Page images
PDF
EPUB

4. A treasure makes holy duties constant and perpetual : though there may be some temporary intermissions, yet never a total cessation, in acts of religion. Will a hypocrite pray always ? Job xxvii. 10. No, verily. The water riseth no higher than the spring, and waters fail that have no spring, like Job's snowwater, which, when it waxeth warm, vanisheth away;* but a little brook supplied with a constant spring holds out in winter and summer : just such is the difference betwixt the performances of a treasured and treasureless heart. Two men perform duties, the one from gifts, the other from grace; the former in time withers, the latter daily increaseth. The King of France showed Spain's Ambassador his rich treasures : the Ambassador looks under the treasure chests, saying, “ Have these a spring ?-my master's treasures have :" meaning both the Indies. Just so it is here : let natural men's attainments be never so excellent, you may come to see an end of all their perfections; their eye of knowledge may be darkened, and their arm of natural and acquired abilities clean dried up. For, how can a well be always giving out water that receives none? How can a rose keep its freshness without a root? But they that are "planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God; yea, they shall bring forth fruit in old age,” Psalm xcii. 13, 14. For the seed of God is a lively principle, that will never die; and this spring of grace is fed with supplies from the fulness of Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of

gardens and well of living waters. Hence he saith, “He that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,"+ John vii. 38. That is, he shall have

* Job vi. 16, 17. + In summa, hîc tam perpetuitas donorum Spiritus, quam affluentia nobis promittitur.-Marl. in loc.

a perpetual supply of grace, and shall send forth constant emanations of gracious acts. A well furnished Christian shall never be drawn dry; his Saviour and treasure ever live, and because Christ lives, the saints and their graces shall live for ever. O friends! what would you give in these backsliding times to hold out to the end, that you may not make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience ? Behold, I shew unto you an excellent way ;-heap one grace upon another, till you possess a treasure-tie a chain of these pearls together, and lay them up in the closet of your hearts, and you will never be spiritually impoverished—be holily covetous after all graces that are attainable—“add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity;" for if

you

have these you will not be barren or unfruitful in duties, and if you perform duties according to that treasure, you shall never fall, 2 Pet. i. 5-11. These form a chain that link the soul to God, and reach as high as heaven. But do not think you can endure to the end without a treasure; for he that “ hath not root in himself, dureth but for a while,” Matt. xiii. 21. No wonder if many drop off like leaves in autumn_they have not any thing to bear them out; they spend upon themselves, as the spider, which spins her webs out of her own bowels, and they are swept away as the spider's web. But the gracious soul hath no less than an infinite God to supply the treasures of grace; so that let a Christian fall off to many acts of sin, carelessness in duty, and a course of dissipation, yet this treasure will work it off :—as a spring clears itself from mud in time, so he shall be brought back to God. There is something in the heart of a backsliding saint that makes him restless in that estate, and moving towards the centre. David saith, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep;" there is his acknowledgment : “seek thy servant;" there is his request : “ for I do not forget thy commandments;” there is the argument to enforce it. As if he had said, There is yet something in my heart that owns thee; though I be fallen far, yet not so far but that I am still reaching after thee, and I am not fallen below thy reach. The truth is, a child of God hath more hold of God in his lowest ebbs than another sinner hath. As the spinster leaveth a lock of wool to draw on the next thread, so there is something left in the heart, the seed of God, that springs heaven-wards. Though a saint be in a very dead frame, yet he is not twice dead, as wicked men are; there is yet the root of the matter in the heart, that by the scent of water, (the heavenly dew of divine grace) will sprout again, and bring forth fruit: I dispute not how far men may fall, and whether a true saint may not be brought back to the bare habits of

grace they were at first infused, and lose degrees of grace obtained; but sure I am that Christ prayed for Peter, (and so for all believers) that his faith should not fail, Luke xxii. 32. and God always heareth him;* therefore our Divines have determined, that the seed of regeneration, with those fundamental gifts, without which spiritual life cannot subsist, are kept safe and entire; for the same Holy Ghost that infused that seed of grace, hath imprinted in it an incorruptible virtue, and perpetually cherisheth it and maintaineth it ;* Mary's better part shall not be taken away. This fear in the heart, keeps them from departing from God, Jer. xxxii. 40. They have [constantiam in proposito, et

* Vid. Suff. Brit. de quin. Artic. thes. 6, p. 189. In sanctorum cordibus secundum quasdam virtutes semper manet Spiritus. Secundum quasdam recessurus venit, et venturus recedit. In his virtutibus, sine quibus ad vitam non pervenitur, in electorum suorum cordibus permanet.-Greg. Moral.

as

perseverantiam in opere] constancy in their hearts, and perseverance in their hands. Holy resolutions produce successful performances; and thus doth the treasured Christian hold on in a christian course, till these smaller measures of grace end in the vast ocean of glory. Thus much for the reasons of the point.

CHAP. VI.

SELF-EXAMINATION RELATIVE TO THIS TREASURE.

Now for a more close application of this to our own souls ; is it so, that a good treasure in the heart, is necessary to good expences in the life ? then

1. It stands us all in hand to try ourselves, and dig into our own hearts to see if we can find a treasure there, both in respect of sincerity and degree of grace. Know it, you are beggarly souls unless you have truth of grace; graceless souls are the only treasureless souls, and I fear there are more than a good many, that could never experimentally distinguish betwixt nature and grace, and therefore are increasing guilt, and treasuring up wrath: O Christians! see whether you have the true riches, try what proficiency you have made for grace, and in grace; you have long had a day of grace, and you must be accountable for all opportunities. Cheat not yourselves with counters instead of gold; Bristol-stones may make as fair a show as pearls ; true grace is a rare and rich commodity. Thousands that are empty, conceit to themselves a treasure; proud, conceited professors are apt to boast of their attainments, whilst some self-denying humble souls, are apt to bear false witness against themselves, by denying what they have: Solomon saith, “ There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing; there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches,” Prov. xiii. 7. Sounding vessels are often empty, and still running waters are usually deep; vapouring tradesmen jingle their money in their hands, whilst sober chapmen keep it in their chests; you shall find more of a merchant's goods in his warehouse, than in his shop window. So it is with a sober, serious, and judicious Christian; his glory and treasure is most within, whilst vain-glorious mountebanks in religion set all upon the stage. I entreat you, read those books that lay down marks of true grace, hear and attend the most heart-searching ministry, take much pains in descending frequently into your own hearts, and the God of heaven make you serious in a thorough search.

More particularly that I may help you in a discovery whether you have laid up a treasure of holy thoughts, proceeding from truths, graces, comforts, and experiences, ask, I beseech you, your own hearts these four questions—How came you by it? How do you value it? How do you use it? How do you increase it?

1. Let me ask you, and do you ask yourselves, if you pretend to such a treasure, How came you by it? Men usually know how they get a treasure. The hand of the diligent maketh rich,” Prov. x. 4. that is, “the blessing of the Lord” upon diligent endeavours, ver. 22. Men that would be rich ply the oars, run to markets and fairs, travel from city to city, to "buy and sell, and get gain;"* they travel by sea and by land, compassing the world to possess a small portion of it. Why, now, what do you in spiritual things? Where are your thoughtful cares and painful hands? Though labour will not get this treasure, (it is a free gift,) yet it will not be had without labour. God's ordinance

[ocr errors]

• James iv. 13.

« PreviousContinue »