CHRIST'S FAMOUS TITLES
by William Dyer
THE EVERLASTING FATHER
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
Man is the excellency of the creature;
the saint is the excellency of the man;
grace is the excellency of the saint;
glory is the excellency of grace.
"He will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Beloved, we have shown you from the third title, Mighty God, that Jesus Christ is true and perfect God, a Mighty God, mighty with God, mighty as God, the Great and Mighty God. This fourth title holds him forth to be a Father; not only a Father—but an Everlasting Father—the Everlasting Father.
The proposition which I shall lay down from the title is this, That God in Christ, is a believer's everlasting Father. That I may clear up this point, I shall lay down these truths:
First, That God, in Christ the Everlasting Father, begot himself in us, and us in him. Christ is both "the author and finisher of our faith," of all our joy, of all our peace, of all our life, of all our salvation. Christ is a Father ever begetting and bringing forth himself in us; his light is in us, his love is in us, his nature is in us, his wisdom is in us, his power and strength are in us; "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another," John 1:16.
All believers who were in time past, who are in time present, who shall be in time to come—shall receive his fullness. And therefore he is called, The Everlasting Father.
He is the Sun—we are the beams. He is the Fountain—we are the streams. He is the Root—we are the branches. He is the Head—we are the members. He is the Father—we are the children. And hence it is, that believers are called his offspring, "We are the offspring of God," says the apostle.
In creation God has given us to ourselves—but in redemption he has given himself to us. It is a greater favor to be converted—than created; yes, far better to have no being—than not to have a new being; it is only the new creatures that are heirs of the new Jerusalem.
Secondly, God in Christ, calls all his children by his name; he puts his name upon them. Mark, sirs, "I will write upon them the name of my God," in Revelation 3:12. The saints are called godly, from God; Christians, from Christ; spiritual, from the Spirit; and heavenly, from heaven, because their conversation is there, because their Head is there, and they be heirs of heaven. So the wicked are called devilish, from the devils; and the cursed, from the curses; and worldlings, from the world; and sinners from sin.
O the great difference that there is between the names of the saints and the names of the wicked! The ungodly are called dogs, vipers, swine, thorns, and ravening wolves, who lick up, and suck the blood of the innocent! But the saints are called jewels, treasures, kings, doves, lilies, and heirs of the kingdom of glory! And hence it is, that some godly men have thought it a greater honor to be a member of Christ—than to be a king upon a throne; a greater honor to be one of Christ's little ones—than one of the world's great ones. Indeed, sirs, a holy heart—is better than a great estate; inward holiness—is better than outward happiness; a Christ without honor—is better than honor without Christ; piety without prosperity—is better than prosperity without piety; godliness without greatness—is better than greatness without godliness.
Thirdly, God in Christ is a Father who is tender and full of affection towards his poor children. When we were full of sin—then he was full of love. Christ is more tender of his mystical body—than he was of his natural body. He allowed his natural body to be hungry, to be thirsty, to be weary, to hang upon the cross, to bleed upon the cross, to suffer upon the cross, to be pierced and bored with nails upon the cross. Oh, he went through the furnace of wrath—to keep us out of the flames of hell!
But now mark, sirs, for his mystical body—O how tender is he! He loves them, he pities them, he smiles upon them, he carries them in his bosom, and dandles them on his knees. Oh! they are the beauty of his eyes, the joy of his heart; he cannot endure to see them wronged, to see them injured and abused; every blow they get—goes to his very heart! "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" You see how tender Christ is of his body mystical. Christ is our Jonah, who threw Himself into the sea of His Father's wrath—to save us from everlasting perdition! "Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging!" Jonah 1:15. He has opened the gates of heaven, to let us into salvation.
Fourthly, God in Christ is a Father who lays up for his children. He gives them something in possession—but more in promise. He gives them a little in hand—and a great deal in hope.
1st, God in Christ, is a Father who lays OUT for his children—He gives them something in hand. He gives us the air to breathe in, and the earth to tread upon. He gives us the sun, the moon, the stars, wind, water, and fire. He gives us the fish of the sea, the beasts of the earth, and the birds of the air. Poor man lives by death—our natural life is preserved by the death of the creature, and our spiritual life by the death of our Savior. Hence I may say, we live by death. It is man's duty to serve God, since God has made all the world to serve him. Says the apostle, "He gives us all things richly to enjoy." Mark, he does not only give us some things—but all things; not only all things—but all things richly to enjoy.
2nd, God in Christ, is a Father who lays UP for his children—as well as lays out. Psalm 31:19, "Oh! how great is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you!" David is astonished at it, "Oh! how great is your goodness which you have laid up!" Mark the words!
Just so in 2 Timothy 4:8, "Hence is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." What, only for you Paul? No, not only for me—but for ALL those who love his appearing."
So again, see another Scripture for this, 1 Corinthians 2:9, "As it is written," says the apostle, "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man to conceive." Why, sirs, what is this which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man to conceive? Why, mark "the things that God has prepared for those who love him!"
Oh! beloved, God gives his children the best portion, the richest portion, the greatest portion! All things are theirs: life is theirs, death is theirs, things present are theirs, and things to come are theirs, God is theirs, Christ is theirs, the Spirit is theirs, heaven is theirs! What more can they have? God gives his children in this world—a talent of grace; and in the world to come—a talent of glory! They shall wear Christ's crown above—who bear his cross below!
Fifthly, God in Christ, protects and defends his children from their enemies: from Satan, from sin, from the world, from the curse, and from the second death, which is hell. Revelation 2:11, "He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." Mark, a believer may feel the stroke of death—but he shall never feel the sting of death! The first death may bring his body to corruption—but the second death shall never bring his soul to damnation! Though he may live a life that is dying—he shall die a death that is living. He who is housed in Christ—shall never be housed in hell. God protects his children from all wrongs and injuries, he allows no man to do them wrong. "He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings." Psalm 105:14. Mark the phrase well, sirs—if kings will lay on saints the hands of violence—God will lay on kings the hands of vengeance. He rebukes kings for their sakes; if kings will wrong the poor saints for Christ's sake—Christ will reprove kings for the saint's sake. So says the Word of God. They who are gods before men—are but men before God. If men will throw saints into prison for their piety—God will throw them into hell for their iniquity!
Mark what the prophet says in Isaiah 30:33, "Topheth—the place of burning—has long been ready for the king; it has been piled high with wood. The breath of the LORD, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze!" The prophet speak so forthright, as though hell was chiefly prepared for great men. Oh sirs, hell is prepared for great men—as well as the lowly. Those to whom God bestows great temporal mercies—if they abound in great vices—God will inflict great punishments! How shall they be able to lift up their heads before Christ, who lift up their heads against him? "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ," Acts 4:26. Christ will pass a sentence—upon every sentence that has been passed. He who says, "Come, you who are blessed," will also say, "Go, you who are cursed."
Sixthly, God in Christ, is a Father who teaches his children, and instructs his children. "They will all be taught by God." John 6:45. All God's children shall be taught by God. And what does he teach them? Why, among other things he teaches his children those six lessons:
1st, He teaches them to deny themselves. A true believer will lay down his lusts at the command of Christ, and his life for the sake of Christ.
2dly, Christ teaches them contentment. Here is another divine lesson which Christ teaches his children. A believer will be contented to bear the wrath of man for him—who bore the wrath of God for him.
3rdly, The vanity of the creature. He teaches us, that all earthly things are vanity, and vexation of spirit.
4thly, The sinfulness of the heart.
5thly, The deceitfulness of the heart.
6thly, The right knowledge of himself.
Oh, Christians, have you learned these lessons? Then let all your actions be Christ-like, and walk like Jesus as your example. Jesus lived to teach us how to live—and he died to teach us how to die! He who will not follow the example of Christ's life—shall never be saved by the merits Christ's death.
As Christ is the root on which a saint grows—so he is the rule by which a saint squares. If Jesus is not your Jacob's staff to guide you to heaven—he will never be your Jacob's ladder to mount you up to heaven.
We should be as willing to be ruled by Christ, as we are willing to be saved by Christ. God made one Son like to all—that he might make all his sons like to one. If the life of Christ be not your life—you are dead and doomed!
Seventhly, God in Christ, is a Father who stamps upon all his children the lovely image of Jesus Christ—they resemble him to the very life. As was said of Constantine's children, 'They resemble their father to the life.' So we may say of believers, 'they resemble Christ to the life.' God will allow no man to wear the livery of Christ upon him, who has not the likeness of Christ within him! "And we all, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Oh! sirs, what a rare jewel is grace! The Lord of grace, calls it glory. Mark, with ever-increasing glory—that is, from one degree of grace to another. "The Lord will give grace and glory!" Psalm 84:11. Grace is glory militant, and glory is grace triumphant! Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace made perfect! Grace is the first degree of glory, glory is the highest degree of grace! Grace is the seed, glory is the flower! Grace is the ring, glory is the sparkling diamond in the ring! Grace is the glorious infant, and glory is the perfect man of grace! Grace is the spring, glory is the harvest! The soul of man is the cabinet, the grace of God is the jewel; Christ will throw away the cabinet where he finds not the jewel. He who restored us in the image, will restore us to his image.
Eighthly, God in Christ, is a Father who never dies. All other fathers are dead and gone; our father Abraham is dead, our father Isaac is dead, our father Jacob is dead—and all others are dead and gone.
Oh! but God in Christ is a Father who lives forever, who loves forever, who reigns forever. He is the Father of eternity, in eternity, from eternity, to eternity! Proverbs 8. He was always, is always, and shall be always, and he cannot but be always! "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8. Christ is the same before time, in time, and after time. Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same," says the apostle, "yesterday, today, and forever!" "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:36.
Ninthly, God in Christ, is a Father who corrects his children. All whom God loves, he chastens, though he does not love to chastise. God had one Son without sin—but no son without sorrow! He had one Son without corruption—but no son without correction! Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loves—he chastises, and scourges every son whom he receives." Revelation 3:16, "As many as I love—I rebuke and chasten." Afflictions are blessings to us—when we bless God for the afflictions! God is as far from beating his children for nothing—as he is from beating his children to nothing.
Christ tells us, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24. There is a fourfold self which must be denied for Jesus Christ, or else you cannot be called his disciple.
