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was born and klived that he might die. He valued them above his life. And if we might stay to consider a little what was in this death, that he underwent for them, we should perceive what a price indeed he put upon them. The curse of the law was in it, the "wrath of God was in it, the loss of God's "presence was in it. It was a 'fearful cup that he tasted of, and drank of, that they might never taste of it. A man would not for ten thousand worlds be willing to undergo, that which Christ underwent for us in that one thing of desertion from God, were it attended with no more distress, but what a mere creature might possibly emerge from under. And what thoughts we should have of this, himself tells us, John xv. 13. Greater love hath none than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. It is impossible there should be any greater demonstration or evidence of love than this; what can any one do more? And yet he tells us in another place, that it hath another aggravation and heightening, Rom. v. 8. “God commendeth his love to us, in that, whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' When he did this for us we were sinners, and enemies whom he might justly have destroyed. What can more be done? to die for us when we were sinners? such a death, in such a manner, with such attendances of wrath and curse; a death accompanied with the worst that God had ever threatened to sinners, argues as high a valuation of us, as the heart of Christ himself was capable of. i .
· For one to part with his glory, his riches, his ease, his life, his love from God, to undergo loss, shame, wrath, curse, death, for another, is an evidence of a dear valuation, and that it was all on this account we are informed, Heb. xii. 2. Certainly Christ had a dear esteem of them, that rather than they should perish, that they should not be his, and be made partakers of his glory, he would part with all he had for their sakes ; Eph. v. 25, 26.
There would be no end should I go through all the instances of Christ's valuation of believers in all their deliverances, afflictions, in all conditions of sinning and suffering, what he hath done, what he doth in his intercession, what he delivers them from, what he procurés for them; all k Heb. ii. 14, 15.
Gal. iii . 13. m 2 Cor. v, 21. n Psal. xxii. 1.
• Matt. xxvi. 39.
telling out this one thing, they are the apple of his eye, his jewel, his diadem, his crown.'.
2. In comparison of others. All the world is nothing to him in comparison of them. They are his garden ; the rest of the world a wilderness ; Cant. iv. 12. ^ A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.' They are his inheritance, the rest, his enemies of no regard with him. So Isa. xliji. 3, 4. 'I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee ; since thou wast Pprecious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee, therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. The reason of this dealing of Christ with his church in parting with all others for them, is because he loves her; she is precious and honourable in his sight, thence he puts this great esteem upon her. Indeed he disposeth of all nations, and their interest according as is for the good of believers; Amos ix. 9. in all the siftings of the nations, the eye of God is upon the house of Israel, not a grain of them shall perish. Look to heaven, angels are appointed to minister for them; Heb. i. 14. Look into the world, the nations in general are either a blessed for their sakes, or "destroyed on their account; preserved to try them, or rejected for their cruelty towards them; and will receive from Christ their s final doom according to their deportment towards these despised ones : on this account are the pillars of the earth borne up, and patience is exercised towards the perishing world. In a word, there is not the meanest, the weakest, the poorest believer on the earth, but Christ prizeth him more than all the world besides; were our hearts filled much with thoughts hereof, it would tend much to our consolation.
To answer this, believers also value Jesus Christ; they have an esteem of him above all the world, and all things in the world. You have been in part acquainted with this before, in the account that was given of their delight in him, and inquiry after him. They say of him in their hearts continually as David, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and
D Amorem istum non esse vulgarem ostendit, dum nos pretiosos esse dicit. Calv. in loc. 9 Gen, xii. 3. Mich. v.7, 8.
Isa. xxxiv. 8. Ixiii. 4. Ixxxiv. 15.' s Matt. xxiv, 35-38.
whom on earth that I desire besides thee?? Psal. lxxiii. 25. Neither heaven nor earth will yield them an object any way comparable to him, that they can delight in.
1. They value him above all other things and persons ; • Mallem,' said one,t' ruere cum Christo, quam regnare cum Cæsare. Pulchra terra, pulchrum cælum, sed pulcherrimus dominus Jesus.' Christ and a dungeon, Christ and a cross is infinitely sweeter than a crown, a sceptre without him to their souls. So was it with Moses, Heb. xi. 26. ' He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.' The reproach of Christ is the worst consequent that the wickedness of the world or the malice of Satan can bring upon the followers of him. The treasures of Egypt were in those days the greatest in the world ; Moses despised the very best of the world, for the worst of the cross of Christ. Indeed himself hath told believers, that if they love any thing better than him, father or mother, they are not worthy of him. A despising of all things for Christ, is the very first lesson of the gospel. Give away all, take up the cross and follow me, was the way whereby he tried his disciples of old, and if there be not the same mind and heart in us, we are none of his.
