants, out of love to the king, leaped in and fetched it up out of the river, and put it back on the king's head. And for this—the poor man had his head cut off! So arrogant was this king! Yes—but sirs, the Lord Jesus is not so, he is no such proud King! He did not only uncrown himself—to crown us; and wear the crown of thorns—that we might wear the crown of glory—but he brings his subjects to sit upon the throne with him! "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Oh, what a glorious King is this! Every one of his poor subjects shall sit upon the throne with him!
So in Revelation 21:7, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things." One would think this very promise would draw the whole world after Christ! Oh, what a glorious King is this! Every one of His poor subjects shall sit upon the throne with Him! One would think this very promise would draw the whole world after Christ! Oh! what great offers, and privileges, and honors Christ bestows upon all His poor followers! He not only makes them kings—but He brings them to sit upon His very throne with Him!
O believer, you say that it would be an honor indeed, if could you but look into heaven, and merely to see Christ sit upon His throne! But this honor have all His saints; yes, much more—He makes them all kings, and grants to them to sit upon the throne with Him!
Sixthly, Jesus Christ is a King who LOVES all his subjects—and all his subjects love him!And I am sure that this cannot be said of any king under heaven—but it may be said of the Lord Christ. There are nine or ten particulars wherein the love of Christ to his subjects does appear, and is wonderfully manifested.
First, His love to his subjects is a PRIMARY love. It was not man's loveliness that engaged God to love and save men! Says the apostle, "We love him," and why? "because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19
His love is the cause preceding—our love is the effect following. If he had not first fired our hearts with the flames of his love—we would never have bestowed one spark of spiritual love upon Christ. He must draw us—before we can run after him. And therefore says the church, "Draw me—and WE will run after you." Song of Songs 1:4. Sirs, we cannot run after Jesus—without him first drawing us. And when he draws us—we run!
Oh! sirs, since God loved us when we were ungodly—we should strive to be like him who thus loved us! Nothing can engage a saint to love God so much as this—that God loved him so much. A Christian once weeping at the table, and being asked the reason of it, answered, "Because I love Christ no more!" Indeed, friends, this should grieve us who are so much beloved—that we love Jesus so little!
You have a famous saying of Augustine, "He loves not Christ at all—who loves him not above all!" This is the first love with which God loves his people it is a primary love.
Secondly, Christ is a King that loves his subjects with a DISTINGUISHING love, and a separating love. The general love of Christ is scattered and branched out to all the creatures in the world. But his special love, his exceeding great and rich love, is only settled upon his redeemed people. Now, if you ask me what Christ's distinguishing love is—I shall but enumerate it to you:
1. It is Pardoning love.
2. It is Redeeming love.
3. It is Calling love.
4. It is Justifying love.
5. It is Adopting love.
6. It is Sanctifying love.
7. It is Glorifying love.
This I say, is a particular love; Christ's love is not only sweeter than wine—but better than life! He is most lovely, he is altogether lovely! Christ is nothing but love to those who are his love.
Thirdly, Christ loves his saints with a PROTECTING love. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Though she may forget—yet I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15
Can a woman forget her nursing child? Is it possible a woman should be so inhumane, to forget her tender infant, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? "Yes!" says the Lord, "Though she may forget—yet I will not forget you!" God may as soon cease to be God—as cease to be good! He may as soon cease to live—as cease to love his people! No, no! He cannot forget them! Did he forget Israel in Egypt, or his church in Babylon, or Daniel in the lions' den? Did he forget the three Hebrew children in the furnace, or Jeremiah in the dungeon, or Jonah in the whale's belly, or Peter in the prison? Did he forget them?
The wicked say indeed, that the Lord does forget, in Ezekiel 9:9, "They are saying—The Lord doesn't see it! The Lord has forsaken the land!" But they are much mistaken! There are three or four texts of Scripture, which I shall humbly offer to your serious consideration, that do wonderfully speak out God's protecting love to his people. The first is in Revelation 7:3. You find there an angel has power given him to harm the earth and the sea. Now there comes another angel, and cries out, "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees!" Why? what is the reason? "Until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Do not pour out your judgments upon the earth—until we have secured the servants of God. Oh! how wonderfully does the Lord protect his people!
So again, in Ezekiel 9. God had set certain men to destroy that wicked city, but first the Lord calls, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." But for the rest, God says, "Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children—but do not touch anyone who has the mark!"
Oh! sirs, this does wonderfully set out God's protecting love to his people. So in Isaiah, the Lord bids the prophet tell them what dreadful judgments would come upon them, upon the kings, and princes, and great men, and soldiers. Now, says the Lord, say to the righteous, "it shall be well with them, none of this destruction shall come near them!" Oh! how wonderfully does this magnify God's protecting love.
Isaiah 26:20, "Come my people, enter into your rooms, shut the door, and hide yourselves for a little while." Why so, O Lord? "Until the Lord's anger against your enemies has passed by!" "Come," says God, "I am resolved to execute my judgments on wicked men; therefore hide yourselves for a while!"
And therefore, I say, let no man's heart fail him—it is but for a moment—and then your miseries shall end. Beloved, when our miseries are at the greatest—his help is at the nearest! Man's extremity—is God's opportunity. When Mordecai is thoroughly humbled, the crude Haman shall be hanged! But then,
Fourthly, Christ loves his people with a most INTENSE love. He loves them with all his heart! More, they are the dearly beloved of his soul, as himself calls them in Jeremiah 12:7, "the dearly beloved of my soul." Christ's love to his people is not a lip-love, from the teeth outwardly; but a real love from the heart inwardly. Christ loves his people as his Father loves him! And how is that? Can you fathom the Father's love for Jesus? No, all the men on earth, nor angels in heaven, cannot fathom the love that the Father bears to Christ! And yet as God loves Christ—so does Christ love his people. You have a full text for this, they are Christ's own words, "As the Father loves me—SO I have loved you.''
Oh, sirs, how infinitely does the Father love the Son—and how infinitely does the Son love his people! Why, he loves them as much as the father loves him. Oh, Lord, what love is this! that the Savior should love the sinner; that Christ should love the miserable sinner! And thus it is! Oh! sirs, believers are like letters of gold engraved on the very heart of Christ! "Oh the breadth, the height, the length of the love of Christ," says the apostle, "it passes knowledge!" Ephesians 3:19. As if there were both lack of words, and lack in words, to set forth the love of Christ to his people. But certainly it must be very great; for as the Father loves him—so he loves them!
Alas! others love the saints—but how do they love them? Why, not with an intense love; they do not love them for their good—but for their goods; it is more for the money in their purses, than for the grace in their hearts. They love the saints, just as men do with their sun-dials, who never look on them but when the sun shines. Why so? The world never looks upon the saints but in the time of prosperity.
When the Jews flourished and were in their glory, oh what great friends were the Samaritans to them! But when the poor Jews were under affliction, then they had no worse enemies than the Samaritans.
But Christ is not so, he loves you when you are poor, as well as when you are rich; as well when you are in your rags, as when you are in your robes; when you are in adversity, as well as when you are in prosperity. Christ loves his saints as well upon a gallows—as though it were in a palace; for whom he loves, he loves unto the end.
Hebrews 13:5, "He is faithful, who has said, I will never leave you, nor ever forsake you!" I will never leave you in any condition, or any place. Oh, sirs, what a love is this! And therefore, we do not hanker for what the world can do for us, or for the world's love; it is like a Venice glass—soon broken! It smiles now—and quickly frowns! It cries "Hosanna!" today, and tomorrow "Crucify him!" But Christ's love is infinite—from his very heart.
Fifthly, Jesus Christ loves his people with a DEMONSTRATED love. "God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son!" John 3:16. Says Paul, "He loved me—and gave himself for me," Galatians 2:20. The Father gives the Son—and the Son gives himself. He loved me—and gave himself for me; all that Christ did and suffered—it is for me! All that Christ has—is mine. Christ's love is mine to pity me! Christ's mercy is mine to save me! Christ's graces are mine to beautify me! Christ's power is mine to protect me! Christ's wisdom is mine to counsel me! Christ's Spirit is mine to comfort me! Christ's Word is mine to teach me! Christ's glory is mine to crown me!
There are four attributes of God which are of great support to Christians:
1. His faithfulness.
2. His mightiness.
3. His goodness.
4. His wisdom.
And therefore, sirs, it is your duty to live upon God promises, when his providences seem to run adverse!
Christ's love to you is free love! All that he has given you is free—his grace is free, his love is free, his salvation is free, and he himself is free. Therefore, a grain of saving grace in the heart—is better than a chain of gold around the neck! Now, beloved, all that Christ has bestowed upon you—it is free, and therefore it is a divine love.
Sixthly, Christ loves his people with a love of COMPASSION, sympathizing with them in all their sorrows and sufferings. Truly this is a great comfort indeed, "In all their afflictions," says the text, "he was afflicted," Isaiah 63:9. So says the apostle, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses," Hebrews 4:15. That is, we have a high priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities—one who weeps in our tears, and sighs in our sighs, and sorrows in our sorrows, and suffers in our sufferings! And therefore, says Christ, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?" Christ was first persecuted by Paul in his members, and afterward he was persecuted in Paul as one of his members. Oh, what a sweet love is this! a love of compassion, and sympathizing with us in all our sorrows and sufferings!
Now, beloved, Jesus Christ loves his subjects with a love of compassion, and therefore let your sufferings be what they will, Jesus Christ does only as it were, bear a share with you.
Seventhly, Jesus Christ loves his people with a love of DELIGHT. Speaking there of Christ the King, "The King shall greatly delight in your beauty," Psalm 40:11. The King shall greatly delight in your beauty—with great delight and joy. And therefore, beloved, Christ calls his church—his love, his dove, his beloved, his lovely one. Oh, how infinitely does Christ love his church! Certainly Christ bears a great love to his church; and hence it is you read, "Christ walks among the golden candlesticks, and he feeds among the lilies, and his delight is with the sons of men."
Although poor believers are 'ravens' in the world's eye—yet they are 'doves' in Christ's eye! They are very precious in his esteem! Though they are loathed by wicked men—yet they are dearly beloved by God—he delights in them. The King shall greatly delight in them.
Eighthly, Christ loves his people with an EVERLASTING love. He loves them with an undying love—a love that never fades, never waxes cold. Christ's love is like a fountain ever flowing, and never dried up! Whom he loves from all eternity—these he loves to all eternity! Now, sirs, is not this a great favor to be so loved by Christ? "Having loved His own who were in the world—He loved them to the end!" John 13:1. He did not love them for a day, a month, or a year—but even unto the end. And in Jeremiah 31:3, speaking there of his love, it is called an everlasting love; "I have loved you," says God, "with an everlasting love."
Oh, sirs, this is a love that shall bed and board with you—that shall lie down and rise up with you—that shall go to your death-bed with you—that shall go to the grave with you—that shall go to heaven with you! The saints shall put off the jewel of faith when they die—but not the jewel of Christ's love; for that shall remain with them to eternity. He loves his saints with an everlasting love!
Ninthly, Christ loves his people with a UNIVERSAL love. His love is universal to all his saints. Oh, Christ infinitely loves every true believer! He loved poor Lazarus—as well as rich Abraham! He loved despised Job—as well as honorable David. He loves the poorest saints—as well as the richest. He loves them all alike—God is no respecter of persons. Oh, where is there such a king now, as Christ! They love their nobles, they are their favorites; but Christ loves all his subjects. Christ's love extends to all his saints; his love is like the beams of the sun, which reaches all ways, east, west, north, and south—so does Christ's love.
Tenthly, Christ loves his people with a CORRECTING love. "The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he scourges everyone he accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:6
Eleventhly, Christ loves his people with a DIRECTING love. He has promised to guide and direct his people in the way wherein they ought to walk.
Oh, put all these particulars together, and surely you must confess that Jesus Christ loves his subjects INFINITELY. As it was said of Lazarus, when Christ wept for him, they made this construction of it, "Oh, how he loves him!" Oh, how does Christ love you who are his people! He loves you infinitely, even beyond all measure!
Now, oh sirs, for the Lord's sake, consider of it, and let
this draw forth your love to him.
I now come to show you the love of Christ's people—to Christ.
"Yes, he is altogether lovely! This is my beloved, and this is my friend!" Song of Songs 5:16
"Oh, feed me with your love—your 'raisins' and your 'apples'—for I am utterly lovesick!" Song of Songs 2:5
The Spouse indeed was love-sick! But Christ exceeded her love—for he died for his love! "While we were sinners, Christ died for us!" He loved us more than his own life! Yes, the very life of Christ to him was not too dear for us. The 'pelican' feeds her young ones with her own blood. Oh! sirs, Christ is our pelican, who has nourished and fed us with his own blood. "My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," says Christ, John 6:55. Christ's red blood—has taken away our red guilt! Scarlet-red sinners have become milk-white saints, when washed in his blood! All our precious mercies, come swimming to us in Christ's precious blood!
Christ bled love at every vein! His drops of blood—were drops of love! Yes, the more bloody he was—the more lovely! He was most lovely upon the cross—because then he showed most love to us!
In the last section, I showed you the great love which Jesus Christ bears to all his subjects; and the sum of my discourse was this—that Jesus Christ loves his subjects with an everlasting and undying love.
That which I am now to show to you is this—that all Christ's subjects love him; and what kind of love they have for Christ.
The saints' love to Christ is VEHEMENT and STRONG.This will appear, if you consider to what the Scripture likens and compares the saints' love. Now it is compared to four things:
1. To sickness.
2. To death.
3. To the grave.
4. To fire.
To these things is a believer's love compared in Scripture; I shall handle them in order.
First,SICKNESS. This is the first comparison which sets forth the strength of the believer's love; this is set down in two places of this book of Canticles. "Oh, feed me with your love—your 'raisins' and your 'apples'—for I am utterly lovesick!" Song of Songs 2:5. And in chapter 5, verse 8, "Make this promise to me, O women of Jerusalem! If you find my beloved one, tell him that I am sick with love!"
She is overwhelmed, she is overcome, and even ravished with his love and beauty. "Oh! I thirst, I faint, I pant, I long for him!" O! The Christian should be very sick, and ready to swoon with love to Jesus. Never was Ahab so sick for a vineyard, never was Sisera so desirous for milk, nor Samson for water, nor Rachel for a child, nor Amnon for his sister Tamar—as poor broken-hearted sinners are for Christ! When Christ gets into the heart, he draws all the affections to him.
I remember the speech of a gracious woman, I have borne, said she, nine children, with as much pain as other women, and yet I could with all my heart bear them over again; yes, bear them, and bear them all the days of my life, that 1 might be sure of a part in Christ.
Oh how infinitely do believers love Christ! David wonders at his own love in Psalm 119:97, "O, how love I your law!" He makes a wonder at it here; with what vehemency he loves God's Word. "O how love I your law!" Just so, the spouse here, she does not only love him—but she is utterly love-sick. Oh! sirs, here is a sickness not unto death—but unto life; it is a sickness that still brings blessedness and happiness with it, a sickness that shall be cured by him who is the great Physician of souls. This is the first kind of love; she compares her love to sickness.
Secondly, The next thing whereby she expresses the strength of her love to Christ, it is byDEATH. This you have in Canticles 8. She there tells you, "her love is strong as death." Beloved, you know death is strong, it is the king of terrors, and the terror of kings; it subdues all sorts of people—high and low, rich and poor, old and young, good and bad. The greatest monarchs, kings, and emperors, have all been thrown down by death. Where did that man dwell—who was too strong for death? If strength could have resisted it—then Samson would have escaped it. Could greatness have overlooked it—then Nebuchadnezzar would have eluded it. Could beauty have outfaced it—then Absalom would have never met it. Could riches have bribed it—then Dives would have avoided it.
But, alas! none of these gallants were hardy enough for death—it trod on the necks of them all! And therefore, oh look upon death—as a thing you must reckon with! Look upon yourselves—as a thing you must part with.
Now, by this you may guess what love is—It is as strong as death; yes, strong indeed. Oh, how strong is death! Nay, believers' love to Christ is not as strong as death—but stronger than death—as some Scriptures make it appear.
A believer's love to Christ is stronger than death, "I am persuaded," says Paul, "that neither life, nor death, principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall ever be able to separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38, 39.
Death, though it may kill us—it cannot hurt us! Though death may send us to the pit of darkness—yet it cannot send us to the place of torments! Though it may take away our lives—yet it cannot take away our loves! Bloody tyrants have taken away the martyrs' lives for Christ—but they could never destroy their love to him. One of the primitive Christians, when he came to suffer, said, "Oh, I shall die for my Savior but once—but I have no more lives to lay down! Oh, I could die a hundred times for him!" Oh! sirs, love is a thing that outlives all enemies, all persecutions, all dangers; nay, death itself!
Revelation 12:11 says, "They loved not their lives unto the death." And so says Job, "Though you slay me—yet will I trust in you;" as if he had said, "Oh, Lord, though you take away my possessions, my greatness, my health, my goodness, my children; yes, my life itself—you shall never take away my love! Though you kill me—yet will I trust in you!" Job. 13:15. So love to Christ is not only as strong as death—but stronger than death; for love is the conqueror at the last.
Thirdly, Another thing whereby she expresses the strength of her love, and her strong affection to Christ, it is theGRAVE. This you have in chapter 8:6. Her "love is as unyielding as the grave." The grave is the bed of darkness, which is always craving, and never satisfied—but devours all that comes. Christ tells us in John 4:14. "He who drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall thirst no more." What, thirst no more? No more thirst after the world, and worldly things; but more and more thirst after Christ and heaven.
"He who drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall thirst no more." No more after those base poor things—but more and more after Christ.