1. A sinful self.
2. A natural self.
3. A self-righteousness.
4. A self-gain, or lucre.
Sinful self is to be destroyed, and natural self is to be denied. We cannot enjoy ourselves—until we deny ourselves!
Is it so, that God in Christ is a believer's Everlasting Father? Oh then, what is so sweet a good as Christ! and what is so great an evil as sin? Oh! love Christ more—and hate sin more! Christ brings life with him—a life of grace, a life of comfort, a life of glory. But sin brings death with it—death of body, death of soul, death here, and death hereafter.
Oh! the blood of Christ speaks better things than the blood of Abel; Abel's blood cries for vengeance—but Christ's blood cries for mercy. He is the pearl of great price, for which the rich merchant sold all that he had, and bought it, and found more joy in this pearl, than ever he had with all that he possessed. Oh therefore! let me beseech you who are his children, to love him and to serve him! He is your Everlasting Father, therefore do his will on earth, as the angels do in heaven. You cannot complain of him for lack of mercy; so good has he been to you, as he has not been lacking to you in anything—and will you be lacking to him in everything?
"A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve?" Malachi 1:6. As a father—he will be reverenced for his goodness to his children. Oh what is that little he desires from you—compared to that which he deserves from you! If honor is not due to him—let it not be bestowed! If it is due to him—let it not be denied! If God does great things for his children—he will not accept of small things from his children!
See the outcry that God makes against his own children in Isaiah 1:2, "Hear, O heavens! Be astonished, O earth!" Why—what is the matter? "The children I raised and cared for—have turned against me!" The nearer the relation—the greater the obligation! Christ is related to them as a Master to his servants, as a Father to his children, as a Prince to his subjects, as a Head to his members! Where the relation is nearest, there the provocation is greatest. It is a more pleasant thing to see rebels become children—than it is to see children become rebels.
What mother can endure to see those lips that drew her breasts—suck her blood? Oh! Christians, you are more known to God than others, and therefore you must more acknowledge him than others! You do not look for so much splendor from the burning of a candle—as from the shining of the sun; nor so much moisture from the dropping of the bucket—as from the dissolving of a cloud. To whom much is given—of them much shall be required.
God does not expect much—where little is bestowed. Nor does he accept little—where much is received, "Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt—You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins!" Amos 3:1-2. God has exalted you above all others—and therefore you must do more for God than others. It was a great blemish to Hezekiah, that his returnings were not answerable to his receivings. Oh believers! let me beseech you to do much, to love much, to give much, to pray much—seeing you have received much!
I shall wind up all, with a word of COMFORT to the children of God. Oh! sirs, God in Christ, is your Father, your loving Father, your everlasting Father—and you are his children! Therefore fear not—it shall go well with you both here and hereafter! "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!" He will withhold no good thing from you! "For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory! No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless!" Psalm 84:11. He gives both grace and glory unto you! Grace is the silver link that draws the golden link of glory after it!
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
Wherever Christ is a Priest for redemption—he is a Prince for dominion! Wherever he is a Savior—there he is a Ruler! Wherever he is a Fountain of happiness—there he is a Fountain of holiness! Wherever he is a Redeemer—there he is a Refiner! Wherever he takes a burden from off the creature's back—there he lays a yoke upon the creature's neck! "The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King—he will save us!" Isaiah 33:22.
I shall now proceed to the fifth title of Jesus, "He will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!" Isaiah 9:6
It is the happiness of the church of God, that although they cannot give peace—yet they may get peace; though they cannot settle it on earth—yet they may seek it from heaven. Peace is the well-being of all other enjoyments; all other mercies suck their livelihood at the breasts of peace. Peace is the mother of all prosperity; as the life of old Jacob was enrapt up in the life of the lad Benjamin, so is all happiness enrapt up in peace. Peace is the felicity of the saints on earth, and the glory of the angels in heaven. When the old Hebrews wished any happiness to anyone, they only used this expression, 'Peace be unto you'.
From this title of Christ, I shall lay down two propositions:
First, That Zion's King is a peaceable King.
Secondly, That the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the cause and foundation of a believer's peace.
These two points lie fully in the words; but I shall only speak of the latter, namely, That Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the cause and foundation of a believer's peace.
In the prosecution of it, I shall show you four things—
1. Christ is the Peace-bringer.
2. Christ is the Peace-maker.
3. Christ is the Peace-giver.
4. Christ is the is the Prince of Peace, or the peaceable Prince.
First, Jesus Christ is the Peace-BRINGER.He brought in everlasting peace by righteousness, and not by a sword, "Peace on earth, and good-will towards men." Why was the Bread of Life hungry—but that he might feed the hungry with the bread of life? Why was Rest weary—but to give the weary rest? Why was the Prince of Peace in trouble—but that the troubled might have peace? None but the Image of God could restore us to God's image. None but the Beloved of God could make us beloved to God. None but the natural Son of God could make us sons of God. None but the Wisdom of God could make us wise. None but the Prince of Peace could bring the God of peace, and the peace of God, to poor sinners; and therefore he is called our Peace, Ephesians 2:14.
Oh what is so sweet a good as Christ! And what so great an evil as sin! Christ brings us to joy and peace; sin brings us to woe and misery.
Secondly, He is the Peace-MAKER, as well as the Peace-bringer. He is the Peace-maker between God and men. Sin is the great bar between God and the soul. Sin is the wall of separation between God and us—and the Prince of Peace makes peace between God and us. He paid all the debts, and took up all the controversies, and blotted out the hand-writing, and has broken down the partition-wall, and made up the great breach between God and man! 2 Corinthians 5:19, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." Mark, it is in Christ; so likewise elsewhere. "You who were once afar off, he has made near by the blood of Christ." Oh! sinners, Christ is our Peace-maker! The Prince of Peace makes peace between God and us; he reconciles God to men, and men to God; so that though God might be justly displeased with us—yet in his Son he is well pleased with us. He is more pleased with a believer for Christ's sake, than he was displeased with us for sin's sake.
Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the Peace-GIVER.Alas! poor sinners, we have no peace with conscience, nor one with another—until the Prince of Peace gives it to us, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you," says our Lord unto his disciples, John 14:27. Oh! sirs, he gives peace with God, in Romans 5:1, "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Christ gives peace to us, which the world cannot take from us. Worldly trouble cannot overcome heavenly peace.
Fourthly, He is a Prince of Peace, or the PEACEABLE Prince.So he is styled not only Peace—but the Prince of Peace. Indeed, beloved, he is all peace to a believer, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," speaking of Christ, Proverbs 3:18. Mark, all her paths are peace.
Now, what are these paths? I shall name six to you:
1. The path of repentance.
2. The path of faith.
3. The path of truth.
4. The path of self-denial.
5. The path of obedience.
6. The path of holiness.
1st, These are several paths of peace, and peaceable paths. Oh sirs! there is no peace to be found—but in the paths of peace! As all his works are great and marvelous—so all his ways are peace and pleasantness.
2ndly, His gospel is a gospel of peace. It is a great mercy to enjoy the gospel of peace—but a greater mercy to enjoy the peace of the gospel.
3rdly, His reward is peace, Isaiah 57:2, "He shall enter into peace." Here the joys of heaven are called peace. The true sons of peace, and the peaceable sons of truth—shall be crowned with peace. They shall enter into peace. And thus, beloved, I have briefly, yes I have fully proved the point That Jesus Christ is the cause and fountain of a believer's peace!
USES. Now for the application of the point. I shall reduce it to four heads:
1. For information.
2. For examination.
3. For exhortation.
4. For consolation.
First, By way of INFORMATION. Here we may see what great need we stand in of Jesus Christ.
Firstly, Oh, Christians! Is Jesus Christ the cause and foundation of all our peace? Then we have no right or title to peace—but by the Prince of Peace, "We have no peace with God," says the apostle, "but through our Lord Jesus Christ." we are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus; and "we who were afar off," says Paul, "are made near by the blood of Christ." We are only acceptable in the Beloved; so that, beloved, it is all in Christ, and through him—that we have our peace.
A Christless man is a peaceless man. We have no peace with God, no peace with conscience, outside of Christ. Until we are Christ's friends—we are our own foes. It is true, a wicked man may speak peace to himself—but God speaks not a jot of peace to him. He may speak peace to himself until he falls into everlasting flames! God is his enemy, the devil is his foe, angels hate him, all creatures cry for vengeance upon him. Isaiah 57:21, "There is no peace to the wicked, says my God!" No, not a word, not a grain of peace to a person who is outside of Christ! Therefore, oh sirs! consider in what need you stand of the Prince of Peace.
Secondly, it informs us, that to have peace with our God and Maker is the sweetest and best thing in the world. Oh how infinitely sweet is peace! What is sweeter than peace? Alas! gold is but dust, pleasures are but toys, wit is but a flash, beauty but a blast, honor but a rattle, life but a vapor! Oh but peace is better than the sweetest, and better than the best of all those!
1st, Because he who has peace with God may come boldly to God, Hebrews 6:16.
2ndly, He who has peace with God, has communion and fellowship with God, 1 John 1:3. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
3rdly, He who is at peace with God—is a son of God. Peace is of all other good things—the most sweet! Oh! it is wine to comfort us, and bread to nourish us, it makes a man live comfortably, and die cheerfully.
Thirdly, If Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the cause and foundation of all our peace; why then, he who lacks the Prince of Peace, lacks all good things! He who is without Christ—is the most miserable man in the world; he lacks reconciliation with God; he lacks a saving interest in Christ; he lacks the sealing and comforting of the Spirit; he lacks justification, sanctification, and adoption; he lacks pardon of sin, and freedom from the dominion of sin; he lacks that favor which is better than life, that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, and that faith, a grain of which is more worth than a king's ransom! He lacks those riches which perish not, those evidences for heaven that fail not, that love which dies not, that kingdom which shakes not!
Oh, beloved! how many things does that poor soul lack—which lacks a Christ! He is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked! Revelation 3:17.
Christ is a pearl—whoever has him can never be poor, and whoever lacks him can never be rich! Did but men see all in this pearl of great price—then they would sell all for this pearl of great price.
Fourthly, If Jesus Christ is the cause and foundation of our peace, then it is our greatest concernment to get into favor with the Prince of Peace! "Many seek the ruler's favor," says the Scripture—but oh seek the favor of this Prince! Poor souls, without him there is no mercy, no peace, no grace, no glory, no heaven, no crown, no eternal life; for "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent!" John 17:3.
