« AnteriorContinuar »
for it is a man's all. Take the heart, and you | degree, as to sacrifice their dearest blood for have the mau by consequence.
Govern the the preservation of one, and vindication of the spring, and you command the motion. The other. But still, this is the sure, infallible whole man (as I may so express it) is but the test of love, that the measure of its strength appendix of his own heart.
is to be taken by the fastness of its hold. 4thly and lastly, Whatsoever a man ac Benjamin was apparently dearest to his counts his treasure, for the preservation of father, because he was still kept with him, that he will part with all other things, if he while the rest of his brethren were sent from cannot enjoy that and them together. See a him. He was to him as the “apple of his merchant in a storm at sea, and what he eye;" and therefore no wonder if he could values most he will be sure to throw overboard not endure to have him out of it. last ; every man, when he is exposed to any And thus I have done with the first consigreat and imminent danger, marshals his deration of the words ; namely, as they are an enjoyments just as Jacob did his family, when entire proposition in themselves. I come now he was to meet his brother Esau, whom he to the was in such fear of, (Gen. xxxiii. 2;) the Second ; to wit, as they are an argument handmaids and their children he put foremost ; relating to, and enforcing of the foregoing Leah and her children next; but Rachel and precept in the 19th and 20th verses, her children the hindermost of all. The rea not up for yourselves treasures on earth, son of which was, because he had set his heart where moth and rust do corrupt, and thieves most upon her, and therefore would have her break through and steal; but lay up for yourfarthest from the danger, if it might be escaped, selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth and last in the suffering, if it proved unavoid nor rust do corrupt, nor thieves break through able. A father will be rather stripped of his and steal. For where your treasure is, there estate, than bereaved of his children ; and if will your heart be also." The force of which he cannot keep them all, he will (though argument is founded upon this clear and conwith the loss of the rest) redeem the sou of vincing ratiocination ; to wit, that it is infihis affections.
nitely foolish, and below a rational creature, It is possible, indeed, that a man himself to place his heart upon that, which is by may not always perfectly know what he loves no means worth the placing his heart upon; most, till some notable trial comes, which and therefore, since it is undeniably evident, shall separate between him and what he has, that a man will place his heart upon that and call for all his enjoyments one after which he makes his treasure, it follows, that another; and then presently his eyes shall be he cannot without extreme folly make any opened, and he shall plainly find, that the thing his treasure, which can neither be segarment which sits nearest to him, shall by cured from rapine nor preserved from corruphis good-will be last torn from him. Bring tion; as it is certain that nothing in this a mau under persecution, and that shall tell
world can. him, whether the peace of his conscience, or This, I say, is the sum and force of our the security of his fortune, be the thing which Saviour's argument: in pursuit of which, we he prefers and values most. That shall tell are to observe, that there are two things which him, whether he had rather be plundered or offer themselves to mankind, as rivals for perjured ; and whether the guilt of rebellion their affections; to wit, God and the world ; and sacrilege does not strike a greater horror the things of this present life and of the into him, than all the miseries of an ejectment future. And the whole strength of our or sequestration. But if, at the critical time Saviour's discourse bears upon this supposiof trial, such an one shall surrender up his tion, that it is impossible for a man to fix his conscience, that he may continue warm in his heart upon both. No man can make religion house and his estate, let him no longer doubt his business and the world too: no man can what it is that is his treasure, and what lies have two chief goods. It is indeed more imdeepest in his heart. For it is that which he possible than to serve two masters; forascan most hardly be without. But his con much as the heart is more laid out upon what science, it seems, he can easily shake hands man loves, than upon what he serves. with; and therefore, wheresoever he may Besides that the soul is but of a stinted operaplace his religion, it is certain that he places tion; and cannot exert its full force and his happiness somewhere else.
