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xix. 27. Behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee, and what shall we have? A great all indeed, as I have formerly shewed you; they left a few old boats, and torn nets, and poor household-stuff; yet Christ carries it very sweetly and lovingly to them, and tells them in verse 28, that they should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Christ tells them, they shall sit as ambassadors, or chief counsellors and presidents, which have the chief seats in the kingly assembly, yea, they shall sit as kings. They are here but obscure kings, but kings elected, but in that day they shall be kings crowned, kings glorified, kings acknowledged; then they shall as far outshine the glory of the sun, as the sun now out-shines a twinkling star. In that day they shall be higher than the kings of the Earth. So in Mat. x. 42; And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. A cup of cold water; water, the common element; and cold water, which cost them not so much as fire to warm it; for that, there is a torrent, and a very sea, of all pleasures, provided for thee to all eternity. God esteems men's deeds by their minds, and not their minds by their deeds. The least and cheapest courtesy that can be shewed, shall be rewarded. There is an emphasis in that deep asseveration, Verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Mercy is as sure a grain as vanity. God is not likely to break, neither will he forget the least good done by the least saint. The butler may forget Joseph, and Joseph may forget his father's house, but the Lord will not forget the least good done by the weakest saint.
The Duke of Burgundy, being a wise and loving man, did bountifully reward a poor gardener, for offering him a rape root, being the best present the poor man had; and will not our God, whose very nature is goodness, kindness, and sweetness, do much more? Surely he will reward the least good done by the weakest saint. Therefore be not discouraged, weak Christians, though you should meet with hard measure from the world, though they should reward your weak services with reproaches; for the Lord will reward you; he will not despise the day of small things. What though, O precious soul, thy language be clipped and broken? what, though thou canst but chatter like a crane? what, though thou canst not talk so fluently and eloquently for Christ, as others? what, though thy hand be weak, that thou canst not do so much for Christ, as others? nor do so well for Christ, as others? yet the Lord, seeing thy heart sincere, will reward thee. Thou shalt have an everlasting rest for a little labour, and a great reward for a little work.
9. The ninth support is this, that as your graces are weaker than others, so your temptations shall be fewer, and your afflictions lighter than others.
God in much wisdom and love will suit your burdens to your backs; he will suit all your temptations and afflictions to your strength; your burdens shall not be great, if your strength be but little; as you may see in 1 Cor. x. 13; There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. The Lord, O weak Christian, will suit thy burden to thy back, and his strokes to thy strength. This is most evident in Scripture, that the strongest in grace have always been the most tempted, afflicted, and distressed. If Abraham excel others in faith, God will try the strength of Abraham's faith to the uttermost, and put him to that that he never put man to before. If Moses excel all others in meekness, the Lord will try the strength of that grace, and Moses shall have to do with as proud and as murmuring a generation, as ever man had to do with. If Job carry the day from all others in point of patience, he shall be exercised with such strange and unheard of afflictions, as shall try not only the truth, but also the strength of his patience to the uttermost. If Paul have more glorious revelations than the rest of the apostles, Paul shall be more buffeted and exercised with temptations than the rest of the apostles.
And thus you see it clear by all these instances, that the best and choicest saints have always met with the worst and greatest temptations and afflictions. So when the disciples were in the lowest form, when they were weak in grace, the Lord Jesus exercises them, but with light afflictions; but when they had a greater measure of the Spirit poured upon them, then their troubles were increased and multiplied, and their former troubles, in comparison of the latter, were but as scratches of pins to stabs at the heart. When the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon them, then they were afflicted, opposed, and persecuted, with a witness. When they had a greater measure of the Spirit to enable them to bear the hatred, frowns, strokes, and blows of the enraged world, then all of them had the honour to suffer a violent death for Christ, as histories evidence.
