For what is a man profited if he shall gaine the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
OUr Savior acquainting his Disci∣ples with what things he was to suffer at Jerusalem, and being thereupon, rebuked by Peter, doth not only reprove Peter, doth not only reprove Peter for the car∣nal apprehensions which he had of his Kingdome, assuring him that he was there∣in an adversary and an offence unto him, as going about to hinder the great work of mans Redemp∣tion, by disswading him from those sufferings whereby it was to be accomplished; but doth further assure both him and all his Disciples, That they are to be so far from expecting earthly honours and preferments from him, as that they must learne to deny themselves, and in stead of Crowns and Dignities, must be ready to take up a Crosse as he should do, and to follow him with∣out the camp, bearing his reproach. He assures Page 2 them that as all the good which he was to work for them, was to be Purchased by his suffer∣ings, and denying of himself, so the way where∣by they were to be brought unto the fruition of it was by denying themselves, and being con∣formable unto him in sufferings. That which was necessary for Christ to do by way of merit to purchase it▪ was necessary by way of preparati∣on of heart for them to do, to attaine unto it. As He, so we likewise are first to suffer, and then to be glorified; so Christ saith of himself, Luke 24.26 and so the Apostle saith of his people, Rom. 8.17.
And because they might be offended at this doctrine, as contrary to those opionions which they had entertain'd of their Messiah (whom they beleeved him to be) who was in their aprehensi∣ons to restore the Kingdome unto Israel Acts 1.6. and to be King of all the world (whence there a∣rose a general belief,* not only amongst Jews, but others, as Tacitus observeth, that out of those Countries should arise a Prince who should rule over all the world, which the Romanes thought to have been verified in Vespasian, who was some∣times Praefectus Iudeae, (and afterwards Empe∣ror of Rome) therefore our Saviour further shew∣eth them,* that in these reasonings they had indeed too low apprehensions, of him and his Kingdome, for they ought to look upon their Messiah, as a Prince who would deliver them from the great¦•st of all evils, and advance them to a condi∣tion, beyond which a more blessed, could not to be Page 3 found. But now admit that he were to be King of all the world, and would advance them pro∣portionably to as great dignity as such a Kingdom could dispense; yet, if after all this, they die, and their souls perish and go to hell, what good would such a Kingdom, such a Messiah do them? Is there any thing worth the soul of a man which he would not expend, and part with to save that? Therefore he would not have them to think that a worldly domi∣nation was such as he came to purchase for them; but a glorious and eternal kingdome, which at last he would come with his Angels to take them into, the first fruits and glimmerings whereof are more worth then all the crowns and diadems of the world, wherof he promiseth quickly after to give them a tast, which accordingly he did the eighth day following in his Transfiguration on the mount.
The Context from vers. 24. to the end of the Chapter containeth, 1. An Assertion. 2. A Vindication thereof. The Assertion, That who∣soever will come after Christ must take up his crosse, and deny himself v. 24. The Vindicati∣on from three great scandals which this severe do∣ctrine of the Crosse was attended withall. 1. Death and this taken away, v. 25. Whosoe∣ver will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever wil loose his life for my sake, shall finde it. The way to attain life eternal, is to lay down a mortal life, when the glory of Christ and his service cal∣leth us thereunto: 2. Another great scandall of the Cross is, that it strips us of the world, and the Page 4 comforts and delights thereof, this is removed, v. 26. Admit a man could not onely escape the Cross by forsaking Christ, but exchange him away for all the world, and make himself master of all the comforts which a confluence of all worldy do∣minions could pour into his bosome, yet if after all this he must die, and lose his soul, and that for ever without possibility of recovery, he would in the issue finde it but an unprofitable bargain. 3 .The last scandal of the Cross is the Ignominy, and shame of it. In which respect Christ is said to have taken unto him the form of a servant, Phil. 2.7. (because the death of the Cross was servile supplicium,* as the Historian calleth it,) and to have despised the shame, Heb. 12.2. and this is reomoved, v. 27. The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his Angels, and then he shal reward every man according to his works. As he, though he were put to shame on the Crosse was yet after exalted unto glory, and sat downe on a throne, Hebr. 12.2. so with the same glory he will reward those that suffer shame for him, and their reward shall be according to their works, the measure of there glory answer∣able to the greatness of their shame and sufferings. Of which, having according to his promise v. 28. given a short, but most ravishing tast unto some of them in his transfiguration, they afterwards esteemed it a great honour, that they were ac∣counted worthy to suffer shame for his Name, Act. 5.41.
The words of the Text contain the removal of Page 5 the second great scandal, which the Disciples might be apt to take at this doctrine of selfe deni∣al. They hoped, as it may seem, to be great men in the world, and to enjoy the liberties and ho∣nours thereof; and now they are told that they must leave all to follow Christ. And least they should be offended, he assures them that if they should do otherwise, and for love of the world should forsake him, 1. They would lose their souls, which is better to them then all the rest of the world: 2. Having lost them, they would finde nothing in all the world, able to redeem and recover them again.
The words are set down by way of Interroga∣tion, intimating a more vehement Negation, What shall it profit? That is, It shall not at all profit. It carrieth a kinde of universal concession, and un∣questionable truth in it, which no man can deny. Even they themselves who cast away their souls to gaine the world, cannot, themselves being Judges, but confess, that it is an absurd thing to expect profit from any thing when the soul is lost, or to prefer all the world above a mans own eternal happiness. When a thing is exceeding manifest, the Scripture useth io make men them∣selves, whom it would thereby reprove, the Iudges of it. Iudge in your selves, saith the Apostle, is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered, 1 Cor. 11.13. and the Lord in the Prophet, Isa. 5.3.4. O inhabitants of Judah, Judge I pray you, be∣tween me and my vineyard. And elsewhere, Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel, saith the Page 6 Lord, Amos 2.11. So the force of the Interro∣gation is such a deniall, as the heart of him to whom it is made most needs subscribe unto, as ha∣ving nothing to alledge against it, And in a plain Position it is this, That man who to gain the world, doth cast away his soul, shall finde no profit in such a gain; it will prove like the gain which the Apo∣stle speaks of, Acts 27.21. a gaining of nothing but losse, and that an irreparable losse, which can never be recovered. It is dangerous venturing on such an Error, in quo non licet bis peccare, in which being once involved, a man can never get out again. Such is the loss of a soule, lose it once and it is lost for ever, there can no ransome, no change be made for it,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, no∣thing can be put in the other scale to weigh with it: The Civil Law saies, Ingenui hominis nulla est estimatio, How much more truly maye we say of the soul, Immortalis animae nulla est aestimatio. No valuable consideration for a soul but the blood of Christ: If we forsake him to gain the world we shall never finde any thing in the world precious enough by the exchange whereof to regaine our souls.