"My soul thirsts for You!" Psalm 42:1. Why, David—how does your soul thirst for God? He tells you, "As the deer pants after the water brooks—so my soul pants after you, O God." Now mark, sirs, the poor deer which is hunted by dogs—it is, as it were, all in a burning heat, and then it pants, and thirsts, and is ready to die for water. Now, says David, "As the deer pants after the water brooks—so pants my soul after you, O God." Oh, the vehement fire of David's thirst!
No hungry man ever longed for bread, nor a thirsty man long for water, nor a naked man long for clothes, nor a covetous man long for riches, nor a sick man long for health, nor a condemned man long for pardon—than truly gracious soul thirsts for Jesus!
David tells you elsewhere, "Whom have I in heaven but you, and there is none I desire on earth in comparison of you!" Psalm 73:23. David—do you not desire your wife, your children, your crown, your kingdom? "Yes, these be desired in their places—but these were nothing in comparison of God." I remember the saying of a martyr, to one that asked him if he did not love his wife and children, when they wept by him? "Love them! yes!" says he, "if all the world were gold, and mine to dispose of, I would give it all to live with them, though it were in a prison;" says he, " yet, in comparison with Jesus—I love them not." Oh! sirs, we must tread upon father, and run over mother—to come to Christ.
You know Peter, to come to Christ—he would go upon the bare water! Rather than sail, he went upon the sea to Christ! Truly it was a dangerous passage—but Peter bore up excellently well, while his faith bore up—but when his faith sank, then Peter began to sink too. In Scripture, the world is called a sea; and you must go upon these waters to Christ, and be sure to keep up faith, and then you will hold out; but if faith fails, you shall be sure to sink.
Oh! sirs, the believer's love is unsatisfied like the grave. "None but Christ, none but Christ!" says the martyr. Ad as Augustine says, "Oh Lord, take away all—only give me yourself!"
Fourthly, Love is compared toFIRE. Canticles 8:6, "It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame!" Now, beloved, the saints' love to Christ, is not only compared to fire for its warming and heating—but for its kindling, and increasing, and flaming; "While I was musing," says David, "the fire burned," Psalm 39:3. What fire? Why, the fire in his heart—and not the fire on the hearth.
Now, beloved, as the saints' love is compared to fire in the Scripture, so you shall find afflictions, and persecutions, and dangers, and these cruel things that accompany the poor saints in the world, are called waters and floods. Revelation 17:15, "The waters which you saw, where the whore sat." Revelation 12:14, "Then the dragon tried to drown the woman with a flood of water that flowed from its mouth." Now, what is the flood here? Why, this flood is bloody persecutions, and devilish persecutions. Now, beloved, how long has the dragon been spewing out her water upon the church? And why is all this water thrown out? It is to quench the fire that I speak of; but can they do it? No, alas! they may spew until their eyes come out of their head, and to no purpose! Canticles 8:7, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it!" All the bloody persecutions and afflictions cannot quench love; and therefore let wicked men send forth as many floods as they will—they cannot drown the saints' love.
All the water that Saul and his party threw upon David did not quench his love. No, says he, "Though I walk through the valley and shadow of death—yet will I fear no evil." Psalm 23:4. David is not afraid to go by death's door.
All the waters that Herod and the rulers threw upon the apostles, could never quench their love.
Now, beloved, you will find after the apostles where whipped soundly, that they went away rejoicing, and rejoicing in this very thing, that they were accounted worthy to suffer for Jesus Christ. "They took joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property." Hebrews 10:34
Says Paul, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!" Romans 8:35-37
Believe it, sirs, all these are trying things, and yet, says he, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" No, no, they cannot do it! There is nothing that shall ever be able to separate us from the love of Christ! The believer's love is not made of such metal, as to be quenched by this flood; the saints are all on fire for Christ. And so we find that great flood which Nero and Julian poured out upon the primitive Christians; what—did it quench the fire? I remember one of the martyrs said, "Had I ten heads—they should all suffer for Christ!" And another said, "If every hair of my head were a man—they should all suffer for Christ!" Alas! the poor Christians grasped their torments like so many crowns! For the Scripture tells you, that "many waters cannot quench love."
Now, beloved, put these four things together, and it is very clear, that the saints' love to Christ is vehement and strong. They will hang for him, they will burn for him, they will do anything for him, and suffer the greatest torments rather than he should lose the least grain of glory!
But you will say, WHY do all God's subjects love Him with such great love? The reasons are two:
First, Because he deserves it.
Secondly, He commands it.
First, Christ deserves our love. Why do we love him? Because he deserves it at our hands, even it it were ten thousand times more than it is. Beloved, it was he who created us; it is he who sanctified us; it is he who redeemed us, and loved us; it was he who changed our natures, and pardons our sin! It was he who made our peace, and pacified his Father's wrath for us, and satisfied his Father's justice for us, and wrought everlasting righteousness for us! It is he who bore our cross—that we might wear his crown. He waded through a sea of sufferings for us—to bring pardon to our souls! And does not this Christ deserve our love? Oh infinitely, infinitely! And truly, sirs, the more Christ has done and suffered for us—the dearer shall he be unto us.
Secondly, As Christ deserves our love, so he commands it. Christ commands us to love him above life, above wife, above relations. Christ will have all—or none at all. Jesus Christ must weigh heavier than all relations in the balance of our affections; he commanded to love him above all.
APPLICATION. I now proceed to the application of all to ourselves, which is the third thing in order to be handled, and I shall make three uses of it.
1st, For Consolation.
2nd, For Examination.
3rd, For Exhortation.
First, forCONSOLATION. Is it so that Christ loves us with an everlasting and never-dying love? Why, then, here is comfort for you who are his people. I speak only now to such. "Comfort, comfort, comfort, my people," says God, Isaiah 40:1. And Christ says, "Let not your hearts be troubled." John 14:1. Christ would not have his poor saints troubled!
"Rejoice evermore!" says the apostle in 1 Thess. 5:17. "Rejoice evermore!" Alas! how can we rejoice? When men vilify us, when men reproach us, and abuse us, and persecute us—how can we rejoice? But harken what Christ says, "Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsely, for my name's sake." Matthew 5:11. Mark, Blessedness goes in the first place, "Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you."
Oh sirs, it is a matter of blessedness, and therefore be not cast down. You know what was said of old, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world!" John 16:33. Cheer up, Christian! this world is all the hell that you shall ever have! Here you have your bad things—your good things are yet to come! Here you have your bitter things—but your sweet things are yet to come! Here you have your prison—but your palace is yet to come! Here you have your rags—your royal robes are yet to come! Here you have your sorrow—your joy is yet to come! Here you have your hell, your heaven is yet to come! After the cup of affliction, comes the cup of salvation! The sweetness of the crown which shall be enjoyed—will make amends for the bitterness of the cross which was endured. "Then the King will say to those on His right—Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" Matthew 25:34
One passing by a place where a cross lay on the ground, he lifted it up, and found much riches and treasure under it. Oh, sirs, under the greatest troubles—lie your greatest treasures! The seed of sorrow on earth—shall reap a golden crop of joy in heaven! Those who sow holiness in the seed-time of their lives—shall reap happiness in the harvest of eternity! Oh! sirs, never think to have an end of your sorrow—until there be an end of your sin! The apostle tells us, "Our light affliction, which is for a moment—works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" A grain of affliction—to a weight of glory! Oh what a short moment of pain—to an eternity of pleasures! Therefore saints, be of good cheer! Here is comfort for you—your best days are yet to come! You are subjects of King Jesus, who loves you entirely and infinitely, with an undying love!
Use 2. For the use ofEXAMINATION. Is it so—that the saints' love to Christ is vehement and strong? Why then, I beseech you examine, and try, and search yourselves—how does your pulse beat after Christ? Oh that you would examine yourselves, that you may know whose you are while you live, and where you shall go when you die, and what will become of you to eternity! Oh sirs! Do you love Christ? Are you love-sick for Christ? For the Lord's sake, sirs, examine yourself, and see whether you have true love to Christ.
It is to be feared, there are but few in the world, who are sick with this disease. Many are love-sick for honors—which are but rattles to still men's ambitions! Many are love-sick for gold and silver, which is but a little shining dirt! Many men are love-sick for blood, who eat up the Lord's people like bread! God will lay on them the hand of vengeance, who lay on his saints the hand of violence! Many are love-sick with superstition, and the human traditions of men—which, instead of bringing their souls to heaven, will beguile them of heaven! Alas! many are sick of their sufferings! But who need to fear the cross—who are sure of the crown? But oh! how few are there that are love-sick for Christ! how many are therein this congregation that are love-sick for Christ? For the Lord's sake, do not deceive yourselves; you see the spouse was ready to swoon, and faint, and die for Christ!
Secondly, Her love was as strong as death; nay, stronger than death! Is your love so? Oh soul! can you endure a prison for Christ, burning for Christ, hanging for Christ, forsaking all for Christ? Will you venture on the waves for Christ, as Peter did? Oh, sirs, for the Lord's sake, look to yourselves! There are many who profess love to Christ in words—but more that deny him in their works! God was never more in men's mouths—and never less in men's lives! Beloved, is your love for Christ like the grave, never satisfied? Do you cry out more for Christ? "Oh, give me Christ—and let others have the world." Is this flame in your souls? For the Lord's sake try yourselves, deal cordially with your poor souls!
Now, beloved, I have given you a taste of sincere love to Christ. Blessed are they who cast their love into the sweet bosom of their Maker.
Use 3. I shall now close all with a word ofEXHORTATION. Well, sirs, if I should preach here until tomorrow morning, what more can I say to make you to love Christ? He is most lovely, "he is altogether lovely!" Therefore, love Christ, love Christ! All springs of love are in him!
O, sirs, love Christ—for if you do not, there is a dreadful curse pronounced against you! "If anyone does not love the Lord—that person is cursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22. There is no heaven, no happiness, no crown, without Christ! For in him does all fullness dwell; all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ, and the Father gives forth all his loving kindness through Christ. Beloved, is it not better swimming in the water-works of sincere repentance, than burning in the fire-works of divine vengeance! One of them you must experience! There is no coming to the fair haven of glory—without sailing through the narrow strait of repentance!
Plead what you will, unless you believe in your Savior, your souls will be miserable forever; and therefore consider what I have said, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. Love Christ more than ever, more than all, and above all—and then you shall be happy forevermore!
Christ is a King, Priest, and Prophet.
He is a King for government and rule.
He is a Priest for sacrifice and intercession.
He is a Prophet for teaching and revealing the secrets of his Father's bosom.
Beloved, you know how far we proceeded in our last section—that Jesus Christ is the King of kings, and does surmount and excel all other kings. And it is as King of kings, that Jesus Christ loves all his subjects, and all his subjects love him. And I showed you the wonderful love of Christ to his subjects, and his subjects' love to him in many particulars. I now proceed to other particulars, wherein Christ excels the kings of the earth.
Seventhly, Jesus Christ makes all his subjects—his subjects do not make him. "By him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth," Col. 1:19. By whom? By Jesus Christ—by Christ were all things created. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not, John 1:10. So in the 3rd verse, "All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made." There was nothing made without Christ—all things were made by Christ. Beloved, Jesus Christ creates his subjects; he makes his subjects; and gives being to his subjects.
"In him we live, move, and have our being." He gives us a threefold being:
our first being in the state of nature,
our second being in the state of grace,
and our third being in the state of glory.
This is the seventh thing wherein Jesus Christ excels all other kings; he makes his subjects, which none else can do.
Eighthly, Christ is the richest of all kings.
O sirs, he is rich in love, he is rich in knowledge, rich in goodness, rich in wisdom, rich in grace, rich in glory! He is as rich as the Father himself; the riches of the Deity are in him! "In him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily," Col. 2:9.
O sirs, in him there dwells all fullness. Of what? Why, of the Godhead! Alas! sirs, what are princes' single crowns, or the pope's triple crown—compared to Christ's many crowns? Christ has not one, or two, or three crowns—but many crowns upon his head! Revelation 19:12, "His eyes were bright like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns!"
Christ is richer than any king—nay, richer than all the kings in the world, "for he is heir of all things," Hebrews 1:2. He is the greatest heir in heaven and earth!
The Spanish ambassador coming to see the treasure of the cathedral at Venice, which was so much cried up through the world for a famous treasury—he fell a groping into it, to find whether it had any bottom. And being asked the reason of it, said he, "My master's treasury differs from yours in this—his has no bottom as yours has!" alluding to the mines of the Indies. But alas! what is the proud Spaniard's treasure, compared to Christ's treasure? And what are his mines, compared to Christ's mines? What are all the jewels, and diamonds, and crowns, and the scepters of all the kings of the earth, compared to Christ's treasures?
"The whole Turkish empire, which is a great part of the world indeed," says Luther, "is but a crust that God throws to dogs—it is no more than a bone, a crust that God throws to dogs!" O! sirs, Christ's riches are so many—that they cannot be numbered! They are so precious—that they cannot be valued! They are so great—they cannot be measured! O the infinite riches of our King! Christ is a mine of gold, which we will dig into throughout all eternity!
Ninthly, Christ excels all other kings in this too—he is a king whose POWER is absoluteover all nations, and people, and kindred, and tongues. Now, sirs—his will is law! No man's will in the world is sufficient to be a law—but the will of our King is sufficient.
Tenthly, Jesus Christ is a King who rules over the souls and consciences of men, over the wills and hearts of men!Other kings may rule over the estates of men, over the bodies of men—but not over their consciences! Now this is Christ's glory, which he will give to no other—Christ by his power is able to subdue the wills of men, and the hearts of men, though ever so stubborn and stout before. All the power of the world cannot do this! If all the kings, and princes, and emperors, of the world were put together—they would not be able to subdue the heart of one poor man! They may beat his body, afflict his body, torment his body—but as for his heart, I say—all the kings and potentates in the world, nay, all the angels in heaven, cannot subdue the heart of a poor man! And this is the glory of Christ—than he can do this. Heart work is God's work. The great heart-maker must be the great heart-breaker! None can do it but he.
Eleventhly, Christ is a King who has no need of any instruments.He makes use of them sometimes, but he needs none! Alas! sirs, what can the kings of the earth do without instruments? How can they govern their kingdoms without instruments? They must have this instrument here, and the other there—or else quick farewell crown and kingdom! But Jesus Christ has no need of any, he can simply do anything by his own power.
By HIMSELF he destroyed Pharaoh and his great army in the Red sea, Exodus 14. By himself he overthrew Jericho, that great city, Joshua 6. By himself he smote the vast army of a million men—the greatest army that ever we read of, 2 Chronicles 14. By himself he overthrew Ammon and Moab, and the nations who warred against Judah. This now, he did by himself.
Secondly, See what he has done by WEAK means. He smote the kings about Sodom, even by Abraham and his poor family, Genesis 23. By weak means he overthrew that mighty army of the Midianites, by Gideon's 300 men, Judges 7. By weak means he destroyed the great Goliath—even by David; and the great warrior Sisera—by a woman. By weak means he destroyed a garrison of the Philistines, even by Jonathan and his armor-bearer, 1 Samuel 14:4. Now this he did by weak means—and much more!
Now, Thirdly, See what he did CONTRARY to means. Why, contrary to means—he delivered the three Hebrew children from being burned in the blazing fire! Contrary to means, he delivered Jonah from drowning in the sea. Contrary to means, he delivered Daniel from being devoured in the den of lions. Contrary to means, he kept the Israelites from being drowned, being in the sea. I say, this he did contrary to means. And I might show you what he has done by contrary means—but I pass by that.
So that you see that our King has no need of instruments, and therefore he wonderfully excels all other kings.
Twelfthly, Christ is a King who will overcome and subdue all our enemies!Yes, ALL our enemies, both spiritual and temporal—he will utterly overthrow!
Our enemies are very many, and very mighty! They are high in power, and high in pride—and we very weak! We may well speak in David's words, "I am weak this day—though anointed king." How David—weak today, and yet made a king today? Yes, says he, the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me! Why, believers, you are all kings in a spiritual sense—you are kings, elected kings in a disguise; but yet, poor hearts, you are weak, though you are kings elected; the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for you!
Why—but sirs, Jesus Christ is a King of kings, a King above all kings, and over all kings, and he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, 1 Corinthians 15:25. Mark, "He must reign!" He must of necessity, for God has spoken it, until he has put all enemies under his feet, not only some—but all.
O! this is good news to saints, excellent news; what king can do this but Christ? What king can put all his enemies under his feet? What earthly king can subdue all his enemies? Alas! they cannot subdue their own; for the most flourishing kings that we read of, have fallen before their enemies for lack of strength. But Jesus Christ can subdue all his enemies; he has all power in heaven and in earth given to him, (Matthew 28:18). So that if he but speaks the word, all his enemies are overthrown, even in a moment!
In the thirteenth place, Christ surmounts all other kings in this; he is a King that gives his subjects the richest and the best gifts of any other king!John 10:27, 28. "My sheep," says he, "hear my voice, and they know me, and they follow me, and I give to them eternal life." The wise God, that he may invite and encourage poor sinners to a holiness of life, sets before their eyes the recompense of reward; that if the equity of his precepts do not prevail—the excellency of his promises may; he would gladly catch men with a golden bait.
Abraham's servant gave jewels of silver, and jewels of gold to Rebekah, that he might win her heart over to Isaac, in Genesis 24:23. Oh! the jewels, the excellent jewels that Christ gives to poor souls to win their heart to him! Christ gives us richly all things to enjoy—what more can we desire!
Alas! the men of the earth give but poorly and scantily—but Christ gives richly! Christ gives freely—no man in the world gives so freely as Christ! Christ gives frequently, every day, every hour he scatters jewels to poor souls. The great king of Persia gave a gift two of his courtiers—to the one a golden cup, to the other a kiss, and he who had the cup complained to the king, that his fellow's kiss was better than his golden cup. Oh! sirs, Christ does not put off with a cup of gold—but he gives us his kiss! He gives best gifts to his beloved ones, he gives his best love, his best joy, his best peace, his best mercies. Oh! where is there a king like this King?