Use 2. By way of EXAMINATION and self-denial.The trial of ourselves, is the ready way to the knowledge of ourselves. Oh Christians! would you see your God? Then cast your eyes upward. Would you see yourselves? Then cast your eyes inward.
Contemplation is a looking-glass to see your God in. It is of greater concernment to know the state of our hearts—than to know the estate of the kingdom.
And therefore, I beseech you, examine yourselves, that you may know yourselves, that you may know whose you are while you live, and where you will go when you die, and what will become of you to all eternity! Oh, sirs! bring yourselves to the trial, and try yourselves, and see whether you are in the faith, and the faith is in you. Faith is such a grace, that a man cannot be saved without it—and not a man can be damned who has it.
Oh see whether you are in the narrow way that leads to life—or in the broad way that leads to death! Whether your hearts are chairs for vice to sit in—or thrones for grace to rule on! Whether you are one of Christ's spouses—or one of the Devil's harlots! Whether you are heirs of heaven or hell! Whether you are Satan's bondmen—or God's freemen. Examination is the beaten path to perfection, 1 Corinthians 1:25, "Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." It is seldom that the sparkling diamond of a great estate, is set in the gold ring of a gracious heart. A man may be great, with Saul—and graceless! He may be rich with Dives—and miserable. The richest are oftentimes the poorest—and the poorest are oftentimes the richest. Oh how many threadbare souls may there be found, under silken coats and purple robes! A sight of ourselves in grace—will certainly bring us to a sight of ourselves in glory! Those sins shall never make a hell for us—that have been a hell to us!
Use 3. But it is time for me to turn my speech into an EXHORTATION.Oh, that you would make your peace with the Prince of Peace, that you may be the true sons of peace, and the peaceable sons of truth, that you may be righteous before God, and holy before men; that you may gloriously shine in glory; and that you may have peace with God and with your own consciences, and with one another!
Well, sirs, what do you say in answer to the message? Shall the Prince of Peace be your love and Lord; your nearest and dearest, your joy and your delight? Will you kiss the Son? Will you make your peace with the God of Peace, and give up your souls and lives to be ruled by him? These things I exhort you to do—and God expects them at your hand.
But that this exhortation may stay with you, I shall back it with some pressing considerations.
First, Consider God's goodness and good-will towards men. God has given you rich means, that you may make and secure your peace with God.
First, He has given you the law and the gospel.
Secondly, He has generously given time and opportunity.
Thirdly, He has given you mercies and afflictions. Mercies to draw you—and afflictions to drive you.
Fourthly, He has given you preachers, both inward and outward preachers. By outward preachers, I mean the ministers of Christ, who beseech you, and entreat you, for Christ's sake to be reconciled to God, and make your peace with God. By inward preachers, I mean your own conscience, that judges you, and checks you, and reproves you for your sins and abominations.
Fifthly, He has given you precepts and promises. Precepts commanding you what to do—and promises assuring you of a glorious reward for your doing.
Sixthly, He has given you the Spirit and convictions, Genesis 6:37, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." Oh! how long will you stand out against God? What have you to say against this? How can you answer this, when you and I shall appear before God's judgment-seat? Have you anything to say against this? Oh! sad will be your end—unless you make your peace with God; and therefore (seeing God has given these things to you, that you may make and secure your peace with him) he who lives in sin without repentance, shall die in sin without forgiveness!
Secondly, God invites and woos you to come and make your peace with him; Isaiah 55:1, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!"
Beloved, here are three 'comes' in this text, to show the infinite willingness of God to save poor sinners. Just so in Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life!" There are three 'comes' again in this text. What, are there none thirsty among you? Do none thirst for Christ, and grace, and heaven? If you come, sirs—here you may have grace, and mercy, and happiness. Now, for the Lord's sake, consider why God invites you to all this—that you may make your peace with God. Shall the God of heaven call—and you will not hear? What, will you rather stay in your sins, and die and go to hell—than go to Christ for life! Oh! sirs go to the Prince of Peace for peace, that you may have peace! If you do not lay your sins to your hearts, that you may be humbled for them—God will lay them to your charge, that you may be damned for them.
A third consideration is this: either you must taste of God's goodness—or of his fury! There is not a man, woman, or child among you—but must partake of the one or the other! Your portion will be either joy—or sorrow; either desolation—or consolation! If you are not trees for fruit-bearing, you must be trees for burning! If you are not for fruit—you must be for the flames! If you do not swim in the waterworks of repentance, you shall burn in the fireworks of vengeance! If you do not go and make your peace with God, that you may have heaven, you shall go to hell for not making your peace! One of them you must do.
Oh! sirs, I have set life and death, heaven and hell, bitter and sweet, before you this day. Will you make your peace with God—or not? Will you still go in a way of wickedness, breaking his laws, grieving his Spirit? Will you die a natural death, before you live a spiritual life? I say then if you live so, and die so—you shall be damned with the damned, and punished with the punishment of hell, and so sent to hell with loads of wrath upon your backs! You shall have your part in that lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death, "He who believes, shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be damned!" says our Lord, Mark 16:16.
Oh! sirs, it is better to repent without perishing, than to perish without repenting! Therefore look to it well. Are you able to deal with God? Alas! alas! all the world is but like a drop of water in comparison of God; and therefore make your peace with him, Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape—if we neglect so great salvation!"
Fourthly, Consider what the damned in hell would give for the offers of mercy that are now offered to you. Certainly they would give ten thousand worlds if they had them, for these opportunities that you enjoy. Should God say to poor wretches that are suffering in hell for their drunkenness upon earth, and their whoring and abominations, as he does to us, "Come unto me, all you who labor are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" oh! how earnestly would they run and catch the word out of God's mouth! But alas! alas! poor damned wretches, there is not a grain of mercy for them! No, not so much as a drop of water for them, not one drop of water to cool their flaming tongues!
Oh, that you would consider this, and make your peace with God before death comes, which may be the next night, for anything you know; if you lose your golden seasons of mercy—you lose your souls. Oh therefore make your peace with God, that it may not be said of you, as it was once said of Jerusalem, in Luke 19:42, "Oh that you had known, in this your day, the things that concern your peace; but now they are hid from your eyes!" Here was a weeping word, a sad word to Jerusalem. Alas! now it is hid from their eyes; their golden season is gone; there is no peace to be had; and therefore I beg of you, as though I were condemned, and begging of my life; so I beg of you in the affections of Christ, and for your soul's sake—make your peace with God!
Fifthly, Seriously consider the multitude of sins you have been guilty of, even more than the hairs of your head, or the sand on the sea-shore, or the stars in the heavens, which are innumerable. Says David, "They are more than the hairs of my head," Psalm 40:12. Alas! one of your sins were enough to sink you into hell forever! What advantage does Dives reap in hell, from all those delicious banquets that he had on earth? Oh! think on that time, wherein you shall be ashamed of nothing but wickedness, and glory in nothing but holiness.
SIN is like a serpent in the bosom that is stinging; or like a thief in the closet that is stealing; or like poison in the stomach that is poisoning; or like a sword in the heart that is killing! Some are in hell already for the same sins you live in! And if you live and die without Christ—you shall before long be with them! Therefore, I say, make peace with God.
Sixthly, Consider that there is more bitterness following upon sins ending—than there ever was sweetness flowing from sins acting. You who see nothing but well in the commission of sin—will suffer nothing but woe in the conclusion of sin! It is better here to forego the pleasures of sin—than hereafter to undergo the pain of sin! You who sin for your profits—will never profit by your sins! He who likes to do works of sin—will never like to have the wages of sin. Sin is both shameful and damnable: it shames men in this world, and damns them in the other world. Sin is like Judas, who at first greets—but at last betrays us. Sin is like Delilah—who smiles to our face, and betrays us into our enemies' hands. Oh! sinners, think of this, and part with your sins, that you may meet with your Savior, and make your peace with him.
Seventhly, Consider the heavy judgment that hangs over your heads. You lie open to all the judgments in this life, and torments in the life to come. Oh! sinners, the days are hastening upon you, wherein you have misery without mercy, sorrow without support, pain without ease, punishment without pity, and torment without end—unless you sincerely repent! "The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power!" 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Oh! let the hearing of this—prevent the feeling of this, poor sinner.
Eighthly and lastly, If none of the former arguments or considerations prevail with you to make your peace with the Prince of Peace—yet let this one convince you, I beseech you. Consider the readiness and willingness of God to give Christ, and Christ to give himself to you. Oh! sinners, is God willing to give his Son—and are you unwilling to receive his Son? Consider the willingness of God, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him." Mark, sinners here, "Behold, I stand," Who stands and knocks? I who have heaven to give; I who have a crown to give; I who have all joys to give; I who have myself to give—I stand and knock!
Do you see this, poor sinners? Who is it that stands at the door of your hearts and knocks? Who? It is the King of saints, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God—and will you not open to him? What! are you unwilling to be saved, to go to heaven, and to be happy forever! What! are you unwilling to be delivered from Satan, from sin, and from the flames of hell! Make your peace with God, for God is willing to open heaven for you—if you are willing to open your hearts to him. He is willing to save you—if you are but willing to be saved. He is willing to give a Christ—if you are willing to receive a Christ! Therefore, poor souls, let these considerations provoke you to go for life—to the Lord of life; to go for peace—to the Prince of Peace; to go for grace—to the God of grace! Were men so diligent as to do their best—God is so indulgent as to forgive the worst!
THE PRECIOUS ELECT
"He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
Who can be weary of preaching, or hearing, or reading, or learning of Christ? He is so precious and lovely! Mahomet is the Turks' love; Moses is the Jews' love; the Pope is the Papists' love; but Christ is a believer's love.
I shall now make some entrance upon Christ's sixth, famous, and lovely title, The Elect Precious.
"See, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 1 Peter 2:6
From this excellent title, I shall lay down two propositions:
Doctrine 1. That Jesus Christ, the Mediator, is God the Father's elect.
Mark, sirs, there is a three-fold elect:
First, The elect Jesus Christ; Isaiah 13:1, "Behold my servant, my elect," says the Father, speaking of Christ.
Secondly, The elect angels; 1 Timothy 5:21, "I charge you before God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels."
Thirdly, The elect saints; and for this see Col. 3:1, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved."
