SERMON IX. ON MARK X. v. 22.
WE have hitherto seen the Young Man at his Best: Now we shall find him discovered and laid open in his own Colours. It was well that he came to Christ with such Reverence and Seriousness about such a weighty Question, as, What shall I do that I may inherit Eter∣nal Life? It was well if he could say truly, All these have I kept from my youth: But now here is the Event and Issue of this Interlo∣cutory Discourse between him and Christ, when Christ bid him Sell all, and take up his Cross, and follow him; then he went away sad, &c.
- 1. How he was affected with Christ's Advice, He was sad at the saying, and went away grieved.
- 2. The Reason of his Sorrow, or why he was thus affected, For he had great Possessions.
In the First Part we may Observe,
(1.) The kind o• the Affection, he was not angry but sorry; he doth not fret and fume, but goes away sorrowful.
(2.) Observe the Degree of it; it is express'd here by two things, a sad Heart, and a heavy Countenance. The Sadness of his Countenance I gather from the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, He was sad at that saying: The word properly signifies, He lowred at that saying, the lowring of the Heavens is expressed by that word, So the Sky was red and lowring, Mat. 16.3. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: Then the sad∣ness of his Heart, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, He went away grieved; in Luk. 18.23. it is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, He was very sorrowful: Note, that he went away, and we hear no more of him, like those Ioh. 6.66. At that time many of his Disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Secondly Here is the reason of this, For he had great Possessions. In Luke it is said 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, He was very rich; he had both 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Possessions, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Riches too, as appears by the next Verse. And observe, that the bare having is rendered as the Reason, He had great Possessions, and therefore he went away sad: It is hard to have them without Lustful Affections to them. It may be if he had so little as the poor Fisher-men, or the other Disciples whom Christ called, he would sooner have left all and followed Christ; but having so much to lose, it was the more difficult for him to forsake all; He went away, for he had great Possessions.
To give you a few brief Points:
- 1. That a Man may go very far, and be zealous and forward at first, yet after∣wards cool and fall away.
- Page 3592. That Tryals bring men forth to the Light, and make them manifest what they are.
- 3. A Man wedded to the VVorld, will renounce Christ, and his Commands rather than the World whenever it comes to a proof.
- 4. A Carnal worldly Man may be very sorrowful, when he cannot have Heaven in his own way.
- 5. The Disease of Worldlings is very incident to great men, and it is a very hard mat∣ter to keep the Heart of such open and free for Christ.
1 Doct. That a Man may go far, and be zealous and forward at first, and yet cool and fall away at last.
Witness this Young Man, who comes to Christ to learn of him the way of Life, and that in such an humble and reverent manner, and makes Profession that he had kept the Commandments from his Youth; and yet when Christ tells him what he must do more, he was troubled, and falls off. So Iudas walk∣ed with Christ for a while, but afterwards proveth a Traytor to him: Ioh. 6.70. Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a Devil? When others were turning away from Christ, and were offended at his Doctrine, he continues in Christ's Company, and yet a Devil for all that; Iudas was not carried away with the stream of the De•ection; he kept the Bag, and his Temptation was not yet come, yet his Heart was not sound. So Herod heard Iohn gladly, and did many things, yet afterwards put him to Death, Mark 6.20. Simon Magus, he believed, and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondred, beholding the Miracles and Signs which were done, Acts 8.13. Here was Faith and solemn Profession, and Fel∣lowship with Philip, and this not feignedly, but out of a Sence and Conviction of a power that accompanied his Doctrine, and yet afterwards he discovered that he was but in the gall of bitterness, and bond of Iniquity, Verse 23. The Reasons of this are,
(1.) They take up Religion upon Forreign and Extrinsick Reasons, and when those Reasons fail, their Religion saileth also: As Puppets mov'd by the Wires to which they are fastened; so they are moved by Credit and Esteem, and Coun∣tenance in the World: They Court Religion while it hath a Portion for them. Thus we read of some that followed Christ for the Loaves, Iohn 6.26. Ye seek me, not because ye saw the Miracles, but because ye eat of the loaves, and were filled: And ye rejoyced in his light for a season, John 5.35. Curiosity and Novelty made them rejoyce in his Light for a while: Vix queritur Iesus, propter Iesus; Religion is scarce received in the World for Religion's sake. Now forreign things as they are accidental to Religion, Possunt abesse & adesse; so must the respect built upon them be casual and accidental, and very uncertain, even as those Reasons vary. Men upon these Forreign Reasons may be very zealous for a time, as Interest will urge men more than Conscience, and when it is their Interest to follow or pro∣mote such a way, they are vehement Sticklers for it. Therefore the difference between false and sincere Professors is not altogether taken from their Zeal and outward diligence; they may be exceeding zealous and forward upon the Impul∣sion of false Principles, who have a base Heart lurking under it; because the Mo∣tions of Lusts disguised with Religion are rapid and earnest, and by-ends have a powerful influence. Thô Lust be served, yet because it is in the way of Religi∣on, Mens Affections are much aloft, and they may seem to have great Fits and zealous pangs in the Service of God, and yet all this comes to nothing.