Alas! earthly kings may give great titles, or a place in the court, and the like. They may give a title today, and a halter tomorrow, as in the case of Haman. They may smile today—and frown tomorrow. They may kiss today—and kill tomorrow. But not so does Christ give; he gives the best of everything, the best of his love, his best blood, not the blood of his finger—but the blood of his heart.
Oh, sirs, how far does Christ excel all others in giving his subjects the best gifts! Oh, sirs, what a gift is heaven! what a gift is a pardon of sin! I wonder what earthly king can give his people such gifts; and herein the Lord Jesus excels all others.
In the last place, Christ makes all his subjects free. There is not one subject that he has—but is a free man or woman. There are some things that Christ frees from—and some things that he makes us free of. Some things that he frees us from—and what are they? Why, that which if we were not freed from, would undo us to all eternity.
First, He frees us from the CURSE—the cursed curse! If Christ had not freed us from the curse—we would have lived cursedly, and died most cursedly, and been damned forever; but Jesus Christ has freed us. "Stand fast," says Paul, "in the liberty with which Christ has made you free." And in John 8:36, "If the Son makes you free—then are you free indeed!"
Again, he frees us from the GUILT of sin. Our pride would damn us, our covetousness would damn us, our unbelief would damn us, had he not freed us from the guilt of sin; but Christ frees his people from this.
Again, he has freed us from the power of the DEVIL, insomuch that the devil has nothing to do with us.
And he frees us from the flames of HELL, from the pit of hell. Christ has freed us from hell and damnation. "He has freed us from the wrath to come,'' that is, Christ has freed us from the flames of hell.
Again, Christ has freed us from the yoke of bondage, in Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made you free, and be not again entangled in the yoke of bondage." We are no longer strangers and foreigners—but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," Ephesians 2:19. And Christ tells us himself, in Matthew 11:30, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Here on earth, we have burden upon burden, and yoke upon yoke; but says Christ, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Christ has delivered us from the slavery of the LAW. We are not under the law—but under grace.
The above things we are free FROM. But there are other things that we are made free TO: to heaven, to all the promises, and to all the privileges of the saints.
Now, is not this a wonderful mercy that our King has done for us; he has freed us from all those miseries which would ruin us forever—and made us free to all the excellent privileges which poor souls can enjoy. Now, O! how far does Christ excel all other kings! The rulers of the earth, they may perhaps lay heavy burdens upon the consciences of men, and bodies of men, and estates of men—but Christ lays no such burdens upon us; no, Christ has made us free—and no people are so free, because Christ has freed us upon the cross. Christ bought our freedom dearly enough; it cost him his best blood, his noble blood.
I might name more particulars, wherein Christ excels all other kings; but I think these are very sufficient to demonstrate it.
I shall close upon this head with a word ofAPPLICATION, and so shall finish Christ's second title, "King of kings".
Use 1.Is it so that Christ is a threefold King, as I have showed you? And is he a King that does so far surpass all the kings of the earth? Oh! then, however the world goes with us—here is comfort for saints, that Christ is such a king! Oh! what a mercy is this! What a comfort is this to the Lord's people—that Christ is King above all kings, and over all kings, and must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet! All his enemies must be brought down and made his footstool.
Some earthly kings would do great matters—but they lack power. But Christ is omnipotent; for all power is in heaven and in earth is his! Now, sirs, did you really believe this, that all power is certainly given to Christ, certainly it would be a cordial to revive you in the worst times, and saddest of trials. He, who is our Savior, he who is our Head, our Brother, our Friend—is King of kings! Oh! sirs, this doctrine of Christ's kingly power, is a very sweet doctrine to the members of Christ! And, I beseech you, let these considerations which I have laid before you, bear up your spirits.
I have showed you how Christ loves his subjects with an entire love; that he is King of kings, and can do anything without instruments; that he needs none to help him to do his work; that he can, if he pleases, enable the most despicable creatures, as flies, and frogs, and caterpillars, and grasshoppers, to do his work; therefore let these considerations take impression upon your souls.
Now I have told you a relation of Christ's kingly power; and therefore let this quiet your spirits, "Be still," says the Lord, "and know that I am God," in Psalm 46:10. That is, "It is enough for you to know that I am God, and therefore be still, consider what I am."
Use 2.By way of exhortation, I have one word to say to the saints—and another to sinners.
First, Tosaints. If it is so, that Christ is King of kings, and King above all kings, and over all kings—oh! then you who are the people of God, you who are near and dear to him, upon whom, and in whom Christ is formed and stamped; oh, that you would give all the glory, and praise and honor, to Christ, and study to advance his fame!
He has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, says the apostle, to show forth his praise. Oh, sirs, this should be our great endeavor. Oh, that you who pretend friendship and love to Christ, would endeavor in your places to advance Christ.
Secondly, Tosinners. A word or two to such as are not the subjects of Christ; let me exhort you to believe in Christ, embrace him, receive him, to lay hold upon him! Oh! you should give ten thousand worlds, if you had them to give, for a part in Christ. Alas! sinner, what is the reason that Christ is no more in your esteem? You will part with Christ—rather than part with your swearing, and drunkenness, and filthiness. Oh this is sad, for there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved. He is the Desire of all nations, and we can never be happy without him! And therefore, for the Lord's sake, sirs, as you love your own souls—lay hold on him, that he may be the Savior of your souls, the joy of your hearts, and your all in all. Oh that I could but tempt you to Christ! Oh that I could prevail with you to love Christ, and to have strong desires after him!
Alas! sirs, if you do not believe, and part with all your iniquities—you must part with Christ at last! Ah, what a sad parting will that be—to part with God, and Christ, and heaven! When you will come to know what you have lost by hugging your darling corruptions; oh what a sad condition will it be! And therefore I beseech you, think of it in time, and believe in the Savior—that your souls may be saved in the day of Christ!
THE MIGHTY GOD
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16
Doctrine—That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
"His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
I finished the second title which is given to Christ in Scripture, King of Kings. I now proceed to a third, and that is, Mighty God. One of Christ's titles is, the Mighty God.
Beloved, I have showed you from the second title, that Christ is a King, a King above all kings, and a King over all kings, and the King of kings, and that his laws are most equal, and his subjects most happy—having no other tax laid upon them than love and fear.
But now this title holds him forth, not only as a great King—but as a GREAT GOD, before whom all kings and kingdoms are but as little drops, or as small dust, Isaiah 40:15. From this title, The Mighty God, I shall lay down this proposition, That Jesus Christ is true and perfect God. That is the point I shall insist upon.
There are two sorts of people in the world that deny my doctrine, who deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, who say the second Person of the Trinity is not God.
First, The unbelieving Jews; if Christ had come as the Jews dreamed, as a great monarch, treading upon nothing but crowns and scepters, and the necks of kings, and had all the potentates of the earth to attend his train; I say, had Christ came in this worldly glory, and pomp, and power—then it may be that the Jews would have believed on him; maybe then he would have been their God. But now, beloved, because Christ came poorly and lowly, and made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant; therefore the Jews slighted him, and disowned him. The Turks mock us at this day with our "crucified God". Oh, say they, "you worship a crucified God!" And some of the heathen say they would not believe in a "hanged God". Oh blessed Jesus, thus are you reproached and despised by the unbelieving world, because you came and lived poorly, and died shamefully for our sins. Those who despise the death of the Lamb—shall surely feel the wrath of the Lamb! Those who turn away their ears from hearing Christ's voice now—Christ will turn away his ears from hearing their cries then!
Secondly, There are others who deny the Deity of Christ in this nation, who say that Christ is but a mere man, and that every saint is as much God as Christ. And others say, that to equal Christ with God is high blasphemy. Those who will not own Christ in his first coming—Christ will not own them at his second coming! Those who will not obey the truth of God revealed from heaven unto them—shall suffer the wrath of God revealed from heaven against them!
Express Scripture speaks it forth, that Jesus Christ is true and perfect God. Titus 2:13 says, "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearance of the great God." Mark, Christ is here not only called God—but the great God. Oh, saints, he who came from heaven to make us righteous—will also come from heaven to make us glorious! Not only so—but Christ is also called Mighty God; nay, not only Mighty God—but again, "God blessed forever." Romans 9:5. Christ is God blessed forever. Not only blessed forever—but the true God, 1 John 4:20. Jesus Christ is there called the true God; and not only the true God—but a God forever and ever, Hebrews 1:8. Mark there, "unto the Son he says, Your throne O God is forever and ever!" The Father himself calls the Son, God—and therefore well may we.
Thus you see the doctrine fully proved, that Jesus Christ is the true and perfect God. But, beloved, because the Deity of Christ is so much questioned at this day, and this being one of the serious and chief points in divinity, therefore I shall give you some considerations, or demonstrations, or arguments, to fortify you against this great error before named.
First, That Jesus Christ is true and perfect God.
Jesus is for TIME, co-eternal with the Father.
Jesus is for NATURE, co-essential with the Father.
Jesus is for DIGNITY, co-equal with the Father.
First, Jesus is for TIME, co-eternal with the Father.John 17:5, "Oh Father, glorify me with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was." You see here, sirs, Christ was before the world was, Christ was from everlasting, from the beginning, Proverbs 8:23, speaking concerning Christ, "I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began." And therefore Christ is called the Everlasting Father in Isaiah 9:6. Revelation 1:8, Christ here, speaking of himself, says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty!"
Mark, sirs, Christ is the same in time, before time, and after time, "Who is, and who was, and who is to come."
Now, beloved, none can be eternal—but God. Christ is eternal, and therefore he is God, and co-eternal with his Father.
Second, Jesus is for NATURE, co-essential with the Father."I and my Father are one," says Christ in John 10:30. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one." Mark here, they are one.
John 14:8, When Philip desires to see the Father, "Show us the Father—and it is enough;" says Christ, in the 9th and 10th verses, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." How so? "For I am in the Father, and the Father is in me." So that you see Christ is more than mere man; he is one with the Father. Oh, sirs, he is God-man. If you make the Son mere man, you must make the Father mere man also.
Third, Jesus is for DIGNITY, co-equal with the Father.Philippians 2:6, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with the Father." Christ thought it no diminution of his Father's glory—to be equal with his Father in glory. And you shall further find that all the honor which belongs to God—the Father has commanded us to give it to the Son. "That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him" John 5:23.
Therefore it is clear to every eye, that Christ is for dignity, co-equal with the Father; for the Father has commanded us to give the same honor to Christ which is due to him. Therefore it is no blasphemy at all, certainly, to equal Christ with God; for in him are the riches of the Deity, and the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in him; as you may see Col. 2:9. This is the first argument. He is for time co-eternal, for nature co-essential, for dignity coequal with the Father.
Secondly, consider the work of CREATION.I shall lay down this argument to prove the Deity of Jesus Christ: surely he who made heaven and earth, must needs be a God; you will yield to this. So says the Lord himself, "These 'gods', who did not make the heavens and the earth—will perish from the earth and from under the heavens." Jeremiah 10:11.
But now, beloved, Jesus Christ made the heavens and the earth, and all things therein, and therefore he is God! See a few Scriptures for this, John 1:3, "All things were made by him;" mark, this is by Christ! All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made, Col. 1:16, "By him were all things created in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible; all things were by him, and for him." So again, John 1:10, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him." Now, beloved, had Christ been less than God, he could not have made heaven and earth, and therefore he is God of glory, the great God who now sits upon the throne; for he created the heavens and the earth, and all things therein.
Thirdly,That Christ is the true and perfect God, appears—if you consider the WORKS and MIRACLES which he did in the days of his flesh; here is another unanswerable argument to prove the Godhead of Jesus Christ. The winds and the seas obey him, the devils came out of the possessed, the blind received their sight, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the dumb spoke, lepers were cleansed, the dead were raised, the sick were healed. Oh, who could do this but God?
But you may say, the apostles did great miracles, and yet were not gods. Why, it is true they did great miracles; but in whose name did they do them? Was it in their own names—and by their own power? No, beloved! They themselves confess the contrary, Acts 4:10. They tell you, it is not in their own power—but in the name and power of Jesus Christ. Beloved, this is a strong argument to prove the Deity of Christ; they did great miracles in his name, and by his power!
And with this argument, Jesus satisfied the disciples of John, "Go and tell what things you hear and see—how the lame walk, and the blind receive their sight."
Now, I say, these great miracles could be done by none but by a great God; and therefore Jesus Christ is not only the Son of man—but the Son of God, even God blessed forever.
But, Fourthly, Consider divine WORSHIP is due unto Christ.Worship only is proper to God alone. "Worship him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea," said the angel in Revelation 14:7.
Now, beloved, all the acts of worship that belong to God the Father, are given to the Son Jesus Christ; both angels and men are commanded to worship him. Hebrews 1:6, "Let all the angels of God worship him!" Philippians 2:10, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, both of all things in heaven, and on earth." Mark, sirs, things in heaven, as well as things on earth, must worship Christ; and Christ himself says in John 14:1, "You believe in God, believe also in me." Now, beloved, we are commanded to pray to Christ, to glorify Christ, to believe in Christ, to honor Christ, and worship Christ; and therefore the saints have prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," as Stephen did. So that you see worship is due to Christ, both from angels and men—and therefore he must needs be God.
Fifthly, There are clear promises of the coming of Christ under the Old Testament.No sooner was man fallen—but Christ was promised, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." All the prophets foretold of the Messiah, (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Daniel, Malachi, and the rest of them,) how falsely he would be accused, how basely he should be used, and this will be enough to condemn the unbelieving Jews, and make them speechless in the great day of accounts. I might give you the sayings of the same prophets—but you may find them yourselves; search the Old Testament, and you shall find them all speak more or less of Jesus Christ. Thus I have clearly proved, by express Scripture and undeniable arguments, that Jesus Christ is true and perfect God. I proceed to the USE and APPLICATION of it to ourselves.
TheFirst use shall be for INFORMATION. If it is so that Jesus is true and perfect God, then, though this is a strange truth to some—yet it is a sound truth; though the mystery is deep—yet the divinity is true, that he who made man became man, suffered by man, and for man, is Jesus, the true and perfect God. "Without controversy," says the apostle, "great is the mystery of godliness." What is the mystery? "God was manifested in the flesh!" 1 Timothy 3:16. Without controversy, without all doubt, a great mystery, says the apostle "God was manifested in the flesh!"
And truly, sirs, it is a great mystery: for happiness—to become a curse; for him who made the angels—to become lower than the angels; for the Creator—to become a creature; for him who had the riches of all in himself—to become poor. Oh! this is a great mystery, that he whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain—that his glory should be enwrapped in the rags of flesh; that the great God should take upon him a piece of earth; that he who hangs the earth upon nothing—should hang upon a cross between two thieves! Truly a great mystery; that he who rules the stars—should suck the breast; that he who thunders in the clouds—should be cradled in a manger. Oh! a great mystery, that Abraham's Lord—should become Abraham's son; that the God of Abraham should take upon him Abraham's seed; what a mystery is this! He was conceived in the womb of his mother, that he might be received into the bosom of his Father. "Therefore," says the apostle, "without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh." God's Son became man's son—that we poor man's sons might become God's sons.
But,Secondly, is Jesus Christ true and perfect God? My second inference is this—That Jesus is a precious God! He is honey in the mouth, beauty in the eye, joy in the heart, and music in the ear.
"Let all their money perish with them—who esteem all the gold in the world worth one day's society with Jesus Christ!" said a great Marquis, when he was tempted with money.
Oh! sirs, Christ's members are the happiest, Christ's comforts are the sweetest, Christ's reward is the highest, Christ's precepts are the purest, Christ's glory is the greatest, Christ's love is the truest, Christ's riches are the most precious! He is the glory of God, the paradise of angels, the beauty of heaven, the Redeemer of men. In Hebrews 1:3, he is called "the radiance of God's glory," he is the riches jewel in the cabinet of glory, he is the sparkling pearl; whoever has him cannot be poor—but whoever lacks him cannot be rich.
Thirdly, If Christ is the true and perfect God—then Christ's members are the greatest and happiest! If Christ is God Almighty's only Son, believers are God Almighty's only daughters. You read of God's daughters in Psalm 45. Christ is the King—and believers are his queen! Christ is the Bridegroom—and believers are his bride! Christ is the Lamb—and believers are his wife! Revelation 21:9.
What more shall I say? The angels in glory are in a very glorious state—but let me tell you, believers in Christ are higher than angels. They are servants, we are members. They are the friends of the Bridegroom, we are the bride. They have their personal glory, we have the same glory, for substance, with Jesus Christ! John 17:22, "The glory which you have given me," says Christ, "I have given them." Believers are nearer the throne than angels—this wonderfully speaks out that we are higher than the angels. Oh! beloved, how great are believers advanced! how high have we become, poor dust and ashes—to be above angels! and this is the greatest happiness, which we get by Christ's assuming our nature for the salvation of our souls.
Again, Christ's members be not only the greatest—but the happiest! Our renewed condition is as good in Christ—as it was bad in Adam. Oh, sirs, we were no more cursed out of Christ—than we were blessed in Christ! Christ is as full of life—as Adam was full of death! Christ is as full of sweetness to us—as Adam was of bitterness to us! Truly, soul, if you say Christ is yours—I will say, "Soul, you have that which is of more worth than a king's ransom! You have that which is more worth than all that which the devil promised Christ, when he showed him all the kingdoms of the world!" Oh! the happiness of poor believers! "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," says Paul in Romans 8:1. Therefore they are happy.
