Imatges de pÓgina

be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?"

4. What is it that thy heart is most bent to pursue ? "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." If your treasure be above, you will be most bent on securing that; if not, the world surely is thy idol, as that which lies nearest thy heart.

II. See then that this stand not betwixt heaven and you. Beware that be not the one thing lacking. Let us shake off this idol, and be denied to the world, if ever we would see heaven. I speak particularly to those that are professors.

Motive 1. The world has been the ruin of many eminent professors of religion, as Judas, Demas, and others. They followed religion, but with the world in their heart, hence by the weight of it, they fell at length, as stars from heaven. Oh! shall we not be afraid of the rocks upon which, we see that others have split before us. Look on it as a fearful root of apostacy, which while it sits fast, there is not one pin of all your religion sure. The devil has still a handle to catch you by and bring you back again, 1 Tim. iv. 10.

2. That very thing appears to be the great cause of the decay of religion, that has seized upon the professors of this generation. It is manifest that there is a great decay of religion among professors, and alas the world has a great hand in it. I will tell you three differences between professors now and formerly. Formerly God was always pulling the pillow from under their head, and that kept them awake now they have had long ease, and they are fallen asleep. Thus, even Noah went astray in a time of ease, Gen. ix. 20, 21. In the time of persecution they were kept awake, and were concerned for the temple of God without and within them; but now our own houses go between us and our concern for it.

Formerly they cared less for the world and then they had more of it; and now they care more for the world and they have less of it. They were ready to quit with what they had for God, and he blessed what they had; now they are like to part with God for the world, and he blasts it.

Formerly enemies took it from them, and they parted with it to them freely; now God is taking it from them, and their heart goes with it. And yet he is the same God that deals with them now, that dealt with them then. Oh! is not this sad, that we should grudge it to him whatever way he is pleased to call for it. Brethren stir up yourselves; mind less, if ever you would be recovered.

you have a mind for the kingdom.

heaven more, and the world

Out from among the stuff, if

3. The world is the cause of many scandalous out-breakings

amongst professors, that expose religion to the scorn of a profane generation. Love of the world makes many break over the bounds of common honesty, if they can but get it secretly done. Hence so much injustice in men's dealings one with another, cheating and circumveening one another; and biting and devouring one another for trifles, lasting feuds and enmity betwixt professors: all flowing from this one thing lacking.

4. Do you not know better things to be taken up with? Is there not treasure in heaven to be sought after? The having of the world cannot make you happy, the want of it cannot make you miserable. But treasure in heaven will make you happy. Behold then on what you set your hearts. Let the profane world that know no better seek these things, but why should you who know better do so.

5. You will lose all your religion by it. No man can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. You will finally lose heaven itself, for this is the doctrine of the text.

Ettrick, September, 1710.

[Same Subject Continued.]



MARK X. 21. (Second Clausc.)
Sell whatsoever thou hast.

THE Papists will have this to be an evangelical counsel, not a command; that is a good work shown to us by Christ, but not commanded, only commended by him. But all the counsels of God are commands, Rev. i. 30, 31. and all perfection is commanded peremptorily, Matth. v. 48. And for the one before us, it is a plain command peremptorily obliging him to obedience. True, it is not an universal command, but personal and explanatory, to discover the worldliness of this covetous wretch; and God having called for this at his hands, he could no more possess them with a good conscience. Hence in general

Doctrine III. It is the duty of all to sit so loose to whatever they have in the world, as to be ready to part with it at the call of God. I will show,

I. When it is

what they have.

that people have a call from God to part with Here I remark,

1. That when in the holy providence of God, it comes to this, that people must either sin or suffer; when they must either part with their goods, or part with a good conscience, then God calls us to part with what we have. Hence we read, that in such times, "the saints took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves, that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance." At such times all that is called for and kept back, is robbed from, and cursed by God. It is not long since the violence of persecutors brought professors to this strait, and we know not how soon it may again be the case. But we must give it to them, though it be not theirs; for it is no longer ours than we can keep it without sin. The blood of the soul is such watering to what we have, that we cannot expect that it will thrive after. The world is the garment, which like Joseph, we must leave behind us, when we cannot retain it without sin.

2. When needy objects present themselves to us, and we are in capacity to help them, then God calls us to part with it to them. Hence it is said, "He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given, will he pay him again." It is a dangerous thing to refuse God a loan. The poor have a right to a portion of our goods, by virtue of the command of God, who hath given them to us with this burden, as the duty which we owe to him of whom we hold, as Lord of the earth. This is a time in which we have many such calls, let us then take heed we keep not back what God is seeking from us. "For whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." Even then though people should be straitened themselves, yet let us remember how the deep poverty of the Macedonians, abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3. When what people have hath been acquired unjustly; what is got unjustly is not ours in the sight of God, and therefore God calls us to part with it again. Zaccheus when converted said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Whatever is got unjustly is a moth among the rest, and brings a curse with it. Surely they have a slippery hold of what they have, that possess other people's property as their own. Unjust dealing makes many persons' property go away from them very suddenly.

Have not our eyes seen the ill gotten goods of persecutors and others, that have enriched themselves with the spoils of the Lord's people, vanish away from among their hands by virtue of a secret curse. How often do estates go from hand to hand, being purchased so much by injustice and oppression, which they will not restore, and God makes them vomit it up again. "The wicked man hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly." In such a case then, both conscience and interest call for parting with it, Job xx. 10.

4. When God by his providence is pulling it from us. Then it becomes us to say with Job, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Sometimes God lays comforts to our hands, sometimes he returns and calls for his own again; then we should be ready to part with them. This is a day, in which God has many on their trials this way, take heed that you behave under them. When God is pulling away with his hand, let not your hearts draw against him. Never cast out with God and heaven for this world's goods; never have a worse thought of him and his way, because he will have back his own again, but thank him for what he leaves you. Let us now,

II. Give the reasons of the doctrine.

"Love not the world,

1. Because it is the command of God. saith he, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." He hath placed us in the world, and he commands us to sit loose to it. The authority of God should sway us. They sit too fast who are not ready to rise at his call.

2. Because he hath power to take from us whatsoever we have. He hath a right to it. It is his own, and may he not do with his own what he pleaseth ?-Whatsoever he hath given us, he hath not denuded himself of the right to it. The use of it during his pleasure is ours, the property his. He is also able to take it from us, whether we will or not. Keep as fast a hold as you can, God can easily divide you and it. And indeed people are never more exposed to this, than when they hold very fast. Now what reason, what wisdom in not sitting loose to that to which God hath still a right, and is perfectly able to take whenever he pleaseth.

3. Because he hath given us the use of what we have on no other terms, but to part with it when he calls for it again. It is then a loan more properly than a gift. We are not to sit so loose to grace, for it is an irrevocable gift. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. But for the world we are tenants at will, and he may

raise us at any time, nor did he ever set us down upon other terms. "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven." God hath stamped uncertainty upon all our enjoyments, which, when we look to them, tells us to keep a loose hold of them. 4. Because otherwise we put them in God's stead, and are therefore guilty of idolatry. Therefore it is said, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For if there be any thing which we are not ready to part with at God's call, then there is something we love more than God, seeing we will rather displease him than part with it. How can we say we love him, when we will not part with what we have for his sake? Is there any thing to be laid in the balance with his favour? Is there any thing can compensate the loss of it? Any thing at the rate of which his frowns are purchased, that ought to be regarded.

5. Because there is nothing worthy of its room with us, after God has called for it from us. For it cannot be expected that God and it will lodge together after. "Neither will I be with yon any more, said God to the Israelites, until you take away the accursed thing from among you." Whatever is thus kept will be fair to be a plague to you. Laying up often proves a plague, when God calls to laying out. "There is, says the wise man, a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. But those riches perish by evil travail." See the end of the rich man, Luke xvi. 19–23. Take heed that what you keep up, do not go a worse way and take away more with it, Mal. iii. 8-10. God takes away all the good out of that which people cannot part with for him.

6. Because we must part with it sooner or later, and this is the most pleasant way of parting with it. It is true, people may be longer in parting with it. But they will never part with it so easily as that way. Ripe fruit falls easily from the tree, when the unripe must be violently plucked. When the heart is loosed from what we have, it is easy letting it away, by what it is when the heart holds by it, till it is forced to let it go.-Again, we can never part with it so honourably. The liberality of the Macedonians was a clear evidence of the grace of God bestowed upon them. No thanks to you when God takes it from you, whether you will or not. People must let go what they have when they are utterly unable to keep it any longer. Oh! how honourable is it to forsake the world at God's call, Song iv. 8.

Use of Exhortation. O then sit loose to the world and whatsoever you have in it. Sell whatsoever you have in this respect. There is

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