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winds. It is hard to those that are guided by flesh and blood, to overcome such temptations; but to the heavenly mind, it is more easy.
USE I.-Of information.
1. That loss of goods for adhering to God's word, by the violence and rapine of evil-minded men, is one temptation we should prepare for. Such trials may come. Such as mind to be constant, must prepare themselves for it, to quit their goods. We all study to shift off the cross; but none studieth to prepare for the cross. Profession goeth at too low a rate, when people leap into it upon the impulsion of carnal motives, or some light conviction or approbation. God taketh his fan in his hand, and the chaff is distinguished from the solid grain. All love áðáravov eváyyéliov, a cheap Gospel: the Gospel will have many summer friends, gaudy but. terflies that fly abroad in the sunshine; but what cost are we content to be at for the Gospel's sake?
2. That, where men make conscience of their ways, they are not apt to be reduced by penalties; for they are guided by a higher principle than the interests of the flesh. Conscience looks to the obligation of duty, what we must do or not do; not to the course of our interests; not what is safe, but what is duty. Oh! but their suffering may make them serions and wise, and so reflect upon their error, and change their mind.' Answer, It rather puzzleth the case, when a man is divided between his conscience and his interests: the unsound are blinded by their interests; but a gracious heart, in a clear case, is more resolute; in a doubtful, is more afraid, and full of hesitancy, lest he gratifies the flesh, and so the case is more perplexed. Men sooner come to themselves, and relinquish errors, if interest be not in the case.
USE II.—To exhort us to keep a good conscience and to be faithful with God, though our temporal interests should be endangered thereby. The conscience of our duty should more comfort us, than the loss of temporal things should trouble our minds. But because this is not a bypoint that I am now upon, nor a small thing that I press you to, but neces. sary for every candidate of eternity or true disciple of Jesus Christ, I must direct to get this constancy of mind.
1. I will show you what is necessary to it by way of disposition or qualification.
2. What is necessary to it by way of consideration. Ist, By way of disposition.
1. There is required a lively faith concerning the world to come, with some assurance of our interest therein. That faith is necessary to draw off the heart from the conveniences and comforts of this life, appeareth by that, Ye“ took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in Heaven a better and an enduring substance" (Heb. x. 31). There is both faith implied, and also some assurance of our interest: they knew there was a substance to be had in the other world. They that live by sense, count present things only substance, but the world to come only fancy and shadows; but the gracious heart, on the contrary, looketh upon this world as “a vain show” (Psalm xxxix. 6), the world to come to be the only enduring substance, or that true, solid good which will make us everlastingly happy. And there is some assurance of our interest, they had this substance; that is, by virtue of God's promise they had a title and right to it, and some security for the full possession of it in due time, by the first-fruits and earnest of the Spirit. This they knew in themselves : they discerned their own qualification, in fulfilling the conditions of the promises, and the Spirit did in some measure testify to them that they were the sons of God; and from all this flowed their suffering of the loss of worldly goods, and their suffering of it joyfully.
2. A sincere love to Christ is necessary; for then they will not quit his interest for what is most near and dear to them in the world: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?" (Rom. viii. 35.) Love there, is not only taken passively, for the love wherewith Christ loveth us; but actively, for the love wherewith we love Christ. For the things mentioned there, “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword," belony not to the latter; for tribulation is not wont to withdraw God from loving us, but us from loving God. It is we that are assaulted by tribulation, and not God, nor Christ; it is our love which the temptation striketh at. A man that loveth Christ sincerely, will be at some loss for him. Christ is rather held by the heart than by the head only; they that make a religion of their opinions, will find no such effect : if they have a faith that never went deeper than their brains and their fancies, that reacheth not their heart, and doth not stir up their love to Christ, that will not enable them to hold out against temptations. Though men may sacrifice some of their weaker lusts and petty interests, yet they will not forsake all for his sake: he that loveth Christ, will not leave him. Why, doth a sinner deny himself for his lusts? He loveth them, and sacrifices his time, strength, estate, conscience. So a Christian, that knoweth Christ hath loved him, and therefore loveth Christ again, he will not easily quit him and his truth. A bare belief is only in the head, which is but the entrance into the inwards of the soul; it is the heart which is Christ's castle and citadel. A superficial assent may let him go; but a “ faith which worketh by love," produceth this close adherence. Well, if we would endure spoiling of our goods, it is our wisdom to consider what we love most, and can least part withal : Christ is infinitely to be valued as more precious than all the wealth in the world.