But alas! what are the elect angels, or the elect saints, compared to the Elect Precious! It is only the blessed Jesus, who is the Elect Precious, and precious to the elect.
But I shall not stand on this point—but proceed to the second.
Doctrine 2. And that this is—That the crucified and glorified Christ, is very precious to all believing saints.
In handling this precious point, I shall show you five things.
1. That Christ is precious.
2. That Christ is most precious.
3. That Christ all precious.
4. That Christ is always precious.
5. Why Christ is so precious.
First, That Christ is precious.Jesus Christ is precious three ways:
to God, to angels, and to saints.
1st, Christ is precious to God the FATHER.This will appear by what God the Father has said himself of the Son, Isaiah 43:1, "My elect in whom my soul delights." Here you see Christians, what God says to Christ—the soul of God delights in the Son of God. So again, Matthew 3:17, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Mark here, not only pleased—but well pleased. Oh! how precious is Christ to God the Father!
The Lord Jesus, though he was a man of sorrows—yet he was not a man of sin; he had correction—but not corruption; he who was a Way to others, never went out of the way himself. Jesus Christ must needs be precious to the Father, because he never displeased him in anything—but pleased him in everything. In John 8:29, Christ says, "I always do what pleases him!" Oh! friends, it will be your glory, your crown, your honor, and happiness forever—if you do these things that please God while on earth! Christ must needs please the Father, for he went about doing good, Acts 10:38. He did not always stay in one place—but he always went about doing good wherever he was.
And truly, sirs, if people were not made better by his coming, they might blame themselves, for he went about doing good. As he was never ill employed, he was never unemployed; as he opened the Scriptures to our understanding, so he opened our understanding to the Scriptures.
2dly, Christ is precious to the ANGELS, as well as to the Father. The angels were very joyful at the birth of Christ their Lord; they sang praises to God on high, Luke 2:13, 14. See with what joy and triumph the angels sang at the birth of Christ! Oh! how precious is Christ to the elect angels! The angels adore him, "Let all the angels of God worship him," Hebrews 1:6. The Lord Almighty is worshiped by an host of angels, "Let all the angels of God worship him!" The angels desire to pry into the mysteries of the gospel of grace; as you may see in 1 Peter 1:2. The angels, though they are glorious to all eternity, look upon it as not below them to pry into the mysteries of Christ. Oh, sirs, the angels are desirous to know these things—which we neglect to know.
The angels stand ready to serve God and his people. When he bids them go—they go. When he bids them come—they come. When he bids them do this—they do it. They obey all his commands, Psalm 103:20. Jesus Christ is the Creator of angels, the Lord of angels, the Prince of angels, the Head of angels, Col. 1:16. Do you see, sirs, how precious Christ is to the angels of God! And well he may, for indeed he is the precious jewel in the cabinet of grace.
3rdly, Jesus Christ is precious to the SAINTS, as well as to his Father and angels, 1 Peter 2:7, "Unto you who believe—he is precious!" Mark here, 'unto you'. Unto who? "To you who believe—he is precious!" He is precious indeed to those who believe, and no wonder—he is a believer's all. Now that which is his all, must needs be precious! Christ is his all—Christ is all that he has, and all that he truly enjoys. They have nothing of true worth without him. It is not worth a man to live—unless he lives in Christ. Christ is the gain of a believer, living and dying; so that whatever is good for a believer, he must say, "for this, I am indebted to Christ!" All things are yours—and you are Christ's.
Now, sirs, let me give you a more particular account of the Christian's worth, and inventory of his estate; and all along I shall show you that Christ is the worth of all that. What is it that makes a believer so precious and excellent? Why, it is such things as these:
1. He is a living man.
2. He is a seeing man.
3. He is a person of honor.
4. He has a great deal of joy, and hope of more.
5. He is righteous and holy.
6. In a word, he is saved at last.
These are things that make a Christian so excellent a person, and he has none of these but by Christ, and he has all this alone by Christ.
First, This is the excellency of a Christian, that he is aLIVING man. There is no man on earth who can, in a spiritual sense, be called a living man—but a believer. All men be dead men—but those who believe. You know that it was said of the prodigal, while he lived in his sins he was dead, "This is my son who was dead, and is now alive." When he believed, then he was alive. Now, sirs, LIFE is the most valued thing which we have, skin for skin, all that a man has will he give for his life! A man will rather part with his livelihood, than with his life, because his life is so dear to him. Now, beloved, if natural life is so desirable a thing, what is a spiritual life, that which in Scripture is called the life of God!
Now the believer is the only living man, every other man is spiritually dead. How does the believer come to life? By whom does he live? Why, it is by Christ Jesus! Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ, notwithstanding I live." What, crucified—and yet live? Yes, Christ was crucified, and yet lives; and so did Paul in resemblance and conformity to Christ, "I live," says he, "yet not I—but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God." So that Paul will not call his life his own—but only as he derived it from Christ. Christ lives in him—more than he himself lives.
Secondly, The excellency of a believer lies in this, that he is theSEEING man. It is sight which makes a vast difference between person and person. It is a sad thing to be born blind, or to be made blind after a man is born. Now all men are either born blind, or made blind after they are born, or both. Now, beloved, would you know how precious sight is? Ask a blind man who once could see! We read of a poor man who comes running to Christ, and cries out, "O Lord, that I may receive my sight!" Now, sirs, if in nature having the sight of our eyes is a thing that makes us so much more excellent than otherwise we would be without it, oh then how much value should we put upon this spiritual sight which refers to our souls! We can much better lack the eyes of our heads—than the eyes of our understanding!
Now, in a spiritual sense, there is no seeing man—but a believer. No man saw Christ savingly—but those who saw him believingly. Every man but a believer walks in darkness; nay, he is in darkness. The apostle says in Ephesians 5:8, "You were once darkness—but now are you light in the Lord."
In the Lord Jesus Christ—a believer sees. He was once as dark as others, and as blind as others, until he was in the Lord; and no sooner was he in the Lord—but he was light in the Lord.
Thirdly, The excellency of a believer lies in this, That he is a very beautiful andHONORABLE person. Beauty and honor are ravishing things of this world—and all but believers are deformed people—there is no beauty nor loveliness why they should be desired. But now the believer is a very lovely and beautiful person; he is so in the eyes of God, Ezekiel 16:11-14, "I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, and beautiful necklaces, a ring for your nose and earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were made beautiful! You looked like a queen, and so you were!" But now mark how she came by this beauty in the next verse, "Your fame soon spread throughout the world on account of your beauty, because the splendor I bestowed on you perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord." She was not only beautiful in the eyes of the Lord—but she had her beauty also from the Lord!
As they are thus lovely in the eyes of God, so also of holy angels and saints too. For as glorious a place as heaven is, the angels think it not below them to wait on the image and pictures of Christ, here below—and to be the Lord's guardians here upon earth, Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be the heirs of salvation?" But this is not all they do for them, they will not leave them when they die—but take those lovely souls and transport them to a better country than ever this world was to them. There is no believer who goes to heaven—but he goes in the arms of angels! Luke 16:12, In the history of Dives and Lazarus, says the text, "Lazarus died (believing Lazarus died,) and his soul was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom," that is, to heaven. Oh what an honor have believers at their death, that the very angels transport their souls to heaven!
And they are also very lovely and honorable in the eyes of all godly people. The truth is, there is scarcely any man fit company for believers—but believers; and therefore, says the apostle, "be not unequally yoked," that is, believers with unbelievers.
Now godly men are much taken with a believer, though he is a stranger to them on all accounts; they are very fond of one another in this world, and had rather suffer together than live with other men.
Now, this makes a believer so excellent—that he is thus beautiful and honorable in the eyes of God, and holy angels, and godly men. Now all this beauty and honor they have from Christ. It is Christ who makes him honorable in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of holy angels, and godly men. All that beauty and honor they have, it is through Christ, he is their worth in every capacity.
Fourthly, That which makes a believer so excellent is, that he has true JOY. All other men have no joy which is not worth the having. Alas! the joy of the hypocrite, what is it—but the crackling of thorns under a pot? But now, a believer has a joy that no man can take away. But how and where did he obtain his joy? Why, in and from the Lord, "These things I speak," says Christ, "that my joy may be in you." They rejoice in the Lord, "We rejoice in Christ Jesus," says Paul, "and have no confidence in the flesh."
Fifthly, Have theyHOPE? it is from Christ; and indeed none have hope but they. For without God, and without Christ, and without hope, are put together, in Ephesians 2:12. But now the believer has good hopes, and this bears him up many times. Alexander thought hope was so noble a thing, that when he gave to one man whole countries, and to another vast treasures, and being asked what he would keep for himself—says he, "I will keep hope!" For he thought it enough for so brave and great a soul as his, to hope for that which would make him to do whatever he was able to do, or any one could think. The hopes of eternal mercy, and joy and peace—will carry a man through thousands of difficulties.
Now the believer has this hope—but he has it from Christ, Col. 1:27, "Christ in you—the hope of glory."
Sixthly, none but they areRIGHTEOUS and HOLY. Every sinner is a fool—he plays the fool all the time he spends without of the fear of God! All sinning-time is a fooling-time. Now the believer is a wise man, and he is a righteous man, and a holy man. How he comes to be thus, we see in 1 Corinthians 1:30. Christ is the ALL of a believer, "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." So that you see if a believer is a wise man—he may thank Christ for it. If he is a righteous man, and if he is a holy man—he may thank God for it!
Lastly, In a word, they areSAVED. Indeed, this is apex of all the others! Says Christ, "he who believes shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be damned." The believer is already in the state of salvation, and the unbelieving are in the state of damnation. By nature we are all children of wrath; now faith in Jesus Christ is the means that God has appointed to free us from being children of wrath. Now he who believes shall not be condemned, he shall be saved. How does he come to be saved? It is by only by Christ, by believing in Christ. Oh! who is the Savior, but Christ? To be IN Christ is heaven below—and to be WITH Christ is heaven above! There is no being WITH Christ above, if we were not IN Christ here below.
Thus you see, beloved, what it is that makes a believer so excellent and precious, it is Christ that makes him such; he has it all from Christ, Christ is his all in all. Now put all this together, and see that there is great reason that Christ should be precious to believers.
