The Christian’s Treasure.
Adapted from a Sermon By
All things are yours. 1 Cor 3:21
This morning we come to the second part of Isaac Watt’s sermon titled The Christian’s Treasure where he highlights the great comfort and encouragements which can be drawn from the words of 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 21:
All that a wise man could wish for in order to make him happy, the gospel proposes, to encourage the faith and practice of Christians. Whatever honour there is to be enjoyed here on earth that is taken to satisfy men’s ambition, the gospel assures us of higher honours than this, when it makes us the sons of God. Whatever sensual pleasures there are to be tasted here below, the gospel invites us to more refined, and more lasting pleasures, which are to be derived from the love of God, and the company of our Saviour with all his saints. Whatever are the riches that can be possessed or desired by the most covetous mind, the gospel proposes a far more extensive, a more durable, and more useful treasure, when it tells us in the words of our text, all things are yours.
The first part of the sermon explained in what sense these words are to be understood: Not that we have a present possession of all things, a power over them, or a civil right to seize and enjoy them; but the meaning is this, that so far as a Christian can have anything to do with the things of this world, or of another, things present or to come, they will all be made to work together for his real good.
It has been also proved in the second place, that this inheritance of the saints is incomparably richer, and more valuable than anything which sinners can possess. We go on now to the
Third general matter proposed, and that is, to look into how Christians come to be partakers of so fair and rich a treasure.
I. It is the kind and eternal purpose of God their Father, that it should be so. Believers in Christ, God has created all things in the world of nature with this purpose, that you should derive some benefit from them, as far as they can come within your reach or notice, your service or use: He appointed all things in the counsels of his providence, to bear some blessing for you. He has ordained all things in his kingdom of grace for your advantage; and there are unknown regions of light and glory which he has provided for you. His elect were ever nearest to his heart, next to the man Christ Jesus, next to his only-begotten Son; for they were all chosen in him before the foundation of the world; Eph. 1. 4. Whether creation or providence, whether nature, grace or glory, all things are for your sakes; 2 Cor. 4. 15.
This again is not to be taken as though God made every particular creature in the upper and the lower worlds, only to give the possession of them to the saints, or that he manages all his providential kingdom, merely for the sake of his own people without any other view. No, this is stretching the words to far and unreasonably; for there are millions of creatures, millions of plants and animals in earth and sea, that are born, and grow, and live, and die again, which the saints of God never saw, nor know, nor will know: nor can they receive any immediate benefit from them. But the meaning is this, that all things whatsoever the saints can or will have to do with in this or other worlds, were intended to yield some profit to them, and especially while they maintain their character as the children of God, and walk as conforms to their dignity and their profession. In all God's general counsels of creation, and providence, and grace, he kept his eye, as it were, still upon his saints: He designed their good in ten thousand instances, in his great and glorious works, and resolved that nothing in all his kingdoms should interfere with their last and best interest.
Though what he has written down in the book of his decrees, is only read in depth by his Son Christ Jesus, yet he has written out a sweet abstract of it in the book of his promises, that the saints on earth might read and know it; Rom. 8. 28. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. It was for their sakes the promises were written, that they might have not only a present enjoyment of divine blessings, but a sweet foretaste of joys long to come. The blessings of the children of God were numbered up, and written down originally for them, in the book of God's everlasting counsels; and in the book of his word he has copied out for them, the blessings of heaven from above, and of the deep from beneath; the precious things brought forth by the sun, and under the influence of the moon; the chief things of the ancient mountains on earth, so far as is needful for them here, and the precious things of the everlasting hills of paradise hereafter.
Does the great Creator and Lord of all keep the wheels of nature steadily turning? It is for his people's good. The stars in their courses will fight for Israel: Or does he override nature in any of its motions, and command the sun stand still in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Aijalon? It is that the armies of his people may have long daylight, to subdue their enemies. Hail-stones and thunder will break out of the clouds to destroy the Canaanites, when Israel is at war with them: But if Israel lacks bread in the wilderness, the clouds will drop down manna, and give them bread from heaven.
