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must be honoured; it is the immutable decree of Hea. ven since the fall“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread,” Gen. iii. 19. Yea, this holds good for the soul : “Labour for that meat which endureth to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you,” John vi. 27. Mark it, man's endeavours are very consistent with God's free grace, and Christ's dear purchase. God will be found in his own way; he ordinarily conveys the first grace in and by his own institutions, but seldom will a soul grow up to a treasure without a long trading in the royal exchange of holy duties ; and diligence hath the promise of increase“And unto you that hear shall more be given,” Mark iv. 24. Well, sirs, hath the care of your hearts put labour into your hands, and travel into your feet, to repair to the markets and fairs of public, private, and secret performances, to get a solid treasure ? Have you both digged and begged for it? Where are your sweat and agony ? Hath Jesus Christ sweat blood to fit you
for heaven, and have not you gone through a bloody sweat to get interest in him, and possession of his grace? O the pangs of conscience, and sad pantings of a convinced sinner, to obtain a portion in these riches of grace! Never did a poor labourer toil so hard for his day's wages as an humbled soul to be filled with Christ. A treasure of money is got with sweat and blood; or to be obtained from alms, with weary steps and loud cries :* but if thou be too idle to dig, and too proud to beg, thou art without a treasure, and mayest pine away in everlasting poverty.
2. How do you value this treasure ? “ Where the treasure is, there will the heart be also,” Matt. vi. 21. The thoughts, cares, and affections will centre upon a
DT Proprie est sanguis, sed apud Chaldæos notat pecuniam, quia sanguine ac sudore pauperum paratur.-Byth.
man's treasure ; for he accounts his treasure the best thing he hath, yea worth all his other possessions. No man would willingly part with his treasure. So Naboth did tenaciously adhere to his hereditary possession. The wise merchant parts with all to purchase this.* Paul accounted his gain to be no better than loss for Christ, nay, as dung,f in comparison of his sweet and satisfying Saviour. All the world is a prejudice to a Christian, when it obstructs or obscures the grace of Christ. Is it thus with your souls ? Do you account your spiritual portion your only riches? The truth is, the riches of the soul, and the riches in the soul, are the very soul of riches. I confess, that is a meretricious love that prizeth receipts from Christ more than the person of Christ. But here I understand Jesus Christ to be the marrow and treasure of this treasure, and all these as ensuring evidences of interest in him ; for all that the soul hath is wrapt up in him. Well, then, let me question the most dark and doubting, if sincere, Christian. What sayest thou, poor soul, wouldst thou quit thy share in Christ and spiritual treasures, for a crown and kingdom ? wouldst thou not answer, No? Wouldst thou cast away thy trembling hopes of acceptance with God, to be delivered from the infamy, poverty, and persecution which sometimes attend the zealous profession of Christianity, that thou mayest live in honour, pleasure, and worldly delights ? Surely thou wouldest answer, No. Wouldest thou change thy present low, afflicted, and conflicting state, with thy former carnal, but confident condition, or with the pompous, prosperous state of graceless sin
I dare say thou wilt answer negatively. Yet, again, art thou not willing to part with thy dearest * Matt. xiii. 44.
+ Phil. iii. 8. Meretricius est amor, plus annulum, quam sponsum amare.
