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This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased; hear ye him.—Mat. XVII. 5.
I. THE design and intent of this scripture is to set forth the Lord Jesus as the great mediator, as appeareth—
1. From the occasions upon which this voice came from heaven. At his baptism, which was Christ’s dedication of himself to the work of a redeemer and saviour; and now at his transfiguration, to distinguish him from Moses and the other prophets, and publicly to instal him in the mediatory office.
2. The matter of the words show his fitness for this office, for here you have:—
[1.] His dignity: not a servant, but a Son: Heb. iii. 5, 6, ‘Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, but Christ as a Son over his own house.’ Now the old prophecies foretold the union of the two natures in his person, and necessary it was that our mediator should be God-man. There is a congruity between his person and office, one fit to be familiar with man, and naturally interested in his concerns, and yet so high and near the Father as may put a sufficient value upon his actions, and so meet to mediate with God for us.
[2.] The dearness between God and him: ‘My beloved Son.’ Christ is the object of his Father’s love, both as the second person in the Trinity and mediator. The one is the ground of the other, for because he loved him he intrusted him with souls: John iii. 35, ‘The Father hath loved him, and put all things into his hands’ the elect and all things else, all power that conduceth to their salvation. Afterwards loved him as mediator: John x. 17, ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.’ Now such a beloved Son is fittest to mediate for us, and to come upon a design of love, to demonstrate God’s great love to wretched sinners, and to be a pledge of that love which God will bestow upon us who are altogether so unworthy of it.
[3.] His acceptableness to God, who is well pleased with the terms, the management of it.393
II. This work of mediator Christ executeth by three offices, of king, priest, prophet. For he is head and lord of the renewed state; a priest to offer a sacrifice for sin, which, having once offered, he for ever represents in heaven; he was also to be teacher of mankind, to acquaint us with the way of salvation. These offices are often alluded unto in scripture: Rev. i. 5, ‘The faithful witness, the first-begotten from the dead, the prince of the kings of the earth;’ so Heb. i. 2, 3, ‘God hath spoken to us by his Son, he having by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.’ The effect of them is more briefly described: John xiv. 6, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ The way was opened by his passion, and is kept open by his intercession. Truth as a prophet. Life we have from him, as prince of life, or head of the renewed estate. So the effects: 1 Cor. i. 30, ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.’ Wisdom as a prophet to cure our ignorance and folly; righteousness and sanctification as a priest; redemption as the king and captain of our salvation. The same benefits which he purchaseth as a king, he bestoweth as a priest, revealeth as a prophet. These three offices were typed out by the first-born, who were heads of families, and also prophets and priests.
That though all the three offices be employed, yet the prophetical office is more explicitly mentioned, partly as suiting with the present occasion, which is to demonstrate that Christ hath sufficient authority to repeal the law of Moses, which the prophets were to explain, confirm, and maintain till his coming. But now Moses and Elias appear in person to certify their consent, and God his approbation, from heaven, to that new law of grace which Christ should set up; partly because it is not necessary that in every place all the offices should be mentioned; sometimes but one, as where Christ is called either king, priest, or prophet; sometimes two together, Heb. iii. 1, prophetical, sacerdotal: ‘Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;’ sometimes his prophetical and kingly, Isa. lv. 4, ‘Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, and for a leader and commander to the people:’ partly because if Christ be received in this one office he will be received in all the rest; for as a prophet he hath revealed that doctrine which establisheth his kingly and priestly office, for he hath revealed all things necessary to salvation, and therefore his own sacrifice and regal power. Lastly, some think all expressly mentioned here. Thus Christ is God’s beloved Son, and therefore the heir of all things, and lord and king, in whom he is well pleased—that is, pacified and satisfied with his offering as a priest, or appeased by his complete sacrifice. Hear him as the great prophet and doctor of the Church.
This premised, I come now to observe:—
Doct. That Christ is appointed by God the Father to be the great prophet and teacher, whose voice alone must be heard in the Church.