(2.) Because they many times rest in Externals without Internal Grace. This Young Man for Outward Conformity went very far: There is nothing for Ex∣ternal Duties that a Child of God doth, but a Hypocrite may do also; he may Pray, Preach, Conferr, hear the Word, tho' not in a holy and gracious manner. A Painter may paint the External colour of Fire, but not the Internal Virtue and Heat of it; or the Limbs, Shape, Figure and Colour of a Man, but the Life can∣not be painted, there is no counterfeiting that: So many men deceive themselves and others by a show of Religion, and their Diligence in External Duties, when they are void of the Truth and Power of it; the Power of Religion cannot be counterfeited. Now Externals will in time be cast off, where there is not the Root to feed them.
Page 360(3.) Because that Internal Affection which they seem to have to the ways of God, is not rooted and fixed, only a slight Tincture, that may easily be worn off; Luke 8.13. They on the rock, are they which when they hear receive the Word with joy, and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. At first Men have some Taste, and seem to feel some Sweetness in the Word, and that begets a little Affection to it, and that Affection begets Profes∣sion, and that Profession begets External Reformation; so far it is good: but in time they lose their Relish and Taste, and then their Affection is gone and dry∣ed up, and then their Leaf falls, and afterwards run from their Profession into Prophaneness, and a plain distaste of the ways of God.
(4.) Their Corrupt Lusts were only restrain'd, not mollified and weakened, and so it is but like a Sore that is skinn'd over, and festers inwardly, and will at length break out again. This is the Case of many, Luke 8.14. That which fell among Thorns, are they, which when they have heard, go forth, and are choaked with c••es and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. Many an unsound Professor seems to cast the World, and their old Fashions behind their back, yet their Hearts are not wholly weaned from them, nor are they wholly cast out; some prevalent Lust remains that will make them turn back to their old Vomit again: So dangerous it is to have Satan only gone out for a while, and not cast out; Luk. 11.24. to have any thing wherein to delight besides Christ, when we close with him; or to have those things which we formerly seemed to slight, to seem great and lovely again, and bare bulk in our Eyes. This Point is but reductive to this place, therefore I shall not handle it at large.
VSE. It doth press unto two things; to search for a sound Work, and to watch against Declinings.
(1.) To search for a true Sound Work. We have need to shift and ransack all the Corners of our Souls, to see that there be no one reserved Lust as a Seed of our Revolt and Apostacy from Christ. One Leak let alone will ruine the Ship; so will one Lust the Soul, Psal. 119.133. Order my steps in thy Word, and let not any Iniquity have dominion over me. Whilst any one Sin remains unbroken, all that we do in Conformity to God will be lost: And therefore let us search, and •ee that our Love to the ways of God be founded in a compleat Resignation to his Use and Service, and a renouncing of every fleshly Interest, if we would con∣stantly persevere with Christ. Profession will fail, unless there be a good and an honest Heart to bear it out; and what's that, but a Resolution to make this our great business and Interest, to get the Love of God in Christ, whatever it cost us? It is not enough to have good Offers and Inclinations; one Idol left in the Heart will estrange us from God: Ezek. 14.4, 5, 6. Every man of the house of Israel, that setteth up his Idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his Iniquity before his face, and cometh to the Prophet, I the Lord will answer him that cometh accor∣ding to the multitude of his Idols: That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their Idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God, Repent and turn your selves from your Idols, and turn away your face from all your abominations: And what is prized besides Christ, will be soon prized above Christ; therefore unless the Sweetness of his Grace makes all the Baits of the Flesh unsavoury to us, we cannot be sound.