But,Fourthly, Christ Jesus is true and perfect God. Then we infer from hence, that God's love and goodwill to mankind was very great, that Jesus Christ should come from heaven to take our nature—that we might be partakers of the divine nature. Christ took upon him our shame—that we might be partakers of his glory. One drop of his blood—is worth a sea of ours; and yet he died our death—that we might live his life; he suffered our hell—that we might enjoy his heaven. Oh! how infinitely did he love us! He endured the sorest pains—that we might enjoy the sweetest pleasures!
"The voice of my Beloved! Look! Here He comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills!" Song of Songs 2:8. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came leaping! He came with such love—that He came leaping! When a man goes leaping—you may know that it was with a great eagerness. Jesus came leaping—how so? He came leaping . . . from the throne to the womb, from the womb to the cradle, from the cradle to the cross, and from thence to the throne again! This was His great leap! Oh! sirs, oh! sirs, how eagerly did Jesus suffer and die for poor believers! He was hanged upon the cross on mount Calvary—that we might sit on the throne with him on mount Zion!
Fifthly, by way of EXHORTATION. To unrepentant sinners, to unbelievers, to graceless people, I have a few words to say. "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Romans 2:4-5
Oh! sirs, oh! sirs, methinks I can only do towards you, as Christ did once toward Jerusalem, when he came near the city—he wept over it! Truly, sinner, your state is a weeping state; your state is a miserable state! You lie open to all the wrath, to all the vengeance, to all the curses under heaven!
Oh poor miserable sinners—will you not pity yourselves? The Lord of heaven pities you! Did Jesus Christ come from heaven to you sinners—and will not you come out of your sin to come to Christ? Did Christ come from his Father's bosom, and leave his throne and crown, and all his glory—to come to a poor lost world, and to die and suffer here for poor lost sinners? And what, sinners—will all this make no impression upon you? Let me tell you, sirs, Christ came into the world, for no other end and reason—but only to die for poor sinners. It was the great design of Christ to save poor sinners. Sirs, if you will not credit me—then look into the Scripture, and then surely you will believe it, 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying," says the apostle, "and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Mark sirs, he came into the world to save sinners! Christ hanged upon the cross, and wept upon the cross, and died upon the cross—to save sinners! All the hardships, all the trials and sufferings which he met with—it was for the sake of poor sinners. Christ has suffered all this woe and misery for sinners—and will not you leave your swearing, and your drunkenness, and your wickedness for Christ? Oh! the sad, sad day that is coming on you! How can you answer this before God Almighty, that Jesus Christ, the King of kings, should come into the world, and abase himself so much as to be in a poor and suffering state—and yet this should have no affect on you!
Oh! who will pity you who would not pity yourselves—when you are damned—when you are howling and roaring in hell? Oh! for the Lord's sake, consider that God should come and take our nature, and that he should take our rags—that we might wear his glorious robes! What, will you rather remain in your sins and die and go to hell—than come to Christ for eternal life? Oh! sinner, for the Lord's sake, put off your beggar's rags—that you may put on his lovely robes.
I have read of Alexander the Great, that when he came against a city, he used to set up a candle, and if they yielded to him before the candle was out, they would be shown mercy—but if they stood out against Alexander, they could expect nothing but death. Oh! sirs, Christ sets up a candle—and if you will come in today, you shall have mercy! But if you do not yield to him—you will have none of his mercy. If all the angels and saints in heaven would fall upon their knees, and say, "Oh! Lord, spare this poor creature, one grain of mercy for him!" it would not be regarded, the Lord will not hear them! And therefore, consider that men are sentenced to hell, not only for their sinfulness—but for their slothfulness! Men may perish for being unprofitable servants—as well as for being abominable sinners!
Methinks you should take as much delight in those precepts that enjoin holiness—as in those promises that assure happiness! If the day of mercy leaves you graceless—the day of judgment will find you speechless! Though you may resist the judgment that he lays before you—yet you can never resist the judgment that he lays upon you! There is no standing before Christ—but by standing in Christ. Ungodly men fear no wrath—because they presently feel no wrath. Because their sin is now unpunished—they think there is no punishment for their sins! Because God continues to spare them—they go on to provoke him! Because he adds to their lives—they add to their lusts! Because he is very merciful—they will be very sinful! Because He is very good to them—they will be very bad to him! Because justice now winks—men think he is blind! Because he does not reprove them for their sins—therefore they think he approves them in their sins!
But JUSTICE will soon avenge the quarrel of abused mercy! The longer God forbears, not finding amendment, the sorer he strikes when he comes to judgment.
Oh! sinners, though the patience of God is lasting—it is not everlasting! If by the warnings of God, you are not alarmed—you shall be consumed by his wrath! The longer God is in raising his arm—the heavier will be the blow when it comes! "I gave her time to repent, but she would not turn away from her immorality." What follows? "Therefore, I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely!" Revelation 2:21.
The day that begins in mercy—may end in judgment! God is silent for only so long; but know, that God has vials of wrath filled with indignation—for vessels of wrath fitted for destruction! If God's mercy does not draw you to repentance—God's judgments will drive you to destruction! The sea of damnation shall not be sweetened with a drop of compassion!
Oh! sinners, either seek out a Savior to deliver you from the wrath of God—or else find out a shoulder to bear you up under the wrath of God!
Oh, that you would consider your ways! Has not God said, "You can be sure that no immoral, no impure, no greedy person, no swearer, no drunkard—shall enter into the kingdom of heaven?" And such are some of you! God knows it, and your own consciences know it! And yet you flatter yourselves, and speak peace to yourselves—when God speaks not a word of peace to you. Oh! sinners, think of this—before the bottomless pit has shut its mouth upon you! Oh, do no longer forget God and your own salvation! Hebrews 2:3, "How will we escape—if we neglect such a great salvation!" If you neglect the great salvation—you cannot escape the great damnation!
Sixthly, Believers, let me beseech you to stand fast, and to hold fast that which you have already, Revelation 2:19. "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life!" He has a crown for runners—but a curse for runaways! As you look for happiness as long as God has a being in heaven—so God looks for holiness as long as you have a being on earth! "As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them," Galatians 6:16. To tread in any other path but holiness on earth—is but to mistake your way to heaven! While you are on this side of eternity—you must hold the scepter of grace in your hands, until God set the crown of glory upon your heads! This is the sparkling diamond that is set in the apostle's crown, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7. O believer! it will be your happiness, your glory, your honor throughout eternity—if you are faithful while on earth. Oh! do not turn your backs upon the truths of God, as too many in our days have done. That man's beginning was in hypocrisy, whose end is in apostasy; indifference in religion is the next step to apostasy from religion.
Oh! do not make him a stone of stumbling, whom God has made a stone for building. If the golden chain of duty will not hold you—the iron chain of darkness shall bind you. If you abuse your liberty in this world—you shall lose your liberty in the next world. That soul was never related to Christ—that was never devoted to Christ; there is no obtaining the prize of happiness—without running the race of holiness!
Oh! for the Lord's sake, do not you begin in the spirit—and end in the flesh. O do not put your hand to the plough—and look backward. Be not true to the father of lies—and false to the Father of truth! Keep close to the Son of God, to the Word of God, to the ordinances of God, to the day of God, to the ministers of God, to the people of God—and you will be safe. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!" Galatians 6:9.
THE EVERLASTING FATHER
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
Man is the excellency of the creature;
the saint is the excellency of the man;
grace is the excellency of the saint;
glory is the excellency of grace.
"He will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Beloved, we have shown you from the third title, Mighty God, that Jesus Christ is true and perfect God, a Mighty God, mighty with God, mighty as God, the Great and Mighty God. This fourth title holds him forth to be a Father; not only a Father—but an Everlasting Father—the Everlasting Father.
The proposition which I shall lay down from the title is this, That God in Christ, is a believer's everlasting Father. That I may clear up this point, I shall lay down these truths:
First, That God, in Christ the Everlasting Father, begot himself in us, and us in him. Christ is both "the author and finisher of our faith," of all our joy, of all our peace, of all our life, of all our salvation. Christ is a Father ever begetting and bringing forth himself in us; his light is in us, his love is in us, his nature is in us, his wisdom is in us, his power and strength are in us; "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another," John 1:16.
All believers who were in time past, who are in time present, who shall be in time to come—shall receive his fullness. And therefore he is called, The Everlasting Father.
He is the Sun—we are the beams. He is the Fountain—we are the streams. He is the Root—we are the branches. He is the Head—we are the members. He is the Father—we are the children. And hence it is, that believers are called his offspring, "We are the offspring of God," says the apostle.
In creation God has given us to ourselves—but in redemption he has given himself to us. It is a greater favor to be converted—than created; yes, far better to have no being—than not to have a new being; it is only the new creatures that are heirs of the new Jerusalem.
Secondly, God in Christ, calls all his children by his name; he puts his name upon them. Mark, sirs, "I will write upon them the name of my God," in Revelation 3:12. The saints are called godly, from God; Christians, from Christ; spiritual, from the Spirit; and heavenly, from heaven, because their conversation is there, because their Head is there, and they be heirs of heaven. So the wicked are called devilish, from the devils; and the cursed, from the curses; and worldlings, from the world; and sinners from sin.
O the great difference that there is between the names of the saints and the names of the wicked! The ungodly are called dogs, vipers, swine, thorns, and ravening wolves, who lick up, and suck the blood of the innocent! But the saints are called jewels, treasures, kings, doves, lilies, and heirs of the kingdom of glory! And hence it is, that some godly men have thought it a greater honor to be a member of Christ—than to be a king upon a throne; a greater honor to be one of Christ's little ones—than one of the world's great ones. Indeed, sirs, a holy heart—is better than a great estate; inward holiness—is better than outward happiness; a Christ without honor—is better than honor without Christ; piety without prosperity—is better than prosperity without piety; godliness without greatness—is better than greatness without godliness.
Thirdly, God in Christ is a Father who is tender and full of affection towards his poor children. When we were full of sin—then he was full of love. Christ is more tender of his mystical body—than he was of his natural body. He allowed his natural body to be hungry, to be thirsty, to be weary, to hang upon the cross, to bleed upon the cross, to suffer upon the cross, to be pierced and bored with nails upon the cross. Oh, he went through the furnace of wrath—to keep us out of the flames of hell!
But now mark, sirs, for his mystical body—O how tender is he! He loves them, he pities them, he smiles upon them, he carries them in his bosom, and dandles them on his knees. Oh! they are the beauty of his eyes, the joy of his heart; he cannot endure to see them wronged, to see them injured and abused; every blow they get—goes to his very heart! "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" You see how tender Christ is of his body mystical. Christ is our Jonah, who threw Himself into the sea of His Father's wrath—to save us from everlasting perdition! "Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging!" Jonah 1:15. He has opened the gates of heaven, to let us into salvation.
Fourthly, God in Christ is a Father who lays up for his children. He gives them something in possession—but more in promise. He gives them a little in hand—and a great deal in hope.
1st, God in Christ, is a Father who lays OUT for his children—He gives them something in hand. He gives us the air to breathe in, and the earth to tread upon. He gives us the sun, the moon, the stars, wind, water, and fire. He gives us the fish of the sea, the beasts of the earth, and the birds of the air. Poor man lives by death—our natural life is preserved by the death of the creature, and our spiritual life by the death of our Savior. Hence I may say, we live by death. It is man's duty to serve God, since God has made all the world to serve him. Says the apostle, "He gives us all things richly to enjoy." Mark, he does not only give us some things—but all things; not only all things—but all things richly to enjoy.
2nd, God in Christ, is a Father who lays UP for his children—as well as lays out. Psalm 31:19, "Oh! how great is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you!" David is astonished at it, "Oh! how great is your goodness which you have laid up!" Mark the words!
Just so in 2 Timothy 4:8, "Hence is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." What, only for you Paul? No, not only for me—but for ALL those who love his appearing."
So again, see another Scripture for this, 1 Corinthians 2:9, "As it is written," says the apostle, "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man to conceive." Why, sirs, what is this which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man to conceive? Why, mark "the things that God has prepared for those who love him!"
Oh! beloved, God gives his children the best portion, the richest portion, the greatest portion! All things are theirs: life is theirs, death is theirs, things present are theirs, and things to come are theirs, God is theirs, Christ is theirs, the Spirit is theirs, heaven is theirs! What more can they have? God gives his children in this world—a talent of grace; and in the world to come—a talent of glory! They shall wear Christ's crown above—who bear his cross below!
Fifthly, God in Christ, protects and defends his children from their enemies: from Satan, from sin, from the world, from the curse, and from the second death, which is hell. Revelation 2:11, "He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." Mark, a believer may feel the stroke of death—but he shall never feel the sting of death! The first death may bring his body to corruption—but the second death shall never bring his soul to damnation! Though he may live a life that is dying—he shall die a death that is living. He who is housed in Christ—shall never be housed in hell. God protects his children from all wrongs and injuries, he allows no man to do them wrong. "He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings." Psalm 105:14. Mark the phrase well, sirs—if kings will lay on saints the hands of violence—God will lay on kings the hands of vengeance. He rebukes kings for their sakes; if kings will wrong the poor saints for Christ's sake—Christ will reprove kings for the saint's sake. So says the Word of God. They who are gods before men—are but men before God. If men will throw saints into prison for their piety—God will throw them into hell for their iniquity!
Mark what the prophet says in Isaiah 30:33, "Topheth—the place of burning—has long been ready for the king; it has been piled high with wood. The breath of the LORD, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze!" The prophet speak so forthright, as though hell was chiefly prepared for great men. Oh sirs, hell is prepared for great men—as well as the lowly. Those to whom God bestows great temporal mercies—if they abound in great vices—God will inflict great punishments! How shall they be able to lift up their heads before Christ, who lift up their heads against him? "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ," Acts 4:26. Christ will pass a sentence—upon every sentence that has been passed. He who says, "Come, you who are blessed," will also say, "Go, you who are cursed."
Sixthly, God in Christ, is a Father who teaches his children, and instructs his children. "They will all be taught by God." John 6:45. All God's children shall be taught by God. And what does he teach them? Why, among other things he teaches his children those six lessons:
1st, He teaches them to deny themselves. A true believer will lay down his lusts at the command of Christ, and his life for the sake of Christ.
2dly, Christ teaches them contentment. Here is another divine lesson which Christ teaches his children. A believer will be contented to bear the wrath of man for him—who bore the wrath of God for him.
3rdly, The vanity of the creature. He teaches us, that all earthly things are vanity, and vexation of spirit.
4thly, The sinfulness of the heart.
5thly, The deceitfulness of the heart.
6thly, The right knowledge of himself.
Oh, Christians, have you learned these lessons? Then let all your actions be Christ-like, and walk like Jesus as your example. Jesus lived to teach us how to live—and he died to teach us how to die! He who will not follow the example of Christ's life—shall never be saved by the merits Christ's death.
As Christ is the root on which a saint grows—so he is the rule by which a saint squares. If Jesus is not your Jacob's staff to guide you to heaven—he will never be your Jacob's ladder to mount you up to heaven.
We should be as willing to be ruled by Christ, as we are willing to be saved by Christ. God made one Son like to all—that he might make all his sons like to one. If the life of Christ be not your life—you are dead and doomed!
Seventhly, God in Christ, is a Father who stamps upon all his children the lovely image of Jesus Christ—they resemble him to the very life. As was said of Constantine's children, 'They resemble their father to the life.' So we may say of believers, 'they resemble Christ to the life.' God will allow no man to wear the livery of Christ upon him, who has not the likeness of Christ within him! "And we all, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Oh! sirs, what a rare jewel is grace! The Lord of grace, calls it glory. Mark, with ever-increasing glory—that is, from one degree of grace to another. "The Lord will give grace and glory!" Psalm 84:11. Grace is glory militant, and glory is grace triumphant! Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace made perfect! Grace is the first degree of glory, glory is the highest degree of grace! Grace is the seed, glory is the flower! Grace is the ring, glory is the sparkling diamond in the ring! Grace is the glorious infant, and glory is the perfect man of grace! Grace is the spring, glory is the harvest! The soul of man is the cabinet, the grace of God is the jewel; Christ will throw away the cabinet where he finds not the jewel. He who restored us in the image, will restore us to his image.
Eighthly, God in Christ, is a Father who never dies. All other fathers are dead and gone; our father Abraham is dead, our father Isaac is dead, our father Jacob is dead—and all others are dead and gone.
Oh! but God in Christ is a Father who lives forever, who loves forever, who reigns forever. He is the Father of eternity, in eternity, from eternity, to eternity! Proverbs 8. He was always, is always, and shall be always, and he cannot but be always! "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8. Christ is the same before time, in time, and after time. Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same," says the apostle, "yesterday, today, and forever!" "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:36.
Ninthly, God in Christ, is a Father who corrects his children. All whom God loves, he chastens, though he does not love to chastise. God had one Son without sin—but no son without sorrow! He had one Son without corruption—but no son without correction! Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loves—he chastises, and scourges every son whom he receives." Revelation 3:16, "As many as I love—I rebuke and chasten." Afflictions are blessings to us—when we bless God for the afflictions! God is as far from beating his children for nothing—as he is from beating his children to nothing.
Christ tells us, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24. There is a fourfold self which must be denied for Jesus Christ, or else you cannot be called his disciple.
1. A sinful self.
2. A natural self.
3. A self-righteousness.
4. A self-gain, or lucre.
Sinful self is to be destroyed, and natural self is to be denied. We cannot enjoy ourselves—until we deny ourselves!
Is it so, that God in Christ is a believer's Everlasting Father? Oh then, what is so sweet a good as Christ! and what is so great an evil as sin? Oh! love Christ more—and hate sin more! Christ brings life with him—a life of grace, a life of comfort, a life of glory. But sin brings death with it—death of body, death of soul, death here, and death hereafter.