Secondly, As Jesus Christ is precious—so he is MOST precious.Oh, sirs! angels are precious, saints are precious, friends are precious, heaven is precious—but Christ is ten thousand times more precious than these! A believer had rather have Christ without heaven—than heaven without Christ! "Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire besides you!" Psalm 73:25. Let a believer search heaven and earth, and yet he will find nothing comparable to Christ. To be like to him—it is our happiness; and to draw near to him—is our holiness. You will see, beloved, life is precious, freedom is precious, health is precious, peace is precious, food and clothing are precious, gold and silver are precious, kingdoms and crowns are precious. Indeed they are, in their places—but nothing is as precious as Jesus Christ.
Mark, sirs, what the apostle says, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:7-8
What is our life but a warfare? And what is our life but a pilgrimage? It is only the best of beings that can bestow the best of blessings. Oh how good is a believer's God, who sweetens his pilgrimage to him? Oh, Christ is a believer's all, and therefore he is more precious than all! He has all in Christ, and nothing outside of Christ; there is no such thing as a believer without him. By faith we have a saving interest in Christ—and by having an interest in Christ, we have an interest in all things; the believer is the only blessed man, the only happy man, the only rich man. Revelation 21:7, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things." Oh what a glorious inheritance are they born to—who are new born! All things are theirs, and they shall inherit all things! What can they desire, more than all? All that Christ has is theirs! His wisdom is theirs to teach them, his love is theirs to pity them, his Spirit is theirs to comfort them, his righteousness is theirs to justify them, his power is theirs to protect them, and his glory is theirs to crown them.
Oh, sirs! Christ cannot but be most precious to a believer, because all his precious comforts come from Christ. The Lord Jesus is fairer than the fairest, sweeter than the sweetest, nearer than the nearest, dearer than the dearest, and richer than the richest, and better than the best.
The Elect Precious is the most precious of all:
1st, Because that Christ is the GREATEST gift that God can give, or that we can receive, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son!" This is more than if he had given us all the world! For God has but one Son—and can make no more. But God can make more worlds at his pleasure. This gift is God himself, and God can give us no greater gift than himself. We may say, as one said to Caesar, when he gave him a great reward, "This is too great a gift for me to receive," said he "But it is not too much for me to give," said Caesar.
2ndly, Because Christ is the RICHEST gift that ever was given, for Christ is all in all. If he has given us Christ, he will give us all other good things, Romans 8:36.
3rdly, Christ is the one thing NEEDFUL. Yes, he is the gift of God, "If you knew the gift of God, (says our Savior, John 4:10) you would have asked for it, and begged it of me." Why is Christ called THE gift of God? Surely God has given us more gifts than one; true—but as the sun is more worth than all the stars, so this gift excels all the others put together. "We do not thank God for stars—when the sun shines."
4thly, Because he is the CHIEF gift that God has to give. Other gifts he gives promiscuously to both the godly and wicked. Judas had the money-bag; and Dives dined deliciously every day, when Lazarus would have been glad to get his crumbs. But God never gives this gift to any but whom he loves with his dearest, special, and eternal love.
Suppose some prince would woo a great lady, and had a jewel worth a fortune. And it may be that he would give some coins, or some slight tokens of favor unto the servants. But the rich jewel—that he gives to his spouse! This jewel is Christ!
Abraham may give to Ishmael a bottle of milk—but Isaac had the inheritance.
5thly, The Lord Jesus is the RAREST gift of all! Christ is a gift given to very few—here to one, and there to another. Millions of millions perish, for not knowing and trusting in Christ.
Oh! what a rare jewel is Christ! Though our souls are more worth than a world—yet a world of souls is not worth Christ! It is he who makes us blessed in life, happy in death, and glorious after death!
6thly, The Lord Jesus is the SWEETEST gift of all others; for if God gives his Christ, then he gives us all other gifts in his love, and they become a blessing sweetened to us! Those who have this good—shall lack no good, "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger—but they those who the Lord shall not lack any good thing," Psalm 34:10.
Now put all this together—and you will see Christ to be most precious.
Thirdly, Christ is ALTOGETHER precious.I told you in the last section, that Christ is precious; and indeed I told you the truth, for they are not only my sayings—but God's sayings, therefore they are true. Christ is altogether precious, there is nothing in Christ but what is precious; he is amiable and desirable; he is fullness and sweetness, and greatness and goodness, light and life, and happiness. Believers enjoy all things in Christ; in all things he is the joy of a believers life, and the life of a believer's joy. Oh sirs! Christ is precious, he is very precious, he is most precious, he is always precious, he is altogether precious to the believing soul.
1st, His NAME is precious, he is called a precious Stone, Isaiah 28:16. Christ is there called a precious Stone.
2ndly, His BLOOD is precious, in 1 Peter 1:9. His blood is there called precious Blood. Yes, and well it may, for a drop of his blood is worth a sea of ours! And yet he died our death—that we might live his life.
3rdly, FAITH is precious, in 2 Peter 1:1. Faith is there called precious faith, the least grain of faith is more worth than all the gold in Europe!
4thly, His PROMISES are precious, in 2 Peter 1:4. "Giving to us exceeding great and precious promises." Christ's promises are called great and precious promises. Why great—and why precious? They are great for extent, and precious for their excellencies.
5thly, His GIFTS and GRACES are precious, Proverbs 3:15. "More more precious than jewels!" All things you can desire are not to be compared to them.
6thly, His MEMBERS are precious, Isaiah 43:4, "Since you have been precious in my sight, you have been honorable." Here you see the members of Christ are called precious. A believer indeed is a raven in the world's eye—but a dove in Christ's eye! In the world's account, the saints are dung and dirt; but in God's account, they are jewels and pearls! Graceless men look upon God's people as castaways—but God will give whole kingdoms for their ransom! Wicked men may call the saints factious—but God calls the saints precious. Indeed, sirs, the scoffers and jeerers of the people of God in other ages, were but bunglers compared to the scoffers and jeerers of the people of God in our age. Well, there is a time coming, when Christ will laugh at the ungodly, for now laughing at ungodliness. Though holiness is that which a sinner scorns—yet holiness is that which a Savior crowns! As you expect happiness from God above, so God expects holiness from you below. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 4:7
7thly, The REPROACHES of Christ are precious; Hebrews 11:26, "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." I beseech you mark, is it not here said, that Moses esteemed the person of Christ, or the members of Christ, or the privileges of Christ, or the glory of Christ, greater riches than the treasures in Egypt? Oh! beloved, the worst of Christ's—is better than the best in the world! Christ's cross—is sweeter than the world's crown! The reproaches of Christ—are greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.
Esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. Our afflictions are also good and precious. Now, beloved, if I can prove that afflictions and reproaches for Christ are good and precious, which is the worst of him—then you will conclude with me, that Christ is all precious.
1stly, That must needs be good—which comes from God. Now, afflictions come from God, who alone good. Psalm 39:9, "I was silent; I would not open my mouth." Why David? "because You are the one who has done this!"
2dly, That must needs be good—which was suffered by the sweetest good. Now, afflictions were endured by Christ who is the sweetest good; "He was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief," Isaiah 53:3.
3rdly That must needs be good—which fits and prepares us for a glorious estate, the eternal good. Now, affliction does this, "It was good for me that I was afflicted." Sirs, do you believe king David? Will you believe David was a man after God's own heart? Why, he says that it was good for him he was afflicted. But you will say, Why was it so good? Look in the 6th verse, and there is the reason. Says he, "Before I was afflicted—I went astray." A very satisfactory answer; and therefore it was good for me I was afflicted.
So again, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us." What do they work? "A far more exceeding weight of glory!"
Oh Christians! under your greatest troubles—lie your greatest treasures! Afflictions are good—but not pleasant. Sin is pleasant—but not good. There is more evil in a drop of sin—than there is in a sea of afflictions. God by affliction, separates the sin he hates so deadly—from the soul he loves so dearly! By the greatest affliction—God teaches us the greatest instruction! And a believer, when he lies under God's hand which afflicts him—he lies in God's heart which loves him! Believers are crucified by the world—that they may be crucified to the world. The flesh is an enemy to suffering, because suffering is an enemy to the flesh! Those who do not carry the yoke of Christ upon their necks—will never carry the cross of Christ upon their backs! But a believer studies more how to adorn the cross—than how to avoid the cross! None are so courageous, as those that are very pious. Some glory in that which is their shame—and shall we be ashamed of that which is our glory? It is an honor—to be dishonored for Jesus Christ!
Tell me, oh believer, is not Christ with his cross, better than the world with its crown? Suppose, Christian, the furnace is hot, seven times hotter—it is but to make you seven times more holy! Fiery trials make golden Christians! Sin has brought many a believer unto suffering—and suffering has kept many a believer from sinning! Those who here be crossed for well-living, shall hereafter be crowned for well-dying. The losing of our heads, makes way for receiving of our crown! God will season our vessels with water of affliction, before he pours in the wine of glory. By this you see, beloved, that the reproaches of Christ are precious. It is better to be preserved in brine—than to rot in honey!
4thly, Jesus Christ is always precious to believers; he is more precious to them than a thousand worlds! Because he is always with them, in all their trials, and in all their troubles, and in all their straits, and in all their afflictions. "In all their afflictions he was afflicted," says the text. Sirs, who would not suffer with such a companion as this? "But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3.
Do you see this, Christians, he is with you in the fire, in the water, in the prison, in all places, and at all times! He never leaves you, nor forsakes you, Hebrews 13:5. He beds and boards with you; he lies down, and rises up with you! He is called a friend, and indeed he is our best friend! "Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Solomon 5:16
1. Jesus Christ is a faithful friend.
2. Jesus Christ is a prudent friend.
3. Jesus Christ is a providing friend.
4. Jesus Christ is a compassionate friend.
5. Jesus Christ is a constant friend.
6, Jesus Christ is a loving friend.
7. Jesus Christ is an everlasting friend.
He loves us to the end—and there is no end of his love! He who gave his image to us—loves his image in us. Jesus Christ gave himself to us, and for us; he loves us in himself, and as himself. Oh! what a sweet friend is Christ! God, in giving Christ to us—gave his very heart for us! Now, beloved, how can Jesus Christ be but always precious to a believer, who is thus always with a believer?
5thly, and lastly, WHY is Jesus Christ so precious to believers?