I. That Christ is the great prophet and teacher of the Church appeareth:—
1. By the titles given to him. He is compared with Moses the 394great lawgiver among the Jews: ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of you like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken,’ Deut. xviii. 15. He was to be like a Moses, but greater than Moses. A lawgiver as he, a man as he, one that saw God face to face as he, a mediator as he; but far other in all respects—a better law, a more glorious person, a more blessed mediator, working greater miracles than ever did Moses. So he is called our rabbi or master: Mark xxiii. 8, ‘One is your master, even Christ, and ye are brethren.’ The supreme authority, the original right is in Christ. We are not leaders and teachers, but fellow disciples; so Heb. iii. 1, ‘Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ.’ Again, he is called the angel or messenger of the covenant, Mal. iii. 1. Christ with a; great condescension took upon him the office of his Father’s ambassador to the church, to promote the covenant of reconciliation between God and man, and make offers of it in preaching the gospel; and he it is that doth by his Spirit persuade the elect, and doth make his covenant sure to them. Once more, he is called ‘Amen, the faithful and true witness,’ Rev. iii. 14. There can be no prejudice against his testimony; he can never deceive nor be deceived; it is so, it will be so, as he hath said, Amen is his name.
2. By the properties of his office: he hath three things to quality him for this high office:—
[1.] Absolute supreme authority: and therefore we must hear him and hearken to him. This is usually made the ground and reason of the gospel invitation, to invite sinners to submit themselves to seek after God in this way: as Mat. xi. 27, 28, ‘All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden,’ &c. There is no true knowledge of God but by Christ and the gospel revelation which he hath established, therefore here we must seek rest for our souls: so John iii. 35, 36, ‘The Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hands. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son hath not seen life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ First, his mediatorial authority is acknowledged; and then faith and obedience to the gospel is called for, for to the sentence of the Son of God we must stand or fall. So when Christ instituted and sent abroad his messengers to invite the world to the obedience of the gospel: Mat. xxviii. 18-20, ‘All power is given to me both in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ He hath absolute and supreme authority to gather his church, to appoint ministers and ordinances, to bestow the Spirit, to open and close heaven and hell as he pleaseth, to dispose of all affairs in the world for the furtherance of the gospel, and to enjoin the whole world obedience to his commands, and to embrace his doctrine.
[2.] All manner of sufficiency and power of God to execute this office: John iii. 34, ‘For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure to him.’ The former 395prophets had the Spirit in a limited measure bestowed on them by God, for such particular purposes as best pleased him; therefore all their prophecies begin, Thus saith the Lord, as having for every particular message and errand new revelation. But on Christ the Spirit descended once for all, and commanded the belief of all and obedience to all that he should say. Therefore it is said, Col. ii. 3, ‘In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ He is ignorant of none of those things which are to be known and practised in order to our eternal salvation; they are deposited with him to be dispensed to us.
[3.] There is in him, a powerful efficacy. As he hath absolute authority to teach in his own name, and fulness of sufficiency to make known the mind of God to us; so he hath power to make his doctrine effectual. As when he dealt with his disciples, after he had opened the scriptures, he ‘opened their understandings.’ Luke xxiv. 25; so he ‘opened the heart of Lydia.’ Acts xvi. 14. He can teach so as to draw, John vi. 44, 45. He can excite the drowsy mind, change and turn the rebellious will, cure the distempered affections, make us to be what he persuadeth us to be. There is no such teacher as Christ, who doth not only give us our lesson, but an heart to learn; therefore to him we must submit, hear nothing against him, but all from him.
