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Archive for the ‘Richard Baxter’ Category

Let us draw near and see from the pure fountain of the Scriptures what excellencies the saints’ everlasting rest affords.  May the Lord hide us in the clefts of the rock and cover us with the hands of indulgent grace while we approach to take this view.  And may we put off from our feet the shoes of irreverence and fleshly thoughts while we stand upon this holy ground.  These truths are like jewels in the Christian’s heavenly crown:

Heaven Is Purchased for Us with Christ’s Own Blood

It is a most singular honor and ornament in the style of the saints’ heavenly rest to be called the purchased possession; meaning it is the fruit of the blood of the Son of God.  Yea, it is the chief fruit—the end and perfection of all the effects and efficacy of that blood.

Surely love is the most precious ingredient in the whole composition; and of all the flowers that grow in the garden of love, can there be brought one more sweet and beautiful to the garland than this blood?  Greater love than this there is not—to lay down the life of the lover.  And to have our Redeemer ever before our eyes and the liveliest sense and freshest remembrance of that dying, bleeding love upon our souls!  Oh, how will it fill our souls with perpetual ravishments to think that we have passed through all, and here arrived safely at the breast of God!  We shall behold, as it were, the wounds of love with eyes and hearts of love forever.

With what astonishing apprehensions, then, will the redeemed saints everlastingly behold their Blessed Redeemer!  I will not meddle with their vain, audacious question, who must need know whether the glorified body of Christ does yet retain either the wounds or scars.  But this is most certain: the memory of it will be as fresh, and the impressions of love as deep, and its working as strong as if His wounds were still in our eyes.

Now His heart is open to us and ours shut to Him: but then His heart shall be open and our hearts open.  Oh, the blessed congress that there will then be.  But I am here at a loss; my apprehensions fail me, and fall so short.  Only this, I know; it will be the singular praise of our inheritance, that it was bought with the price of that blood; and the singular joy of the saints, to behold the purchaser and the price, together with the possession!

Neither will the views of the wounds of love renew our wounds of sorrow.  How dear forever will the love of Christ be then to us, who stripped Himself, as it were, of His majesty and glory, and put our humble garment of flesh upon Him, that He might put the robes of His own righteousness and glory upon us; and saved us, not from cruel injustice, but from His Father’s deserved wrath!  Well then, Christians, as you used to do in your books, and on your goods, write down the price they cost you; so do you on your righteousness and on your glory, write down the price: The precious blood of Christ.

Heaven is Free

The second pearl in the saint’s diadem is that it is free. This seems to devour the former point.  But the seeming discord is but a pleasing diversity composed into that harmony which constitutes the melody.  These two attributes, purchased and free, are the two chains of gold which by their pleasant twisting do make up the wreath for the heads of the pillars in the temple of God.  It was dear to Christ, but free to us.

Oh, the everlasting admiration that will surprise the saints to think of this freeness.  What did the Lord see in me that He should judge me meet for such a state?  That I who was but a poor, diseased, despised wretch should be clad in the brightness of His glory?  Oh, who can fathom unmeasurable love?  There is no talk of our worthiness nor unworthiness; if worthiness were our condition for admittance, we might sit down with St. John and weep, “because none in heaven or earth is found worthy.”  But the Lion of the tribe of Judah is worthy and has prevailed; and by that title must we hold this inheritance.  Here our commission runs: “Freely ye have received, freely give.”  But Christ has dearly received, yet freely gives.  The pope and his servants will be paid for their pardons and indulgences, but Christ will take nothing for His.  The commutation of penance must cost men’s purses dear or else they must be cast out of the synagogue and soul and body delivered up to the devil: but none are shut out of that church for want of money, nor is poverty any eyesore to Christ.  An empty heart may bar them out, but an empty purse cannot.  His kingdom of grace has always been more consistent with despised poverty than wealth and honor, and riches make entrance to heaven far more difficult than poverty can ever do.  That’s why it is “the poor of the world, rich in faith, whom God hath chosen to be the heirs of that kingdom, which He hath prepared for them that love Him.”

I know the true laborer is “worthy of his hire” and “they that serve at the altar, should live upon the altar.”  Yet let me desire the right-aiming ministers of Christ to consider what is expedient as well as what is lawful, and that the saving of one soul is better than a thousand pounds a year, and our gain, though due, is a cursed gain, if it causes a stumbling-block to our people’s souls.  Let us make the free gospel as little burdensome and chargeable as is possible. I would rather never take their tithes while I live than by those tithes destroy souls for whom Christ died.  And though God has ordained that “they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel,” yet I would rather suffer all things than hinder the gospel.  It would be better for me to die than that any man should make this my glorying void.  If the necessity of souls and the promoting of the gospel require it, I would rather preach the Gospel in hunger and rags than rigidly contend for what is my due.  And if I should do so, still I have no reason to glory.  Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe be to me if I preach not the gospel—whether or not I ever receive anything from men.

How unbecoming it is for the messengers of His free grace and kingdom, to risk losing the hearts and souls of their people, rather than losing a dime of their due.  How shameful it is to exasperate people against the message of God, rather than forbear some of their right.  What a tragedy to contend with people at law for the wages of the gospel, thus making the glad tidings seem sad tidings to their yet carnal hearts because of this burden!  This is not the way of Christ and His apostles, nor adoring to the self-denying, yielding, suffering doctrine which they taught.  Away with all those actions that are against the main end of our studies and calling, which is to win souls.  And woe be upon that gain which hinders the gaining of men to Christ!  I know flesh will here object necessities and distrust will have plenty of arguments; but we who have enough to answer to the diffidence of our people, let us take home some of our answers to ourselves and teach ourselves first before we teach them.  How many people have you known whom God allowed to starve in His vineyard?

Since we paid nothing for God’s eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love and nothing for His Spirit and our grace and faith, and nothing for our pardon—so shall we pay nothing for our eternal rest.  The broken heart that has known the dregs of sin will understand and feel what I say.  What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference between our deservings and our receivings; between the state we should have been in and the state we are in!  Oh, how free was all this love, and how free is this enjoyed glory!  Infinite wisdom did cast the whole design of man’s salvation into the mold of purchase and freeness, that the love and joy of man might be perfected, and the honor of grace most highly advanced; that the thought of merit might neither cloud the one nor obstruct the other, and that on these two hinges the gates of heaven might turn.  So then let “Deserved” be written on the floor of hell but on the door of heaven and life, “The Free Gift.”

Heaven Is the Saints’ Own Possession

The third comfortable attribute of our heavenly rest is that it is the saints’ proper and peculiar possession. It belongs to no other of all the sons of men; not that it would have detracted from the greatness or freeness of the gift if God had so pleased that all the world should have enjoyed it.  But when God has resolved otherwise, that it must be enjoyed but by few.  To find our names among that number should make us the more to value our enjoyment. Distinguishing, separating mercy affects more than any mercy.  If it should rain on our grounds alone or the sun shine alone upon our habitations, or the blessing of heaven divide between our flocks and other men’s, as between Jacob’s and Laban’s, then we should more feelingly acknowledge mercy than now, while we possess the same in common.  The lower the weighty end of the balance descends, the higher is the other lifted up; and the falling of one of the sails of the windmill is the occasion of the rising of the other.

It would be no extenuation of the mercies of the saints here if all the world were as holy as they; and the communication of their happiness is their greatest desire; yet it might perhaps dull their thankfulness, and distinguishing grace would not be known.  But when one should be enlightened and another left in darkness; one reformed and another by his lusts enslaved, it makes them cry out, with the disciple: “Lord, what is it, that thou wilt reveal thyself to us, and not unto the world?” (cf. John 14:22).

By this time the impenitent world will see a reason for the saints’ singularity while they were on earth and will be able to answer their own demands, Why must you be more holy than your neighbors?  Even because they would fain be more happy than their neighbors.  And why cannot you do as others, and live as the world about you?  Sincere singularity in holiness is by this time known to be neither hypocrisy nor folly.  If to be singular in that glory be so desirable, surely to be singular in godly living is not contemptible.  As every one of them knows his own sore, and his own grief, so shall everyone then feel his own joy; and if they can now call Christ their own, and call God their own God, how much more then upon their full possession of Him!  For as He takes His people for His inheritance, so will He Himself be the inheritance of His people forever.

Heaven Offers Perfect Fellowship

A fourth comfortable adjunct of our heavenly rest is that it is the fellowship of the blessed saints and angels of God. The Christian will not be so singular as to be solitary.  Though heaven is proper to the saints only, yet is it common to all the saints, for what is it but an association of blessed spirits in God; a corporation of perfected saints, whereof Christ is the head; the communion of saints completed?  This does not mean we derive heaven’s joys from one another.  Though the strings receive not their sound and sweetness from each other, yet their concurrence causes that harmony which could not be by one alone; for those that have prayed, and fasted, and wept, and watched and waited together, now to joy and enjoy and praise together, should much advance their pleasure.  I am certain of this, fellow-Christians, that as we have been together in the labor, duty, danger and distress, so shall we be in the great recompense and deliverance.  And as we have been scorned and despised together, so shall we be crowned and honored together; and we who have gone through the day of sadness shall enjoy together that day of gladness; and those who have been with us in persecution and prison shall be with us also in that palace of consolation.

When I look in the faces of the precious people of God, and believingly think of that day, what a refreshing thought it is!  Shall we not there remember, think you, the trials which we passed through here; our fellowship in duty and in sufferings; how oft our groans made, as it were, one sound, our tears uniting in one stream, and our desires uniting in one prayer?  And now all our praise shall make up one melody, and all our churches one church, and all ourselves but one body; for we shall be one in Christ, even as He and the Father are one.

It is true we must be very careful in this case, that, in our thoughts we look not for that in the saints which is alone in Christ, and that we give them not His own prerogative, nor expect too great a part of our comfort in the fruition of them.  We are prone enough to this kind of idolatry.  But, yet, He who commands us so to love them now, will give us leave, in the same subordination to Himself, to love them then, when Himself has made them much more lovely.  And if we may love them, we shall surely rejoice in them; for love and enjoyment cannot stand without an answerable joy.

I know that Christ is all in all; and that it is the presence of God that makes heaven to be heaven.  But yet it much sweetens the thoughts of that place to me to remember that there are such a multitude of my most dear and precious friends in Christ; with whom I took sweet counsel, and with whom I went up to the house of God; who walked with me in the fear of God, and integrity of their hearts.  In the face of their lives was written the name of Christ; whose sweet and sensible mention of His excellencies has made my heart to burn within me.

It is a question with some, whether we shall know each other in heaven or not.  Surely, there shall no knowledge cease which now we have, but only that which implies our imperfection.  And what imperfection can our knowledge of one another imply?  Nay, our present knowledge of one other shall be increased beyond belief.  It shall indeed be done away, but as the light of candles and stars is done away by the rising of the sun. It is more proper to think of it as a doing away of our ignorance than of our knowledge. Indeed, we shall not know each other after the flesh, not by stature, voice, color, complexion, face, or outward shape.  If we had so known Christ, we should know Him no more.  We shall know each other not by parts and gifts of learning; nor by titles of honor of worldly dignity; nor by terms of affinity and consanguinity, nor benefits, nor such relations; nor by youth or age—but by the image of Christ, and spiritual relation, and former faithfulness in improving our talents, beyond doubt, we shall know and be known.  Nor is it only our old acquaintance, but all the saints of all the ages, whose faces in the flesh we never saw, whom we shall there both know and comfortably enjoy.  Those who now are willingly ministering spirits for our good will willingly then be our companions in joy for the perfecting of our good; and they who had such joy in heaven for our conversion will gladly rejoice with us in our glorification.  I think, Christian, this will be a more honorable assembly than ever you beheld, and a more happy society than you were ever of before.

We are come thither already in respect of title and of earnest and first-fruits; but we shall then come into full possession.  Oh, beloved, if it be a happiness to live with the saints in their imperfection, when they have sin to embitter their society, as well as holiness to sweeten it, what will it be to live with them in their perfection, where saints are wholly and only saints? If we thought ourselves in the suburbs of heaven when we heard them set forth the beauty of our Lord, and speak of the excellencies of His kingdom, what a day will it be when we shall join with them in praises to our Lord in and for that kingdom!  So then I conclude, this is one singular excellency of the rest of heaven, that we are “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”

Heaven’s Joys Come Directly from the Hand of God

Another excellent property of our rest will be that the joys of it are immediately from God. We shall see God face to face and stand continually in His presence, and consequently derive our life and comfort immediately from Him.  Whether God will make use of any creatures for our service then, or, if any, what creatures, and what use, is more than I yet know.  It seems that the creature shall have a day of deliverance, and that into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.  Our most and great joys will be immediate—directly from God’s own hand.  Now we have nothing at all immediately.  From the earth, from man, from sun and moon, from the influence of the planets, from the ministration of angels, and from the Spirit and Christ; and, doubtless, the further the stream runs from the fountain, the more impure it is.  It gathers some defilement from every unclean channel it passes through.

Christ is indeed a precious pearl but often is held forth in leprous hands.  And thus do we disgrace the riches of the Gospel when it is the work of our calling to make it honorable in the eyes of men.  We dim the glory of that jewel by our dull and low expressions, whose luster we do pretend to discover, while the hearers judge of it by our expressions, and not its proper genuine worth.  The truth is the best of men do apprehend but little of what God, in His word, expresses—and what they do apprehend they are unable to utter.  If an angel from heaven should preach the gospel, yet could he not deliver it according to its glory; much less we, who never saw what they have seen, and keep this treasure in earthen vessels.

The comforts that flow through sermons, through sacraments, through reading, and company, and conference, and creatures are but half comforts. The life that comes by these is but half a life, in comparison of those which the Almighty shall speak with His own mouth and reach forth to us with His own hand.  The Christian knows by experience now, that his most immediate joys are his sweetest joys: which have least of man, and are most directly from the Spirit.  That is one reason, as I conceive, why Christians who are much in secret prayer, and in meditation and contemplation, rather than they who are more in hearing, reading and conference, are men of greatest life and joy, because they are nearer the source of the fountain, and have all more immediately from God Himself.  We are not yet come to the time and state where we shall have all from God’s immediate hand.  As God has made all creatures, and instituted all ordinances for us, so will He continue our need of all.  We must be content with love-tokens from Him, till we come to receive our all in Him.

There is joy in these remote receivings but the fullness is in His own presence.  Oh, Christians!  You will then know the difference between the creature and the Creator, and the content that each of them affords.  We shall then have light without a candle and a perpetual day without the sun.  We shall then have rest without sleep, for God will be our rest.  We shall then have enlightened understandings without a written law: for the Lord will perfect His law in our hearts, and we shall be all perfectly taught of God.  His own will shall be our law, and His own face shall be our light forever.  Then shall we have joy, which we drew not from the promises, nor was fetched us home by faith and hope. Beholding and possessing will exclude most of these.  We shall then have communion without sacraments when Christ shall drink with us of the fruit of the vine new; that is, refresh us with the comforting wine of immediate fruition, in the kingdom of His Father.

When we shall live in our Father’s house and presence and God shall be all and in all, then we are indeed at home in rest.

Heaven Will Be a Seasonable Rest

A further excellency is this: it will be unto us a seasonable rest. He who expects the fruit of His vineyard in season and makes His people as trees planted by the waters, fruitful in their season, He will also give them the crown in season.  He that will have the words of joy spoken to the weary in season will sure cause that time of joy to appear in His perfect time.

They who knew the season of grace and did repent and believe in season shall also, if they faint not, reap in season.  If God will not miss the season of common mercies, even to His enemies, but will give both the former and the latter rain in their season, and the appointed weeks of harvest in its season, and by inviolable covenant has established day and night in their seasons, then sure, the harvest of the saints and their day of gladness shall not miss its season.

He who has given the stork, the crane, and the swallow to know their appointed time will surely keep His time appointed.  When we have had in this world a long night of sad darkness, will not the day breaking and the rising of the Sun of Righteousness be then seasonable?  When we have endured a hard winter in this cold climate will not the reviving spring be then seasonable?  When we have sailed (as Paul) slowly many days, and much time spent, and sailing now grown more dangerous; and when neither sun nor stars in many days appear, and no small tempest comes on us and all hope that we shall be saved is almost taken away—do you think that the haven of rest is not seasonable then?

When we have passed a long and tedious journey and that through no small dangers, is not home then seasonable?  When we have had a long and perilous war, and have lived in the midst of furious enemies, and have been forced to stand on a perpetual watch, and received from them many a wound, would not a peace with victory be now seasonable?  When we have been captivated in many years’ imprisonment, and insulted over by scornful foes, and suffered many pinching wants, and hardly enjoyed bare necessaries, would not a full deliverance to a most plentiful state, even from this prison to a throne, be now seasonable?

Surely, a man would think, who looks upon the face of the world, that rest should seem seasonable to all men.  Some of us are languishing under continual weakness and groaning under most grievous pains, crying in the morning.  “Would God it were evening!” and in the evening, “Would God it were morning!”—weary of going, weary of sitting, weary of standing, weary of lying, weary of eating, weary of speaking, weary of walking, weary of our very friends, weary of ourselves.  Oh! how often has this been mine own case!  And is not rest yet seasonable?  Some are complaining under the pressure of the times; weary of their taxes, weary of their dwellings, weary of crime, weary of their fears and dangers, weary of their poverty and wants.  And is not rest yet seasonable?

Where can you go, and into what company can you come, where the voice of complaining does not show that men live in a continual weariness—but especially the saints, who are most weary of that which the world cannot feel?  What godly society can you fall into, but you shall hear by their moans that something ails them?  Some are weary because of a blind mind, doubting the way they walk, unsettled in almost all their thoughts.  Some are weary because of a hard heart, some because of pride, some because of passion—and some from all these, and much more.  Some are weary because of their daily doubtings and fear concerning their spiritual estate; some because of a shortage of spiritual joys; and some because of the sense of God’s wrath.  And is not rest now seasonable?

When a poor Christian has desired and prayed and waited for deliverance many a year, is it not then seasonable?  When he is ready almost to give up, and saith, “I am afraid I shall not reach the end, and my faith and patience will not hold out,” is not this a fit season for rest?  If the voice of the king were seasonable to Daniel, early in the morning calling him from his den, that he might advance him to more than former dignity, then surely that morning voice of Christ our King, calling us from our terrors among lions, to possess his rest among His saints, should be to us a very seasonable voice.

Now we are often grudging that we have not a greater share of comforts; that our deliverances are not more speedy and eminent; that the world prospers more than we; that our prayers are not presently answered.  But our portion is kept to a fitter season.  When the winter comes we shall have our harvest.  We grudge that we do not find a Canaan in the wilderness or cities of rest in Noah’s Ark and the songs of Zion in a strange land; that we have not a harbor in the main ocean, or find not our home in the middle way, and are not crowned in the midst of the fight, and have not our rest in the heat of the day, and have not our inheritance before we are at age, and have not heaven before we leave the earth: and would not all this be very unreasonable?

I confess, in regard of the church’s service, the removing of the saints may sometimes appear to us unseasonable.  I must confess it is one of my saddest thoughts, to reckon up the useful instruments, whom God has lately called out of His vineyard, when the loiterers are many, and the harvest great and very many congregations desolate, and the people as sheep without shepherds, and yet the laborers called from their work, especially when a door of liberty and opportunity is open.  We cannot but lament so sore a judgment, and think the removal, in regard of the church, unseasonable.

But whatever it is to those that are left behind; yet the saints’ departure, to themselves, is usually seasonable.

Heaven Will Be a Suitable Rest

A further excellency of this rest is this: as it will be seasonable, so a suitable rest, suited to the natures, to the desires, and to the necessity of the saints.

To their natures. If suitableness concur not with excellency, the best things may be bad to us; for it is that which makes things good in themselves to be good to us.  In our choice of friends, we often pass by the more excellent, to choose the more suitable.  Every good agrees not with every nature.  To live in a free and open air, under the warming rays of the sun, is excellent to man because suitable; but the fish, which is of another nature does rather choose another element; and that which is to us so excellent would quickly be to it destructive.