(2.) To watch against Declinings; for we lose ground every day, as a thing run∣ning down the Hill falls lower and lower, if we do not keep up a constant Relish and Savour of good things. When you lose your first Love, you will leave your first Works, Rev. 2.4, 5. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first Love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works. We see it is very Ordinary for New Converts to be carri∣ed on with a great measure of Affection and Zeal, because of the Newness of the thing, and the edge upon their Affections is not yet blunted by change of Condi∣tion, or multiplicity of Business, and the Lord restrains furious Temptations, till they be a little confirmed and engaged in his way, and he has a deeper sense of Comfort. Now take heed to keep up this, for when this Edge is blunted and taken off, a Man loses Ground. Therefore the Apostle saith, Heb. 3.6. Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoycing of the hope firm unto the Page 361 end. Upon our first acquaintance with Christ, there is a mighty Joy of Heart, and Comfort in the hopes of a Pardon, and of Eternal Life: O! you must keep up this to the End. If you quite lose your Savour, you run into total Apostacy, and if you lose it in part, you grow remiss and lazy: If you have not such de∣light in God, you can read and hear the Offers of Grace and Eternal Life, with∣out any considerable Joy and Thankfulness, you have not that lively sense you were wont to have; take heed, you are upon decay.
2 Doct. That Tryals bring Men forth to the Light, and make them manifest what they are.
Here upon the Tryal the Young Man is discovered. Who would but have thought this Young Man good till now? But when he heard Christ's Terms, he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved. As Lime seems cold, and to have no heat and warmth in it, till you pour water upon it, then it burns and smokes; so our corrupt Affections lye hid, till there be an occasion to try them. Tryals are either Extraordinary or Ordinary. Extraordinary, as that of Abraham, Gen. 22.1. And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham; that is, try him for his Discovery, by the Command for sacrificing of his Son, his only Son, the Son whom he loved, the Son of the Promise. So this Young Man, Christ tries him, Sell all. But then God's Ordinary Tryal is in the course of his Providence, or by his Word. By his Providence, either by Affliction, Dan. 11.35. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them. 1 Pet. 1.7. That the tryal of your Faith being much more precious than of Gold that perisheth, thô it be tryed with fire, might be found unto praise: Or some other occasion offered to discover either Grace or Sin, as Ioseph was tryed by the Temptation of his Mistriss. Or by his Word, which doth search and try our Hearts, when it pursueth them within, and followeth them home to their Consciences, Iohn 6.60. When they heard this, they said, It is a hard saying, who can hear it? They are offended, when it toucheth upon a bosom Sin, Pride, Sensuality, or Covetousness, or unlawful Pleasure, they are tryed by it.
Again, Tryal is either for the discovery of Grace or Corruption, to discover the Corruption of their Hearts, or the weakness of their Graces: — So God tryeth his People, as he tryed Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 32.31. Howbeit in the business of the Ambassadors of the Princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the won∣der that was done in the Land, God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart: So Christ tryed his Apostles, Iohn 6.6. And this he said to prove them, for he himself knew what he would do.