The Lord gave up Egypt with her armies to the waves of the Red-sea, for the ransom and redemption of his people: He gave Ethiopia and Seba to the sword for the safety of his servant Jacob. Isaiah 43. 4. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. And it is no wonder that God has given all things to his children, since he has given himself to them, and told them, I am your God: It is no wonder he has bestowed all other things upon them, since he has bestowed his Son upon them: His own, his only Son, who is dearer to him than all of creation; Rom. 8. 32. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
II. The saints have an interest in all things, for Christ is made Lord over all things for his people's good; Eph. 1. 22. God put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church. Thus the names of the saints are, as it were, inserted into that divine decree that exalts and constitutes Christ Lord of all.
And indeed, Christ has not only a right to all things by the mere donation of the Father, but it may be said, he has purchased all things for his own honour, and his people's good. Because he was obedient to death, therefore God has so highly exalted him; Phil. 2. 8. and made him Lord both of the dead and of the living; Rom. 14. 9. And perhaps it is in this sense, that the inheritance of the saints may be called the acquired possession; Eph. 1. 14.
Now, believer in Christ, since all the affairs of nature, grace, and glory, are put into the hands of such a friend in trust for you, that they may be managed and used for your advantage, it is as well, indeed, it is much better than if all things were at present in your possession, that is, under your present state of weakness and folly; for his wisdom and goodness will govern all for your truest interest. You are Christ's, so the apostle expresses it in the verse next to our text. And Christ, who has all in his hands, will take care of you who are his own.
Christ is made heir of all things; Heb. 1. 2. And if you belong to Christ, then you are heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; Rom. 8. 17. And the express promise of the Father confirms it, that all things are yours; Rev. 21. 7. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son; 1 Cor. 12. 27. You are the body of Christ, and Col 1. 18. Christ is the head. Now the members must in their measure become sharers of what the head possesses. In your proportion, believer in Christ, you will have communion with Christ your Lord, in his royalties and his wide dominion; for he has promised that you will sit down on his throne, when you have overcome your enemies, even as he overcame, and has sat down on the throne with his Father; Rev. 3. 21. You are one with Christ, and therefore in your measure, believer in Christ, and according to your capacity, you will possess and enjoy all things which he possesses, so far as is necessary for your benefit in this world, and your truest happiness forever.
III. The saints are actually brought into this privilege, by believing on the Son of God, by accepting the covenant of his grace, by receiving Christ Jesus the Saviour, according to the appointed methods of the gospel. When a poor, destitute, guilty, and perishing creature is made willing by divine grace, to give himself up to Christ as his Saviour and his Lord, he is released of his guilt, he is clothed with the robes of salvation, he is translated out of a state of sin, poverty, and wretchedness, into a state of rich grace, and becomes a child of God, and an heir of all things. A living faith which has all the springs of holiness in it, is ordained to carry in it all the springs of treasure and happiness. This unites the soul to Christ, this gives a humble claim to all the blessings laid up in the eternal decrees and purposes of God; blessings purchased by the blood of his Son Jesus; blessings promised in the word of the gospel, wherein all things are given for a possession to the children of the Most High.
IV. All things may be said to belong to the saints, or will turn to their advantage, because the blessed Spirit is given them, to teach them to improve all things for their own benefit; 1 Cor. 2. 12. We have received—the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God: And that, not only that Christians might know what their treasures are, but learn how to make a right use of them too. They are taught by the Holy Spirit, to receive the common blessings of nature from the hands of God, as a Father and a Friend, and a God in covenant: And they rejoice in them as such, with humble thankfulness; they are instructed to derive useful meditations from the sun, moon, and stars; and to read the wisdom, the power, and the glory of their Creator and their Father there, and to rejoice in his goodness. The peaceful state of kingdoms, or battles, wars and earthquakes, and the convulsion of nations, are all made useful lessons to a child of God; and he gains something from all of them, by the teachings of the blessed Spirit.
The saints are led into an understanding of the word of God by the same Spirit too: They receive the promises and directions of the gospel, through the influences of this Spirit. They derive light, holiness and comfort from every part of the book of God; that is, from the law and the prophets, the histories and the epistles, and from all the ordinances of the church: He teaches them to borrow some food and comfort from Moses and David, as well as from Peter and John. He leads them through the sweet fields of gospel grace, and directs them to gather many a flower there for their refreshment, and to feed on the fruit of the tree of life for their support. He shows them how to profit by the ministry of a Paul, and to learn the deep mysteries of Christ: He impresses on their souls the warm and pathetic words of an Apollos, and by this fires their hearts with zeal and love: He teaches his younger disciples over again the first lessons of grace, which a Cephas had just taught them. Thus Paul and Apollos, and Cephas are theirs.
