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in all his revealed will, as hoh , and just, and

Such is the faith of divine operation,
the faith which is inseparably connect-
ed with salvation. But it is too evident,
that all men have not this faith *. Many
openly oppose and deride it, while others,
who esteem themselves, and would be esteem-
ed by others, Christians, are satisfied Avith a
cold formal assent to the truth of divine re-
velation in general, without understanding
its nature, examining its contents, or feel-
ing any particular interest in the doctrines
which it reveals. The consequence is, that
with all their pretended veneration for the
sacred scriptures, they receive no serious
lasting impression from them, nor do they
at ajl experience their practical influence.

* 2 Thess. iii. 2.


Naming the name of Christ they depart not
from iniquity, but walk after the course of
this world, and mind only earthly things.
Hence it is, that so many professors of Chri-
stianity, especially in the age in which we
live, when a mere outward profession of re-
ligion is attended with little danger to a
man's worldly interest, seek their own things
in preference to the things which are Jesus
Christ's. It is far otherwise with the man
who is possessed of genuine faith in the
gospel. Inspired with this divine princi-
ple, the true Christian is taught to form a
proper estimate of the unspeakable value of
spiritual blessings, and the comparative in-
significance of all earthly pursuits, wliile he
looks not at the things which are seen and
temporal, hut at those things which are un-
seen and eternal *. Risen with Christ, he
seeks and sets his affections on things above,
not on things on the earth -j*. According-
to the measure of his faith is his superiori-
ty to low earthly schemes and selfish con-
>siderations. These, it is true, may mingle

*2 Cor. iv. 8. f Col. iii. 1,2.


with his rehgious duties, and debase his pur-
est services, which cannot fail to humble
him deeply in the sight of God ; but they
do not form his predominant character:
they arise from the weakness of his faith,
and are neither allowed nor indulged, but
powerfully resisted and mourned over be-
fore the Lord. With all his acknowledged
imperfection, an habitual regard to the
things which are Jesus Christ's, in prefer-
ence to his own things, is abundantly ma-
nifest in the prevailing temper of his mind^
as well as in the general tenor of his con-

In nothing, perhaps, is true spiritual re-
ligion (the religion, I mean, which flows
from a living faith in the gospel,) more dis-
tinouibhed from a form of godliness than in
this respect. The stream can rise no high-
er than the fountain from which it flows.
That tchich is born of the flesh is Jfesh ;
hut that zchich is born of the spirit is spi-
rit *. A worldlv man's religion is regu-

'^- John iii. 6.


lated by worldly principles ; his fear of
God is taught by the precepts of men *. A
stranger to the faith which overcometh the
world, not realising the thino;«; of an unseen
and everlasting state, be is always alraid of
venturing too far ; of being righteous over-
much ; of hurting his worldly interest, and
incurring the censure and reproach of those
whose good opinion he wishes to preserve.
But the simple-hearted genuine disciple of
Christ, has learned to deny himself, to take
up his cross, and follow his blessed Lord.
He has counted the cost, and is made will-
ing to sell all tJiat lie has, that he may buy
the treasure hid in the gospel field — the
pearl of great price -f-, M-hich faith has
taught him to prize above every thing which
this world can bestow,

2. Connected with this principle, and na-
turally flowing from it, is another gracious
disposition, which has a powerful influence

in forming the Christian character a su-

preme love to the Lord Jesus Christ.

* Isa. xxix. 13 f Matt. xiii. 4>5, •iS.


426 DUTY 0¥ SEEKING SEU. 14.

No temper or disposition of mind is
more frequently spoken of in scripture, as
characteristiG of a real Christian, than love
to Christ. It is of the very natuve and es-
sence of true religion. If aruj man^ says
the apostle, love not the Lord Jesus Christ,
let him he Anatliema Maranatha* ; but,
on the other hand, Grace he with all themr
that love our Lord Jesus Christ in since-
rity'\\ Lo^e to Christ, proceeding from
faith in him, is something: more than a tran-
sient glow of affection. It is something
more than saying nnto Christ, Lord, Lord^
which many do, wlio in works deny him.
Genuine love to Christ is a powerful, oper-
ative, abiding principle. It is the spring of
all acceptable obedience, the grand incen-
tive to the practice of every thing that is
true, and honest, and just, and pure, and
lovely, and of good report J ; for the love
of Christ coNSTiiAiNETH ws||; it impels
us forward, and bears us on in its own
course, hke a mighty current which carries

Tl' I , ,. ■ —

* 1 Cor. xvi, 22. f Eph. vi. 24.

