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convey the truths of God to posterity: but since the sacred truth hath been consigned to writing no suck tradition (except fully consentient with that written word) is to be received as authentic ; but the truths therein delivered to the faints, are, by verbal declarations, open confsjisns, and constant sufferings, to be preserved and delivered from age to age. This was the constant care of the whole cloud of witnesses, both ancient and modern, who have kept the word of God's patience, and would not accept their own lives, liberties, or estates, no, nor the whole world in exchange for that invaluable treasure of truth: they have carefully practised Solomon's counsel, Prov. xxiii. 23. "Buy the truth, but sell it not;" they would not alienate that fair inheritance for all the inheritances on earth. Upon the fame reasons that you refuse to part with, or imbezzle your estates, Christians also refuse to part with the truth of God.
1. You will not waste or alienate your inheritance, because it is precious, and of great value in your eyes; but much more precious are God's truths to his people. Luther professed, he would not take the whole world for one leaf of his Bible. Though some profane persons may fay with Pilate, What is truth? Yet know, that any one truth of the gospel is more worth than all the inheritances upon earth; they are the great things of God's law; and he that fells them for the greatest things in this world, makes a soul-undoing bargain.
2. You will not waste or part with your inheritance, because you know your posterity will be much wronged by it. They that daffle or drink away an estate, drink the tears of their fad widows, and the very blood of their impoverished children. The people of God do also consider, how much the generations to come are concerned in the conservation of the truths of God for them: It cuts them to the heart, but to think that their children should be brought up to worship dumb idols, and fall down before a wooden and breaden God. The very birds and beasts will expose their own bodies to apparent danger of death, to preserve their young. Religion doth much more tender the hearts and bowels than nature doth.
3. You reckon it a foul disgrace to sell your estates, and become bankrupts; it is a word that bears ill among you : and a Christian accounts it the highest reproach in the world, to be a traitor to, or an apostate from the truths of God. When the primitive saints were strictly required to deliver up their Bibles, those that did so, were justly branded, and hissed out of their company, under the odious title of traditores, or deliverers.
4. You are so loth to part with your estates, because you know it is hard recovering an estate again when once you have lost it. Christians do also know how difficult it will be for the people of God, in times to come, to recover the light of the gospel again, if once it be extinguished. There is no truth of God recovered out of Antichrist's hands, without great wrestlings and much blood. The church may call every point of reformed doctrine and discipline so recovered, her Naphtalies; for with great wrestlings she hath wrestled for them; "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to "them," Jude 3.
5. To conclude; rather than you will part with your estates, you will choose to suffer many wants and hardships all your lives; you will fare hard, and go bare, to preserve what you have for your posterity: but the people of God have put themselves upon far greater hardships than these to preserve truth; they have chosen to suffer reproaches, poverty, prisons, death, and the most cruel torments, rather than the loss of God's truth, all the martyrologies will inform you what their sufferings have been, to keep the word of God's patience; they have boldly told their enemies, that they might pluck their hearts out of their bodies, but should never pluck the truth out of their hearts.
"i. Base unbelieving heart! How have I flinched and sunk from truth, when it hath been in danger? I have raArefletHonfor cow- ther chosen to leave it than my life, liberty, or ardly and faint- estate, as a prey to the enemy. I have left truth, hearted professors, and just it is that the God of truth should leave me. Cowardly soul! that durst not make a stand for the truth: yea, rather bold and daring foul! that would rather venture to look a wrathful God, than an angry man in the face. I would not own and preserve the truth, and the God of truth will not own me; 2 Tim. ii. 12. " If we deny him, he will deny us."
2. Lord! unto me hast thou committed the precious treasure and
trust of truth; and as I received it, so do I desire ArtfleEiionforfuch to deliver it to the generations to come, that the as suffer for truth. people which are yet unborn may praise the
Lord. God forbid I should ever part with such a fair inheritance, and thereby beggar my own, and thousands of fouls! Thou hast given me thy truth, and the world hates me; I well know that it is the ground of the quarrel. Would I but'throw truth over the walls, how soon would a retreat be sounded to all persecutors? But, Lord, thy truth is invaluably precious. What a vile thing is my blood, compared with the least of all thy truths? Thou hast charged me not to fell it; and, in thy strength, I resolve never to pass a fine, and cut off that golden line whereby thy truths are entailed upon thy people from generation to generation: my friends may go, my liberty may go, my blood may go; but as for thee, precious truth, thou shalt never go.
3. How dear hath this inheritance of truth cost some Christians?
How little hath it cost us? We are entered into A reflectionfor such their labours; we reap in peace what they sowed as are in quietpos- in tears, yea, in blood. O the grievous suffersession of truth. ings that they chose to endure! Rather than to
deprive us of such an inheritance, those noble
souls, heated with the love of Christ, and care for our fouls, made many bold and brave adventures for it; and yet at what a low rate do we value what cost them for, dear? Like young heirs that never knew the getting of an estate, we spend it freely. Lord, help us thankfully and diligently to improve thy truths, while we are in quiet possession of them. Such intervals of peace and rest are usually of no long continuance with thy people.