The words have many particulars couched in them by way both of Supposition, and of Position. I shal reduce all unto this one Proposition; As Christ doth allow his servants to be moved by Considerations of gain in his service, so he doth withall assure us, That this gaine doth not stand in winning of the world, but in saving of the soule That the soul being infinitly more precious then Page 7•ll the world, therefore the gaining of the world is nothing but losse, where the loss of the soul is the purchase of that gain; in asmuch as the world being gained, cannot be kept; and the soul being lost, can never be recovered. All men have a mer∣chandise and trade to drive in this world, where∣on doth depend the issue of their profit, or damage; therein their principal wisdome is to bal∣lance and poise their gains and losses so as that they may thrive and prosper in this their trade; wordly love is a great obstruction unto the true gain which a wise Christian should pursue. They who for preserving that, do take offence at the crosse of Christ, will suffer damage in their souls; the love of the world and the love of the soul being inconsistent: Since therefore both will not stand together; and of the two, the soul is much more precious and excellent then the world, therefore a wise Christian should have his trade heavenward for the inriching of his soul, rather then downward for the possession of the world.
The branches then to be touched are three:
1 The lawfulness of a Christians looking after true gain. 2. The inordinateness of worldly love, and inconsistency thereof with true Christian gain. 3. The preciousness of the soul of man; in saving, advancing and inriching whereof, this true gain doth consist.
1. Then Christians may be moved in matters of Religion with arguments drawn ab utili, from considerations of profit or disprofit, of such good things as are really, beneficial and advantagious Page 8 unto us. It is the voice of nature in every man, who will shew us any good? Psal. 4.6. There is a naturall indigency in us, whereby we are constrai∣ned to look abroad for foraign supplies of that good, which we are wholly insufficient to furnish our selves withall.* This wicked men look for in ways of sin; there are few men that are wicked gratis, but do promise themselves Some benefit by their wickedness. If Esau sell his birthright; if Balaam curse Gods people; if Ieroboam set up Calves; if Ahab sell himself to work wickedness; If Iudas betray his Master; it is all upon a con∣tract and bargain, under the intuition of the wa∣ges of unrighteousness. Si violandum jus regnan∣di causâ violandum.
Therefore God is pleased, 1 To Dehort men from the wayes of sin by undeceiving them, and discovering the unprofitableness and perniciousness of those wayes. My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit, Jer. 2.11. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Isai. 55 2. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? Rom. 6.21. The voluptuous sinner promiseth himselfe abun∣dance of delight in his stollen waters; let us take our fill of loves, let us solace our selves with loves Prov. 7.18. but at last when he hath destroyed his name, and gotten a wound, and dishonour, when he hath destroyed his estate, and strangers are fil∣led with his wealth, when he hath destroyed his body, and given his years to the cruel, when he hath Page 9 destroyed his soul, and is gone down to the cham∣bers of death: then tell me whether his perfumes of Mirrh, Aloes, and Cinnamon, be not all tur∣ned into gall and wormwood? The worldling promiseth himself much content in his dishonest gain, in fraud, oppression, circumvention, and violence; Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo ipse domi. I shall have a brave vineyard▪ saies Ahab; I shall have sheep and oxen, saies Gehazi, I shall never want friends, nor contents, money answers to All, O nummi vos estis fratres. But what saies God? Thou fool, this night shall they take thy soul from thee: Thy vineyard, O Ahab, shall bring forth grapes of gall: Thy talents, O Gehazi, shall purchase thee and thine heirs a leprosie: Thy wedge of gold, O Achan, shall cleave thy soul from thy body; Thy thirty pieces of silver, O Judas, shall be the price of thine own bowels, as well as of thy masters blood. Treasures of wickedness shall not profit in the day of wrath, Prov. 10.2. They that will be rich; drown themselves in destru∣ction and perdition and peirce themselves through with many sorrows, 1 Tim. 6.9, 10. The ambiti∣ous man promiseth him self much honour and pow∣er, when he hath arrived at that greatness where∣unto he aspireth, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, Isai. 14.15.* When I have by plausible compliances gotten the glories of the world, I will then please my self, as Nebuchadezner did, with the view and fru∣ition of so gallant a purchase. But what saith the Lord? Though thou set thy nest amongst the star•▪ Page 10 thence will I Bring thee down, Obad. v. 4. Isai. 26.5. Thou art a man and no God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God, Ezek. 28.2 O Nebuch•dnezzar, in stead of the majesty of a Prince, thou shalt have the misery of a beast. Thy feasting, O Belshazzar, shall be turned into mourning, thy pride into terrors, thou shalt be drunk not with wine, but with astonishment, and thy joynts shall stagger one against another. Thus do men sell themselves to sin for hopes of gain, and thus miserably are they cheated in the bargain; the Devil dealing with them, as some say he doth with Witches, giving them leaves of trees in the shape of gold and silver, so that in the conclusion it appears, that they did indeed sell themselves for just nothing, Isai. 52.3.
