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comfort be most pleasing to me, yet a life of believing, abstracted from comfort, is most honourable to thee, and therefore I will be silent before thee. Lord, do but help me in my work, and take thine own time to give me my wages, to give me comfort, joy, peace, assurance.' They are none of the best servants that mind their wages more than their work, and they are none of the best Christians, that mind their comforts and their incomes, more than that homage and duty which they owe to God.
Before I come to the second thing premised, give me leave to give you this hint, that there is no such way to joy, peace, and assurance, as this, to mind your work more than your wages. Ah, had many mourning, complaining Christians done thus, their mourning before this had been turned into rejoicing, and their complaining into singings. Christians, the high way to comfort is to mind Comfort less, and duty more. It is to mind more what you should do, than what you would have, as you may see in Eph. i. 13; In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. The original runs thus, In whom believing, you were sealed. While faith is busied, and exercised about Christ, and those varieties of glories and excellencies that are in him, the Lord comes, and by his Spirit seals up the life, and love, and glory of them.
Thus by divine assistance I have dispatched the first thing, the deciphering of weak Christians.
II. The second thing that I propounded for the further opening and clearing of this point, was, to hold forth to you those things that tend to support, comfort, and uphold weak Christians. And truly I must needs say, that if ever there were a time wherein weak Christians had need of support, I verily believe this is the time wherein we live, for by the horrid profaneness of men on the one hand, and the abominable, loose, and rotten principles of others, on the other hand, the hearts of many weak Christians especially are saddened, that God would not have saddened, and their spirits wounded and grieved, that God would have comforted and healed; and therefore I shall dwell the longer upon this second thing.
1. And the first thing that I shall lay down by way of support, is this, that the weakest Christians have as much interest and property in Christ and all the fundamental good that comes by Christ, as the strongest saints in the world have.
Weak saints are as much united to Christ, as much justified by Christ,, as much reconciled by Christ, and as much pardoned by Christ, as the strongest saints. He that looked upon the brazen serpent, though with a weak sight, was healed as thoroughly as he that looked upon it with a stronger sight. It is true, weak Christians cannot make so much improvement and advantage of their interest in Christ, as strong saints can; they have not that power, that wisdom, that spiritual skill to make that advantage of their interest and property in Christ, as strong saints have; yet have they as much interest and property in the Lord Jesus and all the fundamental good that comes by him, as the strongest saint that breathes. The sucking child has as much interest and property in the father, and in what is the father's, as the child that is grown up to age; though the young child has not that skill, nor that power, nor that wisdom, to improve that interest to his advantage, as he that is grown up in years has. It is just so here. A soul weak in grace has as much interest in the Lord as the strongest saint has, though he has not that skill to improve that interest. And is not this a singular comfort and support? Verily, were there no more to bear up a poor weak saint from fainting under all his sins and sorrows, and sufferings, yet this alone might do it.
The second support and comfort to weak saints, is this, that God does with.an eye of love reflect upon the least good that is in them or done by them.
And is not this a glorious comfort and support, that the Lord looks with an eye of love upon the least good that is in you or done by you? You cannot have a good thought but God looks upon that thought with an eye of love. I said I would confess my sin, and thou forgavest mine iniquity, Psal. xxxii. 5. 'I said it in my thoughts, that I would confess my sin, and thou presently meeting me with pardoning mercy, forgavest mine iniquity.' So in Mai. iii, 16; And there was a book of remembrance written, for them that fear the Lord and that thought upon his name. They had but some thoughts of God, and God reflects upon those thoughts with an eye of love. I have heard thy prayers, I have seen thy tears, Isa. xxxviii. 5. Tears we look upon but as poor things, and yet God looks upon them as pearls; and therefore he puts them into his bottle, as the Psalmist speaks. There is not a bit of bread, nor a drop of drink thou givest, but God casts an eye of love upon it, Matt. xxv. 35, 36. There is not a desire that arises in thy soul, but the Lord takes notice of it. Thou hast heard the desire of the humble, Psal. x. 17. Weak saints are full of desire; their whole life is a life of desires; they are still breathing out holy desires. 'Lord, pardon such a sin; and give me power against such a sin, and strength, Lord, to withstand such a temptation, and grace, Lord, to uphold me under such an affliction;' and the Lord hears and an swers such gracious breathings and longings.
