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souls, in purifying their consciences, in bringing their thoughts to the obedience of Christ, in making them able to endure afflictions, in causing them to grow and increase in all heavenly graces; and this power we partake of, who rightly and experimentally look up to Christ. duty be neglected, there is no such thing: hence we call this, The duty of duties, the chief duty, the especial duty; and for all other duties, means, ordinances, if Christ be not in them, they are nothing worth. In every duty this is the essential part; that we look through all, unto Jesus; it is only from Christ that virtue and efficacy is communicated in spiritual ordinances. There were many people in a throng about Christ, but the infirm woman that touched him, it was she alone, that felt efficacy come from him; we see many attend the ordinances, frequent the assemblies, but some few only, find the inward power of Christ derived unto their souls. They that neglect, or are grossly ignorant of this great mystery of looking unto Jesus, are no better than strangers to the power of Christ.
6. They have not that sense of the worth and excellency of Christ, that are unacquainted with this duty; they are not so ravished with his beauty, they are not so taken with the sweetness and pleasantness of the face of Christ; he is not the fairest of ten thousands in their eyes; and hence it is that they do not pleasure, long after, delight or joy themselves in Christ. Indeed these affections are the evidences of our high esteem; they that rejoice not in Christ, nor have any longings after Christ, they put a very unworthy price upon Christ.
7. They have not that sense either of their own wants, or of the world's vanity, who are not in the practice of this duty. In this glass we see that man is blind, and no sun but Christ can enlighten him; that man is naked, and no garment but Christ's can clothe him; that man is poor, and no treasure but Christ's can enrich him; that man is indebted, and none but Christ can make satisfaction for him; that man is empty, and none but Christ can fill him; that man is distressed, perplexed, tormented, and none but Christ can quiet him. Why all this, and much more than this appears in this glass of Jesus. The soul that looks here cannot but comprehend an end of all other perfection; yea, the further it looks on the creature, the deeper and deeper vanities it discerns. But, alas! there is no observation, no sense, no feeling, either of man's wants, or of the world's vanity, or of any suitable good in Christ to them that are not in this divine and spiritual contemplation.
Thus far of their wants that neglect this duty of looking unto Jesus.
SECT. VI. Motives from our riches in case we are lively in this duty.
2. For our riches, in case we are lively in this duty; O the blessed incomes to such! I may reckon up here those very particulars, which the others wanted. 1. That Christ gives light unto them. As the receiving of the sun gives light to the body, so the receiving of the Sun of righte ousness gives light, a spiritual, heavenly and comfortable light to their souls. 2. That Christ gives grace and holiness unto them; "of his fulness have all we received grace for grace," John 1:16. As the print upon the wax answers to the seal, or as the characters upon the son answer to the father; so there are certain stamps of the grace of Christ upon the saints, that what good they do it springs not from external motives only, as in hypocrites, but from Christ working in them an inward principle of new nature: and upon this account doth John tell us, "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," John 1:17. 3. That Christ gives contentment or satisfaction unto them. As the pearl satis
fied the merchant in the parable with treasure, so Christ satisfieth the soul with wisdom in understanding, with the sense of his love in the heart, with sure and blessed peace in the conscience. They that rightly look unto Jesus, may say, as Jacob did, "I have enough.' 4. That Christ gives glory unto them; "he is the glory of Israel," Luke 2:32. He is both the author and matter of their glory; he is the glory of their justification, as the garment is the glory of him that wears it; he is the glory of their redemption, as the ransomer is the glory of the captive; he is the glory of their sanctification, as Jordan cleansing him from his leprosy was the glory of Naaman; he is their all in all in whom they glory, and "to whom they give all honor, and glory, and power, and praise." 5. That Christ gives peace unto them; "God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;" he is the author, and the world is the object of this reconciliation. "Christ is our peace," and "peace is preached by Jesus Christ," Eph. 2:14. They that hear Christ in the word, or that look unto Christ by the eye of faith, they have this peace, Acts 10:36, for Christ only in ordinances is the revealer, and procurer, and the worker of peace, in all the children of peace. 6. That Christ procures acceptation with God for them; he stands betwixt God and such believers; and as they mind him, so he is ever mindful of them, pleading their cause, answering all the accusations of Satan, and praying to his Father in their behalf. 7. That Christ gives life unto them, "He that hath the Son, hath life," 1 John 5:12. He that hath Christ in his heart as a root of life living in him, or as a king setting up his throne within him, or as a bridegroom betrothing himself in loving kindness to him, "he hath life," the life of grace, and the earnest of the life of glory. 8. That Christ gives wisdom unto them, "Christ hath in him all the treasures of wisdom," and therefore he that looks most to Christ, is the wisest man in the world; he that hath the sun, hath more light than he that hath all other lights in the world, and wants the sun. 9. That Christ gives a taste of his goodness unto them. They cannot look unto him, but he makes them joyful with the feeling of himself and spirit; and hence it is that many times they break out into "psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, and making melody in your hearts unto the Lord," Eph. 5:19. O there is a goodness of illumination, regeneration, sanctification, consolation, contentation, pacification, and spiritual freedom flowing from Christ to the souls of his saints, which to earnal men is a sealed well, whose waters their palates never tasted. 