The Christian’s Treasure.
Adapted from a Sermon By
All things are yours. 1 Cor 3:21
It is a peculiar delight of this apostle to survey the blessings we derive from Christ, and to run over the glories of the gospel in flowing language. At the end of 1 Corinthians Chapter 3, in verse 21, he sums up the privileges of the saints, and tells them, they have an interest in all things: "It does not become you, says he, to enter into parties, and to glory in any single man, no, not in Paul, Apollos, nor Cephas, for all things are yours, whether life or death, whether this world or the other, whether things present or things to come, all are yours."
To expand on this proposition, and to bring it down to some practical purposes, let us consider,
I. What we are to understand by this extensive privilege of true Christians, contained in this expression; All things are yours; and what is the true limitation of the sense of it.
II. It will be proved, that despite the limited sense of these words, yet the saints have a richer treasure in them, than the greatest riches of a sinner.
III. We look into how Christians come to possess such a treasure. And,
IV. See what use may be made of this doctrine.
First, What are we to understand by this expression, All things are yours? To answer this question clearly, we have to start with these two negatives.
1 . We are not to suppose here that all things are in the possession of true Christians, and under their power. This truth everyone can see, that the saints have neither heaven nor earth in their present possession. The sun and stars are not at their command, nor the riches of this world in their chests, nor the kingdoms of this world under their government. No, by no means, for they are often poor and lowly in this world, many of them destitute of the common basic necessities, and the comforts of life. Christ himself, their Lord and Master, had nowhere to lay his head: And the apostles, who were the chief of Christians, suffered "hunger and thirst,” and were “poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless" 1 Cor. 4. 11.
2. And as all things are not in their possession, so neither are we to understand that all things in a civil sense are their right and property. They do not have a just claim and demand of the good things which their neighbours possess, nor ought they to take possession of them, though they had power to do it. It is a very wicked principle which has no support from Scripture, and has been abused to most unrighteous and bloody purposes, that dominion is founded in grace, or that the saints have a present civil right to all the earth, and the good things of it.
History sadly witnesses how from this sort of doctrine, some furiously zealous men have been tempted to rise and seize on the property of their neighbours. And indeed, all the persecution in the world upon the account of religion, is built on this principle, "that the saints alone have a right to peace and liberty, to honour and money, and all the good things of this life; and that the heretic and the sinner have no right to anything." And though persecutors are very much ashamed to admit this doctrine in words, yet they have confirmed it, and commented upon it, in all their oppressive and bloody practices.
But the Christian religion knows no such principles; it allows every man's property and interest in the goods of this world, whether he be a Moslem or a Jew, a heathen or a Christian, a saint or a sinner. It is providence that disposes of these outward things in the civil life, and men become entitled to them, by the laws and agreement of civil society: And thus a rich wicked man may righteously own a fine house, may have a well-spread table, and large lands, and dominions, while a saint may happen to lie at his door destitute of bread and clothing.
But in what sense then can it be said, that "all things are theirs?"
To give a just answer to this question, we have to notice, that the apostle's first purpose here, is to show, that believers need not be so eager of assuming to themselves a peculiar interest in one minister or another, for they may enjoy the gifts of all; all are for their sakes: And from this single hint he rises high into the privileges of the saints. Not ministers only, as Paul and Cephas, are designed for their benefit; but all are theirs: All things in heaven or earth, in time, or in eternity, are appointed to do some service to them. This therefore we can take to be the true sense of our text, that is to say. "That all things in God’s creation, all things in all his vast dominions, which a Christian can or will at any time have to do with, will as certainly serve to promote his true interest, and his final happiness, as though he himself had sovereign dominion over them, or presently possessed them." Always supposing that the Christian maintains his character, and acts in his given roles with the dignity becoming of his holy and heavenly calling.
The plain meaning of the words is, that all things will work for the good of the saints. But the apostle chooses to express this in a noble way here, and by such an exalted figure of speech as magnifies the character of the saints, and raises their dignity: And therefore he represents them as having a property in all things, and speaks sublimely of them, as though they were possessors of heaven and earth.