2. By the same argument God is pleased to vindicate the ways of godliness from the preju∣dice which wicked men have against them, as if they were unprofitable. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? what profit should we have if we pray unto him. Job 21.15. Ye have said, It is vaine to serve God, what profit is it that we have kept his Ordinances Mal. 3.14.5. To take off this Objection, God assures his people, That his wayes do good to those that walk upright∣ly, Mic. 2.7. That his people do not seek his face in vain, Isai. 45.19. That he is not a wilderness unto them, Jer. 2.31. That godliness is great gain, and Profitable unto all things, 1 Tim. 4.8. and 6.6. That he who soweth righteousness, shall have a sure reward, Prov. 11.18. That in keeping of his Page 11 commandments, there is great reward, Psal. 19.11. And he is pleased to animate his servants against the hardship of their Christian warfare, against externall difficulties, and internal faintings, by set∣ting before them exceeding great and precious promises. Having these promises, let us cleanse our selves, and perfect holiness, 2 Cor. 7.1. Ye have need of patience, that when ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise, Heb. 10.36. Be not weary of wel-doing, in due time ye shall reape, if ye faint not, Gal. 6.9. When ye are re∣viled, and persecuted, rejoyce and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward, Mat. 5.11. By this consideration, not only Moses and Paul, Heb. 11.25.26. Phil. 3.4. but the Lord Jesus himself, for the joy which was set before him, endured the Cross, and dispised the shame Heb. 12.2.
Now here in is the mercy of God greatly com∣mended unto us, that when he might use no other argument to enforce obedience, then his own sove∣raign authority over us, is pleased to incourage us by our own benefit. The chief reason of obedi∣ence, saith Tertullian, is the authority of the Lord, not the utility of the servant.* He made all things for himself, and might have looked no farther then his own glory: we do so with the creatures which serve us, we labour our Oxen, and then we destroy them; first we make them drudge, and then we make them die. But God is pleased to encourage us unto duties by our self-love, com∣mands us to fear him for our own good, Deut 6.24. sets the blessing of obedience, and the curse of Page 12 disobedience before our eyes, Deut. 11.26, 28. The work of Christianity is a difficult work, there are many enemies many temptations, Satan and and the world resist us without corruption wrestles and rebels within. But here is the comfort, Gods servants work for a Master that remembers all, who looks to their profit, as well as to his own honour, who keeps a book for our prayers, a bottle for our tears, a register for them that fear him, Mal. 3.16, a memorial of but a cup of cold water, given to a Prophet as a Prophet. This is encou∣ragement indeed unto Gods service: Christ is willing to put it to this issue. Though I have a right and power over you, which Satan hath not, I made you, I bought you, he never had title unto you, either by dominion or purchase, as I have; But I shall wish you to look to your own interest, see which service is most advantagious to your selves, mine or his: If he can make you more precious promises, if he can prefer you unto great∣er happines, if he have an immarcescible crown, an eternall kingdome to bestow vpon you, if he have shed any blood, laid down any life, to purchase blessedness for you, I am willing where your gain is greatest, there your trade and service be directed. But if my wages be much better then his, and my love much greater then his, and my right in you, and authority over you much more then his, not onely for love and duty to me, but for your own sakes, limit and confine your negotiations there, where your own advan∣tages will be more abundant, and your own Page 13 comforts more durable and glorious.
We see Christ allows us to eye our own profit in his service. In what sense we may, or may not this do, may be briefly thus resolved.
1. We may not respect profit or advantage as the ultimate end of our obedience. Gods glory being simply the supream of Ends in it self, should accordingly be so unto us.* Our greatest aim in bringing forth fruit should be, that God may be honoured, Joh 15.8. that whether we live we may live to him, or whether we die, we may die to him, Rom. 14.7, 8.9. All things are of him, and for him, therefore all things must be to him likewise, Rom. 11.36.
2. We must not respect profit and reward as the onely reason of our obedience, without which we would not do God any service at all, for this would be a meer mercenary and servile considera∣tion. The chief reasons of obedience are, our subjection to Gods authority over us, because he is the Lord; our faith, love, and thankfulness for his Covenant of grace, because he is our God. These two are joyned in the Preface to the Deca∣logue, I am the Lord thy God.
3. We may not respect profit and reward, as the fruit of any merit in our services: when we have done all we can, we are but unprofitable servants unto God, and therefore he might justly make our services unprofitable to our selves. It is mat∣ter of comfort, it is not matter of boasting; we may rejoyce that there is profit in serving of God, but we may not glory of it as any naturall or ne∣cessary Page 14 consequent of our services, for Grace doth ex∣clude boasting,*Eph. 2.8. and the reward is of grace, and mercy, not of debt, Rom 4.4, 5. and 11.6. Psal. 26. 12. Exod. 20.6.
But then we may look on the reward and profit of obedience. 1. As a secondary end, under the glory of God; so the Apostle calleth salvation the end of our faith, 1 Pet. 1.9, Our love to God though it be above our love to our selves, yet doth not exclude it, so our seeking of Gods glory, though it be above all other ends, yet it doth not exclude the seeking of our own happiness; yet God hath been pleased so graciously to twist, and as it were, interweave, and concorporate these together, that no man can truly aim at the glory of God, but he doth eo ips• promote his own salvation? neither doth any man sincerely seek his own salva∣tion, but the Lord esteemeth himself therein glorified by him.
2. As a manifestation of Gods bounty, who when he might require homage of us as our Lord by the tie of our natural subjecton unto him, is pleased out of free grace to propose further re∣wards, making our services as well matter of pro∣fit to our selves, as of praise and glory unto him? faith looketh upon God as a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11.6. as a God that not onely is good but doth good Psal. 1•9.68. as a God whose power and mercy is herein declared, in that he rendreth unto every man according to his work, Psa. 62.11, 12
3. As matter of encouragement to run with Page 15patience the race that is set before us; to animate us against all the difficulties, dangers, temptations, and variety of disheartnings, which through the subtlety and malice of Satan we are sure to meet with in Gods service. The Hope of ensuing glory doth work resolutions in God servants to puri∣fie themselves, that so being like unto Christ in holiness, they may thereby be Prepared to be like unto him in glory 1 Ioh. 3.3. The crowne of righ∣teousenss kept up the resolution of the Apostle himself, to fight the good fight of faith, to run his race, to finish his course, to keep the faith, 2 Tim 4.7, 8. Thus a Christian is allowed by his Lord to do his masters work with some eye and intuiti∣on of his own gain.