1. It is for Good, that Men should be discovered; the Graces of his People to their comfort, and their Weakness that it may be repaired; as when a Man tries a Leaky Vessel with an intent to make it more stanch; and a Man that is Dis∣eased, by walking and stirring the Disease appears, it is better it should be dis∣covered, that it might be remedyed, than to lye hid in the Body, till it kill us. The Hypocrite is tryed that he may be discovered, Prov. 26.26. His wickedness shall be shewed before the whole Congregation: It is a great part of God's Providence to uncase Hypocrites. It is for the Churches Good, lest men get a Name to do Religion a mischief: And
2. It is for the Glory of God, that men may appear what they are, and for the reclaiming of Offenders. Many were likely to have Grace, if they were dis∣covered to themselves, and knew they had no Grace. Tryals are ordered by God for this end and purpose; God is wise, and knows in what Vein to strike. God tries not to inform himself, but to discover us to our selves, Psal. 139.2. Thou under∣standest my thoughts afar off: God knows not only Conclusions and Events, but the first contrivances, tho' afar off: As a Man in the Air may see a River in the rise, fountain and course all at once; so God doth see things all together, but he tryes us, that we may be discovered to our selves, and suits the Means accord∣ingly.
Page 362VSE. Well then, expect Tryals, and see to it, how you behave your selves under them.
1. Expect Tryals. Matth. 7. We read of two Builders, the one built upon the Sand, the other on the Rock; when they had built, the tightness of the Building was to be tryed, the winds blew, the rain fell, the waves did swell and arise, that that was built on the Rock stood, that that was built on the Sand fell. Who∣soever buildeth a confidence for Heaven, must look to have his Building tryed: Count it not strange, we are loth to forecast, and to think of Tryals. You shall see even the People of God many times are subject to Security when tryals are nearest. When the Shepherd was to be smitten, and the Sheep scattered, then the Disciples were asleep, Mat. 26.40. And they were dreaming of Ease, and of dividing Kingdoms when the Cross was at their heels, Acts 1.6. Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel? We Promise our selves perpe∣tual Exemption, if we have but a little breathing time; Psal. 30.6. In my pro∣sperity I said, I shall never be moved: We take a carnal Pillow, and lye down upon it, and count it strange when it comes.
2. Be careful how you Acquit your selves in Tryals. When the hour of Temp∣tation is come upon the Earth, then we should be cautious: Rev. 3.10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptati∣on, which shall come upon all the World, to try them that dwell upon the Earth. What∣ever a Man doth, he will behave himself well when he is upon his Tryal.
3 Doct. That a Man we•ded to the World, will renounce Christ and his Commands rather than the World, when it comes to a proof.
When two Persons walk together, you cannot tell to whom the Servant that follows them belongs, but when they part Company then it is seen: So when Christ and the World part, then the Servant of the World, and the Servant of Christ is seen: for he that is addicted to the World will break all the Com∣mands of Christ for the World's sake. It must needs be so, for the World diverts the Heart from Christ, and sets the Heart against Christ.
(1.) The Love of the World diverts the Heart from Christ, that there is no room for Holy things. The Heart will be where the Treasure is, Mat. 6.21. and so the delight that we should have in heavenly things will be intercepted, the stream will be carried another way, the Heart will be withdrawn from God, whom we should love with all our Soul and might. Look, as in a pair of Ballan∣ces, what you take out of one Scale, you make the other so much the more weigh∣ty: Just so our Souls hang like a pair of Ballances between God and the World; what you give to the World you take from God, and what you give to heaven∣ly things you take from the World, Col. 3.7. Set your Affections on things above, not on things of the World. Our Desires cannot be carried out after Heavenly things with any Intention, unless they be remitted to the World.
(2.) The Love of the World sets the Heart against Christ, and carries it to con∣trary things: I shall prove it by three Considerations. It disposeth and enclineth the Soul to all evil. It incapacitateth us for the doing of any good, and it hinders us from the receiving any Good.