Oh! the blood of Christ speaks better things than the blood of Abel; Abel's blood cries for vengeance—but Christ's blood cries for mercy. He is the pearl of great price, for which the rich merchant sold all that he had, and bought it, and found more joy in this pearl, than ever he had with all that he possessed. Oh therefore! let me beseech you who are his children, to love him and to serve him! He is your Everlasting Father, therefore do his will on earth, as the angels do in heaven. You cannot complain of him for lack of mercy; so good has he been to you, as he has not been lacking to you in anything—and will you be lacking to him in everything?
"A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve?" Malachi 1:6. As a father—he will be reverenced for his goodness to his children. Oh what is that little he desires from you—compared to that which he deserves from you! If honor is not due to him—let it not be bestowed! If it is due to him—let it not be denied! If God does great things for his children—he will not accept of small things from his children!
See the outcry that God makes against his own children in Isaiah 1:2, "Hear, O heavens! Be astonished, O earth!" Why—what is the matter? "The children I raised and cared for—have turned against me!" The nearer the relation—the greater the obligation! Christ is related to them as a Master to his servants, as a Father to his children, as a Prince to his subjects, as a Head to his members! Where the relation is nearest, there the provocation is greatest. It is a more pleasant thing to see rebels become children—than it is to see children become rebels.
What mother can endure to see those lips that drew her breasts—suck her blood? Oh! Christians, you are more known to God than others, and therefore you must more acknowledge him than others! You do not look for so much splendor from the burning of a candle—as from the shining of the sun; nor so much moisture from the dropping of the bucket—as from the dissolving of a cloud. To whom much is given—of them much shall be required.
God does not expect much—where little is bestowed. Nor does he accept little—where much is received, "Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt—You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins!" Amos 3:1-2. God has exalted you above all others—and therefore you must do more for God than others. It was a great blemish to Hezekiah, that his returnings were not answerable to his receivings. Oh believers! let me beseech you to do much, to love much, to give much, to pray much—seeing you have received much!
I shall wind up all, with a word of COMFORT to the children of God. Oh! sirs, God in Christ, is your Father, your loving Father, your everlasting Father—and you are his children! Therefore fear not—it shall go well with you both here and hereafter! "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!" He will withhold no good thing from you! "For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory! No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless!" Psalm 84:11. He gives both grace and glory unto you! Grace is the silver link that draws the golden link of glory after it!
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
Wherever Christ is a Priest for redemption—he is a Prince for dominion! Wherever he is a Savior—there he is a Ruler! Wherever he is a Fountain of happiness—there he is a Fountain of holiness! Wherever he is a Redeemer—there he is a Refiner! Wherever he takes a burden from off the creature's back—there he lays a yoke upon the creature's neck! "The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King—he will save us!" Isaiah 33:22.
I shall now proceed to the fifth title of Jesus, "He will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!" Isaiah 9:6
It is the happiness of the church of God, that although they cannot give peace—yet they may get peace; though they cannot settle it on earth—yet they may seek it from heaven. Peace is the well-being of all other enjoyments; all other mercies suck their livelihood at the breasts of peace. Peace is the mother of all prosperity; as the life of old Jacob was enrapt up in the life of the lad Benjamin, so is all happiness enrapt up in peace. Peace is the felicity of the saints on earth, and the glory of the angels in heaven. When the old Hebrews wished any happiness to anyone, they only used this expression, 'Peace be unto you'.
From this title of Christ, I shall lay down two propositions:
First, That Zion's King is a peaceable King.
Secondly, That the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the cause and foundation of a believer's peace.
These two points lie fully in the words; but I shall only speak of the latter, namely, That Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the cause and foundation of a believer's peace.
In the prosecution of it, I shall show you four things—
1. Christ is the Peace-bringer.
2. Christ is the Peace-maker.
3. Christ is the Peace-giver.
4. Christ is the is the Prince of Peace, or the peaceable Prince.
First, Jesus Christ is the Peace-BRINGER.He brought in everlasting peace by righteousness, and not by a sword, "Peace on earth, and good-will towards men." Why was the Bread of Life hungry—but that he might feed the hungry with the bread of life? Why was Rest weary—but to give the weary rest? Why was the Prince of Peace in trouble—but that the troubled might have peace? None but the Image of God could restore us to God's image. None but the Beloved of God could make us beloved to God. None but the natural Son of God could make us sons of God. None but the Wisdom of God could make us wise. None but the Prince of Peace could bring the God of peace, and the peace of God, to poor sinners; and therefore he is called our Peace, Ephesians 2:14.
Oh what is so sweet a good as Christ! And what so great an evil as sin! Christ brings us to joy and peace; sin brings us to woe and misery.
Secondly, He is the Peace-MAKER, as well as the Peace-bringer. He is the Peace-maker between God and men. Sin is the great bar between God and the soul. Sin is the wall of separation between God and us—and the Prince of Peace makes peace between God and us. He paid all the debts, and took up all the controversies, and blotted out the hand-writing, and has broken down the partition-wall, and made up the great breach between God and man! 2 Corinthians 5:19, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." Mark, it is in Christ; so likewise elsewhere. "You who were once afar off, he has made near by the blood of Christ." Oh! sinners, Christ is our Peace-maker! The Prince of Peace makes peace between God and us; he reconciles God to men, and men to God; so that though God might be justly displeased with us—yet in his Son he is well pleased with us. He is more pleased with a believer for Christ's sake, than he was displeased with us for sin's sake.
Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the Peace-GIVER.Alas! poor sinners, we have no peace with conscience, nor one with another—until the Prince of Peace gives it to us, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you," says our Lord unto his disciples, John 14:27. Oh! sirs, he gives peace with God, in Romans 5:1, "We have peace vith God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Christ gives peace to us, which the world cannot take from us. Worldly trouble cannot overcome heavenly peace.
Fourthly, He is a Prince of Peace, or the PEACEABLE Prince.So he is styled not only Peace—but the Prince of Peace. Indeed, beloved, he is all peace to a believer, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," speaking of Christ, Proverbs 3:18. Mark, all her paths are peace.
Now, what are these paths? I shall name six to you:
1. The path of repentance.
2. The path of faith.
3. The path of truth.
4. The path of self-denial.
5. The path of obedience.
6. The path of holiness.
1st, These are several paths of peace, and peaceable paths. Oh sirs! there is no peace to be found—but in the paths of peace! As all his works are great and marvelous—so all his ways are peace and pleasantness.
2ndly, His gospel is a gospel of peace. It is a great mercy to enjoy the gospel of peace—but a greater mercy to enjoy the peace of the gospel.
3rdly, His reward is peace, Isaiah 57:2, "He shall enter into peace." Here the joys of heaven are called peace. The true sons of peace, and the peaceable sons of truth—shall be crowned with peace. They shall enter into peace. And thus, beloved, I have briefly, yes I have fully proved the point That Jesus Christ is the cause and fountain of a believer's peace!
USES. Now for the application of the point. I shall reduce it to four heads:
1. For information.
2. For examination.
3. For exhortation.
4. For consolation.
First, By way of INFORMATION. Here we may see what great need we stand in of Jesus Christ.
Firstly, Oh, Christians! Is Jesus Christ the cause and foundation of all our peace? Then we have no right or title to peace—but by the Prince of Peace, "We have no peace with God," says the apostle, "but through our Lord Jesus Christ." we are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus; and "we who were afar off," says Paul, "are made near by the blood of Christ." We are only acceptable in the Beloved; so that, beloved, it is all in Christ, and through him—that we have our peace.
A Christless man is a peaceless man. We have no peace with God, no peace with conscience, outside of Christ. Until we are Christ's friends—we are our own foes. It is true, a wicked man may speak peace to himself—but God speaks not a jot of peace to him. He may speak peace to himself until he falls into everlasting flames! God is his enemy, the devil is his foe, angels hate him, all creatures cry for vengeance upon him. Isaiah 57:21, "There is no peace to the wicked, says my God!" No, not a word, not a grain of peace to a person who is outside of Christ! Therefore, oh sirs! consider in what need you stand of the Prince of Peace.
Secondly, it informs us, that to have peace with our God and Maker is the sweetest and best thing in the world. Oh how infinitely sweet is peace! What is sweeter than peace? Alas! gold is but dust, pleasures are but toys, wit is but a flash, beauty but a blast, honor but a rattle, life but a vapor! Oh but peace is better than the sweetest, and better than the best of all those!
1st, Because he who has peace with God may come boldly to God, Hebrews 6:16.
2ndly, He who has peace with God, has communion and fellowship with God, 1 John 1:3. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
3rdly, He who is at peace with God—is a son of God. Peace is of all other good things—the most sweet! Oh! it is wine to comfort us, and bread to nourish us, it makes a man live comfortably, and die cheerfully.
Thirdly, If Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the cause and foundation of all our peace; why then, he who lacks the Prince of Peace, lacks all good things! He who is without Christ—is the most miserable man in the world; he lacks reconciliation with God; he lacks a saving interest in Christ; he lacks the sealing and comforting of the Spirit; he lacks justification, sanctification, and adoption; he lacks pardon of sin, and freedom from the dominion of sin; he lacks that favor which is better than life, that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, and that faith, a grain of which is more worth than a king's ransom! He lacks those riches which perish not, those evidences for heaven that fail not, that love which dies not, that kingdom which shakes not!
Oh, beloved! how many things does that poor soul lack—which lacks a Christ! He is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked! Revelation 3:17.
Christ is a pearl—whoever has him can never be poor, and whoever lacks him can never be rich! Did but men see all in this pearl of great price—then they would sell all for this pearl of great price.
Fourthly, If Jesus Christ is the cause and foundation of our peace, then it is our greatest concernment to get into favor with the Prince of Peace! "Many seek the ruler's favor," says the Scripture—but oh seek the favor of this Prince! Poor souls, without him there is no mercy, no peace, no grace, no glory, no heaven, no crown, no eternal life; for "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent!" John 17:3.
Use 2. By way of EXAMINATION and self-denial.The trial of ourselves, is the ready way to the knowledge of ourselves. Oh Christians! would you see your God? Then cast your eyes upward. Would you see yourselves? Then cast your eyes inward.
Contemplation is a looking-glass to see your God in. It is of greater concernment to know the state of our hearts—than to know the estate of the kingdom.
And therefore, I beseech you, examine yourselves, that you may know yourselves, that you may know whose you are while you live, and where you will go when you die, and what will become of you to all eternity! Oh, sirs! bring yourselves to the trial, and try yourselves, and see whether you are in the faith, and the faith is in you. Faith is such a grace, that a man cannot be saved without it—and not a man can be damned who has it.
Oh see whether you are in the narrow way that leads to life—or in the broad way that leads to death! Whether your hearts are chairs for vice to sit in—or thrones for grace to rule on! Whether you are one of Christ's spouses—or one of the Devil's harlots! Whether you are heirs of heaven or hell! Whether you are Satan's bondmen—or God's freemen. Examination is the beaten path to perfection, 1 Corinthians 1:25, "Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." It is seldom that the sparkling diamond of a great estate, is set in the gold ring of a gracious heart. A man may be great, with Saul—and graceless! He may be rich with Dives—and miserable. The richest are oftentimes the poorest—and the poorest are oftentimes the richest. Oh how many threadbare souls may there be found, under silken coats and purple robes! A sight of ourselves in grace—will certainly bring us to a sight of ourselves in glory! Those sins shall never make a hell for us—that have been a hell to us!
Use 3. But it is time for me to turn my speech into an EXHORTATION.Oh, that you would make your peace with the Prince of Peace, that you may be the true sons of peace, and the peaceable sons of truth, that you may be righteous before God, and holy before men; that you may gloriously shine in glory; and that you may have peace with God and with your own consciences, and with one another!
Well, sirs, what do you say in answer to the message? Shall the Prince of Peace be your love and Lord; your nearest and dearest, your joy and your delight? Will you kiss the Son? Will you make your peace with the God of Peace, and give up your souls and lives to be ruled by him? These things I exhort you to do—and God expects them at your hand.
But that this exhortation may stay with you, I shall back it with some pressing considerations.
First, Consider God's goodness and good-will towards men. God has given you rich means, that you may make and secure your peace with God.
First, He has given you the law and the gospel.
Secondly, He has generously given time and opportunity.
Thirdly, He has given you mercies and afflictions. Mercies to draw you—and afflictions to drive you.
Fourthly, He has given you preachers, both inward and outward preachers. By outward preachers, I mean the ministers of Christ, who beseech you, and entreat you, for Christ's sake to be reconciled to God, and make your peace with God. By inward preachers, I mean your own conscience, that judges you, and checks you, and reproves you for your sins and abominations.
Fifthly, He has given you precepts and promises. Precepts commanding you what to do—and promises assuring you of a glorious reward for your doing.
Sixthly, He has given you the Spirit and convictions, Genesis 6:37, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." Oh! how long will you stand out against God? What have you to say against this? How can you answer this, when you and I shall appear before God's judgment-seat? Have you anything to say against this? Oh! sad will be your end—unless you make your peace with God; and therefore (seeing God has given these things to you, that you may make and secure your peace with him) he who lives in sin without repentance, shall die in sin without forgiveness!
Secondly, God invites and woos you to come and make your peace with him; Isaiah 55:1, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!"
Beloved, here are three 'comes' in this text, to show the infinite willingness of God to save poor sinners. Just so in Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life!" There are three 'comes' again in this text. What, are there none thirsty among you? Do none thirst for Christ, and grace, and heaven? If you come, sirs—here you may have grace, and mercy, and happiness. Now, for the Lord's sake, consider why God invites you to all this—that you may make your peace with God. Shall the God of heaven call—and you will not hear? What, will you rather stay in your sins, and die and go to hell—than go to Christ for life! Oh! sirs go to the Prince of Peace for peace, that you may have peace! If you do not lay your sins to your hearts, that you may be humbled for them—God will lay them to your charge, that you may be damned for them.
A third consideration is this: either you must taste of God's goodness—or of his fury! There is not a man, woman, or child among you—but must partake of the one or the other! Your portion will be either joy—or sorrow; either desolation—or consolation! If you are not trees for fruit-bearing, you must be trees for burning! If you are not for fruit—you must be for the flames! If you do not swim in the waterworks of repentance, you shall burn in the fireworks of vengeance! If you do not go and make your peace with God, that you may have heaven, you shall go to hell for not making your peace! One of them you must do.
Oh! sirs, I have set life and death, heaven and hell, bitter and sweet, before you this day. Will you make your peace with God—or not? Will you still go in a way of wickedness, breaking his laws, grieving his Spirit? Will you die a natural death, before you live a spiritual life? I say then if you live so, and die so—you shall be damned with the damned, and punished with the punishment of hell, and so sent to hell with loads of wrath upon your backs! You shall have your part in that lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death, "He who believes, shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be damned!" says our Lord, Mark 16:16.
Oh! sirs, it is better to repent without perishing, than to perish without repenting! Therefore look to it well. Are you able to deal with God? Alas! alas! all the world is but like a drop of water in comparison of God; and therefore make your peace with him, Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape—if we neglect so great salvation!"
Fourthly, Consider what the damned in hell would give for the offers of mercy that are now offered to you. Certainly they would give ten thousand worlds if they had them, for these opportunities that you enjoy. Should God say to poor wretches that are suffering in hell for their drunkenness upon earth, and their whoring and abominations, as he does to us, "Come unto me, all you who labor are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" oh! how earnestly would they run and catch the word out of God's mouth! But alas! alas! poor damned wretches, there is not a grain of mercy for them! No, not so much as a drop of water for them, not one drop of water to cool their flaming tongues!
Oh, that you would consider this, and make your peace with God before death comes, which may be the next night, for anything you know; if you lose your golden seasons of mercy—you lose your souls. Oh therefore make your peace with God, that it may not be said of you, as it was once said of Jerusalem, in Luke 19:42, "Oh that you had known, in this your day, the things that concern your peace; but now they are hid from your eyes!" Here was a weeping word, a sad word to Jerusalem. Alas! now it is hid from their eyes; their golden season is gone; there is no peace to be had; and therefore I beg of you, as though I were condemned, and begging of my life; so I beg of you in the affections of Christ, and for your soul's sake—make your peace with God!
Fifthly, Seriously consider the multitude of sins you have been guilty of, even more than the hairs of your head, or the sand on the sea-shore, or the stars in the heavens, which are innumerable. Says David, "They are more than the hairs of my head," Psalm 40:12. Alas! one of your sins were enough to sink you into hell forever! What advantage does Dives reap in hell, from all those delicious banquets that he had on earth? Oh! think on that time, wherein you shall be ashamed of nothing but wickedness, and glory in nothing but holiness.
SIN is like a serpent in the bosom that is stinging; or like a thief in the closet that is stealing; or like poison in the stomach that is poisoning; or like a sword in the heart that is killing! Some are in hell already for the same sins you live in! And if you live and die without Christ—you shall before long be with them! Therefore, I say, make peace with God.
Sixthly, Consider that there is more bitterness following upon sins ending—than there ever was sweetness flowing from sins acting. You who see nothing but well in the commission of sin—will suffer nothing but woe in the conclusion of sin! It is better here to forego the pleasures of sin—than hereafter to undergo the pain of sin! You who sin for your profits—will never profit by your sins! He who likes to do works of sin—will never like to have the wages of sin. Sin is both shameful and damnable: it shames men in this world, and damns them in the other world. Sin is like Judas, who at first greets—but at last betrays us. Sin is like Delilah—who smiles to our face, and betrays us into our enemies' hands. Oh! sinners, think of this, and part with your sins, that you may meet with your Savior, and make your peace with him.
