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“ Where are thy former loving-kindnesses which thou shewedst to me?”*
Thus, Christians, thus lay up, and thus draw forth your sweet experiences in such a time of need, in this night of desertion, as Tamar once did produce Judah's staff, signet and bracelets, as her pledge when she was brought out to be burnt. † O, sirs, when God deals graciously with you, cast not these precious love tokens at your heels, as whorish spirits do, but lay up these testimonies of love, sent from your husband, Christ, among your choicest treasures, that you may produce them as occasion serves.
COMFORTS AS A TREASURE, SHOULD BE LAID UP IN
A FOURTH description of treasure to be hoarded up in the breast of a believer, consists of the sweet and satisfying comforts of the Spirit. It is true, these are the sovereign and immediate effects of the sanctifying and sealing Spirit, yet, ordinarily comfort is dropped from heaven into the believing soul, in a way of duty and holy endeavour. The nearer we approach to the sun, and the more light and heat ; now exercises of religion are a soul's approaching to the sun of righteousness, and for this cause, it is good for us to draw near to God, that we may anchor and centre our souls upon him, where only we can have rest. This present reward we may find in keeping God's commandments; grace • Psalm lxxxix. 49.
+ Gen. xxxviii. 25.
and peace, holiness and comfort go usually hand in hand; “for wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace,” Prov. iii. 17. “And great peace have they that love God's law, Psalm cxix. 165. Every gracious act hath some degree of comfort annexed to it; peace is in them, as well as on them, that walk according to rule, * and these good old ways, + bring us to rest in God, and produce a blessed sabbath of rest in our spirits. If you keep God's commands, Christ will “ send the comforter to you,” nay, “ himself will come unto you, and make his abode with you.”—John xiv. 15, 16, 23. Be much in the performance of holy duties, and seek the enjoyment of God in ordinances; therein you may behold the light of his countenance, and hear his pleasant voice; there you may suck and be satisfied at those breasts of consolation; through those blessed pipes you may derive solid joy, and experience ravishing sweetness. Improve Scripture truths, act spiritual graces, lay up reviving experiences, and the result of all will be refreshing comforts.
But besides these, I counsel you to hoard up and make much of such thoughts as may be streams to feed and fill the well of solid, settled comforts in your hearts. Take only these four directions.
1. Lay up all your comfort in God alone. God “is the father of mercies, and the God of all consolation.” I There is not a beam of light or stream of joy, but what proceeds from this sun and spring of grace and happiness. The great God that made all things with a word, can speak and make peace in the confused heart. It is one of his royal incommunicable prerogatives, Isa. li. 12, “ I, even am he that comforteth you.” If God comfort, who can sadden ? and if God afflict, who else can comfort ? | The air lights not without the sun; * Gal. vi. 16. + Jer. vi. 16. #2 Cor. i. 3. || Job xxxiv. 29.
the fuel heats 'not without the fire; neither can any instrument cheer up a drooping heart, where God suspends his influence; but God's children have been encouraged and comforted in him in the absence of other comforts, as David and Habakkuk. * O Christians, learn this divine art of fetching all your comforts from God! Lay up your stock of comfort in the rock of ages ; this will be as “ honey out of the rock, as water from the fountain,” that comes freely, sweetly, purely, and abundantly. If you lay up all your comfort in the streams, what will you do for comfort when the streams are cut off? If you hang your comfort on every hedge, it will be far to seek in a day of need; but if God be your portion, the antidote is at hand, so that you need not fear poisoning or perplexing evils, for his very “ rod and staff shall comfort you.” Old Chytræus had this only and all-sufficient medicine and remedy in his troubled affairs, to support his fainting heart; the father's heart, the faithful word and powerful hand of Jehovah, and thus he sings,
and staff 28 or perples: Tand, so the
Una est in trepidâ mihi re medicina Jehovæ,
Hence, it was, that holy David disclaims all the world, and saith, “ he hath none in heaven, or earth, besides God, Psalm lxxiii. 25, 26, and when all was gone he had still a sufficient portion on the absence or opposition of all the world. Hence it is, that the saints have been like mount Zion, and remained impregnable in the midst of waves, being settled upon the rock of ages. O sirs, could you account God your exceeding joy, how sweetly and cheerfully would you go to his altar upon all occasions ! Psalm xliii. 4, and if you lay up your comfort in God, you may know where to find
* 1 Sam. xxx. 6. Hab. iii. 17, 18. VOL. II.
it when you have need of it, and none can take your joy, because they cannot take your God away from you.
2. Lay the stress of your comfort on free grace in justification. Here, only, is the spring of all your comfort, Rom. v. 1, “ being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Yea, peace within, in our own consciences, “ for we glory in tribulation.”-Rom. v. 3. Gratuitous justification is the ground of all consolation. Christ's righteousness imputed, is the sweetest word in all the Scriptures, which is ten times repeated in Rom. iv. Though Papists make a mock of it, let Protestants make much of it ; it is the sweetest flower in our garden, the Jachin and Boaz of our gospel temple, the ladder whereupon souls ascend to heaven. Our only comfort is bound up in the covenant of free grace, not in that of works. Stick to this; contend earnestly for this ; let all go, rather than let this go; it is the chief article and principle of our religion, upon which the church stands, without which it falls, as Luther saith. * O, therefore, let no mud defile this blessed stream; study free grace,—ascribe all to free grace,lay up thoughts of undeserved, distinguishing grace. Remember what our blessed Redeemer hath done and endured ; let the dolours of his soul be the solace of your hearts ; fetch your only comfort from his bitter cross. Consider, how fully Christ hath satisfied divine justice! how large and liberal the gospel proclamation is! how our dear Redeemer opens his arms and bosom to embrace repenting prodigals! how he bids all welcome, and never yet cast off any that came unto him! how he hath pardoned infamous sinners, and hath received gifts even for the rebellious! Revolve these in thy mind; bring the promises warm to thy heart; let thy hyssop of
* Articulus stantis aut cadentis Ecclesiæ.
faith sprinkle Christ's blood upon thy conscience, for generals afford no comfort. Particular application is the only means of consolation. A hungry man takes little pleasure in gazing upon a feast, while he tastes not of it. David's table spread with dainties in the midst of his enemies, rather vexed than pleased those envious spectators. It is a blessed thing to think of pardon of sin, justifying grace, adoption, reconciliation, but what comfort can we take therein, except we can say, he loved me and gave himself for me; my Lord and my God; my Redeemer liveth; a crown of life is laid up for me? * O, this, this is the life of our lives, the support of our souls! Yet, if you cannot always say, that grace is yours, Christ is yours, and heaven is yours, yet be much in the thoughts of free grace; pore not upon your vileness and unworthiness, but ponder upon that which can answer all in one word. “ I will have mercy, because I will have mercy and on whom I will have mercy.” Lay up such Scriptures as these, Rom. iii. 24, Isai. liii. 4–6, and xliii. 25, Heb. viii. 12, that by the comfort of these and such like Scriptures you may have hope; they may be worth mines of gold, and all the world, in a day of darkness, to the doubting Christian.
3. Store up your clearest evidences of sincerity. The Spirit ordinarily conveyeth comfort by shining upon his own work, and by helping the soul to make practical syllogisms; as thus, whosoever doth sincerely call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,; t but saith the soul, I do sincerely pray and perform other Christian duties, therefore I shall be saved ;—or thus, grace is with them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, $ but saith the soul, I love the Lord Jesus in sincerity,
* Gal. ii. 20. John xx. 28. Job' xix. 25. 2 Tim. iv. 8. † Rom. x. 13.
# Eph. vi. 24.