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this is my friend, O daughters of Jerufalem." There is nothing in him they would have out of him, and nothing out of him they would have in him; whereas every created enjoyment is lame, and defective to a great degree; the faireft rofe has fome sharp prickles about it. Now, that foul which has traversed all created enjoyments diffatisfied, and could never find contentment, is completely fatisfied in him. How, then, can it otherwife be, than that he is dearer to it than all other perfons and things whatever?-Another reason is,
5. Because he is their greatest benefactor; his unparalleled benefits command their hearts to be all his; he has done for them what none other could do. When Lebanon was not fufficient to burn, nor the cattle on a thousand hills for a facrifice, when rivers of oil were too fhallow, and the fruit of their bodies for the fin of their fouls would have been rejected, he redeemed them with his own blood; he left the bosom of his Father, and came and poured out his foul unto death for them, when they deferved to have died for ever. He is doing for them what none can do, he is their Refident at the court of heaven, taking up emergent differences betwixt God and them, preparing a place for them in his Father's house of many manfions. And he will do for them what none but he himself can do; he will at laft bring them to his glory, and make them perfectly bleffed in the full enjoyment of their God and Saviour through all eternity. Another reason is,
6. Because they are fenfible, that whatever they have in the world, they have it through and by him. And fo they behold him as the fountain of all their mercies.-Thus,
(1.) They have the enjoyment of their bleffings through him. It is by him they enjoy father and
mother, wife and children, &c.; not only by his common providence, as the wicked enjoy their mercies, but by his blood, whereby the malefactor is not only pardoned, but also is fet down with thefe, and far better things, as the purchase of Chrift's blood; whereas, had not the Mediator intervened betwixt them and the ftroke of juftice, they had been stripped of all their enjoyments in the world, even life itself, and shut up for ever in the prison of hell *.
(2.) They have the comfort of them through him. Every creature is to us what the Lord makes it to be, and it is no more; no more it can be. The creature in itself is a mere nothing; what drops of sweetness are to be found in it, are diftilled into it from himfelf, the fountain of goodnefs ; none good but one, that is, God. And furely the Lord never puts any sweetness in the creature to arreft our hearts upon it, but rather that, finding the sweetness of the ftreams, we might thereby be drawn up to the Fountain, where fweet water is always sweetest. Let God call in his own from our enjoyments, our dearest relations shall be utterly uncomfortable; yea, our very life a burden. If it be by him only, then, that our enjoyments are defirable, furely himself is much more fo. And feeing the Chriftian loves these things for what of God is in them, and with them, and can never be fatisfied with them without Chrift, fure Chrift himself must be dearest of all. Another reason is,
*The worthy author is doubtlefs here to be underftood as referring to. that comfort and benefit which is enjoyed in fuch relations; for it is only in the nature and extent of this kind of enjoyment, that a difference arifes between the Chriftian and the finner, or that the former, with propriety, can contemplate the enjoyment of thefe relations as the fruit of Chrift's blood.-EDIT.
7. Because, if it were not fo, Chrift would have no church in the world. His ftandard would fall, and there would be none to take it up. There is an old inveterate enmity in the wicked against godliness; the devil's partizans are always the most numerous. If imprisoning, banishing, fpoiling of goods, fields and scaffolds reeking with the blood of the faints, would have deterred all perfons from following Chrift, there had been no church in the world this day. But God will have a church in spite of devils and wicked men. The spark fhall be kept alive, though in the midst of an ocean, and "his name shall endure for ever," Pfal. lxxii. 17. A new feed fhall ever be rifing to enlift themselves under Chrift's banner. God will not remove the rocks for them, but the way to heaven, to the world's end, fhall lie through many tribulations; for he will animate his people to quit with all that is dearest to them in a world, rather than quit his way, and make them overcome through the word of his testimony, and not love their lives even unto death.—I come now,
IV. To make fome practical improvement.
(1.) That Chrift will admit no rival in the heart. One throne cannot receive two kings, and one heart cannot admit both Chrift and any worldly thing fet up befide him; it must needs lie at his feet, or all is wrong in that heart: Matth. vi. 24. "No man can ferve two masters.--Ye cannot ferve God and mammon." Chrift and the world have long ftruggled together, it is hard to tell which of them many of us have been chiefly following; but when Christ and the world parts, it will be known which of them is our mafter.-Hence fee,
(2.) How far those perfons are from being Chrift's difciples, to whom a loathfome luft is dearer by far than the Lord Chrift. Though it tends to ruin their bodies, their fouls, and consciences, they notwithstanding will not part with it for Chrift. When Chrift commands thee to do fome great thing for him, how wilt thou do it? Is it a right hand, a right eye? Thou must cut it off, pluck it out; for waft thou parting with all but one thing, this one will eternally feparate betwixt Christ and thee, if thou canst not also part with it for him.-Hence fee,
(3.) That men are not out of danger, even when walking within the bounds of lawful things. It is a certain obfervation, that lawful things are a ditch, in which many fouls are drowned, Matth. xxiv. 38. 39. A man in the use of lawful things, is like one walking on the brink of a steep precipiece; the ground is firm, but his head is ready to become giddy, and he may fall over. It is hard to rejoice in them, and not to overjoy; to have them, and yet to fit loose to them. Be often feeling the pulfe of thy affection to them, how it beats, left it be fo violent as to feparate Christ and thee.
(4.) This fhews what is the root of apoftacy and defection from the truths and ways of Chrift, in a time of the church's trials and troubles. is the things of the world being dearer than Christ, his truth and ways, this is the first spring of it: "Demas hath forfaken me, having loved the prefent world." If Chrift be dearer to us than all things elfe, we will follow him wherever he goes, and never break with him, for the world's frowns. -I fhall only add,
2. An use of exhortation.
Let me now exhort all of you, especially those
who have been communicants, to evidence your felves the true difciples of Chrift by your comparative hating of father and mother, &c. for Chrift and his cause in the world. Let your hearts be loofed from, and do you fit loose to, all that is dear to you in the world, resolving in the Lord's strength, and fhewing yourselves ready to part with all for Christ, if he shall call you to it. In order to influence your complying with the exhortation, I would lay before you the following MOTIVES.
Mot. 1. This is neceffary to fit you for trials; that you may be able to stand in the evil day, arm your fouls with this difpofition.-For this purpofe, confider,
(1.) That the path-way to heaven lies by the crofs, and all who have a real defire for heaven muft lay their account with suffering: John, xvi. 33. "In the world ye fhall have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Acts, xiv. 22. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom." 2 Tim. iii. 12. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Chrift Jefus shall suffer perfecution." Therefore he who does not lay his account thus is a foolish builder, Luke, xiv. 25. and downwards. There is always a hot noon-tide in the church's day, Song, i. 7. and it may as certainly be expected as the noon.-Confider,
(2.) That the things which concern us appear to be making hafte. You have enjoyed the difpenfation of the facrament after Chrift's inftitution in peace, we have no great ground to promise another fuch feafon in a hafte. There has been much fad work wrought upon this church in a little time, and it is the temper of our enemies to drive more violently than deliberately. We have had long peace, and the air is ufually quiet and