In heaven, suitableness and excellency will finally be conjoined.  The new nature of saints suits their spirits to this rest; and indeed their holiness is nothing else but a spark taken from this element, and by the Spirit of Christ kindled in their hearts, the flame whereof, as mindful of its own divine original, ever mounts the soul aloft, and tends to the place from whence it comes.  It works toward its own center, and makes us restless, till there we rest.  Gold and earthly glory, temporal crowns and kingdoms, could not make a rest for saints.  As they were not redeemed with so low a price, so neither are they endued with so low a nature.  As God will have from them a spiritual worship, suitable to His own spiritual being, so will He provide them a spiritual rest, suitable to His people’s spiritual nature.  As spirits have not fleshly substances, so neither delight they in fleshly pleasures; these are too gross and vile for them.  A heaven of the knowledge of God and His Christ; a delightful contentment in that mutual love; an everlasting rejoicing in the fruition of our God; a perpetual singing of His high praises; this is heaven for a saint, a spiritual rest suitable to a spiritual nature.  Were not our own nature in some sort divine, the enjoyment of the true divine nature could not be to us a suitable rest.

It is suitable also to the desires of the saints.  As their natures, so will be their desires; and as their desires, so will be their rest.  Indeed, we have now a mixed nature; and from contrary principles, do arise contrary desires; as they are flesh, they have desires of flesh; and as so they have sinful desires.  These are not the desires that this rest is suited to for they will accompany them to their rest.  But it is the desires of our renewed natures, and those which the Christian will ordinarily own which this rest is suited to.  While our desires remain uncorrupted and misguided, it is a far greater mercy to deny them, yea, to destroy them, than to satisfy them; but those which are spiritual are of His own planting, and He will surely water them and give the increase.  Is it so great a work to raise them in us, and shall they after all this vanish and fail?

He quickened our hungering and thirsting for righteousness, so that He might make us happy in a full satisfaction.  Christian, this is a rest after your own heart.  It contains all that your heart can wish; that which you long for, pray for, labor for, there you shall find it all.  You would rather have God in Christ than all the world.  There you shall have Him!  What would you not give for assurance of His love?  There you shall have assurance beyond suspicion.  Nay, your desires cannot now extend to the height of what you shall there obtain.

This is a life of desire and prayer; but that is a life of satisfaction and enjoyment.  Oh! that sinners would also consider that seeing God will not give them a felicity suitable to their sensual desires; it is therefore their wisdom to endeavor for desires suitable to the true felicity, and to direct their ship to the right harbor, seeing they cannot bring the harbor to their ship.

The rest is very suitable to the saints’ necessities also as well as to their natures and desires.  It contains whatsoever they truly wanted.  It was Christ and perfected holiness which they most needed, and with these shall they here be principally supplied.  The rain which Elijah’s prayer procured was not more seasonable, after the three years’ drought, than this rest will be to this thirsty soul.

Heaven Will Be Perfect in Every Way

Another excellency of our rest will be this, that it will be absolutely perfect and complete; and this both in the sincerity and universality of it.  We shall then have joy without sorrow, and rest without weariness.  As there is no mixture of corruption with our graces, so no mixture of sufferings with our solace.  There are none of those waves in that harbor, which now so toss us up and down.  There will be a universal perfecting of all our parts and powers, and a universal removal of all our evils.  And though the positive part be the sweetest, and that which draws the other after it, even as the rising of the sun excludes the darkness; yet is not the negative part to be slighted, even our freedom, from so many and great calamities.

Heaven excludes nothing more directly than sin; whether original and of nature, or actual and of behavior.  For there enters nothing that defiles, nor that works abomination, nor that makes a lie.  When they are there, the saints are saints indeed.  He that will wash them with His heart-blood, rather than suffer them to enter unclean, will now perfectly see to that; He who has undertaken to present them to His Father, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but perfectly holy, and without blemish,” will now most certainly perform His undertaking.

I know if it were offered to your choice, you wouldst rather choose to be freed from sin than to be made heir of all the world. Wait till then, and you shall have that desire: your hard heart, those vile thoughts that lay down and rose up with you, which accompanied you to every duty, which you could no more leave behind you than you could leave yourself behind, shall now be left behind forever. They might accompany you to death, but they cannot proceed a step farther.

Your understanding shall nevermore be troubled with darkness.  Ignorance and error are inconsistent with this light.  Now you walk like a man in the twilight, always afraid of being out of the way; but then will all this darkness be dispelled, and our blind understandings fully opened, and we shall have no more doubts of our way.  We shall know which was the right side, and which the wrong; which was the truth, and which the error.  What would we not give to see all dark Scriptures made plain, to see all seeming contradictions reconciled!  When glory has taken the veil from our eyes, all this will be known in a moment; we shall then see clearly into all the controversies about doctrine or discipline that now perplex us.  The poorest Christian is presently there a more perfect divine than any is here.

When our ignorance is perfectly healed, then we shall be settled, resolved men; then shall our reproach be taken from us, and we shall never change our judgments more. Oh! that happy, approaching day, when error shall vanish away forever; when our understanding shall be filled with God Himself, whose light will leave no darkness in us!  His face shall be the Scripture, where we shall read the truth; and Himself, instead of teachers and counsels, to perfect our understandings, and acquaint us with Himself, who is the perfect truth.  No more error, no more scandal to others, no more disquiet to our own spirits, no more mistaking zeal for falsehood; because our understandings have no more sin.  Many a godly man has been a means to deceive and pervert his brethren, and when he sees his own error, cannot again tell how to undeceive them; but there we shall all conspire in one truth, as being one in Him who is that truth.

And as we shall rest from all the sin of our understandings, so of our wills, affection, and conversation.  We shall no more retain this rebelling principle, which is still withdrawing us from God.  Doubtless, we shall no more be oppressed with the power of our corruptions, nor vexed with their presence; no pride, passion, slothfulness, senselessness, shall enter with us; no strangeness to God, and the things of God; no coldness of affections, nor imperfection in our love; no uneven walking, nor grieving of the Spirit; no scandalous action, or unholy living.  We shall rest from all these forever.  Then shall our understandings receive light from the face of God, as the full moon from the open sun, where there is no earth to interpose between them; then shall our wills correspond to the divine will, as face answers to face in a glass; and the same, His will shall be our law and rule from which we shall never swerve again.

Heaven Is a Rest from Suffering

Heaven is a perfect rest from suffering. When the cause is gone, the effect ceases.   Our sufferings were but the consequences of our sinning, and here they both shall cease together.

We shall rest from all our perplexing doubts and fears.  It shall no more be said that doubts are like the thistle, a bad weed, but growing in good ground; they shall now be weeded out, and trouble the gracious soul no more.  No more need of so many sermons, books, and signs to resolve the poor doubting soul.  The full fruition of love itself will resolve all doubts forever.

We shall rest from all that sense of God’s displeasure, which was our greatest torment, whether manifested mediately or immediately.  Sorrowful complaints will be turned into admiring thankfulness.  All sense of God’s displeasure will be swallowed up in that ocean of infinite love when sense shall convince us that fury dwells not in God (cf. Isa. 27:4).  Though for a little moment He hides His face, yet with everlasting compassion will He receive and embrace us.

We shall rest from all the temptations of Satan whereby he continually disturbs our peace.  What a grief is it to a Christian, though he yield not to the temptation, yet to be still solicited to deny his Lord.  That such a thought should be cast into his heart; that he can set about nothing that is good, but Satan is still dissuading him from it, distracting him in it, or discouraging him after it!  What a torment as well as a temptation is it to have such horrid motions made to his soul!

Here we are too prone to entertain cruel thoughts of God, undervaluing thoughts of Christ, unbelieving thoughts of Scripture, injurious thoughts of Providence.  We are so easily tempted to turn to present things, to play with the baits of sin, to venture on the delights of the flesh, and to consider atheism itself!  We know the treachery of our own hearts that they are as tinder and gunpowder, ready to take fire, as soon as one of these sparks shall fall upon them.  How the poor Christian lives in continual disquietness, to feel these motions!  But more that his heart should be the soil for this seed and the too-fruitful mother of such an offspring.  And, most of all, he is disquieted by the fear that they will at last prevail and these cursed motions should procure his consent.

But here is our comfort; as we now stand not by our own strength and shall not be charged with any of this; so when the day of our deliverance comes, we shall fully rest from these temptations.  Satan is then bound up; the time of tempting is done.  Now we do walk among his snares and are in danger of being circumvented with his methods and wiles; but then we are quite above his snares, and out of the hearing of his enticing charms.  He has power here to tempt us in the wilderness, but he enters not into the Holy City.  There will be no more work for Satan then.

We shall rest also from all our temptations which we now undergo from the world and the flesh, as well as Satan; and that is a number inexpressible, and a weight, were it not that we are beholden to supporting grace, utterly intolerable.  Every sense is a snare; every member a snare; every creature a snare; every mercy a snare; and every duty a snare to us.  We can scarce open our eyes, but we are in danger.  If we behold them above us, we are in danger of envy; if below us, we are in danger of contempt.  If we see sumptuous buildings, pleasant habitations, honor and riches we are in danger to be drawn away with covetous desires; if the rags and beggary of others, we are in danger of self-applauding thoughts and unmercifulness.  If we see beauty, it is a bait to lust; if deformity, loathing and disdain.

We can scarcely hear a word spoken but contains to us a matter of temptation.  How soon do slanderous reports, vain jests, wanton speeches, by that passage creep into the heart!  How strong and prevalent a temptation is our appetite and how constant and strong a watch does it require!  Have we comeliness and beauty?  What fuel for pride.  Are we deformed?  What occasion of repining!  Have we strength of reason, and gifts of learning?  How hard it is not to be puffed up!  To seek ourselves; to hunt after applause; to despise our brethren; to dislike the simplicity that is in Christ.  Both in the matter and manner of Scripture, in doctrine, in discipline, in worship, and in the saints; to affect a pompous, specious, fleshly service of God, and to exalt reason above faith.  Are we unlearned and of shallow heads and slender parts?  How apt then to despise what we have not and to undervalue that which we do not know; and to err with confidence, because of our ignorance.  Conceitedness and pride become a zealous enemy to truth and a leading troubler of the church’s peace, under pretenses of truth and holiness.  Are we men of eminence and in place of authority?  How strong is our temptation to slight our brethren, to abuse our trust, to seek ourselves, to stand upon our honor and privileges; to forget ourselves, our poor brethren, and the public good.  How hard it is to devote our power to His glory from whom we have received it!  How prone we are to make our wills our law and to cut out all the enjoyments of others, both religious and civil, by the cursed rules and model of our own interest and policy!  Are we inferiors and subject?  How prone to judge at others’ pre-eminence, and to take liberty to bring all their actions to the bar of our incompetent judgment; and to censure and slander them, and murmur at their proceedings!  Are we rich and not too much exalted?  Are we poor and not discontented, and make our worldly necessities a pretense for robbing God of all His service?

But forever blessed be omnipotent love which saves us out of all these and makes our straits but the advantages of the glory of His saving grace.  In heaven the danger and trouble is over; there is nothing but what will advance our joy.

As we rest from the temptations, so also from all the abuses and persecutions which we suffer at the hands of wicked men.  We shall be scorned, derided, imprisoned, banished, and butchered by them no more.  The prayers of the souls under the altar will then be answered and God will avenge their blood on these that dwell on the earth.  This is the time for crowning with thorns, buffeting, spitting on; that will be the time for crowning with glory.

Now we must be hated of all men for Christ’s name’s sake, and the gospel; then will Christ be admired in His saints that were thus hated.  Now because we are not of the world, therefore doth the world hate us; then, because we are not of the world, therefore will the world admire us.  Now, as they hated Christ, they will also hate us; then, as they will honor Christ, so will they also honor us.  When their flood of persecution is dried up, and the church called out of the wilderness, and the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, and mercy and justice are fully glorified, then shall we feel their fury no more.  We leave all this behind us when once we enter the City of our Rest: the names of Lollard, Huguenots, Roundheads are not there used; the inquisition of Spain is there condemned; the statute of the Six Articles is there repealed.  There are no Bishops’ or Chancellor’s Courts; no visitations nor High Commission judgments; no censures to loss of members, perpetual imprisonment, or banishment.  Christ is not there clothed in a mock robe and blindfolded.  Nor is truth clothed in the robes of error and smitten for that which it most directly contradicts.  Nor is a schismatic wounded, and a saint found bleeding; nor our friends smite us, mistaking us for their enemies.  There is none of all this blind, mad work there.

Till then possess your souls in patience; bind all reproaches as a crown to our heads; esteem them greater riches than the world’s treasures; account it a matter of joy when you fall into tribulation.  You have seen in these days that our God can deliver us; but this is nothing to our final conquest.  He will recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with Christ.

We shall then also rest from our sad divisions, and unchristian quarrels with one another.  There is no contention, because none of this pride, ignorance, or other corruption.  Paul and Barnabas are now fully reconciled.  There they are, not every man conceited of his own understanding and in love with the issue of his own brain, but all admiring the divine perfection, and in love with God and one another.  Luther and Zwingli will be agreed.  There shall be a full reconciliation between Calvinists and Lutherans; Remonstrants and Contra-remonstrants; Conformists and Nonconformists.  Antinomians and Legalists are terms there not known: Presbyterians and Independents are perfectly agreed.  There is no discipline erected by state policy, nor any disordered popular rule; no government but that of Christ!

And is it not shame that our course is now so contrary?  Is it not enough that all the world is against us, but we must also be against one another?  Did I ever think to have heard Christians so to reproach and scorn Christians; and men professing the fear of God to make so little conscience of censuring, vilifying, slandering and disgracing one another?  Alas!  Once discernment has been perverted and error has possessed the supreme faculty, where will men go and what will they do?  Nay!  What will they not do?  Oh, what a potent instrument for Satan is a misguided conscience!  Today they may be orthodox, unanimous, and joined in love, and perhaps within a few weeks will be divided, and at bitter enmity, through their doting about questions that tend not to edify.

Oh happy day of the rest of the saints in glory when as there is one God, one Christ, one Spirit, so we shall have one judgment, one heart, one church, one employment forever!  When there will be no more circumcision and uncircumcision, Jew and Gentile, Anabaptist, Paedobaptist, Brownist, Separatist, Independent, Presbyterian, Episcopal: but Christ is All in All.  We shall not there scruple our communion, nor any of the ordinances of divine worship.  There will not be one for singing and another against it.  But even those who have jarred in discord shall all conjoin in blessed concord and make one melodious choir.

We shall then rest from all the sorrowful hours and sad thoughts we now undergo, by participating with our brethren in their calamities.  Alas!  If we had nothing upon ourselves to trouble us, yet what heart could lay aside sorrows that live in the sound of the church’s sufferings?  The church on earth is a mere hospital.  Whichever way we go, we hear complaining, and into whatsoever corner we cast our eyes, we behold objects of pity and grief.  Who weeps not when all these bleed?  As now our friends’ distresses are our distresses, so then our friends’ deliverance will be part of our own deliverance.  How much more comfortable to see them perfected than now to see them wounded, weak, sick and afflicted?  Our day of rest will free both them and us from all this.

Oh, the sad and heart-piercing spectacles that my eyes have seen in four years’ space!  In this fight [The English Civil War], scarce a month, scarce a week, without the sight or noise of blood.  Surely there is none of this in heaven.  Our black raiment and mourning attire will then be turned into the white robes and garments of gladness.  How hardly can my heart now hold when I think of such, and such, and such a dear Christian friend slain or departed!  How glad must the same heart needs be when I see them all alive and glorified!

But a far greater grief it is to our spirits, to see the spiritual miseries of our brethren; to see our dearest and most intimate friends to be turned aside from the truth of Christ; to see many near us in the flesh continue their neglect of Christ and their souls.  Oh, what continual sorrows do all these sad sights and thoughts fill our hearts with from day to day!  And will it not be a blessed day when we shall rest from all these?  What heart is not wounded to think on Germany’s long desolations [from the Hundred Years Wars–wars between the Catholics and Protestants after the Reformation]?  Look on England’s four years’ blood, a flourishing land almost made ruined!  Look to Scotland, look to Ireland; look almost everywhere!  Blessed be that approaching day, when our eyes shall behold no more such sights nor our ears hear any more such tidings!

We shall rest also from all our personal sufferings, whether natural or ordinary, or extraordinary, from the afflicting hand of God.  And though this may seem a small thing to those who live in continual ease, and abound in all kind of prosperity, yet, to the daily afflicted soul, it should make all thoughts of heaven delightful.  As all our senses are the inlets of sin, so are they become the inlets of our sorrow.  Grief creeps in at our eyes, at our ears, and almost everywhere.  Fears do devour us, and darken our delights, as the frosts nip the tender buds, our cares consume us, and feed upon our spirits, as the scorching sun withers the delicate flowers.  What tender pieces are these dusty bodies!  What brittle glasses do we bear about us; and how many thousand dangers are they hurried through, and how hardly cured if once cracked!

Whatever it is to the sound and healthful, to such as myself this rest should be acceptable, who in ten or twelve years’ time have scarce had a whole day free from some sorrow.  Oh, the weary nights and days; oh, the unserviceable, languishing weakness; oh, the restless working vapors; oh, the tedious, nauseous medicines, beside the daily expectation of worse!  Will it not be desirable to rest from all these?  Oh, the blessed tranquility of that region where there is nothing but sweet continued peace!  Our lives will be but one joy, as our time will be changed into one eternity.  For it shall come to pass, that in that day the Lord shall give us rest from our sorrow, and our fear, and from the hard bondage wherein we served.  The poor man shall no more be tired with his incessant labors: no more use of the plough, or flail, or scythe, or sickle; no stooping of the servant to the master, or the tenant to the landlord; no hunger, or thirst, or cold, or nakedness; no pinching frosts or scorching heats.  No more parting of friends asunder, nor voice of lamentation heard in our dwellings; no more breaches nor disproportion will be in our friendship, nor any trouble accompanying our relations.

Then shall the “the ransomed of the Lord … return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:10).  Hold out then a little longer, oh, my soul; bear with the infirmities of thine earthly tabernacle.  It will be thus but a little while; the sound of our Redeemer’s feet are even at the door and your own deliverance nearer than many others.  And you who have often cried shall then feel that God and joy fill all your soul.  The fruition of heaven, with your freedom from all these sorrows, will more sincerely and feelingly make you know, and to His eternal praise acknowledge, that you live.

We shall rest also from all the trouble and pain of duty.  The conscientious magistrate now cries out, “Oh, the burden that lies upon me!”  The conscientious parents, who know the preciousness of their children’s souls and the constant pains required to their godly education, cry out, “Oh, the burden!”  The conscientious minister when he reads his charge and views his pattern; when he has tried awhile what it is to study, and pray and preach; to go from house to house, and from neighbor to neighbor, and to beseech them night and day with tears, and, after all, be hated and persecuted for so doing—no wonder if he cries out, “Oh, the burden!”

And seldom does a minister live to see the ripeness of his people.  But one sows and plants, another waters, and a third reaps and receives the increase.  To inform the old ignorant sinner, to convince the stubborn and worldly wise, to persuade a willful, resolved wretch, to prick a stony heart to the quick, to make a rock to weep and tremble, to set forth Christ according to our necessity and His excellency, to comfort the soul whom God dejects, to clear up dark and difficult truths, to oppose with convincing arguments all gainsayers, to credit the gospel with exemplary conversations, when multitudes do but watch for our halting.  Oh, who is sufficient for these things?  So that every conscientious Christian cries out, “Oh, the burden!  Oh, my weakness that makes it so burdensome!”  But our eternal rest will ease us of the burden.

