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engage you to the like performance, accustom you to this divine commerce of fetching from God and acting for God. Make speedy use of spiritual profit, and draw out the treasure speedily.
2. Seasonably All things are beautiful in their season, though you must draw out of your treasure speedily, yet not unseasonably; * you must not be so hasty as to be premature. Let your summer fruits be also ripe grapes. A Christian must learn to time all his actions and expressions ; circumstances much vary cases; that may be a duty at one time, which is not so at another. Divines lay down this rule in expounding the commandments-negatives bind at all times, and in all circumstances ; affirmatives are constantly binding, yet not in all circumstances. Brotherly admonition is a christian duty, yet it is not a duty to reprove a man when he is drunk, or in a passion. Here christian prudence interposeth, and is of singular use: though David was full of a treasure of good thoughts, yet he knew there was as well a time to keep silence, as a time to speak, therefore he kept his lips with a bridle, while the wicked were present, Psalm xxxix. 1. David here did not bind himself to perpetual silence, but to a constant watch: so we must consider, when speaking may do good, and when hurt. Our Lord Jesus knew how to speak a word in season, † and though he was always full of a heavenly treasure, yet sometimes he answered not a word, and waved doing a good work, until he saw a fitter season ; # that God might be more glorified, souls edified, and his designs furthered. Some companies at some times may not be fit for holy discourses, and we must not cast pearls before swine, lest instead of receiving them, they rend us ;* "a wise man's heart discerneth time and judgment,” saith Solomon; † and a godly man brings forth fruit in due season, saith David. I “A word fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver,” Prov. xxv. 11. in Hebrew, it is a word spoken upon its wheels; fit times are wheels which carry words to greater advantage. There is a nick of time, into which, if a word or work fall, it becomes sweet and successful, and because most men miss of this, their misery is great upon them. Ambrose || observes, that very many by speaking, scarce any by keeping silence, fall into sin,—and quotes the son of Syrach, saying, a wise man will first spy his opportunity before he opens his mouth,—and concludes, let thy words be under the yoke and balance, that is, in humility and measure, and so thy tongue shall be subject to thy mind : so also for self-conference, as well as discourse with others, you should draw out truths, and press them seasonably upon your own consciences; also threatenings and promises, precepts and prophecies. Oh, what stead may these stand you in ? to check you for sin, or to cheer your hearts in the ways
* Sunt aliqui, quorum fructus quia nimis properè minus prosperè oriuntur.-Bern. de Sanct. Ben. Serm. 1. + Isaiah 1. 4.
Matt. xxvii, 14. John xi. 6.
of God: to curb or conduct you in your progress; they may come in opportunely, as Abigail to David to prevent a rash attempt, to rouse up your drowsy or drooping spirits, to calm your quarrelsome or troubled hearts. Do you awaken your own spirits, call to remembrance your experiences and comforts at a dead lift, as David did in a like case, s and the Spirit of God will bring truths also to your remembrance, in a fit juncture of time; and certainly in those dubious workings and ambiguous debates betwixt the carnal • Matt. vii. 6. + Eccl. viii. 5.
Psalm i. 3. || Amb. Christi Offic. lib. 1. cap. 244. § Psalm lxxvii.
John xiv. 26.
and spiritual part, seasonable thoughts carry it and cast the scales for God: a small grain may help to preponderate in an equal poise-Christians know what this means. 0, what good hath a seasonable thought done many a sinking soul! On the contrary, unseasonable thoughts, though good in their own nature, have much prejudiced and distracted the soul, as when a Christian is at prayer, to have an impulse or inclination to read or meditate, when hearing to converse, &c.—this is to make religious duties to interfere. God's Spirit is a Spirit of order, and this is not a methodical or seasonable bringing forth, or laying out of this treasure. All Divines conclude, that thoughts, * though about good objects, if they be out of place do become vain thoughts, and weaken the worship of God: beware of those, but nourish pertinent thoughts, and make seasonable use of this heart treasure.