± Phil. iv. 8. I) fvn^H rifiZ;.


all before it. But how is this gracious prin-
ciple brought into action, or in what way is
its existence in the soul manifested in the
outward conduct? Our Lord Jesus Christ
is not now personally present upon earth,
to receive from his friends any visible tok-
ens of reo-ard. The heavens have received
him till the time of the restitution of all
things. But he has a cause, a kingdom, an
interest in the world, and what is done for
the adv^ancement of his kinodom and inter-
est among men, out of love to his name, he
considers as done to himself. Here, then,
Brethren, is the test of the sincerity of our
love to Christ — a test which he himself re-
quires as indispensably necessary to the
character of his disciples *. He that loveth
Jather or mother more than me, is not zi)or-
thy of me ; and he that loveth son or
daughter more than me is not worthy of
me. And again, in still stronger terms -j-,
Jf any man come to me, and hate not his
father, and mother, and zmfe, and chil-
dren, and brethren, and sisters, and his

* Matt. X. 37. t Luke xiv. 26.


ow?i life also, he cannot be my disciple.
The meaning of both these passa2;es is the
same. They evidently refer to the supreme
affection of the soul, and to that decided
preference which the things of Jesus Christ
ought to have in our minds above our own
things. Our Lord, in the words just now
recited, cannot be supposed to require us
absolutely to hate our brethren and kins-
men according to the flesh, (for this would
be as contrary to the plainest principles of
religion, as to the common dictates of hu-
manity,) but, in a comparative view, M^e are
commanded to act as if we hated them, so
as to be willing to renounce our dearest
friends, when duty to Christ demands such
a sacrifice ;— -that is, when we must either
forsake them, or forsake our blessed Lord.

This doctrine, which appears to many an
hard saying, is strikingly illustrated by an
apposite example, which occurs in the his-
tory of our Saviour's personal ministry *.
We read of a certain Ruler, who came to

* Luke xviii. 18—23.

SER. 14. THE TllllSrCS OF CHRIST. 429

Christ, professing great respect for his cha-
racter, and an earnest desire to be instruct-
ed by him. Good Master, said he, what
shall I do to inherit eternal life? Onr
Lord, who knew what was in man, perceiv-
ed, that, with all his professions of regard,
the love of the world \^'as predominant in
his heart, and therefore he put his boasted
virtue to the trial, by telling him. Yet lack-
€st thou one thing : sell all that thou hast,
and distribute unto the poor, and thou
shall have treasure in heaven, and come,
follow me. The event was such as might
have been expected, in the case of one
whose heart was not right with God. Ht
went away very sorrozvful, for he was very
rich. For the same reason, one of Paul's
fellow-labourers deserted him in the hour of
trial. Demas hath forsaken, me, says he,
having loved this present world ^." And
many, alas ! in every age, who are called by
the name of Christ, and with their mouths
shew much love, plainly discover by their
conduct, that the world has the chief place

"^ 2 Tim. iv. U).

430 DUTY or SEEKING SER. 14.

in their hearts ; preferring their own ease,
credit, and interest, to the honour of Christ
and the advancement of his kingdom, when-
ever they happen to come in competition with
each other. The genuine disciples of Christ,
who are possessed of a supreme love to him,
are men of another spirit. To them, the
honour of Christ, and the advancement of
his kingdom, are matters of the most seri-
ous concern. They rejoice in Zion's pros-
perity, and are filled with the deepest re-
gret, when the interest of the Redeemer's
kingdom appears to be in a low and declin-
ing state. Nor are they satisfied with in-
dolent wishes and unmeaning compliments,
when they have it in their power to give
more substantial proofs of regard to the Sa-
viour ; but constrained by his love, present
their bodies and spirits as living sacrifices,
and cheerfully consecrate their time, and ta-
lents, and substance, and influence to his
service and glory.