Seventhly, Consider the heavy judgment that hangs over your heads. You lie open to all the judgments in this life, and torments in the life to come. Oh! sinners, the days are hastening upon you, wherein you have misery without mercy, sorrow without support, pain without ease, punishment without pity, and torment without end—unless you sincerely repent! "The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power!" 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Oh! let the hearing of this—prevent the feeling of this, poor sinner.
Eighthly and lastly, If none of the former arguments or considerations prevail with you to make your peace with the Prince of Peace—yet let this one convince you, I beseech you. Consider the readiness and willingness of God to give Christ, and Christ to give himself to you. Oh! sinners, is God willing to give his Son—and are you unwilling to receive his Son? Consider the willingness of God, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him." Mark, sinners here, "Behold, I stand," Who stands and knocks? I who have heaven to give; I who have a crown to give; I who have all joys to give; I who have myself to give—I stand and knock!
Do you see this, poor sinners? Who is it that stands at the door of your hearts and knocks? Who? It is the King of saints, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God—and will you not open to him? What! are you unwilling to be saved, to go to heaven, and to be happy forever! What! are you unwilling to be delivered from Satan, from sin, and from the flames of hell! Make your peace with God, for God is willing to open heaven for you—if you are willing to open your hearts to him. He is willing to save you—if you are but willing to be saved. He is willing to give a Christ—if you are willing to receive a Christ! Therefore, poor souls, let these considerations provoke you to go for life—to the Lord of life; to go for peace—to the Prince of Peace; to go for grace—to the God of grace! Were men so diligent as to do their best—God is so indulgent as to forgive the worst!
THE PRECIOUS ELECT
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
Who can be weary of preaching, or hearing, or reading, or learning of Christ? He is so precious and lovely! Mahomet is the Turks' love; Moses is the Jews' love; the Pope is the Papists' love; but Christ is a believer's love.
I shall now make some entrance upon Christ's sixth, famous, and lovely title, The Elect Precious.
"See, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 1 Peter 2:6
From this excellent title, I shall lay down two propositions:
Doctrine 1. That Jesus Christ, the Mediator, is God the Father's elect.
Mark, sirs, there is a three-fold elect:
First, The elect Jesus Christ; Isaiah 13:1, "Behold my servant, my elect," says the Father, speaking of Christ.
Secondly, The elect angels; 1 Timothy 5:21, "I charge you before God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels."
Thirdly, The elect saints; and for this see Col. 3:1, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved."
But alas! what are the elect angels, or the elect saints, compared to the Elect Precious! It is only the blessed Jesus, who is the Elect Precious, and precious to the elect.
But I shall not stand on this point—but proceed to the second.
Doctrine 2. And that this is—That the crucified and glorified Christ, is very precious to all believing saints.
In handling this precious point, I shall show you five things.
1. That Christ is precious.
2. That Christ is most precious.
3. That Christ all precious.
4. That Christ is always precious.
5. Why Christ is so precious.
First, That Christ is precious.Jesus Christ is precious three ways:
to God, to angels, and to saints.
1st, Christ is precious to God the FATHER.This will appear by what God the Father has said himself of the Son, Isaiah 43:1, "My elect in whom my soul delights." Here you see Christians, what God says to Christ—the soul of God delights in the Son of God. So again, Matthew 3:17, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Mark here, not only pleased—but well pleased. Oh! how precious is Christ to God the Father!
The Lord Jesus, though he was a man of sorrows—yet he was not a man of sin; he had correction—but not corruption; he who was a Way to others, never went out of the way himself. Jesus Christ must needs be precious to the Father, because he never displeased him in anything—but pleased him in everything. In John 8:29, Christ says, "I always do what pleases him!" Oh! friends, it will be your glory, your crown, your honor, and happiness forever—if you do these things that please God while on earth! Christ must needs please the Father, for he went about doing good, Acts 10:38. He did not always stay in one place—but he always went about doing good wherever he was.
And truly, sirs, if people were not made better by his coming, they might blame themselves, for he went about doing good. As he was never ill employed, he was never unemployed; as he opened the Scriptures to our understanding, so he opened our understanding to the Scriptures.
2dly, Christ is precious to the ANGELS, as well as to the Father. The angels were very joyful at the birth of Christ their Lord; they sang praises to God on high, Luke 2:13, 14. See with what joy and triumph the angels sang at the birth of Christ! Oh! how precious is Christ to the elect angels! The angels adore him, "Let all the angels of God worship him," Hebrews 1:6. The Lord Almighty is worshiped by an host of angels, "Let all the angels of God worship him!" The angels desire to pry into the mysteries of the gospel of grace; as you may see in 1 Peter 1:2. The angels, though they are glorious to all eternity, look upon it as not below them to pry into the mysteries of Christ. Oh, sirs, the angels are desirous to know these things—which we neglect to know.
The angels stand ready to serve God and his people. When he bids them go—they go. When he bids them come—they come. When he bids them do this—they do it. They obey all his commands, Psalm 103:20. Jesus Christ is the Creator of angels, the Lord of angels, the Prince of angels, the Head of angels, Col. 1:16. Do you see, sirs, how precious Christ is to the angels of God! And well he may, for indeed he is the precious jewel in the cabinet of grace.
3rdly, Jesus Christ is precious to the SAINTS, as well as to his Father and angels, 1 Peter 2:7, "Unto you who believe—he is precious!" Mark here, 'unto you'. Unto who? "To you who believe—he is precious!" He is precious indeed to those who believe, and no wonder—he is a believer's all. Now that which is his all, must needs be precious! Christ is his all—Christ is all that he has, and all that he truly enjoys. They have nothing of true worth without him. It is not worth a man to live—unless he lives in Christ. Christ is the gain of a believer, living and dying; so that whatever is good for a believer, he must say, "for this, I am indebted to Christ!" All things are yours—and you are Christ's.
Now, sirs, let me give you a more particular account of the Christian's worth, and inventory of his estate; and all along I shall show you that Christ is the worth of all that. What is it that makes a believer so precious and excellent? Why, it is such things as these:
1. He is a living man.
2. He is a seeing man.
3. He is a person of honor.
4. He has a great deal of joy, and hope of more.
5. He is righteous and holy.
6. In a word, he is saved at last.
These are things that make a Christian so excellent a person, and he has none of these but by Christ, and he has all this alone by Christ.
First, This is the excellency of a Christian, that he is aLIVING man. There is no man on earth who can, in a spiritual sense, be called a living man—but a believer. All men be dead men—but those who believe. You know that it was said of the prodigal, while he lived in his sins he was dead, "This is my son who was dead, and is now alive." When he believed, then he was alive. Now, sirs, LIFE is the most valued thing which we have, skin for skin, all that a man has will he give for his life! A man will rather part with his livelihood, than with his life, because his life is so dear to him. Now, beloved, if natural life is so desirable a thing, what is a spiritual life, that which in Scripture is called the life of God!
Now the believer is the only living man, every other man is spiritually dead. How does the believer come to life? By whom does he live? Why, it is by Christ Jesus! Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ, notwithstanding I live." What, crucified—and yet live? Yes, Christ was crucified, and yet lives; and so did Paul in resemblance and conformity to Christ, "I live," says he, "yet not I—but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God." So that Paul will not call his life his own—but only as he derived it from Christ. Christ lives in him—more than he himself lives.
Secondly, The excellency of a believer lies in this, that he is theSEEING man. It is sight which makes a vast difference between person and person. It is a sad thing to be born blind, or to be made blind after a man is born. Now all men are either born blind, or made blind after they are born, or both. Now, beloved, would you know how precious sight is? Ask a blind man who once could see! We read of a poor man who comes running to Christ, and cries out, "O Lord, that I may receive my sight!" Now, sirs, if in nature having the sight of our eyes is a thing that makes us so much more excellent than otherwise we would be without it, oh then how much value should we put upon this spiritual sight which refers to our souls! We can much better lack the eyes of our heads—than the eyes of our understanding!
Now, in a spiritual sense, there is no seeing man—but a believer. No man saw Christ savingly—but those who saw him believingly. Every man but a believer walks in darkness; nay, he is in darkness. The apostle says in Ephesians 5:8, "You were once darkness—but now are you light in the Lord."
In the Lord Jesus Christ—a believer sees. He was once as dark as others, and as blind as others, until he was in the Lord; and no sooner was he in the Lord—but he was light in the Lord.
Thirdly, The excellency of a believer lies in this, That he is a very beautiful andHONORABLE person. Beauty and honor are ravishing things of this world—and all but believers are deformed people—there is no beauty nor loveliness why they should be desired. But now the believer is a very lovely and beautiful person; he is so in the eyes of God, Ezekiel 16:11-14, "I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, and beautiful necklaces, a ring for your nose and earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were made beautiful! You looked like a queen, and so you were!" But now mark how she came by this beauty in the next verse, "Your fame soon spread throughout the world on account of your beauty, because the splendor I bestowed on you perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord." She was not only beautiful in the eyes of the Lord—but she had her beauty also from the Lord!
As they are thus lovely in the eyes of God, so also of holy angels and saints too. For as glorious a place as heaven is, the angels think it not below them to wait on the image and pictures of Christ, here below—and to be the Lord's guardians here upon earth, Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be the heirs of salvation?" But this is not all they do for them, they will not leave them when they die—but take those lovely souls and transport them to a better country than ever this world was to them. There is no believer who goes to heaven—but he goes in the arms of angels! Luke 16:12, In the history of Dives and Lazarus, says the text, "Lazarus died (believing Lazarus died,) and his soul was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom," that is, to heaven. Oh what an honor have believers at their death, that the very angels transport their souls to heaven!
And they are also very lovely and honorable in the eyes of all godly people. The truth is, there is scarcely any man fit company for believers—but believers; and therefore, says the apostle, "be not unequally yoked," that is, believers with unbelievers.
Now godly men are much taken with a believer, though he is a stranger to them on all accounts; they are very fond of one another in this world, and had rather suffer together than live with other men.
Now, this makes a believer so excellent—that he is thus beautiful and honorable in the eyes of God, and holy angels, and godly men. Now all this beauty and honor they have from Christ. It is Christ who makes him honorable in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of holy angels, and godly men. All that beauty and honor they have, it is through Christ, he is their worth in every capacity.
Fourthly, That which makes a believer so excellent is, that he has true JOY. All other men have no joy which is not worth the having. Alas! the joy of the hypocrite, what is it—but the crackling of thorns under a pot? But now, a believer has a joy that no man can take away. But how and where did he obtain his joy? Why, in and from the Lord, "These things I speak," says Christ, "that my joy may be in you." They rejoice in the Lord, "We rejoice in Christ Jesus," says Paul, "and have no confidence in the flesh."
Fifthly, Have theyHOPE? it is from Christ; and indeed none have hope but they. For without God, and without Christ, and without hope, are put together, in Ephesians 2:12. But now the believer has good hopes, and this bears him up many times. Alexander thought hope was so noble a thing, that when he gave to one man whole countries, and to another vast treasures, and being asked what he would keep for himself—says he, "I will keep hope!" For he thought it enough for so brave and great a soul as his, to hope for that which would make him to do whatever he was able to do, or any one could think. The hopes of eternal mercy, and joy and peace—will carry a man through thousands of difficulties.
Now the believer has this hope—but he has it from Christ, Col. 1:27, "Christ in you—the hope of glory."
Sixthly, none but they areRIGHTEOUS and HOLY. Every sinner is a fool—he plays the fool all the time he spends without of the fear of God! All sinning-time is a fooling-time. Now the believer is a wise man, and he is a righteous man, and a holy man. How he comes to be thus, we see in 1 Corinthians 1:30. Christ is the ALL of a believer, "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." So that you see if a believer is a wise man—he may thank Christ for it. If he is a righteous man, and if he is a holy man—he may thank God for it!
Lastly, In a word, they areSAVED. Indeed, this is apex of all the others! Says Christ, "he who believes shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be damned." The believer is already in the state of salvation, and the unbelieving are in the state of damnation. By nature we are all children of wrath; now faith in Jesus Christ is the means that God has appointed to free us from being children of wrath. Now he who believes shall not be condemned, he shall be saved. How does he come to be saved? It is by only by Christ, by believing in Christ. Oh! who is the Savior, but Christ? To be IN Christ is heaven below—and to be WITH Christ is heaven above! There is no being WITH Christ above, if we were not IN Christ here below.
Thus you see, beloved, what it is that makes a believer so excellent and precious, it is Christ that makes him such; he has it all from Christ, Christ is his all in all. Now put all this together, and see that there is great reason that Christ should be precious to believers.
Secondly, As Jesus Christ is precious—so he is MOST precious.Oh, sirs! angels are precious, saints are precious, friends are precious, heaven is precious—but Christ is ten thousand times more precious than these! A believer had rather have Christ without heaven—than heaven without Christ! "Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire besides you!" Psalm 73:25. Let a believer search heaven and earth, and yet he will find nothing comparable to Christ. To be like to him—it is our happiness; and to draw near to him—is our holiness. You will see, beloved, life is precious, freedom is precious, health is precious, peace is precious, food and clothing are precious, gold and silver are precious, kingdoms and crowns are precious. Indeed they are, in their places—but nothing is as precious as Jesus Christ.
Mark, sirs, what the apostle says, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:7-8
What is our life but a warfare? And what is our life but a pilgrimage? It is only the best of beings that can bestow the best of blessings. Oh how good is a believer's God, who sweetens his pilgrimage to him? Oh, Christ is a believer's all, and therefore he is more precious than all! He has all in Christ, and nothing outside of Christ; there is no such thing as a believer without him. By faith we have a saving interest in Christ—and by having an interest in Christ, we have an interest in all things; the believer is the only blessed man, the only happy man, the only rich man. Revelation 21:7, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things." Oh what a glorious inheritance are they born to—who are new born! All things are theirs, and they shall inherit all things! What can they desire, more than all? All that Christ has is theirs! His wisdom is theirs to teach them, his love is theirs to pity them, his Spirit is theirs to comfort them, his righteousness is theirs to justify them, his power is theirs to protect them, and his glory is theirs to crown them.
Oh, sirs! Christ cannot but be most precious to a believer, because all his precious comforts come from Christ. The Lord Jesus is fairer than the fairest, sweeter than the sweetest, nearer than the nearest, dearer than the dearest, and richer than the richest, and better than the best.
The Elect Precious is the most precious of all:
1st, Because that Christ is the GREATEST gift that God can give, or that we can receive, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son!" This is more than if he had given us all the world! For God has but one Son—and can make no more. But God can make more worlds at his pleasure. This gift is God himself, and God can give us no greater gift than himself. We may say, as one said to Caesar, when he gave him a great reward, "This is too great a gift for me to receive," said he "But it is not too much for me to give," said Caesar.
2ndly, Because Christ is the RICHEST gift that ever was given, for Christ is all in all. If he has given us Christ, he will give us all other good things, Romans 8:36.
3rdly, Christ is the one thing NEEDFUL. Yes, he is the gift of God, "If you knew the gift of God, (says our Savior, John 4:10) you would have asked for it, and begged it of me." Why is Christ called THE gift of God? Surely God has given us more gifts than one; true—but as the sun is more worth than all the stars, so this gift excels all the others put together. "We do not thank God for stars—when the sun shines."
4thly, Because he is the CHIEF gift that God has to give. Other gifts he gives promiscuously to both the godly and wicked. Judas had the money-bag; and Dives dined deliciously every day, when Lazarus would have been glad to get his crumbs. But God never gives this gift to any but whom he loves with his dearest, special, and eternal love.
Suppose some prince would woo a great lady, and had a jewel worth a fortune. And it may be that he would give some coins, or some slight tokens of favor unto the servants. But the rich jewel—that he gives to his spouse! This jewel is Christ!
Abraham may give to Ishmael a bottle of milk—but Isaac had the inheritance.
5thly, The Lord Jesus is the RAREST gift of all! Christ is a gift given to very few—here to one, and there to another. Millions of millions perish, for not knowing and trusting in Christ.
Oh! what a rare jewel is Christ! Though our souls are more worth than a world—yet a world of souls is not worth Christ! It is he who makes us blessed in life, happy in death, and glorious after death!
6thly, The Lord Jesus is the SWEETEST gift of all others; for if God gives his Christ, then he gives us all other gifts in his love, and they become a blessing sweetened to us! Those who have this good—shall lack no good, "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger—but they those who the Lord shall not lack any good thing," Psalm 34:10.
Now put all this together—and you will see Christ to be most precious.
Thirdly, Christ is ALTOGETHER precious.I told you in the last section, that Christ is precious; and indeed I told you the truth, for they are not only my sayings—but God's sayings, therefore they are true. Christ is altogether precious, there is nothing in Christ but what is precious; he is amiable and desirable; he is fullness and sweetness, and greatness and goodness, light and life, and happiness. Believers enjoy all things in Christ; in all things he is the joy of a believers life, and the life of a believer's joy. Oh sirs! Christ is precious, he is very precious, he is most precious, he is always precious, he is altogether precious to the believing soul.
1st, His NAME is precious, he is called a precious Stone, Isaiah 28:16. Christ is there called a precious Stone.
2ndly, His BLOOD is precious, in 1 Peter 1:9. His blood is there called precious Blood. Yes, and well it may, for a drop of his blood is worth a sea of ours! And yet he died our death—that we might live his life.
3rdly, FAITH is precious, in 2 Peter 1:1. Faith is there called precious faith, the least grain of faith is more worth than all the gold in Europe!
4thly, His PROMISES are precious, in 2 Peter 1:4. "Giving to us exceeding great and precious promises." Christ's promises are called great and precious promises. Why great—and why precious? They are great for extent, and precious for their excellencies.
5thly, His GIFTS and GRACES are precious, Proverbs 3:15. "More more precious than jewels!" All things you can desire are not to be compared to them.