Lastly, we shall rest from all those sad affections which necessarily accompany our absence from God.  We shall no more look into our cabinet and miss our treasure; look into our hearts and miss our Christ; nor no more seek Him from ordinance to ordinance, and inquire for our God of those we meet.  Our heart will not lie in our knee, nor our souls be breathed out in our request, but all conclude in a most full and blessed fruition.

Heaven Is an Eternal Rest

The last jewel in our crown and blessed attribute of this rest is that it is an eternal rest. This is the crown of our crown without which all were comparatively little or nothing.  The very thought of once leaving it would else embitter all our joys; and the more would it pierce us because of the singular excellencies which we must forsake.

Mortality is the disgrace of all sublunary delights.  It makes our present life of little value—were it not for the reference it has to God and eternity—to think that we must shortly lay it down.  Surely, were it not for eternity, I should think man a silly piece; and all his life and honor but contemptible; a vain shadow.  I can value nothing that shall have an end, except as it leads to that which has no end; or as it comes from that love which has neither beginning nor end.

What do I say when I talk of eternity?  Can my shallow thoughts conceive at all what that most high expression contains?  To be eternally blessed, and so blessed!  Why, surely this, if anything, is the resemblance of God: eternity is a piece of infiniteness.  Oh, then, my soul, let go thy dreams of present pleasures and loose thy hold of earth and flesh.  Fear not to enter that estate where thou shalt ever after cease thy fears.  Sit down and think about this eternity.  Study frequently, study thoroughly, this one word: eternity. And when you have learned thoroughly that one word, you will never look on books again!  What! live, and never die?  Rejoice, and ever rejoice!  Oh, what sweet words are those, never and ever.

Oh, that the gracious soul would believingly study this word everlasting.  That should revive him in his deepest agony!  Must I, Lord, thus live forever?  Then will I also love forever.  Must my joys be immortal; and shall not my thanks be also immortal?  Surely, if I shall never lose my glory, I will also never cease Thy praises.  If Thou wilt both perfect and perpetuate me and my glory, as I shall be Thine, and not my own, so shall my glory be Thy glory.  And as all did take their spring from Thee, so shall all devolve into Thee again; and as Thy glory was Thine ultimate end in my glory, so shall it also be mine when Thou hast crowned me with that glory which has no end.  And unto Thee, “eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.” (1 Tim. 1:17).

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Let us draw near and see from the pure fountain of the Scriptures what excellencies the saints’ everlasting rest affords.  May the Lord hide us in the clefts of the rock and cover us with the hands of indulgent grace while we approach to take this view.  And may we put off from our feet the shoes of irreverence and fleshly thoughts while we stand upon this holy ground.  These truths are like jewels in the Christian’s heavenly crown:

Heaven Will Be a Seasonable Rest. A further excellency is this: it will be unto us a seasonable rest. He who expects the fruit of His vineyard in season and makes His people as trees planted by the waters, fruitful in their season, He will also give them the crown in season.  He that will have the words of joy spoken to the weary in season will sure cause that time of joy to appear in His perfect time.

They who knew the season of grace and did repent and believe in season shall also, if they faint not, reap in season.  If God will not miss the season of common mercies, even to His enemies, but will give both the former and the latter rain in their season, and the appointed weeks of harvest in its season, and by inviolable covenant has established day and night in their seasons, then sure, the harvest of the saints and their day of gladness shall not miss its season.

He who has given the stork, the crane, and the swallow to know their appointed time will surely keep His time appointed.  When we have had in this world a long night of sad darkness, will not the day breaking and the rising of the Sun of Righteousness be then seasonable?  When we have endured a hard winter in this cold climate will not the reviving spring be then seasonable?  When we have sailed (as Paul) slowly many days, and much time spent, and sailing now grown more dangerous; and when neither sun nor stars in many days appear, and no small tempest comes on us and all hope that we shall be saved is almost taken away—do you think that the haven of rest is not seasonable then?

When we have passed a long and tedious journey and that through no small dangers, is not home then seasonable?  When we have had a long and perilous war, and have lived in the midst of furious enemies, and have been forced to stand on a perpetual watch, and received from them many a wound, would not a peace with victory be now seasonable?  When we have been captivated in many years’ imprisonment, and insulted over by scornful foes, and suffered many pinching wants, and hardly enjoyed bare necessaries, would not a full deliverance to a most plentiful state, even from this prison to a throne, be now seasonable?

Surely, a man would think, who looks upon the face of the world, that rest should seem seasonable to all men.  Some of us are languishing under continual weakness and groaning under most grievous pains, crying in the morning.  “Would God it were evening!” and in the evening, “Would God it were morning!”—weary of going, weary of sitting, weary of standing, weary of lying, weary of eating, weary of speaking, weary of walking, weary of our very friends, weary of ourselves.  Oh! how often has this been mine own case!  And is not rest yet seasonable?  Some are complaining under the pressure of the times; weary of their taxes, weary of their dwellings, weary of crime, weary of their fears and dangers, weary of their poverty and wants.  And is not rest yet seasonable?

Where can you go and into what company can you come, where the voice of complaining does not show that men live in a continual weariness—but especially the saints, who are most weary of that which the world cannot feel?  What godly society can you fall into, but you shall hear by their moans that something ails them?  Some are weary because of a blind mind, doubting the way they walk, unsettled in almost all their thoughts.  Some are weary because of a hard heart, some because of pride, some because of passion—and some from all these and much more.  Some are weary because of their daily doubtings and fear concerning their spiritual estate; some because of a shortage of spiritual joys; and some because of the sense of God’s wrath.  And is not rest now seasonable?

When a poor Christian has desired and prayed and waited for deliverance many a year, is it not then seasonable?  When he is ready almost to give up, and saith, “I am afraid I shall not reach the end, and my faith and patience will not hold out,” is not this a fit season for rest?  If the voice of the king were seasonable to Daniel, early in the morning calling him from his den, that he might advance him to more than former dignity, then surely that morning voice of Christ our King, calling us from our terrors among lions, to possess his rest among His saints, should be to us a very seasonable voice.

Now we are often grudging that we have not a greater share of comforts; that our deliverances are not more speedy and eminent; that the world prospers more than we; that our prayers are not presently answered.  But our portion is kept to a fitter season.  When the winter comes we shall have our harvest.  We grudge that we do not find a Canaan in the wilderness or cities of rest in Noah’s Ark and the songs of Zion in a strange land; that we have not a harbor in the main ocean, or find not our home in the middle way, and are not crowned in the midst of the fight, and have not our rest in the heat of the day, and have not our inheritance before we are at age, and have not heaven before we leave the earth: and would not all this be very unreasonable?

I confess, in regard of the church’s service, the removing of the saints may sometimes appear to us unseasonable.  I must confess it is one of my saddest thoughts, to reckon up the useful instruments, whom God has lately called out of His vineyard, when the loiterers are many, and the harvest great and very many congregations desolate, and the people as sheep without shepherds, and yet the laborers called from their work, especially when a door of liberty and opportunity is open.  We cannot but lament so sore a judgment, and think the removal, in regard of the church, unseasonable.

But whatever it is to those that are left behind; yet the saints’ departure, to themselves, is usually seasonable.

Heaven Will Be a Suitable Rest. A further excellency of this rest is this: as it will be seasonable, so a suitable rest, suited to the natures, to the desires, and to the necessity of the saints.

To their natures. If suitableness concur not with excellency, the best things may be bad to us; for it is that which makes things good in themselves to be good to us.  In our choice of friends, we often pass by the more excellent, to choose the more suitable.  Every good agrees not with every nature.  To live in a free and open air, under the warming rays of the sun, is excellent to man because suitable; but the fish, which is of another nature does rather choose another element; and that which is to us so excellent would quickly be to it destructive.

In heaven, suitableness and excellency will finally be conjoined.  The new nature of saints suits their spirits to this rest; and indeed their holiness is nothing else but a spark taken from this element, and by the Spirit of Christ kindled in their hearts, the flame whereof, as mindful of its own divine original, ever mounts the soul aloft, and tends to the place from whence it comes.  It works toward its own center, and makes us restless, till there we rest.  Gold and earthly glory, temporal crowns and kingdoms, could not make a rest for saints.  As they were not redeemed with so low a price, so neither are they endued with so low a nature.  As God will have from them a spiritual worship, suitable to His own spiritual being, so will He provide them a spiritual rest, suitable to His people’s spiritual nature.  As spirits have not fleshly substances, so neither delight they in fleshly pleasures; these are too gross and vile for them.  A heaven of the knowledge of God and His Christ; a delightful contentment in that mutual love; an everlasting rejoicing in the fruition of our God; a perpetual singing of His high praises; this is heaven for a saint, a spiritual rest suitable to a spiritual nature.  Were not our own nature in some sort divine, the enjoyment of the true divine nature could not be to us a suitable rest.

It is suitable also to the desires of the saints.  As their natures, so will be their desires; and as their desires, so will be their rest.  Indeed, we have now a mixed nature; and from contrary principles, do arise contrary desires; as they are flesh, they have desires of flesh; and as so they have sinful desires.  These are not the desires that this rest is suited to for they will accompany them to their rest.  But it is the desires of our renewed natures, and those which the Christian will ordinarily own which this rest is suited to.  While our desires remain uncorrupted and misguided, it is a far greater mercy to deny them, yea, to destroy them, than to satisfy them; but those which are spiritual are of His own planting, and He will surely water them and give the increase.  Is it so great a work to raise them in us, and shall they after all this vanish and fail?

He quickened our hungering and thirsting for righteousness, so that He might make us happy in a full satisfaction.  Christian, this is a rest after your own heart.  It contains all that your heart can wish; that which you long for, pray for, labor for, there you shall find it all.  You would rather have God in Christ than all the world.  There you shall have Him!  What would you not give for assurance of His love?  There you shall have assurance beyond suspicion.  Nay, your desires cannot now extend to the height of what you shall there obtain.

The rest is very suitable to the saints’ necessities also as well as to their natures and desires.  It contains whatsoever they truly wanted.  It was Christ and perfected holiness which they most needed, and with these shall they here be principally supplied.  The rain which Elijah’s prayer procured was not more seasonable, after the three years’ drought, than this rest will be to this thirsty soul.

Heaven Will Be Perfect in Every Way. Another excellency of our rest will be this, that it will be absolutely perfect and complete; and this both in the sincerity and universality of it.  We shall then have joy without sorrow, and rest without weariness.  As there is no mixture of corruption with our graces, so no mixture of sufferings with our solace.  There are none of those waves in that harbor, which now so toss us up and down.  There will be a universal perfecting of all our parts and powers, and a universal removal of all our evils.  And though the positive part be the sweetest, and that which draws the other after it, even as the rising of the sun excludes the darkness; yet is not the negative part to be slighted, even our freedom, from so many and great calamities.

Heaven excludes nothing more directly than sin; whether original and of nature, or actual and of behavior.  For there enters nothing that defiles, nor that works abomination, nor that makes a lie.  When they are there, the saints are saints indeed.  He that will wash them with His heart-blood, rather than suffer them to enter unclean, will now perfectly see to that; He who has undertaken to present them to His Father, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but perfectly holy, and without blemish,” will now most certainly perform His undertaking.

I know if it were offered to your choice, you wouldst rather choose to be freed from sin than to be made heir of all the world. Wait till then, and you shall have that desire: your hard heart, those vile thoughts that lay down and rose up with you, which accompanied you to every duty, which you could no more leave behind you than you could leave yourself behind, shall now be left behind forever. They might accompany you to death, but they cannot proceed a step farther.

Your understanding shall nevermore be troubled with darkness.  Ignorance and error are inconsistent with this light.  Now you walk like a man in the twilight, always afraid of being out of the way; but then will all this darkness be dispelled, and our blind understandings fully opened, and we shall have no more doubts of our way.  We shall know which was the right side, and which the wrong; which was the truth, and which the error.  What would we not give to see all dark Scriptures made plain, to see all seeming contradictions reconciled!  When glory has taken the veil from our eyes, all this will be known in a moment; we shall then see clearly into all the controversies about doctrine or discipline that now perplex us.  The poorest Christian is presently there a more perfect divine than any is here.

When our ignorance is perfectly healed, then we shall be settled, resolved men; then shall our reproach be taken from us, and we shall never change our judgments more. Oh! that happy, approaching day, when error shall vanish away forever; when our understanding shall be filled with God Himself, whose light will leave no darkness in us!  His face shall be the Scripture, where we shall read the truth; and Himself, instead of teachers and counsels, to perfect our understandings, and acquaint us with Himself, who is the perfect truth.  No more error, no more scandal to others, no more disquiet to our own spirits, no more mistaking zeal for falsehood; because our understandings have no more sin.  Many a godly man has been a means to deceive and pervert his brethren, and when he sees his own error, cannot again tell how to undeceive them; but there we shall all conspire in one truth, as being one in Him who is that truth.

And as we shall rest from all the sin of our understandings, so of our wills, affection, and conversation. We shall no more retain this rebelling principle, which is still withdrawing us from God.  Doubtless, we shall no more be oppressed with the power of our corruptions, nor vexed with their presence; no pride, passion, slothfulness, senselessness, shall enter with us; no strangeness to God, and the things of God; no coldness of affections, nor imperfection in our love; no uneven walking, nor grieving of the Spirit; no scandalous action, or unholy living.  We shall rest from all these forever.  Then shall our understandings receive light from the face of God, as the full moon from the open sun, where there is no earth to interpose between them; then shall our wills correspond to the divine will, as face answers to face in a glass; and the same, His will shall be our law and rule from which we shall never swerve again.

Heaven Is a Rest from Suffering. Heaven is a perfect rest from suffering. When the cause is gone, the effect ceases.   Our sufferings were but the consequences of our sinning, and here they both shall cease together.

We shall rest from all our perplexing doubts and fears.  It shall no more be said that doubts are like the thistle, a bad weed, but growing in good ground; they shall now be weeded out, and trouble the gracious soul no more.  No more need of so many sermons, books, and signs to resolve the poor doubting soul.  The full fruition of love itself will resolve all doubts forever.

We shall rest from all that sense of God’s displeasure, which was our greatest torment, whether manifested mediately or immediately.  Sorrowful complaints will be turned into admiring thankfulness.  All sense of God’s displeasure will be swallowed up in that ocean of infinite love when sense shall convince us that fury dwells not in God (cf. Isa. 27:4).  Though for a little moment He hides His face, yet with everlasting compassion will He receive and embrace us.

We shall rest from all the temptations of Satan whereby he continually disturbs our peace.  What a grief is it to a Christian, though he yield not to the temptation, yet to be still solicited to deny his Lord.  That such a thought should be cast into his heart; that he can set about nothing that is good, but Satan is still dissuading him from it, distracting him in it, or discouraging him after it!  What a torment as well as a temptation is it to have such horrid motions made to his soul!

Here we are too prone to entertain cruel thoughts of God, undervaluing thoughts of Christ, unbelieving thoughts of Scripture, injurious thoughts of Providence.  We are so easily tempted to turn to present things, to play with the baits of sin, to venture on the delights of the flesh, and to consider atheism itself!  We know the treachery of our own hearts that they are as tinder and gunpowder, ready to take fire, as soon as one of these sparks shall fall upon them.  How the poor Christian lives in continual disquietness, to feel these motions!  But more that his heart should be the soil for this seed and the too-fruitful mother of such an offspring.  And, most of all, he is disquieted by the fear that they will at last prevail and these cursed motions should procure his consent.

But here is our comfort; as we now stand not by our own strength and shall not be charged with any of this; so when the day of our deliverance comes, we shall fully rest from these temptations.  Satan is then bound up; the time of tempting is done.  Now we do walk among his snares and are in danger of being circumvented with his methods and wiles; but then we are quite above his snares, and out of the hearing of his enticing charms.  He has power here to tempt us in the wilderness, but he enters not into the Holy City.  There will be no more work for Satan then.

We shall rest also from all our temptations which we now undergo from the world and the flesh, as well as Satan; and that is a number inexpressible, and a weight, were it not that we are beholden to supporting grace, utterly intolerable.  Every sense is a snare; every member a snare; every creature a snare; every mercy a snare; and every duty a snare to us.  We can scarce open our eyes, but we are in danger.  If we behold them above us, we are in danger of envy; if below us, we are in danger of contempt.  If we see sumptuous buildings, pleasant habitations, honor and riches we are in danger to be drawn away with covetous desires; if the rags and beggary of others, we are in danger of self-applauding thoughts and unmercifulness.  If we see beauty, it is a bait to lust; if deformity, loathing and disdain.

We can scarcely hear a word spoken but contains to us a matter of temptation.  How soon do slanderous reports, vain jests, wanton speeches, by that passage creep into the heart!  How strong and prevalent a temptation is our appetite and how constant and strong a watch does it require!  Have we comeliness and beauty?  What fuel for pride.  Are we deformed?  What occasion of repining!  Have we strength of reason, and gifts of learning?  How hard it is not to be puffed up!  To seek ourselves; to hunt after applause; to despise our brethren; to dislike the simplicity that is in Christ.  Both in the matter and manner of Scripture, in doctrine, in discipline, in worship, and in the saints; to affect a pompous, specious, fleshly service of God, and to exalt reason above faith.  Are we unlearned and of shallow heads and slender parts?  How apt then to despise what we have not and to undervalue that which we do not know; and to err with confidence, because of our ignorance.  Conceitedness and pride become a zealous enemy to truth and a leading troubler of the church’s peace, under pretenses of truth and holiness.  Are we men of eminence and in place of authority?  How strong is our temptation to slight our brethren, to abuse our trust, to seek ourselves, to stand upon our honor and privileges; to forget ourselves, our poor brethren, and the public good.  How hard it is to devote our power to His glory from whom we have received it!  How prone we are to make our wills our law and to cut out all the enjoyments of others, both religious and civil, by the cursed rules and model of our own interest and policy!  Are we inferiors and subject?  How prone to judge at others’ pre-eminence, and to take liberty to bring all their actions to the bar of our incompetent judgment; and to censure and slander them, and murmur at their proceedings!  Are we rich and not too much exalted?  Are we poor and not discontented, and make our worldly necessities a pretense for robbing God of all His service?

But forever blessed be omnipotent love which saves us out of all these and makes our straits but the advantages of the glory of His saving grace.  In heaven the danger and trouble is over; there is nothing but what will advance our joy.

As we rest from the temptations, so also from all the abuses and persecutions which we suffer at the hands of wicked men.  We shall be scorned, derided, imprisoned, banished, and butchered by them no more.  The prayers of the souls under the altar will then be answered and God will avenge their blood on these that dwell on the earth.  This is the time for crowning with thorns, buffeting, spitting on; that will be the time for crowning with glory.

Now we must be hated of all men for Christ’s name’s sake, and the gospel; then will Christ be admired in His saints that were thus hated.  Now because we are not of the world, therefore doth the world hate us; then, because we are not of the world, therefore will the world admire us.  Now, as they hated Christ, they will also hate us; then, as they will honor Christ, so will they also honor us.  When their flood of persecution is dried up, and the church called out of the wilderness, and the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, and mercy and justice are fully glorified, then shall we feel their fury no more.  We leave all this behind us when once we enter the City of our Rest: the names of Lollard, Huguenots, Roundheads are not there used; the inquisition of Spain is there condemned; the statute of the Six Articles is there repealed.  There are no Bishops’ or Chancellor’s Courts; no visitations nor High Commission judgments; no censures to loss of members, perpetual imprisonment, or banishment.  Christ is not there clothed in a mock robe and blindfolded.  Nor is truth clothed in the robes of error and smitten for that which it most directly contradicts.  Nor is a schismatic wounded, and a saint found bleeding; nor our friends smite us, mistaking us for their enemies.  There is none of all this blind, mad work there.

Till then possess your souls in patience; bind all reproaches as a crown to our heads; esteem them greater riches than the world’s treasures; account it a matter of joy when you fall into tribulation.  You have seen in these days that our God can deliver us; but this is nothing to our final conquest.  He will recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with Christ.