First, Because he is a believer's life! Col. 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory!" There is a three-fold life that flows from Christ:
a life of grace,
a life of comfort,
a life of glory.
Secondly, Jesus Christ is precious to believers, because he is their light! Alas! alas! until we are in Christ—we must be in darkness! It is in his light, that we see light, Ephesians 5:14, "Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."
Thirdly, Christ is precious to believers, because he is their food! "My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink." John 6:55. Oh! what choice fare have they to feed on—who have Christ to feed on! Oh! You who have not Christ to feed on—your bread is but perishing bread.
Fourthly, Christ is precious to believers, because he is their strength! Take a man that is outside of Christ—he has no strength to withstand or overcome. "Without me," says Christ, "you can do nothing!" John 15:5. "When we were without strength, Christ died for us." To be without Christ, and to be without strength—is all one.
Fifthly, Jesus Christ is precious to believers, because he is their righteousness and holiness.
Sixthly, Jesus Christ is precious to believers, because he is their portion! Jesus Christ is the terror of his enemies—and the portion of his people. Jesus Christ is a lion his enemies—and the Lamb to his people.
I might in a few particulars ANATOMIZE the believer, and begin with his head. All that he knows of the things of God—he is indebted to Christ for it. Says Paul, "God who has shined in our hearts, by the light of the gospel, in the face of Christ." All the knowledge of God, all gospel light, all the knowledge of spiritual things, we have all from Christ.
Consider the believer in his heart. We find there a broken heart, a tender heart, a good and honest heart, a new-covenant heart. How does he get this heart? Why, he has it only from him in whom the new-covenant is made, and that is Christ.
Consider the believer in his graces, as faith, and love, and patience, and humility, and the rest—he has all from Christ! "Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness!" John 1:16. There is not one grace we have—but we have it from Christ.
Consider the believer in his life. He is an honest and just man. Who made him to differ? Why is he not so full of cheating tricks as other men? Why, he has not so learned Christ! Christ teaches him to live at a more holy rate than others do—so that if the believer is better than others in this, he may say, "Thanks be to Christ, for that before I lived as vainly as others did; but now I have not so learned Christ!"
Consider the believer in his privileges. He is a child of God, and it is by the Son of God—that he is a son of God, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name—He gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12. So that if he is a child of God, he must thank Christ for it! If he is one of the family royal, one of the chosen generation, he must thank Christ for it! For it is in Christ, and by him alone, that we have all the good which we enjoy.
Consider the believer in his comforts. He has not one good day—but it is from Christ. Has he comfort in ordinances, in the society of saints and prayer? He must thank Christ for all this.
And thus I have given you a brief anatomy of the Christian, and showed you that Christ is all in all. Whatever a believer has of worth, he is indebted to Christ for it.
Now put all this together, and see what great reason there is that Christ should be precious to believers. Is it any wonder that these souls are enamored so with him, that they think their lives not worth the living but for him, and in him, and for his sake. Oh sirs, there is very great reason why believers set so high a value and esteem upon Christ, who is their all in all.
The first use shall be forexamination and self-trial. You have heard that Christ is precious, precious to God, to angels, to saints. But now, O soul—is he precious to your soul? If he is precious to you—then all which is precious to him—is precious to you.
Oh, that men would but deal truly with their own souls! Many talk of grace—but few taste of grace! Many talk like a Christian—but few walk like a Christian! Many know what is to be done—but never do what is to be done. Many wear Christ's livery—but do the devil's drudgery! Many have hands as white as snow—but their hearts as black as hell! Many think themselves as surely going to heaven, as if they were already dwelling in heaven! Many think it shall go well with them hereafter, because it is so well with them here! Many lie down with such hopes in their beds of rest, which they dare not lie down withal in their beds of dust! Many appear righteous, who are only righteous in their appearance. But such as deceive others with a false show of holiness—will deceive themselves with a false hope of happiness! Remember, sirs, that the sheep's coat shall be stripped off the wolf's back! "They come to you in sheep's clothing—but inwardly they are ferocious wolves!" Matthew 7:15. There is no making out our salvation—but by working out our salvation.
God binds up none in the bundle of life—but such who are the heirs of life! "Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!" Numbers 23:10. There is no living a life that is wicked—and then dying a death that is righteous. Oh! therefore, examine yourselves. I shall propose four questions to be resolved by your own hearts.
1. What interest have you in him?
2. What influences have you from him?
3. What affections bear you to him?
4. What preparations make you for him?
Oh, sirs, that you would consider well these weighty things! Tell me, sir—what did Judas get by all his deceitful dealings? Nothing but a halter—in which his body was hanged; and a fire—in which his soul was burned! Though the earth may keep a wicked man living—yet heaven will not take a wicked man dying. I say, therefore, examine yourselves.
Secondly, I shall speak a little by way ofexhortation and conclude.
1st, If Jesus Christ is so precious, oh then, open the door of your affections to him—that he may open the door of salvation to you! Open to the God of glory—that he may make you glorious. Behold the God of heaven stands at the door of your hearts, and knocks, Revelation 3:20, "Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." He knocks by his Word, by his rod, by his Spirit, by his mercies, by his judgments, by his comforts. And all is, that he may come in and commune with you. Now, sinners, will you not open the door of your hearts to Christ—that he may open the door of heaven to you? If you shut out Christ out of your hearts—he will shut you out of heaven! And what will you get by that? Oh, sirs, he has gold to enrich you, wine to cheer you, bread to nourish you, righteousness to justify you, mercy to save you, and happiness to crown you!
2ndly, Let all that which is precious to God be precious to you:
1. The Son of God.
2. The book of God.
3. The worship of God.
4. The ordinances of God.
5. The ministers of God.
6. The people of God.
Oh! let these be precious to you. May the Lord give his blessing to what has been written.
"Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16
Doctrine, That Jesus Christ is infinitely and superlatively lovely.
To be in a state of grace—is to be miserable no more—and to be happy forever. It is faith which unites Christ and sanctified souls together on earth; and love that unites God and glorified souls together in heaven. Oh! believers, you are those worthies of whom the world is not worthy! From one saint, Jesus Christ has more glory given to him, than he receives from all the world besides. We owe not only our service to Christ—but we owe also ourselves to him.
I shall now make some remarks upon our Lord Jesus Christ's seventh famous and lovely title, which is Wonderful.
"He shall be called Wonderful." Isaiah 9:6
The point that we shall lay down and speak to from hence, is this,
Doctrine: That a believer's Savior, is a Wonderful Savior.
The world and devils fear him. But he is Wonderful in the eyes of all angels and saints, for his love.
For the opening of this excellent point, take these particulars:
1. Christ is Wonderful in his nature.
2. Christ is wonderful in his person.
3. Christ is wonderful in his incarnation.
4. Christ is wonderful in his saints.
5. Christ is wonderful in his offices.
6. Christ is wonderful in his miracles that he wrought.
7. Christ is wonderful in his humiliation.
8. Christ is wonderful in his conquest.
9. Christ is wonderful in his ascension.
10. Christ is wonderful in his exaltation.
11. Christ is wonderful in his working in his saints.
Lastly, Christ is Wonderful in his judgment.
Some preachers have more time than matter—but I have now more matter than time; therefore I must omit much precious matter, for lack of precious time.
Beloved, I will handle but one of these in particular, and that is the seventh:
That Jesus Christ is wonderful in His HUMILIATION.
This is the head we shall now insist upon, and indeed this is one of the greatest wonders of all. That he who was so high—should be brought so low; that he who was so rich—should become so poor; that the Lord of life—should die; that the great God—should become a helpless babe; that the Eternal Word—should not able to speak a word; that he who made the law—should be under the law; that he who was more excellent than all the angels—should become less and lower than the angels. Oh! you angels, how you stand amazed at this, that the Lord of heaven and earth—should become a Servant to his own servants! Philippians 2:7, "He took upon him the form of a servant." This must needs be wonderful to all the angels in heaven.
The first wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he took upon him our nature, Hebrews 2:16. God could stoop no lower than to become man, and man could be advanced no higher than to be united to God. He who before made man a soul after the image of God—now made himself a body after the image of man. For a man to be like to God is a wonder—but for God to be like man is a greater wonder! But when was it, that Jesus Christ took upon himself our nature? When it was in a state of innocency, free from all misery and calamity? No! But when it was at the lowest after the fall, when it was most beggarly, most wretched, most bloody, most accursed, most sinful, most feeble, "When we were without strength—Christ died for the ungodly," says the apostle. Romans 5:6.
Now, my brethren, that Jesus Christ should take upon him our condition, our frailty, our curse, our nature, when it was thus low, thus poor, thus wretched—oh! this is the wonder of wonders, and yet thus you see did Jesus Christ. Oh, wonderful abasement! Must God take upon him our frailty! Had we so far run upon the score of justice—that none could satisfy but God himself? Could he not send his angels or saints—but must he come himself in person? No, no! Angels or saints could not do it! If Christ will save us—he himself must come and die for us!
The second wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he descended very low.
1stly, He was born of a poor maiden, of no account or reputation. Was there not even one great lady in Jerusalem, for this great Prince of heaven and earth to be born of? Must he be born of a poor despised virgin? Yes, certainly, there were many noble women in Jerusalem, but our Lord Jesus Christ had no more regard for the rich, than for the poor.
2ndly, He was revealed to poor despised shepherds—and not to emperors and kings. I say, the angels did not go and declare these joyful tidings and good news to Caesar at Rome—but to poor shepherds in the fields, Luke 2:8.
3rdly, He was born in a stable, Luke 2:12. Not in a parlor in a stately house or palace. No—but in a stable where horses and cows are fed.
4thly, He was wrapped in strips of cloth, and laid in a feeding trough. They were no cloths of fine linen or silks. They were not gilded with silver or gold. Nor were they precious robes—but poor beggars' rags.
Now, beloved, put all this together, and tell me what is more wonderful and astonishing than this? Oh! humility, humility, how great is your riches that are thus commended to us! You please men, delight angels, and confound devils—and bring the Creator to a feeding trough! Oh, sweet Jesus, you conquer death by dying!
The third wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he became poor. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich!" 2 Corinthians 8:9. He who was so rich—became so poor! He who was Lord of all—had nothing at all! He who made heaven and earth—had no home of his own! He who gives crowns of glory to others—had only a crown of thorns for himself! The foxes and the fowls had more than Jesus! "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head!" Matthew 8:20. The foxes had holes to lay their heads in—but Christ had not a place to lay his head on. As he was born in another man's house—so he was buried in another man's tomb!
