« VorigeDoorgaan »
and chastened every morning." David, seeing the wicked in prosperity, but himself punished; surely (saith he) my feet had almost fallen. But did not David, before he had ended the Psalm, see that he had a greater portion than the wicked? He falleth out in acclamation, "Whoms have I in heaven but thee? and I have desired none in the earth with thee." Let whatsoever misery come upon me, yet I would not be a wicked man, because the Lord is the strength of mine heart, and my portion for ever: so that the consideration of this great treasure given to God's children, is a means to keep them from that discontentment, whereunto otherwise they are likely to be subject. You see, David contenteth himself with this treasure. "The Lord (saith he) is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup; he shall maintain my lot." Let the wicked rejoice in their abundance of their wealth, thou hast given me more joy of heart and comfort than they, when their corn, wine, and oil have yielded great increase. You see the point verified, he to whom God hath given an heart to receive grace, and a willingness to subject himself to this kingdom, that man cannot want: all that the heart of man can desire is not comparable to that which this man shall possess.
The apostle, he standeth upon this point; "What" shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who shall be against us ?" They shall do us no harm, if God be on our side: who shall condemn us if he acquit us? Though all the devils in hell, and hellhounds upon earth should belch out their venom against us, yet shall they do us no harm. The ground then is, if he spared not his own son, but delivered unto death for us, how then shall he not with him give us all things else? You must think that when Christ, God's principal jewel, is made our stock, and given unto us by God, God himself, that he will not stick to give us petty matters of less moment. Nay, the having of these things or wanting are truly our's, all are our's, all is for our good. As it is, after the apostle had concluded against the va
Psalm 73. ver. 25. "Rom. chap. 8. ver. 31.
t Psalm 16. ver. 5.
nity of worldly men, he inferreth, "let no man rejoice in men, for all things are your's." Never make comparison between a righteous and a wicked man, for the wicked are but cyphers to them; there is no comparison, all things are your's, Paul and Apollos, or the world, or life, or death, things present, or things to comey. This one thing the apostle maketh to draw on all the rest. Christ is God's, and God hath bestowed him upon us, who, being heir of all things, all things belong unto us. The best preachers, Paul so powerful, Apollos so eloquent, and Cephas so mighty, all are our's, and their gifts were given them for our good. It is saida, that for this cause were gifts given unto men. Nay, which is a greater matter, you have heard the apostle say, the world and death are our's; they are our enemies indeed, and yet he is not content to say, they shall do us no hurt, but that they shall do us good service. And, which may comfort God's children, as it is also", not only things present, but also things to come shall work for their good. Neither principalities nor powers, nor height, nor depth, shall separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus; though they should live as long as Methuselah, yet need they not fear anything, nothing can sever them from him. So that may we not boldly say, that he which is God's hath found a treasure, and is rich? We will now therefore briefly come to an issue of this point with exhortation.
Wouldest thou have true riches?
Then doat not upon the transitory things of this world; let not the pleasures thereof deceive thee, which may be taken from thee, or thou from them; which the wise man warneth thee of; that "riches taketh unto her wings as an eagle, and flieth unto heaven." Only this treasure remaineth constant, it cannot be taken away, when thou sendest thy carriage before thee unto heaven, it is not in Satan's power, nor in the power of any other creature, to take it from thee. Thy dearest friends
* 1 Cor. chap. 3. ver. 21. Heb. chap. 1. ver. 2.
b Rom. chap. 8. ver. 38.
y Ibid. ver. 22.
Ephes. chap. 4. ver. 8.
bring thee to the grave, but the works of God's sanctifying spirit shall follow thee, as it is said, "Blessed are they that die in the Lord, their works shall follow them." They carry that which will be their crown and rejoicing. Thus you see the kingdom of heaven is a rich treasure. But though it be a treasure, yet every eye cannot discern it; for we may speak with many men of the excellency thereof, and yet still they esteem it not; and the reason is because it is a treasure hid in the ground. Well, it is a treasure still, and howsoever wicked men have not eyes to behold it, howsoever such who are out of their wits, and therefore esteem lightly of the favour of God in Christ, neither can value rightly the price thereof (because these things are hidden from them) nor yet find the same, yet is it not long of the thing valued, but the point is this. Because it is hidden, yea, so hidden, that unless God opens our eyes (as he did Hagar's) we can never find it out, neither shall we ever be able to discover the value and exceeding worth thereof. Could we rightly discern it, it would make us sell all that we have for the attaining of it. I say, that it is a mystery, that it is a secret, it is a thing hidden, which by the light of nature man is never able to discover. The reason is, because the natural man wanteth eyes, that howsoever the Gospel of Christ shine as brightly upon him as the sun in his strength, yet (like blind men, though it shine in their faces with an exceeding splendour) they cannot see the brightness thereof. This is our estate; by nature every man is thus. And I appeal unto the consciences of many, who have been long hearers of the word of God, whether they do not think as men do in dreams, when we speak of a certain powerful operation, which the word worketh in the hearts of God's children, what wonders it worketh in them. If they find this strangeness of working in themselves, and that these things are but dreams unto them, let them know this for a certain, that they are no subjects of Christ's kingdom; it is hidden; it lieth not above ground, the Lord
d Rev. chap. 14. ver. 13.
* Gen. chap. 21. ver. 19.
must discover it, or else it shall always lie hidden. The apostle, showeth that, first, they are such things as the heart of man could never find out; and secondly, although they were found unto his hand, yet could the natural man never discern the worth thereof. "We speak wisdom (saith he) amongst those who are perfect, not the wisdom of the world, but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God hath determined before the world to our glory, which none of the princes of this world hath known; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of life." Here is the hidden treasure, which none of the princes of this world know, that God hath brought that to pass, which never entered into the heart of a natural man to think of. In these words the apostle speaketh not of those joys, which are reserved for God's children in the world to come; for it followeth, "thats God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit;" but he speaketh of the discovery of the mystery of the Gospel to the consciences of men, whilst they live here. We speak mysteries; but in whose judgments? Why in their judgments who are not perfect. Now he accounteth all the princes of this world to be but babes and children; who, albeit they may excel in wisdom and knowledge, yet take the chiefest, that which is accounted the most excellent in them, and compare it with the wisdom of God's children (though carried in a mean dish), and, in the judgment of those who are well instructed, it will hold no comparison. They cannot discern the worth of this treasure, that is thus propounded, we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which all the philosophers, had they laid their heads together, could never have found out, unless the Lord should have discovered it. Then cometh the second point. Admit the heart of man is not able to find it out, yet when it is once discovered in the preaching of the Gospel, may not a man then give the true valuation thereof? The apostle addeth, no. He cannot only not find it out, but also,
f 1 Cor. chap. 2. ver. 6, 7.
Ibid. ver. 10.
when it is revealed, he hath no eyes to see it, no eyes to behold it. The natural man (one that is destitute of God's spirit) he thinketh the preaching of God's word, and this Gospel, to be foolishness, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. You see then, it may truly be said to be hidden, and so hidden that the wit of man can never find it out, neither being found to his hand can rightly value it. Because it is only revealed by God; man carries about him that blindness, that he cannot discern the riches thereof, until the Lord reveal it. But as the flesh hindereth this; so the world and Satan hinder the same. The world, when as they value the things of this life at so high a rate, the living in prosperity, the having of thousands, and the like, that there is no room left to esteem of these spiritual matters. And the devil, when as he also blindeth their eyes, that the light of the glorious Gospel shineth not unto them. You see the apostle: "If our Gospel be then hid, it is not hid from all, but from them who are lost, in whom the God of this world hath blinded their minds, that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, which is the image of God, should not shine amongst them." It is not hid from all; for some can find it out. But admit thou findest it not out; wilt thou therefore put the fault in the Gospel? No, the fault is not in that, for, besides thine own natural blindness, there is another cause. If it be hid, it is hid unto them who are lost, whom the God of this world hath blinded, that they see not the light of the Gospel.
This, then, is a most fearful thing, that when this treasure, of itself hid, is revealed, brought to our eyes, and a price set thereon, that yet we have no hearts to esteem and value it as we ought. Satan hindereth us in this case, lest we should subject ourselves unto this yoke, lest we should find out this treasure, and the light of this Gospel should shine in us, he envieth at this. And, therefore, seeing the case is thus, that unless a man be enlightened to see the price of this precious treasure, it is in vain for him to seek
1 Cor. chap. 2. ver. 14.
1 2 Cor. chap. 4. ver. 3, 4.