II. About hearing him, that must be explained also.
First, What it is to hear; it being our great duty, and the respect bespoken for him. In the hearing of words there are three things considerable—the sound that cometh to the ear, the understanding of the sense and meaning, and the assent or consent of the mind. Of the first the beasts are capable, for they have ears to hear the sound of words uttered. The second is common to all men, for they can sense such intelligible words as they hear. The third belongeth to disciples, who are swayed by their Master’s authority. So that, Hear him, is not to hear as beasts, nor barely to hear as men, but to hear as disciples; to believe him, to obey him; to believe his doctrines and promises, and to obey his precepts. For his authority is absolute, and what he doth say, doth warrant our faith, and command our practice and obedience. I gather this partly from the word ‘hear,’ which not only signifies attention and belief, but obedience: as 1 Sam. xv. 22, ‘To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ where to obey and hearken are put as words of the same import and signification. Partly from the matter of Christ’s revelation; he hath revealed not only doctrines to inform the mind, but precepts to reform the heart and practice. If we assent to the doctrine, but do not obey the precepts, we do not hear him. Therefore to hear him is to yield obedience to what he shall teach you; and when Christ cometh to take an account of the entertainment of the gospel, ‘he shall come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Partly too from the intimate connexion there is between his prophetical and regal office. Christ is so a prophet, that he is also a sovereign; and doth not only give us counsel and direction, but a law, which we are to observe under the highest penalties. If the gospel were an arbitrary direction,, which we might observe or not observe, without any great danger to 396ourselves, surely it were folly to despise good counsel; but it hath the force of a new law from the great king and lawgiver of the world, therefore it must not only be believed but obeyed: Heb. v. 8, He that is the chief prophet of the church is also the king of saints. Partly also from the near connexion that is between faith and obedience. The matter which we believe is of a practical concernment, and doth not require only a simple faith, or bare belief, which were enough in points merely speculative, but a ready obedience. It is said, Rom. xvi. 26, ‘The mysteries of the gospel are made manifest to all nations for the obedience of faith.’ They are not matters of speculation and talk, but practice; and blessedness is pronounced on such as hear them and keep them: Luke xi. 28, ‘Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.’ Many hear and talk, hear and stuff their minds with notions, but they do not frame themselves to the practice of what they hear. Many question not Christ’s authority, but yet they do not regard his doctrine. Now, faith doth not only silence our doubts, but quicken our affections and enliven our practice.
Secondly, How can we now hear Christ, since he is removed into the heaven of heavens, and doth not speak to us in person?
Ans. Surely it doth not only concern the believers of that age, who conversed with Christ in the days of his flesh, but it is the general duty of all Christians to hear Christ; for during the whole gospel dispensation, God speaketh to us by his Son, Heb. i. 2: the revelation is settled, and not delivered by parcels, as it was to the ordinary prophets. Now we hear Christ in the scriptures: Heb. ii. 3, 4, ‘How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? which was first spoken by the Lord, and afterwards confirmed to us by them that heard him.’ He began to speak and to declare the gospel both before and after his resurrection; and they that heard him were especially the apostles, who, being induced by the Holy Ghost, declared it first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, to whom it was continued by divers signs and wonders, as to the apostles, and to extraordinary messengers. Christ saith. Luke x. 16, ‘He that heareth you heareth. me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.’ The despising of the messenger is the despising him that sendeth the message. A man’s apostle is himself, is a Jewish proverb. As to ordinary ministers he saith, ‘Lo, I am with you to the end of the world.’ Mat. xxviii. 20; they are taken into part of the apostolical commission and blessings; they preach in Christ’s name, and we, as in his stead, pray you to be reconciled, 2 Cor. v. 20; so that it is his voice and his message; he affordeth his presence and assistance unto the world’s end. If you receive it with faith and obedience, you are in a course and way which will bring you to everlasting blessedness; but if you stand out obstinately against his message, you are in the way to everlasting misery, for refusing God’s methods for your redemption.
Thirdly, The properties of this hearing or submission to our great prophet.
1. There must be a resolute consent or resignation of ourselves to his teaching and instruction. All particular duties are included in the general. First, we own Christ in his offices, before we perform 397the duties which each of those offices calleth for at our hands ml from us-before we depend on him as a priest, or obey him as a king.’ As we receive him with thankfulness and love as our dearest Saviour, and with reverence and a consent of subjection as a sovereign lord, so also with a consent of resolution to follow his directions as our prophet and teacher, being convinced that he is sent from God to show us the way or life and happiness: John vi. 63, ‘Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.’ His doctrine showeth that there is such a thing, how it was purchased, which way it may be had, by God’s offer and the terms prescribed. Before we take any particular direction from Christ about this or that duty, we must first consent in the general that he shall be our teacher and prophet. A particular consent to Christ in this relation is a necessary as to any of the rest.
