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comeliness, and when we see him there is no beauty that we should desire him," Isa. 53:2. Indeed beauty is the attractive of the soul, the soul must see a beauty in that which it lets out itself to in desiring: but our wishing looks on other things make Christ but mean and contemptible in our eyes.
3. Because all other things, in comparison of Christ, are not worthy a look, they are but as vile things, as under things, as poor and low and mean and base things, in comparison of Christ. "I count all things but loss (saith Paul) for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord-I count them but dung, that I may win Christ," Phil. 3:8. [skubala,] some translate it chaff; others, dogsmeat; others, excrements, dung; all agree, it is such a thing as men usually cast away from them with some indignation.
4. Because it is according to the very law of marriage, "Therefore shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife," Gen. 2: 24. The Lord Christ marries himself to the souls of his saints; "I will betroth thee unto me for ever; I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies:" Hos. 2:19. And for this cause the soul must forsake all, and cleave unto Christ, as married wives do, we must leave all for our Husband the Lord Jesus; "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thy own people, and thy father's house," Psal. 45:10.
5. Because Christ is a jealous Christ. Now, jealousy is a passion in the soul, that will not endure any sharing in the object beloved: the woman that hath a jealous husband, must leave all her old companions: if she cast any amorous looks or glances after them, the husband will be jealous, and "jealousy is cruel as the grave," Sol. Songs 8:6. Christians! our God" is a jealous God," Exod. 20:5. Our Christ is a jealous Christ; he cannot endure that we should look on any other things, so as to lust after them.
6. Because all other things can never satisfy the eye, "All things are full of labor, (saith Solomon,) man cannot utter it, the eye is not satisfied with seeing," Eccl. 1:8. It is but wearied with looking on divers objects, and yet still desires new ones: but once admit it to behold that glorious sight of Christ, and then it rests fully satisfied. Hence it is, that the daughters of Zion are called to come forth: "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart," Sol. Songs. 3:11. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, lay aside all private and earthly affections, and look upon this glory of Christ. As the daughters of Jerusalem sitting or remaining in their chambers, closets, houses, could not behold the glory of King Solomon passing by, and therefore they were willed to come forth out of their doors: even so, if we will behold the great King, Jesus Christ, in his most excellent glory (a sight able to satisfy the eye, and to ravish the heart) we must come out of our doors, we must come out of ourselves, otherwise we cannot see his glory: we are in ourselves shut up in a dark dungeon, and therefore we are called upon to come forth into the clear light of faith, and with the eyes of faith to behold, in daily meditation, the glory of Christ Jesus.
SECTION II. An exhortation to look off all other things.
ONE word of exhortation, Christians! I beseech you look off all other things, especially all evil things. I know I am pleading with you for
an hard thing, I had need of the rhetoric of an angel, to persuade you to turn your eyes from off these things; nay, if I had, all were too little, "It is God only must persuade Japhet to dwell in the tents of Shem," and yet let me offer a few considerations, venture at a persuading of you, and leave the issue with God.
1. Consider that all other evil things are in God's account as very nothing. "Verily every man at his best estate is altogether vanity," Psal. 39:5. Not only man, but every man; not every man in his worst condition, but every man at his best estate; not every man at his best estate is little worth, but every man at his best estate is vanity, emptiness, nothing; it may be so in part, nay, but in every part, he is wholly, totally, altogether vanity. Would any man think, that a great, rich honorable man, whom we look upon with such high admiring thoughts, should be laid thus low in God's esteem? O wonder, wonder! and yet it is no such wonder, but one day you shall find the experience of this truth yourselves. Rich men have "slept their sleep, and none of the men of might have found their hands," or, as others render it, "They have found nothing in their hands," Psal. 76:5. That is, rich men have passed over this life, as men do pass over a sleep, imagining them. selves to have golden mountains, and rocks of diamonds, but when they awake at the day of death, they find themselves to have nothing. Why, Christian, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?" Prov. 23:5. 1st. Observe that riches are not, they are nothing, those things that make men great in the eyes of the world, are nothing in the eyes of God. 2. Observe, That God would not have us so much as set our eyes upon them, they are not objects worth the looking on. 3. Observe, with what indignation he speaks against those that will set their eyes upon these vanities, wilt thou set thine eyes upon a thing which is not? q. d. What a vain, unreasonable, sottish, senseless thing is this?