3. Sincerely. Be upright in your layings out; my meaning is, make shew of no more than indeed you have, profess not to have that to which you never attained. Beware of hypocrisy; there are many forthputting professors, that talk of many things they understand not; that brag of many truths, graces, comforts, and experiences, which they never felt in their own hearts, like the false prophets, that are said “ to steal the word every one from his neighbour.” † So, many steal phrases, passages, and observations, which they glean up from other Christians, which they know nothing of, but learn them by rote, and speak
* See Mr. Cobbet on Prayer, part 3, chap. 3. page 416. how to discern them, page 423.
+ Jer. xxiii. 30. Arbores autem quæ fructum faciunt sed non suum, hypocritæ sunt, cum Simone Syrenæo crucem portantes non suam : qui religiosa intentione carentes angariantur ; et quæ non amant, amore gloriæ quam desiderant, facere compelluntur. -Bern. Serm. fol. 120.
them like a parrot: these are just like some scholars that pretend to much learning, and acquaintance with many books which they never saw, and though they talk much, yet if they be well sounded, are found very shallow. Herein appears a great difference betwixt a child of God and a hypocrite: the latter cares not how good he makes men believe he is; the former is jealous lest others should think too well of him, and is afraid he should fail of their expectation; his heart is broken with this one thought, that he is not such a one as Christians account him to be, he hath not such a treasure as men think he hath. O, thinks the poor soul, by my discourses, prayers, and carriage, I have given occasion to my dear friends to imagine that there is more good in me than indeed there is; they see the better side, but God and my conscience know of much rottenness in these garnished tombs : this made Mr. Bradford subscribe his name with the epithet of a very painted hypocrite. Nay, this is it that lays many a good man under a temptation, not to appear well to others, lest his treasure within him should not answer, or bear out his professions; though that may be a temptation, yet it is a good token of sincerity, when a good report even of the truth itself, doth promote self-abasing humility. But that to which I urge, is uprightness in words and works; let your heart and tongue be tied together; rather be good than seem good ; approve your heart to God, that your “ praise may not be of men, but of God;” profess to be what you are, and be what you profess; be sure you have that within you, which you pretend unto. Uprightness is a good means to evidence and increase your treasure ; “ The upright shall have good things in possession.”—Prov. xxviii. 10. Alas, sirs, what will fair words and a false heart advantage you? Fine flourishes and a polluted inside will render you odious; groundless brags end in woful disgrace; God knows what you have, and men will know in time, Prov. xxvi. 23, “ Burning lips, and a wicked heart, are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.” This gilded earth makes a fair shew of seeming zeal, but alas ! he shall be detected, “ his wickedness shall be shewed before the congregation.”—Prov. xxvi. 26. Some men's religion is like pepper, hot in the mouth, but cold in the stomach; or like a man in a fever, whose face and outward parts burn, but his heart shakes and quivers for cold; and oh what zeal have some in external profession! but, alas, are destitute either of any principle at all, or at least, want that treasure or measure of grace they pretend to. Dr. Hall * tells us of one, that said, “ It is good to enure the mouth to speak well, for good speech is many times drawn into affection; but,” saith he, “I would fear that speaking well without feeling, were the next way to draw a man to habitual hypocrisy." But let me earnestly persuade all to sincerity and simplicity, for as Bernard saith, † “ Of two imperfect things, it is better to have a holy rusticity, than an offending eloquence. If our intention be upright to God-wards, our work will not be dark and dangerous in God's account, but they that are not pure by righteousness, cannot be innocent by simplicity.”
4. Draw out of your treasure suitably, that is, not only acting answerably to what you have within, that
• Dr. Hall in Medit. et Vows, cent. ). page 77.
+ Ex duobus imperfectis multo est melius habere rusticitatem sanctam, quàm eloquentiam peccatricem; magis veneranda est sancta rusticitas, quàm verbosa loquacitas. Soror in Christo dilecta, si nostra intentio est simplex apud Deum, in judicio ejus nostra operatio tenebrosa non erit ; qui casti esse per justitiam nesciunt, nequaquam esse innocentes per simplicitatem possunt.-Bern. Serin. 56, fol. 1299.