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glorious promises, which it hath pleased our gracious God so liberally to offer and reach out unto us, in our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ?
3. It was no good sign, when the precious seed of the word was received into the stony ground with such a sudden joy: hearers, resembled by that ground, give good heed to the glorious and comfortable promises, which attend religion, without having respect to many troublesome and melancholic conditions, which must necessarily go along too; and, therefore, when persecution begins, either within them, when they are commanded to strangle a lust as dear unto them, and as necessary for their employments, as an eye, or right hand; or without them, when that profession, which they have undertaken, becomes offensive or scandalous to great men; then (as if they had been mistaken in the purchase, or deceived by the preacher) the joy, so suddenly kindled, as soon vanishes, and they retire themselves home, expecting a more commodious and gainful bargain.
4. Hereupon it is, that our Saviour in this chapter spends two parables-one of a king preparing for war, the other of a builder for a house; whereby to instruct his hearers, what they should do, before they did offer to undertake his service; the sum whereof is this: that, if they had any ends and projects of their own, if they thought to serve themselves upon him, they were much deceived; that they should deeply and thoughtfully consider, of what weight and consequence the business was that they were about.
5. There is a kingdom to be obtained, and a glorious palace, wherein are to be erected many fair mansions to reign in; but it is a kingdom
that suffers violence, and the violent must take it by force: and it is a building that will exact perchance all they have, and their whole lives' labour to boot. Wherefore it is good for them to sit down, to send for their friends to counsel; to question their hearts, whether they have courage and resolution; and to examine their incomes, whether they will bear the charges; to muster soldiers for the conquest, and labourers for the building.
6. If they like these large offers, and have means enough for the employment, and are unwilling to spare for cost, let them go in God's name: there is no doubt to be made of an end, that shall fully recompense their losses, and satisfy their utmost, boldest desires, and fill the whole capacity of their thoughts. But, on the other side, unless all these conditions concur, he has so much care of their credit, that he would wish them not to set one foot further in the employment, but to betake themselves home, lest, if they should fail in the business, they should make themselves ridiculous_to the world of scorners; to whom it would be meat and drink to see some glorious fresh ruins of a building left to the fowls and beasts to inhabit; or to see a fierce, invading army forced to retire themselves home, cooled, and content with their former want and poverty.
7. Object. But might not some poor, low-minded, sinful hearer reply upon our Saviour, and inquire, whence these sums must be raised, and these forces mustered? Alas! what is a wretched mortal man, that he should think of taking heaven by composition, much more of forcing and invading it? What is there on earth to lay in balance against heaven? Has not the Spirit of God told
us, that all is vanity, nay, lighter than vanity, through all Ecclesiastes? And, again, that men of low condition are vanity, and men of high condition (to wit, such, as, because they abound with wealth, think that therefore they are in much better esteem and favour with God than their brethren) they are worse than vanity? for, as it is Psal. lxii. 9. "they are a lie;" that is, they are no such things as they take themselves for, they are quite contrary to what they seem.
8. Reply. The answer hereto is not very difficult for, it is true, if we consider our own abilities, such I mean as our forefathers have left us, it is as impossible for us, by any worth in our power to offer at the purchase of heaven, as to make a new one; yet such is the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, that so glorious a bargain is already made to our hands, the gain whereof will redound unto us upon very reasonable conditions; namely, if we can be brought to acknowledge our own beggarly, starved estate, and thereby evacuating ourselves of all manner of worth and desert in ourselves, and relying only upon his mercy, which is infinite, submitting likewise ourselves to be absolutely at his disposition without any reservation at all.
9. So that the same invaluable precious jewel, which cost the rich merchant in the parable all his estate, and had like to have made a young gentleman in the gospel turn bankrupt, may become ours, even the poorest and most despised persons amongst us; if we will be content to part with our totum nihil, all whatsoever we are, or have; if we can persuade ourselves to esteem pleasure and profit as dross and dung, when they
come in competition with this pearl; if we can readily and affectionately hate our dearest friends and kindred, even tread our parents under our feet, when they lie in our way unto Christ; if we can perfectly detest even the dearest, closest lusts and affectionate sins; finally, if our own souls become contemptible and vile in our own eyes, in respect of that glorious inheritance so dearly purchased for us; then are we rich to purchase this pearl, then are we able and sufficient to go through with this building, and strong enough to conquer this kingdom.
10. Now all this (as must be shewed in many more particulars) is properly to deny ourselves, which is a condition that our Saviour makes so necessary and inseparable in every one, that purposes to be any thing the better for him; that desires to be found in the number of those that have given up their names unto him; for, saith the text, "Jesus said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself."—Let him—
11. These few words are not conveniently capable of a division: but, taking them in gross, as a precept or law delivered by Christ, and which concerns every man, of what state or condition soever, that resolves to accept of him for a Lord and Saviour; we will proceed according to the ordinary method of expounding a law; namely, First, We will, in general, consider the nature, meaning, and extent of this law: how far the action here enjoined (which is a denying or renouncing) doth reach; and how much is comprehended in the object thereof, ourselves. Secondly, I will restrain this general duty into several special cases, which may conveniently be reduced to
three; as namely, that by virtue thereof we are bound to evacuate ourselves, and utterly deny, 1. Our own wisdom and understanding. 2. Our will and affections. And, lastly, Our own desert and righteousness.
12. Out of this commandment then, considered in general terms only (for so I shall only handle it in this hour's discourse) as it is contained in these two words, aπapvnoás0w kavrov; but two such words, so full and swelling with expression, that our language can scarce at all, or but faintly, express and render the force and vigour of them in twenty; I shall observe unto you this doctrinal position; namely, That it is absolutely and indispensably required of every man that professes Christianity, not only utterly to renounce all manner of things that thwart and oppose God's will and command, but also resolutely, and without all manner of reservation, to purpose and resolve upon the denial of whatsoever is in ourselves, or any thing else, how full of pleasure, profit, or necessity soever, though in themselves indifferent, lawful, or convenient, when they come in competition with what Christ hath enjoined us. Which, after I have explained and confirmed, by comparing this law with many other precepts of the same nature in the Holy Scripture, I shall apply unto your consciences by two useful enforcements: one, taken from the extreme undeniable reasonableness of the thing here commanded the other, from the wonderful love and kindness in the Lawgiver, that requries not so much at our hands as himself hath already voluntarily performed, and that for our sakes; for thus, or to this purpose, run the words: "If any man