We shall then also rest from our sad divisions, and unchristian quarrels with one another.  There is no contention, because none of this pride, ignorance, or other corruption.  Paul and Barnabas are now fully reconciled.  There they are, not every man conceited of his own understanding and in love with the issue of his own brain, but all admiring the divine perfection, and in love with God and one another.  Luther and Zwingli will be agreed.  There shall be a full reconciliation between Calvinists and Lutherans; Remonstrants and Contra-remonstrants; Conformists and Nonconformists.  Antinomians and Legalists are terms there not known: Presbyterians and Independents are perfectly agreed.  There is no discipline erected by state policy, nor any disordered popular rule; no government but that of Christ!

And is it not shame that our course is now so contrary?  Is it not enough that all the world is against us, but we must also be against one another?  Did I ever think to have heard Christians so to reproach and scorn Christians; and men professing the fear of God to make so little conscience of censuring, vilifying, slandering and disgracing one another?  Alas!  Once discernment has been perverted and error has possessed the supreme faculty, where will men go and what will they do?  Nay!  What will they not do?  Oh, what a potent instrument for Satan is a misguided conscience!  Today they may be orthodox, unanimous, and joined in love, and perhaps within a few weeks will be divided, and at bitter enmity, through their doting about questions that tend not to edify.

Oh happy day of the rest of the saints in glory when as there is one God, one Christ, one Spirit, so we shall have one judgment, one heart, one church, one employment forever!  When there will be no more circumcision and uncircumcision, Jew and Gentile, Anabaptist, Paedobaptist, Brownist, Separatist, Independent, Presbyterian, Episcopal: but Christ is All in All.  We shall not there scruple our communion, nor any of the ordinances of divine worship.  There will not be one for singing and another against it.  But even those who have jarred in discord shall all conjoin in blessed concord and make one melodious choir.

We shall then rest from all the sorrowful hours and sad thoughts we now undergo, by participating with our brethren in their calamities.  Alas!  If we had nothing upon ourselves to trouble us, yet what heart could lay aside sorrows that live in the sound of the church’s sufferings?  The church on earth is a mere hospital.  Whichever way we go, we hear complaining, and into whatsoever corner we cast our eyes, we behold objects of pity and grief.  Who weeps not when all these bleed?  As now our friends’ distresses are our distresses, so then our friends’ deliverance will be part of our own deliverance.  How much more comfortable to see them perfected than now to see them wounded, weak, sick and afflicted?  Our day of rest will free both them and us from all this.

Oh, the sad and heart-piercing spectacles that my eyes have seen in four years’ space!  In this fight [The English Civil War], scarce a month, scarce a week, without the sight or noise of blood.  Surely there is none of this in heaven.  Our black raiment and mourning attire will then be turned into the white robes and garments of gladness.  How hardly can my heart now hold when I think of such, and such, and such a dear Christian friend slain or departed!  How glad must the same heart needs be when I see them all alive and glorified!

But a far greater grief it is to our spirits, to see the spiritual miseries of our brethren; to see our dearest and most intimate friends to be turned aside from the truth of Christ; to see many near us in the flesh continue their neglect of Christ and their souls.  Oh, what continual sorrows do all these sad sights and thoughts fill our hearts with from day to day!  And will it not be a blessed day when we shall rest from all these?  What heart is not wounded to think on Germany’s long desolations [from the Hundred Years Wars–wars between the Catholics and Protestants after the Reformation]?  Look on England’s four years’ blood, a flourishing land almost made ruined!  Look to Scotland, look to Ireland; look almost everywhere!  Blessed be that approaching day, when our eyes shall behold no more such sights nor our ears hear any more such tidings!

We shall rest also from all our personal sufferings, whether natural or ordinary, or extraordinary, from the afflicting hand of God.  And though this may seem a small thing to those who live in continual ease, and abound in all kind of prosperity, yet, to the daily afflicted soul, it should make all thoughts of heaven delightful.  As all our senses are the inlets of sin, so are they become the inlets of our sorrow.  Grief creeps in at our eyes, at our ears, and almost everywhere.  Fears do devour us, and darken our delights, as the frosts nip the tender buds, our cares consume us, and feed upon our spirits, as the scorching sun withers the delicate flowers.  What tender pieces are these dusty bodies!  What brittle glasses do we bear about us; and how many thousand dangers are they hurried through, and how hardly cured if once cracked!

Whatever it is to the sound and healthful, to such as myself this rest should be acceptable, who in ten or twelve years’ time have scarce had a whole day free from some sorrow.  Oh, the weary nights and days; oh, the unserviceable, languishing weakness; oh, the restless working vapors; oh, the tedious, nauseous medicines, beside the daily expectation of worse!  Will it not be desirable to rest from all these?  Oh, the blessed tranquility of that region where there is nothing but sweet continued peace!  Our lives will be but one joy, as our time will be changed into one eternity.  For it shall come to pass, that in that day the Lord shall give us rest from our sorrow, and our fear, and from the hard bondage wherein we served.  The poor man shall no more be tired with his incessant labors: no more use of the plough, or flail, or scythe, or sickle; no stooping of the servant to the master, or the tenant to the landlord; no hunger, or thirst, or cold, or nakedness; no pinching frosts or scorching heats.  No more parting of friends asunder, nor voice of lamentation heard in our dwellings; no more breaches nor disproportion will be in our friendship, nor any trouble accompanying our relations.

Then shall the “the ransomed of the Lord … return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:10).  Hold out then a little longer, oh, my soul; bear with the infirmities of thine earthly tabernacle.  It will be thus but a little while; the sound of our Redeemer’s feet are even at the door and your own deliverance nearer than many others.  And you who have often cried shall then feel that God and joy fill all your soul.  The fruition of heaven, with your freedom from all these sorrows, will more sincerely and feelingly make you know, and to His eternal praise acknowledge, that you live.

We shall rest also from all the trouble and pain of duty.  The conscientious magistrate now cries out, “Oh, the burden that lies upon me!”  The conscientious parents, who know the preciousness of their children’s souls and the constant pains required to their godly education, cry out, “Oh, the burden!”  The conscientious minister when he reads his charge and views his pattern; when he has tried awhile what it is to study, and pray and preach; to go from house to house, and from neighbor to neighbor, and to beseech them night and day with tears, and, after all, be hated and persecuted for so doing—no wonder if he cries out, “Oh, the burden!”

And seldom does a minister live to see the ripeness of his people.  But one sows and plants, another waters, and a third reaps and receives the increase.  To inform the old ignorant sinner, to convince the stubborn and worldly wise, to persuade a willful, resolved wretch, to prick a stony heart to the quick, to make a rock to weep and tremble, to set forth Christ according to our necessity and His excellency, to comfort the soul whom God dejects, to clear up dark and difficult truths, to oppose with convincing arguments all gainsayers, to credit the gospel with exemplary conversations, when multitudes do but watch for our halting.  Oh, who is sufficient for these things?  So that every conscientious Christian cries out, “Oh, the burden!  Oh, my weakness that makes it so burdensome!”  But our eternal rest will ease us of the burden.

Lastly, we shall rest from all those sad affections which necessarily accompany our absence from God.  We shall no more look into our cabinet and miss our treasure; look into our hearts and miss our Christ; nor no more seek Him from ordinance to ordinance, and inquire for our God of those we meet.  Our heart will not lie in our knee, nor our souls be breathed out in our request, but all conclude in a most full and blessed fruition.

Heaven Is an Eternal Rest. The last jewel in our crown and blessed attribute of this rest is that it is an eternal rest. This is the crown of our crown without which all were comparatively little or nothing.  The very thought of once leaving it would else embitter all our joys; and the more would it pierce us because of the singular excellencies which we must forsake.

Mortality is the disgrace of all sublunary delights.  It makes our present life of little value—were it not for the reference it has to God and eternity—to think that we must shortly lay it down.  Surely, were it not for eternity, I should think man a silly piece; and all his life and honor but contemptible; a vain shadow.  I can value nothing that shall have an end, except as it leads to that which has no end; or as it comes from that love which has neither beginning nor end.

What do I say when I talk of eternity?  Can my shallow thoughts conceive at all what that most high expression contains?  To be eternally blessed, and so blessed!  Why, surely this, if anything, is the resemblance of God: eternity is a piece of infiniteness.  Oh, then, my soul, let go thy dreams of present pleasures and loose thy hold of earth and flesh.  Fear not to enter that estate where thou shalt ever after cease thy fears.  Sit down and think about this eternity.  Study frequently, study thoroughly, this one word: eternity. And when you have learned thoroughly that one word, you will never look on books again!  What! live, and never die?  Rejoice, and ever rejoice!  Oh, what sweet words are those, never and ever.

Oh, that the gracious soul would believingly study this word everlasting.  That should revive him in his deepest agony!  Must I, Lord, thus live forever?  Then will I also love forever.  Must my joys be immortal; and shall not my thanks be also immortal?  Surely, if I shall never lose my glory, I will also never cease Thy praises.  If Thou wilt both perfect and perpetuate me and my glory, as I shall be Thine, and not my own, so shall my glory be Thy glory.  And as all did take their spring from Thee, so shall all devolve into Thee again; and as Thy glory was Thine ultimate end in my glory, so shall it also be mine when Thou hast crowned me with that glory which has no end.  And unto Thee, “eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.” (1 Tim. 1:17).

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The signs of covetousness are these:

1. Not preferring God and our everlasting happiness before the prosperity and pleasure of the flesh; but valuing and loving fleshly prosperity above its worth (Rom. 13:14; Matt. 6:19; 1 Tim. 3:8; Phil 3:19; Ezek. 33:31; Jer. 9:23).

2. Esteeming and loving the creatures of God as provision for the flesh, and not to further us in the service of God.

3. Desiring more than is needful or useful to further us in our duty.

4. An inordinate eagerness in our desires after earthly things.

5. Distrustfulness, and vexatious cares, and contrivances for time to come.

6. Discontent, and trouble, and a longing discontent at a poor condition, when we have no more than our daily bread.

7. When the world taketh up our thoughts inordinately: when our thoughts will more easily run out upon the world, than upon better things: and when our thoughts of worldly plenty are more pleasant and sweet to us, than our thoughts of Christ, and grace, and heaven; and our thoughts of neediness and poverty are more bitter and grievous to us, than our thoughts of sin and God’s displeasure.

8. When our speech is freer and sweeter about prosperity in the world, than about the concernments of God and our souls.

9. When the world beareth sway in our families and conversations and shutteth out all serious endeavours in the service of God, and for our own and others’ souls: or at least doth cut short religious duties, and is preferred before them, and thrusteth them into a corner, and maketh us slightly huddle them over.

10. When we are dejected overmuch, and impatient under losses, and crosses, and worldly injuries from men.

11. When worldly matters seem sufficient to engage us in contentions, and to make us break peace: and we will by lawsuits seek our right, when greater hurt is more likely to follow to our brother’s soul, or greater wrong to the cause of religion, or the honor of God, than our right is worth.

12. When in our trouble and distress, we fetch our comfort more from the thoughts of our provisions in the world, or our hopes of supply, than from our trust in God, and our hopes of heaven (Job 1:21).

13. When we are more thankful to God or man for outward riches, or any gift for the provision of the flesh, than for hopes or helps in order to salvation; for a powerful ministry, good books, or seasonable instructions for the soul.

14. When we are quiet and pleased if we do but prosper, and have plenty in the world, though the soul be miserable, unsanctified, and unpardoned.

15. When we are more careful to provide a worldly than a heavenly portion, for children and friends, and rejoice more in their bodily than their spiritual prosperity, and are troubled more for their poverty than their ungodliness or sin.

16. When we can see our brother have need and shut up the bowels of our compassion, or can part with no more than mere superfluities for his relief: when we cannot spare that which makes but for our better being, when it is necessary to preserve his being itself; or when we give unwillingly or sparingly (1 Tim. 6:17-18; Mal. 3:8, 9; Judges. 7:21).

17. When we will venture upon sinful means for gain, as lying, overreaching, deceiving, flattering, or going against our consciences, or the commands of God.

18. When we are too much in expecting liberality from others, and think that all we buy of should sell cheaper to us than they can afford, and consider not their loss or need, so that we have the gain: nor are contented if they be never so bountiful to others, if they be not so to us.

19. When we make too much ado in the world for riches, taking too much upon us, or striving for preferment, and flattering great ones, and envying any that are preferred before us, or get that which we expected.

20. When we hold our money tighter than our innocency and cannot part with it for the sake of Christ, when he requireth it; but will stretch our consciences and sin against him, or forsake his cause, to save our estates; or will not part with it for the service of his church, or of our country, when we are called to it.

21. When the riches which we have, are used but for the pampering of our flesh, and superfluous provision for our posterity, and nothing but some inconsiderable crumbs or driblets are employed for God and his servants, nor used to further us in his service, and towards the laying up of a treasure in heaven.

These are the signs of worldly covetousness.

The counterfeits of liberality or freedom from covetousness, which deceive the worldling, are such as these …

1. He thinks he is not covetous because he hath a necessity of doing what he doth for more.  Either he is in debt or he is poor, and scarcely hath whereon to live; and the poor think that none are worldlings and covetous but the rich.  But he may love riches that lacketh them, as much as he that hath them.  If you have a necessity of laboring in your callings, you have no necessity of loving the world, or of caring inordinately, or of being discontented with your estate.  Impatience under your poverty shows a love of the world and flesh, as much as other men’s bravado that possess it.

2. Another thinks he is not a worldling because if he could but have necessaries, even food and raiment, and conveniences for himself and family, he would be content; and it is not riches or great matters that he desireth.  But if your hearts are more set upon the getting of these necessaries or little things, than upon the preparing for death, and making sure of the heavenly treasure, you are miserable worldlings still.  And the poor man that will set his heart more upon a poor and miserable life, than upon heaven, is more inexcusable than he that setteth his heart more upon lordships and honors than upon heaven; though both of them are but the slaves of the world, and have as yet no treasure in heaven, Matt. 6:19-21.  And, moreover, you that are now so covetous for a little more, if you had that, would be as covetous for a little more still; and when you had that, for a little more yet.  You would next wear better clothing, and have better fare; and next you would have your house repaired, and then you would have your land enlarged, and then you would have something more for your children, and you would never be satisfied.  You think otherwise now; but your hearts deceive you; you do not know them.  If you believe me not, judge by the case of other men that have been as confident as you, that if they had but so much or so much they would be content; but when they have it, they would still have more.  And this, which is your pretense, is the common pretense of almost all the covetous: for lords and princes think themselves still in as great necessity as you think yourselves: as they have more, so they have more to do with it; and usually are still wanting as much as the poor.  The question is not how much you desire.  But to what use, and to what end, and in what order?

3. Another thinks he is not covetous, because he coveteth not anything that is his neighbor’s: he thinks that covetousness is only a desiring that which is not our own.  But if you love the world and worldly plenty inordinately, and covet more, you are covetous worldlings, though you wish it not from another.  It is the worldly mind and love of wealth that is the sin at the root: the ways of getting it are but the branches.

4. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he useth no unlawful means, but the labor of his calling, to grow rich.  The same answer serves to this.  The love of wealth for the satisfying of the flesh is unlawful, whatever the means be.  And is it not also an unlawful means of getting, to neglect God and your souls, and the poor, and shut out other duties for the world, as you often do?

5. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he is contented with what he hath and coveteth no more when that which he hath is a full provision for his fleshly desires.  But if you over-love the world, and delight more in it than God, you are worldlings, though you desire no more.  He is described by Christ as a miserable, worldly fool, Luke 12:19-20, that saith, “Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry, thou hast much goods laid up for many years.”  To over-love what you have is worldliness, as well as to desire more.

6. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he gives God thanks for what he hath, and asked it of God in prayer.  But if thou be a lover of the world and make provision for the desires of the flesh, it is but an aggravation of thy sin, to desire God to be a servant to thy fleshly lusts, and to thank him for satisfying thy sinful desires.  Thy prayers and thanks are profane and carnal: they were no service to God, but to thy flesh.  As if a drunkard or a glutton should beg of God provision for their greedy throats, and thank him for it when they have it: or a fornicator should pray God to pander to his lusts, and then thank him for it: or a wanton man of fashion should make fine clothes and gallantry the matter of his prayer and thanksgiving.

7. Another thinks he is no worldling because he hath some thoughts of heaven and is loath to be damned when he can keep the world no longer, and prayeth often, and perhaps fasteth with the Pharisee twice a week, and giveth alms often, and payeth tithes, and wrongeth no man (Luke 18:11-13; Matt. 6:16-18).  But the Pharisees were covetous for all these, Luke 16:14.  The question is not whether you think of heaven, and do something for it?  But whether it be heaven or earth which you seek first, and make the end of all things else, which all are referred to?  Every worldling knoweth that he must die, and therefore he would have heaven at last for a reserve, rather than hell.  But where is it that you are laying up your treasure, and that you place all your happiness and hopes?  And where are your hearts?  On earth or in heaven? Col. 3:1-3; Matt. 6:20-21.  The question is not whether you give now and then alms to deceive your consciences, and part with so much as the flesh can spare, as a swine will do when he can eat no more, but whether all that you have be devoted to the will of God and made to stoop to his service and the saving of your souls, and can be forsaken rather than Christ forsaken, Luke 14:33.

8. Another thinks that he is not covetous, because it is but for his children that he provideth: and “he that provideth not for his own, is worse than an infidel,” 1 Tim. 5:8.  But the text speaketh only of providing necessaries for our families and kindred, rather than cast them on the church to be maintained.  If you so overvalue the world, that you think it the happiness of your children to be rich, you are worldlings and covetous, both for yourselves and them.  It is for their children that the richest and greatest make provision, that their posterity may be great and wealthy after them: and this maketh them the more worldlings, and not the less; because they are covetous for after-ages, when they are dead, and not only for themselves.

9. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he can speak as severely of covetous men as any other.  But many a one revileth others as covetous that is covetous himself; yea, covetous men are aptest to accuse others of covetousness, and of selling too dear, and buying too cheap, and giving too little, because they would get the more themselves.  And many preachers, by their reading and knowledge, may make a vehement sermon against worldliness, and yet go to hell at last for being worldlings.  Words are cheap.

10. Another thinks he is not covetous, because he purposeth to leave much to charitable uses when he is dead.  I confess that much is well: I would more would do so.  But the flesh itself can spare it, when it seeth that it must lie down in the grave.  If they could carry their riches with them and enjoy them after death, they would do it no doubt.  To leave it when you cannot keep it any longer, is not thank-worthy.  So the glutton, and drunkard, and whoremonger, and the proud must all leave their pleasure at the grave.  But do you serve God or the flesh with your riches while you have them?  And do you use them to help or to hinder your salvation?  Deceive not yourselves, for God is not mocked, Gal. 6:7.

False Accusations of Covetousness

Yet many are falsely accused of covetousness upon such grounds as these:

1. Because they possess much and are rich: for the poor take the rich for worldlings.  But God giveth not to all alike: he putteth ten talents into the hands of one servant, and but one into another’s: and to whom men commit much, of them will they require the more (Luke 12:48; 16:9-10; 2 Cor. 8:14-15).  Therefore, to be entrusted with more than others is no sin, unless they betray that trust.

2. Others are accused as covetous, because they satisfy not the covetous desires of those they deal with, or that expect much from them, and because they give not where it is not their duty, but their sin to give.  Thus the buyer saith the seller is covetous; and the seller saith the buyer is covetous, because they answer not their covetous desires.  An idle beggar will accuse you of uncharitableness, because you maintain him not in sinful idleness.  The proud look you should help to maintain their pride.  The drunkard, and riotous, and gamesters expect their parents should maintain their sin.  No man that hath anything, shall escape the censure of being covetous, as long as there is another in the world that coveteth that which he hath: selfishness looketh to no rules but their own desires.