2. This resignation of our souls to Christ as a teacher as it must be resolute, so it must be unbounded and without reserves We must submit absolutely to all that he propoundeth, though some mysteries be above our reason, some precepts against the interest and inclination of the flesh, some promises seem to be against hope, or contrary to natural probabilities. There are some mysteries in the Christian religion, though not against reason, yet above natural reason. Now we must believe them upon Christ’s word, captivantes omnem intellectum in obsequium Christi, 2 Cor. x. 5, ‘Bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ.’ All our disputings and reasonings against the Christian doctrine must be captivated by a submission to the authority of our teacher and prophet. A disciple is to be a learner, not a caviller; and some principles are not to be chewed but swallowed as pills on the credit of the physician, when it appeareth on other grounds that Christ is the great teacher sent from God. An as there are mysteries above our reason, so there be duties against the interest and inclination of the flesh. Many of Christ’s precepts are displeasing to corrupt nature—to deny ourselves, to take up the cross, to mortify our appetites and passions, to cut off right hands, and to pluck out right eyes; that none shall be saved that are not regenerate and holy; that the non-condemnation is the privilege of those that walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit; that if we live after the flesh we shall die; that we must not seek great things for ourselves; that we must hate father and mother, and our own life, if we will be Christ’s disciples. Flesh and blood can hardly down with these things—that there shall be such an exact day of account, such eternal torments in the other world; yet if this be revealed by our great prophet, as reason must not be heard against Christ, so the flesh must not be heard against Christ, nor the world heard against Christ; so if some of our hopes exceed the probability of natural causes: Rom. iv. 18, he ‘against hope believed in hope,’ as the resurrection of the body. We must believe and obey him in what he offereth and commandeth, notwithstanding the contradiction of our carnal minds and hearts, in what is hard to be believed and practised, as well as in what is easy.
3. It must be speedy as to the great solemn acts of submission. Do not delay to hear him: Heb. iii. 7, ‘To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ Christ must not be put off with dilatory shifts; 398if we refuse to hear to-day, Christ may refuse to speak to-morrow. The Father hath his time of waiting, the Son of his gospel-offers, the Spirit of his earnest motions: it is dangerous to slip our day; therefore, if you will hear him, hear him now! Hear him betimes; the season falleth under the precept as well as the duty: ‘Now, while it is called to-day.’
4. Your consent to hear him must be real, practical, and obediential, verified in the whole tenor and course of your lives and actions; for Christ will not be flattered with empty titles. ‘Why call ye me lord and master, and do not the things which I say?’ Luke vi. 46. If you pretend to hear his word, you must do it also, for you do not hear to please your minds with knowing, but that you may make it your serious care and business to serve, love, and please God. Many study Christianity to form their opinions rather than reform their hearts and practice. The great use of knowledge and faith is to behold the love of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that our own love may be quickened and increased to him again. If it serve only to regulate opinions, it is but dead speculation, not a living faith. A naked belief is but the sight of a feast,—it is the gracious soul doth eat and digest it; when our faith is turned into love and obedience, that is the true faith.
III. The reasons why this prophet must be heard.
1. Consider whose voice it is who speaketh—the only beloved Son of God, or God himself—and surely when he speaketh he must be heard: Heb. xii. 25, ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake from earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.’ It is Christ doth speak, and God by him, commanding us to repent and believe the gospel; now to refuse him is a high contempt. God, when he gave the law, he spake on earth; but when he spake by Christ, he spake from heaven; for Christ came from heaven to acquaint us with the mind of God, and having done it, is returned to heaven again, from whence he sent down his Spirit on the apostles, who revealed his gospel to the world. This was a mystery hidden in the bosom of God, and brought to us thence by his only-begotten Son. Surely, with all humble submission, we should attend unto and obey his word: Ps. ciii. 20, ‘Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.’