vigour upon two diverse, and much less con“Skin for skin, and all that a man has will trary objects. For that one of them will be he give for his life,” (commonly speaking ;) perpetually counterworking the other; and so but let a man love any thing better than his far as the soul iuclives to one, it must in prolife, and life itself shall be given for it. And portion leave, and go off from the other, so the world has seen the experiment; for some that an equal adhesion to them both implies have loved their country better than their in it a perfect contradiction. For why else lives, and accordingly have died for it: and should the word of truth so positively tell us, some their parents, some their honour, to that " that if we love the world, the love of the
Father is not, cannot be in us?”' 1 John ii. 15. to God, than by proving the absurdity of Men, I know, think to join both, but it is placing it upon the world. And that will because they understand neither. For
appear upon a double account: must first have two hearts, and two souls, and i. If we consider the world in comparison two selves, before he cau give an heart to God with the heart or mind of man. And, and an heart to the world too. And there 2. If we consider it absolutely in itself. fore Christ does not state this matter upon a And, bare priority of acquisition, as if he had bid 1. If we consider it in comparison with the men “ first lay up treasures for themselves in heart of man, we shall find that the heart has heaven," and after that allowed them, with a superlative worth and excellency above any the same earnestness, to provide themselves thing in this world besides; and therefore “ treasures here on earth” likewise, (and so ought by no means to be bestowed or laid out by that means successively grasp the full upon things so vastly inferior to itself. For happiness of both worlds :) for he knew that it is that noble part of man which God has the very nature of the thing itself made this drawn and imprinted a lively portraiture of impracticable, and not to be effected; foras his own divine nature upon; that part which much as the acquisition of either world would he has designed for his own peculiar use. certainly engage and take up the whole man, For God made the heart for no other purpose and consequently leave nothing of him to be but that he might dwell in it; giving us employed about acquiring the other.
understandings able to pierce into and look Whereupon Abraham speaking to the rich through the fairest and most specious offers of man in the gospel, who had flourished in his this world, together with affections large “purple and fine linen, and fared deliciously enough to swallow and take down all that the every day," tells him, “that he, in his life whole creation can set before them, and yet time, had received his good things." His they remain hungry and unsatisfied still. And are are called emphatically, his by peculiar choice. such faculties as these, think we, fit to be They were the things he chiefly valued and entertained only with froth and wind, emptipitched upon, as the most likely to make him ness and delusion? And those things can be happy; and consequently, having actually no more, which are always promising satisenjoyed them, and thereby compassed the faction, but never give it. For surely such utmost of his desires, his happiness was at an low enjoyments as meat, drink, and clothes, end: he had his option; and there was no are not sufficient to satisfy or make a man farther provision for him in the other world: happy; and yet all the necessities of the nor indeed was it possible that he should natural life are fully answered by these ; and find any, where he had laid up none. Those whatsoever, upon that account, is désired words of our Saviour being most assuredly more, is but the result of a false appetite, true, whether applied to men's endeavours founded in no real want, but only in fancy after the things of this life, or of another, and opinion. Nevertheless, there are, I con" that verily they have their reward.” That fess, spiritual wants, which nothing can is to say, the result and issue of their labours satisfy but what is supernatural. will still be suitable to the end which And therefore the great and good God, who governed and directed them. For where men gave us our very being, and so can need sow, there they must expect to reap; it being nothing that we either are or have, yet vouchinfinitely absurd to bury their seed in the safes to solicit, and even court our affections ; earth, and to expect a crop in heaven. And and sets no other price upon heaven, glory, accordingly, in the 11th of the Hebrews, we and immortality, nay, and upon himself too, find, that at the same time the saints of old but our love ; there being nothing truly great (there spoken of) declared themselves expec- and glorious, which a creature is capable of tants of a land of promise hereafter, they also enjoying, but God is ready to give it a man declared themselves strangers and pilgrims in exchange for his heart. here. And therefore, let not men mock and How high is reason, and how strong is deceive themselves, by thinking to compass love ! and surely God never gave the soul two heaven with one hand, and earth with the such wings, only that we might creep upon other; and so to reign as princes in both the ground, and place our heart and our foot For the wisdom of God has decreed it other- upou the same level. Let the epicure, therewise ; and judged one world enough for one fore, or voluptuous man, from amongst all his man, though it gives him his choice of two. pleasures, single out that one which he reckons