But then as the Apostle saith, If a man strive for masteries, he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully; So, If a man contend for gain, he shall never overtake it, except he contend lawful∣ly. Our Saviour here hath excluded one way, and that a broad one, where in multitudes weary themselves for this Prize, What shall it profit a man if he win the whole world? And secondly, intimateth the true though a more narrow and private way, viz. to prosecu•e the interest of our precious souls. Let us consider them both
First, worldly love is inconsistent with true •hristian gain upon many accounts. 1. It is vast and insatiable, like the horseleech which cries, G•ve give▪ like fire, and the grave, which never sayes it is enough, Prov 30.15.16. Lust is infinite, there is no end of its labour, Eccles. 4.8. Page 16 It reacheth at all, therefore the Apostle calleth it not onely love of the things of the world, but love of the world; Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, 1 John. 2:15. A covetous heart grasps at the whole world;* would fain be master of all, and dwell alone, like a Wen in the body, which draws all to it self; let it have never so much, it will still reach after more, adds house to house, and field to field, Isai. 5.8. keeps not at home, cannot be satisfied, inlargeth, gathereth, heapeth, increaseth, loadeth it self with thick clay, Habac. 2.5, 6. The very Heathen have complained of this endless, and unbounded reach of corupt desires 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,*ex libidine orta sine termino sunt. Lust hath no bound, no measure; like a bladder it swells wider and wider, the more of this empty world is put into it. Like a breach of the sea, which hath no internal bounds to contain it self in, sternit a∣gros, sternit sata laeta boumque labores. The Coun∣tryman in the Fable would needs stay till the Ri∣ver was run all away,* and then go over dry, but the River did run on still. Such are inordinate world∣ly desires, the deceitful heart promiseth to see them run over and gone, when they are attained unto such a measure; and then they are stronger and wider, more impotent and unruly then before, modus & modus non habet modum; for as natural, so sinful motions, the further they proceed, are u∣sually the stronger. Now God, having so oder∣ed the world, as that no man can have it all to him self, it is divided and bounded to several men and Page 17 nations Deut. 32.8. and man may not remove the landmarks which God hath set, nor affect a Monopoly where the Lord hath made a community, this insatiable desire of wordly gain can never be replenished, and so being unattainable, the labour which is spent about it must needs be ungaineful, and disappoint the expectations which were built thereupon.
2. It is exceeding disproportionable to the spi∣ritual and immortal condition of the heart of man; whatever is in the world is material, carnal, mortal. It can benefit the outward and the natu∣ral man, But to look for peace of Conscience, joy in the holy Ghost, inward and durable comfort. in any thing which the world affords, is to seek a treasure in a cole pit. If you go to the creature to make you happy, the earth will tell you that Bles∣sedness grows not in the furrows of the field; the sea, that it is not in the treasures of the deep; cattel will say, it is not on our backs; Crowns will say, it is too precious a gem to be found with us, we can adorne the head, but we cannot satisfie the heart, Solomon, who made a critical inquiry after this point, gives this in as the ultimate extracti∣on from the creatures, vanity of vanities all is vanity. We have all great experience how loose the world hangs about us. Life it self is a bubble, and is sudenly gone, but besides that finall separa∣tion, God hath a thousand ways to part us from this darling; fire burnes it, water drowns it, a sword cuts it off, sickness takes away the savour of it. A prodigall son, an un faithfull servant, an Page 18 ill debtor, a suit of law, a world of the like acci∣dents may deprive us of it. Now no man will dote on a false friend, or care for a false title, or set his affection on any thing that is false. Why then should we love a false world? Or set our eyes on that which is not, as the Wise-man speaks, Prov. 23.5. Why should we with Martha so much trouble our selves about the world, and leave Maries unum necessarium wholly neglected? Like the man in Plutarch who went to the Physi∣tians to cure a sore finger,* when in the mean time his lungs were putrified, and he took no care of them.
3. It is exceeding injurious both to God and our selves. 1. To God, It sets up the world in his room, is enmity against him, Jam. 4.4. is incon∣sistent with the love of him, 1 Joh. 2.15, 16. Estrangeth the soul wholly from him, steals away the love of the heart, and ingrosseth it unto it self. As the shadow of the earth makes night in the air, so doth the love of it in the heart, when as Solomon speaks, the world is in it, Eccles. 3.11. It goes a∣long with a man, sleeps with him, wakes with him, goes to meat, goes to Church with him, When it flows not in, O how he carks and cares, mur∣murs and repines, whines and distrusts God? If it abound, how doth he hug and graspe it, and fill his soul with no other comfort? Talk of spiritual things, faith, hope, love, repentance, new obedi∣ence, judgement to come, he is sick of such dis∣course, puts you off as Felix did Paul to another time; but speak of a rich bargain, of a goodly Page 19 purchase, of a stately manner, of a gallant prize, you leade him in to a paradise, (such a one as it is) he saies with Peter, It is good being here, let us build tabernacles. It choaks the seed of the word in the soul, turns the house of God into a place of merchandise, yea it will cause men to erre from the faith, to know no godliness but gain, to take up religion as it is more or lesse in fashion, and advantagious; as the Samaritans would be Jewes when the Jews prospered,* and when they were down, would help to persecute them. It will warp the Conscience, and corrupt the judgment and make Religion it self to serve turns, and to be subordinate to secular interests.