3. A well-grounded resolution in the truth : “ Prove all things: hold fast that which is good ” (1 Thes. v. 21). When we take up the ways of God upon fashion or half conviction, or probable reasons, and do not resolve upon sound evidence, we are in danger to be shaken, when it is a costly thing to be a sincere Christian; but, when conscience is soundly informed, then all things give way to conscience. If the wicked spoil us of our goods, they should not spoil us of our best treasure, which is a good conscience. Whatever power they have, by God's permission, over our outward estates, they have no power over our consciences; that is the best friend, or the worst enemy. No bird singeth so sweetly as the bird in our bosoms : here Heaven or Hell is begun, and the solaces of the outward life are nothing to this.
4. A contempt of the world : our earthly affections must be mortified, and that upon a twofold account.
(1.) That they may freely part with them ; for, if they be over-valued, our affliction will be according to the degree of our affection : “He was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions” (Mark x. 22). We cannot so freely resign them to God, and leave all for treasure in Heaven.
(2.) That we may more entirely depend upon God: “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; for he bath said, I will never leave thee, nor fursake thee” (Heb. xii. 5). Till the heart be purged from carnal affections, the promises of God have little force and respect with us. A little satisfieth a contented and a weaned mind; and he can the better cast himself upon God's providence.
5. A sound belief of God's providence. This hath a great influence upon a free parting with our estates for our conscience' sake: by faith Abraham left his country, kindred, possessions, and blindfold trusted himself with God's providence (Heb. xi. 8). This principle was made use of, when the king was troubled about the hundred talents : saith the man of God, “ The Lord is able to give thee much more than this” (2 Chron. XXY, 9). God's providence is enough for a gracious heart. Indeed, it is hard to maintain such a faith in Providence when exposed to great injuries : we are apt to doubt of it, godliness seemeth to be neglected by him: “ Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency” (Psalm lxxiii. 13); doth God know? But a Christian must believe in hope against hope.
2ndly, Remedies by way of consideration.
1. They cannot rob us of spiritual and eternal riches, of the fear of God, lore of God: treasures in Heaven are out of their reach : “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. vi. 19, 20); “Your joy no man taketh from you” (John xvi. 22): heavenly things can never be taken from their owners.
2. If they cannot take away our God and Christ, we shall be certainly happy. All things in the world depend on God and Christ: “The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich” (Prov. x. 22): without his blessing, nothing prospereth. All judgment is in the hands of Christ (John v. 22): he hath the government of the world, or dominion over all things which may conduce to help or hinder his people's happiness. Things are not left to their arbitrement or uncertain contingency, but are under the government of a supreme Providence, in the hand of him that loves us.
3. Tried friendship is most valuable: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for, when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James i. 12).
4. If we suffer with Christ, we shall also be glorified with him: “ If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. viii. 17).
SERMON LXX. VERSE 62.- Al midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee, because
of thy righteous judgments. In these words observe three things :
1. David's holy employment, or the duty promised, giving thanks to God.
2. His earnestness and fervency implied in the time mentioned, " At midnight I will rise ;' rather interrupt his sleep and rest, than God should want his praise.
3. The cause or matter of his thanksgiving, “ because of thy righteous
judgments:" whereby he meaneth the dispensations of his providence in delivering the godly and punishing the wicked, according to his word. Where observe,
1. The term by which these dispensations are expressed, “judgments.” 2. The adjunct, “righteous judgments.”
1. For the term, “judgments;" they are so called, partly because they are God's judicial acts belonging to his government of the world ; partly because they are dispensed according to his word, the sentences of which are also called judgments. There are the judgments of his mouth and of his hand: “With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth" (Psalm cxix. 13).
2. The adjunct, “righteous,” or the judgments of thy righteousness; so called because they are all holy, just, and full of equity.
DOCTRINE I.-One special duty wherein the people of God should be much exercised, is thanksgiving.
DOCTRINE II.—That God's providence rightly considered, we shall in the worst times find much more cause to give thanks than to complain.
DOCTRINE III.—That a heart deeply affected with God's providence will take all occasions to praise God, and give thanks to his name both in season and out of season.