Now the ground on which he builds this manner of speaking, may easily be explained. We can properly be said to possess nothing but what turns to our account, what is of some service or advantage to us; and therefore, in the common language of life, we say, concerning a rich covetous man, "he is a poor wretch, he has nothing, because he receives benefit from so small a part of his estate: And in truth, he has no more than he enjoys or uses." Now the true Christian reaps the benefit of all things; and God, the great God, the possessor of heaven and earth, makes all things work together for the benefit of his people; and in this sense it is that all things are theirs.
All things will turn to their advantage, either, 1. for the support and comfort of their temporal life; or, 2. for the beginning and improvement of their spiritual life; or, 3. for their possession and enjoyment of life eternal.
But instead of collecting all the treasures and riches of the saints under these three general headings, we will rather paraphrase the whole verse of our text, and in this way discover the interest that a Christian has in the persons and things of earth and heaven. "Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours."
I. The ministers of the gospel are yours.
Is Paul appointed an apostle, separated to the gospel by the immediate call of Christ? it is for your sakes, O you Corinthians, that he was chosen and called! Christ had you in his eye, and upon his heart, when he stopped him in the midst of his fury and persecution; when he overwhelmed him with glory, in the road to Damascus; and from a persecutor, made an apostle of him, and a preacher of the cross of Jesus: For he purposed then to send him to Corinth, to call you from heathenism, and to save your souls.
Is Paul a man of learning and of great intellect? Is he endowed with profound knowledge of divine mysteries above his brethren? Is he fit to preach for the conversion of the heathen world, and to write the great things of God for the church in all future ages? It is for your sakes, O Christians, that he is thus endowed: It is for you, O believers in Canada, though you live as it were at the ends of the earth, and in the old age of the world; it is even for you that he was appointed and inspired to write his epistles to Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus, and the rest of the early churches. It is by his writings that you have been enlightened in the mysteries of Christ, and the wonders of the gospel. More than two thousand years ago he was made the apostle of the gentiles, and that partly for your sakes. Paul himself is yours.
Was Apollos an elegant man, and mighty in the scriptures? It was for you, O primitive Christians, that he had the gift of eloquence bestowed on him. Has any minister in our age and locality a peculiar talent of eloquence, does he a liveliness and a strength of expression, a pleasant accent, and a commanding voice? It is designed for the conviction and salvation of your souls. Can he thunder like the voice of God on mount Sinai, and flash the terrors of the law, like lightning, upon your consciences? It is to awaken you out of your carnal slumber and security in sin, to make you fly from the wrath to come, and cry out, What shall I do to be saved? Can he set the blessings of salvation in a glorious and convincing light? It is to persuade you to accept them. Has he the art of striking the passions, and touching the inward springs of the soul? Can he spread the invitations of grace before you, in alluring language? It is all designed as a means, in the hands of the Spirit, to melt your hearts to repentance, and to soften your souls to receive the impressions of the gospel. Has he the holy skill of displaying the glories of our blessed Saviour? Can he set off the miracles of his life? Can he talk of his bleeding and his dying love in the most moving manner? Can he paint him in the honours of his resurrection, his triumph and his exalted state, in most magnificent colours? It is all for the assistance of your faith, the kindling of your love, and the advancement of your joy. Not Paul only, but Apollos is yours.
Is Cephas or Peter a man of boldness and courage to defend the truths of the gospel, or to speak for Christ amongst infidels? It is to lead you onward as the soldiers of Christ, through the midst of dangers, and to encourage you to face the persecuting world bravely in the profession of the cross.
Or is the character of Cephas, as an instructor of the young, and a condescending preacher to infants? He has this talent given him for your sakes too, to feed you, while you were infants in Christ, with the sincere milk of the word, to set before you the first principles of the oracles of God, and assist you to learn the rudiments of Christianity, before you were fit to receive the more exalted doctrines, and be fed with more substantial food. And so not only Paul and Apollos, but Cephas is yours.