2. To a mans self, 1. It is unnatural, for na∣ture hath set a commensurateness between objects end faculties. It is a miserable degrading of a reasonable soul, to grope for happiness on the backs of sheep, on the furrows of the field, to fish for it in ponds, or to hunt for it in parks, or to trade for it in ships, or to think to bring it home on the bunches of Camels. It cost more to redeem a soul, and it must cost more to attain that redemption. Christ the heir of all things, who could have commanded the attendance of all the creatures in the world, was pleased to live in a low condition, that he might make it appear that eternal life hath not the least cognation or dependance on worldly wealth, either in his procuring it for us, or in our deriving it from him. What an unnatural and incongruous thing would it be for Angels to turn worldlings, and reasonable souls have the self-same Page 20 blessedness to look after as Angels have.
2. It is unnecessary. for had one man all the world, he could have no more out of it himself, then one back, and one belly, and the exigences of one person did require; whatever is more, he doth but behold with his eyes, Ecles. 5.11. God is said to give us all things richly to enjoy, 1 Tim. 6.8, 17. He that hath sufficient to answer the necessi∣ty and decency of his estate, is therefore said to have all because he hath as full a supply, as un∣to those purposes all the world could make him. A little which the righteous hath, is better then the riches of many wicked, Psal. 37.16. Iacob was not so wealthy a man as Esau, yet Iacob said, I have all, Esau said, I have much. Jacobs little was all; Esaus more, was but much. Gen. 33.9.11.
3. It is a disquieting thing. Disquiets in the possessing. Riches are compared to thorns, Mat. 13.21. a man cannot hug them without being pierced by them, 1 Tim 6.10. Disquiets in the parting; there is sorrow and wrath in his sick∣ness, Eccles. 5.17. What a torment is it to flay off the skin of a man alive? Now the soul by inor∣dinate love doth cleave closer to the world, then the skin to the flesh, and therfore is not torn from it without great paine. It is the saddest sum∣mons in the world to a rich fool, Thou hast heap∣ed up for many years, but within a few houres the cold armes of death shall graspe thee, and carry thee to Gods tribunal. O what can riches or multitudes of riches do a man good in that day of Page 21 wrath? If a Prince had a stone in his bladder too big to be removed, all the Jewels of his crown could not purchase him a recovery. What then can treasures avail against worm gnawing in the Conscience?
I shall conclude this Point with these limitati∣tions:
1. We may use the world, and with diligent labour procure the things which we need, 1 Cor. 7.31.
2. We may imploy our heads, as well as our hands, for labour without wisdome to guide it, is but a weary idleness.
3. We may receive the things of this world from God in Christ as a fruit of his gracious Cove∣nant, 1 Tim. 4.8.
4. We may lay up and provide for our selves, and those that belong unto us so far as the ne∣cessities of life, and decency of our particular state and condition do admit. Christ himself had a bag in his family, Ioh. 13.29. 1 Tim. 5.8. But we may not love, nor set our hearts upon the world: When riches increase, set not your heart upon them. The world is for the back and the belly, but God onely is for the heart. Though we may eye our own gain, yet the gain of the world is not that gain which we are chiefly to eye. The soul being the most precious thing which a man hath, the saving, and inriching thereof, is the only true Christian gain.
First, Take the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 here for life, and even so the truth of the Text will hold; what gain is Page 22 it to get the world, and to lose the life, Is not the life more then meat, and the body then raiment? Luke 12.23.
1. All the world cannot hold or lengthen life beyond the period set it by God. Our times are in his hand, Psal. 31.15. the efficacy of all second causes is suspended upon his blessing, man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word which pro∣ceedeth out of the mouth of God, Mat. 4.4.
2. Life is necessary to the enjoyment of the world, what good doth light, without an eye to see it? Or musick, with out an ear to hear it? what good do dainties, without a mouth to tast them? Or Crowns, without an Head to wear them? Nay, a man may have his life so clog'd with sickness, sorrow, discontent of mind, distress of conscience, that all the world shall not suffice to revive and comfort him.
3. When life is lost, the world is all lost with it, a living porter, is richer then a dead Prince; death translates properties. If a man purchase land to himself for ever, that ever is no longer then his own life, if he will have the purchase extend fur∣ther, he must put in his heirs with himself.