DOCTRINE 1.-One special duty wherein the people of God should be much exercised, is thanksgiving. This duty is often pressed upon us : " Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name” (Heb. xiii. 15). There are two words there used, praise and thanksgiving: generally taken, they are the same; strictly taken, thanksgiving differeth from praise. They agree, that we use our voice in thanksgiving, as we do also in praise ; for they are both said to be the fruit of our lips; what is in the Prophet Hosea (xiv. 2), “calves of our lips," is, in the Septuagint, the fruit of our lips: and they both agree, that they are a sacrifice offered to our supreme benefactor, or that they belong to the thank-offerings of the Gospel; but they differ, that thanksgiving belongeth to benefits bestowed on ourselves, or others, but in relation to 118; praise, to any excellency whatsoever: thanksgiving may be in word or deed, praise in words only. Well then, thanksgiving is a sensible acknowledgment of favours received, or an expression of our sense of them by word and work to the praise of the bestower. The object of it is the works of God as beneficial unto us, or to those who are related to us, or in whose good or ill we are concerned. As public persons, as magistrates: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Tim. ii. 1, 2); pastors of the church: “ Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf” (2 Cor. i. 11); or our kindred according to the flesh, or some bond of Christian duty: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice” (Rom. xii. 15). Another place where this duty is enforced is Eph. v. 20, where we are bid. den to give - thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ :” where you see it is a duty of a universal and perpetual use, and wherein the honour of God and Christ is much concerned. A third place is 1 Thes. v. 18, “In everything give thanks ; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” See what reason: he urgeth the express will of God requiring this worship at our hands. We are to obey intuitu voluntatis ; God's will is the fundamental reason of our obedience in every commandment; but here is a direct charge, now God hath made known the wonders of his love in Christ.
I shall prove to you that this is a necessary duty, a profitable duty, a pleasant and delightful duty.
First, The necessity of being much and often in thanksgiving will appear by these two considerations :
Ist, Because God is continually beneficial to us, blessing and delivering his people every day, and by new mercies giveth us new matter of praise and thanksgiving : “Blessed be the Lord, who loadeth us daily with his benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm lxviii. 19). He hath continually favoured us, and preserved us, and poured his benefits upon us. The mercies of every day make way for songs which may sweeten our rest in the night; and his giving us rest by night, and preserving us in our sleep, when we could not help ourselves, giveth us songs in the morning. And all the day long we find new matter of praise: our whole work is divided between receiving and acknowledging.
2ndly, Some mercies are so general and beneficial that they should never be forgotten, but remembered before God every day. Such as redemption by Christ: “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered" (Psalm cxi. 4). We must daily be blessing God for Jesus Christ: “ Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. ix. 15): I understand it of his grace by Christ. We should ever be thus blessing and praising him; for the keeping of his great works in memory, is the foundation of all love and service to God.
Secondly, It is a profitable duty. The usefulness of thanksgiving appeareth with respect to faith, love, and obedience.
Ist, With respect to faith. Faith and praise live and die together: if there be faith, there will be praise; and, if there be praise, there will be faith. If faith, there will be praise; for faith is a bird that can sing in winter. “In God, I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me" (Psalm lvi. 4); and, “In God will I praise his word, in the Lord will I praise his word” (verse 10). His word is satisfaction enough to a gracious heart: if they have his word, they can praise him beforehand; for the grounds of hope, before they have enjoyment; as Abraham, when he had not a foot in the land of Canaan, yet built an altar, and offered sacrifices of thanksgiving, because of God's grant and the future possession in his posterity (Gen. xiii. 18). Then, whether he punisheth or pitieth, we will praise him and glory in him. Faith entertaineth the promise before performance cometh, not only with confidence, but with delight and praise. The other part is, if praise, there will be faith; that is, supposing the praise real; for it raiseth our faith to expect the like again, having received so much grace already. All God's praises are the believer's advantage: the mercy is many times given as a pledge of more mercy. In many cases, Deus donando debet; if life, he will give food and bodily raiment. It holdeth good in spiritual things; if Christ, other things with Christ. One concession draweth another; if he spares me, he will feed me, clothe me. The attributes from whence the mercy cometh are the pillar of the believer's confidence and hope : if such a good, then a fit object of trust : if I have found him a God hearing prayer, I will