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It is but a sorry
It is not enough to be like neighbour and other. character. All the people of God must be nonconformists to, and dissenters from the world. The broad gate is room enough for multitudes, but they that will be at heaven, must be a singular sort of people, for they are men wondered at; content to take on them the hatred of their native country, and father's house.
USE. 2. It reproves those that will not forget their father's house, but cleave to it and to the way thereof. And who are these?
1. Those that, in the midst of gospel light, yet continue in the darkness of the house; even all grossly ignorant persons. They that are brought out of their father's house to Christ, are brought out of darkness to light, though they know not a letter. "They were sometimes darkness, but now are they light in the Lord." If people remain ignorant under gospel means, we know what is the cause, their father has put out their eyes. 2 Cor. iv. 8, 4. This will end in eternal darkness. "It is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them, will shew them no favour."
When Peter "Thou art a
2. Those that retain the language of the house. spoke, the damsel knew what countryman he was. Galilean, for thy speech bewrayeth thee." And what shall we say of thee, that art a curser, a swearer, a liar, a filthy speaker, but thou art a Hellilean. I appeal to your own consciences, what sort of language that is, whether it sounds like heaven or hell. To hear a man speak as if hell were opening; breathing out lies, as if inspired by the father of them; speaking, as if an unclean devil were speaking out of him; what can one think in such a case, but that the person speaks like the house to which he belongs. But if you will not forbear that language, it will turn to blaspheming at length through a long eternity. For the former is the language of the house in time, the other in eternity.
3. Those that wear the badge of the house on their breasts, the master of the house's mark on their foreheads, so that those who go by may easily know who they are. Profane people. You that will not bow a knee to God. "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God." You that take room to yourselves in all licentiousness, that have nothing to do with religion, but to shew aversion to all that is good; if not to mock and reproach others that seem to be religious. Will you pretend to any portion in Christ? No, no, you know not Christ, and he will disown you. A dumb devil possesseth you now, that you cannot, will not pray to God now; the day will come, that you will cry to the hills to fall upon you, and hide you from the face of the judge. VOL. IV.
You will have a merry life of it now, shall weep; you will make a jest of religion now, but that will make you roar at length. Your heart is averse to all that is good now, the copestone will be put on it in hell. You care not for prayers, godly discourse, examinations, or sermons; but some of you will go to the hill with the beasts, Sabbath after Sabbath, and desire no person to take that task off your hand. Well were it for you, if, as you live with the beasts, you were to die with them also.
4. Those that give up themselves to the trade of the house, minding nothing but the world, earthly things. They have no trade with heaven. They know not what communion with God means. They will have their work on earth as far advanced as their neighbours, but their work for eternity is yet to begin. They are so busy they cannot get time for it. They have so much to do otherwise, they cannot get anything done to purpose for their perishing souls. That is folly, for the world will be consumed in flames, when that soul of yours shall continue to exist, to be either eternally happy or miserable, as it is now seen to be in time.
Lastly, Those that are the hidden servants of the house. It has been said of some, that they have stealed away to heaven, without being observed; but there are others that steal away to hell, and the world never hears the sound of their feet: even deep veiled hypocrites, whited sepulchres. "They are disobedient, deceiving, serving divers lusts and pleasures." They wear Christ's livery, but yet are Satan's drudges. There are always some lusts that have such persons absolutely under their power. The broad way is wide enough, so that they can easily get a bye path in it, to go by themselves to destruction, without mixing with the profane rabble that keep the highway. However, all come to one lodging at length. "As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity."
USE OF EXHORTATION. Be exhorted to forget your father's house. Leave the master of the house, the work, and the provision of the house. Renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and betake yourselves to Christ and his service.
MOTIVE 1. Your father's house will remove, and it will be a sad removing. Our Lord's family will remove also, but it will be a happy removing. Christ hath a higher house in heaven, to which he will remove all the family he hath on earth. The devil hath a higher and a lower house also. His higher house is in this world, and it is a throng house; but the day is coming that his family will remove into the lower house, the bottomless pit, so as not one shall remain behind. There are some removing out of it daily, and
then the rest that remained behind are secure, but it will not be always so. There was a horrible cry at Dathan and Abiram's removing, Numb. xvi. 31-34; what a cry will there be when the family goes away together, and "shall all be cast into the lake of fire," which is their new house! Leave it then quickly, lest ye perish with it.
MOTIVE 2. It is highly reasonable, if you will have any part in Christ. You can have no part in him, but as espoused to him; and if espoused, then "you must leave your father and mother, and cleave to your husband." Did he not say to you in the offer made, If you take me, let these go their way. Will you come into this house, and not forget your father's house? Nay, if you do not, he will pursue you as he did Israel, like those who break wedlock. You have all professed your acceptance of the marriage covenant, all have had the seal of it in baptism, and some of you in the ordinance of the supper. Remember, then, you have lifted up your hands to the Lord, and cannot go back.
