Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

EXPENDITURE

your layings out be not more than your layings up, * which was the last head ; but you must produce holy actions and expressions in some degree proportionable unto God's vouchsafed means and appointed ends.

(1.) Let your treasure within, and performances without, be suitable to your receipts and advantages. Where God lays out much, he looks for much; the more pains he takes, the more fruit he expects. You must bring " forth good fruit,” and “ much fruit, that you may glorify God, and edify others.”+ Wicked men manifest a prodigious contrariety to the Lord's tillage, but godly men should not manifest any disparity betwixt their receipts and returns. Enclosed grounds must not be like the barren wilderness. God's garden should be more fruitful than the common field. Trees of God's planting and watering, are not to be like the trees of the forest. Well tilled souls should abound in fruits of righteousness. The Scripture compares the church to a vineyard, and particular souls to vine-trees, that must “ bring forth grapes ;" and, indeed, a vine is good for nothing if it be not fruitful, not so much as to make a pin of, to hang a vessel upon. f Now, let us consider, if God have not done as much for his vineyard amongst us, as for that in Isa. v. have not our returns been parallel to theirs ? the most part have brought forth wild grapes, the best have not brought forth full grapes, ripe grapes, at least not sweet grapes, but legal acts of too, too constrained obedience. Have not God's children often rather acted from a spirit of bondage, than of liberty? Well now, God hath a controversy with his vine, justly may he command the clouds to rain no more upon it, nay, he will cast the wild vines into eternal fire, and his own chosen vines into the fiery furnace of sharp affliction ; therefore, • Ne promus sit fortior condo.

't John xv. 5, 8. Ezek. xv. 3.

be fruitful, bring forth abundantly, answer God's call and cost, as the heavens hear the earth in sending down fructifying showers, and the earth hears the inhabitants in bringing forth abundant fruits, so “ let us bring forth much fruit;" hear we the Lord's summons, and echo back answerable fruitfulness to the droppings of the sanctuary and the sweet showers of divine grace. The fruits you are to bring forth are those “ fruits of the Spirit,” mentioned in Gal. v. 22, “ Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ;” these fruits are our produce, as Bernard speaks, * and God accounts our produce to be as his own fruits.

(2.) Answer God's designed and appointed ends; that is, God's glory, and the edification of your own and others' souls. Be not self-seeking, but self-denying in all your layings out, else it is a sign you are barren, and you lose your labour. Israel is but an “ empty vine, if he bring forth fruit to himself.”—Hos. x. 1. The vine of Eshcol will commend the land of Canaan. Clusters of ripe grapes will glorify God, the chief husbandman, and evidence the fatness of the soil, even the courts of our God and gospel ordinances. God takes himself to be glorified “ by our bringing forth much fruit,” † and is it not a blessed thing to be an instrument to glorify God? This was the end of our creation, of our redemption, of all the impulses and operations of the sanctifying Spirit; awake, therefore, to much fruitbearing, and let God's glory be the main thing in your eye and aim. Let the observant Christian that takes care of the vineyard of his own soul, reap some comfort, but let our “ Solomon (Jesus Christ, the prince of peace) have the thousand pieces of silver," } all the glory

* Fructus isti, profectus nostri, et nostros profectus, suos fructus deputat.-- Bern. Sup. Cant. Serm. 63. + John xy. 8.

Cant. viii. 12.

to himself, to whom only it belongs. A Christian must speak the language of the Psalmist, “ Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy name be the praise, * for God will not give his glory to another.”+ Herod was eaten with worms, because he made a fine oration, “ and gave not God the glory.” It is gross sacrilege to ascribe any thing to ourselves. “ Let him that glorieth glory in the Lord.” If you be called to make a confession of your faith, and to produce your treasure before courts, and judgment-seats, speak out, be not afraid of men, or ashamed of the gospel, yet take those two rules with you, 1 Pet. iii. 15. In the middle of the verse you have a profession required;, in the beginning and the end, there are the dispositions necessary. First, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." There you perceive the principle and end. See that you have grace, and act for God's glory. Secondly, Be ready to give an answer with meekness and fear;" there is the manner, with cheerfulness and humility, without vain boasting or ostentation. Some may speak confidently, and carry it highly, even to suffering for a good cause, and yet be the devil's martyrs, by seeking to get a reputation among men, or to bear up an opinion, or please a faction, or gratify a humour, or merit something at the hands of God. The end makes or mars the action. Vain glory spoils great achievements; yet, it is a miserable thing to “ bear the cross,” and “not to follow Christ." || So I may say of prayer, almsgiving, or mortifying acts, or any other excellent ways of laying out of a treasure, if they be only to be seen of men, the work is as if it were not done, and the doer in danger of being undone. Another subordinate end is, our own soul's good, and the good of others. “I do all things,” saith Paul,

* Psal. cxv. l. + Isa. xlii. 8. Acts xii. 23. || Væ portantibus crucem et non sequentibus Christum.-Bern. “ for your edification,” so must we. God hath interwoven his glory and the good of souls, so nearly, that they are both promoted together. You must make God's glory the ultimate end of all your actions and expressions; in all things natural, as eating and drinking; civil, in buying and selling; and spiritual in praying and conversing. Take that notable text in 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11, “ As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God—that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

CHAP. XVI.

THE EXCELLENCY AND ADVANTAGE OF HAVING A

- TREASURE IN THE HEART.

The last use to be made of this point concerning this heart treasure, is partly of consolation, and partly of exhortation, wherein I shall both encourage those that have it, and provoke to emulation those that have it not, that they may labour to reach it, and obtain it. And for the better urging this, I shall further illustrate the usefulness of this heart treasure in these ten particulars.

1. A treasured soul is of great worth. A gracious Christian is the rarest piece of all God's workmanship, called [toinua] Eph. ii. 10. It is a word that is no where else used, it signifieth an artificial work, fabric or structure, that notable operation, wherein the God

of heaven shewed singular care and skill, as well as love and grace. This new creature in one soul is a greater work, and of more worth, than this goodly frame of the world. A renewed soul is the epitome of the creation, the clearest image of divinity upon earth, the true portraiture of God in man, and a blessed treasury of spiritual perfections. The soul of the man is the man, and grace is the ornament of the soul ; every man is so far excellent, as he is religious; a Christian's greatest glory is, in what he is God-wards; * gracious souls are truly precious, and such as are precious in God's sight are honourable, and of more worth than the richest princes and largest kingdoms. t Well may they be the Lord's jewels, that have a treasure of jewels locked up in their breasts. These precious sons of Zion are comparable to fine gold, though men esteem them as earthen pitchers. [ It is true, they seem to be of little worth to the outward view of a carnal eye; like their dear Redeemer, of whom it is said by his despisers, “he hath no form nor comeliness, and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him;" || so the saints appear mean and sordid, but if you could see all, you would find them all glorious within. The servants of God are like unto the tabernacle under the law, whose outside was rams' skins, goats' hair, and badgers' skins-coarse stuff; but the inside was gold, silver, precious stones, and curious workmanship. Just so are the saints compared therefore to the tents of Kedar, to the curtains of Solomon, Song, i. 5. The word Kedar doth signify blackness, and Kedar (Ishmael's second son's posterity) dwelt in tents made

* Animus cujusque est quisque : tantus quisque est, quantus est apud Deum.

+ Isaiah xliii. 3, 4. Lam. iv. 2. || Isaiah liï. 2. $ See Ainsworth in locum.

« AnteriorContinuar »