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That I may win Christ.—Phil. iii. 8.
THIRD point. That there should be some application when we consider Christ and address ourselves to know him. (1.) What is this application; (2.) Why.
I. What is this application.
I shall give you—(1.) Some distinctions; (2.) Some observations.
1. Distinctions. There is a twofold application; one that more immediately respects comfort, the other duty. The application of comfort is when I respect Christ under such a term as implies some privilege to me; that he is my saviour, stood in my room before God, bearing my sins, and suffered the wrath of God for me: Gal. ii. 20, ‘Who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ The application that more immediately respects duty is, when I apprehend Christ under such a term as inferreth my obligation to duty and obedience; as here he speaketh of the knowledge of Christ not only as the Lord, but my Lord: John xx. 28, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Now this application is always necessary, and yet questionable. My laying claim to privileges may be disallowed, but my obligation to duty is clear and certain.
2. Another distinction. There is the application of faith and the application of assurance.
[1.] The application of faith is a particular application of Christ and the promise to ourselves, so as to excite us to look after the benefits and ends for which Christ is appointed. This certainly is necessary for all. That which God revealeth I should know for my good: Job v. 27, ‘Hear it, and know it for thy good;’ Rom. viii. 31, ‘What shall we then say to these things?’ In this business it is the more necessary, because we are concerned both in the merit of the Redeemer and the offer of grace in the promise: Acts xiii. 26, ‘To you is the word of this salvation sent.’ It is a message from God; sent to excite me to accept of the remedy offered. It is my duty to make general grace particular; as to obey commands moral, so also evangelical. And the true nature of faith is an accepting of Christ, to be to me what God appointed him to be, and to do for me what God hath appointed him 32to do for poor sinners; suppose, to ‘be prince and saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins,’ Acts v. 31; for certainly I for my particular am to accept of the offered remedy; and since the grace of God hath not excepted me, I am not to except myself.
[2.] The application of assurance is, when I actually determine that my own sins are pardoned, that I am adopted into God’s family, or that I am appointed to eternal glory by Jesus Christ. This cannot be made without some sense of our sincerity, because the promises of God require a qualification, and performance of duty in the person to whom the promises are made. Therefore we cannot be certain of our own interest till we have performed the duty and have the qualification. ‘We must certainly know that we have performed the duty and are duly qualified. On this application the apostle speaketh, 1 John iii. 19, ‘Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.’
[3.] The application, which concerneth our own interest in privileges by Christ, may be either implicit or explicit, dark and reserved, or clear and open.
(1.) Implicit, dark and reserved, when we have not so full a persuasion of our good estate, but comfortable encouragements to wait upon God in the way of our duty. This is expressed, 1 Tim. i. 15, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.’ Believers make a shift sometimes to creep into the backdoor of the promise. The general proposal of grace on God’s part, and serious diligence on ours in seeking after it, giveth some hope, though as yet our sincerity be not fully witnessed to us, and we have not that sure and firm claim which we may have afterwards.
(2.) More explicit, clear and open. This is expressed in those forms: Eph. i. 6, ‘To the praise of his glorious grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved;’ 2 Cor. v. 1, ‘We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’ A christian knoweth not only where he is, but where he shall be: 2 Tim. v, 8, ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.’
Secondly, I shall give you some observations.
1. That the application of faith may be without the application of assurance; sometimes they go both together. The application of faith we have, and must have, because the promise of pardon to the penitent believer is universal, that it includeth you as well as others. God offereth pardon and life to you, and you must consent to accept it upon his terms; and that Christ may be yours, and you his, to the ends propounded in the gospel, you must choose him, and depend upon him as the only mediator, resolving to venture your souls and all your hopes upon him. You are not christians without it. But it may be all this while you do not know that he doth or will own you, because the sincerity of faith and love is doubtful to you. Sometimes they go together, as when your interest in him and his interest in you is clear: Cant. ii. 16, ‘My beloved is mine, and I am his.’ Resignation and full appropriation here is clear.33
