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things, and he is heir to a glorious crown at death.* The exceeding great and precious promises may cheer up the heart of a drooping saint, if it were as low as hell; for they were made and confirmed with an oath, that the heirs of promise might have strong consolation. It is strange if the bucket of faith do not always draw up the water of consolation out of the wells of salvation. God hath ordered in nature our feeding to be with pleasure; so in spiritual things, our application and improvement of promises is with sweetness and delight. This is the first means to beget a treasure of comfortable thoughts on the believing of soulenriching promises.
(2.) Clearness of conscience, also is a help to comfortable thoughts. Yet observe, that peace is not so much effected as preserved by a good conscience, and conversation, for though joy in the Holy Ghost, will make its nest no where but in a holy soul, yet the blood of Christ only can speak peace, "being justified by faith, we have peace," Rom. v. 1. An exact life will not make, but keep conscience quiet; an easy shoe, heals not a sore foot, but keeps a sound one from crushing. Walking with God according to gospel rules, hath peace entailed upon it, and that peace is such a treasure, as thereby a Christian may have his rejoicing from himself, Galatians vi. 4, 16. His own heart sings him a merry tune, which the threats and reproaches of the world cannot silence. The treasure of comfort is not expended in affliction; death itself doth not exhaust, but increase and advance it to an eternal triumph. O the excellency and necessity of it! Paul laid it up for a death-bed cordial: "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience," 2 Cor. i. 12. And Hezekiah dares hold it up to God, as well as cheer + Heb. vi. 17, 18.
* 1 Pet. v. 4.
up himself with it on approaching death.* A conscience good in point of integrity, will be good also in point of tranquillity: "The righteous are bold as a lion; they have great peace that love and keep God's commandments." And saith the apostle, "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God," and I may add also, towards men. O! what comfort and solace hath a clear conscience! A conscientious man hath something within, to answer accusations without; he hath such a rich treasure as will not fail in greatest straits and hazards. I shall conclude this with a notable saying of an ancient. "The pleasures of a good conscience are the Paradise of souls, the joy of angels, a garden of delights, a field of blessing, the temple of Solomon, the court of God, the habitation of the Holy Spirit."||
ON THE LAYING OUT OF HEART TREASURE.
HITHERTO the laying up of a treasure of good thoughts by the accession of truths, graces, experiences, and comforts, has been considered. The third head propounded, is how this treasure is expended, brought forth, and improved, for that treasure is in a sort useless, that is not made use of. Now this treasure is employed four ways, that is,
By the heart in meditating, the lips in speaking, the hands in doing, and the back in enduring.
I. By the heart in divine soliloquies, and heavenly
* Isa. xxxviii.3.
+ Prov.xxviii. 1. Ps.cxix. 165.
+ 1 Johniii.2.
Lætitiæ bonæ conscientiæ Paradisus animarum, gaudium angelorum, hortus deliciarum, ager benedictionis, templum Solomonis, aula Dei, habitaculum Spiritus Sancti.-Bern.
meditations, in cheering sentiments, and elevating emotions; these keep the Christian good company, so that he is never less alone than when alone,* as a very heathen could say. Scripture truths are sweet and satisfying companions in all conditions, places, and stations: "When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee," Prov. vi. 22. And what can we desire more than a guide in our way, a guard around our beds, and a sweet companion in our solitudes, and serious retirements? Such are divine truths. A Christian may live upon this treasure in a wilderness, in prison, (etiam in inferno) even in hell itself, saith Luther. God's statutes were David's songs in the house of his pilgrimage:† Isaac went out into the fields for recreation, and took his treasure along with him, getting a solitary and savoury repast, of meditation. Gen. xxiv. 63. When a man is shut out from ordinances, "his soul may be satisfied with marrow and fatness, when it meditates on God in the night watches;"yea, when dull and discouraging thoughts discompose the spirit, this treasure helps as a holy spell to raise the spirit of the believer, and drive away the evil spirit of deadness and distraction. || Meditation is a kind of deliberate extacy; the harmonious melody of the soul's faculties within itself by a mutual and musical concert; it is the soul's self-conference heard only by itself: it is a restoring of meat formerly taken down, and diffusing it into the several veins and arteries of the soul; meditation, in a word, is a holy concoction and digestion of divine truths, which meetens and ripens the soul for heaven. O the ravishing nature of a close and fixed meditation! It is Nunquam minus solus, quam cum solus. + Ps. cxix. 54. Ibid. lxiii. 5, 6. Ibid. xxxix. 3. Ibid. xlii. 5.
a God-enjoying, and self-profiting exercise; the devout soul, that is thus furnished with a treasure, can expatiate upon all things, and like the laborious bee, fetch the honey of some comfort out of every object and subject. When grace is in the heart, knowledge in the head, and truth in the memory, the Christian through divine assistance will make good work of every condition and dispensation. It is both the character and the honour of a Christian to meditate on God's law day and night;* he that talks much with his own heart by meditation, and takes frequent turns in Paradise by contemplation, doth far transcend the rate and pace of ordinary Christians: " for," saith a great divine, "commonly we are transformed into the dispositions and manners of those whose company we frequent." And if we keep company with a holy God, by meditation, we shall be more exactly holy in all manner of conversation.
II. This treasure of the heart vents itself by the lips in heavenly communications, and that two ways.
1. A treasured soul doth discourse profitably with men. This, I think, is the chief design of the text; a bringing forth good things in talking to men's edification. A gracious heart freely pours out holy expressions; Solomon saith, "the heart of the wise teacheth his mouth." That inward spring feeds these sweet streams, and tips the tongue with divine rhetoric; so Cant. iv. 11. "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey-comb, honey and milk are under thy tongue." Not like vain-glorious, empty scholars, or conceited, formal professors, that have got some scraps of confused notions, then set open the pack, and expose all to open view, but are quickly exhausted; no, no, these well-furnished souls have an overflowing * Ps. i. 2. + Dr. Hall's Solil. iii. p. 8, 9. + Prov. xvi. 23
treasure of holy matter, to produce upon occasion, and can speak a word in season upon any subject, to any soul. It is said of Plato and Ambrose, that bees swarmed in their cradles, as presages of their future eloquence so the honey-comb of Scripture truths distinguishes the Christian; his speech is seasoned with salt, because his heart is seasoned with grace;* his discourses, like honey at once become salutary, and please the sanctified auditor. When the well-guided tongue is an interpreter of a cleansed heart, it is food and physic to him that improves it; "for the tongue of the wise is health," Prov. xii. 18. The same word in the Hebrew that signifies tongue, is also used, joined with another word, for a wedge of gold:‡ the truth is, a treasured heart finds a precious golden tongue; and nothing more cordial to the fainting heart, than the fruit of such choice lips.
2. This treasure is exercised in religious duties and holy performances. The root of grace in the heart, brings forth these fruits of the lips in prayer and praise. The spirit of prayer sends up to heaven this divine incense: such a soul that hath this lively liturgy in his heart, needs not to be prompted by men; the Spirit can help both to affections and expressions.§ A treasured soul hath a stock of prayers, as an able minister hath a stock of sermons, though he may be without a stock of written notes; I mean the body of divinity in his head, which makes a ready scribe. The more treasure a soul hath within, the more ready will it be to every good work; yea, and the more raised to God in the work: such a one is helped very much against distractions, the great complaint of pious souls.
* Colos. iv. 6.
Ephes. iv. 29. lingua auri, Joshua vti. 21. Zech. xii. 10. § Rom. viii. 26.
+ Prov. xvi. 24. Heb. xiii. 15.