3. Another principle, arising from the
two former, which has a powerful inliuence
in forming the Christian character, is, love


to the souls of 7nen, or true Christian bene-

The origin of this divine temper is to be
traced to the love of God, displayed in the
redemption of the world by his Son Jesus
Christ. For, as the apostle John informs
us, Love is of God, and every one that lov-
eth is born of God, and knozi^eth God.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, be^
cause he laid down his life for us — and we
ought to lay doxmi our lives for the breth-
ren ^\" The character of man as a fallen
apostate creature, is the very reverse of
this — Hateful, and hating one another ■\\
exhibits a no less just than melancholy pic-
ture of liis history in all past ages, with but
few exceptions. Nor is this difficult to be
accounted for. While excvy one pursues
his own apparent interest, without regard
to the weliare or happiness of others, vari-
ous will be the occasions of mutual strife
and contention. Pride and covetousness,,
these two evil demons which h-^ int the

* 1 John iv, '7, and iii. IG f Tit. xii. 3.


smaller, as well as the larger societies of
men, have produced innumerable mischief?
in the world. Hence have arisen wars and
fightings, discord and jealousy, peevishness
and discontent, which, in ten thousand in-
stances, have broken the peace of nations,
of churches, and families. There is, I ac-
knowledge, a sort of benevolence, which,
greatly for the benefit of society, is to be
found among those who are strangers to
the saving power of the gospel ; though,
even on persons of this description, Christi-
anity has no inconsiderable influence. In
proof of this, it may be observed, that a
spirit of humanity and liberality is chiefly
to be found in those places \Ahere the pur-
est system of religion prevails, and where
the greatest number of real Christians are
to be seen adorning the doctrine of God
their Saviour. Then' mfluence and exam-
ple cannot fail to stir up others to acts of
beneficence, and to diffuse a spirit of gene-
ral philanthropy, Avhich gradually and in-
sensibly raising the standard of morals, con-
tributes, in a high degree, to meliorate and
improve the state of society. But ho^vevei'


useful this sort of benevolence may be in
its own place, it falls short of that love to
mankind, which is the fruit of a hving faith
in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The common
benevolence which springs from mere natu-
ral principles, refers chiefly to men's bodily
wants, and temporal distresses ; whereas
true Christian love, while it does not over-
look these, aims at higher objects, and, deep-
ly sensible how infinitely superior the con-
cerns of the soul are to those things which
relate only to a present life, directs its prin-
cipal efforts to the spiritual interests and
eternal salvation of mankind.

While the Christian philanthropist, then,
mourns over the countless calamities of suf-
fering humanity, he is still more deeply af-
fected with the spiritual distresses of his fel-
low-creatures. While his heart bleeds at
every tale of woe, his compassion is roused
in a still higher degree, by beholding the
ignorance and wickedness of multitudes a-
round him. While he labours to the utmost
of his power to relieve the w ants, and alle-
viate the miseries of the poor and afflicted,



he is no less active and zealous in promot-
ing every scheme for spreading the light
and blessings of the gospel, especially in
tliose dark places of the earthy which, in
the emphatical language of scripture, are.
full of the habitations of cruelty *.

The gospel, when properly understood
and believed, cannot fail to produce these
effects, being admirably fitted to enlarge
and elevate the mind, and to destroy that
sordid seiiishness which is so universally
prevalent in the w^orld. It teaches us to
consider every man as our brother. It
breaks down the middle wall of partition
between Jew and Gentile, Barbarian, Scy-
thian, bond, and free -^c. It disposes us to
regard, with interest and affection, the Afri-
can Negro, the American Indian, the wan-
dering Tartar, the South Sea Islander, the
half-starved Greenlander — the untutored sa-
vage of every clime, as well as the inhabi-
tant of more favoured regions. It shews
diat, in point of acceptance w^ith God, all

* Psal. Ixxiv. 20. t Coloss. iii. 11.


men, notwithstanding the distinctions of
country, chmate, colour, and even charac-
ter, stand upon a footing ; — that all are
sprung from the same stock — descended
from the same apostate parents — involved
in the same circumstances of guilt and mi-
sery — indebted for their hope to the com-
mon salvation — and equally capable sub-
jects of redeeming power and grace. By
holding up to our view the great pattern of
divine benevolence, exhibited in the gift of
God's own Son, the gospel has a tendency
to inspire universal good-will — to expand
the soul .with the most enlarged and gene-
rous sentiments — and to beget and cherish,
in particular, an ardent love to the souls of
men, as of unspeakable value, being destin-
ed for immortality, and redeemed by tiie
blood of the Son of God. The jrreat rule
of Christian charity is expressed in these
Scriptural exhortations : Look not everij
man on lus own things, but evert/ man aUo
on the things of others. Rejoice with them
that do rejoice, and weep with them that
weep. For none of us liveth to hi?nself,
and no man dieth to himself. For whether



we live, we live unto the Lord ; or whe-
ther we die, we die unto the Lord : whe-
ther zi)e live, therefore, or die, we are the
Lord's *.