2. Consider, That all such things (if they are any thing) are but trifles, deceits, thorns, miseries, uncertain things; this is an ordinary theme, it is every man's object, and every man's subject, and a very easy thing it is, to declaim upon the vanity, misery, uncertainty of the creatures: ay, but do you make it the matter of your meditation, and be you serious in it, think of it deeply, and desire God to be in your thoughts? Oh what work will it then make in your breasts! Oh how would it wean your loves and desires off all these things! Christians! consider all these adjuncts of all sublunary things. When the creatures tempt you, be not enticed by the beauty of them, so as to forget their vanity: say, Here is a flower, fair, but fading: here is a glass that's bright, but very brittle.
3. Consider the difference of these objects, Christ, and all other things; as thus, all other things are vanities, but Christ is a real, solid, substantial, excellent, glorious thing; all other things are temporary, fading things, but Christ is an enduring substance, "The same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, which is, and which was, and which is to come," Rev. 1:4. All other things are thorns, vexations of spirit, but Christ is full of joy and comfort, a most ravishing object, all composed of loves, or altogether lovely. O who would make it his business to fill his coffers with pebbles, when he may have pearls, or gold or silver, or precious things? What, must you look off your sins! Why, see before you the graces of the Spirit of Christ. Must you look off your idle sinful company? See before you "the fellowship is with the Father, and
with his Son, Jesus Christ," 1 John 1:3. Must you look off your pomp and glory? See before you the privilege of adoption? you shall be called "heirs, the sons and daughters of God, heirs and joint-heirs with Christ," Rom. 8:17. Must you look off worldly riches? See before you the riches of the graces of Christ. Must you look off sinful pleasures? See before you fulness of joy, "at Christ's right-hand there are pleasures evermore," Psal. 16:11. Must you look off your own righte ousness? See before you the righteousness of Christ Jesus. O what a vast difference is there betwixt these objects, Christ, and all other things!
4. Consider, that Christ looked off heaven and heavenly things for you, how much more should you look off the earth and earthly things, the world and worldly things for him? Christ left the glory, the compa ny, the pleasures of paradise for you, and "he made himself of no reputation," he nothing'd himself (as it were) for you; "ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich," 2 Cor. 8:9. O let that melting love win you to him, and wean you off all other things!
5. Consider, that the rational soul of man is of too high a birth to spend its strength upon other things; the soul of man is of the same nature with angels; is a kind of divine spark. Now, if a man have a golden mill, he will not use it to grind dirt, straws and rotten sticks in. The soul, the mind, the thinking faculty of man is too high to be exercised in the things of this earth. The soul is of a most excellent capacious nature, it is fit to converse not only with angels, but with the eternal God himself, with Father, Son and Holy Ghost; it is of a transcendent being; put all the world into the balance with it, and it is nothing in comparison. The soul of the meanest galley slave is more than heaven and earth, than sun and moon and stars, and all the host of heaven. Now, if a man's soul be of such an high-born nature, if the Lord hath put such a spirit into the bosom of man; for him, to bestow the strength of it upon low, base, mean and earthly things, oh what an evil is this!
6. Consider, how short is the time that you have here in this world: This is the argument of the apostle, "because the time is short, therefore let us use this world as not abusing it," 1 Cor. 7:29.31. Therefore let our hearts be taken off these things, yet a few days, and you shall be here no more; time passeth on, many hundred diseases are ready to assault you: you that are reading, or hearing, talking, or walking, you must very shortly be carried on men's shoulders, and laid in the dust, and there left to the worms in darkness and corruption; you are almost there already, it is but a few days, or months, or years, and what is that when once they are gone and past? And oh! "What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Matth. 16:26.
7. Consider the great account that you are to give of all earthly things: it is the sin of most of the sons of men, to look on creaturecomforts; but they consider not the account they must give for them. Oh here is a prevailing motive to take off your eyes! consider the last accounts; what if you were now to die, and to go the way of all flesh, and then to make up your reckoning, what good would it do you to remember all those contentments and pleasures you once enjoyed upon the earth? If the factor, after many years spent in foreign countries, at
last returns home with this bill of accounts, "Thus much for singing, so much for dancing, this for courting, that for feasting.' Who would not blame him for so fond a reckoning! oh it will be a sad reckoning, if the bill come in, that you have spent most of your time in looking and gazing upon earthly things.
SECT. III. Directions how to look off all other things.
1. STUDY every day more and more the vanity of the creature: read over the book of Ecclesiastes well; it is enough that, through the assistance of Christ, to teach you that lesson. A serious and fruitful meditation of that, word, " Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity," Eccl. 1:2. What work might it make in your hearts! Men usually look on these things through some false glass, or at a distance, which makes them so admire them; but if they could see them truly in themselves, oh how uncomely would they be? Or if they could see them as compared to Christ, oh how vain would they be? Honors and greatness in that respect, would appear as bubbles, pleasures and delights in that respect, would appear as shadows.
