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the commission of a sin: it may be, some outward affliction may cost thee more passionate grief and tears, than the commission of sin hath done: thou never mournedst, it may be, so bitterly for thy offending of God, as thou hast done for God's afflicting of thee; and this thou lookest upon as a bad sign that thy affections are not so much to the honour of God, as to outward comforts and prosperity : yea, but let me ask thee, wouldst thou rather fall into the same affliction, or commit the same sin again? certainly, if thou art a saint, thou wilt soon resolve the question: " No misery or plague is so great as sin ; and, though it be my folly thus passionately to lament under this cross and affliction, yet I would rather bear it, yea I would rather bear whatever God can lay on me, than knowingly to commit the least sin against my God." This is the judgment of a child of God: and, therefore, Job makes it the character of a hypocrite, that he chooseth iniquity rather than affliction.
And so much for the Second Mark or Character.
(3) See what it is, that you most trust unto and live upon, when all other things fail you. That, certainly, is your Treasure.
Men usually reserve their treasure to be their support at the last pinch and extremity. See the case of Asaph: Psal. lxxiii. 26. My flesh and my heart faileth: and must not he therefore fail? hath he any thing else to support him? Yes: now comes in relief from his treasure: But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever: he is my treasure; a treasure, that will never fail me, and that never can be spent: he is my portion for ever. And, thus, every child of God, when other things fail him, when other props are taken from under him, will then support himself from his God, that is his portion for ever. Micah had a true notion of God, though falsely applied to idols: Ye have
taken away my gods and what have I more? Take from a saint
all worldly comforts and all earthly enjoyments; and, if you ask him what he hath more, he can truly say, " Yes: still I have more than I have lost: I have my God left me still." But, were it possible that his God should be taken from him, then indeed what hath he more? he hath nothing then left him, to support him and to live upon. Can you, therefore, in all your distresses, find relief and comfort in your God? can you, when all props fail you, betake yourselves to him; and find enough in him to support and bear up yourselves, when you have nothing in the world to depend upon? can you then find enough in him, to live comfortably and splendidly? If so, it is a sign God is your treasure. When all other things fail, God comes in as the relief and support of that soul, that makes him to be his treasure.
4. Look, not only what it is which you value in itself; but that, by which and according to which, you, value both yourselves and others. That is your Treasure.
And, here, I shall lay down Two things.
(1) If the soul hath assurance, and knows beyond all doubt and fallibility, that Heavenly Treasure is his, he will value himself according to that treasure.
Would to God, says the Apostle to king Agrippa, that thou wert such a one as I am. And so, 1 Cor. xv. when he had spoken of himself in the 9th verse, / am the least of all the
apostles not meet and worthy to be called an apostle; there he
values himself as in himself: but yet, in the 10th verse, By the grace of God I am what 1 am: and what was that? why, says he, This grace received I not in vain, for I laboured more abundantly than they all: low was his esteem of himself; considered in himself, less than the least of all the Apostles: but, considering himself in respect of grace, By grace, says he, / am what I am; and 1 am such a one also, as have received grace to labour more than all of them. And so, Jer. ix. 23, 24. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the mighty man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches: he excludes all boasting from themselves, But, let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he knoweth
me, that I am the Lord: let him value and esteem of himself according to that. Now, do you not prize yourselves by some outward privileges or worldly advantages? do you not think yourselves somebody, because you have riches and estates, or the like? do you account yourselves nothing worth, more than what you are in respect of grace, more than what you are in respect of your interest in God, and in that Heavenly Treasure and riches? This is a sign, that you do indeed make heavenly things to be your treasure, when you rate yourselves so much worth as you have of that treasure.
(2) If the soul want assurance, and so cannot value itself according to its interest in that Heavenly Treasure; if it cannot see its right and title to this Heavenly Treasure, then it values others according to their interest in that treasure.
It is not according to their estates or honour in the world, but according to what they have of Christ, and God, and heavenly things. A child of God, that values heavenly things as his treasure, will value the men that have this treasure and these riches. Use V.
Several characters have been laid before you, for the Examination of yourselves, whether you do value heaven and heavenly things as your treasure. If now by those characters you have taken an account of your estate, you either find yourselves rich in this Heavenly Treasure, or not. If you cannot say, God and Christ and the great and glorious things of eternity are yours; if you doubt that heaven is your exchequer, and of all that rich and precious treasure it contains there is anything that you can call yours; let me then direct you to a Twofold word of Exhortation.
That, above all gettings, you would chiefly labour to
get a portion in this Heavenly Treasure. That you would never rest satisfied, till you have got a full assurance that this treasure is yours, and that you are enriched by it. The one, is to them, that are indeed poor; but think themselves rich and increased in goods, and to stand in need of nothing.