3. Others are judged covetous, because they give not that which they have not to give.  Those that know not another’s estate will pass conjectures at it; and if their handsome apparel or deportment, or the common fame, do make men think them richer than they are, then they are accounted covetous, because their bounty answereth not men’s expectations.

4. Others are thought covetous, because they are laborious in their callings, and thrifty, and saving, not willing that any thing be lost.  But all this is their duty: if they were lords or princes, idleness and wastefulness would be their sin.  God would have all men labor in their several callings that are able: and Christ himself said, when he had fed many thousands by miracle, yet “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”  The question is, How they use that which they labor so hard for, and save so sparingly.  If they use it for God and charitable uses, there is no man taketh a righter course.  He is the best servant for God, that will be laborious and sparing, that he may be able to do good.

5. Others are thought covetous, because, to avoid hypocrisy, they give in secret and keep their works of charity from the knowledge of men.  These shall have their reward from God: and his wrath shall be the reward of their presumptuous censures.

6. Others are thought covetous, because they lawfully and peaceably seek their right, and let not the unjust and covetous wrong them at their pleasure.  It is true, we must let go our right, whenever the recovering of it will do more hurt to others than it will do us good.  But yet the laws are not made in vain: nor must we encourage men in covetousness, thievery, and deceit, by letting them do what they desire: nor must we be careless of our Master’s talents; if he entrust us with them, we must not let every one take them from us to serve his lusts with.

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I shall say but little on this subject now, because I have written a Treatise of it already, called “The Crucifying of the World by the Cross of Christ;” in which I have given many directions against this sin.  Understand well the nature and malignity of this sin; both what it is, and why it is so great and perilous.

Lawful Love of Creatures

All love of the creature, the world or riches, is not sin. For:

1. The works of God are all good, as such; and all goodness is worthy of love.  As they are related to God, and his power, and wisdom, and goodness are imprinted on them, so we must love them, even for his sake.

2. All the impressions of the attributes of God appearing on his works do make them as a mirror, in which at this distance we must see the Creator; and their sweetness is a drop from him; by which his goodness and love are tasted.  And so they were all made to lead us up to God and help our minds to converse with him and kindle the love of God in our breasts, as a love-token from our dearest friend; and thus, as the means of our communion with God, the love of them is a duty, and not a sin.

3. They are naturally the means of sustaining our bodies, and preserving life, and health, and alacrity; and as such, our sensitive part hath a love to them, as every beast hath to its food and this love in itself is not of a moral kind, and is neither a virtue nor a vice, till it either be used in obedience to our reason, (and so it is good,) or in disobedience to it (and so it is evil).

4. The creatures are necessary means to support our bodies, while we are doing God the service which we owe him in the world; and so they must be loved, as a means to his service; though we cannot say properly that riches are ordinarily thus necessary.

5. The creatures are necessary to sustain our bodies in our journey to heaven, while we are preparing for eternity; and thus they must be loved as indirect helps to our salvation.  And in these two last respects, we call it in our prayers “our daily bread.”

6. Riches may enable us to relieve our needy brethren and to promote good works for church or state.  And thus also they may be loved; so far as we must be thankful for them, so far we may love them; for we must be thankful for nothing but what is good.

What is Worldliness?

But worldliness, or sinful love of riches, is …

1. When riches are loved and desired, and sought more for the flesh than for God or our salvation; even as the matter or means of our worldly prosperity, that the flesh may lack nothing to please it, and satisfy its desires (Phil. 3:7-9; Jam. 1:10; Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:5; Prov. 23:4, “Labor not to be rich.”).  Or that pride may have enough wherewith to support itself, by gratifying and obliging others, and living ostentatiously, and in that splendor, as may show our greatness, or further our domination over others.

2. And when we therefore desire them in that proportion which we think most agreeable to these carnal ends, and are not contented with our daily bread, and that proportion which may sustain us as passengers to heaven, and tend most to the securing of our souls, and to the service of God.  So that it is the end by which a sinful love of riches is principally to be discerned; when they are loved for pride or flesh-pleasing, as they are the matter of a worldly, corporal felicity, and not principally for God and his service, and servants and our salvation.  And indeed, as sensualists love them, they should be hated.

When Worldliness is Predominant.

Worldliness is either predominant, and so a certain sign of death; or else mortified, and in a subdued degree, consistent with some saving grace.

Worldliness predominant, as in the ungodly, is, when men that have not a lively belief of the everlasting happiness, nor have laid up their treasure and hopes in heaven, do take the pleasure and prosperity of this life for that felicity which is highest in their esteem, and dearest to their hearts, and therefore love the riches of the world, or full provisions, as the matter and means of this their temporal felicity (Luke 14:26, 33).  Worldliness in a mortified person, is, when he that hath laid up his treasure in heaven, and practically esteemeth his everlasting hopes above all the pleasure and prosperity of the flesh, and seeketh first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and useth his estate principally for God and his salvation, hath yet some remnants of inordinate desire to the prosperity and pleasure of the flesh, and some inordinate desire of riches for that end; which yet he hateth, lamenteth, resisteth, and so far subdueth, that it is not predominant, against the interest of God and his salvation (Matt. 6:19-21,33; John 6:27; Luke 12:19, 20 18:22-23.)  Yet this is a great sin, though it be forgiven.

The malignity of it.

The malignity or greatness of this sin consisteth in these points (especially when it is predominant).

1. The love of the world, or of riches, is a sin of deliberation, and not of mere temerity or sudden passion: worldlings contrive the attaining of their ends.

2. It is a sin of interest, love, and choice, set up against our chief interest: it is the setting up of a false end, and seeking that; and not only a sin of error in the means, or a seeking the right end in a mistaken way.

3. It is idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; James 4:4) or a denying God and deposing him in our hearts and setting up his creatures in his stead, in that measure as it prevaileth.  The worldling giveth that love and that trust unto the creature, which are due to God alone; he delighteth in it instead of God and seeketh and holdeth it as his felicity instead of God: and therefore, so far as any man loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15.  And the friendship of the world is enmity to God.

4. It is a contempt of heaven; when it must be neglected, and a miserable world preferred.

5. It showeth that unbelief prevaileth at the heart so far as worldliness prevaileth: for if men did practically believe the heavenly glory, and the promise thereof, they would be carried above these present things.

6. It is a debasing of the soul of man, and using it like the brutes, while it is principally set upon the serving of the flesh, and on a temporal felicity and neglecteth its eternal happiness and concernments.

7. It is a perverting of the very drift of a man’s life, as employed in seeking a wrong end, and not only of some one faculty or act: it is a habitual sin of the state and course of mind and life, and not only a particular actual sin.

8. It is a perverting of God’s creatures to an end and use clean contrary to that which they were made and given for; and an abusing God by his own gifts, by which he should he served and honored; and a destroying our souls with those mercies which were given us for their help and benefit.  This is the true character of this heinous sin. In a word, it is the forsaking God, and turning the heart from him, and alienating the life from his service, to this present world, and the service of the flesh.  Fornication, drunken-ness, murder, swearing, perjury, lying, stealing, &c. are very heinous sins.  But a single act of one of these, committed rashly in the violence of passion, or temptation, speaketh not such a malignant turning away of the heart habitually from God, as to say a man is covetous, or a worldling.

Signs of Covetousness.

The signs of covetousness are these:

1. Not preferring God and our everlasting happiness before the prosperity and pleasure of the flesh; but valuing and loving fleshly prosperity above its worth (Rom. 13:14; Matt. 6:19; 1 Tim. 3:8; Phil 3:19; Ezek. 33:31; Jer. 9:23).

2. Esteeming and loving the creatures of God as provision for the flesh, and not to further us in the service of God.

3. Desiring more than is needful or useful to further us in our duty.

4. An inordinate eagerness in our desires after earthly things.

5. Distrustfulness, and vexatious cares, and contrivances for time to come.

6. Discontent, and trouble, and a longing discontent at a poor condition, when we have no more than our daily bread.

7. When the world taketh up our thoughts inordinately: when our thoughts will more easily run out upon the world, than upon better things: and when our thoughts of worldly plenty are more pleasant and sweet to us, than our thoughts of Christ, and grace, and heaven; and our thoughts of neediness and poverty are more bitter and grievous to us, than our thoughts of sin and God’s displeasure.

8. When our speech is freer and sweeter about prosperity in the world, than about the concernments of God and our souls.

9. When the world beareth sway in our families and conversations and shutteth out all serious endeavours in the service of God, and for our own and others’ souls: or at least doth cut short religious duties, and is preferred before them, and thrusteth them into a corner, and maketh us slightly huddle them over.

10. When we are dejected overmuch, and impatient under losses, and crosses, and worldly injuries from men.

11. When worldly matters seem sufficient to engage us in contentions, and to make us break peace: and we will by lawsuits seek our right, when greater hurt is more likely to follow to our brother’s soul, or greater wrong to the cause of religion, or the honor of God, than our right is worth.

12. When in our trouble and distress, we fetch our comfort more from the thoughts of our provisions in the world, or our hopes of supply, than from our trust in God, and our hopes of heaven (Job 1:21).

13. When we are more thankful to God or man for outward riches, or any gift for the provision of the flesh, than for hopes or helps in order to salvation; for a powerful ministry, good books, or seasonable instructions for the soul.

14. When we are quiet and pleased if we do but prosper, and have plenty in the world, though the soul be miserable, unsanctified, and unpardoned.

15. When we are more careful to provide a worldly than a heavenly portion, for children and friends, and rejoice more in their bodily than their spiritual prosperity, and are troubled more for their poverty than their ungodliness or sin.

16. When we can see our brother have need and shut up the bowels of our compassion, or can part with no more than mere superfluities for his relief: when we cannot spare that which makes but for our better being, when it is necessary to preserve his being itself; or when we give unwillingly or sparingly (1 Tim. 6:17-18; Mal. 3:8, 9; Judges. 7:21).

17. When we will venture upon sinful means for gain, as lying, overreaching, deceiving, flattering, or going against our consciences, or the commands of God.

18. When we are too much in expecting liberality from others, and think that all we buy of should sell cheaper to us than they can afford, and consider not their loss or need, so that we have the gain: nor are contented if they be never so bountiful to others, if they be not so to us.

19. When we make too much ado in the world for riches, taking too much upon us, or striving for preferment, and flattering great ones, and envying any that are preferred before us, or get that which we expected.

20. When we hold our money tighter than our innocency and cannot part with it for the sake of Christ, when he requireth it; but will stretch our consciences and sin against him, or forsake his cause, to save our estates; or will not part with it for the service of his church, or of our country, when we are called to it.

21. When the riches which we have, are used but for the pampering of our flesh, and superfluous provision for our posterity, and nothing but some inconsiderable crumbs or driblets are employed for God and his servants, nor used to further us in his service, and towards the laying up of a treasure in heaven.

These are the signs of worldly covetousness.

The counterfeits of liberality or freedom from covetousness, which deceive the worldling, are such as these …

1. He thinks he is not covetous because he hath a necessity of doing what he doth for more.  Either he is in debt or he is poor, and scarcely hath whereon to live; and the poor think that none are worldlings and covetous but the rich.  But he may love riches that lacketh them, as much as he that hath them.  If you have a necessity of laboring in your callings, you have no necessity of loving the world, or of caring inordinately, or of being discontented with your estate.  Impatience under your poverty shows a love of the world and flesh, as much as other men’s bravado that possess it.

2. Another thinks he is not a worldling because if he could but have necessaries, even food and raiment, and conveniences for himself and family, he would be content; and it is not riches or great matters that he desireth.  But if your hearts are more set upon the getting of these necessaries or little things, than upon the preparing for death, and making sure of the heavenly treasure, you are miserable worldlings still.  And the poor man that will set his heart more upon a poor and miserable life, than upon heaven, is more inexcusable than he that setteth his heart more upon lordships and honors than upon heaven; though both of them are but the slaves of the world, and have as yet no treasure in heaven, Matt. 6:19-21.  And, moreover, you that are now so covetous for a little more, if you had that, would be as covetous for a little more still; and when you had that, for a little more yet.  You would next wear better clothing, and have better fare; and next you would have your house repaired, and then you would have your land enlarged, and then you would have something more for your children, and you would never be satisfied.  You think otherwise now; but your hearts deceive you; you do not know them.  If you believe me not, judge by the case of other men that have been as confident as you, that if they had but so much or so much they would be content; but when they have it, they would still have more.  And this, which is your pretense, is the common pretense of almost all the covetous: for lords and princes think themselves still in as great necessity as you think yourselves: as they have more, so they have more to do with it; and usually are still wanting as much as the poor.  The question is not how much you desire?  But to what use, and to what end, and in what order?

3. Another thinks he is not covetous, because he coveteth not anything that is his neighbour’s: he thinks that covetousness is only a desiring that which is not our own.  But if you love the world and worldly plenty inordinately, and covet more, you are covetous worldlings, though you wish it not from another.  It is the worldly mind and love of wealth that is the sin at the root: the ways of getting it are but the branches.

4. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he useth no unlawful means, but the labour of his calling, to grow rich.  The same answer serves to this.  The love of wealth for the satisfying of the flesh is unlawful, whatever the means be.  And is it not also an unlawful means of getting, to neglect God and your souls, and the poor, and shut out other duties for the world, as you often do?

5. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he is contented with what he hath and coveteth no more when that which he hath is a full provision for his fleshly desires.  But if you over-love the world, and delight more in it than God, you are worldlings, though you desire no more.  He is described by Christ as a miserable, worldly fool, Luke 12:19-20, that saith, “Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry, thou hast much goods laid up for many years.”  To over-love what you have is worldliness, as well as to desire more.

6. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he gives God thanks for what he hath, and asked it of God in prayer.  But if thou be a lover of the world and make provision for the desires of the flesh, it is but an aggravation of thy sin, to desire God to be a servant to thy fleshly lusts, and to thank him for satisfying thy sinful desires.  Thy prayers and thanks are profane and carnal: they were no service to God, but to thy flesh.  As if a drunkard or a glutton should beg of God provision for their greedy throats, and thank him for it when they have it: or a fornicator should pray God to pander to his lusts, and then thank him for it: or a wanton man of fashion should make fine clothes and gallantry the matter of his prayer and thanksgiving.

7. Another thinks he is no worldling because he hath some thoughts of heaven and is loath to be damned when he can keep the world no longer, and prayeth often, and perhaps fasteth with the Pharisee twice a week, and giveth alms often, and payeth tithes, and wrongeth no man (Luke 18:11-13; Matt. 6:16-18).  But the Pharisees were covetous for all these, Luke 16:14.  The question is not whether you think of heaven, and do something for it?  But whether it be heaven or earth which you seek first, and make the end of all things else, which all are referred to?  Every worldling knoweth that he must die, and therefore he would have heaven at last for a reserve, rather than hell.  But where is it that you are laying up your treasure, and that you place all your happiness and hopes?  And where are your hearts?  On earth or in heaven? Col. 3:1-3; Matt. 6:20-21.  The question is not whether you give now and then alms to deceive your consciences, and part with so much as the flesh can spare, as a swine will do when he can eat no more, but whether all that you have be devoted to the will of God and made to stoop to his service and the saving of your souls, and can be forsaken rather than Christ forsaken, Luke 14:33.

8. Another thinks that he is not covetous, because it is but for his children that he provideth: and “he that provideth not for his own, is worse than an infidel,” 1 Tim. 5:8.  But the text speaketh only of providing necessaries for our families and kindred, rather than cast them on the church to be maintained.  If you so overvalue the world, that you think it the happiness of your children to be rich, you are worldlings and covetous, both for yourselves and them.  It is for their children that the richest and greatest make provision, that their posterity may be great and wealthy after them: and this maketh them the more worldlings, and not the less; because they are covetous for after-ages, when they are dead, and not only for themselves.

9. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he can speak as severely of covetous men as any other.  But many a one revileth others as covetous that is covetous himself; yea, covetous men are aptest to accuse others of covetousness, and of selling too dear, and buying too cheap, and giving too little, because they would get the more themselves.  And many preachers, by their reading and knowledge, may make a vehement sermon against worldliness, and yet go to hell at last for being worldlings.  Words are cheap.

10. Another thinks he is not covetous, because he purposeth to leave much to charitable uses when he is dead.  I confess that much is well: I would more would do so.  But the flesh itself can spare it, when it seeth that it must lie down in the grave.  If they could carry their riches with them and enjoy them after death, they would do it no doubt.  To leave it when you cannot keep it any longer, is not thank-worthy.  So the glutton, and drunkard, and whoremonger, and the proud must all leave their pleasure at the grave.  But do you serve God or the flesh with your riches while you have them?  And do you use them to help or to hinder your salvation?  Deceive not yourselves, for God is not mocked, Gal. 6:7.

False Accusations of Covetousness

Yet many are falsely accused of covetousness upon such grounds as these:

1. Because they possess much and are rich: for the poor take the rich for worldlings.  But God giveth not to all alike: he putteth ten talents into the hands of one servant, and but one into another’s: and to whom men commit much, of them will they require the more (Luke 12:48; 16:9-10; 2 Cor. 8:14-15).  Therefore, to be entrusted with more than others is no sin, unless they betray that trust.

2. Others are accused as covetous, because they satisfy not the covetous desires of those they deal with, or that expect much from them, and because they give not where it is not their duty, but their sin to give.  Thus the buyer saith the seller is covetous; and the seller saith the buyer is covetous, because they answer not their covetous desires.  An idle beggar will accuse you of uncharitableness, because you maintain him not in sinful idleness.  The proud look you should help to maintain their pride.  The drunkard, and riotous, and gamesters expect their parents should maintain their sin.  No man that hath anything, shall escape the censure of being covetous, as long as there is another in the world that coveteth that which he hath: selfishness looketh to no rules but their own desires.

3. Others are judged covetous, because they give not that which they have not to give.  Those that know not another’s estate will pass conjectures at it; and if their handsome apparel or deportment, or the common fame, do make men think them richer than they are, then they are accounted covetous, because their bounty answereth not men’s expectations.

4. Others are thought covetous, because they are laborious in their callings, and thrifty, and saving, not willing that any thing be lost.  But all this is their duty: if they were lords or princes, idleness and wastefulness would be their sin.  God would have all men labor in their several callings that are able: and Christ himself said, when he had fed many thousands by miracle, yet “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”  The question is, How they use that which they labor so hard for, and save so sparingly.  If they use it for God and charitable uses, there is no man taketh a righter course.  He is the best servant for God, that will be laborious and sparing, that he may be able to do good.

5. Others are thought covetous, because, to avoid hypocrisy, they give in secret and keep their works of charity from the knowledge of men.  These shall have their reward from God: and his wrath shall be the reward of their presumptuous censures.

6. Others are thought covetous, because they lawfully and peaceably seek their right, and let not the unjust and covetous wrong them at their pleasure.  It is true, we must let go our right, whenever the recovering of it will do more hurt to others than it will do us good.  But yet the laws are not made in vain: nor must we encourage men in covetousness, thievery, and deceit, by letting them do what they desire: nor must we be careless of our Master’s talents; if he entrust us with them, we must not let every one take them from us to serve his lusts with.

Consider the Greatness of Heaven

Seriously consider your everlasting state and how much greater things than riches you have to mind.  Behold by faith the endless joys which you may have with God, and the endless misery which worldlings must undergo in hell.  There is no true cure for an earthly mind, but by showing it the far greater matters to be minded: by acquainting it better with its own concernments; and with the greater miseries than poverty or want, which we have to escape; and the greater good than worldly plenty which we have to seek.

