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command as a prophet, then I hope you will endeavour to shake off self-conceit, and lean no more to your own understanding. You will also resolve not to be such strangers as you have been, to seeking and depending on the Lord's light, in all matter of sin and duty.
You will allow the light of the Lord's word freely to turn you from your prejudices and preconceived opinions. And that a little child shall lead you, if he can but hold out the Lord's word, pointing you the way. You will prize his ordinances, and not make the
, Lord's work a sinking burden to the messenger, by despising his message. Seeing the ministry of the word is one thing by which Christ executeth his peophetical office, therefore, “ He saith, he that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.” Again,
ere any thing in his priestly office that offends you? Man is fallen. Justice is offended. God's device for the salvation of sinners is, that the Redeemer Christ be both priest and sacrifice, that he build the fallen temple of the Lord, and bear the glory, being the alone way to the Father. Will you venture your salvation on this foundation, renounce your own righteousness, all your doings and sufferings, and lay the whole weight of your acceptance with God on the merits of Christ's blood ? and take him for your only intercessor and way to the Father. If you have nothing to object; here then you will humbly and heartily acknowledge, that you deserve nothing at God's hand, but that he would be just, if he should cast you off for ever. You will confess that you have nothing to recommend you to God, and dare trust nothing to any thing that is yours : and that if you be received of the Lord, there is nothing in or about you to engage him to you. You will look for the acceptance of your duties, not from any value in themselves, but through the merits of Christ. And that you will look for the acceptance of your persons and for all the favours from the Lord, only through the wounds of a Redeemer.
Again, Is there any thing in his kingly office that offends you? He has got the kingdom by his Father's gift, and it is his Father's decree that he rule sinners according to his own will and pleasure, and his holy laws ? Are you content with this? Will you give up yourselves to him without reserve ? Alas ! will you say the armies of hell in my breast are not so easily dispossessed. True, but I hope you are not so closely blocked up, but there may be intelligence got betwixt Zion's King and you; and though you cannot subdue the rebels, will you be content to make an offer of the kingdom to him over your whole man? If so, then you will renounce and heartily give up with all your lusts without exception of one. You will also
look on Jesus Christ as your head of influences, for sanctification ; and go no more out against temptations and to duties in your own strength, but in his strength who is mighty in battle. The long debate that has been betwixt providence and you, who should carve out your lot in the world, will be at an end. You will say, " He shall choose our inheritence for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved.” Lastly, Is there any thing in his covenant that offends
? Is there any thing in it that is not well ordered in your eyes ? Does the taking up of the cross offend you? Or are you content to take him to follow him whithersoever he goes, and nothing shall part betwixt him and you? Blessed is he, whosoever is not offended in him. If nothing in Christ offends you, nothing in you will so far offend him, as to keep him at a distance from you. Nay if you be really offended and grieved at yourselves for that there is any thing in you so apt to be offended in Christ, it shall not mar your communion with him.
But, O brethren, search your hearts this night, for they are deceitful, and put yourselves to an impartial trial. And where you
heart offended at Christ, put it into his own hand to remove the offence, and to reconcile the heart and gain it entirely to himself. Amen.
Tweedsmuir communion Sabbath evening, June 17, 1716.
BELIEVERS LOOKING AT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN.
2 CORINTHIANS iv. 18. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which
are not seen.
You have now been eating your gospel passover, and should therefore be preparing for your journey through the wilderness. You have enlisted under the standard of Jesus Christ, and should march on to follow your leader. You will meet with difficulties in the way, that will make you in danger of fainting, standing still, and giving it over, as a journey which you are not able to accomplish. To prevent this, you must take your aim right, and still keep your eye upon it; looking not to the things which are seen, but to the things which are not seen. In the text there are three things to be considered.
1. The mark which the Christian is to keep in view in his journey through the wilderness. The traveller will always be looking to something, and it is of great importance for the journey that he takes his view right. He must look, namely, with an attentive eye, as one does to a mark at which he shoots, taking his aim right. The object which the Christian is to keep in view is described
Negatively, He is not to look at the things which are seen. He must not look to, but overlook and disregard, those things that fall under his senses. The things of this world, by which natural men are led. It is Christ's call to his people, to leave the world with him, and for him, to lift their eyes and hearts from these things, and live like those of another world. “Come says he, with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon.”
This object is described positively, “but at the things which are not seen.” He must with an eye of faith, look to and keep in view, those things that are beyond the reach of the carnal eye. He must have an eye in his heart, to fix on those things that do not lie open to the view of his bodily eyes. God, and grace, and glory, which cannot be seen with our eyes, yet to them we must look.