He instructs them how to interact with invisible and future things by faith, and to make use of the unseen and distant glories of eternity for their present comfort and joy. It is the God of hope, who by his Spirit fills them with all peace and joy in believing; Rom. 15. 13. And it might also be added, that the holy Spirit is given them, and dwells in them as a guarantee of their inheritance of all things until they acquire possession of it, that is, until it will be redeemed, and they be freed from all the present incumbrances of sin and Satan; Eph. 1. 13, 14. Then in a joyful hour will this purchased possession be disclosed in the most perfect light, and proclaimed to be the property of the saints.
To sum it up all in a few words, a Christian's interest in all things is well founded, and well confirmed. They are his by the original purpose of God the Father, when he created all things; it was his design that his chosen people should benefit from them. They are his by the appointment of divine providence, that all things will work together for his good. They are his, for Christ the Son of God has purchased a dominion over all things, that he may manage them for the service of his redeemed ones. They are his, because the Spirit teaches him to derive some advantage from all things by faith and holy meditation. God has given himself to the saints as their portion forever: He has given his own Son for them as a ransom from death; he has given his Spirit to them, as the principle of their life: And in this view, we may rise in the language of faith, and say in the words of the blessed apostle, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things; Rom. 8. 32.
And so having considered in what sense all things are yours, and upon what foundations this glorious privilege is built, we go on in the
Last place, to consider what use may be made of this address.
First Use. It proclaims a word of mourning and terror to obstinate and impenitent sinners.
Are all things made beneficial to the saints? Think with yourselves then what you lose, because you are not of that number. If you live and die in this sinful state, you have a comfortable interest in nothing: Nothing works for your real benefit. Your abuse of all things that you have anything to do with, takes away the true pleasure and enjoyment of what you possess, and turns them into a curse to you instead of a blessing. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or this world, or life or death, or things present, or things to come, nothing is yours; for you are not Christ's. And you will reap no final and lasting advantage from anything if you persist in a sinful and impenitent state; for you are without God in the world, without Christ, and without hope.
Do you sit under the ministry of Paul, who spreads the glorious light of the gospel around you? But the god of this world has blinded your minds, that this divine light should not reach them: Even the preaching of Paul is a savour of death to you, if you live and die without the faith and love of Christ. Do you hear the zealous and pathetic language of Apollos? But your heart perhaps grows the harder under it: You resist the affectionate entreaties of the gospel, from the lips of that eloquent preacher. And even Apollos, whose soul is prone to melt with compassion for perishing sinners, will rise up in judgment against you. And as for the plain and earnest ministry of Peter, you despise the man and his sermons altogether; therefore you can get no benefit by them. Neither Paul, nor Apollos, nor Peter is yours.
Well, if spiritual things are not yours, you hope, however, that you have a property in earthly things: If the blessings of the church do not belong to you, yet you claim a good share in this world, and the blessings of it: You enjoy eating, you are well dressed, and you have wealth laid up in store for many years to come. Poor vain creatures! What is all your treasure? What is your possession of it? A sorry possession of lands, and a large estate, when not a clod of the earth, nor a penny of the money will turn to your real and lasting benefit! You may well possess some of the good things of this world indeed. But your riches and plenty are not real and proper blessings while you are distant from Christ, and strangers to him: Your own unbelief and impenitence, and rebellion against God, turn all the comforts of the world into curses: It is only the grace of Christ that can take off the curse, and sanctify this world into a blessing.
Life is not yours; it is not for your final advantage, while you waste it in vanity and sinful amusements: A long life spent in this way, will only add to your guilt, and aggravate your condemnation.
Death is not a benefit, but a dreadful hour to you, for it delivers you over to the full power of Satan, that cruel tormentor, and opens the scene of your everlasting sorrows.
Things present are not blessings to you, while you resolve to continue in this sinful state. You abuse the daylight, and waste it in trifles or in crimes; or at best you spend it in an eager pursuit of the things of this world, while you neglect the things of God. The night is given to recruit nature for new services, but you seize the shadows of the evening to conceal your secret iniquities, and hide your sins in the darkness.