6thly, His MEMBERS are precious, Isaiah 43:4, "Since you have been precious in my sight, you have been honorable." Here you see the members of Christ are called precious. A believer indeed is a raven in the world's eye—but a dove in Christ's eye! In the world's account, the saints are dung and dirt; but in God's account, they are jewels and pearls! Graceless men look upon God's people as castaways—but God will give whole kingdoms for their ransom! Wicked men may call the saints factious—but God calls the saints precious. Indeed, sirs, the scoffers and jeerers of the people of God in other ages, were but bunglers compared to the scoffers and jeerers of the people of God in our age. Well, there is a time coming, when Christ will laugh at the ungodly, for now laughing at ungodliness. Though holiness is that which a sinner scorns—yet holiness is that which a Savior crowns! As you expect happiness from God above, so God expects holiness from you below. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 4:7
7thly, The REPROACHES of Christ are precious; Hebrews 11:26, "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." I beseech you mark, is it not here said, that Moses esteemed the person of Christ, or the members of Christ, or the privileges of Christ, or the glory of Christ, greater riches than the treasures in Egypt? Oh! beloved, the worst of Christ's—is better than the best in the world! Christ's cross—is sweeter than the world's crown! The reproaches of Christ—are greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.
Esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. Our afflictions are also good and precious. Now, beloved, if I can prove that afflictions and reproaches for Christ are good and precious, which is the worst of him—then you will conclude with me, that Christ is all precious.
1stly, That must needs be good—which comes from God. Now, afflictions come from God, who alone good. Psalm 39:9, "I was silent; I would not open my mouth." Why David? "because You are the one who has done this!"
2dly, That must needs be good—which was suffered by the sweetest good. Now, afflictions were endured by Christ who is the sweetest good; "He was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief," Isaiah 53:3.
3rdly That must needs be good—which fits and prepares us for a glorious estate, the eternal good. Now, affliction does this, "It was good for me that I was afflicted." Sirs, do you believe king David? Will you believe David was a man after God's own heart? Why, he says that it was good for him he was afflicted. But you will say, Why was it so good? Look in the 6th verse, and there is the reason. Says he, "Before I was afflicted—I went astray." A very satisfactory answer; and therefore it was good for me I was afflicted.
So again, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us." What do they work? "A far more exceeding weight of glory!"
Oh Christians! under your greatest troubles—lie your greatest treasures! Afflictions are good—but not pleasant. Sin is pleasant—but not good. There is more evil in a drop of sin—than there is in a sea of afflictions. God by affliction, separates the sin he hates so deadly—from the soul he loves so dearly! By the greatest affliction—God teaches us the greatest instruction! And a believer, when he lies under God's hand which afflicts him—he lies in God's heart which loves him! Believers are crucified by the world—that they may be crucified to the world. The flesh is an enemy to suffering, because suffering is an enemy to the flesh! Those who do not carry the yoke of Christ upon their necks—will never carry the cross of Christ upon their backs! But a believer studies more how to adorn the cross—than how to avoid the cross! None are so courageous, as those that are very pious. Some glory in that which is their shame—and shall we be ashamed of that which is our glory? It is an honor—to be dishonored for Jesus Christ!
Tell me, oh believer, is not Christ with his cross, better than the world with its crown? Suppose, Christian, the furnace is hot, seven times hotter—it is but to make you seven times more holy! Fiery trials make golden Christians! Sin has brought many a believer unto suffering—and suffering has kept many a believer from sinning! Those who here be crossed for well-living, shall hereafter be crowned for well-dying. The losing of our heads, makes way for receiving of our crown! God will season our vessels with water of affliction, before he pours in the wine of glory. By this you see, beloved, that the reproaches of Christ are precious. It is better to be preserved in brine—than to rot in honey!
4thly, Jesus Christ is always precious to believers; he is more precious to them than a thousand worlds! Because he is always with them, in all their trials, and in all their troubles, and in all their straits, and in all their afflictions. "In all their afflictions he was afflicted," says the text. Sirs, who would not suffer with such a companion as this? "But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3.
Do you see this, Christians, he is with you in the fire, in the water, in the prison, in all places, and at all times! He never leaves you, nor forsakes you, Hebrews 13:5. He beds and boards with you; he lies down, and rises up with you! He is called a friend, and indeed he is our best friend! "Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Solomon 5:16
1. Jesus Christ is a faithful friend.
2. Jesus Christ is a prudent friend.
3. Jesus Christ is a providing friend.
4. Jesus Christ is a compassionate friend.
5. Jesus Christ is a constant friend.
6, Jesus Christ is a loving friend.
7. Jesus Christ is an everlasting friend.
He loves us to the end—and there is no end of his love! He who gave his image to us—loves his image in us. Jesus Christ gave himself to us, and for us; he loves us in himself, and as himself. Oh! what a sweet friend is Christ! God, in giving Christ to us—gave his very heart for us! Now, beloved, how can Jesus Christ be but always precious to a believer, who is thus always with a believer?
5thly, and lastly, WHY is Jesus Christ so precious to believers?
First, Because he is a believer's life! Col. 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory!" There is a three-fold life that flows from Christ:
a life of grace,
a life of comfort,
a life of glory.
Secondly, Jesus Christ is precious to believers, because he is their light! Alas! alas! until we are in Christ—we must be in darkness! It is in his light, that we see light, Ephesians 5:14, "Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."
Thirdly, Christ is precious to believers, because he is their food! "My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink." John 6:55. Oh! what choice fare have they to feed on—who have Christ to feed on! Oh! You who have not Christ to feed on—your bread is but perishing bread.
Fourthly, Christ is precious to believers, because he is their strength! Take a man that is outside of Christ—he has no strength to withstand or overcome. "Without me," says Christ, "you can do nothing!" John 15:5. "When we were without strength, Christ died for us." To be without Christ, and to be without strength—is all one.
Fifthly, Jesus Christ is precious to believers, because he is their righteousness and holiness.
Sixthly, Jesus Christ is precious to believers, because he is their portion! Jesus Christ is the terror of his enemies—and the portion of his people. Jesus Christ is a lion his enemies—and the Lamb to his people.
I might in a few particulars ANATOMIZE the believer, and begin with his head. All that he knows of the things of God—he is indebted to Christ for it. Says Paul, "God who has shined in our hearts, by the light of the gospel, in the face of Christ." All the knowledge of God, all gospel light, all the knowledge of spiritual things, we have all from Christ.
Consider the believer in his heart. We find there a broken heart, a tender heart, a good and honest heart, a new-covenant heart. How does he get this heart? Why, he has it only from him in whom the new-covenant is made, and that is Christ.
Consider the believer in his graces, as faith, and love, and patience, and humility, and the rest—he has all from Christ! "Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness!" John 1:16. There is not one grace we have—but we have it from Christ.
Consider the believer in his life. He is an honest and just man. Who made him to differ? Why is he not so full of cheating tricks as other men? Why, he has not so learned Christ! Christ teaches him to live at a more holy rate than others do—so that if the believer is better than others in this, he may say, "Thanks be to Christ, for that before I lived as vainly as others did; but now I have not so learned Christ!"
Consider the believer in his privileges. He is a child of God, and it is by the Son of God—that he is a son of God, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name—He gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12. So that if he is a child of God, he must thank Christ for it! If he is one of the family royal, one of the chosen generation, he must thank Christ for it! For it is in Christ, and by him alone, that we have all the good which we enjoy.
Consider the believer in his comforts. He has not one good day—but it is from Christ. Has he comfort in ordinances, in the society of saints and prayer? He must thank Christ for all this.
And thus I have given you a brief anatomy of the Christian, and showed you that Christ is all in all. Whatever a believer has of worth, he is indebted to Christ for it.
Now put all this together, and see what great reason there is that Christ should be precious to believers. Is it any wonder that these souls are enamored so with him, that they think their lives not worth the living but for him, and in him, and for his sake. Oh sirs, there is very great reason why believers set so high a value and esteem upon Christ, who is their all in all.
The first use shall be forexamination and self-trial. You have heard that Christ is precious, precious to God, to angels, to saints. But now, O soul—is he precious to your soul? If he is precious to you—then all which is precious to him—is precious to you.
Oh, that men would but deal truly with their own souls! Many talk of grace—but few taste of grace! Many talk like a Christian—but few walk like a Christian! Many know what is to be done—but never do what is to be done. Many wear Christ's livery—but do the devil's drudgery! Many have hands as white as snow—but their hearts as black as hell! Many think themselves as surely going to heaven, as if they were already dwelling in heaven! Many think it shall go well with them hereafter, because it is so well with them here! Many lie down with such hopes in their beds of rest, which they dare not lie down withal in their beds of dust! Many appear righteous, who are only righteous in their appearance. But such as deceive others with a false show of holiness—will deceive themselves with a false hope of happiness! Remember, sirs, that the sheep's coat shall be stripped off the wolf's back! "They come to you in sheep's clothing—but inwardly they are ferocious wolves!" Matthew 7:15. There is no making out our salvation—but by working out our salvation.
God binds up none in the bundle of life—but such who are the heirs of life! "Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!" Numbers 23:10. There is no living a life that is wicked—and then dying a death that is righteous. Oh! therefore, examine yourselves. I shall propose four questions to be resolved by your own hearts.
1. What interest have you in him?
2. What influences have you from him?
3. What affections bear you to him?
4. What preparations make you for him?
Oh, sirs, that you would consider well these weighty things! Tell me, sir—what did Judas get by all his deceitful dealings? Nothing but a halter—in which his body was hanged; and a fire—in which his soul was burned! Though the earth may keep a wicked man living—yet heaven will not take a wicked man dying. I say, therefore, examine yourselves.
Secondly, I shall speak a little by way ofexhortation and conclude.
1st, If Jesus Christ is so precious, oh then, open the door of your affections to him—that he may open the door of salvation to you! Open to the God of glory—that he may make you glorious. Behold the God of heaven stands at the door of your hearts, and knocks, Revelation 3:20, "Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." He knocks by his Word, by his rod, by his Spirit, by his mercies, by his judgments, by his comforts. And all is, that he may come in and commune with you. Now, sinners, will you not open the door of your hearts to Christ—that he may open the door of heaven to you? If you shut out Christ out of your hearts—he will shut you out of heaven! And what will you get by that? Oh, sirs, he has gold to enrich you, wine to cheer you, bread to nourish you, righteousness to justify you, mercy to save you, and happiness to crown you!
2ndly, Let all that which is precious to God be precious to you:
1. The Son of God.
2. The book of God.
3. The worship of God.
4. The ordinances of God.
5. The ministers of God.
6. The people of God.
Oh! let these be precious to you. May the Lord give his blessing to what has been written.
"Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
To be in a state of grace—is to be miserable no more—and to be happy forever. It is faith which unites Christ and sanctified souls together on earth; and love that unites God and glorified souls together in heaven. Oh! believers, you are those worthies of whom the world is not worthy! From one saint, Jesus Christ has more glory given to him, than he receives from all the world besides. We owe not only our service to Christ—but we owe also ourselves to him.
I shall now make some remarks upon our Lord Jesus Christ's seventh famous and lovely title, which is Wonderful.
"He shall be called Wonderful." Isaiah 9:6
The point that we shall lay down and speak to from hence, is this,
Doctrine: That a believer's Savior, is a Wonderful Savior.
The world and devils fear him. But he is Wonderful in the eyes of all angels and saints, for his love.
For the opening of this excellent point, take these particulars:
1. Christ is Wonderful in his nature.
2. Christ is wonderful in his person.
3. Christ is wonderful in his incarnation.
4. Christ is wonderful in his saints.
5. Christ is wonderful in his offices.
6. Christ is wonderful in his miracles that he wrought.
7. Christ is wonderful in his humiliation.
8. Christ is wonderful in his conquest.
9. Christ is wonderful in his ascension.
10. Christ is wonderful in his exaltation.
11. Christ is wonderful in his working in his saints.
Lastly, Christ is Wonderful in his judgment.
Some preachers have more time than matter—but I have now more matter than time; therefore I must omit much precious matter, for lack of precious time.
Beloved, I will handle but one of these in particular, and that is the seventh:
That Jesus Christ is wonderful in His HUMILIATION.
This is the head we shall now insist upon, and indeed this is one of the greatest wonders of all. That he who was so high—should be brought so low; that he who was so rich—should become so poor; that the Lord of life—should die; that the great God—should become a helpless babe; that the Eternal Word—should not able to speak a word; that he who made the law—should be under the law; that he who was more excellent than all the angels—should become less and lower than the angels. Oh! you angels, how you stand amazed at this, that the Lord of heaven and earth—should become a Servant to his own servants! Philippians 2:7, "He took upon him the form of a servant." This must needs be wonderful to all the angels in heaven.
The first wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he took upon him our nature, Hebrews 2:16. God could stoop no lower than to become man, and man could be advanced no higher than to be united to God. He who before made man a soul after the image of God—now made himself a body after the image of man. For a man to be like to God is a wonder—but for God to be like man is a greater wonder! But when was it, that Jesus Christ took upon himself our nature? When it was in a state of innocency, free from all misery and calamity? No! But when it was at the lowest after the fall, when it was most beggarly, most wretched, most bloody, most accursed, most sinful, most feeble, "When we were without strength—Christ died for the ungodly," says the apostle. Romans 5:6.
Now, my brethren, that Jesus Christ should take upon him our condition, our frailty, our curse, our nature, when it was thus low, thus poor, thus wretched—oh! this is the wonder of wonders, and yet thus you see did Jesus Christ. Oh, wonderful abasement! Must God take upon him our frailty! Had we so far run upon the score of justice—that none could satisfy but God himself? Could he not send his angels or saints—but must he come himself in person? No, no! Angels or saints could not do it! If Christ will save us—he himself must come and die for us!
The second wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he descended very low.
1stly, He was born of a poor maiden, of no account or reputation. Was there not even one great lady in Jerusalem, for this great Prince of heaven and earth to be born of? Must he be born of a poor despised virgin? Yes, certainly, there were many noble women in Jerusalem, but our Lord Jesus Christ had no more regard for the rich, than for the poor.
2ndly, He was revealed to poor despised shepherds—and not to emperors and kings. I say, the angels did not go and declare these joyful tidings and good news to Caesar at Rome—but to poor shepherds in the fields, Luke 2:8.
3rdly, He was born in a stable, Luke 2:12. Not in a parlor in a stately house or palace. No—but in a stable where horses and cows are fed.
4thly, He was wrapped in strips of cloth, and laid in a feeding trough. They were no cloths of fine linen or silks. They were not gilded with silver or gold. Nor were they precious robes—but poor beggars' rags.
Now, beloved, put all this together, and tell me what is more wonderful and astonishing than this? Oh! humility, humility, how great is your riches that are thus commended to us! You please men, delight angels, and confound devils—and bring the Creator to a feeding trough! Oh, sweet Jesus, you conquer death by dying!
The third wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he became poor. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich!" 2 Corinthians 8:9. He who was so rich—became so poor! He who was Lord of all—had nothing at all! He who made heaven and earth—had no home of his own! He who gives crowns of glory to others—had only a crown of thorns for himself! The foxes and the fowls had more than Jesus! "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head!" Matthew 8:20. The foxes had holes to lay their heads in—but Christ had not a place to lay his head on. As he was born in another man's house—so he was buried in another man's tomb!
"He became poor!" Yes, poor indeed, and so poor that he had not a penny! You will say, that a man is very poor—who has not a penny! Truly such a one was Christ—he had not a penny to pay the tax until he got it out of the fish's mouth! "Go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a coin. Take the coin and pay the tax for both of us." Matthew 17:27
And when he was to ride into Jerusalem—he had no coach, no chariot, no horse of his own—he had to ride upon another man's donkey! Matthew 21:2.
Oh! admire and wonder at this! Is not he the brightness of God, the paradise of angels, the beauty of heaven, the Redeemer of man, the destroyer of death, the King of saints! And that he should become so poor for us—oh! this is wonderful and astonishing to angels and men!
The fourth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he shed his blood six times for poor sinners!This is a great wonder!
1st, The first time was, when he was circumcised at eight days old. Oh, what a blessed Jesus is this! What, ready for the sacrifice already? What—but eight days old, and shed his blood for the salvation of men's poor souls!
2ndly, The second time was, when he was in his agony, when he was in the garden. Matthew tells us, that "his soul began to be sorrowful." "deeply distressed and troubled", says Mark. "Now my soul is troubled" says John. Troubled? O Lord, what! You who bind up the proud waves of the sea—you who turns the hearts of kings as rivers of waters—you who laid the foundations cf the earth, and spread the heavens as a curtain—you who guides the stars and thunders in the clouds—you who upholds all things by the Word of your power. What—you troubled? Oh, the horror, the terror, the sorrow that seized upon the soul of Christ! "And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground!" Luke 22:44. He sweat what? Not natural sweat—but blood, he was in a bloody sweat all over! "He sweat clots of blood," as the original has it.
Oh! how did Christ come swimming to us in blood—and have not we a tear to shed for all these streams of his! We ate the sour grapes—and his teeth were set on edge! We climbed the tree, and stole the forbidden fruit—and he went up the ladder of the cross, and died! Oh! how lovely should he be in our eyes? We should wear his cross in our hearts, and treasure it up as Moses did the manna in the golden pot.
Christ's cross is the golden key that lets us into paradise! His red blood washed away our crimson sins!
3rdly, He shed his blood for us when his cheeks were ripped and torn; the pulling off the hair, as the prophet speaks, "I gave My back to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard. I did not hide My face from scorn and spitting." Isaiah 50:6. Some are of opinion, that Christ's cheeks were rent to his very chin, and his beard was pulled off; both were very likely to be true; neither of them could be without much blood.
