FOR JESUS CHRIST IS
PRECIOUS TO BELIEVERS
1 Peter ii. 7 - Unto you therefore which believe, he
0 Beloved of the Lord, how long will ye halt between
these two opinions? If Christ be precious (as He is), then let the soul embrace
Him; and if your idols be precious, then may your souls embrace them, and
delight in them. But this we may say of precious Christ, eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive and take
up these endless and precious perfections that are in precious Christ. We shall
never be able to comprehend that excellency, and transcendent comeliness and
beauty that is in the face of Him: He is white and ruddy, the chief among
ten thousand; yea, he is altogether lovely. And 0 but He be precious.
Certainly if this question were asked of them above, What think ye of
Christ? the angels, and all the saints that are about the throne, would
venture this answer to the question, Christ is excellent and exceeding
precious, and rather a subject to admiration than to speech. And I shall say
these six things, all of which, no doubt, do preach this doctrine, that Christ
And, first, do not all these excellent graces of the
Spirit, preach this, that Christ is precious? Does not that noble grace of
faith preach this doctrine, that Christ is precious? For by it we must be
partakers of communion and fellowship with Him. And does not that excellent
grace of love preach that doctrine? For love is that grace that unites the soul
of a Christian to Christ. And does not the grace of mortification and the grace
of patience preach this, that Christ is precious?
Secondly. Ye may
read His preciousness from these senses of the enjoyment of God that the saints
in former times have had. Does not their enjoyment say that Christ is precious?
And to be brought under the shadow of the Tree of Life, and to be dandled on
His knees; for what are all enjoyments that a Christian meets with, but streams
of sweetness that flow from that ocean and fountain of everlasting pleasure?
And do not all these enjoyments preach this, that Christ is precious?
But, Thirdly. Do not these love-sicknesses that the saints of old
have had under absence and distance from Christ preach this doctrine to you,
that Christ is precious? (tho' we confess these diseases are rare in these
days); then, 0 must He not be precious, whose absence for an hour is as an
eternity, and whose presence for a thousand years is but as a little moment? 0
deserted Christians, did ye ever see Him whom your soul loveth? But I fear
presence and communion with God is a mystery, and an unknown thing to the most
Fourthly. Ye may read the preciousness of Christ from that
unspeakable sorrow and grief that the saints have had under their absence and
distance from Christ, their souls refusing to be comforted, and putting on
their mourning apparel, and eating their bread with ashes in the heaviness of
their spirits. I would ask this question of you - Why is Christ so little
precious to you? Is He less precious in Himself now than He was under the dark
Mosaic dispensation of the gospel? No certainly; He is no less precious now
than He was then.
And, fifthly, we may read Christs
preciousness from these blessed names that are given to Him in the scriptures;
whose name is the Desire of all nations; whose name is that
Plant of Renown, and the Light of that city
above, and the express Image of the Fathers person; He
is that bright and morning star, and that flower of the tribe
of Jesse. And do not all these blessed names of His preach this blessed
doctrine, that Christ is precious?
Sixthly. There is this, lastly,
that preaches Christs preciousness, and it is this - -that the most
unpleasant thing in Christ (if so we may say), is more joyful and precious than
the choicest of all created comforts. This is clear, Heb. xi, 26,
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in
Egypt. And, 0, if His reproaches be so excellent and precious, what must
His blessings and favourable manifestations be! 0 Christians, were ye never
constrained to desire the tongue of an angel, that ye might be fit to express
the praises of that Plant of Renown, even Jesus Christ? 0 Christians, were ye
never constrained, under the sense of your enjoyment of God, to cry out,
It is good for me to be here: let me make tabernacles, and a place of
abode? 0 therefore account Christ precious.
But to come to the words:
In them we have three things to be considered.
First, we have a
Christian described from that which is his noble and cardinal excellency,
believing; he is a believer.
Secondly, we have the precious
advantage that flows to a Christian from the excellency of that noble and
excellent grace of faith. And there are these two advantages:
(1) It makes
Christ precious unto the soul.
(2) It will keep a soul under the impression
of Christs preciousness: the believing soul will always account Christ
The third thing in the words is, that divine
reasonableness that faith keeps in its exercise. It is not blind; it looks to
the former verse, that because He is a corner-stone, it counts Christ precious,
which is imported in that word therefore. As for the first thing in
the words, the description of a Christian, he is a believer. Having spoken of
faith before, we shall not now much insist on it; only we shall propose these
three considerations to enforce your pursuit after this noble grace of faith.