It was holy Jewel's desire, that he might die preaching, and God looked with an eye of love upon his desire, and he had it. It was Latimer's desire, that he might shed his heart's blood for Christ, and God looked with an eye of love upon the breathings of his heart, and he had it. The Israelites did but groan, and God looked upon their groans with an eye of love. He comes down, he makes his arm bare, he tramples upon their proud enemies, and by miracles he saves them. O, weak Christian! is not this a singular comfort, that the Lord reflects with an eye of love upon your thoughts, upon your desires, upon your tears, and upon your groanings? What, though others slight you? what, though others take no notice of you? yet the Lord casts an eye of love upon you.
Some think it is very strange, that God should set down in scripture the story of Jacob, a poor countryman, that he had a few ewes and lambs streaked and spotted, and yet take no notice of the great emperors and kings of the earth, nor of their great actions and warlike designs in the world. But this is to shew that tender love and respect which God bears to his children, above what he does to the great ones of this world. God is more taken with Lazarus's patched coat, than with Dives' silken robe.
3. A third thing that I shall propound for the support and comfort of weak saints, is this, consider, the Lord looks more upon your graces, than he does upon your weaknesses; or thus, the Lord will not cast away weak saints, by reason of the weaknesses that cleave to their persons or services.
In 2 Chron. xxx. 18—20, there came a multitude of people to eat the passover, but they were not prepared according to the preparation of the sanctuary; therefore Hezekiah puts up a prayer for them, and the text says, that the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. The Lord looked upon their uprightness, and so passed over all their other weaknesses. He did not cast off Peter for his horrid sins, but rather looks upon him with an eye of love and pity. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter, that he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him, as he said unto you, Mark xvi. 7. O admirable love! O matchless mercy! where sin abounds, grace does superabound. This is the glory of Christ, that he carries it sweetly towards his people, when they carry themselves unworthily towards him. Christ looks more upon Peter's sorrow, than upon his sin; more upon his tears, than upon his oaths. The Lord will not cast away weak saints for their great unbelief, because there is a little faith in them. He will not throw them away for that hypocrisy that is in them, because of that little sincerity that is in them. He will not cast away weak saints for that pride that is in them, because of those rays of humility that shine in them. He will not despise his people for their passions, because of those grains of meekness that are in them. We will not throw away a little gold because of a great deal of dross that cleaves to it; nor a little wheat because mixed with much chaff; and will God? will God? We will not cast away our garments because of some 'spots, nor our books because of some blots, nor our jewels because of some flaws; and do we think that the Lord will cast awsy his dearest ones because of their spots, and blots, and flaws? Surely no. God looks more upon the bright side of the cloud, than the dark. Remember the patience of Job, James v. 11. It is not'Remember the murmuring of Job, the cursing
of Job, the complainings of Job, the impatience of Job;' but, Remember the patience of Job. God looks upon the pearl, and not upon the spot that is in it. So in Heb. xi. 30, 31, there is mention made of Etahab's faith, love, and peaceable behaviour towards the spies; but no mention made of her lie. The Lord overlooks her weakness, and keeps his eye upon her virtues. Where God sees but a little grace, he does, as it were, hide his eyes from those circumstances that might seem to deface the glory of it. So in 1 Pet. iii. 6; Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. Mark; there was but one good word in Sarah's speech to Abraham; she called her husband Lord; the speech otherwise was a speech of unbelief; yet the Holy Ghost, speaking of her in reference to that speech, conceals all the evil in it, and mentions only the reverend title she gave to her husband, commending her for it.
He that drew Alexander whilst he had a scar upon his face, drew him with his finger upon the scar. So when the Lord comes to look upon a poor soul, he lays his finger upon the scar, upon the infirmity, that he may see nothing but grace, which is the beauty and the glory of the soul. Ah, but weak Christians are more apt to look upon their infirmities, than on their graces; and because their little gold is mixed with a great deal of dross, they are ready to throw away all as dross. Well, remember this, the Lord Jesus has as great and as large an interest in the weakest saints, as he has in the strongest. He has the interest of a Friend, and the interest of a Father, and the interest of a Head, and the interest of a Husband; and therefore though saints be weak, yea, though they be very weak, yet having as great and as large an interest in them, as in the strongest saints, he cannot but overlook their weakness, and keep a fixed eye upon their graces.
4. A fourth support is this, that the Lord will graciously preserve and strengthen those weak graces that are in you.
Though your graces be as a spark of fire in the midst of an ocean of corruption, yet the Lord will preserve and blow up that spark of fire into a flame. It was the priest's office in the time of the law, to keep the fire in the sanctuary from going out; and it is the office of our Lord