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blessed condition is this, that exempts a man from a possibility of being under affliction, as to outward things!
Thns it will be with you, if you have laid up your treasure ia heaven. It will satisfy you, and make every outward condition satisfactory also; and that, for Two reasons.
(1) It will beget in you mean and light thoughts of all things here below.
You will rate them no higher than the Apostle doth; but loss and dung: and will any man be discontented or troubled what befals such things; what becomes of his losses, and of his dung and dross? Suppose a sweeping shower should upon a sudden fall, and wash away the loose dust that lies upon your ground, would you count this a loss of your land? would any of you be troubled at this, as being bereaved of part of your estate? Truly, to a child of God all the things of the world are no other; and, if a tempest of Providence suddenly sweeps them away, he is not troubled at it: he counts it no loss of his inheritance: the dust only U washed away, but the land is safe still. Truly, none in the world abound more with superfluities, than a Saint doth. Take a Wicked Man, upon whom all the store and abundance of the world do empty themselves; upon whom riches, and honours, and pleasures flow in, in a full tide, and all unburthen themselves into his bosom; yet, poor man! he hath no more than he needs: and it is no wonder that he calls them by great names, this thing a Crown, and that thing a Kingdom and Treasure: alas! these poor deceits are all, that he hath to please himself with, to call little things by great and swelling names... But to a Saint, that hath nothing but food and raiment, even they are superfluities, whilst God and Christ is his: and, if God casts in more to him, he values them as mercies, but not as his treasure; or, if God calls them back again, he looks upon them not as a loss, but as a riddance. If you make a thousand cyphers, yet they amount to nothing: and add a figure of one to these, still they stand but for one: such are the things of the world to a child of God: all worldly enjoyments are but as so many cyphers in his accompt: he reckons only upon one God; and, therefore, he is at a point how God deals with him as to these things: if he giyes or if he takes away, he says, Blessed be the mine of the Lord.
Thus, Beloved, if you have laid up your treasure in heaven, you will have but mean and, slight thoughts of all other things. besides.
(2) Treasure laid up in heaven will make all things satisfactory to you, because every condition that you are in will be to your advantage.
Nay, you will look upon any condition that you are in, as a condition of love. Every mercy, that is bestowed upon you, is a love-token sent you, by a gracious Father: the soul, that once can say " God is mine," will be able to say, "This comfort and that mercy were given me from the love of Cod: J have his heart with it: Iobserved the countenance of my Father; and I saw him smile, upon my soul, when he gave .it. me".,; Nay, are you deprived of these enjoyments? it is from love, and it shall be for your advantage: Qod saw that they lay too near your heartland justled him farther from his seat and throne; and he would not suffer you to make- so bad an exchange, as to quit heavenly things for earthly: he. takes these from thee, that so he may take thee off them, and wean thy heart from them; and, that be may strengthen thy faith and dependance on himself, that he may enflame thy affections after hiro^ and,that he may exercise thy patience and humility in the want of them: nay, be then gives in the clearest, and brightest, and fullest disco-veries of himself, and of his love in Christ to the soul: what ad-, vantageous losses therefore, O..Christian, dost thou sustain! yea, to use the Apostle's phrase, (thou hast but gained in this harm. and loss. And, therefore, in.every state and condition, a Christian, that hath laid up his treasure in heaven, may well be content and satisfied.; for all-J& to his advantage and gain, whatever it be. . ,cji.,i ..' -.»•i. e... .t'r-.'.i- ,. ', ,, :.-.• '-..".. .: ..<!- ,;. . iicij.),: i :J.: , ,.. , .-!
And, so much, for the Third particular. ) , «, ,;, ,. .
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iv. Treasure laid up in heaven Will Secure To You The Ejxn
JOYMENT OF ALL EARTHLY COMFORTS, .SO FAR AS THEY SHALL BE' FOR YOUR GOOD. , ; .nu , £i
This depends upon the latter riarfcof the former particular. Our Saviour hath passed his word for it, in Mat. vi. 33. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof; and all. these things shall be added unto you. First, seek the kingdom of heaven: that is, lay up first your treasure in heaven, make sure of heavenly riches first; and, then, all these things shall be added to you. 'When the great bargain is concluded in heaven, betwixt God and the soul, God never stands upon these pettythings of earth, but throws them in, as vantage and overplus,: into the bargain. Yea, and as Christ hath passed his word, so God hath given you a pawn, that so it shall be, in Rom. viii. 32. He, that spared not his own Son, but hath given him up for us all, how shell he not with him also freely give us all things? Is the heir of all things ours ; and can there be any thing, that shall not be ours also? Hath God freely given you his Son; and will he think much to give you other things, which are of no value and estaem, in comparison of that great gift, Jesus Christ? Hath he given thee hidden manna, angels' food; hath he clothed thee with the robes of Christ's righteousness; and shalt thou want food and raiment? Are not these things convenient for thee? Or, doth God prize worldly things at a higher rate, than the things of heaven? thou canst not think God doth so, for thou thyself dost not prize them so. Or, doth God so much disregard them, as to take no regard to supply your outward concernments? No, says Christ, your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. God doth take special notice and regard of all your wants: he knows you have need of these things. Thou needest not, O Christian, therefore envy the grandees and potentates of the earth, that rustle and make a noise with their greatness: believe it, were it for thy good, thou shouldst be exalted up to their pitch and they should be brought down to lick the dust of thy feet. Consider but these Two things:
V. All earthly things are to be accounted good or evil, only as they concern our eternal state and condition.
You will greatly be deceived, if you look upon things as they appear in themselves. Then you will call prosperity, and riches, and worldly abundance, good things; and want, and poverty, and affliction, evil things; if you account and esteem them as they appear in themselves. But consider these things as *hey relate to eternity, and then poverty may be a mercy, and riches a judgment : God may bless thee by afflictions, and curse thee by prosperity: he may bestow more upon thee in suffering thee to want these things, than if he did give all the world's abundance to thee. It may be, prosperity may puff up thy soul, and make it grow more estranged from God; adversity may humble thee, and bring thy soul the nearer unto God, and so conduce more to the eternal good of thy soul: adversity, in this case, is good; and not prosperity. This present life is nothing, but a preparation for and a tendency to eternity: all, that we here do, or receive, or suffer, is in order to eternity; and, therefore, all must be measured by it. That is good, that tends to our everlasting bappiness, be it want or misery. Whatever it be, that encreases our grace, that augments the stock of our heavenly treasure, that promotes the everlasting salvation of our souls, that alone is to be esteemed by us as good. What dull folly is it, for men to roll and wallow in the profits and pleasures of this world, and hug them as good things, when indeed they are only snares and traps to their souls; and are only given to fat them for the day of slaughter; and may every moment deliver them up to an eternity of torments, which will fearfully be heightened and enraged by the enjoyment of these things that they account good things! Abraham tells Dives, that, in his lifetime, he received good things; and Lazarus evil things: a strange dispensation of God, to bestow good things upon a hated Dives, and to inflict evil things upon a beloved Lazarus! but yet read on, Luke xvi. 25. But^now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Oh, never call Dives's purple and delicious fare good things; for these end in torment: never tall Lazarus's sores and rags evil things; for these end in everlasting comfort: "No," might Dives have replied with horror: "when I was clothed in purple and fine linen, I then received evil things; O cursed be all my pomp and bra* very: I see now the end of my purple, it was but to wrap me up in redder flames: my sumptuous fare served only to make the never-dying worm the more to feed on me: Oh, happy was the poverty of Lazarus, for he awaked in ease and happiness; then, was he truly happy, and not I, though I thought myself so; for, though I received an abundant measure of worldly thing!?, yet received I no good things." This, within a while, will be the judgment of all of you, when you come to be stated in an unalterable condition to all eternity: oh, therefore, be persuaded to pass the same judgment upon them now.
2. If God deny any comfort or enjoyment to his people, he there* fore denies it, because it is not good for them; because it will not conduce to their eternal happiness, which is the only rule and mew sure of earthly things.
Psal. lxxxiv. 11. The Lord will give grace and glory: and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Ne good thing: if any thing be withheld, you may conclude on it, that it is no good thing; but that it would be either prejudicial or inconsistent to grace or glory, had God bestowed it upon thee: and wilt thou thyself be content, to abate the least degree of grace or glory, for the greatest accumulation of worldly enjoyments? if thou wouldst, thou never yet madest grace or glory thy treasure. In Psal. lxviii. 19, says the Psalmist, speaking of God's mercies, Blessed be God, that daily loadeth us with bis benefits: the people of God are .still complaining, that they are loaded with miseries and afflictions: there is as much of these laid on them, as possibly they can bear: but, how few are there, that take notice how God loads them with his benefits! in Exod. xvi. i 8. He, that gathered much, had nothing over; and he, that gathered little, had no lack: so is it with the children of God: he, that hath more of these outward comforts, hath but his load; and be, that hath less, hath his load too; every one as much as he can bear: and what he hath not, God withholds, lest it should hurt him; lest it should break him, instead of adorning him. Every vessel cannot bear up with so much sail as another; and therefore God will keep it from topling over. There is nothing, that a child of God hath not, but, if he had it, for the present it would be worse with him than now it is: and, therefore, so much as you do now wish were added to your present condition, so much you do virtually wish were taken off from your present grace and from your future glory; because God doth most wisely and exactly proportion these things here, so as that they may be moS't conducible and serviceable to your true happiness hereafter.
II. I come now to enquire, WHENCE IT IS, THAT THE CHILDREN OF GOD MAKE HEAVEN AND HEAVENLY THINGS THEIR TREASURE AND CHlfcF GOOD?
We see that our Saviour doth here distinguish them from earthly and ungodly men by this character: One lays up on earth, and the other in heaven. He, that lays up his treasure on earth, is an earthly, ungodly man: he, that lays up his treasure in heaven, is the true Christian.
i. Here, first, take notice, that, That, Which Makes Any Thing
DEAR AND PRECIOUS, THAT, WHICH MAKES ANY THING TO BE A TREASURE TO THE SOUL, IS THE SUITABLENESS AN0 SUBSERVIENCY OF IT TO THAT SELF, THAT IS IN A MAN.
Self is the great rater of all our treasure: the value of it is