These, then, are the jyrinciples which con-
tribute to form in the Christian that pure
and disinterested zeal for the glory of the
Redeemer, and the advancement of his king-
dom, which constitutes the brightest orna-
ment of his character. Faith, working by
love, is the true sprmg of all that is great,
or amiable, or excellent among men.

Suffer me now, my Christian Brethren,

II. By a few plain motives and argu-
ments, to recommend to you the cultivation
and exercise of this divine temper.

1. The superior importance of the things
of Jesus Christ to our own things, should
determine our preference.

* Phil. ii. 4-. Rom. xii. 15. and xiv. 7, 8.

feEK. 14. THE THIK'GS OF CIIllIST. 437

How poor and trifling, in coiiparison, are
all those objects which so much engross the
time and attention of the great bulk of man-
kind ! What a bauble is wealth, compared
with the unsearchable riches of Christ !
How insignificant the honour that cometh
from man, compared with the honour that
cometh from God ! And how contemptible
the pleasures of sin, which are but for a sea-
son — those short-liA ed enjoyments for which
men barter their souls and eternal salvation,
when set in competition with the high dig-
nity and happiness of being workers toge-
ther with God, in promoting the holy, wise,
and beneficent purposes of his government !
The things which are Jesus Christ's, remem-
ber, are the things which pertain to the di-
vine glory. For the Father loveth the Son,
and hath given all things into his hand *.
And can we conceive. Christians, a his/her
motive to exertion than the glory of Him
that made us? Has the Father committed
to the Son the dearest interests of his own
glory, and shall we not seek the things

* John iii. 35.


which are Jesus Christ's, in preference to e-
very thing else ? Our own things ! — How do
they dwindle into insignificance when con-
trasted with these ! Shall we prefer a little
ease, a little worldly interest or indulgence,
a little praise or commendation from poor
fellow-mortals like ourselves (for these are
the only things which can come into com-
petition with the things which are Jesus
Christ's) to the glory of God, and the ho-
nour of the Redeemer ?

Take the things which are supposed to be
of the greatest importance to mankind — the
rise and fall of empires — the revolutions of
states and kingdoms — the ci^il and politi-
cal interests of the great bodies which di-
vide the inhabitants of the globe. These,
it will readily be granted, are justly entit-
led to regard, since they involve the tempo-
ral comfort and prosperity of thousands
and millions of our fellow- creatures. But
bring them into competition with the things
which are Jesus Christ's, and what is their
amount ? Except in so far as they are con-
nected with the advancement of the Re-


deemer's kingdom, of the mcrease and
peace of zvhich there shall be no end *, tliev
will be found, comparatively speaking, light
as a feather, and insignificant as the small
dust upon the balance. The salvation of a
single soul is an event of greater importance
than the conquest of a kingdom. The hum-
ble self-denied followers of the Lamb, who
are willing: to hazard their lives for the sake
of Christ and immortal souls, are far more
worthy of being enrolled in the annals of
fame — I will not say, than the C-psars and
Alexanders, who have deluged the world
with blood, whose memory is fitted to ex-
cite abhorrence, rather than applause — but
than the most renoAvned patriots, or illus-
trious benefactors of the human race, who
have promoted, in the highest degree, the
temporal interests of their fellow-creatures.
Little as the preaching of the gospel, and
the effects produced by it, are regarded by
many, it is followed with consequences in-
finitely more momentous than those which
arise from the deliberations of senates, or

* Isa. ix. 7.


the decrees of princes. And are Christi-
ans, then, the only men vv-ho are justified
in the indulgence of sloth ? Are all others
active and diligent in promoting, in differ-
ent ways, what they conceive to be their
interest, while they who call themselves dis-
ciples of Christ, are careless and indifferent
about the honour of their Master, and the
success of his glorious gospel ! — How true
the saying of our blessed Lord, The chil-
dren of this zC'Orhl are in their generation
wiser than the children of light ^ I The
merchant, in quest of gain, braves the
dangers of the deep, and exposes himself to
all the variety of climates ; the scholar, who
aspires after literary fame, grodgesno time,
and spares no laboui' that may add to the
stock of his knowledge ; and the crafty po-
litician, who seeks to rise into power, by
the favour and o-ood services of those around


him, thinks no condescension too great
which may lead to the accomplishment of
his wishes. Let us blush for shame,-
that we, who profess to have such superior

'"^ Luke xvi, S,


objects in view, should be so far outstripped
in activity and zeal by the votaries of Mam-
mon, who aim at nothing higher than the
attainment of blessuigs which perish with
the using.

