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Mae, I take pleasure; the Greek word is an emphatical word; it is the same word that God the Father uses to express his infinite delight in his Son; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; or, in whom I am infinitely delighted. The same word the apostle uses to express the wonderful delight that he took under all his sufferings; he rejoices and leaps under all his burdens. O but now a soul that is poor in grace, he cannot bear a burden without a burden; every light affliction turns him and sinks him; every mole-hill is a mountain, every scratch on the hand is a stab at the heart, every wave is a sea, and the poor Christian sighs and groans and cries out, ' O no sorrow like to my sorrow, no loss to my loss, no cross to my cross;' but souls rich in grace act quite contrary, as has been hinted and proved.
(4.) Rich men are most envied. History and scripture speak out this, as well as our own experience. The rich man, above all others, is the greatest object of envy; and it is as true that such as are most rich in spirituals, are of all men the most envied. Moses and Aaron were rich in spirituals, and O how were they envied by Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and other wicked wretches! Ezra, Nehemiah, and Mordecai, were rich in spirituals, and who more envied? Among all the prophets and apostles, those have been most envied, who have most abounded in spiritual worth; and to this very day, none are such objects of scorn and envy, as those who have most of Christ within. Men who have more leaves than fruit, who have a golden outside, but a thread-bare inside, are less envied than those that are all glorious within. Men of the greatest excellencies, are the main objects upon which the eye of envy is placed. Saul's envious eye was placed upon David, and Cain's upon Abel, and Esau's upon Jacob, and Herod's upon John, and the pharisees' upon Christ. Envious souls are like the ravens, that fly over the sweet garden, and light upon the stinking carrion. Envy does ever ascend; it never descends. An envious man can with more ease die miserably, than see another live happily. An envious heart weeps to see others' mercies, and joys to see others' miseries. An envious heart is like the mermaid, which never sings but in a storm, and never mourns but in a calm. An envious man cannot endure those excellencies in others, that he wants in himself; he loves not any light that outshines his own, any crown that out-weighs his own. Cimon, the famous general of the Athenian commonwealth, hearing a friend of his highly commending his martial achievements, answered, that they were not worthy of commendation, because they were not envied.
(5.) Rich men are most tempted and assaulted. Pirates do not use to set upon empty vessels, but those that are most richly laden; and beggars need not fear the thief, though the rich men do. Those who have been most rich in spirituals, have been most assaulted and tempted by Satan, witness Abraham, Job, Joshua, Peter, Paul, yea, Christ himself. The best men have always been the most and worst tempted. None so much in the school of temptation, as those that are most rich in grace. There are none who are such blocks, such mountains in Satan's way, as these; none do him that mischief, as these; none are so active, and so resolute in their oppssitions against him, as these; and therefore none so assaulted and tempted, as these. And thus by these five things you may know whether you are rich in grace, or not.
II. The next use is this—if the Lord Jesus Christ be so rich, then do not join any thing with him, in the great work of your redemption and salvation.
There are riches enough in Christ to pay all your debts, and to satisfy divine justice to the utmost farthing, without being beholden to your prayers, tears, or humiliations. Christ will be Alexander or no one on earth. Kings love no consorts, power is impatient of participation.
When Augustus Caesar desired the senate to join two consuls with him, for carrying on the government of the state, the senators answered, that they held it a diminution of his dignity, to join any with so incomparable a man as Augustus Caesar was. Was it a diminution to his dignity, to join others with him in the government of the state? and is it not a diminution of the dignity and glory of Christ, to join your actions and your endeavours with his blood, in the business of your redemption? I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there mat none with me. Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself. It is a sad reproach to Christ, to join any thing with him in the great business of your salvation; therefore abhor it more than hell itself. Let Christ be all in ail.
III. If Christ be so rich, then take heed of three things.
Take heed of sitting down dejected and discouraged under any losses or troubles that befall you, or that have befallen or shall befal you for the name of Christ. Christ is generally rich; he is able to make up all your losses and wants. But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ, as he did the widow's vessel. The fountain has not the less water for the vessel it fills, nor the sun the less light for that it gives forth to the stars ; so the Lord Jesus Christ has never a whit the less for what he gives forth unto his saints. When Zelislaus, the king of Poland's general, had lost his hand in his service, the king sent him a golden hand. Ah Christians, when you lose this or that for Christ, he will send you a golden hand. If you lose a penny for him, he will give you a pearl. Christ will not live long in any man's debt; if he did, he would lose his glory.