2. The one is necessary, the other is comfortable.
[1.] The one is necessary. A sound convert, who esteemeth highly of this knowledge of Christ, hath no rest in his soul till he doth apply Christ; which application is expressed diversely in scripture; some times by receiving Christ: John i. 12, ‘To as many as received him, he gave power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on his name.’ We receive what God offereth; he offereth him to be prince and saviour, and we receive him to be a lord to us, a saviour to us, to guide us, and bring us in particular to God in the way he hath appointed. So it is expressed also by apprehending Christ: Phil, iii. 12, ‘That I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.’ The words of the spouse do explain this: Cant. iii. 4, ‘I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.’ When we are resolved not to give over the pursuit till we find Christ, and get him into our hearts, that he may dwell there by faith; choose him, cleave constantly to him. Again, this application is expressed by ‘putting on the Lord Jesus,’ Rom. xiii. 14; Gal. iii. 27, ‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.’ By faith we make application of Christ to ourselves; and Christ so applied is as close and near to us as our garments. So John vi. 56, it is expressed by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, ‘He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him.’ He sticketh not so close to us as our garments only, but as a part of our substance. The seeing of meat, though never so wholesome, doth not nourish, but the eating of it; so general grace doth not profit till it be applied. He that resigneth up himself to be ruled by Christ is made a member of his mystical body, and so there is a mutual in habitation; the same life which enlivened Christ enliveneth us.
[2.] It is comfortable to have a particular interest confirmed to us: Job xix. 25, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’ A sight of our particular interest is attainable, and should be looked after: Gal. ii. 20, ‘He loved me, and gave himself for me.’ There is a double ground of rejoicing—the certainty of God’s promise, and the evidence of our own sincerity.
3. That it is a support to us to have the darker way of applying Christ and his benefits, when we have not the full certainty that they belong to us. This is an encouragement to an humble soul that is willing to obey and wait upon God. They are sensible they have as much need of Christ as others, for they seek after him as lost and undone without him. They have an equal proposal of his grace: ‘The righteousness of God is unto all and upon all that believe, and that without difference,’ Rom. iii. 22. They have an equal obligation to seek after it, for it is the ‘common salvation;’ 1 John iii. 23, ‘And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ;’ John vi. 29, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.’ They are anxious, serious, diligent, and have been kept alive and carried on against the oppositions of the flesh and the world, in the pursuit of this salvation thus long. If they had been asleep, and the good seed had been choked by sensuality, it had been more questionable; still the general grace 34upholdeth you in waiting upon God; you dare not give over following hard after God, though you have not met with full satisfaction. You are of ‘the generation of them that seek him,’ Ps. xxiv. 6. Now it is better to be a seeker than a wanderer: Heb. vi. 10-12, ‘For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love which ye have showed towards his name, in that you have ministered, and do minister, unto the saints: and we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end; that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.’
II. I come to show why there should be such an application of Christ.
1. Because things that nearly concern us do most affect us. The love of God to sinners in general doth not so affect me as when I know that ‘he loved me, and gave himself for me,’ Gal. ii. 20. That is the quickening motive to stir us up to the spiritual life; especially when this ‘love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us,’ Rom. v. 5; Eph. i. 13, ‘After ye believed the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.’ It is not sufficient to know the gospel to be a doctrine of salvation to others, but we must find it to be a doctrine of salvation to ourselves in particular, and apply the promises to our own hearts, that they may quicken and enliven us to obedience. That doth most stir up joy and thankfulness and praise; for still we are affected with things as we are concerned in them ourselves.
2. Without some application there can be no interest or benefit to ns; for general grace must some way be made particular, or else it cannot profit us; else why are not all justified, all adopted, all saved? There is the same merciful God, and the same sufficient Saviour, the same gracious covenant. Some apply this grace, others do not. Blood shed will not avail, unless it be blood sprinkled: Heb. xii. 24, ‘And to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.’ The making atonement is not effectual to salvation unless the atonement be received, owned and applied: Rom. v. 11, ‘We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.’ Christ doth not save at a distance, but as received into our hearts; as a plaster doth not heal at a distance till it be ap plied to the sore. It is our souls that were wounded, and our souls must have the cure. The light that illuminateth must shine into the understanding; the life that quickeneth must be in the substance which is quickened by it. If the bare discovery of grace, without the applying of grace, were enough, the gospel would save all alike, the haters and despisers of it as well as those that submit to it. Therefore we ourselves must be informed, convinced, and converted by it.
