« السابقةمتابعة »
uphold him, which was much better. And as a merchant is not angry with his factor, though he send him not the commodities he wrote for, if he send him those that are ten times more beneficial; no more is a believer displeased with the good providence of God, when he receives in answer to his labours and prayers, not what himself expected, but what God knew much better for him.
III. A special interest in God as our God, is a notable argument in prayer, for the obtaining of a gracious reward unto our sincere services: for, upon this ground, doth this holy man thrice desire to be remembered of God: and, upon this ground, did our Saviour teach his disciples to build all their petitions, by calling God our Father.' It is the prayer of faith, the prayer of a righteous man that is effectual; (James v. 15, 16) for the Lord will not hear those that regard iniquity in their heart; their prayer is an abomination. (Psal. Ixvi. 18) The Lord is far from the wicked; but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Prov. xv. 19)
It is true, he is pleased sometimes to take notice of the cries and prayers of nature, and to return some answer unto them, that even wicked men may know that it is not in vain even for them to seek the Lord; and therefore such as their prayers are, such returns he is pleased many times to make. unto them. So God heard the voice of Ishmael crying for water, and shewed Hagar a well. (Gen. xxi. 17, 19) He took notice of the humiliation of Ahab; and thereupon respited the judgement which he had threatened. (1 Kings xxi. 29) As Abraham, though he gave the blessing and the inheritance unto Isaac, yet he gave gifts to the rest of his children; (Gen. xxv. 5, 6) so the Lord, though he reserve his great reward for the heirs of promise, yet he leaveth not himself without witness even amongst others, giving such benefits unto them as they tender services unto him. They that give none but outward services, desire none but outward benefits; and according to the nature of their services and desires, the Lord answereth them with mere outward good things.
But the prayer of faith, pleading the great and precious promises of the new covenant, and calling upon God as a father, by the spirit of his Son shed abroad into the hearts of those who are heirs of promise, hath two great advantages above any other mere natural prayer:—
1. It is sure to obtain pardon for what failings and miscarriages proceed from human infirmity: the Lord sparing his children, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him; (Mal. iii. 17) and Christ bearing the iniquity of our holy things.
2. It is sure to obtain spiritual rewards for those holy and sincere performances, which proceed from the grace and assistance of the spirit of Christ; the Lord being pleased, first, by his grace to work all our works for us; (Isa. xxvi. 12) and then, by a second grace, to reward them, and to crown his own mercies in us: For verily there is a reward for the righteous." (Psal. lviii. 11. Mat. x. 41) And thus we receive grace for grace; the grace of remuneration, for the grace of obedience; the grace of God enabling us to work, and the grace of God rewarding us for working. For though it be the work which is revealed, yet the reward is not of man's work, but of God's grace. (Rom. iv. 4, and xi. 6) Both these graces did this holy Nehemiah beg, in the confidence of his interest in God as his God. "Remember me, O my God, concerning this also; and spare me, according to the greatness of thy mercy;" (Nehem. xiii. 22) remember me, to spare me for my sinful infirmities; remember me, to reward me for my sincere performances; and both these, only upon the account of thy great mercy.-Nothing but great mercy passeth by many sins; nothing but great mercy rewardeth weak services.
