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0 that I had more of God! O that I were filled with Christ! O that I had his righteousness to cover me, his grace to pardon me, his power to support me, his wisdom to counsel me, his loving-kindness to refresh me, and his happiness to crown me!'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint?' 'No, I have one thing more to tell you. Though I dare not say that Christ is mine, yet I can truly say, that Christ, his love, his works, his grace, his word are the main objects of my contemplation and meditation. O I am always best, when
I am most meditating and contemplating Christ, his love, his grace. How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint?' 'No, I have one thing more to say. I can truly say, that the want of Christ's love is a greater grief and burden to my soul, than the want of any outward thing in this world. I am in a wanting condition, as to temporals, I want health, and strength, and trading, friends, and money, that answereth to all things, as Solomon speaks; and yet all these wants do not so grieve me, and so afflict and trouble me, as the want of Christ, as the want of grace, as the want of the discoveries of that favour that is better than life.'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint?' 'No, sir, there is one thing more; that I would not willingly nor resolvedly sin against Christ for a world. It is true, I dare not say I have an interest in Christ, yet I dare say that I would not willingly and resolvedly sin against Christ for a world. I can say, through grace, were I this moment to die, that my greatest fear is of sinning against Christ, and my greatest care is of pleasing Christ. I know there was a time, when my greatest care was to please myself and the creature; and my greatest fear was of displeasing the creature. I can remember with sorrow and sadness of heart, how often I have displeased Christ to please myself; and displeased Christ to please the creature; but now it is quite otherwise with me; my greatest care is to please Christ, and my greatest fear is of offending Christ.'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint 1' 'No, I have one thing more. Though I dare not say that Christ is mine, and that I have an interest in him, yet I can truly say, I dearly love the people of Christ, for the image of Christ that I see stamped upon them. It is true, I dare not say Christ is mine and heaven is mine; I cannot say with such and such a one, The Lord is my portion; yet I can say that I dearly love those that have the Lord for their portion. I can truly say, that the poorest and the most neglected, and the most despised saint in the world, is more precious in my eye, and more dear to my soul, than the greatest and the richest sinner in the world, Psalm xvi. 3.'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint, that thou hast to say?' 'No, I have one thing more. Though I dare not say that I have an interest in Christ, or that I love Christ, yet I dare say that my soul weeps and mourns in secret for the dishonour that is done to Christ, both by myself, and by others also. I can look the Lord in the face, were I now to die, and say, Lord, thou that knowest all thoughts and hearts, thou dost know, that mine eyes run down with rivers of tears, because men keep not thy law.'
'Well, is this all V 'No, I crave your patience to hear me in one thing more; that I prize persons and things according to the spirituality and holiness that is in them; and the more spiritual and holy any man or thing is, the more is that man and thing prized by my soul. I have often thought of that sweet word in Psalm cxix. 140; Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it. Other men love it because of the profit they get by it, or because of a name, or this or that; but I love it for the purity, for the holiness and the cleanness of it. No preaching, no praying, no talking, no society is sweet to me, but that which is most spiritual , most holy. It is not an exercise tricked and trimmed up with wit, learning, and eloquence; it is not the hanging of truth's ears with counterfeit pearls, that takes with me; but the more plainness, spiritualness, and holiness, I see in an exercise, the more is my heart raised to prize it and love it. And therefore, because Christ is perfectly and infinitely holy above all other, I prize Christ above all. Ordinances are sweet, but Christ is more sweet to my soul. Saints are precious, but Christ is far more precious. Heaven is glorious, but Christ is infinitely more glorious. The
NO. XL. K
first thing that I would ask, if I might have it, is Christ. And the next thing that I would ask, if I might have it, is more of Christ. And the last thing that I would ask, if I might have it, is that I might be satiated and filled with the fulness of Christ. Let the ambitious man take the honours of the world, so that I may but have Christ. Let the voluptuous man swim in all the pleasures of the world, so that I may have Christ. And let the covetous man tumble up and down in all the gold and silver of the world, so I may have Christ, and it shall be enough for my soul.'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint?' 'No, I have one thing more to say. I find the same conflict in my soul, that Paul found in his soul, after he was converted nearly fourteen years, after he was taken up into as clear and choice enjoyments of God, as any soul that ever I read of. The conflict that is mentioned in Rom. vii. I find in my soul. The whole frame of my soul, understanding, will, and affections, are set against sin. I find that I hate the evil that I do, and I find that the good that I would do, that do I not; and the evil that I would not do, that do I. I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and leading me captive to the law of sin. And this makes me often cry out with Paul, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Therefore I sometimes hope, that those sins that are now my burden, shall never hereafter be my bane.'