First. Faith is that grace that gives a Christian a most broad and
comprehensive sight of Christ. It draws aside the veil off the face of Christ,
and presents His beauty to the soul. This is clear, Heb. xi, 27, He
endured, as seeing him who is invisible. It gives as clear a sight of the
invisible God to the soul (in a manner) as if he did visibly behold Him. And
there are these four principal parts of Christs body that faith lets a
(1) It will let the Christian see Christs heart. Sense
will say of Him, and to Him, thou hast the heart of an enemy; but faith will
cry out, I know the thoughts of His heart to be good towards me, to give me an
expected and blessed end.
(2) Faith (if so I may speak) looks to
Christs feet. It takes notice of the actings and motions of Christ; it
will cry out, His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine
(3) Faith beholds the smilings of Christs countenance.
When sense can read nothing in His face hut wrath and displeasure, then faith
draws aside the vail from His countenance, and reads love.
(4) Faith lets a
Christian see the hands of Christ. It beholds all His dispensations; it sees
infinite love shining in all the actions of Christ. Faith is an intelligent
grace. This is clear, Col. ii, 2, That their hearts might be comforted,
being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of
understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God.
second consideration to enforce your pursuit after this noble grace of
faith is this: Faith is that grace by which a Christian keeps most communion
and fellowship with God; Eph. iii, 17, That Christ may dwell in your
hearts by faith, as if He had said, By the exercise of all other
graces, Christ is to you as a sojourner, that turns in to you but to remain for
a night; but, by the exercise of faith, Christ becomes an indweller in your
house. Faith will entertain communion with God in crosses, in promises,
and in all duties. The believing Christian can keep fellowship with God under
his most sad and bitter afflictions.
The third consideration is
this, that faith is the mother of a Christians fruitfulness. This is
clear, John xv., 5, He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
bringeth forth much fruit; that is, he that believeth in me, etc. It is
likewise clear, 2 Pet. i., 5, And beside this, giving all diligence, add
to your faith virtue, and to your virtue knowledge; there He puts faith
in the first place; faith is always fruitful, and never barren. I would say
these two words concerning it; first, I confess, though there be a great and
marvellous barrenness amongst us, there is not great barrenness in gifts, but
in fruitfulness. 0 what can be the reason of this our unfruitfulness? Surely it
is because of the much abounding of that evil of misbelief.
would say, that a Christian may have much visible fruitfulness, when there is
much unfruitfulness in his soul, and so may be a barren Christian. By visible
fruitfulness, we mean or understand, the going about the exercise of outward
duties, when within there is nothing but barrenness in the exercise of inward
duties. And there are these four words that I would say to you concerning a
(1) A natural conscience will challenge more for the
want of outward sanctification, than for the want of inward sanctification. It
will challenge more for pollution in the outward man than for the pollution of
the inward man.
(2) It will challenge more for the neglect of the outside
of a duty, than for the neglect of secret prayer.
(3) A natural conscience
will challenge more for the commission of sin, than for the omission of duty.
If he swear, it will challenge him more for that than if he had neglected
secret prayer ten times.
(4) A natural conscience will challenge a person
more for the want of sanctification, than for the want of justification.
Now for shutting up our discourse upon this, I would, first, say this
to you, 0 Christians. Can ye read the scriptures and not be constrained to
blush? I say, are ye not made to blush when we read of holy Enoch, and of
Abraham, David, Paul, and of patient Job? When ye look unto their holy walk and
conversation, are ye not made to blush, 0 Christians? What! think ye the way to
heaven more easy then, when they lived, than it is now in our days, under the
glorious manifestation of the gospel? No, certainly it was not. It is reported
of the heathens, when reflecting upon the famous acts of their predecessors, it
bereaved them of their nights rest; and ought not the famous acts of our
predecessors bereave us of our sleep also? I must say, if Christ bring many of
the Christians of this generation to heaven, surely there must be a stronger
excrcisc of His power exercised towards us than it was before.
this secondly that I would say, and it is this, that faith is the predominant
grace of a Christian while he is here below, and love shall be the predominant
grace when he shall be above. Faith and hope fight the battle, and love divides
the spoil. Faith may be called Asher, that is, royal dainties; and it may be
called Joseph, in respect of its mother, that is, fruitfulness.
this, thirdly, I would say, that there are three idols that are a great
difficulty for a Christian to be mortified to:
(1) It is a difficulty for
him to be mortified to the applause of the world.
(2) It is a difficulty
for a Christian to be mortified to the pleasures of the world.