10. That Christ gives a sincere and inward love of himself unto their hearts. No sooner is their eye of faith looking unto Jesus, but presently their heart is all on fire. Such a suitableness is betwixt Christ and their souls, as is betwixt the hearts of lovers; their love to Christ is like the love of Jonathan to David, a wonderful love, and "passing the love of women," 2 Sam. 1:26. They love him as the bridegroom to whom their souls are married, as the choicest pearl by whom they are enriched, as the sun of consolation, by whose beams their souls are comforted, as the fountain by whom their hearts are refreshed, and their desires every way satisfied. 11. That Christ gives the sense of his own love to them; they cannot look on Christ, but they see him loving, and embracing their humble souls; they see him binding up their broken hearts; they behold him gathering to himself, and bearing in the bosom of his love, and comforting with the promises of his word their wounded spirits: they behold him, like Jacob, serving in the heat and in the cold for Rachel, serving in manifold afflictions from his cradle to his cross, to make a spouse unto himself. 12. That Christ gives the experience of his power to them. They that look
on Christ, do feel the power of Christ inwardly in their souls, dissolving the works of Satan, casting down his kingdom, and mighty holds within them, healing all their spiritual maladies, sustaining them in all afflic tions, filling their souls with all spiritual and heavenly might, making them strong in knowledge, and strong in faith, and strong in love, and strong in motion, and coming to Christ, as a river of much waters is strong in coming home to the ocean. 13. That Christ gives the sense of his own worth and excellency unto them; they see now in Christ is wisdom surpassing the brightness of the sun, even all the treasures of wisdom; in Christ is power excelling the strength of rocks, he is not only strong, but strength itself; in Christ is honor transcending all the kings of the earth, for he is King of kings, and Lord of lords; in Christ is beauty excelling the rose of Sharon, and lily of the valleys; he is fairer than all the flowers of the field, than all the precious stones of the earth, than all the lights in the firmament, than all the saints and angels in the highest heavens. 14. That Christ gives the sense of their wants, and of the world's vanity, and of his suitable goodness unto them. In looking unto Jesus, they see themselves in themselves miserable, and all other things miserable comforters; they have learned the meaning of that psalm, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth: in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God," Psalm 146: 3,4,5. 15. That Christ gives all things, every thing unto them. "All things are yours, (saith the apostle,) whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," 1 Cor. 3:22,23. All things are yours; first, all the ministers of Christ from the highest to the lowest, "whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas;" they are your servants; they are men that watch over you for your salvation. Secondly, "the world is yours." Indeed the world stands but for your sakes, if your number were but once completed, quickly would the world be set on fire. You will say, Ay! but how is the world ours? We find not this, for who hath the world at will? Why, though you have not, yet the misery you find in the world, the want of wealth, as well as the enjoying of it is yours, (i. e.) it tends to your advantage. Thirdly, "life is yours." It is a fitting, a preparing, a squaring of you for a better life, even for eternity. Fourthly, "death is yours;" for you shall die just then when it is best for you; death shall serve but as a servant to your advantage. Fifthly, "things present, and things to come are yours; godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of this life, and of that which is to come," 1 Tim. 4:8. Sixthly, I will add, the Lord himself is yours. Take God, and look on him in his greatness, in his mighty power, even this great God the Lord of heaven and earth is yours; he is yours, and all that he hath is yours, and all that he doeth is yours, and all that he can do is yours, "I will be thine," (said God to Abraham) "I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward," Gen. 15:1. Here is a catalogue, an inventory of a Chris tian's riches; have Christ, and have all. When a heathen was but asked, Where all his treasure was, he answered, Where Cyrus my friend is. And if any ask you, Where all your treasure is, you may answer, Where Christ my friend is. In this respect you may truly say, There is no end of your riches, they are called "the unsearchable riches of Christ," Ephes. 3:8. Paul could find no bottom of these riches; O who would not look unto Jesus? If Christ be yours (besides those particulars enumerated in this text,
1 Cor. 3:22,23.) God is yours, the Father is yours, the Son is yours, the Spirit is yours, all the promises are yours; for in Christ they are all made, and for him they shall be performed. Come, let the proud man boast in his honor, and the mighty man in his valor, and the rich man in his wealth, but let the Christian pronounce himself happy, only happy, truly happy, fully happy in beholding Christ, enjoying Christ, having Christ, in looking unto Jesus.
You have the motives of your wants, in case of neglect; and of our riches in case we are active, frequent, serious, and lively in this duty. But for our further encouragement to fall upon it, I shall add a few motives
More motives to encourage us in this work.