That is a very remarkable scripture in Luke xxiv. 49; And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. The Lord Jesus would not have them go from Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high. By the promise of the Father, is meant the gifts and graces of the Spirit; that is promised in Isa. xliv. 3; Joel. ii. 28; John xiv. 16; xv. 26. 'Tarry ye here,' says Christ, 'at Jerusalem, till ye be completely armed and fitted for all encounters, till ye be endued with power;' or, as the Greek carries it, till ye be clothed. They were as naked persons; they had but a little of the Spirit, so that they were not complete; they were not clothed with the Spirit, till after the Ascension of Christ. Now says Christ, 'Tarry until such time as ye are clothed with the Spirit.' The Lord Jesus knew well enough, that they would meet with bitter opposition, terrible afflictions, and dreadful persecution, for his and the Gospel's sake; therefore, ' Tarry,' says he,' until ye be clothed with the Holy Ghost,' that so nothing may daunt you nor sink you.
10. The tenth support is this, that your persons stand not before God in your own righteousness, but in the perfect, spotless, and matchless righteousness of the Lord Jesus.
Weak hearts are apt to sit down troubled and discouraged. When they look upon that body of sin which is in them, and those imperfections which attend their chief services, they are ready to say, 'We shall one day perish by the strength of our lusts, or by the defects of our services.' O but weak souls should remember this, to strengthen them against all discouragements, that their persons stand before God, clothed with the righteousness of their Saviour, and so God owns them, and looks upon them as persons wrapt up in his royal robe. Hence it is that he is called, The Lord our righteousness. And so in 1 Cor. i. 30; Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Though weak saints have nothing of their own, yet in Christ they have all, for in him is all fulness, both repletive and diffusive; both of abundance and of redundance; both of plenty and of bounty. He is made to weak saints wisdom, by his prophetical office; and he is made to weak saints, righteousness and sanctification, by his priestly office; and he is made to weak saints redemption, by his kingly office. So in Col. ii. 10; And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
Varro reports of two hundred and eighty-eight several opinions that were among the philosophers about the complete happiness of man, but they were out in them all, one judging his happiness lay in this, and another in that. They caught at the shadow of happiness, but could not come at the tree of life, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is weak saints' complete happiness. And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God, Rev. xiv. S. Though men may accuse you, judge and condemn you, yet know, for your support, that you are acquitted before the throne of God. However you may stand in the eyes of men, as full of nothing but faults, as persons made up of nothing but sin, yet are you clear in the eyes of God. So in Cant iv. 7; Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee. There is none such as are the spots of wicked men, nor any spot in his account. God looks upon weak saints in the son of his love, and sees them all lovely; they are as the tree of Paradise, fair to his eye, and pleasant to his taste; or as Absalom, in whom there was no blemish from head to foot. Ah poor souls, you are apt to look upon your spots and blots, and to cry out with the leper, not only ' Unclean, unclean,' but 'Undone, undone,' Well, for ever remember this, that your persons stand before God in the righteousness of Christ; upon which accountyou always appear before the throne of God without fault; you are all fair, and there is no spot in you.
11. The eleventh support is this— Your sins shall never provoke Christ, nor prevail with Christ, so far as to give you a bill of divorce,
O there is much in it, if the Lord would set it home upon your hearts, your sins shall never prevail so far with Christ, nor ever so far provoke him, as to work him to give you a bill of divorce. Your sins may provoke Christ to frown upon you, they may provoke Christ to chide with you, they may provoke him greatly to correct you, but they shall never provoke Christ to give you a bill of divorce. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail, Psal. lxxxix. 30—34. That is a great support to a weak saint, that his sin shall never separate him from God nor Christ. Thou art many times afraid that this deadness, this dulness, this earthliness, and these wandering thoughts, that do attend thee, will provoke the Lord Jesus to sue out a bill of divorce against thee. But remember this, thy sins shall never so far prevail with Christ, as to work him to give thee a bill of divorce. Mark, there is nothing can provoke Christ to give thee a bill of divorce, but sin.
Now sin is slain, I shall open this to you in three things.
First; sin is slain judicially, for it is condemned both by Christ and his people, and so it is dead according to law; which is and may be a singular comfort and support to weak saints, that their greatest and worst enemy, sin, is condemned to die, and shall not for ever vex and torment their precious souls. It is dead judicially, it is under the sentence of condemnation. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory f The sting of death is sin. The apostle here triumphs over it as a thief condemned to death. Sin is sentenced now, though not fully put to death; it is dead judicially. As when the sentence of death is passed upon a malefactor, you say he is a dead man: why? he is judicially dead; so is sin; sin is judi
NO. XL. I