(3) It is a
great difficulty to be mortified to the reproaches of the world. But applause
is so far from being a blessing, that it is a woe, Luke vi, 26, Woe unto
you when all men shall speak well of you! Applause of the world is an
unconstant thing. It will cry Hosanna today, and Crucify
Now, to speak to the second part of the words, the
advantages that come to one from the exercise of faith. We told you that there
were two advantages, and now we shall first speak to this, what it is to have
Christ precious to our souls. And, we conceive, it comprehends these things:
(1) It imports this for a Christian to have an high account and estimation
of Christ above all things in the world, and to cry out, Whom have I in
heaven but thee, or in the earth that I desire besides thee.
imports this, for the soul to be much in the exercise of love to Christ, and
that is, to have Christ precious.
(3) To have Christ precious is to have
communion and fellowship with Him.
But, secondly, we shall speak to this,
how faith makes Christ precious to the soul. And the first way is, faith is the
spy of the soul; it takes a sight of the comeliness and beauty of Christ, and
it cries out, Thou art all fair, my love, and altogether lovely;
and presently on the back of that, Christ is precious. The second way how faith
makes the soul take up Christ to be precious, is this; faith is that grace that
makes up our interest and communion with Christ. It is the believing Christian
that has most communion and fellowship with Christ. There is this third way
whereby faith makes Christ precious to the soul, and it is this; faith is that
grace that believes the promises which God hath made to the soul, and that
makes Christ precious to the soul. When a Christian shall read I John iii, 2,
and faith believes it sweetly, ye shall be constrained to cry out, 0 what
a matchless one is Christ. We shall be constrained to wonder at the love
that He has had towards us. There is this fourth way how faith makes Christ
precious to the soul. It presents to the Christian the crown of glory, and lets
him see all the joys and excellencies of heaven. 0 believe it, a broad sight of
that crown, even of that glorious and immortal crown, would exceedingly commend
Christ to your souls. And there is, fifthly, this last way how faith describes
and makes Christ precious to the soul. It discovers and presents to you the
absolute necessity of embracing Jesus Christ, and that makes Christ precious to
There is this, thirdly, that we would speak to, and it is
this, to propose some evidences and marks whereby ye may know whether Christ be
precious unto you.
There is this first evidence whereby ye may try
it. These to whom Christ is precious will have a desire to His image, that is,
they will have a desire after holiness. Psalm Ii, 10, Create in me a
clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me. 0 Christians, do
you not desire to bear the image of the second Adam, as ye have borne the image
of the first Adam?
There is this second evidence. These, to whom
Christ is precious, will desire to make a continual and constant use of Christ
for justification, that they may be purged, and have the precious lineaments of
Christ drawn upon them; and they will make use of Him for wisdom, that they may
be directed aright through this wilderness; and they will make use of Him for
redemption, that they may be set free from their spiritual enemies. 0
Christians, durst ye ever say, that ever an idol did assault you, that ye did
not embrace? Oh! I fear there are many that may assent unto this truth.
There is this third evidence of those to whom Christ is precious.
They will have a desire after more fellowship and communion with God; Song i,
2, Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for thy love is better
than wine. And verse 4, Draw me, we will run after thee.
Think ye absence from Christ, though never so short, an eternity? If so, it is
an evidence that Christ is precious unto you.
There is this fourth
evidence of those to whom Christ is precious. They are exceedingly burdened
under Christs absence and withdrawing from them. The spouse vented her
respect to Christ, Song iii, where she sought him whom her soul loved; she
sought him, but she found him not; and she continued seeking until she found
him. The spouse vented her respect to Christ in these three things:
That she should have undervalued angels, as John xx, 13, They say unto
her, Woman, why weepest thou? Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know
not where they have laid him. She, as it were, turned her back on the
angels, because there was none for her but Christ. The happiness of a Christian
lies in these words, My Lord, Him have they taken away.
Christians anxiety vents itself in this, there will be an unsatisfaction
with all the graces, if he is without Christ. This is clear, Song iii, 1, 2, 3.
There she had the grace of faith, love, diligence, patience and submission; yet
notwithstanding, there is a Him absent that she wishes for.
(3) There is
this in which a Christians anxiety should vent itself, to have a low
esteem of all things under Christ; according to that, Psalm lxxvii, 3, In
the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my sore ran in the night, and ceased
not; my soul refused to be comforted.
There is the ftfth
evidence of those to whom Christ is precious, they have a spiritual
observance and Christian record of the motions of Christ under absence, so far
as they can; and when He is present they take notice when they are admitted to
taste of the apples of the tree of life, whereof if once ye shall eat, ye shall
be as gods, as the devil (or serpent) said to Eve.
And there is this
sixth evidence of those to whom Christ is precious. They will be less or
more in some measure grieved for grieving and offending Him. I fear I may say
this, to the confusion and shame of most of us, that sin was never our burden.