2. Gratitude to the Redeemer for the in-
estimable benefits he hatli procured for us,
should excite us to seek the things which
are Jesus Christ's in preference to our own.
Even Christ, we are told, pleased not him-
self*. He sought not his own things, but
the glory of his heavenly Father, and the
happiness of his people. He became poor,
that we, through his poverty, might he
rich -X : he emptied himself of his glory,
though possessed of all the fulness of the
Godhead, took upon him the degraded form
of a servant, submitted to shame and suf-
ferings, and death itself, that he might de-
liver us from endless inconceivable misery,
and raise us to the possession of immortal
glory and blessedness. In this view, how
astonishing is the history of Christ's person-

'* Rom. XV. 3. f 2 Cor. viii. 9=



al ministry ! Well might it be said of him,
that the zeal of God's house had eaten him
up * ; for it was his meat and drink to do
the will of his heavenly Father, and tofi'
nish his zt'ork-j-. Often did he deny him-
self the ordinary refreshments of nature,
that he might be serviceable to the souls of
men. Upon one occasion, whan faint and
weary, he sat on Jacob's well, and asked of
the woman of Samaria a little water to
quench his thirst ; denied, as he was at first,
this trifling boon, he seems, from the con-
versation that follows, to have forgotten his
thirst in his ardent concern for the salva-
tion of this poor woman's soul J. And once
and again, we read of his retiring to a
mountain to pray, and spending whole
nights in prayer, after having employed the
day in public instruction and acts of bene-
ficence ||.

What a pattern to his followers ! And how
powerful a motive likewise to deny ourselves

* John ii. 17. f John iv. S*.

% John iv. 9—26. H Mark vi. 40. Luke vi. 12„


for him, who, for our sakes, laboured, and
watched, and wept, and prayed, and at last
shed his precious blood ! How poor the re-
turns which we can possibly make for his
marvellous love to us ! But surely, if one
spark of gratitude remain in our breasts,
we cannot fail to judge with the apostle,
that if one died for all, then were all dead ;
and that Christ died for all, that they who
live should not lience forth live unto them-
selves, but to him H'ho died for them and
rose again *. We nmst be irresistibly led,
by this endearing consideration, to seek the
things which are Jesus Christen, accounting
the honour of his name, and the advance-
ment of his kingdom in the world, of infi-
nitely greater moment, and far more desira-
ble than any little separate interest of our
own. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, said
the captive Jews in Babylon, let my right
hand forget her cunning. If I do not re-
member thee, let my to?iQite cleave to the
roof of my mouth ; if I prefer not Jem-
salem above my chief joy -j •. In like man-

* 2 Cor. V. 14, 15. f Psal. cxxxvii. 5, G.



will the pious Christian say, ' If ever f for-
' get thy dying love, O bleeding Immanuel !
' if ever I lose the sense of my infinite obli-
'' gations to thy matchless grace, let my
■ right hand forget her cunning, let my
' tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.
' Sooner let me die than not live to thee :
' sooner let me lose the powers of my ra-
' tional nature, than fail to employ them in
* thy service. Henceforth thy glory shall
' be my constant aim, thy will my only
' rule, and the advancement of thy kingdom.
' in the particular station in which thy pro-
' vidence hath placed me, the great busi-
' ness of my life."

Cherish, my Christian Friends, such sen-
liments as these. Muse upon the great
1 hings which God hath done for your souls,
till the fire of divine love burn within you,
and you feel yourselves constrained to say,
Lord, what wilt thou have us to do * — to
be — or to suffer? We are ready, through
thine all-powerful grace assisting us, not

* Acts ix. 6.


to he hound onlif^ hut oho to die for the
name of the Lord Jesus *. We are ready

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Online LibraryDavid BlackSermons on important subjects → online text (page 20 of 23)