I have done with the words, and have, from all, but a word more to say unto you. What the nature of that great undertaking is, which God hath thus graciously moved your hearts to begin at the doors of his sanctuary, and to consecrate yourselves unto, by enquiring of him, and seeking of him a right way, is much better known to you than to me, who have little inspection into such things: but being a very weighty business, and possibly full of variety and difficulty, and all men being subject to errors and mistakes, to impotency and infirmity, to sinful failings and defects, to difference of judgements, and divided affections, and all human actions being obnoxious to misconstructions and various miscarriages;-and God having reserved events and successes in his proper power,-it is therefore your duty, in all your addresses unto action, to make your first applications unto God,
that he would lead you by his spirit, and cause you to make his word your counsellor; that he would work all your works for you, and shine upon your counsels and undertakings, by his special blessing; that he would preserve you from all mistakes and misunderstandings, and pour out upon you a spirit of unity and agreement; that he would forgive all your failings, and teach you to approve your hearts and consciences unto him in well-doing; that your labours may so be conversant about treasures here below, as that your hearts and affections may be upon things above; and you may, with such sincerity, courage, zeal, and holy affections, go through the duties of your places and callings here, as that you may be able to look backward with comfort upon a fruitful life, and forward with faith and hope upon a glorious reward; and conclude your lives and your labours, as Nehemiah doth his book, with a "remember me, O my God, for good." And we should all learn so to lead our lives, with such an eye to God's word and rule, to his glory and honour, to the service of his church, and our generation; to be so diligent, careful, prudent, sincere, trusty, faithful, in every service which lieth upon us,-as that when we come to die, and give up our accompts to him, we may be able to say, "Lord, I have been faithful in that little service wherein thou hast employed me; let me now enter into my master's joy: I have remembered thy name, to glorify thee: I have remembered thy people, to serve them: I have remembered thy house, and the offices thereof: I have remembered the widow, the fatherless, the poor and helpless, to provide for them: I have remembered every trust imposed upon me; and have not, by any wilful indiligence, imprudence, or unfaithfulness, betrayed it, but have laboured to adorn my general calling, by sincerity and fidelity in my particular calling. And now, be thou graciously pleased to remember me for good, and to spare me according to the multitude of thy mercies."
RICH MAN'S CHARGE:
Delivered in a SERMON at the Spittle, upon Monday in Easter Week, April 12th, 1658; before the Lord Mayor, &e.
1 TIM. VI. 17, 18, 19.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
The Wise man telleth us, that "a word, fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." (Prov. xxv. 11) And our Lord in the prophet telleth us, that he had “the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season.” (Isa. 1, 4) Paul at Athens disproved the superstition of that learned city, out of the inscription of their own altar, and the testimony of their own poets; (Acts xvii. 23, 28) and before Felix, a corrupt and intemperate judge, he preached of righteousness and temperance. (Acts 24, 25) In solemn and public meetings, the most needful doctrines to be pressed, are those which are most suitable to the auditory. When Timothy is to preach before rich men, the apostle here furnisheth him. with the materials of his sermon, to warn them against the sins incident to that condition, and of the duties incumbent upon it and because hard duties are both to be urged with
• Cuncta malefacta sibi impune ratus. Tacit. Annal. 1. 12. Per omnem sævitiam et libidinem jus regium servili ingenio exercuit: Hist. 1. 5.-Sueton. in Claudio. cap. 28.
cogent arguments, and sweetened with special comforts, here are motives of both kinds used, that by the necessity and the utility, they may be persuaded unto the duty:-so that my text is a very fit present for an assembly of rich citizens, a present of gold and silver; apples of gold in tables of silver, a present of treasures, stable and abiding treasures, a good foundation, an everlasting life, and all to be had, not ev T vũv, in this present now; év Oeŭ Zävt, in that living God, who is yesterday and to day the same, and for ever; and who never faileth or forsaketh those that trust in him.
The apostle, having before shewed the great mischief of covetousness, that godly contentment is true gain; that resolutions to be rich, do cast men upon desperate and frequent temptations; that worldly love is a seminary of unbelief, apostasy, and all mischief; and having warned Timothy in his own conversation, to avoid such dangerous lusts,doth further direct him in his ministerial function, to lay the same charge upon worldly rich men, in the words which I have read unto you.
Wherein we have; First, Timothy's duty; wapaɣséλλew, 'charge.' Secondly, The subject of that charge, rich men. Thirdly, The limitation of that subject, wλovolois èv tập vũv aiâvi, 'rich men in this world.' Fourthly, The particulars and materials of the charge, set down negatively and affirmatively, and both two-fold.
The negative; not to be high-minded, not to trust or hope in riches;' with a reason which reacheth unto both, because of the uncertainty' of them.
The affirmative; 1. To trust in God;' with a double reason of that; his life,' he is the living God; his 'bounty,' he gives, gives richly,' gives all things; and, with the things, gives a heart to enjoy them.
2. To imitate God in his divine work of bounty and liberality; expressed,
First, By the matter of it, 'Ayaloegyeiv, 'To do good.'
Secondly, by the manner of doing it; viz. 1. To do it copiously, to be rich in good works,' wλoutev év špɣois naλois. 2. To do it cheerfully, readily, easily,' with an aptitude and propension thereunto, superadorous elvas. 3. To do it dif fusively, extensively,' unto community; or to do it modestly, humanely, lovingly, gently, without morosity or exproba