2. Observe the reasonableness of this view, which the Christian hath. Religion is the most reasonable thing in the world. The world smiles in a very engaging manner on the Christian, to draw him after it, out of the Lord's way; but by these he will not be moved. It frowns bitterly, but he regards it not. What, is the man mad, says the carnal worldling? What is he looking for? What does he see? Why truly he sees other smiles that move him, other frowns that he seriously regards. And good reason, for the smiles and frowns to which worldly men look, are but temporal for a season; the world's favour and enmity also will soon be over. But the smiles and frowns to which the Christian looks are eternal; they will last for ever. Does he not then act most rationally. Observe,
3. The fruit of this believing view. It makes him follow Christ through good and bad report, while others turn their backs upon him. Particularly it keeps him from the ill of afflictions. It is a cordial to keep him from fainting under all pressures from the world. There is a thorn hedge in his way, but he breaks through it, seeing the paradise that is on the other side, ver. 16. “For which cause we faint not.” It brings him good out of them. For while the view of things not seen, carries him through the hardest parts of his lot, he comes in the end to be a gainer and not a loser by his
afflictions, ver. 17, 18. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Doctrine.— They that would get safely through this world to Immanuel's land, must so look to things that are not seen, as to overlook, and put on a holy regardlessness of the things that are seen.
In prosecuting this doctrine, I shall,
IV. Shew how we must overlook, and put on a holy disregard of the things that are seen. We are then,
I. To take notice of some things that are supposed in the text. 1. It is supposed that there is an unseen world, as well as a seen
There is a future state into which we shall pass, when we are gone out of time. When we are dead, we are not done, but only enter into another state. This world is but the present world, so there is another world, called by our Saviour, that world, in opposition to this, Luke xx. 35.
2. That the things of the unseen world are of vastly greater importance, than those of the seen world. If we look to the upper part of the unseen world, there is a weight of glory that would infinitely counterbalance the best things here. It is called, “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” If we look to the lower part of it, there is a weight of wrath heavier by far than the worst things here.
3. We are all in our journey to the unseen world. This is but the place of our sojourning. However strongly we incline to make it our home, it will not be our long home. We can no more abide here, than a man going through a town in his journey, who comes in at one gate and goes out at another. “We have here no continuing city, but we seek one to come." One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh. The saints in glory are come to their journey's end, the damned to theirs, we are only upon the way.
4. The things that are seen in our journey are apt to entangle us, to lead us wrong, and make the end miserable. If we stand to look and gaze upon them, we are ready to be frightened, or flattered out of our way, to our ruin; for the lions have their dens there, and the leopards their haunts in the most pleasant spots of it, Song iv. 1.
Finally, As we look now in this world we will live for ever in another world. It was looking that ruined man. The eyes were
the doors by which destruction at first entered. Our first parents got their first wound in the eye, Gen. iii. 6. And it is by looking we must be saved. “Look unto me, says Jesus, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth ; for I am God, and there is none else.” And now that we are on our journey through this ensnaring world, it concerns us highly to take our view right; for if we follow the sight of the eyes in our head, it will lead us into the snare of everlasting ruin.
How shall we take our view then, that we may get safely through? To answer this, let us proceed,
II. To speak of the unseen things to which we are to look and keep in view. To represent these things fully is what no mortal can do.
“ As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” We cannot even conceive them. Yet as a traveller may look to a mountain, though he can never grasp it in his arms, so we may look to what we cannot apprehend. Take a taste of the unseen things then, in these few particulars, assuring yourselves when we have said all, the half is not told.
O ye travellers setting out to Immanuel's land, take these directions along with you. You will see many things in your way at which you must not look, but at things unseen you ought to look.
1. Look at the unseen world, the better, the heavenly country. You will see a fair faced world, a bulky vanity, upon which most men are strongly bent. But as you love your souls do not stand looking at it. You must look at and keep in view the unseen world above the skies where glory dwells. “ Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty, they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Look at Immanuel's land. It is the pleasant land. The land to which all the holy patriarchs and prophets directed their eyes. It is a better country than the best under the sun. Your Saviour is there and he bids you follow him with your eye, till you personally arrive in the happy place.
2. Look at the unseen God. You will see idols in abundance by the way, craving you to fall down and worship them. But you must look at the unseen God, as Moses did, when he was in the way, “ For he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” The seen world has three idols that keep many men in their embraces. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” But you must look at the holy Trinity, to be fully enjoyed in the unseen world. The Father, Son, and Spirit. This one God