Secondly, Take the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for the soul, as Luke: 12.19, 20. and then the truth holds much more. For 1. If a man could keepe his soul and the world together, there is so vast a dis-pro∣portion between them, that the one could never replenish the other, 2. If it could satisfie it for a time, yet it would cloy and satiate it at the last; there is excesse in wordly enioyments, and all Page 23excess is nauseous and painful. 3. If they could replenish and not cloy, that there were a com∣mensurateness between them, yet there is not an equality of duration. One generation, saith Solo∣mon, passeth away, and another cometh, but the earth abideth, Eccles. 1.4. If when a man goes away, the earth did go with him, happily the same content which he found in it here, he would find in it elsewhere, but when he goes, and that stayes behinde him, all the content which he had in the fruition, doth vanish in the separation. 4. Be∣ing parted the soul must be for ever, as long as God is merciful to save, or just to punish, and what comfort is it, think we in hell, for a man to re∣member the pleasures of a short life; of which no∣thing there remains but the worm and the sting?* The Poet could say, If the headach did come first, no man would be drunk. If men could feel but a little of hell, before they sin, they would easily by that understand how empty and vanish∣ing the pleasures of lust are, and how easily extin∣guished in a tormented Conscience, as a drop of wine loseth all its sweetness in a barrel of water. Again, what addition is it to the joyes of heaven, for a man to recount the comforts of a perishing world? What content takes a grave wealthy learned man, in remembring the joy which in his childhood he was wont to take in his top, and counters? 5. The nature of the soul is spi∣ritual, and must have spiritual objects to converse about. Sensitive faculties may be delighted with material objects: Meer natural reason may Page 24 gaze with some content upon the beauty, order, contexture, concatenation of natural causes and effects. But the supream spiritual part of the soul is of a more high and noble extraction, then ultimately to delight it self in any thing but in God from whom it was breathed. It is capable of the knowledg of God, whom to know is perfect wisdome and eternal life. It is capable of the image and grace of God, of righteousness and true holiness to beautifie, and renew it: Capable of the peace of God, of the joy of his salvation, of the earnest, the seed, the seal, the witness of his Spirit, of the sense of his love in Christ, which is unspeakable and glorious. Capa∣ble of that fulness of joy which is in his presence and of those everlasting pleasures, and rivers of comfort which are at his right hand. Capable of the heavy wrath of God, which is be∣yond the fear or the fancy of man to compre∣hend. As the goodness of God exceeds our faith, so the anger of God exceeds our feare 6. The dignity of the soul appears by the spi∣ritual enemies which war against it: Of whom we may say as the Prophet of the Medes, Isai. 13.17. that they regard not silver or gold, they fight neither aganst house, nor land, but against the soul only: Satan saies as the King of Sodom unto Abram, Gen. 14.21. Give me the souls, and take the goods to thy self. 7. By the guard of Angels which God hath appointed to pro∣tect it, And convey it to heaven, Luke 16.22.8. By the heavenly Manna, the breasts of Con∣solationPage 25 the wells of salvation, the bread of life, the feast of marrow, and fatted things, which the Lord in his Word and Ordinances hath pro∣vided to see it; one sentence and period where∣of is more worth in an hour of Temptation, then rocks of Diamonds, ot mountains of Gold. 9. And above all the dignity of the soul appears by the price which was laid downe to redeem it. We were not redeemed by silver and gold, but by the blood of God, 1 Pet. 1.19. If silver and gold could have bought the soul, silver and gold hap∣ly might have blessed it, but since no price can purchase it, but the blood of God, no treasure can enrich it, but the fruition of God. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance. Psal. 16.5.
Very many Uses might be made of this most important doctrine: As. 1. To adore the infinite love of God towards the souls of poor sinfull men in finding out of his own unsearchable wisdom, an ex∣pedient which neither men nor angels could ever have discovered, for the punishing of the sin, and sav∣ing of the soul that sinned.
2. The infinite love of Christ, who so loved us, as to give himself for us, to make his soule an of∣fering for sin, that our souls might not be undone by it. A Son to die for servants, an holy, an onely and beloved son for rebellious servants, a Judge for malefactors, to come not only to save but to seek, those that sought not, that in∣quired not after him: as there was never sorrow like his sorrow so there was never love like his love.
Page 26•. The infinite mercy of God in revealing Christ unto us, bringing life and immortality to light by the Gospel, and waiting upon us, that he may be gratious unto us. If Thales the Phi∣losopher gave thankes that he was born of a Greci∣an,* and not a Barbarian, how much more should we bless God, that we are Christians, and not only Philosophers; that the Lord hath taken care not onely to adorne our soules, but to save them.
4. The infinite sweetness of his powerfull and most efficacious grace, in perswading us to give entertainment unto the mercy thus tendred unto us, who of our selves were ready to beleeve lying vanities to forsake our own mercie, and to thrust away saluation from our selves,
5. The great reasonableness and wisdome of true Religion, as being that which promoteth our supreme interest, namely, the happiness of the soul. Wisdome is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the knowledge of the most honourable things,* and of greatest concermment. He that winneth souls is wise, saith Solomon, Prov. 7.11, 30. how much more he that saveth his own, Prov. 9.12. 1. Tim. 4.16. A man may be wise for others, and a fool for himself. Achitophel was a wise man when he counselled Absolom, but a fool when he hang∣ed himself. Iudas a wise man for others when he preached Christ, a fool for himself, when he betrayed him; no greater folly in the world then for a man to barter away his soul though it were for the world it self.
Page 276. We should therefore all be exhorted, 1. Se∣riously to study the worth of a soul, the spiritu∣alness, the immortality of it, the image of God after which it was both created and renewed, the glory reserved for it if it stand, the wrath prepared for it if it fall. 2. To walk as men that have souls, many walk as if they had nothing but bellies to fill, and backs to cloath, fancies to be tickled with vanity, eyes and eares to look after pleasure, brains to entertain empty notions, and tongues to utter them, but their souls serve them to lit∣tle other purpose, them as salt to keep their bo∣dies from stinking. Socrates wondred when he observed Statuaries, how carefull they were to make stones like men, and men in the mean time by their carelesness, turning themselves in to very blocks and stones. 3. To secure the salvation of the soul, to take heed of exposing our principal Iewel unto rapine and miscarriage.*Keepe thy hurt, saith Solomon, with all diligence. Prov. 4.23. Give all diligence, saith Peter, to make your calling and election sure, 2 Pet. 1.10. that so we may never be without the comforts of God to delight our souls, Psal. 94.19. that we may be able to say as David did, Returne to thy rest O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee, Psal. 116.7.4. To prize the meanes of that salvation, and to incourage the Ambassa∣dours of Christ, as those that watch for your souls, and unto whom is committed the ministry of reconcilation. They study, pray, watch, labour, and sweat for you, Esteem them highly Page 28 in love for their works sake, 1 Thes. 5.13. It is re∣corded for the honour of Hezekiah that he spake comfortably to all the Levites, who taught the good knowledge of the Lord, 2 Chorn. 30.22. And of Nehemiah, That he took care of the Offices of Gods House, Nehem. 13.10, 14. Of the good Shun•mite, that she provided for the Prophet, 2 Reg. 4.8, 10. And of the Galatians, That they received Paul as an Angel of God, and would if possible have plucked out their eyes to have done him good, Gal. 4.14, 15. And though you do these thinges (and your ho∣nour it is that you do it in an age wherein God hath suffered seduced souls to pour contempt upon the Ministers of the Gospel, and as mad∣men to fight with the Physicians that heal them) yet give me leave to stir you up by putting you in remembrance. 5. To resist the enemies that withstand this salvation, fleshly lusts, world∣ly snares, Satanical temptations, which war a∣gainst the soul, 6. To pitty the souls of other men, to promote in our several stations and im∣ployments, the interest of mens souls, to save them with violence, to snatch them out of the fire, to disquiet wicked men in their sins, to encourage good men in their wayes, to our ut∣termost power every where to promote the grace of God which bringeth salvation to the souls of men. Lastly, To be wise merchants for for own souls. Our Saviour telleth us, That the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, Matth. 13.45. And as Page 29 else where the Virgins are distinguished into wise, and foolish: So may we distinguish those Mer∣chants who trade heavenward. For as he said, Mala emptio exprobrat stultitiam:* It is a note of folly to make an ill bargain.
