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and replenished thy soul “with good things ?” Lay thy hand upon thy heart, and ask it whether thou hast not abundant cause of thankfulness? and give God praise according to thy convictions. This is one great end God hath in bestowing mercy, and returning an answer of prayer, that the soul may praise him, which is the tribute of glory that is due from the creature to our Creator. See Psalm 1. 14, 15, 23. Mr. Greenham observes, * “ That in our liturgies, among a hundred prayers, scarce one thanksgiving is found ; and yet in civil matters, either by a natural logic or cunning rhetoric, we have learned to begin a new suit, with a thankful commemoration of succeeding in the old.” But, I beseech you, show not yourselves ungrateful—praise God for what you have received, yea, bless him for your sure grounds of hope-perform your duty, and trust God for the performance of his promise-bless God that he hath laid up so large a treasure in Christ for indigent souls-bless him that he hath laid out so much thereof upon the many thousands that are now filled brimful of grace and glory—and bless him for the sweet overflowings of distinguishing grace to your languishing souls. Sirs, you are often questioning the truth of grace; but exercising yourselves in this duty of thankfulness will evidence sincerity, and preserve your stock, and be a means of further proficiency. Unthankfulness and unholiness are linked together in Scripture; † and the more thankful you are, the more holy you are and will be—God loves cheerful worshippers. The great variety of musical instruments in God's worship of old, should be echoed with cordial praises in gospel times. Praise is comely in God's account, and thankful souls have largest incomes. What saint was ever loaded with such riches of grace as the
* Joel ii. 26. inter opera, fol. 8, 13. + 2 Tim. iii. 2.
chosen vessel, blessed Paul ? and who was fuller of thankfulness, or sounded out the praises of God so much as he ? He had it much on his lips, who had so much in his heart; and the more he speaks of it, the more le is filled with it. Every breath, let out in praises, draws in new supplies of grace. Do you glorify God, and he will satisfy you; pay this rent, and God will not turn you out of doors—give him this tribute, and you shall have your freehold ; praise God for your little here, and you shall have fulness of grace and riches of glory to praise him in and with to all eternity.
I shall close all these directions to maintain a treasure, especially this last of thankfulness, with a sweet poem of divine Herbert's, called Gratefulness.
Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more—a grateful heart ;
And says, If he in this be crost,
Thy word our hands and hearts did crave,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
And didst allow us all our noise ;
Much better tunes than groans can make;
Wherefore I cry, and cry again ;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
As if thy blessings had spare days;
DIRECTIONS FOR BRINGING FORTH GOOD THINGS
OUT OF THE CHRISTIAN'S GOOD TREASURE.
THERE remains yet another part of this directory, namely, how a good man is to bring forth good things out of the good treasure of the heart. In the explication this hath been largely insisted upon, that a Christian must lay out, and make use of his treasure in the great duties of meditation, religious performances, spiritual conferences, and in doing and enduring much for God. Passing these, I shall only add something on the manner of improving this treasure in the forementioned duties.
A Christian's treasure must be drawn out speedily, seasonably, sincerely, and suitably.
1. The Christian is to bring forth things new, as well as old—lately obtained, as well as long since hoarded. You are to improve truths on the first acquisition. Many good convictions, conceptions, impressions are lost, for want of speedy use; and many souls are undone by neglect and delay. “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting ;” † ' . Herb. the Church, p. 116.
Prov. xii. 27.
that is, he lets it lie by and mar upon his hands : he takes pains to hunt for it, but will not take pains to roast it. That meat is best that is fresh and new, and quickly used—it is a folly to keep it till it be old and good for nothing. O how many such sluggards are there in spiritual things! How many have I seen who have travelled far to hear a sermon, and been affected under it, yet lose all before they come home, for want of following it home! Many hunt after the means of grace, and take abundance of pains to run to ordinances, (which is to be commended,) but, alas, make little improvement thereof to their present advantage : their hearts were full of desires before, and of delight under the droppings of the sanctuary; but in a little time, these things grow stale, and by degrees wear out for want of a speedy improvement. The Jews were not to keep any of the manna, till the morrow, if they did, it stank; and God's people must not so lay up the word, as to neglect the present use thereof, for that will hinder the operation thereof; many a choice notion is lost for want of rubbing it up in a speedy recognition; many a powerful conviction of sin and duty dies, for want of speedy observation and application. The preacher lays on the plaster, but the wound is not cured, except it be kept on by the soul's voluntary consideration; when blossoms are knit, though the flourish be gone, yet they are more secured from injury by frosts and winds, than before; good emotions speedily brought into act, are knit, and have a due consistency and settled continuance. O sirs, your work is not done, when public ordinances are at an end, you must, as the well-bred Bereans, try by Scripture what you hear, and see how it suits your case. A man will try a pair of gloves or shoes, how they fit him, when he first receives them, and use them afterwards, as he hath occasion; and, will not Christians honour the word so far? David can do nothing with the armour that he had not proved, nor can you manage that word which doth not fit you, therefore, you must first prove, then approve, and then improve truths, as you have occasion; yea, you must take the first season you can for it, as soon as you come home, draw out this treasure, lest a day's neglect wear it out, and so you have heard and believed in vain, * as the apostle's hearers, who were like him that beholds his natural face in a glass, and then quite forgets his own physiognomy, t and hence the word is as water spilt upon the ground. Remembrance hath in it apprehension, deposition, retention, and production; as a man takes a shaft in his hand, puts it in his quiver, retains it there for a season, and when he would recreate himself, draws it out again ; just so is treasuring any thing in the memory. The end of laying up is laying out, only let not our hearts be as leaking vessels to let slip what we hear, † but let us lay hold on, lay up, and lay out for our own and others' good. The best help to preserve, is to improve truths. Speedy exercise helps to spiritual dexterity. Speculation will never make a man an artist ; a few hours of practice will do more than many days of contemplation: set on the work betimes, and the next opportunity make apparent what you received from God the last season of grace : let your deeds speak what David in words professeth, Psalm cxix. 56, “ This I bad, because I kept thy precepts.” So in such a conflict, let your practice and success say, this I got from God in such a duty, this I had in such an ordinance, this is by the sweet help I had in such a performance, methinks I feel the virtue of that repast. O what good will this do you? It will excite thankfulness, * 1 Cor. xv. 2. + James i. 23, 24. Heb. ii. 1. VOL. II.