You feed on the fruits of the earth, and other rich provisions of divine bounty; but perhaps you make them instruments of shameful overindulgence: Or at best, you lay out the strength of them in empty follies, or in low earthly plans, without a thought of God or heaven. The morning and the evening wait upon you in long successions, but you are heaping up iniquities from morning to evening. You walk daily in the paths of death, and the rays of the sun do but light you onward to everlasting darkness. You are nourished by your food for the day of slaughter. Daily and hourly you abuse the goodness of God, and even these abused blessings of his goodness will call for greater degrees of vengeance at his awful judgment-seat. Thus neither the light of the sun, nor the fruits of the earth, neither day nor night, are yours; for you abuse them to sinful purposes, and they yield you no real profit.
And if things present are not yours, if you have no solid and lasting benefit by them, much less can you pretend to claim any comfortable share in the things that are to come. There is a heaven of happiness provided for the saints, but you are utterly unprepared to fulfil the business of it, or to taste the blessedness. There is no room nor place there for you. There is nothing glorious and delightful among all the promises of God, or all the joyful scenes of the world to come that you can claim any title to, nor have you any interest in them. When hell will open its mouth indeed, to receive millions of the damned, according to the final sentence of the Judge, there you will find a place and room provided for you; but it is a troubled and dreadful one. Hell is yours, the vengeance of God is yours, endless misery is yours; you have been storing up wrath against the day of wrath; and you can claim nothing but this painful portion, this dismal and everlasting inheritance.
And can you be content with such a portion as this is, while the saints are inheritors of all that is holy and happy, both in this world and the next? Would that your busy thoughts be awakened in time, and make you ever restless and uneasy in your present wretched state! Return to the Lord in humble mourning, for all your past iniquities: Return to God speedily, from whom you have wickedly departed: Loathe yourselves because of your abominations, and abandon every idol: Say to him, my Father, in the spirit of faith and penitence, and he will put you among the children, and give you a pleasant heritage; Jer. 3. 19.
Seek to know Jesus the Son of God, the Saviour, the Lord and Heir of all things; commit your souls to his hands, resign yourselves entirely to his grace, that he may change your unholy natures by his Spirit, that he may cleanse away your guilt by the blood of his atonement, that he may give you an interest in his own riches; then the covenant of his love will sanctify to you all the enjoyments of earth and time, and make you possessors of all the good things in heaven and eternity.
Second Use.—This doctrine unveils to us the glory of the new covenant. A blessed covenant indeed that has given so rich a treasure to creatures so unworthy! We are sinners, and deserve nothing, yet when we believe in the Son of God, the gospel gives us in our measure the inheritance and possession of all things.
Adam was made lord of this lower world; this earth and the creatures that dwell on it were put into his hands, all things below were given him for his use, his support, and his delight. Thus mankind, considered in the first Adam, in his innocent state, were lords of all. But by one man sin entered into the world; Rom. 5. 12. and by that sin, Adam has forfeited his sovereignty and dominion, with all his large possession of the creatures, both for himself and for us. When the sentence was issued from the mouth of God, Cursed is the ground because of you, Gen. 3. 17. the curse fell on all this lower world, and, as it were, seized the creatures out of the hands of Adam the great sinner. They are no more his in that sanctified manner for his real and final benefit, as they were before: They now become instruments of temptation and sin, pain, and sorrow and misery. But the covenant of grace restores all back again to us in and by the second Adam, who is the Lord of the new world, and under this character, is possessor of all things: And a sanctified use of all things is given to us again, in and by Christ Jesus.
What a glorious covenant, that can take away the curse from creatures, and make them become a blessing to the saints!
But there is a further glory in it still; for our possession of all things in the second Adam, is far more secure than it was in the first. This rich and extensive treasure is put into the hands of Christ our Mediator, our Head, and our Surety for us, that we may not abuse our possession by sin to our own ruin; and that we may not forfeit our inheritance the second time, and so lose it forever.
Third Use. This doctrine provides wonderful consolation to a poor afflicted saint, who is taught to make a right use of it. The gospel should teach a Christian in these circumstances, such divine language as this: "Am I poor and despised by the great and rich in this world? yet I trust I am made a child of God by his renewing grace, and the promise gives me a right to all things. God my Father has engaged that all things will work together for my good. He has made me a joint-heir with his beloved Son Jesus, and has given me a fair and large inheritance. I will be possessor of every comfort among the creatures that is necessary to my supreme interest, and my final happiness, and God himself is my eternal portion.”