1. It disposeth and enclineth the Soul to all evil. It makes a Man break every Com∣mand of the Law of God: The love of Money is the root of all evil, 1 Tim. 6.10. Let it once reign in the Heart, and then a Man sticks at no Sin, and he becomes a ready prey for Satan; when his Heart is intoxicated with the love of present things. Micah 2.2. Covet fields, and take them by violence, and houses, and take them away, so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. First they covet, and then they will stop at nothing, but break out into all that is unseemly: Let Iudas but in∣chant his thoughts with the pleasure of a supposed Gain that he can make of his Master, and he will soon come with a Qui• dabitis? What will you give me? Gehazai let him but affect a Reward, and he will dis•onour God, and lay a stum∣bling block in the way of a new and Noble Convert. Let Achan's Heart be tick∣led and pleased a little with the sight of it, and he will be purloyning the wedge of Gold and Babylonish Garment. Let Baalam hear of Gold and Silver, and he will curse Israel against his Conscience, and venture tho' there be an Angel in the way to stop him. Ahab will consent to Naboth's Blood, when his Vineyard is in Page 363 the chase. Ananias and Saphira will keep back part of what was dedicated to God, if they look upon what they part withall. Simon Magus will deny Religion, and return to his old Sorceries, that he may be some great one among the People: So that there is no Sin so foul, but the Love of the World will make it plausible, and reconcile it to the thoughts of Men.
2. It incapacitateth us, and makes us uncapable of doing Service to God in our General and Particular Calling.
(1.) In our General Calling,
1. It destroys the Principle of Obedience, which is the Love of God: 1 Iohn 2.15. If any Man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him. The great Principle which sways and enclines the Heart to do the Will of God, is Love; now the Love of the World, and the Love of God are contrary, and inconsi∣stent: Love any thing besides Christ, and you will soon love it above Christ: Why? Because the Love of God is a Stranger and Forreigner, the Love of the World is a Native.
2. It is contrary to the Matter of our Obedience. The Commands of God, and the Commands of Mammon are contrary, Mat. 6.24. No man can serve two Masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. God saith, Pity the Af∣flicted, relieve the miserable, venture all for a good Conscience, seek Heaven in the first place with your most ardent Affection, with your most earnest Diligence. But now Mammon saith, Be sparing of your Substance, follow the World as hard you can, stick at nothing, Lye, Steal, comply with the Lusts of Men, and then you shall be rich. Well now, he that is ruled by Mammon, whose Eyes the God of this World hath blinded, that is, enchanted with the Love of worldly Goods, he can never serve God, he loves Wealth above all, he trusts it above all, he serves it more than God himself; thô his Tongue dare not say Earth is better than Heaven, and that the things of this Life are better than everlasting Blessedness, and therefore they shall have more of his Heart and care, yet his Life says it, he can part with God for the Matters of this World. In short, it unfits us not on∣ly for one Duty, but for all Duties required of us. God's Laws are for Respects to God, Neighbour and Self: This inordinate Love of the World denies what is due to God, what is necessary for our Neighbour, and what is comfortable for Our selves. A Man that loves the World, is unthankful to God, unmerciful to his Neighbour, and cruel to himself.
3. It slights the Encouragements of Obedience, which are the Rewards of God: As it weakeneth all our future Hopes, and depresseth our Heart from looking af∣ter Spiritual and heavenly things. They despise their Birth-right, Heb. 12.16. and when they are invited to the Wedding, Matth. 22. they preferr their Farm, Oxen, and Merchandize, before the rich Feast of Grace which God invites us to.