A PUBLIC spirit scorns to plant no root
We eat what they did set: and shall truth sail
Upon the Husbandman's Care to prove and prdlive his Deeds.
Deeds for our lands you prove, and Tcrep with care';
WE generally find men are not more careful in trying gold, or in keeping it, than they are in examining their deeds, and preserving them; these are virtually their whole estate, and therefore it concerns them to be careful of them: if they suspect a flaw in their lease or deed, they repair to the ablest counsel, submit it to his judgment, make the. worst of their cause, and query about all the supposeable danger with him. If he tell them their case is suspicious and hazardous, how much are they perplexed and troubled? They can neither eat, drink, nor sleep in peace, till they have a good settlement; and willing they are to be at much cost and pains to obtain it.
THESE cares and fears with which you are perplexed in such cases, may give you a little glimpse of those troubles of foul, with which the people of God are perplexed about their eternal condition; which, perhaps, you have been hitherto unacquainted with, and therefore slighted them, as fancies and whimsies: I fay, your own fears and troubles, if ever you were engaged by a cunning and powerful adversary in a law-suit for your estate, may give you a little glimpse of spiritual troubles; and indeed it is no more but a glimpse of them: for, as the loss of an earthly, though fair, inheritance, is but a trifle to the loss of God and the soul to eternity; so you cannot but imagine, that the cares, fears, and solicitudes of souls about these things, are much, very much beyond yours. Let us compare the cafes, and fee how they answer to each other.
1. You have evidences for your estates, and by them you hold what you have in the world : They also have evidences for their estate in Christ, and glory to come; they hold all in capite, by virtue of their intermarriage with Jesus Christ; they come to be instated in that glorious inheritance contained in the covenant of grace. You have their tenure in that scripture, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. "All is yours, for ye are "Christ's, and Christ is God's." Faith unites them to him, and after they believe, they are sealed by the Spirit of promise, Eph. i. 13. They can lay claim to no promise upon any other ground; this is their title to all that they own as theirs.
1. It often falls out. that after the sealing and executing of your deeds, or leases, an adversary finds some dubious clause in them, and thereupon commences a suit at law with you. Thus it frequently falls out with the people of God, who after their believing and sealing time, have doubts and scruples raised in them about their title. Nothing is more common, than for the devil, and their own unbelief, to start controversies, and raise strong objections against theirjnterest in Christ, and the covenant of promises. These are cunning and potent adversaries, and do maintain long debates with the gracious foul, and reason for, cunningly and sophistically with it, that it can by no means extricate and satisfy itself} always alledging, that their title is worth nothing, which they, poor souls, are but too apt to suspect.
3- All the while that a suit of law is depending about your title, you have but little comfort or benefit from your estate; you cannot look upon it as your own, nor lay out monies in building or dressing for fear you should lose all at last. Just thus stands the cafe with doubting Christians; they have little comfort from the most comfortable promises, little benefit from the sweetest duties and ordinances: They put off their own comforts, and fay, if we were sure that all this were ours, we would then rejoice in them. But, alas! our title is dubious: Christ is a precious Christ; the promises are comfortable things j but what, if they be none of ours? Ah! how little doth the doubting Christian make of his large and rich inheritance?
4. You dare not trust your own judgments in such cases, but state your cafe to such as are learned in the laws, and are willing to get the ablest counsel you can to advise you. So are poor doubting Christians j they carry their cafes from Christian to Christian, and from minister to minister, with such requests as these: Pray tell me, what do you think of my condition? Deal plainly and faithfully with me; these be my grounds of doubting, and these my grounds of hope. O hide nothing from me! And if they all agrees that the cafe is good, yet they cannot be satisfied till God fay so too, and confirm the word of his servants; and therefore they carry the case often before him in such words as these, Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24. "Search "me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, "and fee if there be any wicked way in me."
5. You have little quiet in your spirits, till the case be resolved; your meat and drink doth you little good; you cannot sleep in the night, because these troubled thoughts are ever returning upon you; what if I should be turned out of all at last? So it is with gracious fouls; their eyes are held waking in the night, by reason of the troubles of their hearts, Psalm lxxvii. 4. Such fears as these are frequently returning upon their hearts, what if I should be found a fclf-decciver at last .'What if I but hug a phantasm instead of Christ? How can this, or that, consist with grace? Their meat and drink doth them little good ; their bodies are often macerated by the troubles of their souls.
6. You will not make the best of your condition, when you state your case to a faithful counsellor; neither will they, but oftentimes
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