"What if I cannot read my name and my title to lands and houses, to green fields and estates? but I can read my name as a Christian in the covenant of grace, under the seal of God, and the blood of his Son, and there I find that all things are mine. While I survey the gardens of a rich sinner, every herb and flower there gives me more sweetness than he can find in them all: For I can commune with God my Maker, and my Father, in every herb, and every flower. While I walk amongst the trees of my neighbour's fields, they yield me their refreshing shade, and elevate my thoughts to divine meditation. I can lift up my eyes to the stately building where my neighbour dwells, and raise my thoughts from there to the mansions of glory: Then I rejoice to think how much my inheritance and my mansion there exceeds the most magnificent structure on earth. And so his fields, and his gardens, and his stately dwelling, provides a divine light to me, which perhaps the earthly possessor of them knows nothing of: And though I have almost nothing that I can call my own on earth, yet, in this sense, I possess all things. My God has given me so much of the good things of this world, as he saw needful and proper for my real interest: and surely if I might have had all things within my immediate reach, and under my sovereignty, I would not lay hold of more of them (if I were truly wise) than would promote my welfare.”
"Do I sit at the footstool of the rich in the house of God; or am I but a door-keeper in the sanctuary? Yet I can there hear Paul declare the sublime mysteries of the gospel, and while he reveals the wonders of God's eternal love, my heart within me believes, and adores, and rejoices. Apollos entertains me with most affectionate discourses of the grace of Christ and his glory; my faith rises high, my love is kindled to him whom my eyes have not seen; I believe in him, I love him, and my joy grows almost unspeakable. I remember the former instructions of Cephas, who taught me the first principles of this divine religion; and I take pleasure in those sacred foundations. Blessed be God, they are unshaken, and my faith and hope, which were begun under his ministry, stand forever firm. Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas are mine.”
"It has pleased my heavenly Father indeed, to lay many sorrows upon me in this wilderness; but I have learned to think and speak like a Christian, and say, Though I appear as dying, yet behold I live; though I am chastened, yet I am not killed: Every stroke of his rod is given by the hand of his love. His rod, like the rod of Aaron, blossoms with divine blessings, and produces holy fruit. These very sorrows are sanctified to make me a partaker of his holiness. These wounds that I feel, let out the blood of pride, and cure the diseases of my soul. And so it is that the very sufferings of nature, and the sorrows of life are mine; I have learned to count my afflictions among my blessings; they work for my profit. Whether peace or pain, all are mine. Besides, I comfort myself in the midst of my poverty and distress, with this sweet meditation, that the less I enjoy of temporal comforts, and the delights of this world, if I improve my sufferings and sorrows well, there is the more joy and glory laid up for me in the world to come." My light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 2 Cor. 4. 17.
Is my life on earth stretched out to a tiresome age? Heaven will be much the sweeter; and after many toils I will have the stronger relish of an eternal rest. Or does death overtake me in younger years, and bring my body quickly down to the dust; My soul then is but dismissed the sooner to the building on high that is prepared for me; for whether life or death, all are mine.
When I pause to look around, and survey the present state of things, the sun in his daily circuit, and the moon and stars in their nightly courses, my faith assures me they are all are serving to roll the months and hours away, that stand between me and immortal happiness: And when the morning of the resurrection dawns upon the earth, the gospel tells me, that I have a share in all the rising glories of that day. Should the heavens and the earth be shortly set on fire, if I have but my faith awake within me, I will have no fear nor surprise; I myself, and all my best interests, are out of the reach of these flames; my treasures are of an un-perishing kind. The end of all things here below will but usher in my brightest hours, and begin the years of my eternal pleasure; for the book of God assures me, that things present and things to come are mine. Hasten on then, all you remaining revolutions of nature; and days, and months, and ages, hasten on: Time cannot fly too fast for me, who have such an eternity in view. My Lord has told me in his word, surely I come quickly, and my heart echoes to that voice of my beloved, Amen, even so come Lord Jesus.
Fourth Use. This doctrine requires the believer to be found in the constant exercise of faith, that so he may be able always to survey his inheritance, and take solid delight in it. Otherwise, when he suffers loss in temporal things, and sickness and trouble strike him in the flesh, he will be ready to judge by the mere principles of sense, and to think his comforts all gone, and that he has nothing left. It is faith alone that can teach a believer to rejoice in this treasure given him by the covenant of grace, when the world has taken almost all sensible comforts from him. The natural man with an eye of sense looks on things just as the eye of a brute-animal beholds them, and sees nothing more than according to the common impressions they make on flesh and blood: But the eye of faith is aided by the divine viewpoint of the covenant, which as a microscope, unveils many beauties, where the natural eye, unassisted, can see nothing but roughness and deformity.
