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things, nay, almost any thing, is dearer to most perfons than Christ. Why fo? Because any bitter thing is more bitter to their depraved taste than fin. As when God intended to endear the promised land to the Ifraelites, and make them content to leave the flesh-pots of Egypt, Exod. i. 14. their lives then were made bitter to them; fo God gives his people deep wounds for fin, till their confciences be made to dread it, and their hearts to loathe it ; he makes them fick at the heart with it, and puts more and more bitterness in the cup to them, till it be of all things the bitterest, to this very end, that Christ may be the dearest to them, and that whatever they may afterwards meet with in his way, they may embrace it rather than fin. Sin has been bitter to many, but not extremely bitter; therefore they fay, as the drunkard, Prov. xxiii. 35. "When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again." But the experience of fin duly embittered quickly determines the Chriftian which fide to chufe, when they are brought to this alternative, to fuffer or fin.-Another reafon is,
2. That God is man's chief end; and when he made him, he made him pointing towards himfelf as his chief end: Ecclef. vii. 29. "God made man upright." But man finning, turned off from God, turned his intention, his love, and defire, beside the mark set before him, turned these in to himself, made himself his chief end. So that the whole of every natural man's religion, however refined, refolves itself into that curfed principle, Mafter, fpare thyfelf.' Hence they chufe new gods, father, mother, &c. fetting their heart on them more than on God. Hence is their war in the gates against heaven, those things which were to be fubordinate to God are fet in oppofition to him; thofe
those which were to be below him in their love and efteem, are set above him. If the grace of God rectify not this diforder, it does nothing; for it is impoffible, while the foul is perverted as to its chief end, that any thing can be right with that perfon; as a watch that is once wrong fet, though it go,never fo regularly, it is ftill wrong, for it never points right. But grace truly, though not perfectly while here, brings back the Chriftian to God as his chief end. It makes him fay, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I defire befides thee?" Pfal. lxxiii. 25.; and again, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," Phil. i. 21. It makes him holy in all manner of conversation; so that whatever way the Chriftian turns, he points habitually towards God.-Another reason is,
3. That as there unquestionably is, so they have feen, a vanity and emptinefs in all things of the world, even the things that are deareft to them: Pfal. cxix. 96. "I have feen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad." God has hung the fign of vanity at the door of all the creatures, yet do men throng into the house, every one calling and looking for a fill, and promifing it to themselves after a thousand disappointments: Ifa. lvii. 10. "Thou art wearied in the greatnefs of thy way; yet faidft thou not, There is no hope thou haft found the life of thine hand; therefore thou waft not grieved." They fee not the fign by the light of grace, though they may have a rational conviction of it, which will be as far from producing a true weaning of the heart from the world, as painted fire is from burning off a man's bands. But Chriftians are made to fee it with the light of grace, which is the light of life, which makes them go by the creatures.
door to him, in whom "it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell," Col. i. 19. The Lord fqueezes the fap out of all things, befides himself, to his own, fo as that when the heart is feeking its reft, they are tafteless to them as the white of an egg: Phil. iii. 7. 8. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted lofs for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but lofs for the excellency of the knowledge of Jefus Chrift my Lord; for whom I have fuffered the lofs of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Chrift."-Another reason is,
4. Because they find Christ of all objects the most suitable to them, and therefore he cannot but be dearer to them than the dearest thing in the world. The foul which has long gone through the dry places of the world, feeking rest, and finding none, when it comes to Chrift, finds reft to the confcience under the covert of his blood, and reft to his heart in that all-fulness dwelling in Chrift, which is commensurate to the unbounded defires of the heart, defires which can never be fatisfied but by an infinite good; and therefore of neceffity, and from choice, fettles here, faying, "This is my reft;" and that foul is not to be drawn away from Christ by any means whatever : Rom. viii. 35. 38. "Who fhall feparate us from the love of Chrift? For I am perfuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things prefent, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Chrift Jefus our Lord." He is fully fuited to their cafe; and, what is more, he is fuited to their mind, they have no fault whatever to him: Song, v. 16. "His mouth is most sweet, he is altogether lovely; this is my beloved,
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 reafon 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 deserved 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 houfe 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 reafon 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,
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 alfo 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 fweetness 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 Christian loves these things for what of God is in them, and with them, and can never be satisfied with them without Christ, 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.