'Well, and is this all, O weak saint?' 'No, I have one thing more to say. I can truly say, when the Lord gives me any strength against sin, and any power to serve him and walk closely with him in his ways, it is a greater joy and comfort to my soul, than all the blessings of this life. Though I have not yet seen him, he has set me as a seal upon his heart, as a seal upon his arm. Though I have not yet the clear assurance of his love; though his spirit has not yet set up such a light in my soul, whereby I might run and read my right and title to himself and heaven; yet when he does give me but a little light through a crevice, when he does but begin to cause his love to dawn upon me, when he gives me but a little strength against sin, and a little power to walk closely with himself; O this does administer more abiding joy, and more sweet peace, and more solid comfort to my soul, than all the riches, honours, friends, and favours of this world.'
'Well, is this all, O weak saint?' 'No, I have one thing more to say. Though my interest in Christ be not clear to me, yet I can truly say I would not change my condition with the men of this world for a thousand worlds. It is true, I cannot say that I have the seal and witness of the Spirit, which many talk and boast of, though I fear but few enjoy; yet I can truly say, that I would not change my estate with men merely moral, nor with the profane men of this world, for ten thousand worlds.'
'Well, is this all, O soul?
'No, I have but one thing more, and then I have done. I find my soul carried forth to a secret resting, relying, leaning, staying, and hanging upon Christ for life and happiness. Though I know not how it will go with me, yet I have thrown myself into his arms. I lean upon him. There I will hang; there I will rest and stay. If I must perish, I will perish there. And thus I have opened my state and condition to you: and now I do earnestly desire your judgment upon the whole.'
'Well then, this I shall say, as I must answer it in the day of my appearing before God, that had I as many souls as I have hairs on my head, or as there are stars in heaven, I could freely adventure the loss of them all, if these things do not undeniably speak out, not only the truth, but also the strength of grace. Nay, let me tell you, that he who finds but any of these things really in his soul, though the Lord has not given him a clear and full manifestation of his love and favour, yet while breath is in his body, he has eminent cause to bless God, and to walk thankfully and humbly before him.'
2. The second duty is this—live up to that little grace you have.
Thou sayest, O weak Christian, that thou hast but a little light, a little love, a little zeal, a little faith. Well, grant it, but know, that it is thy duty to live up to those measures of grace thou hast. And this is the second head that I shall press upon you; live up to, and live out that grace you have. And if ever there were a season to press this point home upon souls, this is the season in which we live. And considering that it is not a flood of words, but weight of argument, that carries it with ingenuous spirits, I shall therefore propound these following things to their serious consideration.
First; consider this—living up to your graces carries with it the greatest evidence of the truth of grace. That man who lives not up to his grace, let him be strong or weak, wants one of the best and strongest demonstrations that can be, to evidence the truth of his grace. If you would have a clear evidence that that little love, that little faith, that little zeal, you have is true, then live up to that love, live up to that faith, live up to that zeal that you have; and this will evidence beyond all contradiction.
Secondly; consider this—God and your souls will be very great losers, if you live not up to those measures of grace you have. God will lose many prayers, and many praises; he will lose much honour, and glory, and service, which otherwise he might have; and you will lose much peace, much comfort, much rest, quietness and content, that otherwise your souls might enjoy. And of all losses, spiritual losses are the saddest and greatest, and fetched up with the greatest difficulty.
Thirdly; consider this—your not living up to that little light and grace you have, will open the mouths of graceless souls against your gracious God, and against his gracious ones, and against his gracious ways. You think, because of the weakness of your grace, that you must be borne with in this, and that, and what not; but remember, it is your duty to live up to the light and grace you have, and nothing below this will effectually stop the mouths of graceless wretehes from barking against the ways of God, the truths of God, and the people of God. Vain men will be often reasoning thus, 'Though such and such men and women have not such great knowledge, such clear light, such strong love, and such burning zeal, as David, Paul, and other worthies, yet they have so much light and knowledge as tell them, that they should not carry themselves thus and thus, as they do. Their light and knowledge tell them that they should be just and righteous in their dealings, and in all their ways and designs. Though they have not such great measures of spiritual enjoyments,