"The men who were holding Jesus started mocking and beating Him." Luke 22:64. Oh how was that face of his lacerated and covered with blood—which was brighter than the sun! He who was fairer than the sons of men; he who is the great glittering and sparkling diamond of the ring of glory! How was he bespotted and besmeared with blood! Oh! you hard of heart, you stubborn of heart, and indeed too stubborn are we all, if judgment and the hammer will not break your hearts—let love and mercy do it. Look unto Christ, and say, "Have you suffered this for me—and shall I not love you, O Lord! Shall I not serve you, and obey you, and honor you!"
4thly, Christ shed his blood when the crown of prickling thorns was put upon his head. "They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. Mark 15:17. Certainly there was much blood shed here. Oh! what a sight was this—to behold that head of his, that was as the most fine gold, as the spouse expresses it to be—now covered and torn with thorns! That he should wear the prickly crown of sharp thorns—who was fit to wear the crown of glory!
5thly, A fifth time when he shed his blood was when his hands and feet were nailed to the cross! These beautiful feet of his which came skipping upon the mountains, bringing the glad tidings of peace and salvation; skipping from the throne to the cradle, from the cradle to the cross, and from the cross to the throne again! How were these blessed hands of his nailed and made fast to the cross! Oh, you blessed spirits, look down from heaven, and you may see even the Almighty kneel at the feet of men. Oh, you angels! how should you be amazed at this, to see your Lord and master so far deny himself, as to take upon him the form of a servant! "We see Jesus (says the apostle,) made a little lower than the angels." To suffer death, the Creator not only became a creature—but inferior to some of the creatures which he had made. Oh, you blessed saints! Why do you not wonder at this wonder? to see the beauty of heaven, the paradise of angels, the brightness of his Father's glory, the Redeemer of man—thus to humble himself, and take upon him man's nature—for the salvation of man's soul.
6thly, and lastly, Christ shed his blood when the spear was thrust into his side, out of which presently gushed water and blood; John 19:34. That is a very strange cure—that the physician should bleed, and his blood should have the virtue, that would save others. Physicians are usually liberal of other men's blood—but sparing of their own; but it is not so with our great Physician. Instead of the patient's bleeding in the arm—he bled in the side! Why do you shower down your blood—and come swimming in your blood? Is not a drop sufficient? One drop of his blood, is more worth than heaven and earth!
Oh love without measure! Oh wonderful redemption! That God should take upon him man's frailty, that is wonderful indeed! It is enough for a king to pardon a thief—but that the king himself should die for the malefactor, that is beyond expression! This our blessed Lord did, our blessed Savior! He died—that we might live! He went and suffered in agony—that he might "stay us with flagons, and comfort us with apples." He endured the greatest pains—that we might enjoy the greatest pleasures. Oh how lovely, how lovely was Christ in his sufferings! Who would not love you, O King of saints? Christian! consider how much your dear Lord and Savior has suffered and undergone for you. Oh precious blood—it redeems us, it cleanses us, it washes us, it justifies us, it sanctifies us, it restores us to God, and brings us to heaven! "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:5
The fifth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—He suffered in his soul.Matthew 26:38, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death!'' says Christ. Oh what a word was this for a God to speak! For a man to say so, is no wonder—but for God to say so, oh, this is a great wonder indeed! The suffering of his soul—was the soul of sufferings! Christ yielded his soul—for our souls.
Many of the faithful servants have suffered much in their bodies, as the martyrs that were racked, and burnt, and sawn asunder; but they had much freedom in their souls, their souls were full of much spiritual joy and comfort. But now Jesus Christ did not only suffer in his body—but in his soul. This is what makes the wonder the greater—that Christ suffered in his soul. He drank the cup of affliction—that we might drink the cup of consolation! He tasted death for us—that we might taste life through him! He was forsaken—that we might never be forsaken!
The sixth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—that he should allow himself to be so much mocked!He was mocked as Sampson was by the Philistines, when his eyes were put out. And truly this is a great wonder:
1. If we consider who Christ was.
2. If we consider who they were, who mocked him.
He was God—they were but dust and ashes!
1. They spit upon him.
2. They blindfolded him.
3. They crowned him with thorns.
4. They put a reed into his hand, instead of a scepter,
5. They clothed him with purple garments.
6. They bowed their knees to him in scorn.
7. They saluted him with, "Hail, king of the Jews!"
8. They made him carry his own cross, on which he was to be hanged; as malefactors go with halters about their necks to execution, so they made him carry the cross.
9. They reviled him, wagging their heads.
10. They crucified him with two thieves, and him in the midst of them, as though he had been the prince of the thieves, the greatest malefactor of them all.
11. They insulted over him in his misery.
All this they did in scorn to him, that they might make his death the more painful and shameful! Thus they never left off mocking him—until his soul left the world! Oh sirs, this is no small wonder—to consider how Jesus Christ was cruelly mocked.
The seventh wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he suffered much from his Father!"Stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted." Isaiah 53:4. Here is the wonder of wonders! He did not only suffer from Jews and Gentiles, Scribes and Pharisees, Judas and Pilate, wicked men and devils—but he suffers too, from his own Father! One would have thought, if God would spare any—it would have been his Son, his own Son, his beloved Son, his only begotten Son, his bosom Son. And yet God spared him not a jot! "He did not even spare His own Son—but offered Him up for us all!" Romans 8:32. Mark, if Jesus Christ will come and take our sins upon him, God will not spare him—but let out the fullness of justice, and justice to the full upon him, until he had paid the uttermost farthing of justice!
Oh! blessed Jesus, you suffered so much for our sinning, for our offending, for our rebellion!
Oh! then, what infinite cause have we to love you, and obey you, and honor you! For the more you has done and suffered for us—the dearer you ought to be unto us.
The eighth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—Christ foresaw all this—and yet he willingly undertook it, to save his people!He knew before he came from heaven, how men would abuse him, and that one of his family would betray him. Says the text, "Jesus knew from the beginning, who would betray him!" Now, that our Lord Jesus Christ should foreknow all this most dreadful misery that he would endure—yet that he should come freely, willingly, and joyfully from heaven, to die and suffer by and for such poor wretches as we are—here is a wonder to angels and men!
"Here I am, I have come to do your will." Hebrews 10:9. Why did he come? To suffer for poor man, to redeem poor men! Do you see here, sirs, what great love Christ bore to his people! Rather than they should be in hell, and be damned—Jesus Christ would come from heaven and suffer all this for them, though he knew before how he would suffer! Oh, this is a great wonder, dear Christians! Methinks such a pearl should sparkle in our eyes. We sail to glory, not in the salt seas of our tears—but in the red sea of Christ's blood. Truly it is astonishing to think how much he did for us—and how little we do for him! The greater our sins were—the greater his sufferings were! The greater his pain was—the greater should our love be to him.
I shall make of this point—a use of information and exhortation.
Use 1. INFORMATION. Did Christ suffer so much for his people? Then we have a wonderful Savior! This informs us of eight things:
First, My first inference is this, that Christ suffered in what he endured from men in his body, and what he endured from God in his soul. He did not only endure pain in his body—but agony in his soul. Oh, the sea of sufferings, the sea of sorrow, the sea of blood, the sea of tears that our blessed Savior waded through—to bring peace to our souls, salvation to our souls, grace and glory to our souls! He suffered from devils, he suffered in his name, he suffered in his body, he suffered in his soul! The cause was our sins—the effect was our salvation!
If you look through the chronicle of his life, you will find his whole life full of sorrow and misery; he was persecuted, he was tempted, he was reproached, he was falsely accused, he was apprehended, he was betrayed, he was crucified. What more shall we say? Shall we say more? What more can be said? He was full of sorrow—he took his name from sorrow, "He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief." Isaiah 53:3. Now judge sirs, whether Christ's life was not full of sorrows, he took his name from sorrow.
Oh! sweet Jesus, your sufferings were great. This is my first inference.
Secondly, Jesus Christ suffered by himself. He was alone in his sufferings; neither angels nor saints bore any part with him in his sufferings. No! he drank the bitter cup alone! He alone purged our sins! Hebrews 1:3, "He alone, by himself," says the text, "purged our sins." No, Christ had none to help to bear his heavy burden with him—he bore it himself alone.
But, my beloved, though our Lord Jesus Christ suffered by himself—yet he did not suffer for himself! He suffered for us, he suffered that wrath which we deserved! "Surely he took up our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought our peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:4-5. Do you see here, Christians, how many 'ours' are here? Our griefs, our sorrows, our transgressions, our iniquities, our peace; you have here, five 'ours'!
So again, "For our sakes he became poor;" 2 Corinthians 8:9. Mark, for our sakes. Beloved, he was born for us, "Unto us a child is born;" he was given for us, "to us a son is given," Isaiah 9:6. "He was made a curse for us," Galatians 3:13. He was delivered up for us, "Who spared not his own Son—but delivered him up for us all." Oh, sirs! all these things were FOR US: given for us, made a curse for us, made sin for us, delivered up for us, and is now in heaven interceding for us, Hebrews 7:25. My brethren, all that our Lord Jesus suffered, it was not for himself—but it was for us! Our blessed Savior suffered for us—that we might not suffer! This is the second inference.
Thirdly, My third is, That this is more for Christ to suffer anything—than for all men and angels to suffer all things. Mark, sirs, if all the kings and emperors would leave their thrones, their crowns, their kingdoms, their scepters, their glory, their honors and princely robes—and would take upon them a poor Lazarus' condition—to live poorly, and fare poorly, and die shamefully; why, all this would not be so much as for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to suffer the least thing he suffered!
Now further, I say, if all the angels in heaven, and men on earth, had come and suffered, and died ten thousand deaths—why, put all this together—and all this would not be as much as it was for Christ to suffer anything! This is because they are creatures—and he is the Creator; they the servants—and he is the Master; they are subjects—and he is the Prince; they are mean—and he is Mighty; he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords! Now, I say, it would not have been half such a wonder, if all the angels in heaven, and men in earth—had come and suffered—as it was for the Son of God. Oh! this is a wonder of wonders! His sufferings were wonderful, his humility was wonderful, his patience was wonderful, his love was wonderful; greater love could no man show; he loved us so—that he died for love!
Now, I beseech you, consider this inference, which was this, That it is more for Jesus Christ to suffer anything, than for all men and angels to suffer all things. And indeed, sirs, let me tell you—that I lack words to express it, or set it forth; for there is both lack of words, and lack in words—to express this this astonishing truth!
Fourthly, My fourth inference is this, What a miserable and dreadful case we lay in—that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ must endure all this, bear all this, undergo all this, for poor sinners! What do you think is the miserable and dreadful case we lay in? Certainly the misery of man was very great—that man should need such redemption as this! Oh! what a breach had sin made between God and us—that the Son of God must come from heaven to earth to suffer all this! Oh! sirs, mischievous sin, I say mischievous sin, has undone us! Sin has robbed us of six jewels, every one of which is of more worth than heaven and earth. Would you know what jewels they are, which sin has robbed us of? I will tell you—and then you will agree with me—that we were in a very miserable case indeed!
1. Sin robs us of the image of God. Was not this a precious jewel? I say, sin robbed us of the image of God—and drew the devil's picture in us! Malice is the devil's eye, oppression is the devil's hand, blasphemy is the devil's tongue, and hypocrisy is the devil's cloven foot!
2. Sin robs us of our divine sonship—and makes us slaves to the devil, slaves to sin, slaves to the world, and slaves to ourselves! This is another jewel we have lost.
3. Sin robs us of our friendship with God—and makes us enemies to God, and enemies to Christ, enemies to our own souls, and enemies to all that is holy!
4. Sin robs us of our communion and fellowship with God—and makes us strangers and aliens to God.
5. Sin robs us of our rights and privileges of heaven, and heavenly things—and makes us children of wrath and heirs of hell.
6. Sin robs us of our honor and glory—and makes us vile and miserable; as you may see in Isaiah 1:6, "There is no soundness in us—but only wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!"
Now, sirs, put all this together, and then see whether or not we are miserable, and whether we needed a Savior to come and deliver us from this misery into which our souls were plunged! Now here is our happiness, Christians: in Christ we have these jewels back again—which we lost in the old Adam! The glorious image of God, our divine sonship, our friendship with God, our fellowship with God, our heavenly privileges, and our glory and honor—we have regained all this by Jesus Christ!
Oh! sirs, man was in a very sad condition; man had brought himself into a sad condition; our condition was a miserable condition.
AFifth inference is this, Jesus Christ brought life to us—but we brought death to him! He brought to us a life of grace, a life of comfort, a life of glory—but we brought shame to him! He brought riches to us—but we brought poverty to him! He brought joy to us—but we brought sorrow to him, sorrow upon sorrow! He put the crown of glory upon our heads—but we put the crown of thorns upon his head! He does not think heaven is too good for us—but we thought the earth too good for him, and would not let him live here—but put him to death! He is not ashamed to own us before his Father, and his holy angels—but we are ashamed to own him before men! He justifies us—but we condemn him! Oh! sirs, think of your unkindness to him, and let the considerations of his infinite love and favor to you—draw out your affections after him!
MySixth inference is this, All believers have exceeding great cause to bless God for Jesus Christ; God the Father gave him to us—who were not his friends, but enemies; to us—who were not sons, but slaves; to us—who were not angels, but men; to us, who loved not God—but hated him! Oh! have we not cause to bless God for Jesus Christ? "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Oh, sirs, what a gift is Jesus Christ!
Seventhly, If Jesus Christ is so wonderful—oh, then, how vile a thing, how base a thing is it for the hearts of men to prefer anything before Jesus Christ! Surely, sirs, if Jesus Christ is so wonderful, so precious, so lovely, so rich, so sweet, so rare—oh then it is a most abominable thing, a wicked thing, a vile thing to prefer anything before Jesus Christ! Oh! I speak it with grief of heart, that there are too many in the world who despise him, and make nothing of him, and love him not, and prefer every base lust before him! Though there is nothing more cursed than this—yet there is nothing more common than this—for men to prefer the vilest things before Christ.
1stly, The wicked worldling prefers the trash of the world before Jesus Christ! He can leave hearing and praying, reading and meditating—to follow the world! He prefers gold before God, earth before heaven, gain before glory, his corruptible silver before the eternal Savior. Oh, you wicked worldling, you wretched worldling—can your riches save your soul? Let me ask you, "Can your riches deliver you from hell? Can your riches bring you to heaven—that you prefer them before Christ.'' Oh! the Lord Jesus will come in flames of fire, to take vengeance on such—and then you will know to your cost, and pain, and torment—that your riches cannot keep you out of hell, much less bring your soul to heaven! Then you will see your folly when it is too late!
2ndly, Drunkards, wicked drunkards, prefer their drunkenness before Christ! The drunkard prefers his cups before Christ; the drunkard wades through a sea of drink to his grave; he can sit a day or a whole night in the ale-house, and think it a little time; but an hour in the worship of God, oh now tedious is that! Oh! you drunkard, you drink up your cups so fast, God Almighty has a cup for you—but not a cup of wine, or a cup of beer—but a cup of wrath, which you shall drink to eternity! This is worse than to drink scalding hot lead down your throat! You have so much liquor here, not only drink to quench his thirst—but to drink to excess. But is no tavern or ale-house in hell; no, there is not even a drop of water to be obtained all through hell. Oh, wretch! you shall live in burning flames, and your tongue shall cleave to the roof of your mouth, and if you would give a thousand worlds for one drop of water, you shall not have it. And therefore, I beseech you, if any such there are here, in the name of God—hear and fear, and live no more wickedly!
Oh! I would not be in your condition for ten thousand worlds; and yet I cannot have but affections of pity towards you, which constrains me thus to speak, knowing your condition better than you do yourself. Oh! could you but speak with your fellow-drunkards that are now in hell, oh what a dreadful story would they tell you of their burning, and suffering, and pain, and torments! Some are in hell already—for the same sins you live in! And if you live and die without Christ, you shall be with them before long!
3rdly, The swearer, the blasphemous swearer, prefers his cursing before Christ. Many can swear by their Creator and Maker, and speak proudly, and look highly, and walk contemptuously—as if there were no God to punish, and no devil to torment. Well, let me tell you, oh swearer, who now delight in cursing—before long you shall be sent with a curse to a cursed place! Christ will say to you, "Depart, you who are cursed, into everlasting flames!"
Lastly, The proud person prefers his pride before Christ. If a fine suit of clothes were on the one hand, and Christ on the other—the proud person would rather put on the suit of clothes than Christ! Oh, I beseech you, sirs, consider what a vile and abominable thing it is—to prefer anything before Christ! "Consider this," says the Psalmist, "you who forget God—lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you!" Oh, poor wretch! consider of that text! You are open to all the judgments in this life, and to all the torments in the life which is to come—all you wicked ones that prefer anything before Christ!
Eighthly, The last inference is this: If Jesus Christ is so wonderful, oh then everyone who hears of him, should think it is a most dreadful thing to miss of him.
Oh, friends! consider it; certainly that man or woman's condition must needs be sad indeed, who lives and dies without Jesus Christ. Oh, poor wretch! the devil looks but for a look from God to come and rent you to pieces, and draw your soul to hell. Poor soul, your soul is in danger every hour of being arrested by death, and carried prisoner to hell. Oh, sirs, I beseech you—think and consider what a sad thing it is to miss of Christ. Until a man is in Christ, he has nothing, he knows nothing, he enjoys nothing, can do nothing, and is fit for nothing, and is worth nothing, Proverbs 10:20.
Oh, I beseech, you, that you would consider seriously that of all miseries that is the greatest of miseries to miss of Christ; we are never able to lament the loss of the poor soul that loses Jesus Christ; all losses be enrapt up in that one loss.
And therefore I beseech you all—think what a sad condition that person is in, who misses of Christ. So much for this use of information.
(to be continued)