3. The scripture insisteth much upon a personal entering into covenant with God; that every one of us should choose God for our sovereign Lord and portion, and Christ Jesus for our Redeemer and Saviour, and the Holy Ghost for our guide, sanctifier, and comforter. Every one must personally engage for himself. As, for instance, it is not enough that Christ engage for us as the common surety of all the elect: Heb. vii. 22, ‘By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.’ Something he did for us and in our name; but every one must take a bond upon himself before he can have the benefit of it. You 35must ‘yield up yourselves to the Lord,’ 2 Chron. xxx. 8. It is not enough that the church engage for us as a visible political body, or a community and society of men that are in visible covenant with God and Christ: Ezek. xvi. 8, ‘Thou enteredst into covenant with me, and becamest mine.’ They profess in common Christ to be their Lord, and so are a people who are subjects of his kingdom, and have his protection and blessing: but every man must covenant for himself: Ezek. xx. 37, ‘I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.’ It is an allusion to the sheep passing out of the fold when they were tithed for God: Lev. xxvii. 32, ‘Whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to the Lord.’ God will not covenant with us in the lump and body, but every one must particularly be minded of his duty. It is not enough that our parents did engage for us in baptism: Deut. xxix. 9-12, ‘Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do. Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers with all the men of Israel: your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is in the camp, from the hewer of thy wood, unto the drawer of thy water: that thou shouldst enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day.’ They did in the name of their little ones avouch God to be their God, as we devote, dedicate, and engage our children to God in baptism. No man savingly transacts this work for another. We must ratify the covenant in our own persons, and make our own ‘professed subjection to the gospel of Christ,’ 2 Cor. ix. 13. This is a work cannot be done by proxy and assignees. Our parents’ dedication will not profit us without it. Once more, this must not only be done in words, or some visible external rites that may signify so much; as, for instance, when we publicly make profession in the church of Christ’s being our Lord; it is not enough, but a man must engage his heart to God: Jer. xxx. 21, ‘Who is this that engageth his heart to approach unto me, saith the Lord?’ Yea, this is a business that must be done between God and our own souls, where no outward witnesses are conscious to it. God speaketh to the soul in this transaction: Ps. xxxv. 3, ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ And the soul speaketh to God: Lam. iii. 24, ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore I will hope in him.’ This covenant is carried on in soul-language: Ps. xvi. 2, ‘O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord!’ Upon this personal inward covenanting all the privileges of the covenant do depend.
4. Because our interest in him is the ground of our comfort and confidence. It is not comfortable to us, or not so comfortable, that there is a God, and there is a Christ. Devils believe so far; but the thoughts of God and Christ are a part of their torment: James ii. 19, ‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils believe, and tremble;’ Mat. viii. 29, ‘And they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come to torment us before the time?’ The remembrance of God and Christ will be troublesome to us if he be not our God and our Lord. You shall see the saints express their particular interest to be the great cause of their comfort: I Sara. xxx. 6, ‘David encouraged himself in 36the Lord his God;’ Hab. iii. 18, ‘Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of ray salvation;’ Luke i. 47, ‘My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’ To see a good thing, and you as much need of it as others; to see a Christ ready to save sinners, and we have no comfort and benefit by him, is a matter of grief rather than of rejoicing.
Use. To press us to this application. A title to his benefits needs good evidence. But we have no reason to scruple our obligation to duty and obedience. If God hath made him Lord and Christ, let him be your Lord and Christ.