All the officers in the church, both ordinary and extraordinary, are appointed for your sakes. It is for you that Christ ascended on high, and gave gifts to men. Read and believe it; Eph. 4. 11, 12. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
And as the gifts and graces of the ministers of the gospel are designed for the benefit of the church, so also their outward circumstances, their sorrows, and their joys, are ordained for the advantage of Christians: And the apostle Paul rejoices in it; 2 Cor. 1. 3, 4, 6. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God; If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
And so whatever be the characters, or the talents, or the circumstances of life that accompany your ministers, (in our case Isaac Watts and our other guides of the past) they are ordained of God for some valuable purposes to you.
II. This world is yours. Not only the ministers of the gospel, but the world, and the things of it are yours. It is for your sakes, believers in Christ, that the world stands! For when sin entered into it by Adam, the first man, there was a curse spread over it; and perhaps immediate destruction would have followed, but for the sake of the children of God, who were appointed to be born in successive ages, amongst the posterity of Adam, among the children of men. It is for the sake of the elect, who were given to Christ before the world was, that this earth and these lower heavens are sustained in their being. This earth exists as a stage of action, proper for a state of trial for the saints; and when the last saint is born, and his state of trial is finished, the world and the works of it will be burned up together.
It is for you, believer in Christ, that this earth, rolls round in its daily and yearly courses, and the sun and the moon send out their brighter or paler beams, to light you onward in your way to glory. The morning breaks for you to give you daylight, that you may work for God: And the evening spreads its long thick shadows over the nations, to determine a time for your rest and refreshment. The darkness and the light are yours, during your time in the flesh. When all your work here is done, these lower heavens will be folded up like an old garment, as a garment they will be changed; they will flee away and be no more.
Survey the trees and the fields, how they produce food for you. The beasts of the earth grow and are nourished for your convenience; they were born and live, and die for your support and nourishment. The winds blow to purge the air for you, and to keep it wholesome, while God has appointed you to breathe it in. The fountains bubble, and the rivers flow to quench your thirst. Flax and wool are ordained for your covering, and the silk-worm is set to his shining task, that some of your garments may be soft and comfortable: The beasts of the earth are at peace with you, and you are in league with the stones of the field; Job 5. 23. Happy and glorious is the state of the children of God!
Christ, in his providential management of all things in this world, has a special eye on his own people. The wicked of the earth who dwell among the saints, obtain a share in the common good things of life, mainly as they are instruments of the providence of Christ, for some known or unknown benefit to his church.
It might also be said, that if you are indeed true believers, then though your ungodly neighbours may have a rightful civil property in many good things of the world, yet you have a better and sweeter interest in the earthly blessings which you possess. You can taste the love of a father in them, and the kindness of a reconciled God. They are common benefits to the world, but they are made as it were special blessings to you. They are put into your hand by a better covenant: They are sanctified to your use: The world itself becomes a means to raise your hearts towards God. And whereas wealth, and honours, and the plentiful enjoyments of life, become a temptation and a snare to the wicked; and, through the corruption of their natures, divide their souls from God and heaven, the same things are made happy instruments in the hand of the Mediator, to equip you for eminent service, and to help you onward to a better world.
III. Life and death are yours. Life, with all its comforts, or even with all its difficulties and vexations, it is still designed for your advantage: And death, as terrible as it is in itself, will appear to be a benefit to you. But this we will pass over for now since it will be the subject of the second part of this sermon.
IV. Things present, whether visible or invisible, and things to come, are all yours.
1. Present visible things are yours.
We have seen in part already, how the wheels of nature are rolling for you. This lower creation stands and moves for your sakes, for your relief and support, while you are travelling to heaven. The present posture of things in this world, the daily scenes of life are continued or changed, and still over ruled by divine Providence for your good. Kingdoms, and laws, and governments, are established among men for your safety: If the world were without all government, and all things run into confusion, the saints, with all their earthly comforts, would become the plunder and property of the wicked continually. The princes of the earth, and the political constitutions of nations, are designed to be a screen and defence to the people of God, who dwell among them: For if these foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11. 3.
