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and run the Christian off his legs : but for inward graces, sanctified knowledge, and real holiness, there can never be an overplus or excess—whilst you are on this side the line, you will be short of perfection. Let Festus-like sots say, that “ much learning makes professors mad;"* let us study to increase and abound more and more in knowledge, faith, love, humility, experience; as Paul pressed forward, if by any means he might attain to the resurrection of the dead, forgetting what was behind, and reaching forth to what was before.f Moses's ark had staves for removing further, Jacob's ladder had rounds for ascending higher---Christians must sing the song of degrees in this world, and should seek to be renewed day by day. We must not sit upon, and be satisfied with, our measure, # but work hard to make it a treasure; we must strive both for fulness of grace and fulness of joy. It is possible a Christian may attain to a full assurance; yea, to that joy which is unspeakable, and peace which passeth all understanding; and he may even think he hath enough; as I have heard of a good soul that enjoyed such an abundant tide of comfort, that he desired the Lord to stay his hand, lest the vessel should break, (though this is not ordinary for every believer, nor at all times for any,) so that some may possibly have as much comfort as they can desire; but I never read or heard of any saints that had too much grace, or so much as they desired--all have bewailed their defects, living and dying; and the best men have been most covetous of divine things, young and old. It is said of good Mr. Herbert Palmer, when he was of the age of four or five years, " that he would cry to go to his lady-mother, that he might hear something of God.” And of old Grynæus * Acts xxvi. 24.
+ Phil. iii. 11-14. Xolvikt un tika noo, was Pythagoras's motto.
(that savoury German Divine) it is recorded, that when some persons were discoursing by his death-bed he lift up himself, saying, “ I shall die with more comfort if I may die learning something for the good of my soul.” Now, sirs, who or what are you? Are you wise enough, good enough? Are you afraid of being too like God, or of having too much of God in and with your souls ? Are you loth to get too ready for, or too readily into, heaven? Alas, alas ! you may call your estate into question, if you say, you have grace enough, or are good enough, or if you slacken your endeavours to get more grace, upon a conceit you have enough.* It is as natural for a living saint to call for grace as for a lively child to cry for food ; insatiable desire after grace, is a clear test of the truth of grace. O shame thyself, then, for thy neglect, and humble thy soul for thy nonproficiency.
3. Do you certainly know what treasure you may need? When you go a journey you take money enough, because you cannot tell but you may be put to extraordinary expences ; and truly, in your journey to heaven you may be put to unexpected charges. You little know what a day may bring forth; it may bring forth a burden for your back; God may call you to sharp service, in a way of duty and difficulty: you are sure to go through a purgatory to glory; the way to heaven is strait and narrow, and you must crowd hard to get in, and thrust through—" through manifold temptations and tribulations you must enter into heat ven.” It is an irrevocable decree of Heaven, that “he that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.” We have had fair weather hitherto, but the greater storm is behind; we have not yet "resisted to blood,” but we may be put to it. Be you sure, as long
* Si dixisti satis est, periisti.
as the devil is in hell, and Antichrist on earth, there will be persecutions raised against the Church, in some part of it or other; yea, and the dying blows of the latter may prove the heaviest to the Reformed Churches.* Woe to those that are unprovided for that sharp day! Oh, what piteous shirking will there be to save the skin, and damn the soul! O Christians! get furnished for this encounter; we little know whom it may reach, or how long the storm may last. You had need get
strengthened with all might, unto all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness,” † lest, if your patience be short and sufferings long, you fail in the way, and fall short of your crown. What a sad plight are those seamen in that have made but a scant provision, and meet with a long voyage. It was a good saying of the Rev. Mr. Dod, “That this is the difference betwixt a Christian that is provided for troubles, and one that is not; that to the one they are but blows on the harness, but to the other they are blows on the flesh.”Ælian saith, “That in Lybia men slept with their boots on, because of the scorpions, that they might not sting them.” We had need also be well “shod, or booted, with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" || that is, with a disposition and resolution to walk in the most thorny way, and stinging company of wicked men, that we may “ follow the Lamb which way soever he goeth.” We had need to count the cost in the profession of religion, we do not know what God may call us to do or to endure. Great services require great strength; that we may neither be weary of, nor weary in, the Lord's work; we must lay in much, that we may lay out much for God; we know not what God will call us to use. When Israel was to go out of Egypt, Moses would take the cattle, and not leave "a hoof behind; for, saith he, we know not with what we must serve the Lord, till we come thither," Exod. x. 26: therefore must they also borrow jewels,* to be thoroughly furnished; "and the Egyptians were more willing to lend them,” saith a learned man, “because themselves were decked with jewels, that they might be more acceptable to their fine-decked deities.”+ So you do not know with what sort of graces or truths you must serve the Lord ; only let us get furnished with all instituted qualifications, that we may be so adorned and armed that the Lord may take pleasure in us, and that we may get through services and sufferings with glory to God, credit to religion, and comfort to our own souls. Those are unwise Christians that lose their time, and are not furnished for the tempests of their sea-voyage, since no man knows what he must need.
* Contra quos deinceps, bellum geretur, hodieque durat nec finietur, donec, bestia in exitium ierit.--Mede Com. in Apoc. p.
198, + Col. i. 11. I Mr. Clark in his Life. || Eph. vi. 15.
4. Neglect herein is a dishonour to God, and disparagement to the treasures of grace. “ Why art thou being the king's son, lean from day to day,” said Jonadab to Ammon, 2 Sam. xiii. 4. So say I, whence proceeds this leanness? Is there not meat enough at your Father's table, store sufficient in your Master's treasury? Do you not disparage the means of your supply, and bring an ill report on the good land ? God is not a hard master, but distributes liberally an abundant dole of grace : why then are your souls no better liking in religion? The reason is not in God, but in yourselves : " you are not straitened in him, but in your own bowels,” I as Paul in another case; now, as a recompense of his love and munificence, be
also enlarged. Indeed, it doth (as it were) ease God's • Exod. xi. 2. + Dr. Lightfoot Glean. on Exod. p. 24.
# 2 Cor. vi. 12.
heart to be communicating of his goodness; it did please him infinitely from eternity, to think of expending riches of grace upon sinners in time :* but he can be perfectly and perpetually happy without you ; it doth chiefly concern you to fetch all from him, that you also may be happy in the enjoyment of him. Are you afraid of being happy? who, but foolish man would forsake his own mercies ?+ Shall God set up an office of grace in Christ, and will indigent souls take no notice of it? You cannot grieve him worse than to neglect his infinite condescension and tender affection. If a mighty king should open his treasure, and bid men come and bring their bags, and take as much as they desired, do you think they would neglect this occasion of enriching themselves ? Surely not; they would rather fetch bag after bag, (for scarce is any one weary of taking money) and with the poor woman in sacred story, borrow vessels that may contain larger treasures. The God of heaven hath made a glorious proclamation of scattering precious treasures ; do you question whether he intends as he speaketh ? God forbid : or, do you fear being welcome? Why, you are most welcome when you come for the greatest share. Do you fear unworthiness will hinder you? I say, sense of unworthiness will help you to be capable of greater receipts. Do you fear these treasures of heaven will be exhausted by the myriads of souls that are supplied therefrom? Know it, sirs, the royal exchequer is as rich this day, as it was when Christ was first promised, or the first man saved; these riches of grace are an inexhaustible spring. Distribution doth not impair its fulness, no more than the sun's shining doth rob it of its innate and native light. Oh then, why are our souls so poor and pining? The * Prov. viii. 31.
+ Jonah ii. 8.