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the way to the Father, John xiv. 6, the only plank on which we may escape, the only door by which we may enter, John x. 9.— Conversion brings over the soul to Christ, to accept of him, Col. ii. 6, as the only means to life, as the only way, the only name given under heaven, Acts iv. 12. He looks not for salvation in any other but him, nor in any other with him; but throws himself on Christ alone, as one that should cast himself with spread arms upon the sea.
Here, (saith the convinced sinner) here I will venture, and if I perish, I perish; if I die, I will die here. But, Lord, suffer me not to perish under the pitiful eyes of thy mercy. Entreat me not to leave thee, or to turn away from following after thee, Ruth i. 16. Here I will throw myself: If thou kick me, if thou kill me, Job xiii. 15, I will not go from thy door.
Thus the poor soul doth venture on Christ, and resolvedly adheres to him. Before conversion, the man made light of Christ, minded the farm, friends, merchandize, more than Christ, Matt. xxii. 5. Now Christ is to him as his necessary food, his daily bread, the life of his heart, the staff of his life, Phil. iii. 9. His great design is, that Christ may be magnified in him, Phil. i. 20. His heart once said, as they to the spouse, What is thy beloved more than another? Cant. v. 9. found more sweetness in his wicked games, earthly delights, than in Christ: He took religion for a fancy, and the talk of great enjoyments for an idle dream.
But now, to him to live is Christ. He sets light by all that he accounted precious, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Phil. iii. 8.
All of Christ is accepted by the sincere convert he loves not only the wages, but the work of Christ, Rom. vii. 12, not only the benefits, but the burden of Christ: he is willing not only to tread out the corn, but to draw under the yoke; he takes up the commands of Christ, yea, and cross of Christ, Matt. xi. 28, and xvi. 24.
The unsound closeth by the halves with Christ he is all for the salvation of Christ, but he is not for sanctification; he is for the privileges, but appreciates not the person of Christ; he divides the offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the foundation : whoso loveth life, let him beware here; 'tis an undoing mistake, of which you have been often warned, and yet none more common.Jesus is a sweet name, but men love not the Lord Jesus in sincerity, Eph. vi. 24. They will not have him as God offers, To be a Prince, and a Saviour, Acts v. 31. They divide what God hath joined, the King and the Priest yea, they will not accept the salvation of Christ, as he intends it; they divide it here. Every man's vote is for salvation from suffering, but they desire not to be saved from sinning: they would have their lives saved, but withal, they would have their lusts. Yea, many divide here again; they would be content to have some of their sins destroyed, but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah, or divorce the beloved Herodias. They cannot
be cruel to the right-eye, or right-hand; the Lord must pardon them in this thing, 2 Kings v. 18. O! be infinitely tender here; your souls lie upon it. The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes him for all intents and purposes; without exceptions, without limitations, without reserves. He is willing to have Christ-upon his terms, upon any terms. He is willing of the dominion of Christ, as well as deliverance by Christ; he saith with Paul, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Acts ix. 6. Any thing, Lord. He sends the blank to Christ, to set down his own conditions, Acts ii. 87, and xvi. 30.
The less principal, is the laws, ordinances, and ways of Christ. The heart that was once set against these, and could not endure the strictness of these bonds, the severity of these ways, now falls in love with them, and chuses them as its rule and guide forever, Psa. exix. 111, 112.
Four things (I observe) God doth work in every sound convert, with reference to the laws and ways of Christ, by which you may come to know your estates, if you will be faithful to your own souls; and therefore keep your eyes upon your hearts as you go along.
(1.) The judgment is brought to approve of them, and subscribe to them as most righteous, and most reasonable, Psa. cxix. 112, 128, 137, 138. The mind is brought to love the ways of God; and the corrupt prejudices that were once against them, as unreasonable and intolerable, are now removed. The un
derstanding assents to them all, as holy, just, and good, Rom. vii. 12. How is David taken up with these excellencies of God's laws? How doth he expatiate in their praises, both from their inherent qualities, and admirable effects? Psa. xix. 8, 9, 10, &c.
There is a twofold judgment of the understanding, judicium absolutum, & comparatum. The absolute judgment is, when a man thinks such a course best in the general, but not for him, or not under the present circumstances he is in; pro hic, & nunc. Now a godly man's judgment is for the way of God; and that not only the absolute, but comparative judgment; he thinks them not only best in general, but best for him: he looks upon the rules of religion, not only as tolerable, but desirable; yea, more desirable than gold, fine gold; yea, much fine gold, Psa. xix. 10.
His judgment is settledly determined, that is best to be holy, that 'tis best to be strict, that it is in itself the most eligible course; and 'tis for him the wisest, and most rational and desirable choice. Hear the godly man's judgment; I know, O Lord, that thy judg ments are right. I love thy commandments above gold: yea, above fine gold. I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way, Psa. cxix. 127, 128. Mark, he did approve of all that God required, and disallowed of all that he forbade Righteous, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded, are righteous and very faithful. Thy word is true from the beginning,
and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever, Psa. cxix. 86, 160, 162, 163. See how readily and fully he subscribes ; he declares his assent and consent to it, and all and every thing therein contained.
(2.) The desire of the heart is to know the whole mind of Christ, Psa. cxix. 124, 125, 169, and xxv. 4, 5. He would not have one sin undiscovered, nor be ignorant of one duty required. 'Tis the natural and earnest breathing of a sanctified heart: Lord, if there be any way of wickedness in me, do thou discover it. What I know not, teach thou me; and if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more. The unsound is willingly ignorant, 2 Pet. iii. 5, loves not to come to the light, John iii. 20.— He is willing to keep such or such a sin, and therefore is loth to know it to be a sin, and will not let in the light at that window. The gracious heart is willing to know the whole latitude and compass of his Maker's law, Ps. cxix. 18, 19, 27, 33, 64, 66, 68, 78, 108, 124. He receives with all acceptation the word that convinceth him of any duty that he knew not, or minded not before, or discovered any sin that lay hid before, Ps. cxix. 11.
(3.) The free and resolved choice of the will is determined for the ways of Christ before all the pleasures of sin, and prosperities of the world, Ps. cxix. 103, 127, 162. His consent is not extorted by some extremity of anguish, nor is it only a sudden and hasty resolve, but he is deliberately purposed, and comes off freely to the choice, Ps. xvii. 3, and cxix. 50. True, the flesh will rebel, yet the