It being clear, therefore, that a man cannot the best, the fullest, and most refined of all set his heart both upon God and the world the rest, and offer it to his reason and affectoo, as his treasure, or chief good : let us, in the tions, and see whether it can so acquit itself next place, see which of these two bids highest to the searching impartial judgment of the for this great prize, the heart of man. And one, and the unlimited appetite of the other, since there are but these two, there cannot be that, when he shall have took his utmost filí a more expedite way to evince that it belongs of it, and gone off from the enjoyment, he
shall be able to say, Here have I found all the vilest and most contemptible things in nature; satisfaction that could be thought of, or ima- by rust and cankers, moths and vermin, things gined; or his affections be able to tell him, which grow out of the very subject they Here have we had all the sweetness that could destroy, and so make the destruction of it be wished for or desired. But, on the con inevitable. And how can any better be extrary, do they not rather depart thirsty and pected, when men will rather dig their melancholy, and abashed with the present treasure and comforts from beneath, than sense of their disappointment, and still casting fetch them from above? For it is impossible about for something or other, to piece up the for such “mortals to put on immortality," or flaws and defects of such broken fruitions ? for things, in the very nature of them calcuSo vast a difference is there in these matters lated but for a few days, to last for ever. All between surfeit and satisfaction.
sublunary comforts imitate the changeableness, The heart of man is intimately conscious to as well as feel the influence of the planet they itself of its own worth and prerogative ; and are under. Time, like a river, carries them therefore is never put to search for any thing all away with a rapid course; they swim of enjoyment here below, but it does it with above the stream for a while, but are quickly a secret regret and disdain, scorn and indigna- swallowed up, and seen no more. tion ; like a prince imprisoned, and forced to monuments men raise to perpetuate their be ruled and fed by his own subjects: for so names, consume and moulder away themit is with that divine being, the soul, while selves, and proclaim their own mortality, as depressed by the body to a condition so much well as testify that of others. In a word, below itself.
all these earthly funds have deficiencies in But God sent not man into the world with them never to be made up. such mighty endowments, so much to enjoy But now, ou the other side, the enjoyments it, as to have the honour of despising it; and, above, and the treasures proposed to us by upon a full experience of its woful vanity, to our Saviour, are indefectible in their nature, find cause in all his thoughts and desires to and endless in their duration. They are still return and fly back to his Maker ; like the full, fresh, and entire, like the stars and orbs dove to the ark, when it could rest no where above, which shine with the same undimielse. But,
nished lustre, and move with the same un2. We are to consider the world absolutely wearied motion, with which they did from in itself; and so we shall find the most valued the first date of their creation. Nay, the joys enjoyments of it embased by these two quali- of heaven will abide when these lights of fications. 1. That they are perishing. And, heaven shall be put out; and when sun and 2. That they are out of our power. One of moon, and nature itself shall be discharged them expressed by “moths and rust corrupt- their stations, and be employed by Providence ing them,” and the other by “ thieves break no more, the righteous shall then appear in ing through, and stealing them.” The first their full glory; and, being fixed in the divine representing them as subject to decay from a presence, enjoy one perpetual and everlasting principle within; the second, as liable to be day; a day commensurate to the unlimited forced from us by a violence from without ; eternity of God himself; the great Sun of and so upon both accounts utterly unable righteousness, who is always rising, and never to make men happy, and consequently un sets. worthy to take possession of their hearts. 2. The other degrading qualification of these
1. And first, for the perishing state and worldly enjoyments is, that they are out of quality of all these worldly enjoyments : a our power. And surely that is very unfit for thing so evident, or rather obvious to com a man to account his treasure, which he canmon sense and experience, that no man in not so much as call his own ; nor extend his his right wits can really doubt of it, and yet title to, so far as the very next minute; as so universally contradicted by men's practice, having no command nor hold of it at all that scarce any man seems to believe it. No, beyond the present actual possession ; and the though the Spirit of God in Scripture is as compass of the present, all know, is but one full and home in the character it gives of these remove from nothing. A rich man to-day, things, as experience itself can be ; sometimes and a beggar to-morrow, is neither new nor expressing them by. fashions, which, we wonderful in the experience of the world : for know, are always changing ; and sometimes he who is rich now, must ask the rapacity of by shadows, which no man can take any hold thieves, pirates, and tyrants, how long he of; and sometimes by dreams, which are all shall continue só; and rest content to be happy mockery and delusion : thus degrading the for just so much time as the pride and violence, most admired grandeurs of the world from the cruelty and avarice of the worst of men realities to bare appearances, and from appear- shall permit him to be so; a comfortable ances to mere nothings.