1. Resolve to give up yourselves to him, to serve him and obey him, though you know not whether he will give himself to you, to pardon you, and bless you everlastingly. A believer cannot always say, God is mine, or Christ is mine; yet a believer is always resolved to be his: ‘I am thine, save me,’ Ps. cxix. 94.
2. In applying Christ to yourselves, seek necessary grace rather than comfort. Go to him to renew and change your natures, rather than to give you peace; not to have the grief by reason of sin assuaged only or chiefly, but to have the distemper removed. It is a mountebank’s care to stop the pain and let alone the cause; and such a cure do they seek who are more earnest for ease and comfort than for grace. A good christian is troubled with the power of sin as well as the guilt of it, and mindeth the rectitude of all his faculties as well as ease and peace of conscience, that he may be enabled to walk with God thereafter in the ways of obedience, as well as enjoy the pardon of his sins. Christ purchased this double benefit for us: Isa. liii. 5, ‘The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.’ Peace and healing. He would be an unwise man who, having broken his leg, should only mind to be eased of his pain, but not take care to have it set right again; so foolish is that christian who is earnest for comfort, but taketh no care how to be directed and enabled to please God. Sin in some sense is worse than damnation. The taking away of guilt frees us a malo naturali, from a natural evil; but the other, a malo morali, from a moral evil. Christ delights to be obeyed in his work; for it suiteth with his design, which is to restore us to God, and fit us for his service: Rev. v. 9, ‘Thou hast redeemed us to God.’
3. When God presseth upon you more than ordinarily, do not receive this grace in vain, and refuse your own mercies. When he draweth, you should run, Cant. i. 4; when he knocketh, you should open, Rev. iii. 20. When the wind bloweth, let loose the sails, John iii. 9; when the waters are stirred, put in for cure, John v. 4. At such times God doth more particularly apply his grace to you; therefore you should often apply and entertain the motions before they cool and slacken.
I come now to discourse concerning the end, ‘That I may gain Christ.’ The apostle would not only know Christ, but gain Christ.
1. Christ is gained when we get an interest in him and his benefits, when God hath called us to the fellowship of his Son, 1 Cor. i. 9, or, in another place, μέτοχοι Χριστοῦ, Heb. iii. 14, ‘We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.’ The ungodly have no part in him, but believers have. The apostle had already won Christ, but he would more and more win, and be more nearly conjoined to him. That I may win Christ, is 37that I may get a larger portion in him, or more full enjoyment of him.
2. This word κερδήσω is put in opposition to the loss that he had incurred that he might be made a partaker of Christ. There was gain enough to recompense all his losses in having Christ. If God and Christ seem not better things to us than the world, we judge ourselves to have no part in him.
Doct. To be made partakers of Christ is the greatest gain.
To evidence this I shall show you—(1.) What gain we have in having Christ; (2.) How much this gain excelleth all other gain.
I. What gain we have in having Christ.
1. He is our ransom from the wrath of God, and so you have some what whereby to appease your guilty fears: Col. i. 14, ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.’ Oh, what a mercy is this to have sin forgiven, to be free from the curse of the law, and the wrath of the eternal God! Ask a tender conscience that groaneth under the weight of sin whether it be not a great benefit to have sin forgiven? Ps. xxxix. 4, ‘Mine iniquities are gone over my head as a heavy burden; they are too heavy for me.’ If you think them too scrupulous, go to a stormy wounded conscience: Prov. xviii. 14, ‘A wounded conscience who can bear?’ Ask Judas, or any of those whose souls are ready to choose strangling rather than life. The damned in hell, who bear their own iniquity, and are past forgiveness, and feel sin to be sin indeed, they would give ten thousand worlds if they had them for the pardon of their sins. Surely then it is great gain to have sin pardoned, to be justified by faith in Christ, and be at peace with God: ‘Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven.’ The heart of trouble is broken when that is done.
2. It is Christ Jesus hath purchased the favour of God, that we may have comfortable access to him and fellowship with him, he having opened the door by the merit of his passion, and keeping it still open, by his constant intercession. By his death he removed the legal exclusion, and remaineth as our intercessor at God’s right hand. All the riches in the world could not purchase such a favour for us. Gold and silver are poor corruptible things to the precious blood of the Son of God, by which blood ‘we have entrance into the holiest,’ Heb. x. 19. Therefore this gain we have by Christ, that we may once more have access to God.