The wicked world bend their bow, and make ready their arrow on the string; and they would not only in private, but publicly shoot at the upright in heart; verse 2. There would be neither life nor safety for a Christian. Yet, on the other hand, when Christ, in the course of his providence, brings confusion on states and kingdoms, and when he allows the wicked of the earth, like wild beasts of the wilderness, to spoil, devour, and destroy, it is usually designed by his wisdom as a season of proper trial for his own people, and that country becomes a scene of their glorious sufferings. Christ, who is head over all things, sets up and pulls down tyrants or good princes, as may best serve the counsels of his Father's mercy, and his own kind designs for his chosen and redeemed people.
And as the whole world of nature, and the present affairs of nations are managed by Christ for the good of the church, so the world of grace, and the affairs of his sanctuary, and his kingdoms on earth, are all ordained for the benefit of the saints. Christians, why did he separate you from the world, and call you out of the wilderness, and make you a chosen nation, a peculiar people? Was it not for your advantage? Why did he write his word? Why did he ordain ministers and holy institutions? Was it not for your edification? Were not the seals of the covenant given to assist your faith, by the aid of your senses, and by this means to inflame your love, and exalt your joy? Are not the precepts of the word written to direct you in the way of duty? Are not the threatenings pronounced to awaken your fear, and guard you from sin and folly? And are not all the promises of the gospel given to comfort your souls, to support your spirits, and give a sweet taste of glory beforehand?
Whatever may be your circumstances in this present life, whether they are painful or pleasant, they are all the appointed by your heavenly Father for your real interest. Are you at peace in the midst of plenty, and does everything around you smile upon you? It is that your hearts maybe raised to thankfulness, and your lips tuned to praise. Do you labour under pain or sickness? It is to wean you from flesh and blood, to remind you, that this earthly body is falling, to awaken your hearts to insure a better dwelling place in heaven. Do you lack food or clothing? It is to make you remember that you are in the wilderness, and to call your meditations upward to your Father's house, where there is bread enough, and to spare. Are you scorned and reviled by the basest of men? Are you persecuted, or imprisoned and treated with rudeness or cruelty? It is to test and prove your suffering graces, that your faith, courage, and patience may shine as gold that has passed through the furnace; are you called to seal the truth and testimony of Jesus with your blood? It is to prepare you for the crowns of glory that are laid up for martyrs.
This thought leads us onward in the survey of this rich inventory of a Christian, and carries our thoughts into the invisible regions, and into the far distant future.
2. Not things present only in this visible world, but things invisible in other worlds are also yours, and were appointed for your benefit. These are numbered by the apostle among the riches and possessions of the saints.
Is there a heaven built on high, with many palaces of light in it? They were built and furnished for your reception. It is the inheritance of the saints in light; Col. 1. 12. Are there mansions of unknown glory, well prepared by our Lord Jesus Christ, since his ascent to heaven? He assures us in his last words, that they are prepared for you; John 14. 2, 3. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. Each of these mansions stands waiting for those saints, for whom they are provided; and they are all adorned with rich and magnificent furniture, in the perfect beauty of holiness.
The angels, in their shining orders, are ordained to be your attendants: Those holy inhabitants of the upper blessed world, encamp around those who fear the Lord; Psalm 34. 7. and are appointed as guards to his children, by their heavenly Father. Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?; Heb. 1. 14. They wait upon your dying beds, and convey your souls to the Abraham’s side. Luke 16. 22. Happy souls, who have so illustrious a guard, so secure a convoy to the far distant and unknown regions of light and joy!
The very hell that is provided to punish impenitent sinners, though we cannot say it was built for you, Christians, yet it has been of glorious and terrible service, to awaken your souls out of a natural and guilty state. When the Spirit of God, in the ministry of his word, has opened the mouth of hell, and brought the flashes of that furnace into your face; it has awakened your consciences in time past, and driven you to seek refuge in the arms of Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. Thus hell itself is constrained to pay a tribute towards the salvation of the saints.
