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Christ, so an interest in, and union to, Jesus Christ, gives us this right. Secondly, A right of aptitude, fitness, or disposedness, and this is by having holy dispositions, gospel qualifications, and the required conditions of conditional promises. This is necessary, as well as the other,; look you after both, and then you shall have the comfort of the promises, and a sure foundation of lively hope.
Thus I have endeavoured to help you to hoard up these four precious and necessary treasures of truths, graces, experiences and comforts. Let none of your souls be found destitute of these, or of a large share thereof, particularly of this last. O let not the consolations of God be small in your eyes ; * set a high price upon them, store them up; they are not the least part of your treasures; these will fit you for God's service, qualify you for enduring afflictions, fortify your spirits against temptations. You that at present are dandled upon the knee of God's fatherly indulgence, satisfied with favour, and sit at the high table eating and drinking in God's presence, feasting your souls with the pleasant repasts of assurance; consider how soon the Lord may turn the tables, give you bare commons and water of gall to drink, and fill your souls with bitterness. Be sure, you shall not always live by this kind of spiritual sense, a time of heaviness may come, when you must cast anchor in the dark, and act a faith of adherence upon an unseen Redeemer. Yea, trust in that God whom your souls do also fear as one that is ready to kill, F and you will find it a hard thing to hang about an angry, chiding, scourging father. Therefore, lay up the comforts your souls do now partake of; give God the glory of them, and recollect them in a time of darkness. Plead them before the Lord, * Job xv. 11.
+ Job xiii. 15.
and upon a due sense of those, though now you see him not, yet love him, and believe in him, and in due time you shall “ rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”—1 Pet. i, 8.
ON THE PRESERVATION AND INCREASE OF A
Thus I have largely handled directions for obtaining a treasure, and particular instructions relative to different portions of treasure to furnish the soul. Now, it is also necessary to beware of losing or diminishing this treasure. It is a piece of wisdom to keep as well as get, to maintain as well as obtain, a treasure. * A little negligence loseth that suddenly, which had been got with much diligence. Solomon saith, “ there is a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together," but there is no time to cast away these precious treasures; you must keep what you have, and still be gathering more. Now to help you herein, take these ten practical directions.
1. Let not Satan rob or circumvent you. He is that evil one that envies a saint's treasure. He steals away the “ seed of the word”, † lest it become a treasure of divine truths ; he it is, that most grudgeth our growth in grace. The better the soul is treasured, the more assaults must he suffer from the evil one. A pirate makes most at a rich laden ship; a thief breaks not into the beggar's cottage; the devil lets his sworn vas
* Non minor est virtus quàm quærere parta tueri. + Matth. xiii. 19.
sals live in peace, but raiseth an uproar in the believer's heart. This juggler will “ transform himself into an angel of light,” that like a familiar he may pick our pockets with more ease and less suspicion. As he foists in dangerous errors under the notion of truth, so he lures to damnable sins under the paintings of virtue. Take heed of both; observe it, new notions may eat out the heart's root of religion, as well as corrupt practices. Satan may rob us of our treasure by subtile insinuations of new light, as well as grosser temptations to apparent works of darkness, for these drink up the marrow of those spirits that should be laid out otherwise. Therefore, take Paul's advice,“ refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourselves rather to godliness.”—1 Tim. iv. 7. Strivings, though they should be even about the Scriptures and the law, may come to be “unprofitable and vain.”—Tit, iii. 9. Great triflers are no good treasurers, and many great disputers have argued away much of their religion, or at least have filled their heads with notions, rather than their hearts with saving truths or pious affections. Precious saints have complained that even necessary disputes have put their spirits out of tune. You have zeal little enough for the vitals of religion ; let none run in by channels. The Lord help you to prize more a fundamental truth, and a degree of saving grace, than a fine notion or victory over an antagonist. Take heed lest Satan dart into you a spark of false zeal and blow it up to an eager dispute for an opinion, to divert . or excuse you from occupying your attention with the more weighty matters of Christianity. O Christians, be not ignorant of Satan's various methods to get an advantage against you, that he may rob you of your treasure. * You know, the old serpent, when he was
* 2 Cor. ii. 11. xi. 3, 14.
young, outwitted our first parents in their best estate ; now he is grown more cunning by almost six thousand years experience, and we more foolish in this dotage of the world; we are, therefore, in great danger of being undone. O let us watch and pray that we enter not into temptation ; keep out of Satan's road; hold him at a distance, suspect his wiles, and resist his power, that neither his seven heads by plotting, nor his ten horns by pushing, may deprive our souls of our precious treasure.
2. Fill not your hearts with the world. Carnal men have the world set in their hearts, and are therefore called, “ the men of this world,”* that have their portion therein, and that is totally inconsistent with this heavenly treasure; for the more you admit the world into your hearts, the more you thrust out divine things. As the shining sun eats out the burning fire, or as the abundance of weeds sucks up the virtue of the earth that should nourish the herbs and fruit trees; just so do riches choke the word by a wicked encroachment which they make upon the heart. The love of the world jostles out the love of God.—1 John ii. 15. Love and royalty can endure no rivals. It is true,"religion begot wealth, but the daughter devours the mother,”+ as the Proverb hath it: worldly-mindedness is directly opposite to heavenly treasures. ( let not your hearts be in the world, though your heads and hands be in it. The heart is to be reserved for God; if riches be placed in that closet, Christ will be thrust into the stable; if riches increase, set not your hearts thereon. In the Apostle's times, the saints “ cast their money and estates at the Apostle's feet,” || thereby signifying,
* Eccl. iii. 11. Psal. xvii. 14.
|| Acts iv. 37.
saith an Ancient, “ that they were fitter to be trodden upon, than doted upon, or rather to be a step-stone to divine things, than a burden on our backs;" but the truth is, these outward things are to many, rather a stumbling block to cast them down, than a footstool to lift them up. It is better to be without great estates, than to have them for a snare. Tremble lest you be overcharged with the cares of the world, or be bewitched with the delights here below. Be not like that carnal Cardinal, that preferred his part in Paris to his part in paradise; but say, as that noble commander to a common soldier, “ Thou art not Themistocles, take this trash to thee;" for so he called and accounted the Persian spoils, of richest jewels and goodliest ornaments. So do thou scorn to load thy noble soul with such unworthy baggage ; cast out those wares that will sink the ship of the soul. One staff will help in your journey, but a bundle will be burdensome carriage; a garment fit for the body is easy and useful, but one that is too wide, or with a long train, is in danger to be troublesome to the party that wears it, and others; not that I would have you to cast away the tender mercies of God, though you must “ cast your bread on the waters ;" but cast the world out of your hearts. Let not your precious souls, like the serpent, feed on the dust. If you possess much of the world, let it not possess you ; fear yourselves in this most. How many Demases are hereby shipwrecked! How many Sampsons have lost their best strength by the embraces of this Delilah! Alas! thousands have been cheated of their spiritual riches by its syren songs, and bewitching charms, and, therefore, let our souls stand at a distance from it, make no friendship with it; let us more suspect its fawnings, than fear its frowns. A false friend will prejudice us more than an open foe.