Lastly, Consider the motive in the following verse," So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty." From this you have several arguments, your leaving off these will truly beautify you in the sight of the Lord. Holiness is a beauty, it is soul beauty, a lasting beauty. Now, thus beautified, you shall be amiable and acceptable in the sight of thy Lord and Husband, and he will take pleasure in thee. He is a King worthy to be pleased, and his favour worthy to be sought. Finally, thou shalt be at no loss, whatever you part with for his sake. Communion and fellowship with him will make up all your losses. Amen.
May 1, 1712.
CHRIST JESUS DULY PRIZED.
PHILIPPIANS iii. 8,
Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.
THE apostle, in the preceding verse, having spoken of his privileges in his unconverted state, and told how meanly he thought of them
for Christ; doth in this go out with full sail, in running down all things whatsoever, in comparison of Christ. In the words. Consider how things weighed in his esteem. That which was of the greatest weight with him, and was absolutely highest in his esteem, was the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. That is the excellency of the practical knowledge of Christ, saving acquaintance with, and interest in him. Next what was downweighed by it, all things; not only his good works done in his unconverted state, but even these really good, done by the influence of the Holy Ghost. In a word, all things imaginable, without Christ, he counts loss; and in comparison of Christ. We have also his certainty in this matter. He was not in doubt about this reckoning, but with the utmost certainty was come to a point, "Yea, doubtless."
We have a remarkable evidence of a superlative esteem of Christ; namely, that whereas he had suffered the loss of all things for him, on a review thereof, he counted himself no loser, but fully made up, so as he might but win Christ. So much for a general view of the words. More particularly, before we enter on the matter of the text, we shall attend, first, to the apostle's manner; and, secondly, to his grand scope.
I. Let us consider the manner in which the apostle delivers himself upon this great subject. He speaks with openness, with the utmost certainty, and the greatest affection. I shall illustrate these three points in their order.
1. He openly professeth his esteem of Christ above all. He does not deliver this truth in the general, that Christ is to be preferred above all, but lays it out in his own experience, that they might see that he had good reason for what he said. This teaches us, that it becomes the saints openly and avowedly to profess their superlative esteem of Christ. It is not enough to have that esteem of him in the heart, but it should have a vent outwardly. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." This confession must be made for the glory of God. One great end of our regeneration and marriage with Christ is, that we may sonnd forth his praise in the world. "This people," says he, "have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise." If his heart has been opened to receive us, why should our mouths be shut to his praise. We have no more to render, but the calves of our lips. It serves also for the good of others, that they may fall in love with Christ. "I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations, therefore shall the people praise thee for ever." The recommendations which the saints give to Christ have often a good effect. They say that the dropping of the lily
begets other lilies, so the saints beget others to Christ, by the dropping of their lives, which have an attractive virtue, 1 Pet. iii. 1, 2. The drops of their blood are generative of saints. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Yea, the very droppings of their mouths for Christ are beneficial, Song vii. 9. It is then no part of religion for persons to keep their religion to themselves. There is much hypocritical profession; but we must not hide our love to Christ, if we have any, because of that. We must not be dumb in the cause of Christ and religion, because many give him fair words, and no more. Blessed is that professor, in whom Naphtali's blessing and Joseph's do meet, goodly words, and a fruitful bough.
Let the saints learn then to be more open mouthed for Christ. Let them commend him to others, and commend him from their own experience; first, to their fellow saints, saying, "Come, and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul." O! should not Christ's friends be commending their friend one to another. This would be a most seasonable work at this day, in which religion is decaying; and if ever Christ comes again, to the spirits of his people in this land, this neglected work will be revived. O! it would be like a coal of fire, to set love to Christ in motion. Will two cold flints, striking one another, kindle a fire; how much more two, in which there is some fire. "How did our heart burn," said the disciples, "within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures."
Let them also commend him to strangers, Song v. 9-16. Drop a word for Christ to such, you know not what it may do. Many times a word forgotten by the speaker has been minded, with time and place, by the person to whom it was spoken in Christ's behalf, and has been like seed dropped, that has sprung up sweetly afterwards. O sirs! when we come to a death-bed, and ask ourselves what have we done, what have we spoken for Christ, we will have but a sorry reflection on it, if we do not exert ourselves more in that way than we are like to do.
Let us also speak in his cause and interest in the world. We should do that especially in those things that are opposed in our day; to be sure to hold by the truth of Christ, against all opposition, Mark viii. 38. If we esteem one highly, it is natural to take his part, and to do what we can to support his interest and honour; and if Christ have our hearts, he will get our endeavours that way also.
2. The apostle, in the text, expresseth himself with the utmost certainty, "yea, doubtless." He was not halting between two opinions, but goes with full sail, to determine in Christ's favours, upon the