(2.) He that loves the World, will break with God in the Duties of his parti∣cular Calling for the World's sake. What manner of Men ought Magistrates to be? Exod. 18.21. Such as fear God, men of truth, hating Covetousness; not only not covetous, but hating Covetousness; for let this once possess his Heart, it will make him base, and act unworthily, nay for a piece of Bread will that Man transgress. Then for a Minister, what a poor meal-mouthed Creature will it make him! One Qualification of a Minister is, 1 Tim. 3.3. Not to be greedy of filthy lucre. If his Heart be set upon that, it makes him sordid, low-spirited, flattering and dawb∣ing to curry Favour with Men, more intent upon his Gain and Profit, than the saving of Souls. See the work of a Minister, 1 Pet. 5.2. Feed the flock of God that is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: What a low, flat Ministry will that be, that is inspired with no other aim but Outward Profit! If that be their Inducement to undertake, and their prime En∣couragement to discharge the Work of their Calling, how soon will they strain themselves to please men, (especially Great ones) and writhe themselves into all postures, to sooth the Humours and Lusts of others, as Balaam, 2 Pet. 2.15. Who loved the wages of unrighteousness; and therefore would fain curse the People whom God blessed. This base, powerful, imperious Lust will draw men to very base and unworthy Actions: Saith God, Ezek. 13.19. Will ye pollute me among my peo∣ple Page 364 for handfulls of barley, and pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not dye, and to save the souls of people alive, that should not live by your lying to my people that hear your lies: That is to say, what will you declaim against the Good, and harden the Evil in their Evil, and comply with the fashions of the World thus to hu∣mour Men? So if a Man be a Master of a Family, Prov. 15.27. He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house: VVhat a burden and trouble will he be to his Ser∣vants, and all about him! In short, It's Love of the VVorld that makes one an oppressing Landlord, another a false Tradesman, and an ill Neighbour, that makes him study Iniquity of Traffick, Ezek. 28.5. By thy great wisdom, and by thy Traffick hast thou encreased thy riches: So that it is the Pest and Bane of Humane Societies.
3. It hinders the Receiving of Good, and those Means of Reformation that should make us better. A Man that is under the power of worldly Lusts, is pre∣judiced against whatever shall be spoken for God, and for the Concernments of another World: Luke 16.14. The Pharisees also who were Covetous, heard all these things, and derided him. If the word stir us a little, and Men begin to have some Anxious thoughts about Eternal Life, these Thorns, which are the Cares of this World, will choak the good Seed, and stiffle our Convictions, so as they come to nothing; Matth. 13.22. He also that receiveth seed among the thorns, is he th•t heareth the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choak the word, and he becometh unfruitful: They will distract the Head with Cares, and put out all Thoughts of our Eternal Condition. If a Man begins to do some outward thing, it wiil make us soon weary of Religion, and attendance on Holy Duties, as if all time laid out upon God were lost; and they cry out, When will the Sabbath be over, that we may set forth wheat, Amos 8.5. The Heathens counted the Jews a foolish People, as Seneca saith, because they lost a full seventh part of their lives, he speaks it with respect to the Sabbath. So other Men are of his Mind, they think all lost that is laid out upon God: And it distracts us in Duty, and car∣ries away our Heart, Ezek. 33.31. They come unto me as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy word, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their Covetousness. It interlines our Prayers, and holy Services with worldly Projects and Thoughts: Nay it turns Religion into a Trade and Market: Men live by it, it makes Religion to serve their worldly Ends, they make a Market of their Devotion, as the Seche∣mites, for then (say they) their Substance and their Cattle will be ours.
VSE. To inform us of the Evil of Worldliness. We need to be set right in that, for most Men stroke it with a gentle Censure: They will say, he is a good Man, but a little worldly, as if it were no great matter to be so; nay Men are apt to applaud those that are guilty of this Sin, Psal. 10.3. They bless the Cove∣tous, whom the Lord abhorreth: He that by hook and crook gets Honour and Rich∣es, is the only prudent Man in their Account. If our Children are Loose, and Drunkards, and Riotous, we are offended, but if we see them worldly, we are not troubled. O it is a foul Sin, but the Men of the World will not believe it; surely we have too mild thoughts of it, and therefore we do not watch and strive against the Love of the World: Luke 12.15. Take heed and beware of Cove∣tousness; the words are doubled for the more vehemency, he doth not say, take heed only, but take heed and beware of Covetousness. Sins that are more gross and sensual are easier discovered, and such a Sinner is sooner reclaimed, but this is a secret Sin that turns away the Heart from God: And to make you more care∣ful to avoid it, in Scripture a Covetous Man is called an Idolater, Eph. 5.3. and Covetousness is called Idolatry, Col. 3.5. and is that a small Crime? What, to set up another God? who are you that dare to harbour such an Evil in your Bosoms, and make no great matter of it? Will you dethrone that God which made you, and set up the World in his stead? It is called Adultery, Iames 4.4. It is a breach of your Conjugal Vow. You did promise in your Baptism to renounce the World, and give up your selves unto Christ's Service, and will you cherish such whorish and disloyal Affections as will carry you to the Creature instead of God? O we cannot think bad enough of such a Sin.