tenure, doubtless, for a man to hold his chief Nor do they fail only, and lose that little happiness by. worth they have, but they do it also by the But now, on the contrary, nothing is so
absolutely and essentially necessary to render going particulars shall be briefly to convince any thing a man's treasure or chief good, as us of the extreme vanity of most men's prethat he have a property in it and a power tences to religion. A man's religion is all the over it; without which, it will be impossible claim he has to the felicities of another world. for him to be sure of any relief from it when But can we think it possible in nature, for a he shall most need it. For how can he be man to place his greatest happiness where he sure of that, of which he has no command ? does not place his strongest affections ? How And how can he command that, which a little is the other world in most men's thoughts, greater force than his own shall lay claim to? and yet they can have the confidence to preFor let those puny things, called law and tend it to be the grand object of their desires. right, say what they will to the contrary, if | But why should men, in their greatest conthe matter comes once to a dispute, all the cern, be so false to their own experience, and good things a man has of this world will be those constant observations which they make his, who has the strongest arm and the of themselves in other matters ? For let any sharpest sword, or the corruptest judge on man consult and ask his own heart, whether, his side. They are the prey of the mighty, having once fixed his love upon any thing or and the prize of victorious villainy; subject person, his thoughts are not always running to be torn and ravished from him upon all after it? Strong love is a bias upon the occasions.
thoughts; and for a man to love earnestly, Nor has the providence of God thought it and not to think almost continually of what worth while to secure and protect the very he loves, is as impossible, as for him to live, best of men in their rights to any enjoyment and not to breathe. under heaven; and all this to depress and But besides this, we have shewn several vilify these things in their thoughts; that so other marks and properties, by which men they may every day find a necessity of placing may infallibly judge of the truth and firmness thein above, and of bestowing their pains up of their love to God and to religion; as for on that which, if they pursue, they shall cer instance, can they affirm religion to be that tainly obtain; and if they obtain, they shall which has got such hold of their hearts, that impregnably keep. “My peace I leave with no time, cost, or labour, shall be thought too you, my peace I give unto you," says our much to be laid out upon it? Is it the prize Saviour;
not as the world giveth, give I they run for? Is it the thing they delight unto you." Why? What was the diffe- in? the thing with which, in all their disrence? He tells us in John, xvi. 22, “ Your tresses, they support and keep up their sinking joy no man taketh from you.” It was such spirits? And lastly, is it that which they a joy or peace as was to be above the reach of value to such a degree, as to be willing to either fraud or force, artifice or assault; which part with all the world rather than lose or can never be said of any earthly enjoyment renounce it? These are great things, I whatsoever, either as to the acquisition or confess; and yet nothing less will reach the possession of it: God having made no man measures of Christianity. any promise, that by all his virtue and inno But the lives of men (unanswerable argucence, all his skill and industry, he shall be ments in this case) are à sad demonstration able to continue in health, wealth, or honour; | how few they are who come up to these but that, after his utmost endeavour to pre- terms. Men may indeed now and then serve those desirable things, he may in the bestow some scattering thoughts upon their issue lose them all.
