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world, riches, honour, pleasure; they seek it, some in one thing, some in another. There is none more unsatisfied than a worldly man; for his heart cannot find rest, and yet none are sooner satisfied : a worldly man is not dainty, but taketh up what is next at hand. You think there is no such excellent spirited men, as they that have high designs in the world, and can achieve greatness and honour; but a poor Christian is of a more excellent spirit; these things will not give him contentment, nothing on this side God. Faith yieldeth a man a choice spirit; it makes us take the testimonies of the Lord for our heritage. A renewed soul, it hath its aspirings : it gets up to God, and will not be satisfied with worldly delights; but, "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul" (Lam. iii. 24). Others hunt after other things, beneath God, Heaven, the graces of the Spirit, the righteousness of Christ. Therefore thus it must needs be the property of God's children, because they have another understanding and another heart. And then, none but the children of God can have these privileges; why? Because, though they are very magnificent and glorious, yet they are invisible, and, for the most part, future and to come; they make no fair show in the flesh; this is hidden manna, meat and drink the world knows not of. Carnal men look upon an estate that lies in the covenant, to be but a notion and mere conceit; and they cannot believe they shall be provided for, if God bears the purse for them. They cannot live immediately upon God; they must have something visible, outward, and glorious. And partly, this inheritance is to come; therefore they cannot have this property : “ Followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb. vi. 12). The testimonies of the Lord are an inheritance we cannot come at presently; there needs a great deal of faith and patience in waiting upon God; as a hired servant must have money from quarter to quarter, and cannot with the child expect when the inheritance will befall him. A carnal heart dares not trust God, cannot tarry his leisure ; wicked men have “ their reward” (Matt. vi. 2): they must have present wages, glory, honour, and profit here. They discharge God of other things, because it is a thing which costs them much waiting, an humble dependence upon God, conflicts with many difficulties and hardships. Carnal men see no beauty in it; and, because it is to come, it turns their stomachs.
SERMON CXXII. VERSE 111.-Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever ;
for they are the rejoicing of my heart. USE 1.-It informs us what is the reason why a believer that hath nothing in hand, nothing to live upon, yet is not only patient, but comfortable and joyful; as the men of the world, when their corn, wine, and oil increase. Whence are these men maintained, supplied, and kept up at such a rate of cheerfulness? Their inheritance lies in the promise. As Christ said, I have meat and drink the world knows not of, so they have land and estate the world knows not of; they have all in God. You account him a richer man that hath much land, and a thousand pounds in bonds, than he that hath only a hundred pounds in ready money; so a child of God that hath one promise, is richer than all the world; he hath bonds, and his debtor cannot fail him. Let me tell you, a man may not only live by faith, but he may grow rich by faith. You read of living by faith (Gal. ii. 20): this is that which supports and keeps up a believer in heart and life. This will not only keep body and soul together, but help us to grow rich.
USE II._For examination. You have heard much what it is tohave an heritage in the testimonies of the Lord; oh! but who is the man? try yourselves. Let me propound a few plain questions.
1. Were you ever chased out of yourselves in the sense of the insufficiency of your worldly portion, and the curse due to you? Are you driven out of yourselves? There is a comfortable place, “God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that, by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation” (Heb. vi. 17, 18). Oh! who are these heirs of promise! If we could find out that, we are sure there is enough in God; there they are named, who have “ fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." There is none ever took the testimony of the Lord for their portion, but they came first to take hold of it as men in danger, ready to sink and perish, and be undone. Our first address is to take sanctuary in the covenant, to flee to Christ represented there as a city of refuge, that we may be safe. It is an allusion to a man which fled from the avenger of blood: when taken out of the city of refuge, under the law he was to die without remedy ; so a poor soul that first takes hold of the covenant, runs for sanctuary there first, before he comes to take possession of the comforts of it.
2. What do you take to be your main and your great work? Do you make it your main care to keep up your interest in the promises the great business you drive on, you would sit down in, as your work and employment? What do you wait upon as your great project and design in the world ? Mary chose the better part (Luke x. 42); do you make this to be your choice, your work and business you drive on, that you may be possessed of the whole land of promise, and enjoy eternal life, and clear up your right and title to Heaven “Laying up in store for themselves à good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life” (1 Tim. vi. 19).