And the devils themselves who dwell there, with all their fiery temptations, have been but as underworkers for our final good; they are as slaves to Christ, the great refiner, who designed to purify your souls by those very methods of temptation, which those evil spirits made use of on purpose to destroy you. Thus the ministers of divine wrath to sinners are become instruments of your benefit. When Satan has desired to sift you like wheat, Christ has prayed for you that your faith may not fail; Luke 22. 31, 32. and he has taken care that by this sifting you might be purified, that nothing might fly away but the empty chaff; that you might appear in the sight of Christ as purer corn. Now if hell, and the wicked inhabitants of it, may be constrained to serve your interest, and to promote your happiness, surely there is nothing in all the creation, but may turn to your advantage. O divine privilege, when the creatures that are under the deserved curse of God, are thus made to promote your blessedness!
3. But not only present invisible things, but even all future unseen things are yours too. The morning of the resurrection is appointed for your glory; and the great trumpet is put into the hands of the archangel, to awaken your sleeping dust into immortality. Jesus the Lord himself shall descend from heaven to call you from the grave: And though you were dead, you will hear the voice of the Son of God and live; John 5. 35. The great day of judgment, and all the solemnities of it, are ordained for your honour, to publish your victories over sin and Satan, before the face of the whole creation, to pronounce you openly acquitted and justified before men and angels, to proclaim you the sons and daughters of the Most High God, and determine your state to everlasting blessedness.
Are there crowns of infinite value laid up in heaven? Are there rewards of glory there, immense rewards, and of endless duration? It is to crown your labours, your conflicts, your Christian race; it is to reward your sufferings, your patience, and your conquest: And the day of glory is stretched out to all everlasting, that your happiness may know no end. Thus things present, and things to come are all yours; and there is nothing in time or eternity, which can come within the reach or notice, but in some of these senses will serve your interest, and turn to your advantage. This is the genuine sense, and this the true limitation of these words, all things are yours.
The second thing proposed this morning, was to prove, that notwithstanding the limited sense of these words, yet the true Christian has a richer treasure in them, than all the worldly wealth of the sinner. And though the examples could be multiplied, the proof of it will sufficiently appear in these four things.
I. The treasure of the meanest saint is vastly more large and extensive, than that of the richest sinner. Let the wicked man point to his heaps of money, and run over the names of his farms and manors, and call himself the lord and master of them all; it is but a narrow and poor survey, that a few pieces of shining earth can give us; or the fields that lie within the prospect of a kilometer or two, when compared with this vast and universal treasure, all things are yours! It is true, Christians, that you have not the civil property and power over the earth, or the heavens; but you receive a divine advantage from all things, and that is more than the sinner can say concerning any one thing that he possesses in the way of civil property.
II. This treasure of the saints is more secure, and more durable, than any thing that a sinner enjoys; therefore the apostle calls the wealth of this world, uncertain riches, that cannot be trusted in; 1 Tim. 6. 17. Riches make to themselves wings, and fly away as an eagle toward heaven; Prov. 23. 5. and leave the owner poor and destitute: Many a wealthy man, who flourished yesterday in abundance of ease and plenty, may be stripped of all tomorrow, and come into great need. Whatever possessions are built upon the foundations of civil property, may be taken away from the saint or the sinner, by robbing and plunder, by cheating and betrayal, by floods, or the rage of fire, or by the invasion of a foreign enemy; but the beneficial interest that a Christian has in all things, is preserved to him by the covenant of grace. He may be stripped of all earthly possessions, but the loss of his temporal estate will turn to his real benefit, as well as the possession of it. Losses and crosses, as well as plenty and peace, are numbered among the items of his inventory, and make up his treasure; so that though the outward scenes of things on earth are perpetually changing, his real and everlasting treasure is the same; for all things that appear in nature, that occur in present providence, or will arise in future ages, will work for his advantage: He may lose money or lands as well as a sinner; but that very loss will turn to his gain.