"He became poor!" Yes, poor indeed, and so poor that he had not a penny! You will say, that a man is very poor—who has not a penny! Truly such a one was Christ—he had not a penny to pay the tax until he got it out of the fish's mouth! "Go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a coin. Take the coin and pay the tax for both of us." Matthew 17:27
And when he was to ride into Jerusalem—he had no coach, no chariot, no horse of his own—he had to ride upon another man's donkey! Matthew 21:2.
Oh! admire and wonder at this! Is not he the brightness of God, the paradise of angels, the beauty of heaven, the Redeemer of man, the destroyer of death, the King of saints! And that he should become so poor for us—oh! this is wonderful and astonishing to angels and men!
The fourth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he shed his blood six times for poor sinners!This is a great wonder!
1st, The first time was, when he was circumcised at eight days old. Oh, what a blessed Jesus is this! What, ready for the sacrifice already? What—but eight days old, and shed his blood for the salvation of men's poor souls!
2ndly, The second time was, when he was in his agony, when he was in the garden. Matthew tells us, that "his soul began to be sorrowful." "deeply distressed and troubled", says Mark. "Now my soul is troubled" says John. Troubled? O Lord, what! You who bind up the proud waves of the sea—you who turns the hearts of kings as rivers of waters—you who laid the foundations cf the earth, and spread the heavens as a curtain—you who guides the stars and thunders in the clouds—you who upholds all things by the Word of your power. What—you troubled? Oh, the horror, the terror, the sorrow that seized upon the soul of Christ! "And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground!" Luke 22:44. He sweat what? Not natural sweat—but blood, he was in a bloody sweat all over! "He sweat clots of blood," as the original has it.
Oh! how did Christ come swimming to us in blood—and have not we a tear to shed for all these streams of his! We ate the sour grapes—and his teeth were set on edge! We climbed the tree, and stole the forbidden fruit—and he went up the ladder of the cross, and died! Oh! how lovely should he be in our eyes? We should wear his cross in our hearts, and treasure it up as Moses did the manna in the golden pot.
Christ's cross is the golden key that lets us into paradise! His red blood washed away our crimson sins!
3rdly, He shed his blood for us when his cheeks were ripped and torn; the pulling off the hair, as the prophet speaks, "I gave My back to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard. I did not hide My face from scorn and spitting." Isaiah 50:6. Some are of opinion, that Christ's cheeks were rent to his very chin, and his beard was pulled off; both were very likely to be true; neither of them could be without much blood.
"The men who were holding Jesus started mocking and beating Him." Luke 22:64. Oh how was that face of his lacerated and covered with blood—which was brighter than the sun! He who was fairer than the sons of men; he who is the great glittering and sparkling diamond of the ring of glory! How was he bespotted and besmeared with blood! Oh! you hard of heart, you stubborn of heart, and indeed too stubborn are we all, if judgment and the hammer will not break your hearts—let love and mercy do it. Look unto Christ, and say, "Have you suffered this for me—and shall I not love you, O Lord! Shall I not serve you, and obey you, and honor you!"
4thly, Christ shed his blood when the crown of prickling thorns was put upon his head. "They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. Mark 15:17. Certainly there was much blood shed here. Oh! what a sight was this—to behold that head of his, that was as the most fine gold, as the spouse expresses it to be—now covered and torn with thorns! That he should wear the prickly crown of sharp thorns—who was fit to wear the crown of glory!
5thly, A fifth time when he shed his blood was when his hands and feet were nailed to the cross! These beautiful feet of his which came skipping upon the mountains, bringing the glad tidings of peace and salvation; skipping from the throne to the cradle, from the cradle to the cross, and from the cross to the throne again! How were these blessed hands of his nailed and made fast to the cross! Oh, you blessed spirits, look down from heaven, and you may see even the Almighty kneel at the feet of men. Oh, you angels! how should you be amazed at this, to see your Lord and master so far deny himself, as to take upon him the form of a servant! "We see Jesus (says the apostle,) made a little lower than the angels." To suffer death, the Creator not only became a creature—but inferior to some of the creatures which he had made. Oh, you blessed saints! Why do you not wonder at this wonder? to see the beauty of heaven, the paradise of angels, the brightness of his Father's glory, the Redeemer of man—thus to humble himself, and take upon him man's nature—for the salvation of man's soul.
6thly, and lastly, Christ shed his blood when the spear was thrust into his side, out of which presently gushed water and blood; John 19:34. That is a very strange cure—that the physician should bleed, and his blood should have the virtue, that would save others. Physicians are usually liberal of other men's blood—but sparing of their own; but it is not so with our great Physician. Instead of the patient's bleeding in the arm—he bled in the side! Why do you shower down your blood—and come swimming in your blood? Is not a drop sufficient? One drop of his blood, is more worth than heaven and earth!
Oh love without measure! Oh wonderful redemption! That God should take upon him man's frailty, that is wonderful indeed! It is enough for a king to pardon a thief—but that the king himself should die for the malefactor, that is beyond expression! This our blessed Lord did, our blessed Savior! He died—that we might live! He went and suffered in agony—that he might "stay us with flagons, and comfort us with apples." He endured the greatest pains—that we might enjoy the greatest pleasures. Oh how lovely, how lovely was Christ in his sufferings! Who would not love you, O King of saints? Christian! consider how much your dear Lord and Savior has suffered and undergone for you. Oh precious blood—it redeems us, it cleanses us, it washes us, it justifies us, it sanctifies us, it restores us to God, and brings us to heaven! "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:5
The fifth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—He suffered in his soul.Matthew 26:38, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death!'' says Christ. Oh what a word was this for a God to speak! For a man to say so, is no wonder—but for God to say so, oh, this is a great wonder indeed! The suffering of his soul—was the soul of sufferings! Christ yielded his soul—for our souls.
Many of the faithful servants have suffered much in their bodies, as the martyrs that were racked, and burnt, and sawn asunder; but they had much freedom in their souls, their souls were full of much spiritual joy and comfort. But now Jesus Christ did not only suffer in his body—but in his soul. This is what makes the wonder the greater—that Christ suffered in his soul. He drank the cup of affliction—that we might drink the cup of consolation! He tasted death for us—that we might taste life through him! He was forsaken—that we might never be forsaken!
The sixth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—that he should allow himself to be so much mocked!He was mocked as Sampson was by the Philistines, when his eyes were put out. And truly this is a great wonder:
1. If we consider who Christ was.
2. If we consider who they were, who mocked him.
He was God—they were but dust and ashes!
1. They spit upon him.
2. They blindfolded him.
3. They crowned him with thorns.
4. They put a reed into his hand, instead of a scepter,
5. They clothed him with purple garments.
6. They bowed their knees to him in scorn.
7. They saluted him with, "Hail, king of the Jews!"
8. They made him carry his own cross, on which he was to be hanged; as malefactors go with halters about their necks to execution, so they made him carry the cross.
9. They reviled him, wagging their heads.
10. They crucified him with two thieves, and him in the midst of them, as though he had been the prince of the thieves, the greatest malefactor of them all.
11. They insulted over him in his misery.
All this they did in scorn to him, that they might make his death the more painful and shameful! Thus they never left off mocking him—until his soul left the world! Oh sirs, this is no small wonder—to consider how Jesus Christ was cruelly mocked.
The seventh wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—he suffered much from his Father!"Stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted." Isaiah 53:4. Here is the wonder of wonders! He did not only suffer from Jews and Gentiles, Scribes and Pharisees, Judas and Pilate, wicked men and devils—but he suffers too, from his own Father! One would have thought, if God would spare any—it would have been his Son, his own Son, his beloved Son, his only begotten Son, his bosom Son. And yet God spared him not a jot! "He did not even spare His own Son—but offered Him up for us all!" Romans 8:32. Mark, if Jesus Christ will come and take our sins upon him, God will not spare him—but let out the fullness of justice, and justice to the full upon him, until he had paid the uttermost farthing of justice!
Oh! blessed Jesus, you suffered so much for our sinning, for our offending, for our rebellion!
Oh! then, what infinite cause have we to love you, and obey you, and honor you! For the more you has done and suffered for us—the dearer you ought to be unto us.
The eighth wonder in Christ's humiliation is this—Christ foresaw all this—and yet he willingly undertook it, to save his people!He knew before he came from heaven, how men would abuse him, and that one of his family would betray him. Says the text, "Jesus knew from the beginning, who would betray him!" Now, that our Lord Jesus Christ should foreknow all this most dreadful misery that he would endure—yet that he should come freely, willingly, and joyfully from heaven, to die and suffer by and for such poor wretches as we are—here is a wonder to angels and men!
"Here I am, I have come to do your will." Hebrews 10:9. Why did he come? To suffer for poor man, to redeem poor men! Do you see here, sirs, what great love Christ bore to his people! Rather than they should be in hell, and be damned—Jesus Christ would come from heaven and suffer all this for them, though he knew before how he would suffer! Oh, this is a great wonder, dear Christians! Methinks such a pearl should sparkle in our eyes. We sail to glory, not in the salt seas of our tears—but in the red sea of Christ's blood. Truly it is astonishing to think how much he did for us—and how little we do for him! The greater our sins were—the greater his sufferings were! The greater his pain was—the greater should our love be to him.
I shall make of this point—a use of information and exhortation.
Use 1. INFORMATION. Did Christ suffer so much for his people? Then we have a wonderful Savior! This informs us of eight things:
First, My first inference is this, that Christ suffered in what he endured from men in his body, and what he endured from God in his soul. He did not only endure pain in his body—but agony in his soul. Oh, the sea of sufferings, the sea of sorrow, the sea of blood, the sea of tears that our blessed Savior waded through—to bring peace to our souls, salvation to our souls, grace and glory to our souls! He suffered from devils, he suffered in his name, he suffered in his body, he suffered in his soul! The cause was our sins—the effect was our salvation!
If you look through the chronicle of his life, you will find his whole life full of sorrow and misery; he was persecuted, he was tempted, he was reproached, he was falsely accused, he was apprehended, he was betrayed, he was crucified. What more shall we say? Shall we say more? What more can be said? He was full of sorrow—he took his name from sorrow, "He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief." Isaiah 53:3. Now judge sirs, whether Christ's life was not full of sorrows, he took his name from sorrow.