The other, is to them, that are indeed rich; but yet think themselves poor and miserable. 1. To them, that have no share in this Heavenly Treasure, Is there such an infinite mass of riches exposed, not to sale, but to gift; riches inestimable, invaluable, and unsearchable; such riches, that he, who would worthily describe .them, must first suffer a translation, and learn the tongue of an angel to speak whole God at every word? and shall not this stir up and quicken your desires to get these riches? What! Sirs, is there not a covetous person among you all f Is there not one, that cares how to be rich? Is wealth grown such a vile and contemptible thing with you, as to stand in need of other exhortations and motives besides itself, to commend it to your acceptance? No, certainly, riches have not lost their allurements, nor have men lost their covetousness. If I should tell you this day, of rich purchases and large donations, of gainful bargains and the speediest and easiest way to grow great in the world, and of invaluable treasures that you might have for fetching; how would most men's ears drink in such golden eloquence as this,is!" "Oh, where, and how?" would be the question of all of you. VOL, in, H
What then is the reason, that, when we set before you the glorious excellencies of this Heavenly Treasure, the least dust and filings of which is enough to bankrupt all that the world calls precious; since it gives no less than crowns, robes, and sceptres, God, and Christ, and glory, and immortality: what is the reason, that men's hearts generally are so frozen and cold towards these things? Why are they not covetous and earnest, in seeking after these things?
Truly, the grand comprehensive reason is flat atheism. So many as are careless of this Heavenly Treasure, so many atheists are there in the world. Saint Paul hath told us, that he, that is covetous of earthly things, is an idolater: I may tell you,, he, that is not covetous after heavenly things, he is a flat atheist. But, more particularly;
(1) Men are not thoroughly convinced that there is indeed such a treasure; or that this treasure is so rich, and so precious and glorious as it is described.
And why is this, but because it is hidden treasure? Here they see what pomp and advantages earthly riches bring with them; but they never saw the state, that an angel keeps: they never saw the glory of the spirits of just men made perfect: they never saw the court and attendance of the Eternal King: they have heard, indeed, mighty and strange things concerning all these; but what shall they do, if they prove but dreams and fancies? and why then should they trouble themselves about uncertainties? possibly they are such as are described; possibly, they are not. Truly, these are men's atheistical principles; and, though they dare not own and profess it, yet this is at the bottom of all that deadness and indifferency, that is in most men to the things of heaven. Now, although the bare possibility of the truth of these glorious things, and the little danger there is in attempting to obtain them, might prevail with rational men to put them upon earnest endeavours after them ; yet, carnal desires and earthly affections striking in with these loose atheistical and carnal opinions concerning the certainty of these glorious discoveries, they sway them so powerfully to earthly things, that all their thoughts and care and contrivances are laid out upon them, to the neglect, yea to the contempt of heavenly and spiritual things. Ps. xiv. 1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God: it was but in his heart: it was but a thin film of a thought, that scarce arrived at the form of a conception; yet see how this hath influence into his life: They are corrupt: they have done abominable works: there is none, that doeth good. Oh beware, therefore, that you never entertain a thought in the leastwise derogatory to the infinite glory of heaven: doubting or unworthy thoughts of heaven will insensibly make you careless in your endeavours after it: be, therefore, firm and unshaken in this belief, that heavenly glory is unsearchable, that heavenly riches are invaluable: yea, believe that whatever belongs to' heaven is before and beyond all that is here below: the more the eye, though but of a historical faith, discovers and sees of these things, the more will the hand labour and be diligent in the obtaining of them.
(2) Another reason why men do not labour after this Heavenly Treasure, is, because they are not thoroughly convinced, that they stand in need of this Heavenly Treasure.
They say, with the church, Rev. iii. 17. that they are Yich, and increased in goods, and stand in need of nothing; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. They know not, and therefore they care not for looking after, this Heavenly Treasure. They do not see their need of grace to sanctify them, their need of mercy to justify them, their need of the promises to support them, and their need of Christ to save them. Who is it, that cries out, they are undone, eternally undone, without these things? Who is it, that is sensible of these things? They think a little of these things will go far, and what they have already is enough: and it is altogether as hard to make these men discontented with the poverty of their spiritual condition, as it is to make them contented with the abundance and fulness of their temporal condition. Oh, that men were but once awakened to see the necessity that they stand in of this Heavenly Treasure!
But how should they be awakened?
[l] The great cost and expense, which you must be at, if you will be saved.
It is true, if you resolve.to perish, as poor as now you are, yet you are too rich a prey for the Devil: but, if you intend happiness and your own salvation, you must have a large and rich stock to trade withal. A poor and beggarly professor will never set up in Christianity: no, salvation is" a costly thing: many powerful corruptions must be subdued: many divine graces must be acted: many holy duties must be performed: