Imatges de pÓgina

by the Spirit of judgment, James iv. 4.

When the trees of God's

vineyard begin to sit up, he will open them at the root, and let in the winter storm.

4. There are many professors among us, that have more sail than ballast; their heads are too light for their hearts. If there be any thing in them at all, and God have a kindness for them, he will lay some weight upon them to bring them to a consistency, that will make weight more, and bulk less in their own eyes.

5. There are many that have taken up a profession that have nothing of Christ but the name. They are among God's wheat, but are none of it; others are the worse of them, they must be cut up with God's axe as cumberers of the ground; and when there are fewer professors, they will likely be better.

6. The appetite for the word with many is lost, and it is unfruitful. The edge is off our spirits. The preaching of the gospel is not much regarded. Many make silent sabbaths to themselves: and so little comfort have people in their ministers, and ministers in their people, that it looks very like a parting.

Lastly, Enemies have a cup to fill up, they have filled it well already; but it is like they have more yet to do, to prepare them for an overthrow. Turn your face then heavenwards, and be resolved to cleave to Christ, and all will be well. The cross will never ruin the church. The more they were oppressed the more they grew. God makes the devil's lackeys run his errands, and what they mean for evil turns to good. She shall not lose one living member. Dross may be consumed, but gold cannot; but it is refined in the fire. Let the sieve be as large as it will, not one good grain shall be lost.

But as for those that will not take up the cross and follow Christ, God will lay his curse as another sort of weight upon them. Following him under the cross, is the right way of bearing it.

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Ettrick, September, 1710.

[Same Subject Continued.]



MARK X. 22.

And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

WE have here the lamentable issue of the conference. The man is offended, and leaves the Saviour, rejecting his words. We have, His departure. He went away, not as Christ bade him to sell all, but to sit down on his possessions, to hug his beloved idol, never to come back again. Here he left Christ, rejected his company instead of following him, left the treasure in heaven which he would not purchase as Christ offered it.

He went away sad and grieved. Sad, with a sad, cloudy, dejected countenance; grieved at the heart, as the words may be distinguished. The first of these words is rendered, lowring, Matth. xvi. 3. He was morally serious in his desire of life; hence real grief in the heart for the disappointment, and the appearance of it in his countenance. The cause of his sadness was that saying, verse 21. That was the thing which affected him. The word rendered sad, signifies a mixture of sorrow and hatred. He loved the treasure in heaven, but he hated the cross. He loved heaven, but he hated the parting with the world as hell, as that word also imports. Hence deep sorrow, on being deprived of that which he did so much desire.

Now what made him so sad at that saying? What reason had he to be displeased at it? He had great possessions. But what of that? So had Abraham, Moses, Job, and others; and they were put to the same trial; and yet they did cleave stedfastly to the Lord. But alas! this man's possessions had a much surer hold of him, than he had of them. This way of expressing it teaches, that it is hard for them that have possessions to part with them.

Doctrine I. It is difficult to have much of the world, and not to be ruined by it. This is a strange For, in the text. He was a man that had great possessions, and God has not many of that sort. "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." To confirm this, consider,

1. That plain testimony given to this truth, by truth itself on this occasion, in the three verses which follow the text. In these the ground of the reasoning is, that it is a most difficult thing to have riches, and not to trust in them; difficult to have the staff in the hand, and not to lean upon it.

2. They that have much of the world, have many snares, 1 Tim. vi. 17. Satan hath many handles by which to hold them, which he hath not for others. "There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” While the lusts of others by want have fuel drawn from them, they have much fuel added to theirs, Prov. xxx. 8, 9. The more of the world that men have, they have the stronger temptations. We have that within that inclines us to court the world even when it frowns; how difficult must it then be to be kept from drowning in the embraces of a smiling world?

3. Very few rich men are found good men, 1 Cor. i. 26. O how few have the art of carrying a full cup even! Of frowning on the world when it smiles on them. Most part of such have their portion in this life. Many have been injured by the world's smiles, but it is difficult to find those that have been made better by them. The sweetness of temporal things, usually makes spiritual things tasteless. The full soul loatheth an honey-comb.

Use 1. Hence we may fairly account for that, why the meaner sort of people make up the greatest part of Christ's followers in the world. Why there are so few that have great possessions to be seen among them.-Be not stumbled at it, for that very thing which makes them most capable to be useful to God, if they had grace to guide it, suits so with their corruptions, that it makes them greater enemies to God and his way than others. The unicorn's horn is a precious thing, and if it were in the hand of a skilful artificer he. could do good with it; but while it is in the beast's head it is dangerous and hurtful. What can be expected of that man that hath no grace, much opportunity to be vile, many snares and temptations. Such persons are to be pitied, seeing they have no restraint neither from within nor without. God in mercy keeps much of the world out of the hands of the most part of those for whom he hath a kindness; because it is so difficult to manage it, and not be ruined by it. "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." If the world were such a desirable thing as men's corruptions say it is, would the children ordinarily have so little, and the dogs get so much of it? No surely.

2. To those that are rich we would give that charge, "that you

be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." Rich people may be good though it but seldom falls out so. Be upon your guard. Poverty is a snare to many this day, that is like to ruin them eternally. Riches are no less a snare whatever they be more. Be not puffed up with them, trust not in them. If you have more snares than others, you had need of more grace, and to be more watchful.

3. To those that are pinched with the world, be content with such things as you have, do not hasten to be rich. Why should men be so desirous of that which it is so difficult to have, and not be ruined with it? Can you guide your little so well, that you must needs have more? The bait is indeed pleasant, but O how difficult to touch it, and not be caught with the hook! And in such a time as this it is most unsuitable; the more we have to lose, it will be the harder to part with it, Jer. xlv. 4, 5. This brings me to,

Doctrine II. That the cross will greatly lessen the number of those that are in Christ's company in time of ease. The cross is a great discoverer of unsound professors. To confirm this, I will tell you four things which the cross hath done.

1. It hath checked that briskness of Spirit in religion, which many have had till it came, Matth. viii. 19, 20. Mark x. 17—22. There are many very forward while they meet with no opposition, that shrink back at the appearance of the cross; like the flowers that open when the sun shines; but shut and are contracted at night, and in cloudy days.

2. It has extracted the sap out of religion to many, Matth. xiii. 20, 21. They have had some delight in it, but when the waters of trying afflictions for it come to be mixed therewith it proves altogether bitter. Even as the Jews with Christ, Mal. iii. 1-3. Isa. viii. 21. The cross so embitters some spirits that they lose all heart and hand to religion, raging under it as a wild bull in a net.

3. It has fed and nourished the spiritual lusts of many, that are like salamanders which can live well in the fire. "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity it profiteth me nothing." It is not the bearing of the cross simply that proves a saint, but the following of Christ with the cross on our backs. Papists worship the cross, and Protestants may put it in Christ's room, 2 Cor. xi. 12-15.

4. It has had many apostates, who have quit Christ's side, and joined themselves to the devil's party, and turned persecutors of the way in which they walked before. Many fearful examples of this, trying times have given. The best meat corrupted, smells most abominably; apostates are like incarnate devils; as in these

that sin against the Holy Ghost. None come to such heights as they do.

Reasons of the point.-1. Because the religion of many is a building reared up in a hasty manner, so cannot abide the storm. They count not the cost, Luke xiv. 25-33. Want of deliberation in taking on a profession makes it quickly go when that meets them that they were not thinking of. They stumble when they come to the cross.

2. Because they want a root of grace they cannot be fixed, Matth. xiii. 21. There is a root which establisheth against falling away, as when a tree takes with the ground. "A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved." A house built on sand is in hazard by a storm. Lamps without oil will not do for a dark night. Many pools dry up in drought.

3. Because the cross strikes at the very pillar that supported them. When Samson removed the pillars the house could not but fall. Many pretend faith in Christ, who are nevertheless borne up by the world, and when that goes they cannot stand, as we see in the text. It is Christ and the world together that give the man the ease; now when they part, he is as a bird which hath one wing clipped and so cannot fly.

Use 1. Be not then desirous of days of trial. It is to be regretted that some who wish well to Zion, their hearts are not trembling for the ark, but rather showing a kind of fondness of trials for the discovery of the unfaithfulness of others, and their own zeal for God. At leisure, ye know not what spirits ye are of. Many that have as little doubted their standing have deceived both themselves and others. Often has it been seen that they that have said most have done least.

2. Be not offended when in a day of trial you see men thronging away from Christ as fast as to him now. The gold is not the worse that the dross is consumed in the fire. The falls of some are like that of an oak, making many fall with it. But know that all is not gold that glitters now. No doubt many will leave Christ, that now look not like it.

Lastly, Be preparing for a trying time. Winter will inquire what summer hath done. It is good to foresee the cross, and make ready for it, and to hear for the time to come.

Labour to get the foundation surely laid. Dig deep and build on the rock. A small stock of grace will go farther than great gifts. Make the covenant secure, the marriage-covenant betwixt Christ and your souls. And try it now by what communication is be

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