This sort of treasure he cannot be dispossessed of by death itself, for when he leaves his connection to all visible things in this lower world, he enters into a new world of spirits, which he has never seen; and yet all things in that world are his too: All things in those unknown regions, where the departing spirit goes, are promised to the saint, by the same covenant as the things of this world; they will all administer some divine profit to him, and be a part of his happiness in the world to come.
III. This treasure of a Christian is ever growing, at least in the possession; for the occurrences of every day make some addition to it; whereas the wealth of sinners diminishes with using. The largest earthly estate may be wasted: Money decreases daily by procuring the necessities of life; but a Christian's treasure still grows. He lives upon it every day, and yet it grows still.
The providences of God here on earth, present us every day with some new affairs, new occurrences: Whether they are pleasant or painful, still the spiritual man finds his interest in them; and when he reviews his account in the evening, if his heart has been in a proper state, he may count himself gainer. He has possessed and enjoyed the very crosses and sorrows of his former days: He has treasured up a store of divine experiences, in the midst of plenty and want, health and sickness: New scenes of life arise, new appearances of things; he is still like the bee, ready to gather pollen from every flower that blows: He gathers his food and his riches from unappetizing weeds, as well as from the blossoms of perfume: If he is by this means adding daily to the number and strength of his graces and virtues, he is, as it were, treasuring up a good foundation for time to come, and, it may be said, adding beauties and ornaments to his robes of glory, and lustre to his heavenly crown.
IV. This large inheritance of a Christian is all sanctified, which is more than can be said of any part of a sinner's estate. The riches of this world may be abused in luxury and debauchery, and be used in iniquity and lead to all kinds of troubles. They may be abused to profaneness and impiety, to dishonour God, and corrupt the conversation of men, and to ruin their souls forever: But this large and extensive treasure of a Christian is designed for his real happiness, as well as for the honour of his God; whatever he has to do with in the world, he uses it to the glory of his God, to the honour of his Saviour, to the benefit of his fellow-creatures, and to his own noble advantage. And concerning this sacred treasure, it may be said, that it is the property, or in the possession of a Christian, no farther than it is sanctified to him, or than he receives it with a sanctified mind. To the pure, all things are pure: Tit. 1. 15. for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer; 1 Tim. 4. 5. The exercise of piety among the saints, puts a sort of consecration upon all creatures, so far as they use or enjoy them.
And so it is made sufficiently evident, that the treasure of a saint vastly excels all the richest possessions of a sinner.
God willing, the next time we return to this sermon we will consider the third heading proposed, which was to show, how a Christian comes to be made heir and possessor of all things. Let us therefore come to a close this morning with this one reflection:
Reflection.—How unreasonable is it for a Christian to forsake his profession, or his practice, for anything which this world can tempt him with! For his treasures and enjoyments are already greater than anything he can hope for in the ways of sin.
What a powerful motive may be drawn from this, to persevere in faith and holiness! Believer in Christ, all things are yours; everything you interact with will turn to your benefit; this world, and the other, things present and things to come, life and death are yours.
What valuable pretences can the world make, to tempt you to lose this inheritance, to abandon these hopes, and to part with these possessions? Can you, by complying with any temptation, provide yourself with such riches as these; or with anything that will compensate for the loss of them? Sin and the world can promise you but a little narrow share of good things: The gospel of Christ gives you a most extensive treasure, for it bestows all things upon you. The world can make nothing secure, but the treasures of Christianity are everlasting; they reach beyond the grave, into unknown worlds and ages. All the wealth, and pleasures, and enjoyments of this life perish with the using; but your inheritance is ever increasing: As fast as time and providence produce days, and seasons, and new scenes, so fast this treasure grows; and you may receive the daily profit of it. What can sin and the world give you but what has a secret curse in it? These your treasures are sanctified blessings, and the foretastes of them are designed to assist you onward in the ways of holiness and peace, until you arrive at the brightest and sweetest part of them, the full enjoyment of God and happiness in the upper world.