0 Christians, can Christ be precious to you and yet ye do not hesitate to
There is this seventh evidence of those to whom Christ
is precious. They will have a high estimation and account of union and
fellowship with Christ. 0 what do the hearts of Christians most run upon? I
fear it is not after Christ. There are some whose hearts are upon the world;
there are others whose hearts are upon the pleasures of the world; there are
some whose hearts are upon the applause of the world; and there are others
whose hearts are on the covetousness of the things of the world. This is clear,
from Ezek. xxxiii, 31, For with their mouths they shew much love, but
their heart goeth after their covetousness. 0, therefore, strive to
embrace Jesus Christ. The devil will let you give all your members to Jesus
Christ, but he says, Give me thy heart. He will let you give your eyes,
ears, hands, and feet to Christ, but says he, Give me thy heart.I
shall rank out these three sorts of persons to you that are not right in heart.
(1) There are some that have a divided heart. Certainly the devil has the
hearts of such; James iv, 8. Read the last words, Purify your hearts, ye
(2) There are some whose hearts are not divided,
namely, atheists. Their hearts are wholly given to the devil. This is clear,
Hosea iv, 17, Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone; or, as the
word is, he is married to his idols. Then surely Christ is not
precious to one of these persons. 0 Christians, has not the world your first
thoughts when ye rise in the morning, and your last thoughts when ye go to bed
at night! So that I fear our idols have always more of our thoughts than
(3) There are some whose hearts are wrestling against their
predominant lust (although I may say, there are not many such amongst us, who
make and count it their main design and business to wrestle against the devil
and his temptations), and yet not right, but falling under them.
add this last evidence of one to whom Christ is precious. They will have
some delight in duties by which communion and fellowship with God may be
attained; Song iii, 1, By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul
loveth; I sought him, but I found him not. She seeks Him from a principle
of delight, of faith, of necessity. 0 Christians, why go ye to prayer thus? I
think most of us go to prayer only from this principle to satisfy a natural
conscience. I would shut up our discourse at this time; only I say, this is an
evidence of one that has real delight to duty, he has a low estimation and
account of all things below Christ, and he has a high esteem only of Christ
Now, before I close, I would ask the atheists of this congregation
these four things.
And first, atheists, is Christ precious to you? Yes, say
ye. How is it then that ye hate the saints and people of God, if Christ be
precious to you? For surely we may be persuaded of this, that you cannot love
God, if ye have not love to His people; 1 John iv, 20, If any man say he
loves God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his
brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
Secondly, atheists, think ye Christ precious to you, when the exercise of
religion is your greatest cross and affliction that you have in the world? Do
ye not cry out in the morning, prayer is our greatest burden; and in the
evening, it is our greatest cross? And surely there are these two evils that
follow such in their prayers; they speak to God as to one of their companions,
but they lack that divine reverence that they ought to have in their approaches
to God; andthe other evil is this, they count that time that is exercised and
spent in prayer an exceeding long time; they tire in Gods company; and
may not many of us apply to ourselves these two?
There is this thirdly,
that I would say. Think ye that Christ is precious to you whose sins were never
your burden? Ye may be persuaded of it, He is not precious to you!
fourth question I would ask is this. Think ye that Christ is precious to you
who never knew what it was to distinguish betwixt absence and presence with God
in prayer? 0 Christians, are there not many here who never knew what it was to
distinguish the absence of Christ from His presence? Are there not some here
who have an unchangeable communion with God which never alters, but still is
the same? But surely such may question the reality of their communion. 0
atheists and traitors to the Son of God, study in this your day to make peace
with Him! and ye that desire your eternal well-being, study to have Christ
precious to you, otherwise He will be exceedingly terrible. 0 Christians, what
will ye answer to this, has not Christ been offered to you, and have not many
of you rejected Him and His offer? 0 know that matchless fulness and excellency
that is in Jesus Christ. What can you desire that is not in Christ? And what
can you lack who are in Him, and have Him? He is altogether lovely; He is all
desires; He is all-sufficient; He is all in all. 0 be persuaded to fall in love
with Christ and His offer; with Him who is the Desire of nations, the Flower of
the tribe of Jesse, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. 0 what can we say to
persuade you to embrace Christ, to lay hold on His offer? Sure we are, when we
shall be brought before the tribunal of God, to receive our sentence of
perpetual condemnation, that then it shall be thought that our everlasting
concernment was to have embraced Christ. We shall say no more; but know this of
certainty, that above the clouds Christ is precious, and that there is not one
there but who is crying Hallelujah to Him that sits upon the throne, and to the
Lamb for ever. Amen.
From "Twelve Select
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