dage, saith, "Know ye not, that to whomsoever ye give yourselves, as servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. But God be thanked, that ye have been the servants unto sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart unto the form of doctrine, whereunto ye were delivered." Here is our estate before Christ's kingdom cometh into our hearts. We are not without a lord, but the prince of darkness, and our own corruptions sit as lords and tyrants in us, that, beloved, did the Lord but open the eyes of a wicked sinner, to see in what a thraldom he were, before Christ did unloose the works of Satan, he would be afraid of himself, and would pray the Lord to dislodge that tyrant. Seeing then the matter is thus, that before the Gospel be entertained, we are slaves and vassals to Satan and our own corruptions, let us learn to make use hereof.

Seeing that our wages then shall be but a dead pay, and that for sin we shall be tormented, world without end. This should draw us from the kingdom of sin unto the kingdom of grace in Christ Jesus; for when the kingdom is brought to our doors, and the Lord findeth that we seek him not, how shall we escape damnation so great, if we neglect so great salvation? I appeal unto the conscience of a profane man, that will say Lord, Lord, but yet will not do his commandments, whether he make him not a mock God. The Lord complaineth, "if I be a father, where is mine honour," And our Saviour asketh the Jews, why they call him Master, yet not doing these things which he spake? Truth it is that a wicked man maketh a mock of him, he putteth a sceptre of a reed into his hands, and a crown of thorns upon his head, when in this case he is rebellious against him, when he cares not for his commandments, but although his messengers charge and threaten him, he respecteth not, further than it may not cross his corrupt lusts.

Consider, then, whether or not thou hast this spirit of rebellion, against the sceptre of righteousness. You see

h Malach. chap. 1. ver. 6.

Rom. chap. 6. ver. 16. i Luke, chap. 6. ver. 46.

Christ is there installed in his kingdom, there is his coronation, and there is the large extent of his dominions: he that is the prophet of his Church publisheth the will of his Father. The Lord will say "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; ask of me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession, thou shalt crush them with a sceptre of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel." So that we now, who are in the uttermost parts of the earth, may not think but that we must yield subjection to his kingdom. Now I appeal unto your consciences, whether you are in the number of those rebels there set down. They rage, murmur, they band themselves, and are assembled against the Lord and against his Christ anointed; let us break their bands (say they), and cast their cords from us. Here are the speeches of a mutinous heart: they will not speak against God, but against those poor ones that are employed in his service. They say they put upon us such burdens, we cannot take them; they cannot endure that a man should increase his estate by usury; they cry out against us when we go unto plays, dancings, feasts of mirth, and other the like sins. Let us therefore reject their yokes, and not be subject to those vassals. So long as a man, beloved, hath these thoughts, so long as he findeth this rebellion in his heart, that he thinketh it a burden when God speaketh by his ministers, and the heart is ready to burst, let him assure himself that the Lord shall break and dash him in pieces, if he will not strike sail, when the message of Christ Jesus is brought unto him. Howsoever he may think God to be nothing but mercy, yet let him know that howsoever he loved his children, with that infinite love, that he gave his only Son, and that to death for them, yet hath he a bar of iron in his hand, whereby he will dash his enemies in a thousand pieces.

Seeing then Christ is set as a king over all the nations, when there is a messenger despatched from heaven, and the kingdom of grace is tendered unto thee, subject thyself unto him, lest his anger be kindled but a little; for then who is able to endure it? O then blessed are all they that



[ocr errors]

put their trust in him. And thus much of that, that this treasure is likened to the kingdom of heaven.

Now the reason why this kingdom is resembled to a treasure, is because, howsoever the ministry of the Gospel to fools is accounted but foolishness, yet unto those who have true understanding to judge aright, the Gospel of having Christ and his righteousness is accounted for the most precious thing that can be. I say, howsoever the submitting of a man's self unto the Gospel may be accounted base, in the eyes of base men, who hereafter shall be made more vile than dung, yet to them who are wise they are accounted the greatest treasure in the world. So that here is set down by the Holy Ghost the highway how a man may be truly rich. Wouldst thou have a treasure, in the having whereof thou shalt never want, be thou then a subject to the kingdom of God, and then shall thy riches be such as shall never be taken from thee. Riches are here called a treasure, that is a great quantity of riches (for all riches are not a treasure), but that is said to be a treasure which is abundance. We see in the word of God, how this wisdom is not only compared to a treasure, but the compare is thought too base. What do we talk of earthly treasures? Why, the richest thing we have, compared with the treasure of Christ, is nothing. It is said to be a treasure hid, and deeply hid, that unless God discovers it, man naturally cannot find it out. "Where is wisdom found, and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof," neither the value and quality of this treasure, what it is. "It is not found in the land of the living the deep saith it is not in me. The sea also saith it is not with me; gold shall not be given for it, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof; it shall not be valued with the gold of Ophir, nor with the precious onyx, nor with the sapphire, the gold nor the crystal shall be equal unto it, for it is more precious than pearls." Here you see Job, a skilful lapidary, bringeth forth the finest gold that might be imagined, the coral, the gabish, and a great sort of precious