Go on then, Christians, with zeal and courage in the profession of your faith: Go on with constancy in the practice of duty: Feed daily upon that portion of your inheritance, which your heavenly Father appoints to sustain you in your travels homeward; and expect the rest in your Father's house. When the world would tempt you to forego your sacred interest in the gospel, by the alluring offer of any temporal enjoyments, tell the world, that life and death, things present and things to come, are yours already: Let the world know that Christ has engaged and secured your heart forever to himself, by outbidding all that the world can offer; for he has written down and sealed your title to a larger and richer inheritance, and annexed it to his own: You are joint heirs with Christ. And he has appointed it to stand recorded in his holy book to the view of men and angels, that all things are yours.
The Recollection.—And is it possible that creatures as worthless as we are, should be really entitled to all these blessings? Can it be true, that so rich an interest in the good things of time and eternity belongs to us? Who in the days of sin and ignorance have abused all things to the dishonour of God? Who have provoked his justice to strip us of all the common blessings of nature and life, and to make us forever poor and miserable? Is the mercy of God so vast and overflowing, as not only to forgive these provocations, and to admit us into his favour, but to bless us also, who have put our faith in his Son, with so rich an inheritance?
Let us then fall down in worship at the foot of sovereign and all-sufficient grace. Remember our guilt, our poverty, and our wretchedness, and be ever humble before God our infinite benefactor. Mourn over all our unworthiness, and maintain a constant attitude of penitent love, and self-abasing gratitude. We deserve to be cut off forever from the house of God, from his family, and from all the blessings of his children: But he has called us to the knowledge of his Son Jesus, he has taught us to lay hold on the arm of his salvation, he has made us willing in the day of his power to renounce every sin, to subject ourselves to his sceptre of righteousness, and to accept the grace of his gospel. He has opened the treasures of his love, treasures that contain in them the good things of earth and heaven, things visible and invisible, things present and things to come: And while these treasures were displayed before us, in the voice of his gospel he has told us, All is yours.
Would that our faith would grow, to survey this inheritance! to rejoice in this amazing goodness of the Most High! to read the blessed language of this text, and to believe it with a humble claim and personal possession! Surely here is enough for faith to live upon, through all the remaining years of our pilgrimage, and our hope, until faith will be turned into perfect sight, and hope into full and final enjoyment. No believer could ever exchange his portion with the richest sinner on earth: His interests are more extensive than the largest earthly estate. Earthly gold and silver, houses and lands, can reach no farther than this world and time; but the believer’s inheritance runs into eternity, and his enjoyment of it has no end.
His treasures are secure against all the invasions and plunder of enemies, against all the rage of the winds, and waves, and fire; against all the confusions of the world, against all the overwhelming changes of time and nature; even against death itself, and the final, great day. These lower heavens may be dissolved, the elements may melt with fervent heat, and the earth, and the works thereof, with all the fields, and the palaces, and the treasure of it, may be burned up, but the believer’s inheritance stands forever secure, for God himself, who is the original Creator and possessor of all things, has secured life and happiness to him in his covenant: He has secured a possession of every thing that can be necessary to his children’s happiness, or to their eternal life.
Would that we were taught to enjoy these blessings daily! and to observe the daily additions that are made to our treasures, by all the new scenes of providence that are ever rising! May we be instructed to make a sanctified improvement of them all, and thus add something hourly to our best interest, to our everlasting hope! May life itself, with all the daily comforts and crosses of it, minister to us some sacred meditations, some holy and heavenly thoughts! May a divine consecration come down on all our affairs and concerns in this present state! and by a wise improvement of all those parcels of our inheritance, which our heavenly Father puts into our hands here on earth, may we be trained up and grow fitter daily for those brighter talents, those more glorious enjoyments, which he keeps in reserve for his children, when time shall be no more!