2. The matter which he speaketh and we hear—the doctrine of the gospel; it is the most sweet, excellent, and comfortable doctrine that can be heard, or understood by the heart of man: Prov. viii. 6, ‘Hear,’ saith Wisdom, ‘for I will speak of excellent things: and the opening of my lips shall be of right things.’ This is the brightest light that ever shone from heaven, the profoundest wisdom, the greatest love and mercy that ever was or can be shown to sinful wretches, of the highest concernment to man; because his everlasting state lieth upon it, a state of everlasting woe or weal.
Three things I shall take notice of:—
[1.] The way of reconciliation with God manifested and discovered out of his intimate love to us. Man had fallen from the love of God to the creature, and was conscious to himself of having displeased his 399Maker, and so lay under the fears of his vindictive justice. Now God by Christ declareth his love to the offender in the fullest and most astonishing way, reconciling himself to him, and showeth his readiness to forgive and save him: 1 Tim. i. 15, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save aimers: of whom I am chief;’ and, 2 Cor. v 19 ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’ Oh, what should be more welcome to the creature than this news of this pardoning covenant founded in the blood of Christ!
[2.] Our duty exactly stated, with convenient motives to enforce it. Not only the comfort of man is provided for but also our subjection to God, and that upon the freest and most comfortable terms, that we should serve him in love and glorify and please him, that we may be happy m his love to us; for the sum of religion is to love him and keep his commandments: John xiv. 21, 23, ‘He that keepeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me: and if any man love me, he will keep my words.’ To love him is our work, and to be beloved of him is our happiness; and ver. 24: ‘He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.’ The gospel is the very word of God, both the Father’s and the Son’s; it is an act of loving, serving and pleasing God; for this is the word Christ preached, that we love God, and Christ loveth us again.
[3.] A prospect of eternal happiness: 2 Tim. i. 10, ‘He hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’ This is news but darkly revealed before, and without this man knew not how to satisfy all his capacities and desires, but was like Leviathan in a little pool. Nay, we have not only a prospect of it, but the offer of it as a reward appointed, if we will be sincere in our faith, love, and obedience: 1 John ii. 25, ‘This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.’ Everlasting joy and blessedness is propounded to us; Ph, then, hear him, if this be that he speaketh of.
3. The danger of not hearing this prophet.
[1.] For the present: to continue to slight and contemn the gospel is the mark that you are in a carnal, perishing condition: 2 Cor iv. 3, ‘If our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost;’ John x. 3, ‘My.sheep hear my voice;’ and ver. 16, ‘Other sheep are there which are not of this fold, and they shall hear my voice.’ Christ’s sheep, whether Jew or Gentile, they have all the same character, they all hear his voice; and ver. 27, ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.’ They distinguish his voice, own his voice, obey his voice. So John viii. 47, ‘Whosoever is of God heareth God’s words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God;’ so that you lose all this comfort if ye do not hear the voice of Christ and his faithful servants.
[2.] For the future: Deut xviii. 19, ‘Whosoever will not hearken to the words which that prophet shall speak in my name, I will require or him;’ that is he must look to answer it another day. Peter rendereth it: Acts iii. 23, ‘Whosoever will not hearken to that prophet shall be destroyed among the people.’ It is not a bodily punishment but eternal torment: John iii. 36, ‘The wrath of God abideth on 400him;’ Mark xvi. 16, ‘He that believeth not shall be damned.’ Thus you see how dangerous it is to refuse this prophet.
Use 1. Of conviction to the carnal Christian for not submitting to Christ’s authority. All Christians do it in pretence, but few that do it in reality. Doth his word come to you not only in word but in power?
[1.] Do you seriously come to him that you may have pardon and life. When Christ had proved that he was the Son of God, the great prophet of the church, by the testimony of John, the testimony of his works, the testimony of his Father, and the testimony of the scriptures: John v. 40, ‘And ye will not come unto me that ye may have life;’ —though John, his works, the Father, the scriptures, will prove him to be what he was, the Messias, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, yet they would not come to him, nor believe, but wilfully rejected him, and their own blessedness. What the Jews did wilfully, carnal Christians do lazily; they prize his name and slight his office, do not come to him to be taught, sanctified, and drawn to God.
