All men value and esteem things according to their judgment of them. One man placeth his happiness in one object, another in a different object, and makes that their chief supreme good and happiness, which their judgments and apprehensions esteems such.
The covetousness man’s chief good is his white and yellow clay with which he lades himself withal, because his pur-blind eye seeth nothing in his judgment better, and there he placeth his happiness. So honor and applause is the proud and ambitious man’s chief good and happiness, pleasure and delights the carnal man’s chief good. Give each of them their desires, they will conclude there is no happier men in the world than they.
But on the contrary, a believer who hath the eyes of his understanding enlightened, his judgment and apprehension is, God is the chief good, and supreme happiness, an interest in God, a conformity to God, the enjoyment of God here and hereafter. According to men’s apprehensions of things, so are their endeavors and pursuits after them. And as a covetous and an ambitious man, and a man given to carnal pleasure, will go through much difficulty, to have their respective desires fulfilled; so will a believing soul suffer the loss of all, so he may win Christ. None but Christ, saith an illuminated believer: Whom have I in heaven but thee, or in the earth I desire in comparison of thee?
There are many good objects in heaven and earth besides thee. There are angels in heaven, and saints on earth. But, what are these to thee? Heaven without thy presence, would be no heaven to me. A palace without thee, a crown without thee, cannot satisfy me. But with thee can I be content, though in a poor cottage. With thee I am at liberty in bonds. Peace and trouble; if I have thy smiles, I can bear the worlds frowns. If I have spiritual liberty in my soul, that I can ascend to thee by faith, and have communion with thee, thou shalt choose my portion for me in this world; “For in the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.”
This is the esteem a believing soul hath of divine objects, Christ is precious to him, because he seeth him, and believeth in him. But the ignorant soul will make excuses when invited to the best of blessings, as those who were invited to the supper, Luke 14. One had married a wife, another bought a yoke of oxen, another had his farm and they could not come. Had they but known the worth of this supper, and what choice dainties there was, they would never have made such pitiful excuses. Had they but known the reconciling grace there, and seen the want of it, the pardoning, justifying grace there, and seen the want of it, had they but known that sanctifying, adopting grace, and seen the want of it, they would have left their farm, their oxen, their wife, children, and all. The soul which was once blind, and now seeth, saith of Christ and his benefits, as once the Queen of Sheba of Solomon’s wisdom and grandeur, half was not told me by the minister of that glory, beauty, excellency, grace, goodness, that I now see in him. Now, I believe not by report, as the men of Samaria said, but we have seen him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. Now, we know what is the hope of the calling of God, and what the riches of the glory of the inheritance is of the saints in light. Such a soul he enjoyeth temporal things, as if he enjoyed them not, he may have gold, silver, wife, children, possessions; but his affections, the best of his affections God hath. He hath those things, but is not defiled with them, he useth those things as the traveler doth his inn to help him to his journeys end, but as for the world, he hath all the things of it under his feet.
The following excerpt is from Hercules Collins’ A Voice from Prison (London: 1684), 17-19.