souls and their future estate, provided they But God has promised and engaged to be at full leisure from their business and mankind, that whosoever shall faithfully and their sports, (which they seldom or never constantly persevere in the duties of a pious, are ;) and if at any time they should be so, Christian life, shall obtain“ an eternal crown this could amount to no more than their of glory,” and an “inheritance that fadeth being religious when they have nothing else not away.” A man cannot indeed by all his to do. Likewise, when the solemn returns of piety secure his estate, but he may“ make God's public worship, and the law and cushis calling and election sure ;" which is in tom of the nation shall call them off from finitely and unspeakably more valuable, than their daily employments to better things, they all the estates, pleasures, and greatness of the may perhaps, by a few devout looks and world. For all these are without him, and words, put on something of a holyday dress consequently may be taken from him, and, for the present ; which yet
, like their Sunwhich is yet worse, may do bim no good, day clothes, they are sure to lay aside again even while they stay with him. But the for the whole week after. All which, and a conscience is a sure repository for a man great deal more, is far short of making reto lodge and preserve his treasure in, the ligion a man's business, though yet, if it bo chest of his own heart can never be forced not so, it is in effect nothing. open.
And this men know well enough, when Now the use and improvement of the fore they are to deal in matters of this world ; in
which no pains nor importunity shall be had been good for him that he had never thought too great, no attendance too servile, come into it. For what can it avail a man to nothing (in a word) too hard to be done or pass from misery to misery, and to make one suffered, either to recruit a broken fortune, or wretched life only a preparative to another ? to regain a disgusted friend ; though, after all, In fine, this we may with great boldness should a man chance to recover both, he can- venture to affirm, that if men would be at not be sure of keeping either. In like half the pains to provide themselves“ treamanner, let the trading person suffer any sures in heaven,” which they are generally at considerable damage in the stock with which to get estates here on earth, it were impossible he trades; what care, what parsimony, what for any man to be damned. But when we art shall be used to make up the breach, and come to earthly matters, we do; when to keep the shop still open ! And the reason heavenly, we only discourse : heaven has our of all this is, because the man is in earnest in, tongue and talk ; but the earth our whole what he does, and accordingly, acts as one man besides. who is so. Whereas, in men's spiritual affairs, Nevertheless, let men rest assured of this, look all the world over, and you shall every 'that God has so ordered the great business of day see, that the sins which wound and waste, their eternal happiness, that their affections and make havock of the conscience, which must still be the forerunners of their persons, divide and cut it off from God, are committed the constant harbingers appointed by God to easily, and passed over lightly, and owned go and take possession of those glorious manconfidently, with a bold front and a brazen sions for them; and consequently, that po face, able to look the pillory itself out of coun man shall ever come to heaven himself, who tenance ; nor does any one almost think himself has not sent his heart thither before him, so mortally struck, even by the foulest guilt, For where this leads the way, the other will as to need the balsam of an immediate repen- be sure to follow. tance, and a present suing out of pardon at Now to him who alone is the great Judge the throne of grace. And yet if a man dies, of hearts, and rewarder of persons, be renas to his temporal condition, poor and bank- dered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, rupt, he is not at all the worse : but if he might, majesty, and dominion, both now goes out of the world unreconciled to God, it and for evermore. Amen.
TO THE REVEREND, LEARNED, AND VERY WORTHY
DR ROBERT FREIND,
THE OTHER SUBORDINATE MASTERS OF THE SAME ;
WHO AT PRESENT ACTUALLY ARE,
NEXT IN PAMS TO
ITS GLORIOUS FOUNDRESS, QUEEN ELIZABETH ;
HUMBLY DEDICATES THIS
FIFTH VOLUME* OF HIS SERMONS,
AS STANDING FOR EVER OBLIGED BY THE MOST SACRED TIES OF GRATITUDE; AND TAE WORK ITSELF NO LESS OWING ALL THAT IS VALUABLE IN IT (IF ANY THING TAEREIN OUGHT TO BE ACCOUNTED REALLY SO) TO THE AUTHOR'S EDUCATION
IN THAT RENOWNED SEMINARY OF LEARNING, LOYALTY, AND RELIGION.
* This refers to the twelve sermons next following.