2. They value him above their lives. Acts xx. 24. My life is not dear that I may perfect my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus.' Let life and all go, so that I may serve him, and when all is done, enjoy him, and be made like to him. It is known what is reported of " Ignatius when he was led to martyrdom, 'Let what will,' said he, come upon me, only so I may obtain Jesus Christ.' Hence they of old rejoiced when whipped, scourged, put to shame for his sake; Acts v. 41. Heb. xi. all is welcome that comes from him, or for him. The lives they have to live, the death they have to die, is little, is light upon the thoughts of him who is the stay of their lives and the end of their death. Were it not for the refreshment which daily they receive by thoughts of him, they could not live; their lives would be a burden to them, and the thoughts
t Luther. Νύν άρχομαι μαθητής είναι, ουδέν τούτων των δρωμένων επιθυμώ, ένα τον Ιησούν Χριστον ευρω. Πύρ, σταυρός, θηρία, σύγκλασις οστέων, και των κελών διασπασμοι, και παντός του σώματος, συντριβή και βάσανοι του διαβόλου εις εμέ έλθωσιν, ίνα Ιησούν Χριστόν άποnávom. Vit. Ignat.
of enjoyment of him made them cry with Paul, Oh that they were dissolved. The stories of the martyrs of old, and of late, the sufferers in giving witness to him, under the dragon, and under the false prophet, the neglect of life in women and children on his account, contempt of torments whilst his name sweetened all, have rendered this truth clear to men and angels.
3. They value him above all spiritual excellencies and all other righteousness whatever; Phil. iii. 7, 8. • Those things which were advantage to me, I esteemed loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whose sake I have lost all things, and do esteem them common that I may gain Christ, and be found in him. Having recounted the excellencies which he had, and the privileges which he enjoyed in his judaism, which were all of a spiritual nature, and a participation wherein, made the rest of his countrymen despise all the world, and look upon themselves as the only acceptable persons with God, resting on them for righteousness, the apostle tells us what is his esteem of them in comparison of the Lord Jesus; they are loss and dung, things that for his sake, he had really suffered the loss of; that is, whereas he had for many years been a zealot of the law, seeking after a righteousness as it were by the works of it; Rom. ix. 31. instantly serving God day and night to obtain the promise ; Acts xxvi. 7. living in all good conscience from his youth; Acts xxii, all the while very zealous for God and his institutions, now wil. lingly casts away all these things, looks upon them as loss and dung, and could not only be contented to be without them, but as for that end for which he sought after them, he abhorred them all. When men have been strongly convinced of their duty, and have laboured many years to keep a "good conscience, have prayed, and heard, and done good, and denied themselves, and been Yzealous for God, and laboured with all their might to please him, and so at length to come to enjoy him; they had rather part with all the world, life, and all, than with this they have wrought. You know how unwilling we are to part with any thing we have laboured, and beaten our heads about? How much more * Acts xxiii. 1.
· y Rom. x. 2-4.
a John ix. 40. Rom. ix, 30, 31.
? Acts xxvi. 7.
when the things are so excellent, as our duty to God, blamelessness of conversation, hope of heaven, and the like, which we have beaten our hearts about. But now when once Christ appears to the soul, when he is known in his excellency, all these things as without him, have their paint washed off, their beauty fades, their desirableness vanisheth, and the soul is not only contented to part with them all, but puts them away as a defiled thing; and cries, in the Lord Jesus only is my righteousness b and glory. Prov. iii. 13—15. among innumerable testimonies may be admitted to give witness hereunto, ‘Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandize of it, is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold : she is more precious than rubies, and all the things that thou canst desire, are not to be compared to her.' It is of Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, the eternal wisdom of the Father, that the Holy Ghost speaks, as is evident from the description which is given hereof, chap. viii. He and his ways are better than silver and gold, rubies, and all desirable things; as in the gospel he likens himself to the e pearl in the field,' which when the merchantman finds, he sells all that he hath to purchase. All goes for Christ, all righteousness without him, all ways of religion, all goes for that one pearl. The glory of his Deity, the excellency of his person, his all-conquering desirableness, ineffable love, wonderful undertaking, unspeakable condescensions, effectual mediation, complete righteousness, lie in their eyes, ravish their hearts, fill their affections, and possess their souls. And this is the second mutual conjugal affection between Christ and believers, all which on the part of Christ, may be referred unto two heads.
(1.) All that he parted withal, all that he did, all that he suffered, all that he doth as mediator, he parted withal, did, suffered, doth, on the account of his d love to, and esteem of believers. He parted with the greatest glory, he underwent the greatest misery, he doth the greatest works that ever were, because he loves his spouse ; because he values believers. What can more, what can farther be spoken? how
b Isa. xlv. 24.. c Matt. xiii. 45, 46. Principium culmenque omnium rerum pretii, margaritæ tenent. Plin.
d Gal. ii. 20. 1 John iii. 2. Rev. i. 5, 6. Eph. v. 25, 26. Heb. x. 9, 10.