2. Converse but a little with any evil thing on this side Christ; have as little to do with the world, the sinful pleasures, profits, riches, manners of it, as possibly you can; the less the better. Things of this world have a glutinous quality; if you let the heart lie any while amongst them, it will cleave unto them, and if it once cleave to them there will be no way, but either repentance or hell-fire must part them.
3. Be more and better acquainted with Jesus Christ; get nearer to him, be more in communion with him, get more tastes of Christ and heaven, and earth will relish the worse for them. Oh! when I look on Christ and consider, That he that was the Lord of heaven and earth, put himself into so poor and low a condition, merely for the redeeming of his elect, how should this but deaden my heart to the world? "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; and do count them but dung that I may win Christ," Phil. 3:8. If Christ be in view, all the world then is but dung and dross, and loss in comparison; the glory of Christ will darken all other things in the world.
4. Set before us the example of such saints, who accounted themselves pilgrims and strangers upon earth. The apostle gives you a catalogue of such, "who confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth;" and see how they are used, "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented:" Who were these? They "were they of whom the world was not worthy," Heb. 11:13. 37,38. Oh! when you read, or hear how joyfully these servants of the most High went through their wilderness-condition, methinks this should take off your hearts from earthly things.
5. Go in your meditations to heaven, and keep there a while: the mind that is in heaven cannot attend these earthly things: would a man leave his plough and harvest in the field, to run with children hunting after butterflies! No more will a soul that is taking a survey of heaven and heavenly things, fix his eyes on such poor things below: Non vacat exiguis, &c. is the character of a truly prudent man: the children of that kingdom above, have no while for trifles, and especially when they are employed in the affairs of the kingdom. Oh! when a Christian hath but a glimpse of eternity, and then looks down on the world again, how doth he conten and vilify these things? "How doth he say of laughter, it is mad, and of
mirth, what doeth ft?" Eccl. 2:2. Whilst the saints are tasting heaven, they enjoy such sweet, that they care not for other things: Christians! how would this meditation wean your hearts? and make you laugh at the fooleries of the world? and scorn to be cheated with such childish toys? If the devil had set upon Peter in the mount, when he saw Christ in his transfiguration, and Moses and Elias talking with him, would he so easily have been drawn to deny his Lord? What, with all that glory in his eye? So if the devil should set upon a believing soul, and persuade his heart to profits, or pleasures, or honors of the world, when he is taken up in the mount with Christ, what would such a soul say? Get thee behind me, Satan; wouldst thou persuade me from hence with many trifling toys! wouldst thou have me sell these joys for nothing? Is there any honor or delight like this? Or can that be profit, which loseth me this?' Some such answer would the soul return: Oh! if we could keep the taste of our souls continually delighted with the sweetness of heaven, as a man would spit out aloes after honey, so should we spit out all the baits of the world with disdain.
6. Cry mightily unto God, that he would take off your hearts and eyes; "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity," Psal. 119:37. prays David: either God must do it, or you will be wearied in the multitude of your endeavors: but, if the Lord draw off the eye, it will be drawn indeed. "Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness," prays David again, Psal. 119:36. If the heart bend downwards, then go to God to erect it, and to incline it heaven-wards; if it be after covetousness, then cry to God, and say, Lord, not after covetousness, but after thy testimonies incline my heart."
I have hitherto stood only at the door of the text, to call you in; if now you will enter and be intent, and fix your eyes, I'll show you a blessed, a most glorious sight. But, First, I must explain the act, You must look. Secondly, The object, You must look on Jesus.
SECTION I. An explanation of the act and object.
1. For the act, you must look. Looking is either ocular or mental. First, For ocular vision, there may be some use of that in heaven, for there we shall look on Jesus. "With these eyes shall I behold him," saith Job. "For we shall see him as he is," saith the apostle, 1 John 3:3. "Now we see through a glass darkly, then face to face," 1 Cor. 13: 12. But till then, "we must walk by faith, not by sight," 2 Cor. 5:7.
Secondly, For mental vision, or the inward eye, is that which will take up our discourse, and that it is which the apostle speaks of in his prayers for the Ephesians, "That the eyes of their understanding may be opened, that they may know," &c. Eph. 1:18. Now the excellency of this mental sight is far above the ocular sight: for there are more excellent things to be seen by the eye of the mind, than by the eye of the body; we only see a piece of the creation by the eye of the body, but the mind reacheth every thing that is in it, yea, the mind reacheth to him that made it: God is invisible, and yet this eye secs God. It is said of Moses, That he saw him that is invisible," Heb. 11:27. 2. It is the sight of the mind, that gives light and vigor to the sight of the eyes; take away the inward light, and the light of the external sense is but as darkness