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now all must stand by, he hates father or mother, and life, and all, in comparison of Christ, Luke i. 26.
Well then, pause a little, and look within : doth not this nearly concern thee? Thou pretendest for Christ, but doth not the world sway thee? Dost thou not take more real de. light and content in the world, than in him ? Dost thou not find thyself better at ease when the world goes to thy mind, and thou art encompassed with carnal delights, than when retired to prayer and meditation in thy closet, or attending upon God's word and worship? No surer evidence of an unconverted state, than to have the things of the world uppermost in our aims, love, and estimation, John ii. 15, James iv. 4.
With the sound convert, Christ hath the supremacy. How dear is this name to him? How precious is its savour? Cant. i. 8, Psa. liv. 8. The name of Jesus is engraven upon his heart, Gal. iv. 19, and lies as a bundle of myrrh between his breasts, Cant. i. 13, 14.Honour is but air, and laughter is but mad ness, and mammon is fallen like Dagon before the ark, with hands and head broken off on the threshold, when once Christ is sayingly revealed. Here is the pearl of great price to the true convert, here is his treasure, here is his hope, Matt. xiii. 44, 45. This is his glory, My beloved is mine, and I am his, Gal. vi. 14, Cant. ii. 16. Oh! 'tis sweeter to him to be able to say, Christ is mine, than if he could say, The kingdom is mine, the Indies are mine.
Fourthly, Your oron Righteousness. Before conversion, man seeks to cover himself with his own fig leaves, Phil. iii. 16, and to lick himself whole with his own duties, Mic. vi. 6,7. He is apt to trust in himself, Luke xvi. 15, and xviii. 9, and set up his own righteousness, and to reckon his counters for gold, and not submit to the righteousness of God, Rom. x. 3. But conversion changes his mind; now he casts away his filthy rags, and counts his own righteousness but a menstruous cloth; he casts it off, as a man would the verminous tatters of a nasty beggar, Isa. Ixiv. 7. Now he is brought to poverty of spirit, Matt. v. 3, complains of, and condemns himself, Rom. vii. and all his inventory is, Poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked, Rev. iii. 17. He sees a world of ini. quity in bis holy things, and calls his once idolized righteousness but flesh, and loss, and dogs' meat, and would not for a thousand worlds be found in bimself, Phil. iii. 4, 7, 8, 9. His finger is ever upon his sores, Psa. li. 3, his sins, his wants. Now he begins to set a high price upon Christ's righteousness; he sees the need of a Christ in every duty, to justify his person, and justify his performances; he cannot live without him, he cannot pray without him ; Christ must go with him, or else he cannot come into the presence of God; he leans upon the hand of Christ, and so he bows himself in the house of his God; he sets himself down for a lost, undone man, without him; his life is hid in Christ, as the life of a man in the heart; he is fixed in
Christ, as the roots of the tree spread in the earth, for stability and nutriment. Before, the news of a Christ was a stale and sapless thing; but now how sweet is a Christ ! Augustine could not relish his before so much admired Cicero, because he could not find the name of Christ; how pathetically cries he, Dulcissime, amantis. benignis. caris. &c. quando te videbo ? quando satiabo de pulchri. tudine tua? Medit. c. 37. O most sweet, most loving, most kind, most dear, most precious, most desired, most lovely, most fair, &c, all in a breath, when he speaks of, and to his Christ. In a word, the voice of the convert is with the martyr, None but Christ, none but Christ.
2. The terms to which, are either ultimate or subordinate, and mediate. :: The ultimate, is God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whom the true convert takes as his all-sufficient and eternal blessedness. A man is never truly sanctified, till his very heart be in truth set upon God above all things, as his portion and chief good. These are the natural breathings of a believer's heart: Thou art my portion, Psa. cxix. 57. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord, Psa. xxxiv. 2. My expectation is from him, he only is my rock, and my salvation, he is my defence : In God is my salvation, and my glory, the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God, Psa. Txii. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and xviii. 1, 2.
Would you put it to an issue, whether you be converted or not? Now then, let thy soul and all that is within thee attend.
Hast thou taken God for thy happiness? Where doth the content of thy heart lie? Whence doth thy choicest comfort come in ? Come then, and with Abraham, lift up
thine eyes castward, and westward, and northward, and southward, and cast about thee; what is it that thou wouldst have in heaven or earth to make thee happy? If God should give thee thy choice, as he did to Solomon; or should say to thee, as Ahasuerus to Esther, What is thy petition, and what is thy request ? and it shall be granted thee, Esther v. 3, what wouldst thou ask? Go into the gardens of pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers from thence; would these content thee? Go to the treasures of mammon; suppose thou mightsti lade thyself as thou wouldst from hence : go to the towers, to the trophies of honour; what thinkest thou of being a man of renown, and having a name like the name of the great men of the earth ?. Would any of this, all this suffice thee, and make thee count thyself a happy mau ? If so, then certainly thou art carnal and unconverted, If not, go farther; wade into the divine excellencies, the store of his mercies, the hiding of bis pow. er, the deeps unfathomable of his all-sufficiency: doth this suit thee best, and please thee most? Dost thou say, 'Tis good to be here, Matt. xvii. 4, here I will pitch, here I will live and die ? Wilt thou let all the world
go, rather than this? Then 'tis well between God and thee : happy art thou, O man ! happy art thou, that ever thou wast born: if a God can make thee happy, thou must needs be happy ;
for thou hast arouched the Lord to be thy God, Deut. xxvi. 17. Dost thou say to Christ, as he to us, Thy Father shall be my Father, and thy God my God? John xx. 17. Here is the turning point. An unsound professor never takes up his rest in God; but converting grace does the work, and so cures the fatal misery of the fall, by turning the heart from its idols, to the living God, 1 Thess. i. 9. Now says the soul, Lord, whither should I go ? thou hast the words of eternal life, John vi. 68. Here he centres, here he settles : 0 ! 'tis as the entrance of heaven to him, to see his interest in God. When he discovers this, he saith, Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee, Psa. cxvi. 7, and it is even ready to breathe out Simeon's song, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, Luke ii. 29, and saith with Jacob, when his old heart revived at the welcome tidings, It is enough, Gen. xlv. 28, when he sees he hath a God in cove. nant to go to, this is all his salvation, and all his desire, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
Man, is this thy case ? Hast thou experienced this? Why then, blessed art thou of the Lord : God hath been at work with thee, he hath laid hold on thy heart by the power of converting grace, or else thou couldst nevcr have done this.
The mediate term of conversion is either principal, or less principal.
The principal is Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, 1 Tim. ii. 5, his work is to bring us to God, 1 Pet. iii. 18. He is