3. Our natures are renewed, and not only the favour and fellowship of God is restored, but his image also. The Spirit is given, whereby we are renewed: Titus iii. 5, 6, ‘By the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;’ and we are made ‘partakers of the divine nature,’ 2 Peter i. 4; that is, made like God, and amiable in his sight: ‘Partakers of his holiness;’ Heb. xii. 10, ‘But he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.’ This is profit, not the pelf of this world. All the comforts of the world, that please and feed our sensuality, are nothing to it. If a beast were made a man, he would not complain for want of provender; so if we are made partakers of a divine nature, we have no cause to complain if straitened in the world. Thou hast that which is better, a nature to incline thee to live to God, and with God in a state of holy communion with him.38
4. Christ is our treasury and storehouse, from whence we fetch all our supplies: ‘But of his fulness we receive grace for grace;’ 1 Cor. i. 30, ‘He is made of God to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.’ This is the riches of the saints; they love the true riches. God would not trust the stock in our hands, but Christ keepeth it for us. Therefore in gaining him you gain all things which a gracious heart prizeth, all that is needful to maintain our expenses to heaven.
5. By him we are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life: Rom. viii. 17, ‘If sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.’ Surely everlasting glory is a greater treasure than all the wealth in the world. Now for a title to this, we have the promise and grant of God, the merit of the Redeemer, and the earnest of the Spirit to build upon; therefore their gain is exceeding great if they have Christ.
II. How much this gain excelleth all other gain.
1. It is the most comfortable gain, for here is comfort at all times and in all cases. When nothing else can ease the troubled mind, in the day of wrath, in the day of death, this will be a support to you: Phil. i. 21, ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ You get infinitely much more than you can lose upon death. Death maketh all other gain useless to us; openeth a door for us to enter into our greatest felicity. We leave worldly wealth for the riches of the glory of the inheritance of the saints; a shed for a palace, an ‘earthly tabernacle for a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;’ which is πολλῶ μαǕλλον, ‘much more better.’ We leave friends for the spirits of just men made perfect; ordinances for the vision of God. The glory, and riches, and honours of the world are nothing worth when we come to die. If you have not gained Christ, in what a miserable plight will you be then, when you must go into an unknown world, to an unknown God, and have no intercessor at his right hand to plead for you! When the happiness of God’s children beginneth, your worldly happiness endeth. Death parts you and your wealth, but the believer then goeth to take possession of his blessed inheritance.
2. It is the most universal gain: 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23, ‘All things are yours,’ because ‘ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’ Ordinances, providences, graces, comforts, this world, and the next, death between both. Yea, with Christ we receive temporal blessings: 1 Tim. iv. 8, ‘Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of this life, and that which is to come.’ So far forth as our wise God seeth them expedient for us, for his own glory, and the good of our souls: Rom. viii. 32, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him give us all things?’ Protection, maintenance; if we want these comforts, it is that we may want a snare; not out of any defect of love in God, but his abundant care and jealousy over us. A father may give his child the inheritance of an orchard, and yet deny him a green. apple. God giveth us an ample portion with Christ, but he will dispense the enjoyment of these as he seeth good for us.
3. It is an everlasting gain, that will never fail us, but yield us a blessedness when the world shall be no more: Luke x. 42, ‘One thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall never be 39taken from her.’ The better part shall never be taken from us, worldly riches may fail us, but never spiritual gain. If Christ be gain now, he will be gain to you to all eternity. The world now seemeth to gratify our senses, but when you are going out of the world, you will cry out, Oh, how hath the world deceived you! What is a little momentary delight or temporal profit to this eternal treasure that will never fail you? Luke xii. 20, 21, ‘And God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; and then whose shall these things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God;’ Job xxvii. 8, ‘What is the hope of the hypocrite, if he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?’ You are living on earth, and stepping into eternity; look after that gain that will stand by you, and do you good to all eternity.