If the Lord Jesus be very rich, O then take heed of despairing by reason of your sins. I confess the least sin should humble the soul, but certainly the greatest sin should never discourage the soul, much less should it work the soul to despair. Read 1 Tim. i. 13—15, and despair, I had almost said, if thou canst. Despairing Judas perished, whereas the murderers of Christ, believing on Christ, were saved. Despair is a sin exceedingly vile and contemptible; it is a word of eternal reproach, dishonour, and confusion; it declares the devil a conqueror, and what greater dishonour can be done to Christ, than for a soul to proclaim before all the world, the devil a crowned conqueror? A despairing soul is ' magor missabib,' a terror to himself, his heart a hell of horror, his conscience an Aceldama, a field of black blood. He has no rest at home nor abroad, at bed nor board, but is as if infernal devils followed him in fearful shapes, terrifying and tormenting his perplexed soul. Eternity of misery feared or felt, begets that monster, which, like Medusa's head, astonisheth with its very aspect, and strangles hope, which is the breath of the soul. As it is said, ' Dum spiro, spero,' so it may be inverted, ' Dum spero, spiro.' Other mis-' eries may wound the spirit, but despair kills it dead.
If Christ be so rich, then take heed of presuming. Take heed of taking encouragement to sin upon this account, that Christ is rich in grace and mercy. To argue from the riches of mercy to sinful liberty, is the devil's logic. A soul that thus reasons, is a soul left of God, a soul that is upon the last step of the ladder, a soul that Satan has by the hand, and the eternal God knows whither he will lead him. What the women sung of Saul and David, that Saul had slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands, that I may say of despair and presumption, Despair has slain her thousand, but Presumption has slain her ten thousands. Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Rom. vi. 1, 2. As the beams of the sun. shining on the fire, put out the fire, so the shinings of God's mercy on us, should extinguish sin in us, as the apostle argues, 2 Pet. iii. 15, Rom. ii. 4. Christ seems to say to souls, as Thesius said once, ' Go, and tell Creon, Thesius offers thee a gracious offer; yet I am pleased to be friends, if thou wilt submit; this is my first message; but if this offer prevail not, look for me to be up in arms.' Ah souls, if you shall abuse the riches of grace, to a presumptuous sinning against Christ, Christ will take up arms, and you shall dieforit.
IV. The next use is this, If Christ be so rich, then open to Christ when he knocks.
Christ knocks by his word, and he knocks by his rod; he knocks by his Spirit, and he knocks by his messengers, and he knocks by conscience. Oh open to him, for he is very rich. Though you shut the door against a poor man, yet you will open it to one who is rich; and why then not to Christ, who would fain have entrance? Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Behold I stand. I who am the King of glory; I who am King of kings and Lord of lords; I who am rich in mercy, rich in goodness, rich in grace, rich in glory, I stand at the door and knock. I who have gold to enrich you; I who have eye-salve to enlighten you; I who have glorious apparel to clothe you; I who have mercy to pardon you; I who have power to save you; I who have wisdom to counsel you; I who have happiness to crown you; I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open. If the master will not, yet if the servant will; if the mistress will not, yet if the maid will; if the parent will not, yet if the child will; if the rich man will not, yet if the poor man will; if the pharisee will not, yet if the publican will. I will come in, and will sup with him, and he with me. Jesus Christ has the greatest worth and wealth in him. As the worth and value of many pieces of silver, is in one piece of gold, so all the heavenly excellencies that are scattered abroad in angels and men, are united in Christ; yea, all the whole volume of perfection, which is spread through heaven and earth, is epitomized in Christ. They say of the oil of Rheims, that though it is coutinually spent in the inauguration of their kings of France, yet it never wastes. Christ is a pot of manna, a cruse of oil, a bottomless ocean of all comforts and contents that never fail. A saint may say, ' Having nothing, I have all things, because I have Christ. Having therefore all things in him, I seek no other reward, for he is the universal reward.'
V. And then again, If Christ be so rich, sit down and wonder at his condescending love.
That one so rich should fall in love with such as are poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked; that one so high, should look so low as to poor us; that one so great, that one who is the Lord and Heir of all, should match with us who have nothing at all; O the breadth, the length, the depth, the height of Christ's love to unlovely souls, to such as had neither portion nor proportion, as had neither external nor internal worth, that might in the least draw his love towards them! You are indebted to God for the clothes you wear, for the bread you eat, for the houses you live in, the air you breathe, the beds you lie on, the ground you tread on. Now for Christ to love