Page 3654 Doct. A Carnal worldly Man may be sorrowful, when he cannot win Heaven in his own way.
When he cannot get Heaven, and his own will in the World also, as this Young man was, when he could not be a Christian at a cheaper rate: He de∣parted from Christ sad, as loth to miss this Felicity, and yet loth to pay so dear for it. There is a Sorrow that worketh Repentance to Salvation never to be repented of, 2 Cor. 7.10. but this is of another Nature, it makes a wound in the Consci∣ence, and doth no more. It troubled him much that he had moved this Questi∣on, when he did not find Christ's Answer according to his desire and expectati∣on. And this is just the Disposition of a Man that hath a sense of Eternity, and yet is wedded to his Lusts: Fain he would be happy hereafter, but will not leave his Lusts now; so they are troubled they cannot have Christ and the World too, Christ for their Consciences, and the World for their Affections: They love this World, and yet would fain be saved in the world to come, and therefore are grieved when they cannot have both. On the one side they are troubled, with a sense of Religion, and on the other side with a fear of losing their worldly Inte∣rests: See a like trouble in Herod, Matth. 14.9. The King was sorry, nevertheless for his Oaths sake, and for them that sat with him at meat, he commands it to be given her: He was loth to put Iohn to Death, and yet loth to deny her: So Balaam would have the Reward, and yet loth to go against the Express Command of God, 21st. and 22d. Chapters of Numbers: So Pilate was loth to condemn Christ against his own Conscience. Thus shall we be affected, till we seek God with our whole Hearts.
This Sorrow of the Young Man will give us some Light as to the difference be∣tween those conflicts that are in a Gracious and Renewed Man, and those conflicts that are in the Unregenerate. There are conflicts in both, yet they differ much: In the Unregenerate, Graceless Soul the conflict is between Conviction and Cor∣ruption, Conscience wrestles with their Lusts, and Lusts wrestle with Consci∣ence, and so Men are sorrowful upon Carnal, not Godly Reasons; whereas the conflict in the Regenerate is in the same Faculty, Carnal Reason against Spiritual Reason, and Carnal VVill against Spiritual Will, Carnal Affections against Spiri∣tual Affections; the Battle is fought in every Faculty. In the Conflict betwixt the Flesh and Spirit in the Regenerate, the Spiritual part prevails. Herod, and Pilate, and Balaam, had a Conflict, Natural Conscience did restrain them for a while, but at last they yielded. And here the Young Man yielded, and went away sorrowful: This Conflict and Sorrow may have a wound in the Conscience, but it doth not prevail to cause them to look after Heaven on Christ's own Terms.
The last Point is taken from the Reason of his heavy and sorrowful Departure, For he had great possessions. He had them, is that a Fault? Here is no Note of Crime put upon him, as to his getting of them: He is not taxed with an insatia∣ble desire of Riches, nor with unconscionable means to get them; only it is said, that he was marvellously Rich, and had great Possessions, and therefore he went away sorrowful; so that the Point will be this,
5 Doct. That the Disease of Worldliness is very incident to great Persons, and Men of Quality.
If we have not a mortified Heart, the very having an Estate may prove a Snare to us. I observe this, because many please themselves in this, that they have not got what they have by Extortion, or Cousenage, or by any fraudulent or un∣lawful Means, that their Heritage comes to them lawfully, in the fair way of Pro∣vidence; but if they have it, and they look not to their Hearts, it will enchant them. It is not the means of gathering Wealth, but the deceitfulness of it how∣ever gathered that choaks the Word. The very possession and presence, tho' it be not greedily sought for, nor unlawfully purchased, may inchant our Minds, and render us unapt to obey Christs Commandments. Take three Propositions.