Now there are several things wherein the wisdome of a Merchant doth shew it self:
1. He considers where the best and most sure commodities are where he is certaine to make a good return, as it is noted of Solomon, 1 Reg. 10.11.22, 28. and of Tyrus, Ezek. 27. So our Chri∣stian merchant knowing that the best commodi∣ties come from heaven, hath his thoughts and affections most there, And as those that trade to China, though they cannot travell far up into the Country are admitted to some skirts and ma∣ritine Harbour to receive the commodities of the Country; so our Merchant though he cannot go to heaven it self, yet he hath access, as it were to the out borders of heaven, the Word and Ordi∣nances calld frequently in the Epistle to the He∣brews 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Heavenly things. Here then they watch at the gates of wisdomes house, here they search, dig, hide, and lay up, that the Word may dwell in them richly, and that they may be rich in knowledg, Prov. 8.34. Col. 3.16. 1 Cor. 1.5.
2. A wise merchant considers where is the easiest purchase of those commodities. It is true, heavenly things are in their own nature the most precious, and do indeed cost the most excellent price. The Redemption of a soule is precious, Page 30 Psal. 49.8. 1 Pet. 1.19. yet because this precious price was none of ours: we are said to be saved free∣ly, Eph. 2.8. to buy milk and wine without money and without price, Isai. 55.1. for though we must sell all for this Jewel, if not actually, yet in prae∣paratione animae, yet it is all no reall or valu∣able estimation in such a bargain, but like the glass beads, and such like trifles which we give unto Indians for their silver and gold; like the sweep∣ing out of dust and rags out of an house when it is to be inhabited; Christ will not take posses∣sion of the soul, till vile lusts, and worthless af∣fections are purged out, not by way of purchase of him, but by way of preparation for him. And this is one of the easiest purchases in the world, to let go dirt,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and to receive gold.
3. A wise merchant, though he will make his purchase as easie as he can, will yet in a rare com∣modity bid home, and not stick at a finall diffe∣rence; and so doth a wise Christian knowing the unsearchable riches of Christ, never sticks at any abatement. Many men bid much, proceed far, Herod doth many things; Agrippa is almost a Christian, hypocrites will part with thousands of rams, rivers of oil, there first borne, Mic. 6.7. but when the child comes to the very birth, they stay in the place of the breaking forth of children Hos. 13.13. when it comes to this issue, they must shake hands for ever with their darling and belo∣ved lust, Herod with Herodias, the young man with his worldly love, the Iew with his legal righte∣ousness, Page 31 the Greek with his carnal wisdome; nay, saith the hypocrite be the Iewel never so rich, I resolve to keep this green glasse, or this wooden platter, something of mine own: here Christ and the soul part, and they who came running unto him, go sorrowing from him; where∣as wise Christians consult not with flesh and blood, but go through with the bargain: Let me haue Christ though I have nothing but him.
4. A wise Merchant doth husband time and opportunity for his best advantage, takes the right season for his voyage and commodity; that he may returne with the more speed and pro∣fit. As tis observed of the Philosopher,* that foreseeing a plentiful yeare of Olives, he rented many Olive-yards, and by that demonstrated that a learned man, if he would aime at world∣ly gain, could easily be a rich man too. It is noted as an excellent part of wisdom to know and to manage time, Cujus unius avaritia hone∣sta est, as Seneca speaks. Esther 1.13. 1 Chro. 12.32. Eph. 5.15, 17. The Rabbi said. Nemo est cui non sit horasua, every man hath his hour; he who overslips that season,* may never meet with the like again, If thou hadest known in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, Luke 19.42. The Scripture insists much upon a day of grace, and calls upon us to work, before the night come, 2 Cor. 6.2. Hebr. 3.15. Ioh. 12.35. The Lord reckons the times which pass over us, and puts them upon our account. These three yeares I come, seeking fruit, and I finde none, Luk. 13.7. Page 32 I gave her space to repent, and she repented not, Rev. 2.21, 22. from the 13. yeare, to the 25. year, I have spoken unto you, saith the Prophet, Ier. 25.3. therefore we should learne to improve them, and with the impotent persons at the pool of Be∣thesda, to step in when the Angel stirs the water. Now the Church is afflicted, it is a season of pray∣er, and learning, heare the rod, learn righteousness, Mic. 6.9. Isai: 26.8, 9. Psal. 94.12. Now the Church is enlarged, it is a season of praise, This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will re∣joyce and be glad therein, Psal. 118.24. I am now at an Ordinance, I will hear what God will say, now in the company of a learned and wise man, I will draw some knowledge and councel from him: I am under temptation, now is a fit time to lean on the Name of the Lord, Isai. 50.10. I am in place of dignity and power; Let me consider what it is that God requireth of me in such a time as this, Esth. 4.14. As the tree of life bringeth fruit every moneth, Rev. 22.2. so a wise Christian, as a wise husbandman, hath his distinct imploy∣ments for every moneth bringing forth his fruit in its season, Psa. 1.3.