[2.] Do you respect the word of the gospel, entertain it with reverence and delight, as the voice of the great prophet? Do you meditate on it, digest it as the seed of the new life, as the rule of your actions, as the charter of your hopes? A good man is described to be one that ‘delighteth in the law of the Lord, and meditateth therein day and night,’ Ps. i. 2; and, again, Ps. cxix. 97, ‘Oh, how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day long.’ But, alas! few are of this temper: Hosea viii. 12, ‘I have written to them the great, things of thy law, but they were counted as a strange thing, they contemned the word of God.’ as if its directions were of little importance, or did not concern them. Most men live like strangers to the word of God, little conversant in it, as there were no great hazard in breaking it.
[3.] Do you mingle it with faith in the hearing, that it may profit you, Heb. iv. 2, and feel the power of it for your good? But rather you shun it—run from it: John iii. 20, ‘They that do evil hate the light, and will not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.’ The word is a torment rather than a comfort to you; you are afraid it will be found too true.
[4.] Do you receive it as the word of God? 1 Thes. ii. 13. It may be you do not contradict the divine authority in the scriptures, but do you soundly believe them, and know the certainty of those things wherein you are instructed? Luke i. 4. Have you done anything to prove the supreme truth that Jesus is a teacher sent from God? Most men’s faith is so weak and slight, because it is taken hand-over-head, there is no deepness of earth, Mark xiii. 6. You have some light sense of religion, but slight impressions are soon defaced, and truths easily taken up are as soon quitted; the more we search into the grounds of things the more we believe, Acts xvii. 11. The Bereans ‘searched the scriptures whether those things were so or no.’
[5.] Doth it come to you as the Mediator’s word?—‘not in word only but in power,’ 1 Thes. i. 5. There is a convincing power in the word: Acts ii. 37, ‘When they heard these things, they were pricked in the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and 401brethren what shall we do?’ Many have not felt this power but they fear it: John iii. 20, ‘Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.’ A converting power when it becometh the seed of a new life: 1 Pet. i. 23, ‘Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.’ A comforting power, giving the heirs of promise strong consolation, Heb. vi. 18. Do you find anything of this in your hearts? is it engrafted in your souls? James i. 21, ‘Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.’
[6.] Do you hear him universally? It is said of the great prophet, Acts iii. 22, ‘Him shall ye hear in all things that he shall say unto you.’ Many will hear him in the offers of pardon, but not in the precepts of duty: you must take his whole covenant, the promises for your happiness, the duty for your work.
[7.] Do you hear him so as to prefer God and Christ and the life to come above all the sensual pleasures and vain delights and worldly happiness which you enjoy here? Religion is obstructed, not soundly received, if your hearts be not taken off from these things: Luke viii. 14, ‘That which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.’ He is not a scholar of Christ who is not more devoted to the love and obedience of God than any sensual satisfaction here below—unless you can renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and give yourselves to Christ, to be taught, sanctified, and saved, and brought home to God, to enjoy him in everlasting glory, and taught how to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, Titus ii. 12.
Use 2. Advice to weak Christians:—
[1.] To excite themselves to obedience by this hear him, when dead and lifeless. Many times the heart is dull and needeth quickening. Conscience groweth sleepy and needeth awakening—you are too bold in sinning, cold and careless in spiritual and heavenly things. Now the first means to quicken us is Christ’s divine authority: 2 Pet. i. 16, ‘For we have not followed cunningly-devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ When you are customary in prayer and hearing—It is Christ’s will; I must do it as I will answer it to him another day.
[2.] When you do renounce some beloved lust or pleasing sin, urge your hearts with Christ’s authority. Remember who telleth you of cutting off your right hand, and plucking out your right eye. How can I look the Mediator in the face, if I should wilfully break any of his laws, prefer the satisfaction of a base lust before the mercies and hopes offered me by Jesus Christ.
[3.] In deep distresses, when you are apt to question the comfort of the promises. It is hard to keep the rejoicing of hope, without regarding whose word and promise it is: Heb. iii. 6, ‘Whose house are ye, if ye hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of hope firm unto the end.’402
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