(1.) That it is possible, yea very likely that our Hearts may be inordinately set upon Wealth lawfully gotten; and therefore God gives us that Caution, Page 366Psal. 62.10. If Riches increase, set not your heart upon them. Tho' they should encrease by God's Providence, yet consider, a Man may drink too freely, and be intoxicated with his own Wine. The Mind may be inchanted with a secret de∣light and desire to retain and encrease Riches, lawfully gotten. A man may be a Slave to his Wealth, and loth to part with it upon Religious Reasons: It is very likely it will be so when men have any thing in the World. Saith Austin, Nescio quomodo cum superflua & terrena diliguntur, arctiùs adepta quam concupita comprimunt; nam unde juvenis, iste tristis discessit, nisi quia magnas habebat divitias? Aliud est enim nova incorporare, quia desunt; aliud jam incorporata divellere; illa enim velut cibi repudiantur, ista vero velut membra praeciduntur: I do not know how it comes to pass, but so it is, there is more Danger in possessing Wealth than in getting it; this Young man went away sad, for he had great Riches: And it is one thing (saith he) to refuse that we have not, another thing to part with what we have; we may refuse that we have not, as we do some meats; but that we have, we are loth to part with it, as we are with the Members of our Bodies. Covetous∣ness is not to be determined by a greedy Thirst only, but also by Complacency, Delight, and Acquiescence of Soul in worldly Enjoyments. Tho' we would not desire more, yet if our Hearts be glued to that we have already, we are unapt for the Kingdom of God, these are torn from us as Members. In short, It is the Corruption of our Nature, that we are very prone to affect worldly Goods too much, and so much the more by how much the more plenty and abundance of them is enjoyed. The Moon is never in an Eclipse, but when she is at the full; so when we are at the full these things prevail over us. They that have much Flax and Gun-powder in their Houses, had need be careful to keep Fire from it; so a Christian that enjoys a great store of Wealth, had need look to his Heart, that Corruption do not meet with it; that Aversion from God, and Conversion to the Creature is so Natural to us, that when we have great store of the Worlds Goods, we are ready to set our Hearts too much on them.
(2.) Proposition: That the gathering of a Spiritual Disease is very secret and insensible. Bad Humours breed in the Body, and are not discovered till a strain; much more Distempers breed in the Soul e're we are aware, and therefore the more Caution is necessary: Prov. 30.9. Give me not riches, lest I be full, and de∣ny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Every Man is afraid of Want and Poverty, but who is afraid of Riches? yet Agur is as much afraid of that as of Poverty: Our greatest Learning is to learn how to abound. The worldly-minded judge Riches and abundance a happy Condition, O blessed is the Man, they will say, that is in such a Case! it is the summ of every Man's wish; but to be shye of the World, to suspect Danger in Plenty, it can never enter into their Hearts: But alas! as a rank Soyl is apt to breed Weeds, so many Snares are incident to this Condition, and this sort of Life. Alas, they that have great and plentiful Estates, how apt are they to pamper the Flesh, to grow forgetful of God, slight in holy things, to be wed∣ded to worldly Greatness! A corrupt Heart will take Mischief in every course of Life, as a Drunken man will stumble in the plainest way, but especially in a plen∣tiful Condition. As soon as men have any thing in the World, their Heads are lifted up above their Brethren, and they grow proud, scornful of God's Word, slighting of Holy things, and we are wholly enchanted with pleasures of such an Estate, but consider not the Snares that secretly are laid for their Souls.
(3.) Proposition: There is no Means to prevent the Danger, but by the conti∣nual Exercise of Good works, and a prudent Carefulness to improve our Sub∣stance for God's Glory, and helpfulness to others. Look as we clip the wings of Birds, that they may not fly away from us; or as we cut off the superfluous Boughs of Trees, that they may not hinder their growth and heighth: So this should be your Care, not to joyn House to House, and Field to Field, for then our desires will swell into so vast an Excess and Proportion, as will not become Grace, and hopes of Heaven: No, but your business should be how you should ho∣nour God, Prov. 3.9. Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thy increase. Give Alms, and all shall be clean unto you, Luke 11.41. A Man's Care should rather be for contracting and cutting short his Desires, and how to make use of it in order to Eternal Life. Unless there be this constant Solicitude upon the Heart, it is impossible for a Rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.