Oh! sweet Jesus, your sufferings were great. This is my first inference.
Secondly, Jesus Christ suffered by himself. He was alone in his sufferings; neither angels nor saints bore any part with him in his sufferings. No! he drank the bitter cup alone! He alone purged our sins! Hebrews 1:3, "He alone, by himself," says the text, "purged our sins." No, Christ had none to help to bear his heavy burden with him—he bore it himself alone.
But, my beloved, though our Lord Jesus Christ suffered by himself—yet he did not suffer for himself! He suffered for us, he suffered that wrath which we deserved! "Surely he took up our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought our peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:4-5. Do you see here, Christians, how many 'ours' are here? Our griefs, our sorrows, our transgressions, our iniquities, our peace; you have here, five 'ours'!
So again, "For our sakes he became poor;" 2 Corinthians 8:9. Mark, for our sakes. Beloved, he was born for us, "Unto us a child is born;" he was given for us, "to us a son is given," Isaiah 9:6. "He was made a curse for us," Galatians 3:13. He was delivered up for us, "Who spared not his own Son—but delivered him up for us all." Oh, sirs! all these things were FOR US: given for us, made a curse for us, made sin for us, delivered up for us, and is now in heaven interceding for us, Hebrews 7:25. My brethren, all that our Lord Jesus suffered, it was not for himself—but it was for us! Our blessed Savior suffered for us—that we might not suffer! This is the second inference.
Thirdly, My third is, That this is more for Christ to suffer anything—than for all men and angels to suffer all things. Mark, sirs, if all the kings and emperors would leave their thrones, their crowns, their kingdoms, their scepters, their glory, their honors and princely robes—and would take upon them a poor Lazarus' condition—to live poorly, and fare poorly, and die shamefully; why, all this would not be so much as for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to suffer the least thing he suffered!
Now further, I say, if all the angels in heaven, and men on earth, had come and suffered, and died ten thousand deaths—why, put all this together—and all this would not be as much as it was for Christ to suffer anything! This is because they are creatures—and he is the Creator; they the servants—and he is the Master; they are subjects—and he is the Prince; they are mean—and he is Mighty; he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords! Now, I say, it would not have been half such a wonder, if all the angels in heaven, and men in earth—had come and suffered—as it was for the Son of God. Oh! this is a wonder of wonders! His sufferings were wonderful, his humility was wonderful, his patience was wonderful, his love was wonderful; greater love could no man show; he loved us so—that he died for love!
Now, I beseech you, consider this inference, which was this, That it is more for Jesus Christ to suffer anything, than for all men and angels to suffer all things. And indeed, sirs, let me tell you—that I lack words to express it, or set it forth; for there is both lack of words, and lack in words—to express this this astonishing truth!
Fourthly, My fourth inference is this, What a miserable and dreadful case we lay in—that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ must endure all this, bear all this, undergo all this, for poor sinners! What do you think is the miserable and dreadful case we lay in? Certainly the misery of man was very great—that man should need such redemption as this! Oh! what a breach had sin made between God and us—that the Son of God must come from heaven to earth to suffer all this! Oh! sirs, mischievous sin, I say mischievous sin, has undone us! Sin has robbed us of six jewels, every one of which is of more worth than heaven and earth. Would you know what jewels they are, which sin has robbed us of? I will tell you—and then you will agree with me—that we were in a very miserable case indeed!
1. Sin robs us of the image of God. Was not this a precious jewel? I say, sin robbed us of the image of God—and drew the devil's picture in us! Malice is the devil's eye, oppression is the devil's hand, blasphemy is the devil's tongue, and hypocrisy is the devil's cloven foot!
2. Sin robs us of our divine sonship—and makes us slaves to the devil, slaves to sin, slaves to the world, and slaves to ourselves! This is another jewel we have lost.
3. Sin robs us of our friendship with God—and makes us enemies to God, and enemies to Christ, enemies to our own souls, and enemies to all that is holy!
4. Sin robs us of our communion and fellowship with God—and makes us strangers and aliens to God.
5. Sin robs us of our rights and privileges of heaven, and heavenly things—and makes us children of wrath and heirs of hell.
6. Sin robs us of our honor and glory—and makes us vile and miserable; as you may see in Isaiah 1:6, "There is no soundness in us—but only wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!"
Now, sirs, put all this together, and then see whether or not we are miserable, and whether we needed a Savior to come and deliver us from this misery into which our souls were plunged! Now here is our happiness, Christians: in Christ we have these jewels back again—which we lost in the old Adam! The glorious image of God, our divine sonship, our friendship with God, our fellowship with God, our heavenly privileges, and our glory and honor—we have regained all this by Jesus Christ!
Oh! sirs, man was in a very sad condition; man had brought himself into a sad condition; our condition was a miserable condition.
AFifth inference is this, Jesus Christ brought life to us—but we brought death to him! He brought to us a life of grace, a life of comfort, a life of glory—but we brought shame to him! He brought riches to us—but we brought poverty to him! He brought joy to us—but we brought sorrow to him, sorrow upon sorrow! He put the crown of glory upon our heads—but we put the crown of thorns upon his head! He does not think heaven is too good for us—but we thought the earth too good for him, and would not let him live here—but put him to death! He is not ashamed to own us before his Father, and his holy angels—but we are ashamed to own him before men! He justifies us—but we condemn him! Oh! sirs, think of your unkindness to him, and let the considerations of his infinite love and favor to you—draw out your affections after him!
MySixth inference is this, All believers have exceeding great cause to bless God for Jesus Christ; God the Father gave him to us—who were not his friends, but enemies; to us—who were not sons, but slaves; to us—who were not angels, but men; to us, who loved not God—but hated him! Oh! have we not cause to bless God for Jesus Christ? "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Oh, sirs, what a gift is Jesus Christ!
Seventhly, If Jesus Christ is so wonderful—oh, then, how vile a thing, how base a thing is it for the hearts of men to prefer anything before Jesus Christ! Surely, sirs, if Jesus Christ is so wonderful, so precious, so lovely, so rich, so sweet, so rare—oh then it is a most abominable thing, a wicked thing, a vile thing to prefer anything before Jesus Christ! Oh! I speak it with grief of heart, that there are too many in the world who despise him, and make nothing of him, and love him not, and prefer every base lust before him! Though there is nothing more cursed than this—yet there is nothing more common than this—for men to prefer the vilest things before Christ.
1stly, The wicked worldling prefers the trash of the world before Jesus Christ! He can leave hearing and praying, reading and meditating—to follow the world! He prefers gold before God, earth before heaven, gain before glory, his corruptible silver before the eternal Savior. Oh, you wicked worldling, you wretched worldling—can your riches save your soul? Let me ask you, "Can your riches deliver you from hell? Can your riches bring you to heaven—that you prefer them before Christ.'' Oh! the Lord Jesus will come in flames of fire, to take vengeance on such—and then you will know to your cost, and pain, and torment—that your riches cannot keep you out of hell, much less bring your soul to heaven! Then you will see your folly when it is too late!
2ndly, Drunkards, wicked drunkards, prefer their drunkenness before Christ! The drunkard prefers his cups before Christ; the drunkard wades through a sea of drink to his grave; he can sit a day or a whole night in the ale-house, and think it a little time; but an hour in the worship of God, oh now tedious is that! Oh! you drunkard, you drink up your cups so fast, God Almighty has a cup for you—but not a cup of wine, or a cup of beer—but a cup of wrath, which you shall drink to eternity! This is worse than to drink scalding hot lead down your throat! You have so much liquor here, not only drink to quench his thirst—but to drink to excess. But is no tavern or ale-house in hell; no, there is not even a drop of water to be obtained all through hell. Oh, wretch! you shall live in burning flames, and your tongue shall cleave to the roof of your mouth, and if you would give a thousand worlds for one drop of water, you shall not have it. And therefore, I beseech you, if any such there are here, in the name of God—hear and fear, and live no more wickedly!
Oh! I would not be in your condition for ten thousand worlds; and yet I cannot have but affections of pity towards you, which constrains me thus to speak, knowing your condition better than you do yourself. Oh! could you but speak with your fellow-drunkards that are now in hell, oh what a dreadful story would they tell you of their burning, and suffering, and pain, and torments! Some are in hell already—for the same sins you live in! And if you live and die without Christ, you shall be with them before long!
3rdly, The swearer, the blasphemous swearer, prefers his cursing before Christ. Many can swear by their Creator and Maker, and speak proudly, and look highly, and walk contemptuously—as if there were no God to punish, and no devil to torment. Well, let me tell you, oh swearer, who now delight in cursing—before long you shall be sent with a curse to a cursed place! Christ will say to you, "Depart, you who are cursed, into everlasting flames!"
Lastly, The proud person prefers his pride before Christ. If a fine suit of clothes were on the one hand, and Christ on the other—the proud person would rather put on the suit of clothes than Christ! Oh, I beseech you, sirs, consider what a vile and abominable thing it is—to prefer anything before Christ! "Consider this," says the Psalmist, "you who forget God—lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you!" Oh, poor wretch! consider of that text! You are open to all the judgments in this life, and to all the torments in the life which is to come—all you wicked ones that prefer anything before Christ!
Eighthly, The last inference is this: If Jesus Christ is so wonderful, oh then everyone who hears of him, should think it is a most dreadful thing to miss of him.
Oh, friends! consider it; certainly that man or woman's condition must needs be sad indeed, who lives and dies without Jesus Christ. Oh, poor wretch! the devil looks but for a look from God to come and rent you to pieces, and draw your soul to hell. Poor soul, your soul is in danger every hour of being arrested by death, and carried prisoner to hell. Oh, sirs, I beseech you—think and consider what a sad thing it is to miss of Christ. Until a man is in Christ, he has nothing, he knows nothing, he enjoys nothing, can do nothing, and is fit for nothing, and is worth nothing, Proverbs 10:20.
Oh, I beseech, you, that you would consider seriously that of all miseries that is the greatest of miseries to miss of Christ; we are never able to lament the loss of the poor soul that loses Jesus Christ; all losses be enrapt up in that one loss.
And therefore I beseech you all—think what a sad condition that person is in, who misses of Christ. So much for this use of information.