1. CONSIDER your looking on Jesus will maintain your communion with Jesus: and is not this worth the while? Why, Christians! what is this communion with Christ, but very heaven aforehand? Hereby we enjoy his person, and all sweet relations to his person, his death, and all the saving fruits, privileges, and influences of his death: hereby we are "brought into Christ's banqueting house, held in his galleries, his banner over us being love," Sol. Song 2:4. Hereby we are carried up into the mount with Christ, that we may see him (as it were) transfigured, and may say with Peter, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us here build tabernacles." Oh it is a happy thing to have Christ dwelling in our hearts, and to lodge in Christ's bosom! Oh it is a happy thing to maintain a reciprocal communication of affairs betwixt Christ and our souls! as thus; He bare our sins, take we his healing? He endured wounds for us, drink we the spiritual balsam that sprang out of his wounds? He took upon him our unrighteousness, do we clothe ourselves with his righteousness? He endured pains for us, come we to him, and take his rest to our souls? He embraced our curse and condemnation, do we embrace his blessing, justification, and salvation? To this end do we look on Jesus? If he hide his face by desertions, rest not till we find him, if we find him, hold him fast, let him not go, drive him not out of your heart by your corruptions. Thus, if we would prize the presence of Christ, how comfortably should we maintain and increase our communion with Christ.
2. Consider that your daily necessities call for a frequent looking up unto Jesus. You have need of Christ, you have need that he pray in you, and need that he pray for you to your heavenly Father; you have need that he work in you, and need that he work for you his own blessed will; you have need that he present you and yours blameless before his Father's presence in life and death, and at the day of judgment: there's not a moment in your life wherein you stand not in continual need of Jesus Christ; and can a hungry man forget his bread? Can the hart that pants for thirst forget the river? Can a man in bonds forget freedom? Can a child in distress forget a father in honor and wealth! O then, let your necessities drive you to Christ, and remind you of Christ! is not he the fountain that supplies all wants? Christians! consult your own experiences; when you look up to Jesus, and lean on Jesus, are you not best at rest? O then, why do you not always rest and lean upon him? Sometimes you say, His bread is sweet, and his cup is pleasant, how amiable is his presence? At such a time you have never done wondering at him. O the sweet impres sions that are even then on your spirits! why do you not then always look unto him. Or, at least, why are you not frequent in his disciples' posture, "who looked steadfastly towards heaven as he (Christ) went up?" Acts 1:
10. How richly might your idle hours and spare time be laid out here to the supply of all necessities, bodily, or spiritual?
3. Consider that an eye, an heart on Christ is one of your most unques tionable evidences of sincerity. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Matth. 6:21. If Christ be your treasure, your hearts will be on Christ; and surely an heart set upon God in Christ is a true evidence of saving grace. External actions are easiest discovered, but those of the heart are surest evidences. When thy learning will be no good proof of thy grace, when the arguments from thy tongue and hand may be confuted, yet then will this argument from the bent of thy heart prove thee sincere. Take a poor Christian that hath a weak judgment, a failing memory, a stammering tongue; yet if his heart be set on Christ, I had rather die in this man's condition, and have my soul in his soul's case, than in the case of him, without such an heart, though he had the most eminent gifts, and parts and abilities of any in the world. Christians! as you would have a sure testimony of the love of God, and a sure proof of your title to glory, labor to get your hearts on Christ, O look on Jesus, you may be sure Christ will acknowledge that you really love him, when he sees your hearts are set upon him.
4. Consider, that your looking on Jesus will strengthen patience under the cross of Christ. This is the very particular motive of the text, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds," Heb. 12:1,2,3. It is storied of a martyr, that, having offered him a cup of spirits to sustain him, when he seemed to faint under his greatest trial, he returned this answer, "My Lord and Master had gall and vinegar given him to drink;" as if he had been astonished to see himself fare better than Jesus Christ. How may it strengthen your patience in sufferings, to think of Christ's patience? What, are you served ill? Ay, but Jesus Christ was not served so well. Can you suffer so much as he hath done? "I tell you nay." O then do you stay your murmurings and repinings, bear with patience the little you endure; and, to this end, "Consider him that hath endured the contradiction of sinners."
5. Consider that a thorough sight of Christ will increase your outward joy in Christ. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad," John 8:56. A right sight of Christ will make a rightsighted Christian glad at heart. I wonder not that you walk uncomforta bly, if you never tried this art of Christ-contemplation; can you have comfort from Christ, and never think of Christ? Doth any thing in the world gladden you, when you do not remember it? If you were possessed of all the treasure in the earth, if you had title to the highest dignities, and never thought of them, sure they would never rejoice you. Come, look up unto Jesus; fix your eyes, thoughts, and hearts on that blessed object, and then you may expect David's experience, "My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips, when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches," Psalm 63:5,6. A frequent access to Christ, in a way of meditation, cannot but warm the soul in spiritual comforts. When the sun in the spring draws near our part of the earth, how do all things congratulate its approach? The earth looks green, the trees shoot forth, the plants revive, the birds sing sweetly, the face of all things smiles upon us, and all the creatures below rejoice. Christians! if you would but