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