It is lack of faith that makes men worldlings: they see not what is in another world: they say their creed, but do not heartily believe the day of judgment, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  There is not a man of them all, but, if he had one sight of heaven and hell, would set lighter by the world than ever he did before; and would turn his covetous care and toil to a speedy and diligent care of his salvation.  If he heard the joyful praises of the saints, and the woeful lamentations of the damned, but one day or hour, he would think ever after that he had greater matters to mind than the scraping together a heap of wealth.  Remember, man, that thou hast another world to live in; and a far longer life to make provision for; and that thou must be in heaven or hell forever.  This is true, whether thou believe it or not: and thou hast no time but this to make all thy preparation in: and as thou believest, and livest, and laborest now, it must go with thee to all eternity.  These are matters worthy of thy care.  Canst thou have while to make such a disturbance here in the dust, and care and labor for a thing of nought, while thou hast such things as these to care for, and a work of such transcendent consequence to do?  Can a man that understands what heaven and hell are, find room for any needless matters, or time for so much unnecessary work?  The providing for thy salvation is a thing that God hath made thy own work, much more than the providing for the flesh.  When he speaks of thy body, he saith, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or drink, nor for your body, what you shall put on: for your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,” Matt. 6:25, 32.  “Be careful for nothing,” Phil. 4:6.  “Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you,” 1 Pet. 5:7.  But when he speaks of your salvation, he bids you “work it out with fear and trembling,” Phil. 2:12; and “give diligence to make your calling and election sure,” 2 Pet. 1:10; and “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” Matt. 7:13; Luke 13:24.  “Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting life,” John 6:27.  That is, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” Matt. 6:33.

Look up to heaven, man, and remember that there is thy home, and there are thy hopes, or else thou art a man undone forever; and therefore it is for that that thou must care and labor.  Believe unfeignedly that thou must dwell forever in heaven or hell, as thou makest thy preparation here, and consider of this as becometh a man and then be a worldling and covetous if thou canst: riches will seem dust and chaff to thee, if thou believe and consider thy everlasting state.  Write upon the doors of thy shop and chamber, I must be in heaven or hell forever; or, This is the time on which my endless life dependeth; and methinks every time thou readest it, thou shouldst feel thy covetousness stabbed at the heart.

O blinded mortals! that love, like worms, to dwell in earth!  Would God but give you an eye of faith, to foresee your end, and where you must dwell to all eternity, what a change would it make upon your earthly minds!  Either faith or sense will be your guides.  Nothing but reason sanctified by faith can govern sense.  Remember that thou art not a beast, that hath no life to live but this: thou hast a reasonable, immortal soul, that was made by God for higher things, even for God himself, to admire him, love him, serve him, and enjoy him.  If an angel were to dwell awhile in flesh, should he turn an earthworm and forget his higher life of glory?  Thou art like to an incarnate angel; and mayst be equal with the angels, when thou art freed from this sinful flesh, Luke 20:36.  O beg of God a heavenly light and a heavenly mind and look often into the word of God which tells thee where thou must be forever; and worldliness will vanish away in shame.

Remember the Shortness of Life

Remember how short a time thou must keep and enjoy the wealth which thou hast gotten.  How quickly thou must be stripped of all!  Canst thou keep it when thou hast it? (1 Cor. 7:31.)  Canst thou make a covenant with death, that it shall not call away thy soul?  Thou knowest beforehand that thou art of short continuance and the world is but thy inn or passage; and that a narrow grave for thy flesh to rot in is all that thou canst keep of thy largest possessions, save what thou layest up in heaven, by laying it out in obedience to God.

How short is life!  How quickly gone!  Thou art almost dead and gone already!  What are a few days or a few years more?  And wilt thou make so much ado for so short a life? and so careful a provision for so short a stay?  Yea, how uncertain is thy time, as well as short!  Thou canst not say what world thou shalt be in tomorrow.  Remember, man, that Thou must die!  Thou must die!  Thou must quickly die!  Thou knowest not how soon!  Breathe yet a few breaths more and thou art gone!  And yet canst thou be covetous, and drown thy soul with earthly cares?

Dost thou soberly read thy Savior’s warning, Luke 12:19-21?  Is it not spoken as to thee? “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be rerequired of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?  So is every one that layeth up riches for himself, and is not rich towards God.” If thou be rich today and be in another world tomorrow had not poverty been as good?  Distracted soul!  Dost thou make so great a matter of it, whether thou have much or little for so short a time?  And takest no more care, either where thou shalt be, or what thou shalt have to all eternity?  Dost thou say, thou wilt cast this care on God?  I tell thee, he will make thee care thyself; and care again before he will save thee.  And why canst thou not cast the care of smaller matters on him when he commandeth thee?  Is it any great matter whether thou be rich or poor, that art going so fast unto another world, where these are things of no signification?  Tell me, if thou were sure that thou must die tomorrow, (yea, or the next month or year,) wouldst thou not be more indifferent whether thou be rich or poor and look more after greater things?  Then thou wouldst be of the apostle’s mind, 2 Cor. 4:18, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  Our eye of faith should be so fixed on invisible, eternal things, that we should scarce have leisure or mind to look at or once regard the things that are visible and temporal.  A man that is going to execution scarce looks at all the bustle or business that is done in streets and shops as he passeth by; because these little concern him in his departing case. And how little do the wealth and honors of the world concern a soul that is going into another world, and knows not but it may be this night!  Then keep thy wealth or take it with thee, if thou canst.

Consider What You Really Need

Labour to feel thy greatest needs which worldly wealth will not supply.  Thou hast sinned against God, and money will not buy thy pardon (Proverbs 11:4).  Thou hast incurred his displeasure and money will not reconcile him to thee.  Thou art condemned to everlasting misery by the law and money will not pay thy ransom.  Thou art dead in sin, and polluted, and captivated by the flesh, and money will sooner increase thy bondage than deliver thee.  Thy conscience is ready to tear thy heart for thy willful folly and contempt of grace, and money will not bribe it to be quiet. Judas brought back his money, and hanged himself, when conscience was but once awakened.  Money will not enlighten a blinded mind, nor soften a hard heart, nor humble a proud heart, nor justify a guilty soul.  It will not keep off a fever or consumption, nor ease the gout, or stone, or toothache.  It will not keep off ghastly death, but die thou must, if thou have all the world!  Look up to God and remember that thou art wholly in his hands; and think whether he will love or favor thee for thy wealth.  Look unto the day of judgment and think whether money will there bring thee off, or the rich speed better than the poor.

Riches are Useless at Death

Be often with those that are sick and dying, and mark what all their riches will do for them, and what esteem they have then of the world; and mark how it useth all at last.  Then you shall see that it forsaketh all men in the hour of their greatest necessity and distress (Jer. 17:11; Jam. 5:1-3); when they would cry to friends, and wealth, and honor, if they had any hopes, If ever you will help me, let it be now; if ever you will do any thing for me, O save me from death, and the wrath of God!

But, alas! such cries would be all in vain!  Then, oh then!  One drop of mercy, one spark of grace, the smallest well-grounded hope of heaven, would be worth more than the empire of Caesar or Alexander!  Is not this true, sinner?  Dost thou not know it to be true?  And yet wilt thou cheat and betray thy soul?  Is not that best now, which will be best then?  And is not that of little value now which will be then so little set by?  Dost thou not think that men are wiser then than now?  Wilt thou do so much and pay so dear for that which will do thee no more good and which thou wilt set no more by when thou hast it?  Doth not all the world cry out at last of the deceitfulness of riches and the vanity of pleasure and prosperity on earth and the perniciousness of all worldly cares?  And doth not thy conscience tell thee that when thou comest to die, thou art like to have the same thoughts thyself?  And yet wilt thou not be warned in time?  Then all the content and pleasure of thy plenty and prosperity will be past: and when it is past it is nothing.  And wilt thou venture on everlasting woe, and cast away everlasting joy, for that which is today a dream and shadow, and tomorrow, or very shortly, will be nothing?  The poorest then will be equal with thee.  And will honest poverty or over-loved wealth be sweeter at the last?  How glad then wouldst thou be, to have been without thy wealth, so thou mightst have been without the sin and guilt.  How glad then wouldst thou be to die the death of the poorest saint!  Do you think that poverty or riches are liker to make a man loath to die?  Or are usually more troublesome to the conscience of a dying man?  O look to the end and live as you die, and set most by that, and seek that now, which you know you shall set most by at last when full experience hath made you wiser!

Beware the Perils of Riches

Remember that riches do make it much harder for a man to be saved; and the love of this world is the commonest cause of men’s damnation.  This is certainly true, for all that poverty also hath its temptations; and for all that the poor are far more numerous than the rich.  For even the poor may be undone by the love of that wealth and plenty which they never get; and those may perish for over-loving the world, that yet never prospered in the world.  And if thou believe Christ, the point is out of controversy: for he saith, Luke 18:24-27, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?  And he said, The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God.”  So Luke 6:24-25, “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation: woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.”  Make but sense of these and many such like texts and you can gather no less than this from them, that riches make the way to heaven much harder and the salvation of the rich to be more difficult and rare, proportionally, than of other men.

And Paul saith, 1 Cor. 1:26, “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.”  And the lovers of riches, though they are poor, must remember that it is said, “That the love of money is the root of all evil,” 1 Tim. 6:10.  And, “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world: for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” 1 John 2:15.  Do you believe that here lieth the danger of your souls? and yet can you so love, and choose, and seek it?  Would you have your salvation more difficult, and doubtful, and impossible with men?  You had rather choose to live where few die young, than where most die young; and where sicknesses are rare, than where they are common.  If you were sick, you had rather have the physician, and medicines, and diet which cure most, than those which few are cured by.  If the country were beset with thieves, you had rather go the way that most escape in, than that few escape in.  And yet, so it may but please your flesh, you will choose that way to heaven that fewest escape in; and you will choose that state of life, which will make your salvation to be most hard and doubtful.  Doth your conscience say that is wisely done?  I know that if God put riches into your hand, by your birth, or his blessing on your honest labors, you must not cast away your Master’s talents, because he is austere; but by a holy improvement of them, you may further his service and your salvation.  But this is no reason why you should over-love them, or desire and seek so great a danger.  Believe Christ heartily, and it will quench your love of riches.

The More You Have…

Remember that the more you have, the more you have to give account for.  And if the day of judgment be dreadful to you, you should not make it more dreadful by greatening your own accounts…  If you desired riches but for the service of your Lord, and have used them for him, and can truly give in this account, that you laid them not out for the needless pleasure or pride of the flesh, but to furnish yourselves, and families, and others, for his service, and as near as you could, employ them according to his will, and for his use, then you may expect the reward of good and faithful servants; but if you desired and used them for the pride and pleasure of yourselves while you lived, and your posterity or kindred when you are dead, dropping some inconsiderable crumbs for God, you will then find that Mammon was an unprofitable master, and godliness, with content, would have been greater gain (Prov. 3:14; 1 Tim. 6:5-6).

Consider the Cost

Remember how dear it costeth men, thus to hinder their salvation, and greaten their danger and accounts.  What a deal of precious time is lost upon the world, by the lovers of it, which might have been improved to the getting of wisdom and grace, and making their calling and election sure!  If you had believed that the gain of holy wisdom had been so much better than the gaming of gold, as Solomon saith, Prov. 3:14, you would have laid out much of that time in laboring to understand the Scriptures and preparing for your endless life.  How many unnecessary thoughts have you cast away upon the world, which might better have been laid out on your greater concernments!  How many cares, and vexations, and passions doth it cost men, to overload themselves with worldly provisions!  Like a foolish traveler, who having a day’s journey to go, doth spend all the day in gathering together a load of meat, and clothes, and money, more than he can carry, for fear of lacking by the way: or like a foolish runner, that hath a race to run for his life, and spends the time in which he should be running, in gathering a burden of pretended necessaries.

You have all the while God’s work to do, and your souls to mind, and judgment to prepare for, and you are tiring and vexing yourselves for unnecessary things, as if it were the top of your ambition to be able to say, in hell, that you died rich. 1 Tim. 6:6-10, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred (or been seduced) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  Piercing sorrows here and damnation hereafter, are a very expensive price to give for money (Psalm 37:16; Prov. 16:8).  For saith Christ himself, “What shall it profit a man to gain all the world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36, 37; that is, What money or price will recover it, if for the love of gain he lose it?  Prov. 15:27, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.”  Do you not know that a godly man contented with his daily bread hath a far sweeter and quieter life and death than a self-troubling worldling?  You may easily perceive it.  Prov. 15:16, “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

Consider Christ’s Example

Look much on the life of Christ on earth, and see how strangely he condemneth worldliness by his example.  Did he choose to be a prince or lord or to have great possessions, lands, or money, or sumptuous buildings, or gallant attendance, and plentiful provisions?  His housing you may read of, Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”  His clothing you may read of at his crucifying, when they parted it.  As for money, he was fain to send Peter to a fish for some to pay their tribute.  If Christ did scrape and care for riches, then so do thou: if he thought it the happiest life, do thou think so too.   But if he condemned it, do thou condemn it: if his whole life was directed to give thee the most perfect example of the contempt of all the prosperity of this world, then learn of his example, if thou take him for thy Saviour, and if thou love thyself. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Cor. 8:9.

Consider the Early Christians

Think on the example of the primitive Christians, even the best of Christ’s servants, and see how it condemneth worldliness.  They that by miracle in the name of Christ could give limbs to the lame, yet tell him, “Silver and gold have we none,” Acts 3:6.  Those that had possessions sold them and laid the money at the apostles’ feet, and they had all things common to show that faith overcometh the world, by condemning it and subjecting it to charity and devoting it entirely to God.  Read whether the apostles did live sumptuous houses, with great attendance, and worldly plenty and prosperity?  Chrysostom saith, his enemies charged him with many crimes, but never with covetousness or wantonness. And so it was with Christ and his enemies.  And so of the rest.

Remember the Purpose of Worldly Goods

Remember to what ends all worldly things were made and given you and what a happy advantage you may make of them by renouncing them as they would be provision for your lusts and by devoting yourselves and them to God.  The use of their sweetness is to draw your souls to taste by faith the heavenly sweetness.  They are the looking-glass of souls in flesh that are not yet admitted to see these things spiritual face to face.  They are the provender of our bodies; our traveling furniture and helps; our inns, and solacing company in the way; they are some of God’s love-tokens, some of the lesser pieces of his coin, and bear his image and superscription.  They are drops from the rivers of the eternal pleasures; to tell the mind by the way of the senses how good the Donor is and how amiable and what higher delights there are for souls; and to point us to the better things which these foretell.  They are messengers from heaven to testify our Father’s care and love and to bespeak our thankfulness, love, and duty; and to bear witness against sin and bind us more tightly to obedience.  They are the first volume of the word of God; the first book that man was set to read, to acquaint him fully with his Maker.  As the word which we read and hear is the chariot of the Spirit, by which it maketh its accesses to the soul; so the delights of sight, and taste, and smell, and touch, and hearing, were appointed as an ordinary way for the speedy access of heavenly love and sweetness to the heart, that upon the first perception of the goodness and sweetness of the creature, there might presently he transmitted by a due progression, a deep impression of the goodness of God upon the soul; that the creatures, being the letters of God’s book, which are seen by our eye, the sense (even the love of our great Creator) might presently be perceived by the mind: and no letter might once be looked upon but for the sense; no creature ever seen, or tasted, or heard, or felt in any delectable quality, without a sense of the love of God; that as the touch of the hand upon the strings of the lute do cause the melody, so God’s touch by his mercies upon our hearts, might presently tune them into love, and gratitude, and praise.

They are the tools by which we must do much of our Master’s work.  They are means by which we may refresh our brethren and express our love to one another and our love to our Lord and Master in his servants.  They are our Master’s stock, which we must trade with, by the improvement of which, no less than the reward of endless happiness may be attained.  These are the uses to which God gives us outward mercies.  Love them thus, and delight in them, and use them thus, and spare not; yea, seek them thus, and be thankful for them.

But when the creatures are given for so excellent a use, will you debase them all by making them only the fuel of your lusts and the provisions for your flesh?  And will you love them, and dote upon them in these base respects; while you utterly neglect their noblest use?  You are just like children that cry for books and can never have enough; but it is only to play with them because they are fine; but when they are set to learn and read them, they cry as much because they love it not: or like one that should spend his life and labour in getting the finest clothes, to dress his dogs and horses with, but himself goes naked and will not wear them.

Remember God’s Promises

Remember that God hath promised to provide for you and that you shall lack nothing that is good for you, if you will live above these worldly things and seek first his kingdom and the righteousness thereof.  And cannot you trust his promise?  If you truly believe that he is God, and that he is true, and that his particular providence extendeth to the very numbering of your hairs (Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7), you will sure trust him, rather than trust to your own forecast and industry.  Do you think his provision is not better for you than your own?  All your own care cannot keep you alive an hour, nor can prosper any of your labors, if you provoke him to blast them.  And if you are not content with his provisions, nor submit yourselves to the disposal of his love and wisdom, you disoblige God, and provoke him to leave you to the fruits of your own care and diligence: and then you will find that it had been your wiser way to have trusted God.

Remember the Mischiefs of a Worldly Mind.

Think often on the dreadful importance and effects of the love of riches, or a worldly mind…

1. It is a most certain sign of a state of death and misery, where it hath the upper hand.  It is the departing of the heart from God to creatures.  See the malignity of it before.  Good men have been overtaken with heinous sins; but it is hard to find where Scripture calleth any of them covetous.  A heart secretly cleaving most to this present world and its prosperity is the very killing sin of every hypocrite, yea, and of all ungodly men.

2. Worldliness makes the word unprofitable and keepeth men from believing and repenting, and coming home to God, and minding seriously the everlasting world.  What so much hindereth the conversion of sinners, as the love and cares of earthly things?  They cannot serve God and mammon: their treasure and hearts cannot chiefly be both in heaven and earth!  They will not yield to the terms of Christ that love this world: they will not forsake all for a treasure in heaven.  In a word, as you heard, the love of money is the root of all evil, and the love of the Father is not in the lovers of the world (Matt. 6:25,; 13:22; Luke 16:13,14; 14:33; 18:22, 23; Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:6-8; 1 John 2:15; Prov. 28:9; 18:8; James 4:3; Prov. 28:20, “He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”).

3. It destroyeth holy meditation and conference and turneth the thoughts to worldly things: and it corrupteth prayer, and maketh it but a means to serve the flesh, and therefore maketh it odious to God.

4. It is the great hindrance of men’s necessary preparation for death and judgment and stealeth away their hearts and time till it is too late.

5. It is the great cause of contentions even among the nearest relations; and the cause of the wars and calamities of nations; and of the woeful divisions and persecutions of the church; when a worldly generation think that their worldly interest doth engage them, against self-denying and spiritual principles, practices, and persons.

6. It is the great cause of all the injustice, and oppression, and cruelty that rageth in the world.  They would do as they would be done by, were it not for the love of money.  It maketh men perfidious and false to all their friends and engagements: no vows to God; nor obligations to men, will hold a lover of the world (Jam. 5:1-5; 1 John 3:17).  The world is his god and his worldly interest is his rule and law.

7. It is the great destroyer of charity and good works. No more is done for God and the poor, because the love of the world forbids it.

8. It disordereth and profaneth families; and betrayeth the souls of children and servants to the devil.  It turneth out prayer and reading the Scripture and good books, and all serious speeches of the life to come, because their hearts are taken up with the world, and they have no relish of any thing but the provisions of their flesh.  Even the Lord’s own day cannot be reserved for holy works, nor a duty performed, but the world is interposing, or diverting the mind.

9. It tempteth men to sin against their knowledge and to forsake the truth and fit themselves to the rising side and save their bodies and estates, whatever become of their souls.  It is the very price that the devil gives for souls!  With this he bought the soul of Judas, who went to the Pharisees, with a “What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you.”  With this he attempted Christ himself, Matt. 4:9, “All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”  It is the cause of apostasy and unfaithfulness to God (2 Tim. 4:10).  And it is the price that sinners sell their God, their conscience, and their salvation for.

10. It depriveth the soul of holy communion with God and comfort from him and of all foretaste of the life to come and finally of heaven itself (Tim. 6:17-19).  For as the love of the world keepeth out the love of God and heaven, it must needs keep out the hopes and comforts which should arise from holy love.  It would do much to cure the love of money, and of the world, if you knew how pernicious a sin it is.