5. In a great City one merchant having one commodity, and another another, they do mutu∣ally interchange them for the inriching of one another: So in the City of God, one hath the spirit of wisdom, another of knowledge, one excelent at opening scripture, another at stating questions, another at resolving cases, ano∣ther at exhortation, and Christian conference,Page 33 and wise Christians should improve all advantages of this kinde unto their mutual enrichment.
6. A wise merchant hath constant intelligence and returns to and from the Country where his trade lies, is not without a factor there to manage his affairs; so should the christian marchant; his trade is in heaven, phil. 3.20. thither should he continually send, and return the commodities of that kingdome. The Lord Iesus is the Agent of his Church there, to transact their affairs for them; we should keep constant intelligence with him, pour out our desires into his bosome, and wait for the answer which he will send. Prayer and praises are the Vessels in which we send to heaven: faith, meditation, study of the Scriptures, attendance of the Ministry, vessels by which we hear from hea∣ven, He shall receive of mine, saith our Saviour of the holy Spirit, and shall shew it unto you, Joh. 16, 14. This intercourse we must keep continually open and un∣obstructed, that Christ may daily hear from us, and we daily receive from him, that so we may be filled with all the fulness of God, and may have all the storehouses of the soul replenished from heaven with all abundance of necessary graces & comforts.
7 A wise merchant doth provide for losses, and yet though he venture much, will assure the main; so should we resolve before hand upon many trou∣bles in the way to heaven, sit down and consider the cost of our holy profession, Luke 14.26, 28. the ship wherein Christ is, is not secured from a storm. His crown of thorns, went before his crown of glory, and so must ours; there is a sea and a wil∣derness between Egypt and Canaan, through many Page 34 tribulations we must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But this is our comfort, That there is an assurance-office, wherein all our losses will be repai∣red an hundred fold, and that upon Gods own secu∣rity, whereof we have a record, Marck 10.29, 30. Verily, I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the Gospels; but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this life, house, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution, (as comforts, supports, incouragements in the midst of his persecutions) and in the world to come eternal life. There is no aged Christian but will love us in such a case with the love of a father, no young Christian but will reverence us with the love of a son, no fellow Christian but will tender us with the love of a brother, every good mans house, and heart shall be open unto us. Who so ever doth the will of God, will be our brother, and sister and mo∣ther, as our Saviour speaks, Mat. 12.50.
8. The wisest Merchants must live by faith and deale much in credit, waiting long for a good re∣turn out of remote Countries; as the Husband∣man ploweth in hope and, soweth in teares, 1 Cor. 9. 10. Psal. 126.5. having Gods promise that there shall be harvest, Gen. 8.22. So the Merchant trafficketh in hope to enjoy that which the Pro∣phet calles the Harvest of the River, Isai. 23.3. Such is the life of a true Christian, he doth not estimate his wealth, by the things in his own possession, but lives by faith, reckons upon a great stock going in another country, is richer in obligations and pro∣mises, Page 35 then he is in present graces. There is a mutu¦all trust between God and him, 1. He takes upon trust; receives from God many talents of time, health, wealth, power, wisdome, learning, grace, precepts, and improves them to his Masters ser∣vice, Matth. 25.16, 17. 1 Tim. 6.20.2. He gives upon Trust, lends to the Lord, Prov. 19.17. de∣dicates his merchandise to the Lord, Isai. 23.18. Trusts God with his Name and Innocency, as Ioseph did, as Christ did, 1. Pet. 2.23. with his life and in∣terests, as David did, Psal. 31.3: 15. 1 Sam. 30.6. with his children, as Iacob, did Gen. 43.13, 14. with his soul, as Paul did, 2 Tim. 1.12. He is not anxiously solicitous how to escape this danger; how to repaire this losse; how to advance this gain; how to recover the hundred Talents; he knowes that God is a Father full of love, an heavenly Father full of power, an omniscient Father full of provi∣dence; if his eye see our wants, and his heart pitty them, and his treasures abound towards them, how can his hand forbear to supply them?
Lastly, a wise Merchant is very exact in his Books of account, Preserving a distinct knowledge of his gains and losses; his improvements, or de∣cayes. Such is the care of a wise Christian to ac∣quaint himself with his spiritual estate, to make his calling and election sure, 2 Pet. 1.10. to prove whe∣ther he be in the faith, 1 Cor. 1•.5. to examine how hissoul prospers, to preserve his peace of Con∣science, and interest in the love of God: He shall ne∣ver have overmuch work to do, who is daily doing something. There is something in it that the Laver Page 36 of Brass, is said to have been made of looking glas∣ses, Exod. 38.8. seeing of our faces, and, acquaint∣ance with our estates, is a good preparation to the cleansing of our selves. I thought in my wayes, and turned, saith David, Psal. 119.59. Let us search and try our wayes and turn to the Lord our God, saith the Church, Law 40.
To conclude all, The life of a merchant in order unto gain stands in these four things. In wisdome, and forecast to contrive; in labour to transact busi∣ness; in patience, to wait; and in thriftiness to pre∣serve what his labours gain: So our Christian Mer∣chant labours, 1. For that wisdome which is unto salvation, 2 Tim. 3.15. which is the foundation of all duties, Col. 1.9, 10, considers the field wherein the treasure is, and buyes it, Prov 31.16.2. He prose∣cutes the dictates of spiritual wisdom, with a work of faith, and labour of love. It is not empty wish∣ings, and velleities, yawning & drowsie desires that can make a merchant or a christian rich; much pains must be taken with an evill heart, with a sluggish spirit, with a stubborn will, with impotent passions▪ with strong lusts, with active enemies. 3. He endures with patince, gives not over the trade of Piety, if his expectations be not presently answered, but by patient continuance in well doing, comes to glory and honour at the last, Rom. 2.7. Heb. 10.37.4. He hides the word in his heart, stores up precepts, pro∣mises, examples, experiments; what with wisdome, labor, and patience he hath gotten, he doth with all care and diligence preserve, that he may go forward, and not backward, in his holy Profession.