bosom lust and earthly enjoyment, for a true immortal treasure in heaven and in thy heart? I am confident an upright heart will answer, Yes. And if I mistake not, this if not only, yet chiefly, is the very parting point betwixt a sound Christian and a rotten hearted hypocrite; the one chooseth Martha's many things, the other Mary's one thing needful. This is indeed a discriminating mark; for a gracious soul will cry out, “None but Christ, none but Christ; give me Christ, or else I die; give me Christ and I shall live-Christ is my life, my crown, my joy, my all ;* if I may have him I have enough, without him I have nothing.” When one asked Alexander where his treasure was, he answered, “Where Hephæstion my faithful friend is.” Just so will a good soul say—“Christ is the chief of ten thousand.”+ I prize him above my life, who loved me unto the death ; I account that of great value that doth evidence my interest in him. As the marigold opens to the sun in the firmament, so doth the heart of a sincere Christian to the Sun of Righteousness: take an instance in Moses, who chose the bitterest cup of affliction, rather than the sugared cup of sensual pleasures, that he might enjoy Jesus Christ. See Heb. xi. 25, 26. Observe the strange disparity that appears to carnal reason in that choice; on the one side there was suffering, on the other enjoying-affliction on the one hand, pleasures on the other—the despised people of God were companions on one side, ruffling gallants in Pharaoh's court on the other—yet on the one side it was for a season, and but for a season, and that but turned the scales in his choice : those were pleasures, but treasures may perhaps prevail, with which Christ was last tempted.f No, good Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of * Christus meus est omnia. + Song v. 10. # Matt. iv. 8, 9.
Egypt. The worst of Christ is better than the best of the world. The noble Marquis Galeacius Caracciolus, in imitation of him, being tempted with large offers to depart from Zion to Babylon, resolutely replied, “ Let their money perish with them, that account all the treasures of the world worth one hour's communion with Jesus Christ.” If all the mountains were gold, the rocks pearls, and the whole world filled with the sweetest delights of the sons of men, and these offered to the Christian to be his proper inheritance for ever, he would, with a holy scorn, trample upon them, and look on them as not worth one glance of his eye, in comparison of one taste of the love of Christ, and a grain of saving grace in his heaven-born soul. But a carnal heart sees no such beauty in Christ, wherefore he should be so desired, nor is he taken with the comeliness and excellency of grace; a sad yet lively emblem whereof we have in the hopeful young gentleman that bade fair for heaven, yet when he saw it would cost him so dear as to part with all, he would rather go without it than forego his estate for it.* 0, sirs ! this is a pinching point, look to it—this one thing employed for examination will pierce betwixt joint and marrow, and a day of trial will discover what you account a treasure.
3. How do you use and improve this treasure ? Habits of grace are no otherwise known than by their acts. What is a man better for that he useth not? A talent of grace of the right stamp will not be confined to a napkin, though gifts may-exercising is as necessary and evidential as having sincere grace. Things that are not, and things that appear not, are both alike.f He is a wicked man that boasteth of his heart's desire, and he is a fool that trusteth in his heart. Yet many
* Matt. xix. 21, 22,
will say, “I have as good a heart as the best, though I do not talk so well with my tongue, or work so much with my hands--I have as good a meaning as any of them all, though I cannot make so great a show-I love to keep my religion to myself; none knows how good I am.” It is not denied, but degrees of modesty, fears of vain-glory, and jealousies of apostacy, may restrain some Christian's profession, yet there may be a temptation on that hand also; let such know, that where fire is, it will betray itself, by heat or smokeit is impossible grace should be hid or stifled; though there be only a smoking flax,* (even the wick of a candle, that affords little light and much offensive smell,) yet it will appear. Truths and graces in the heart will be (as the word was to Jeremiah) as “ a burning fire shut up in the bones”+ and bosom, that cannot be concealed. He that is full of matter is constrained, by the internal workings of the Spirit, to vent it; else it is like Elihu's new wine that hath no vent, and bursts the new bottles. The truth is, it is as natural for a gracious heart to talk and walk holily, as for a living creature to breathe and move, so far as gracious ; thus it cannot be otherwise, and also, observe it, it must not be otherwise. Your treasure within ought to be laid out; what have you it for else ? Profession with the mouth is as necessary, in its kind, as believing with the heart, Rom. x. 10. Our light must not be “ hid under a bushel,” but “shine before men,” that it may produce comfort to ourselves and have influence upon others, as well as have approbation from the Lord. So then, if thou hast a treasure within, thou dost witness a good confession, and thy conversation will be suitable to thy profession—thy trading will answer thy stock. The text tells you, “A good man, out of the
* Isa. xlii. 3. + Jer. xx. 9. Job xxxii. 18, 19.