Consider the Lowliness of this Sin.

Remember how base a sin it is, and how dishonorable and debasing to the mind of man.  If earth be baser than heaven and money than God, then an earthly mind is baser than a heavenly mind.  As the serpent’s feeding on the dust is a baser life than that of angels that are employed in admiring, and obeying, and praising the Most Holy God.

Consider God’s Judgement

Call yourselves to a daily reckoning, how you lay out all that God committeth to your trust; and try whether it be so as you would hear of it at judgment.  If you did but use to sit in judgment daily upon yourselves, as those that believe the judgment of God, it would make you more careful to use well what you have, than to get more; and it would quench your thirst after plenty and prosperity, when you perceived you must give so strict an account of it.  The flesh itself will less desire it, when it finds it may not have the use of it.

Fight your Covetousness when it is Strong

When you find your covetousness most eager and dangerous, resolve most to cross it, and give more to pious or charitable uses than at another time.  For a man hath reason to fly furthest from that sin, which he is most in danger of.  And the acts tend to the increase of the habit.  Obeying your covetousness doth increase it: and so the contrary acts, and the disobeying and displeasing it, do destroy it.  This course will bring your covetousness into a despair of attaining its desire; and so will make it sit down and give over the pursuit.  It is an open protesting against every covetous desire; and an effectual kind of repenting; and a wise and honest disarming sin, and turning its motions against itself, to its own destruction. Use it thus oft, and covetousness will think it wisdom to be quiet.

Do not Save Heaven for Last

Above all take heed that you think not of reconciling God and mammon, and mixing heaven and earth to be your felicity, and of dreaming that you may keep heaven for a reserve at last, when the world hath been loved as your best, so long as you could keep it.  Nothing so much defendeth worldliness, as a cheating hope, that you have it but in a subdued, pardoned degree; and that you are not worldlings when you are.  And nothing so much supports this hope, as because you confess that heaven only must be your last refuge, and full felicity, and therefore you do something for it on the bye.  But is not the world more loved, more sought, more delighted in, and harder held?  Hath it not more of your hearts, your delight, desire, and industry?  If you cannot let go all for heaven and forsake all this world for a treasure above, you cannot be Christ’s true disciples, Luke 14:26,27,30,33.

Mortify the Flesh

If ever you would overcome the love of the world, your great care must be to mortify the flesh; for the world is desired but as its provision.  A mortified man hath no need of that which is a sensualist’s felicity.  Quench your insatiable, feverish thirst, and then you will not make such a stir for drink.  Cure the disease which enrageth your appetite; and that is the safest and cheapest way of satisfying it.  Then you will be thankful to God, when you look on other men’s wealth and gallantry, that you need not these things.  And you will think what a trouble and burden, and interruption of your better work and comfort it would be to you, to have so much land, and so many servants, and goods, and business, and persons to mind, as rich men have.  And how much better you can enjoy God and yourself in a more retired, quiet state of life.

Conclusion

Did men but know how much of an ungodly, damnable state doth consist in the love of the world; and how much it is the enemy of souls; and how much of our religion consisteth in the contempt and conquest of it; and what is the meaning of their renouncing the world in their baptismal covenant; and how many millions the love of the world will damn forever; they would not make such a stir for nothing, and spend all their days in providing for their perishing flesh; nor think them happiest that are richest; nor “boast themselves of their heart’s desire, and bless the covetous whom the Lord abhorreth,” Psalm 10:3.  They would not think that so small a sin which Christians should not so much as “name,” but in detestation, Eph. 5:3; when God hath resolved that the “covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:5; and a Christian must not so much as eat with them, 1 Cor. 5:11.  Did Christ say in vain, “Take heed and beware of covetousness,” Luke 12:15.  “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil,” Hab. 2:9.  Oh what deserving servants hath the world, that will serve it so diligently, so constantly, and at so costly a rate, when they beforehand know, that besides a little transitory, deluding pleasure, it will pay them with nothing but everlasting shame!  Oh wonderful deceiving power, of such an empty shadow, or rather wonderful folly of mankind!  That when so many ages have been deceived before us and almost every one at death confesseth it did but deceive them, so many still should be deceived, and take no warning by such a world of examples!  I conclude with Heb. 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

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Consider the Greatness of Heaven

Seriously consider your everlasting state and how much greater things than riches you have to mind.  Behold by faith the endless joys which you may have with God, and the endless misery which worldlings must undergo in hell.  There is no true cure for an earthly mind, but by showing it the far greater matters to be minded: by acquainting it better with its own concernments; and with the greater miseries than poverty or want, which we have to escape; and the greater good than worldly plenty which we have to seek.

It is lack of faith that makes men worldlings: they see not what is in another world: they say their creed, but do not heartily believe the day of judgment, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  There is not a man of them all, but, if he had one sight of heaven and hell, would set lighter by the world than ever he did before; and would turn his covetous care and toil to a speedy and diligent care of his salvation.  If he heard the joyful praises of the saints, and the woeful lamentations of the damned, but one day or hour, he would think ever after that he had greater matters to mind than the scraping together a heap of wealth.  Remember, man, that thou hast another world to live in; and a far longer life to make provision for; and that thou must be in heaven or hell forever.  This is true, whether thou believe it or not: and thou hast no time but this to make all thy preparation in: and as thou believest, and livest, and laborest now, it must go with thee to all eternity.  These are matters worthy of thy care.  Canst thou have while to make such a disturbance here in the dust, and care and labor for a thing of nought, while thou hast such things as these to care for, and a work of such transcendent consequence to do?  Can a man that understands what heaven and hell are, find room for any needless matters, or time for so much unnecessary work?  The providing for thy salvation is a thing that God hath made thy own work, much more than the providing for the flesh.  When he speaks of thy body, he saith, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or drink, nor for your body, what you shall put on: for your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,” Matt. 6:25, 32.  “Be careful for nothing,” Phil. 4:6.  “Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you,” 1 Pet. 5:7.  But when he speaks of your salvation, he bids you “work it out with fear and trembling,” Phil. 2:12; and “give diligence to make your calling and election sure,” 2 Pet. 1:10; and “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” Matt. 7:13; Luke 13:24.  “Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting life,” John 6:27.  That is, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” Matt. 6:33.

Look up to heaven, man, and remember that there is thy home, and there are thy hopes, or else thou art a man undone forever; and therefore it is for that that thou must care and labor.  Believe unfeignedly that thou must dwell forever in heaven or hell, as thou makest thy preparation here, and consider of this as becometh a man and then be a worldling and covetous if thou canst: riches will seem dust and chaff to thee, if thou believe and consider thy everlasting state.  Write upon the doors of thy shop and chamber, I must be in heaven or hell forever; or, This is the time on which my endless life dependeth; and methinks every time thou readest it, thou shouldst feel thy covetousness stabbed at the heart.

O blinded mortals! that love, like worms, to dwell in earth!  Would God but give you an eye of faith, to foresee your end, and where you must dwell to all eternity, what a change would it make upon your earthly minds!  Either faith or sense will be your guides.  Nothing but reason sanctified by faith can govern sense.  Remember that thou art not a beast, that hath no life to live but this: thou hast a reasonable, immortal soul, that was made by God for higher things, even for God himself, to admire him, love him, serve him, and enjoy him.  If an angel were to dwell awhile in flesh, should he turn an earthworm and forget his higher life of glory?  Thou art like to an incarnate angel; and mayst be equal with the angels, when thou art freed from this sinful flesh, Luke 20:36.  O beg of God a heavenly light and a heavenly mind and look often into the word of God which tells thee where thou must be forever; and worldliness will vanish away in shame.

Remember the Shortness of Life

Remember how short a time thou must keep and enjoy the wealth which thou hast gotten.  How quickly thou must be stripped of all!  Canst thou keep it when thou hast it? (1 Cor. 7:31.)  Canst thou make a covenant with death, that it shall not call away thy soul?  Thou knowest beforehand that thou art of short continuance and the world is but thy inn or passage; and that a narrow grave for thy flesh to rot in is all that thou canst keep of thy largest possessions, save what thou layest up in heaven, by laying it out in obedience to God.

How short is life!  How quickly gone!  Thou art almost dead and gone already!  What are a few days or a few years more?  And wilt thou make so much ado for so short a life? and so careful a provision for so short a stay?  Yea, how uncertain is thy time, as well as short!  Thou canst not say what world thou shalt be in tomorrow.  Remember, man, that Thou must die!  Thou must die!  Thou must quickly die!  Thou knowest not how soon!  Breathe yet a few breaths more and thou art gone!  And yet canst thou be covetous, and drown thy soul with earthly cares?

Dost thou soberly read thy Savior’s warning, Luke 12:19-21?  Is it not spoken as to thee? “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be rerequired of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?  So is every one that layeth up riches for himself, and is not rich towards God.” If thou be rich today and be in another world tomorrow had not poverty been as good?  Distracted soul!  Dost thou make so great a matter of it, whether thou have much or little for so short a time?  And takest no more care, either where thou shalt be, or what thou shalt have to all eternity?  Dost thou say, thou wilt cast this care on God?  I tell thee, he will make thee care thyself; and care again before he will save thee.  And why canst thou not cast the care of smaller matters on him when he commandeth thee?  Is it any great matter whether thou be rich or poor, that art going so fast unto another world, where these are things of no signification?  Tell me, if thou were sure that thou must die tomorrow, (yea, or the next month or year,) wouldst thou not be more indifferent whether thou be rich or poor and look more after greater things?  Then thou wouldst be of the apostle’s mind, 2 Cor. 4:18, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  Our eye of faith should be so fixed on invisible, eternal things, that we should scarce have leisure or mind to look at or once regard the things that are visible and temporal.  A man that is going to execution scarce looks at all the bustle or business that is done in streets and shops as he passeth by; because these little concern him in his departing case. And how little do the wealth and honors of the world concern a soul that is going into another world, and knows not but it may be this night!  Then keep thy wealth or take it with thee, if thou canst.

Consider What You Really Need

Labour to feel thy greatest needs which worldly wealth will not supply.  Thou hast sinned against God, and money will not buy thy pardon (Proverbs 11:4).  Thou hast incurred his displeasure and money will not reconcile him to thee.  Thou art condemned to everlasting misery by the law and money will not pay thy ransom.  Thou art dead in sin, and polluted, and captivated by the flesh, and money will sooner increase thy bondage than deliver thee.  Thy conscience is ready to tear thy heart for thy willful folly and contempt of grace, and money will not bribe it to be quiet. Judas brought back his money, and hanged himself, when conscience was but once awakened.  Money will not enlighten a blinded mind, nor soften a hard heart, nor humble a proud heart, nor justify a guilty soul.  It will not keep off a fever or consumption, nor ease the gout, or stone, or toothache.  It will not keep off ghastly death, but die thou must, if thou have all the world!  Look up to God and remember that thou art wholly in his hands; and think whether he will love or favor thee for thy wealth.  Look unto the day of judgment and think whether money will there bring thee off, or the rich speed better than the poor.

Riches are Useless at Death

Be often with those that are sick and dying, and mark what all their riches will do for them, and what esteem they have then of the world; and mark how it useth all at last.  Then you shall see that it forsaketh all men in the hour of their greatest necessity and distress (Jer. 17:11; Jam. 5:1-3); when they would cry to friends, and wealth, and honor, if they had any hopes, If ever you will help me, let it be now; if ever you will do any thing for me, O save me from death, and the wrath of God!

But, alas! such cries would be all in vain!  Then, oh then!  One drop of mercy, one spark of grace, the smallest well-grounded hope of heaven, would be worth more than the empire of Caesar or Alexander!  Is not this true, sinner?  Dost thou not know it to be true?  And yet wilt thou cheat and betray thy soul?  Is not that best now, which will be best then?  And is not that of little value now which will be then so little set by?  Dost thou not think that men are wiser then than now?  Wilt thou do so much and pay so dear for that which will do thee no more good and which thou wilt set no more by when thou hast it?  Doth not all the world cry out at last of the deceitfulness of riches and the vanity of pleasure and prosperity on earth and the perniciousness of all worldly cares?  And doth not thy conscience tell thee that when thou comest to die, thou art like to have the same thoughts thyself?  And yet wilt thou not be warned in time?  Then all the content and pleasure of thy plenty and prosperity will be past: and when it is past it is nothing.  And wilt thou venture on everlasting woe, and cast away everlasting joy, for that which is today a dream and shadow, and tomorrow, or very shortly, will be nothing?  The poorest then will be equal with thee.  And will honest poverty or over-loved wealth be sweeter at the last?  How glad then wouldst thou be, to have been without thy wealth, so thou mightst have been without the sin and guilt.  How glad then wouldst thou be to die the death of the poorest saint!  Do you think that poverty or riches are liker to make a man loath to die?  Or are usually more troublesome to the conscience of a dying man?  O look to the end and live as you die, and set most by that, and seek that now, which you know you shall set most by at last when full experience hath made you wiser!

Beware the Perils of Riches

Remember that riches do make it much harder for a man to be saved; and the love of this world is the commonest cause of men’s damnation.  This is certainly true, for all that poverty also hath its temptations; and for all that the poor are far more numerous than the rich.  For even the poor may be undone by the love of that wealth and plenty which they never get; and those may perish for over-loving the world, that yet never prospered in the world.  And if thou believe Christ, the point is out of controversy: for he saith, Luke 18:24-27, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?  And he said, The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God.”  So Luke 6:24-25, “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation: woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.”  Make but sense of these and many such like texts and you can gather no less than this from them, that riches make the way to heaven much harder and the salvation of the rich to be more difficult and rare, proportionally, than of other men.

And Paul saith, 1 Cor. 1:26, “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.”  And the lovers of riches, though they are poor, must remember that it is said, “That the love of money is the root of all evil,” 1 Tim. 6:10.  And, “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world: for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” 1 John 2:15.  Do you believe that here lieth the danger of your souls? and yet can you so love, and choose, and seek it?  Would you have your salvation more difficult, and doubtful, and impossible with men?  You had rather choose to live where few die young, than where most die young; and where sicknesses are rare, than where they are common.  If you were sick, you had rather have the physician, and medicines, and diet which cure most, than those which few are cured by.  If the country were beset with thieves, you had rather go the way that most escape in, than that few escape in.  And yet, so it may but please your flesh, you will choose that way to heaven that fewest escape in; and you will choose that state of life, which will make your salvation to be most hard and doubtful.  Doth your conscience say that is wisely done?  I know that if God put riches into your hand, by your birth, or his blessing on your honest labors, you must not cast away your Master’s talents, because he is austere; but by a holy improvement of them, you may further his service and your salvation.  But this is no reason why you should over-love them, or desire and seek so great a danger.  Believe Christ heartily, and it will quench your love of riches.

The More You Have…

Remember that the more you have, the more you have to give account for.  And if the day of judgment be dreadful to you, you should not make it more dreadful by greatening your own accounts…  If you desired riches but for the service of your Lord, and have used them for him, and can truly give in this account, that you laid them not out for the needless pleasure or pride of the flesh, but to furnish yourselves, and families, and others, for his service, and as near as you could, employ them according to his will, and for his use, then you may expect the reward of good and faithful servants; but if you desired and used them for the pride and pleasure of yourselves while you lived, and your posterity or kindred when you are dead, dropping some inconsiderable crumbs for God, you will then find that Mammon was an unprofitable master, and godliness, with content, would have been greater gain (Prov. 3:14; 1 Tim. 6:5-6).

Consider the Cost

Remember how dear it costeth men, thus to hinder their salvation, and greaten their danger and accounts.  What a deal of precious time is lost upon the world, by the lovers of it, which might have been improved to the getting of wisdom and grace, and making their calling and election sure!  If you had believed that the gain of holy wisdom had been so much better than the gaming of gold, as Solomon saith, Prov. 3:14, you would have laid out much of that time in laboring to understand the Scriptures and preparing for your endless life.  How many unnecessary thoughts have you cast away upon the world, which might better have been laid out on your greater concernments!  How many cares, and vexations, and passions doth it cost men, to overload themselves with worldly provisions!  Like a foolish traveler, who having a day’s journey to go, doth spend all the day in gathering together a load of meat, and clothes, and money, more than he can carry, for fear of lacking by the way: or like a foolish runner, that hath a race to run for his life, and spends the time in which he should be running, in gathering a burden of pretended necessaries.

You have all the while God’s work to do, and your souls to mind, and judgment to prepare for, and you are tiring and vexing yourselves for unnecessary things, as if it were the top of your ambition to be able to say, in hell, that you died rich. 1 Tim. 6:6-10, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred (or been seduced) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  Piercing sorrows here and damnation hereafter, are a very expensive price to give for money (Psalm 37:16; Prov. 16:8).  For saith Christ himself, “What shall it profit a man to gain all the world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36, 37; that is, What money or price will recover it, if for the love of gain he lose it?  Prov. 15:27, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.”  Do you not know that a godly man contented with his daily bread hath a far sweeter and quieter life and death than a self-troubling worldling?  You may easily perceive it.  Prov. 15:16, “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

Consider Christ’s Example

Look much on the life of Christ on earth, and see how strangely he condemneth worldliness by his example.  Did he choose to be a prince or lord or to have great possessions, lands, or money, or sumptuous buildings, or gallant attendance, and plentiful provisions?  His housing you may read of, Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”  His clothing you may read of at his crucifying, when they parted it.  As for money, he was fain to send Peter to a fish for some to pay their tribute.  If Christ did scrape and care for riches, then so do thou: if he thought it the happiest life, do thou think so too.   But if he condemned it, do thou condemn it: if his whole life was directed to give thee the most perfect example of the contempt of all the prosperity of this world, then learn of his example, if thou take him for thy Saviour, and if thou love thyself. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Cor. 8:9.

Consider the Early Christians

Think on the example of the primitive Christians, even the best of Christ’s servants, and see how it condemneth worldliness.  They that by miracle in the name of Christ could give limbs to the lame, yet tell him, “Silver and gold have we none,” Acts 3:6.  Those that had possessions sold them and laid the money at the apostles’ feet, and they had all things common to show that faith overcometh the world, by condemning it and subjecting it to charity and devoting it entirely to God.  Read whether the apostles did live sumptuous houses, with great attendance, and worldly plenty and prosperity?  Chrysostom saith, his enemies charged him with many crimes, but never with covetousness or wantonness. And so it was with Christ and his enemies.  And so of the rest.

Remember the Purpose of Worldly Goods

Remember to what ends all worldly things were made and given you and what a happy advantage you may make of them by renouncing them as they would be provision for your lusts and by devoting yourselves and them to God.  The use of their sweetness is to draw your souls to taste by faith the heavenly sweetness.  They are the looking-glass of souls in flesh that are not yet admitted to see these things spiritual face to face.  They are the provender of our bodies; our traveling furniture and helps; our inns, and solacing company in the way; they are some of God’s love-tokens, some of the lesser pieces of his coin, and bear his image and superscription.  They are drops from the rivers of the eternal pleasures; to tell the mind by the way of the senses how good the Donor is and how amiable and what higher delights there are for souls; and to point us to the better things which these foretell.  They are messengers from heaven to testify our Father’s care and love and to bespeak our thankfulness, love, and duty; and to bear witness against sin and bind us more tightly to obedience.  They are the first volume of the word of God; the first book that man was set to read, to acquaint him fully with his Maker.  As the word which we read and hear is the chariot of the Spirit, by which it maketh its accesses to the soul; so the delights of sight, and taste, and smell, and touch, and hearing, were appointed as an ordinary way for the speedy access of heavenly love and sweetness to the heart, that upon the first perception of the goodness and sweetness of the creature, there might presently he transmitted by a due progression, a deep impression of the goodness of God upon the soul; that the creatures, being the letters of God’s book, which are seen by our eye, the sense (even the love of our great Creator) might presently be perceived by the mind: and no letter might once be looked upon but for the sense; no creature ever seen, or tasted, or heard, or felt in any delectable quality, without a sense of the love of God; that as the touch of the hand upon the strings of the lute do cause the melody, so God’s touch by his mercies upon our hearts, might presently tune them into love, and gratitude, and praise.