3. Are you very chary of your interest? Oh! you would not hazard it upon such easy terms; this is that all your happiness depends upon. What! shall I break with God for such a trifle? Are you afraid to lose your inheritance by sin, as a man his treasure by theft? Are you careful and wary in this kind, that you may not hazard your interest? Said Naboth, "God forbid that I should sell mine inheritance' (1 King3 xxi. 3). Mark, there was a king would traffic with him, and that inheritance was but a poor vineyard of the earth ; but it was that which was descended from his father, 'Now God forbid that I should sell it.' Thus will be the disposition of God's children: 'Oh! here lies my all, my happiness, my daily sup. plies from God; God forbid that upon every trifle and carnal satisfaction I should break with God. It was a great profaneness in Esau, “who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right" (Heb. xii. 16). It is an argument that God is little valued, or the covenant and testimony of the Lord, when you can part with them for a mess of pottage; when the consolations of God are so cheap, and you can part with them for a little temporal satisfaction, and sell your part in Christ at a very easy rate.
• 4. What respect do you bear to the promises of God? Do you often meditate upon them? Have you recourse to them in straits? Do you keep them up as the choicest things upon your heart, upon which all your comfort depends, as a man would keep the key safe which opens to all his treasure ? Do you carry the promises as a bundle of myrrh in your bosom, because this is the key that gives you admission to the blessings promised? A man will keep his bonds chary, and will be often looking over them, and considering them; so, are you meditating upon the promises ? Are they the rejoicing and delight of your souls? Do you keep them near and dear to you? When alone, do your hearts run upon them? For a man may know his heritage by his musing and imagination. When Nebuchadnezzar was alone, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built, &c., for the honour of my majesty ?” he was thinking of his large territories : so, if you have taken the testimonies of the Lord for your heritage, your heart will be running upon them: Oh! what a happiness is it for God to be my God, and my interest cleared up in eternal life, and the great things of the covenant! Many times the flesh interposeth: “Happy is that people that is in such a case” (Psalm cxliv. 15). You will be admiring carnal excellency sometimes; but then, you will check your souls, “ Yea, [rather] happy is that people whose God is the Lord.
5. If the testimonies of the Lord be your heritage, then you will live upon them, and make them the storehouse from whence you fetch all your supplies, as righteousness, peace, comfort, and spiritual strength; nay, all your outward maintenance. This will be comfort in straits, strength in duty, provision for your families. There are two sorts of the children of God, either those that are in prosperity, or those that are in want; and both live on the covenant. A child of God that hath a plentiful affluence of outward comforts, yet he doth live upon God: to them that believe everything is sanctified by the word and prayer (1 Tim. iv. 5). Though God hath supplied them with mercy, yet they have their right; all comforts and blessings owe their rise from the promise ; I take them immediately out of God's hand, from a God in covenant with me, and so I use the blessing and praise God; otherwise, if you look only to present sup. plies, you live by sense, not by faith. Every one is to say, “Give us this day our daily bread," to fetch out his supplies from God every day, rich men as well as others, when you see you have a right and liberty by Christ: so God's leave and God's blessing go along with all, by this means rich men live upon the covenant. Ay; but chiefly in want; the word quickened and strengthened him when he was in distress and want of all things. Do you find the word afford maintenance in distress and want in all things? The covenant is a store-house that never fails : when all else fails, God is alive still, and the promises are the same: when the field yields no meal, when there are no calves in the stall, &c., yet then you can live upon your covenant interest, and comfort yourselves in the Lord your God (Hab. iii. 18). Though the course of nature may fail, yet the covenant of God doth not fail; for that is beyond the course of nature, or beyond the common providence of God; when you can see that all the accidents which fall out in the world can never take your portion from you, you have enough to live upon; when you see more in the promises than the creature can take away from you, and can see all made up in God; as the children of Israel in the wilderness had no house; but, ‘Loid, thou art our dwelling place' (Psalm xc. 1). Faith gets a living from promises, when nothing comes to hand in sense and outward feeling; and nothing can be taken from us, but what the covenant can restore again, and to fetch quickening and support from Heaven.
Use III.-For exhortation, to press you to take God's promises for an heritage; the poorest that are born to nothing, may put in for a share. Take these motives :
1. Consider, every man hath an heritage, he hath a chief good: many say, “ Who will show us any good?" (Psalm iv. 6.) There is something that man takes to be his happiness. The soul in itself is a chaos of desires; like a sponge that sucks and thirsts, it hath not sufficiency in itself, it was made for something without ourselves. Now, man, being such a needy creature, is always looking abroad for a happiness, for a portion to maintain and keep him up in comfort and life. Every man must have a portion. Men are not men without looking after something to maintain them as a portion. Now, there is no portion like this, like the testimony of the Lord, there is none so full as this God's covenant notion is all-sufficiency; here are all things to be found in God. When God came to indent with Abraham, “I am God Almighty.” He that hath the testimony of the Lord for his portion, hath God's all-sufficiency engaged to give him everything he stands in need of.