4. This gain sanctifieth us, all other corrupts us: 1 Tim. vi. 10, ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.’ It is called ‘filthy lucre;’ it doth debase the soul to something that is inferior to it; but this gain maketh you of an excellent and divine spirit.
Use 1. For reproof of two sorts of men—
1. Those that take but little or no pains to gain Christ: ‘What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ Mat xvi. 26. What pleasure or comfort can you have in all things that you have gained, if you have not gained Christ? How will it be found at last, when it shall be said to thee, Luke xvi. 25, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things;’ when your wealth is of no use to you, but your immortal souls must return to God, beggarly and naked as they are.
2. Those that lose Christ, and part with him for a little temporal profit or carnal satisfaction. As many forget God, and Christ, and heaven, and all, so they may have the pleasures of the present life; ‘As Esau sold his birthright for one morsel of meat,’ Heb. xii. 16. These part with their bargain for trifles. So much of Christ as they have, they part with; profession, ordinances, common graces, some taste of his love, some hopes of his glory he offereth, some sense of religion which formerly held them to their duty. They may go a little way with Christ, and after fall off.
Use 2. Is instruction.
1. If Christ be such gain, then you may make some losses for his sake, and part with other things for Christ’s sake, if you cannot have them and Christ too. If you should part with all the world, what is this to Christ? If you should be scorned and derided, it is more than to have worldly wealth at your dispose: Heb. xi. 26, ‘Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.’ If you part with never so much for him, you can be no losers: Mark x. 29, 30, ‘And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel; but he shall receive a hundred-fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come life everlasting.’ Those who suffer loss for Christ are gainers in the end; and in him, and with him, all things that can make them happy. In this life the peace of a good conscience hath a hundred-fold better than all the sufferings of 40this world, and in the world to come as happy as heart can wish. See it set forth, Rev. vii. 14, 15, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.’ That is happiness indeed, to be for ever before God’s throne; they are out of gunshot, free from all temptations and dangers which they are now exposed to.
2. That we should not murmur at our estate, when others go away with other things, if we have Christ. Our heart should rejoice in Christ above all things. What if they have a more plentiful portion in the world? You have that which is better worth, and should be all gain to you: Ps. xvii. 14, 15, ‘From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure; they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.’ David allayeth his envy and repinings by this argument.
Use 3. To exhort you and persuade you to get Christ. You hear them gladly who would instruct you in the ways of worldly gain; why should you not be as desirous to gain Christ?
1. He is the best gain, if God be to be preferred before the creature, and eternal glory before fading riches, and the soul before the body. In gaining him you gain the image and favour and fellowship of God, and the hopes of eternal life.
2. This gain may be gotten, and gotten at a cheap rate: Isa. lv. 1, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price;’ Rev. iii. 18, ‘I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.’ Means are appointed, word and sacraments.
3. Seek it and have it; choose it and have it. In worldly things you are not sure to speed after all your toil and pains: Job xxvii. 8, ‘What is the hope of the hypocrite though he hath gained?’ A worldling doth not always make a thriving bargain: Luke v. 5, ‘We have toiled all night, and have caught nothing.’
Quest. What must we do that we may gain Christ?
Ans. That cannot be told you in a breath; but if you will gain Christ, you must—
(1.) Use the means; the word, which convinceth you of your lost estate; and the gospel offereth Christ as your gain and suitable remedy; the sacraments: 1 Cor. x. 16, ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?’
(2.) You must submit to his terms; sell all for the pearl of great price, Mat. xiii. 46; renounce your lusts; devote yourselves and your interests to be disposed by him at his will and pleasure.
(3.) Trust in him that is true; depend on his merits and promises: Gal. v. 5, ‘We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness 41by faith;’ Acts x. 43, ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that; through his name whosoever believeth on him shall receive remission of sins.’ And when troubles and difficulties arise, continue with patience in well-doing, Rom. ii. 7.
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