They are the tools by which we must do much of our Master’s work.  They are means by which we may refresh our brethren and express our love to one another and our love to our Lord and Master in his servants.  They are our Master’s stock, which we must trade with, by the improvement of which, no less than the reward of endless happiness may be attained.  These are the uses to which God gives us outward mercies.  Love them thus, and delight in them, and use them thus, and spare not; yea, seek them thus, and be thankful for them.

But when the creatures are given for so excellent a use, will you debase them all by making them only the fuel of your lusts and the provisions for your flesh?  And will you love them, and dote upon them in these base respects; while you utterly neglect their noblest use?  You are just like children that cry for books and can never have enough; but it is only to play with them because they are fine; but when they are set to learn and read them, they cry as much because they love it not: or like one that should spend his life and labor in getting the finest clothes, to dress his dogs and horses with, but himself goes naked and will not wear them.

Remember God’s Promises

Remember that God hath promised to provide for you and that you shall lack nothing that is good for you, if you will live above these worldly things and seek first his kingdom and the righteousness thereof.  And cannot you trust his promise?  If you truly believe that he is God, and that he is true, and that his particular providence extendeth to the very numbering of your hairs (Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7), you will sure trust him, rather than trust to your own forecast and industry.  Do you think his provision is not better for you than your own?  All your own care cannot keep you alive an hour, nor can prosper any of your labors, if you provoke him to blast them.  And if you are not content with his provisions, nor submit yourselves to the disposal of his love and wisdom, you disoblige God, and provoke him to leave you to the fruits of your own care and diligence: and then you will find that it had been your wiser way to have trusted God.

Remember the Mischiefs of a Worldly Mind.

Think often on the dreadful importance and effects of the love of riches, or a worldly mind…

1. It is a most certain sign of a state of death and misery, where it hath the upper hand.  It is the departing of the heart from God to creatures.  See the malignity of it before.  Good men have been overtaken with heinous sins; but it is hard to find where Scripture calleth any of them covetous.  A heart secretly cleaving most to this present world and its prosperity is the very killing sin of every hypocrite, yea, and of all ungodly men.

2. Worldliness makes the word unprofitable and keepeth men from believing and repenting, and coming home to God, and minding seriously the everlasting world.  What so much hindereth the conversion of sinners, as the love and cares of earthly things?  They cannot serve God and mammon: their treasure and hearts cannot chiefly be both in heaven and earth!  They will not yield to the terms of Christ that love this world: they will not forsake all for a treasure in heaven.  In a word, as you heard, the love of money is the root of all evil, and the love of the Father is not in the lovers of the world (Matt. 6:25,; 13:22; Luke 16:13,14; 14:33; 18:22, 23; Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:6-8; 1 John 2:15; Prov. 28:9; 18:8; James 4:3; Prov. 28:20, “He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”).

3. It destroyeth holy meditation and conference and turneth the thoughts to worldly things: and it corrupteth prayer, and maketh it but a means to serve the flesh, and therefore maketh it odious to God.

4. It is the great hindrance of men’s necessary preparation for death and judgment and stealeth away their hearts and time till it is too late.

5. It is the great cause of contentions even among the nearest relations; and the cause of the wars and calamities of nations; and of the woeful divisions and persecutions of the church; when a worldly generation thinks that their worldly interest doth engage them, against self-denying and spiritual principles, practices, and persons.

6. It is the great cause of all the injustice, and oppression, and cruelty that rageth in the world.  They would do as they would be done by, were it not for the love of money.  It maketh men perfidious and false to all their friends and engagements: no vows to God; nor obligations to men, will hold a lover of the world (Jam. 5:1-5; 1 John 3:17).  The world is his god and his worldly interest is his rule and law.

7. It is the great destroyer of charity and good works. No more is done for God and the poor, because the love of the world forbids it.

8. It disordereth and profaneth families; and betrayeth the souls of children and servants to the devil.  It turneth out prayer and reading the Scripture and good books, and all serious speeches of the life to come, because their hearts are taken up with the world, and they have no relish of any thing but the provisions of their flesh.  Even the Lord’s own day cannot be reserved for holy works, nor a duty performed, but the world is interposing, or diverting the mind.

9. It tempteth men to sin against their knowledge and to forsake the truth and fit themselves to the rising side and save their bodies and estates, whatever become of their souls.  It is the very price that the devil gives for souls!  With this he bought the soul of Judas, who went to the Pharisees, with a “What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you.”  With this he attempted Christ himself, Matt. 4:9, “All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”  It is the cause of apostasy and unfaithfulness to God (2 Tim. 4:10).  And it is the price that sinners sell their God, their conscience, and their salvation for.

10. It depriveth the soul of holy communion with God and comfort from him and of all foretaste of the life to come and finally of heaven itself (Tim. 6:17-19).  For as the love of the world keepeth out the love of God and heaven, it must needs keep out the hopes and comforts which should arise from holy love.  It would do much to cure the love of money, and of the world, if you knew how pernicious a sin it is.

Consider the Lowliness of this Sin.

Remember how base a sin it is, and how dishonorable and debasing to the mind of man.  If earth be baser than heaven and money than God, then an earthly mind is baser than a heavenly mind.  As the serpent’s feeding on the dust is a baser life than that of angels that are employed in admiring, and obeying, and praising the Most Holy God.

Consider God’s Judgment

Call yourselves to a daily reckoning, how you lay out all that God committeth to your trust; and try whether it be so as you would hear of it at judgment.  If you did but use to sit in judgment daily upon yourselves, as those that believe the judgment of God, it would make you more careful to use well what you have, than to get more; and it would quench your thirst after plenty and prosperity, when you perceived you must give so strict an account of it.  The flesh itself will less desire it, when it finds it may not have the use of it.

Fight your Covetousness when it is Strong

When you find your covetousness most eager and dangerous, resolve most to cross it, and give more to pious or charitable uses than at another time.  For a man hath reason to fly furthest from that sin, which he is most in danger of.  And the acts tend to the increase of the habit.  Obeying your covetousness doth increase it: and so the contrary acts, and the disobeying and displeasing it, do destroy it.  This course will bring your covetousness into a despair of attaining its desire; and so will make it sit down and give over the pursuit.  It is an open protesting against every covetous desire; and an effectual kind of repenting; and a wise and honest disarming sin, and turning its motions against itself, to its own destruction. Use it thus oft, and covetousness will think it wisdom to be quiet.

Do not Save Heaven for Last

Above all, take heed that you think not of reconciling God and mammon, and mixing heaven and earth to be your felicity, and of dreaming that you may keep heaven for a reserve at last, when the world hath been loved as your best, so long as you could keep it.  Nothing so much defendeth worldliness, as a cheating hope, that you have it but in a subdued, pardoned degree; and that you are not worldlings when you are.  And nothing so much supports this hope, as because you confess that heaven only must be your last refuge, and full felicity, and therefore you do something for it on the bye.  But is not the world more loved, more sought, more delighted in, and harder held?  Hath it not more of your hearts, your delight, desire, and industry?  If you cannot let go all for heaven and forsake all this world for a treasure above, you cannot be Christ’s true disciples, Luke 14:26, 27, 30, 33.

Mortify the Flesh

If ever you would overcome the love of the world, your great care must be to mortify the flesh; for the world is desired but as its provision.  A mortified man hath no need of that which is a sensualist’s felicity.  Quench your insatiable, feverish thirst, and then you will not make such a stir for drink.  Cure the disease which enrageth your appetite; and that is the safest and cheapest way of satisfying it.  Then you will be thankful to God, when you look on other men’s wealth and gallantry, that you need not these things.  And you will think what a trouble and burden, and interruption of your better work and comfort it would be to you, to have so much land, and so many servants, and goods, and business, and persons to mind, as rich men have.  And how much better you can enjoy God and yourself in a more retired, quiet state of life.

Conclusion

Did men but know how much of an ungodly, damnable state doth consist in the love of the world; and how much it is the enemy of souls; and how much of our religion consisteth in the contempt and conquest of it; and what is the meaning of their renouncing the world in their baptismal covenant; and how many millions the love of the world will damn forever; they would not make such a stir for nothing, and spend all their days in providing for their perishing flesh; nor think them happiest that are richest; nor “boast themselves of their heart’s desire, and bless the covetous whom the Lord abhorreth,” Psalm 10:3.  They would not think that so small a sin which Christians should not so much as “name,” but in detestation, Eph. 5:3; when God hath resolved that the “covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:5; and a Christian must not so much as eat with them, 1 Cor. 5:11.  Did Christ say in vain, “Take heed and beware of covetousness,” Luke 12:15.  “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil,” Hab. 2:9.  Oh what deserving servants hath the world, that will serve it so diligently, so constantly, and at so costly a rate, when they beforehand know, that besides a little transitory, deluding pleasure, it will pay them with nothing but everlasting shame!  Oh wonderful deceiving power, of such an empty shadow, or rather wonderful folly of mankind!  That when so many ages have been deceived before us and almost every one at death confesseth it did but deceive them, so many still should be deceived, and take no warning by such a world of examples!  I conclude with Heb. 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

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Love of the World by Richard Baxter

I shall say but little on this subject now, because I have written a Treatise of it already, called “The Crucifying of the World by the Cross of Christ;” in which I have given many directions against this sin.  Understand well the nature and malignity of this sin; both what it is, and why it is so great and perilous.

Lawful Love of Creatures

All love of the creature, the world or riches, is not sin. For:

1. The works of God are all good, as such; and all goodness is worthy of love.  As they are related to God, and his power, and wisdom, and goodness are imprinted on them, so we must love them, even for his sake.

2. All the impressions of the attributes of God appearing on his works do make them as a mirror, in which at this distance we must see the Creator; and their sweetness is a drop from him; by which his goodness and love are tasted.  And so they were all made to lead us up to God and help our minds to converse with him and kindle the love of God in our breasts, as a love-token from our dearest friend; and thus, as the means of our communion with God, the love of them is a duty, and not a sin.

3. They are naturally the means of sustaining our bodies, and preserving life, and health, and alacrity; and as such, our sensitive part hath a love to them, as every beast hath to its food and this love in itself is not of a moral kind, and is neither a virtue nor a vice, till it either be used in obedience to our reason, (and so it is good,) or in disobedience to it (and so it is evil).

4. The creatures are necessary means to support our bodies, while we are doing God the service which we owe him in the world; and so they must be loved, as a means to his service; though we cannot say properly that riches are ordinarily thus necessary.

5. The creatures are necessary to sustain our bodies in our journey to heaven, while we are preparing for eternity; and thus they must be loved as indirect helps to our salvation.  And in these two last respects, we call it in our prayers “our daily bread.”

6. Riches may enable us to relieve our needy brethren and to promote good works for church or state.  And thus also they may be loved; so far as we must be thankful for them, so far we may love them; for we must be thankful for nothing but what is good.

What is Worldliness?

But worldliness, or sinful love of riches, is …

1. When riches are loved and desired, and sought more for the flesh than for God or our salvation; even as the matter or means of our worldly prosperity, that the flesh may lack nothing to please it, and satisfy its desires (Phil. 3:7-9; Jam. 1:10; Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:5; Prov. 23:4, “Labor not to be rich.”).  Or that pride may have enough wherewith to support itself, by gratifying and obliging others, and living ostentatiously, and in that splendor, as may show our greatness, or further our domination over others.

2. And when we therefore desire them in that proportion which we think most agreeable to these carnal ends, and are not contented with our daily bread, and that proportion which may sustain us as passengers to heaven, and tend most to the securing of our souls, and to the service of God.  So that it is the end by which a sinful love of riches is principally to be discerned; when they are loved for pride or flesh-pleasing, as they are the matter of a worldly, corporal felicity, and not principally for God and his service, and servants and our salvation.  And indeed, as sensualists love them, they should be hated.

When Worldliness is Predominant.

Worldliness is either predominant, and so a certain sign of death; or else mortified, and in a subdued degree, consistent with some saving grace.

Worldliness predominant, as in the ungodly, is, when men that have not a lively belief of the everlasting happiness, nor have laid up their treasure and hopes in heaven, do take the pleasure and prosperity of this life for that felicity which is highest in their esteem, and dearest to their hearts, and therefore love the riches of the world, or full provisions, as the matter and means of this their temporal felicity (Luke 14:26, 33).  Worldliness in a mortified person, is, when he that hath laid up his treasure in heaven, and practically esteemeth his everlasting hopes above all the pleasure and prosperity of the flesh, and seeketh first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and useth his estate principally for God and his salvation, hath yet some remnants of inordinate desire to the prosperity and pleasure of the flesh, and some inordinate desire of riches for that end; which yet he hateth, lamenteth, resisteth, and so far subdueth, that it is not predominant, against the interest of God and his salvation (Matt. 6:19-21,33; John 6:27; Luke 12:19, 20 18:22-23.)  Yet this is a great sin, though it be forgiven.

The malignity or greatness of this sin consisteth in these points (especially when it is predominant).

1. The love of the world, or of riches, is a sin of deliberation and not of mere temerity or sudden passion: worldlings contrive the attaining of their ends.

2. It is a sin of interest, love, and choice, set up against our chief interest: it is the setting up of a false end, and seeking that; and not only a sin of error in the means, or a seeking the right end in a mistaken way.

3. It is idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; James 4:4) or a denying God and deposing him in our hearts and setting up his creatures in his stead, in that measure as it prevaileth.  The worldling giveth that love and that trust unto the creature, which are due to God alone; he delighteth in it instead of God and seeketh and holdeth it as his felicity instead of God: and therefore, so far as any man loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15.  And the friendship of the world is enmity to God.

4. It is a contempt of heaven; when it must be neglected, and a miserable world preferred.

5. It showeth that unbelief prevaileth at the heart so far as worldliness prevaileth: for if men did practically believe the heavenly glory, and the promise thereof, they would be carried above these present things.

6. It is a debasing of the soul of man, and using it like the brutes, while it is principally set upon the serving of the flesh, and on a temporal felicity and neglecteth its eternal happiness and concernments.

7. It is a perverting of the very drift of a man’s life, as employed in seeking a wrong end, and not only of some one faculty or act: it is a habitual sin of the state and course of mind and life, and not only a particular actual sin.

8. It is a perverting of God’s creatures to an end and use clean contrary to that which they were made and given for; and an abusing God by his own gifts, by which he should he served and honored; and a destroying our souls with those mercies which were given us for their help and benefit.  This is the true character of this heinous sin.  In a word, it is the forsaking God, and turning the heart from him, and alienating the life from his service, to this present world, and the service of the flesh.  Fornication, drunken-ness, murder, swearing, perjury, lying, stealing, &c. are very heinous sins.  But a single act of one of these, committed rashly in the violence of passion, or temptation, speaketh not such a malignant turning away of the heart habitually from God, as to say a man is covetous, or a worldling.

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Direction I. Be neither unnaturally senseless at the death of friends, nor excessively dejected or afflicted.

To make light of the death of relations and friends, be they good or bad, is a sign of a very vicious nature that is so much selfish as not much to regard the lives of others.  He that regards not the lives of his friends is little to be trusted in his lesser concernments.  I speak not this of those persons whose temper allows them not to weep: for there may be as deep a regard and sorrow in some that have no tears, as in others that abound with them.  But I speak of a mischievous, selfish nature that is little affected with any one’s concernments but its own.

Yet your grief for the death of friends must be very different both in degree and kind.

  1. For ungodly friends, you must grieve for their own sakes, because if they died such, they are lost for ever.
  2. For your godly friends, you must mourn for the sake of yourselves and others, because God has removed such as were blessings to those about them.
  3. For choice magistrates, and ministers, and other instruments of public good, your sorrow must be greater, because of the common loss and the judgment thereby inflicted on the world.
  4. For old, tried Christians that have overcome the world and lived so long till age and weakness make them almost unserviceable to the church, and who groan to be unburdened and to be with Christ, your sorrow should be least and your joy and thanks for their happiness should be greatest.  But especially abhor that nature that secretly is glad of the death of parents (or little sorrowful) because that their estates are fallen to you, or you are enriched or set at liberty by their death.  God seldom leaves this sin unrevenged by some heavy judgments even in this life.

Direction II.  To overcome your inordinate grief for the death of your relations, consider these things following.

  1. Excess of sorrow is your sin: and sinning is an ill use to be made of your affliction.
  2. It tends to a great deal more: it unfits you for many duties which you are bound to as to rejoice in God and to be thankful for mercies and cheerful in his love and praise and service.  Is it a small sin to unfit yourselves for the greatest duties?  If you are so troubled at God’s disposal of his own, what does your will but rise up against the will of God; as if you grudged at the exercise of his dominion and government, that is, that he is God!  Who is wisest and best and fittest to dispose of all men’s lives?  Is it God or you?  Would you not have God to be the Lord of all, and to dispose of heaven and earth and of the lives and crowns of the greatest princes?  If you would not, you would not have him to be God.  If you would, is it not unreasonable that you or your friends only should be excepted from his disposal?
  3. If your friends are in heaven, how unsuitable is it for you to be overmuch mourning for them when they are rapt into the highest joys with Christ?  Love for them should teach you to rejoice with them that rejoice, and not to mourn as those that have no hope.
  4. You know not what mercy God showed to your friends in taking them away from the evil to come.  You know not what suffering the land or church is falling into, or at least might have fallen upon themselves, nor what sins they might have been tempted to.  But you are sure that heaven is better than earth and that it is far better for them to be with Christ.
  5. You always knew that your friends must die; to grieve that they were mortal is but to grieve that they were but men.
  6. If their mortality or death be grievous to you, you should rejoice that they are arrived at the state of immortality where they must live indeed and die no more.
  7. Remember how quickly you must be with them again.  The expectation of living on yourselves is the cause of your excessive grief for the death of friends.  If you expected yourselves to die tomorrow, or within a few weeks, you would less grieve that your friends are gone before you.
  8. Remember that the world is not for one generation only; others must have our places when we are gone.  God will be served by successive generations and not only by one.
  9. If you are Christians indeed, it is the highest of all your desires and hopes to be in heaven; and will you so grieve that your friends are gone thither, where you most desire and hope to be?

Objection. All this is reasonable, if my friend were gone to heaven: but he died impenitently, and how should I be comforted for a soul that I have cause to think is damned?

Answer. Their misery must be your grief, but not such a grief as shall deprive you of your greater joys, or disable you for your greater duties.

  1. God is fitter than you to judge of the measures of his mercy and his judgments and you must neither pretend to be more merciful than he nor to object to his justice.
  2. All the works of God are good and all that is good is amiable though the misery of the creature be bad to it, yet the works of justice declare the wisdom and holiness of God; and the more perfect we are, the more they will be amiable to us. For,
  3. God himself, and Christ, who is the merciful Savior of the world, approve of the damnation of the finally ungodly.
  4. The saints and angels in heaven do know more of the misery of the souls in hell than we do; and yet it abates not their joys.  The more perfect any is, the more he is like-minded unto God.
  5. How glad and thankful should you be to think that God has delivered yourselves from those eternal flames!  The misery of others should excite your thankfulness.
  6. Should not the joys of all the saints and angels be your joy, as well as the sufferings of the wicked be your sorrows?  Above all, the thoughts of the blessedness and glory of God himself should overtop all the concernments of the creature with you.  If you will mourn more for the thieves and murderers that are hanged than you will rejoice in the justice, prosperity, and honor of the king and the welfare of all his faithful subjects, you behave not yourselves as faithful subjects.
  7. Shortly you hope to come to heaven: mourn now for the damned, as you shall do then; or at least, let not the difference be too great, when that and not this, is your perfect state.

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