2. This is a portion which will go along with you wherever you go. If you go into exile, a foreign land, into prison, in the grave, your heritage will follow you there. Your estate, though it lie in jewels, cannot be carried safe with you; but this portion you may carry with you, they cannot plunder and deprive you of it. There is a notable expression, “ A good man shall be satisfied from himself” (Prov. xiv. 14)-a very strange expression; it is the highest sacrilege and usurpation that can be, to be sufficient to ourselves, it is an encroachment upon God. Man, when he first fell from God, self was the next pretender, to seek that in ourselves which is only found in God. How is it meant a good man shall be satisfied from himself? What! shall the Lord be laid aside? Shall he be sufficient to his own happiness? No; it is not meant in opposition to God, but in opposition to external things that lie without him. He is satisfied from himself; that is, from the comfort God lets into his own heart. A godly man is independent; his comfort doth not hang upon the creature; if you take away the creature, you do not take away his portion. As the philosopher could say, when all were bewailing the loss and spoil of the enemy, I carry all mine with me;' so a Christian carries all his treasure about him. There is the same expression, Ye“ took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in Heaven a better and an enduring substance" (Heb. x. 34). A Christian hath a substance that is out of the reach of spoiling, since inward comfort is far better than riches and all this lumber that is without
3. All other things will never give you satisfaction. A worldly heritage may give us a bellyful, but cannot give us a heartful: their bellies are filled with hid treasure (Psalm xvii. 14): they which are rich and great in the world have more dishes at their tables, but these have a more delicious feast in their souls, that choose God for their portion. All other heritages do but yield more matter for sin, more fuel for wickedness, to be spent upon lust, pride, luxury, appetite: that is all the difference. The heart of man is not satisfied with these things; and yet, if the heart could be satisfied, conscience could not; for that is a sore place, still our sore will run upon us. Thus you see there is no heritage like this, that lieth out of the reach of the world, and that will fill up the whole heart and yield satisfaction. You know all other things cannot help us in many worldly cases. In sickness, spiritual comfort only doth relish of sweetness. A man doth never relish the comfort of the covenant, as when he is under sickness, and deprived of other things. For all other heritages, we know the best of them at first; but this is a heritage that grows upon us : here we have the pledge and earnest of our inheritance: an earnest is a small thing to bind the bargain in lieu of a greater sum.
4. This heritage sanctifies all our heritages. Oh! it is a sad thing to enjoy a heritage with the curse and the wrath of God. “ Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added;" then they are cast in over and above, as paper and packthread into the bargain, and are cast in in a sanctified way. A man may grow worse for every other portion; all the world will not bring one drachm of grace; but this improves the world, and betters us.
5. Again, this is a good sign of adoption, when we have the spirit of God's children, both in God's gift and our choice. When men take the promises for their portion, it is a sign they have a good spirit. There is no mark put upon them that have an excellent disposition and dexterity to grow great in the world; but to be labouring and striving after an interest in the testimony of the Lord, it is a sign we have a child's spirit.
6. Again, this is a peculiar portion, and always goes along with the favour of God. Other things a man may have with the hatred of God, God giveth gifts to all his creatures. Isaac had the inheritance, but the children of the concubines had gifts; so every creature may have common gists, a common portion, abundance of supplies in outward things; but no right in the promises of God; and all this may be without the love of God.
7. Again, they that refuse this heritage, the Lord will cause his vengeance to seize upon them. It is not arbitrary, whether you will take the testimony of the Lord for your heritage or not. God cannot endure to be despised. When Nabal despised David's kindness, I will cut off' every one, &c. (1 Sam. xxv. 22); so, when the Lord hath made such an offer of himself and his Christ in covenant, and love hath gone to the uttermost to save, and we turn back, then “snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest, this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm xi. 6). It would make a man's heart tremble to think of the heirs apparent of the land of darkness; that is, wicked men; God will give them their portion with hypocrites in everlasting burnings; therefore, take heed of refusing this portion; you can look for nothing but terrible things from God; for his love is despised. Well then, go in God's name, and take hold of the covenant.
Again, this may be of use to press believers to live answerably to such an heritage. Am I an heir of Heaven, and so uncomfortable and dejected ? Can I have an interest in the promises, and be no more affected? This returning upon our hearts! When the Apostle had spoken that we should be co-heirs with Christ, and laid forth the privileges of the covenant, he concludes, “What shall we then say to these things?" (Rom. viii. 31.) So, Christians, go home, return upon your heart, and say, 'Have I an interest in him, and live at such a low rate both for comfort and grace? Do I walk in such a low and unsuitable manner? Do I look upon this as