« ElőzőTovább »
is the language of Austin, with which I shall conclude this head.
ON THE GREAT NECESSITY OF LAYING UP THIS
AT last we come to the confirmation of this doctrine, That a good treasure in the heart is necessary to good expences in the life; and the
First ground is taken from nature and reason, which furnish us with those undoubted maxims, That a thing must first be, before it can act-Nothing can give what it hath not-Such as the cause is, such are the effects-Of nothing, nothing can be made,† without a miracle of creation; and we cannot expect to be fed by miracles where ordinary means are proposed, and supposed to be used. If we wilfully neglect to lay in provision while we have a season for it, we are guilty of groundless presumption if we conceit we can lay out in a necessitous condition. How can any expect liquor from the still, meat from the cupboard, garments from the wardrobe, where none of these were laid in? What madman would think to reap without sowing, or to teach others when he hath no learning himself? Was there ever a bringing forth without a conception? Is it not fond dotage in a shop-keeper to think to sell wares that hath none? And is this preposterous in natural things, and can it hold in spiritual? Joseph could not supply the country with corn without a store. A tree cannot bring forth good fruit, except it be good. The Scripture saith, "Can a fig
+ Operari sequitur esse. Nihil dat quod non habet. Qualis causa talis effectus. Ex nihilo nihil fit.
tree bear olive-berries, or a vine figs ?" James iii. 12. And can we think men can act graciously without a principle of grace?
A Second reason is drawn from the offices of Christ. The second person in the sacred Trinity was filled with treasure, that he might fill the saints with a treasure of grace. "In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily in Christ.” * And for this very end hath God stored Christ, that he might supply his members, "that of his fulness, we may receive, and grace for grace," John i. 16. "The plain, simple sense of which text," saith Calvin, "is that, what graces God heaps upon us, they all flow from this fountain; therefore are we watered with the graces that are poured upon Christ.† For observe it, this is the nature of the gospel dispensation; what spiritual good things the saints receive, they have them not now from God as Creator, so much as through the hands of Jesus Christ as the great Mediator of the new covenant; he is the channel or cistern, or rather fountain of all grace, that our souls expect or receive; he is our Aaron anointed above his fellows, that the oil of grace might in its proportion fall from the head to the members. Hence it is that he is called Christ, and we Christians, from this holy unction. For this end was the Lord Jesus advanced to be the head of the church, that he might fill it with all gracious supplies; and hence it is that the church is called "his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all,” Eph. i. 23; that is, the effect of Christ's fulness, who filleth all the saints, in all ordinances and means of
* Col. ii. 3,
+ Simplex sensus esse videtur, quascunque in nos gratias cumulat Deus, peræque ex hoc fonte manare: rectè ergo sentiunt qui nos irrigari dicunt effusis in Christum gratiis.-Calv. in loc.
conveyance of gracious influences. Truth of grace is from him, growth and strength of grace are from him ; both the least measure and a large treasure are to be had in him: “I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," John x. 10; that is, the essence and abundance are both from him. So then we see Christ is designed to be our Joseph, to furnish our souls with a treasure; and therefore he that neglects to stock his heart from this storehouse doth undervalue the great office of Christ, and doeth what he can to frustrate the object of God, in soul's supply. This is horrible ingratitude.
A Third reason is drawn from the end and design of all providences and ordinances. They are given to be helps to promote this heart treasure. God puts a price into our hands, that we may have grace in our hearts: he gives us a summer season to lay up for this pinching winter. Naturalists say, that while the bird called halcyon sitteth on her nest there is calmness and serenity upon the sea: such halcyon days of tranquillity and gospel opportunities have we enjoyed in this tempestuous sea of the world, not to feather our nests below, much less to hatch the cockatrice eggs of sin; but to warm and ripen the brood of grace in our sculs, and to lay up a precious treasure for the evil days of old age, sickness, or persecution, and for the long day of eternity. When God affords a season, he expects things should be done in that season; and if man neglect it, his misery will be great upon him. The very ant lays up for winter, and reads a lecture to man of good husbandry. Gathering in summer is a token of wisdom, but sleeping in harvest is a sinful, shameful, beggaring practice.* God expects that we should work
Eccles. viii. 6, 8. Prov. vi. 6. Prov. x. 5. Formica, apis, et ciconia, sunt verè laicorum libri.
in the light, and walk in the day, while this day of grace lasts, John xii. 35. It is a sad astonishing thing, that God should hold men a candle for them to play by; especially when time is short and uncertain-death and eternity are so near, and of such vast consequence. O what a confounding question will that be one day— "Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?" Prov. xvii. 16. Observe it, God takes a strict account of our helps and of our hoard, and expects a due proportion. O what a sad reckoning will many make, whose negligence will be condemned by the diligence of brute creatures, and heathen philosophers in moral studies;* yea, by the light of their own consciences!
Fourthly, Another reason is taken from our heart's natural emptiness of a treasure of good. (saith Paul) that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing," Rom. vii. 18. This barren soil hath the more need to be manured, this empty house to be well furnished; lest the heart continue still destitute of all saving good, and the soul depart out of this world as naked of saving grace as it entered. "Tis a pity so brave a house should stand empty of inhabitant and furniture. The souls of God's people are vessels that are to be well fraught with all saving graces, that they may be fitted for, and filled with, eternal glory, Rom. ix. 23. The Christian is to be holily covetous of those riches of glory, that amends may be made for his natural vacuity. Oh, the vast chaos of an unregenerate heart! A long time and great pains must go, to the replenishing of it. There are many waste corners to be filled, even after the truth of grace is planted, before the soul be enlarged to a due capacity of service here, and for heaven
* Nullus mihi per otium exit dies, partem etiam noctium studiis vendico.-Senec.
hereafter. "The soul of a believer," saith one,* “is a house well built, where faith lays the foundation, hope helps up the walls, knowledge sets open the windows, and love covers the roof; and this makes a room fit for Christ." And I add, there must be every day a sweeping, and watching, and decking of this house, with further degrees of grace; embellishing it with divine ornaments, and furnishing every room, I mean every faculty, with a rich treasure of heavenly blessings. It will be some cost and toil to hang every room of the heart with lively pictures of the Divine image; for it is altogether empty of that which is truly and spiritually good, or may be called a treasure. But that is not all, for
Fifthly, The soul is by nature filled with an evil treasure. "The heart is desperately wicked," Jer. xvii. 9. "Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only and continually evil," Gen. vi. 5. The mind, will, and affections, are stuffed with a world of blindness, hardness, and wildness. The soul is naturally propense to evil, averse to good; and therefore a treasure of good is necessary, to preponderate and exclude this treasure of wickedness-to season and seize upon the soul for God, as sin did for Satan. The love of God is to be shed abroad into those veins and channels of the heart where sin did run with a violent current+ -the Christian is to be sanctified in the most polluted part. And certainly it is not a little grace that will obstruct the active movements of sin; for though grace be of greater worth, yet it is disputable whether it attain to greater strength than corruption, even in the hearts of the sanctified, in this life. But certainly, the greater measure of grace and treasure of sanctifying truths, the more power against corruption: the whole Mr. Goodwin.
+ Rom. v. 5. Rom. ii. 29.