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of the land, and there they dwell; but by degrees they search further and further into the heart of the country. Ah, the best of us are yet but upon the borders of this vast continent!
4. The study of Jesus Christ is the most noble subject that ever a soul spent itself upon. The angels study this doctrine, and stoop down to look into this deep abyss. What are the truths discovered in Christ, but the very secrets that from eternity lay hid in the bosom of God? Eph. 3: 8, 9. God's heart is opened to men in Christ, John, 1:18; this makes the Gospel such a glorious dispensation, because Christ is so gloriously revealed therein, 2 Cor. 3:9; and the studying of Christ in the Gospel, stamps such a heavenly glory upon the contemplating soul. Verse 18.
5. It is the most sweet and comfortable knowledge. To be studying Jesus Christ, what is it but to be digging among all the veins and springs of comfort? and the deeper you dig, the more do these springs flow upon you. How are hearts enraptured with the discoveries of Christ in the Gospel! what ecstasies, meltings, transports, do gracious souls meet there!
II. Let us compare this knowledge with all other knowledge.
1. All other knowledge is natural, but this wholly supernatural, "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Matt. 11:27. The wisest heathen could never make a discovery of Christ by their deepest searches into nature; the most eagle-eyed philosophers were but children in knowledge, compared with the most illiterate christians.
2. Other knowledge is unattainable by many. All the helps and means in the world would never enable some christians to attain the learned arts and languages; men of the brightest parts are most excellent in these;
but here is the mystery and excellency of the knowledge of Christ, that men of most blunt, dull, and contemptible parts attain, through the teaching of the Spirit, to this knowledge, in which the more acute and ingenious are utterly blind: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Matt. 11:25. "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." 1 Cor. 1: 26, 27.
3. Other knowledge, though you should attain the highest degree of it, would never bring you to heaven, the principal thing, namely Christ, being wanting. Other knowledge is also defective, in the purity of its nature: the learned heathens grew vain in their imaginations, Rom. 1:21; and in its efficacy and influence on the heart and life: they held the truth in unrighteousness: their lusts were stronger than their light, Rom. 1: 18. But this knowledge has most powerful influences, changing souls into its own image, 2 Cor. 3: 18, and so proves a saving knowledge unto men. 1 Tim. 2: 4.
INFERENCE 1. The sufficiency of the doctrine of Christ, to make men wise unto salvation. Paul desired to know nothing else; and, indeed, nothing else is of absolute necessity to be known. A little of this knowledge, if saving and effectual upon thy heart, will do the soul more service than all the vain speculation and profound parts in which others so much glory. Poor christian, be not dejected, because thou seest thyself outstript and excelled by so many in other parts of knowledge; if thou know Jesus Christ, thou knowest enough to comfort and save thy soul. Many learned philosophers are now in hell, and many illiterate chris
tians in heaven.
2. If there be such excellency in the knowledge of Christ, let it humble all, both saints and sinners, that we have no more of this clear and effectual knowledge in us, notwithstanding the excellent advantages we have had for it. Sinners, concerning you I may sigh, and say with the apostle, "Some have not the knowledge of Christ; I speak this to your shame." 1 Cor. 15:34. This, oh! this is the condemnation. And even for you that are enlightened in this knowledge, how little do you know of Jesus Christ, in comparison of what you might have known of him! What a shame is it, that you should need to be taught the very first truths, "when for the time you might have been teachers of others!" Heb. 5: 12-14. "That your ministers cannot speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." 1 Cor. 3: 1, 2. Oh, how much time is spent in cther studies, in frivolous reading, vain discourse, worldly employments! how little in the search and study of Jesus Christ!
3. How sad is their condition that have a knowledge of Christ, and yet as to themselves it had been better they had never had it! Many there be that content themselves with a merely speculative, ineffectual, knowledge of him of such the apostle says, "It had been better for them not to have known." 2 Pet. 2:21. It serves only to aggravate their sin and misery; for though it be not enough to save them, yet it puts some weak restraints upon sin, which their impetuous lusts breaking down, they are thereby exposed to a greater damnation.
4. This may inform us by what rule to judge both ministers and doctrine. Certainly that is the highest commendation of a minister, to be an able minister of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit." 2 Cor. 3:6. He is the best preacher, that can in the most lively and powerful manner display Jesus Christ
before the people, evidently setting him forth as crucified among them; and that is the best sermon which is most full of Christ, not of rhetorical art. I know that a holy dialect well becometh Christ's ministers; they should not be rude and careless in language or method; but surely the excellency of a sermon lies not in that, but in the plainest exhibition and liveliest application of Jesus Christ.
5. Let all that mind the honor of religion, or the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified, Wherefore spend we ourselves upon other studies, when all excellency, sweetness, and desirableness is centred in this one? Jesus Christ is fairer than the children of men, the chiefest among ten thousands, "as the appletree among the trees of the wood." Cant. 2:3. Those things which singly most delight the souls of men, are all found conjoined in Christ. Oh what a blessed Christ is this! whom to know is eternal life. From the knowledge of Jesus Christ do bud forth all the fruits of comfort, and that for all seasons and conditions. Hence he is represented by "the tree of life, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Rev. 22: 2. In him souls have all necessaries for food and medicine; and all varieties of fruits,-twelve manner of fruits; a distinct sweetness in each and every attribute, promise, ordinance. In him are these fruits at all times, fruits every month; winter fruits as well as summer fruits. Oh then study Christ, study to know him more extensively. There are many excellent things in Christ, which the most eagle-eyed believer has not yet seen: ah! it is a pity that any thing of Christ should lie hid from his people. Study to know Christ more intensely, to get the experimental taste and lively power of his knowledge upon your heart and affections: this is
the knowledge that carries all the sweetness and comfort in it. Christian, I dare appeal to thy experience, whether the enjoyment of Jesus Christ, in ordinances and duties, has not a higher and sweeter relish than any created enjoyment thou didst ever taste in this world? Oh then separate, devote, and wholly give thyself, thy time, thy strength to this most sweet, transcendent study.
6. Let me close the whole with a double caution: one to ourselves, who by our calling and profession are the ministers of Christ; another to those that sit under the doctrine of Christ daily.
As to ministers: if this doctrine be the most excellent, necessary, fundamental, profound, noble, and comfortable doctrine, let us then take heed lest, while we study to be exact in other things, we be found ignorant in this. Ye know it is ignominious, by the common suffrage of the civilized world, for any man to be unacquainted with his own calling, or not attend to the proper business of it: it is our calling, as the Bridegroom's friends, to woo and win souls to Christ, to set him forth to the people as crucified among them, Gal. 3:1; to present him in all his attractive excellencies, that all hearts may be ravished with his beauty, and charmed into his arms by love: : we must also be able to defend the truths of Christ against undermining heretics, to instil his knowledge into the ignorant, to answer the cases and scruples of poor doubting christians. How many intricate knots have we to untie! What pains, what skill is requisite for such as are employed about our work! And shall we spend our precious time in frivolous controversies, philosophical niceties, dry and barren scholastic notions? Shall we study every thing but Christ ? revolve all volumes but the sacred one? What is observed even of Bellarmine, that he turned with loathing from school divinity, because it wanted the sweet savor of piety, may be a reproof to many among us, who are often too