Job. chap. 28. ver. 12.

[ocr errors]

stones, and yet, comparing them with wisdom, they are found too light, there is no comparison, no valuation between them. The like we may see. "Happy1 is that man who findeth wisdom, and that man who gets understanding, for the merchandise thereof is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof is better than gold. It is more precious than pearls, and all things that thou canst desire. are not to be compared unto her; length of days are in her right hand, and in her left hand pleasures and honour." There is one word which comprehendeth all; consider all the things thy heart can desire, let it be filled with whatsoever it will, yet all is not comparable to this spiritual wisdom. Thus, you see, God comparing this message, this wisdom, this treasure offered unto us (though in earthen vessels) in an homely dish, with all that the heart of man can desire, with all treasures, and precious stones, all are nothing comparable to it. Consider, then, and weigh with thyself, what is ⚫ brought unto thee in a homely dish, even the most precious thing that thou canst desire; here is tendered the son of God, God is offered to be thy portion, the Lord of all things, thou mayest receive him, it standeth either upon thy acceptance or refusal. We see it was accounted a great honour which God did unto Abraham, when he accounted him his familiar friend. As it is said in the Scriptures, "Didst not thou, O God, cast out the inhabitants of this land, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham, thy friend?" To which also St. James agreeth", where Abraham is called the friend of God. It was a great matter that God should call him friend, not servant, who knoweth not the secrets of his master, but his friend, to know his mind. Many have friends, and yet they are never the better for them; but God he giveth unto his friend Abraham the land of Canaan, and he maketh him to possess it, in despite of the nations; but what is this to the gift behind? He bringeth him into that land, for all the sons of Anak, in spite of them, for to possess the same, yea the possession of this earthly Canaan was so esteemed of the Patriarchs, that (as you know) it made

m 2 Chron. cap. 20. ver. 7.

Prov. chap. 3. ver. 13.
James, chap. 2. ver. 23.

them so strict to have their bodies buried there. For, I pray you, what kindled this desire in them, some to be carried thither, and some to have their bones removed after hundreds of years (as the bones of Joseph were) but because it was a type of the heavenly Canaan, of the certain possession whereof hereafter, in the fulness of glorification, this their burial was a type and figure.

So God, by our ministry, offereth unto you the possession of that heavenly Canaan, notwithstanding the sons of Anak, and all the adverse power of hell, and hellish men, that withstand the same. Take possession thereof then, by the ministry, in the kingdom of grace, that thereby you may be possessed of heaven, as he which hath heaven hath he not a treasure? And yet God giveth Abraham a greater treasure than this, he giveth him more than heaven and earth, and all. "After these things (saith the text) the word of the Lord come unto Abraham in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abraham, I am thy buckler, and thine exceeding great reward." Wouldst thou have a reward? Thou shalt not only have heaven, but thou shalt have myself also. Now, was this spoken, think you, to Abraham only, or to his children also? Yea, it is that which every faithful soul may say, God is my portion, "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him." How then can that man be poor, which hath such a treasure? that hath such a portion as God is ? So that the soul which hath this portion, which hath attained to this treasure, may truly confess with the prophet David, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places, yea I have a goodly heritage." So also we may see upon this ground (the consideration of this great treasure procured by the Gospel) the children of God are comforted against the discontentments arising unto them by the prosperity of the wicked. When David had seen the flourishing estate of the wicked, and all treasures to flow unto them; "Certainly (saith he) I have cleansed mine heart in vain, and washed mine hands in innocency; for daily have I been punished,

• Gen. chap. 15. ver. 1. Psalm, 16. ver. 6.

P Lament. chap. 3. ver. 24.

r Psalm 73. ver. 13, 14.

« VorigeDoorgaan »