It is nothing but faith fixing its eye on sanctified losses and crosses, sanctified pains, and sickness, and distresses, that can enable us to count these among our treasures. It is nothing but the spirit of faith that can instruct us to think ourselves rich, because we are heirs of the kingdom, while we are poor and destitute in this lower world; James 2. 5. It is the spirit of faith that taught the apostle Paul to triumph under all his infirmities, in such language as this; As dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything; 2 Cor. 6. 9, 10. And if we have the same spirit of faith we may believe and speak the same language.
Fifth Use. This doctrine forbids all murmuring at the hand of God, though his dispensations may have something painful and severe in them. He has given us all things indeed, by the promise of the gospel, but he has not put this treasure into our own hands, lest we should abuse and forfeit it; but he has put it into the hands of Christ for us; and it is Christ our Lord who distributes out such parcels and portions of our estate to us daily, as his perfect wisdom sees most proper to promote our real interest.
The Christian in sickness, perhaps will say, Is not life and health listed in the inventory of my inheritance? Yes, but sickness and death are written down there too, and your Saviour knows that sickness is better for you at this time than health. Do not murmur at his hand, for God the Father has entrusted him to manage and govern all his own vast dominions; and can you not entrust him to manage your estate, to dispose of your concerns, and to allot your daily portion to you?
The saint surrounded with distress and poverty, or ill-dressed, and hungry, will say, Is not food, and clothing, and peace, specified in the articles of the covenant, and numbered among my treasures? Yes, but poverty, and hunger, and cold are there also: And your heavenly Father sees it best to withhold peace and plenty from you at present, or to give you your food and clothing but in a sparing measure, to mortify your flesh, to humble your pride, to wean you from the creatures, to teach you immediate dependence on himself, and to prepare you for a departure to the heavenly world.
When you are deprived therefore of one earthly comfort after another, and the remaining good things of this life seem to be leaving you, be careful not to murmur against your God. Dare not take up the words of Jacob, and say, Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me; Gen. 42. 36. But Jacob was made to know, by sweet experience, that all these things worked for his real advantage, and were made the means of preserving himself and his family also in a day of spreading famine and desolation.
Sixth Use. This doctrine forbids all contention and envy at our fellow-creatures, as well as repining against God.
Is my brother healthy and strong, while I am sick and feeble, and languishing? Does my brother possess more of the good things of this life than I do? It is because our common Father sees it proper to keep me lower, and to withhold so full an allowance from me. I have an interest in the same large inheritance; I am a child of the same family; and therefore all things are mine as well as his: But I have committed it entirely to the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father, to put into my hands what part he pleases of my large inheritance. He is wisest, and will distribute the several portions that he sees fittest for his children, and for this reason I cannot envy my brother. It is the same kind and faithful hand that weighs and measures out my grains and pennies, and little handfuls of earthly blessings, that gives my brother his loads and his full barns.
Has the ministry of Paul been blessed to me, and not that of Apollos? Have the labours of Apollos been more blessed to my fellow-Christian, or the plain and familiar instructions of Cephas? Well, I will never cause division in the church on this account; for all the ministers of the gospel are appointed for our edification; and I will rejoice in them all, and bless God for the service they do the family of Christ. If my portion of spiritual food be distributed to me by the hands of Paul, it is our common Father that conveys the same sacred food to another, by the hands of Cephas or Apollos; and the world will never hear me say, "I am of Paul, in opposition to Apollos or Peter;” though I must confess, God has blessed his ministrations most eminently to my soul.
Seventh Use. Has God given all things to the saints by the covenant of grace? Surely then they should return all things back again to him, in a way of gratitude, duty and service. Has he promised to make everything which we have to do with, concur to promote our best interest, and our final happiness? Let us then apply ourselves with zeal and diligence, to make everything within our reach to serve his divine interests, and the glory of his kingdom.
Has my gracious God withheld nothing from me, but together with his own Son given me all things? Why then should I withhold anything from him? Why should I not devote my heart, my head, my hands, my whole self, and all things that are within my power, to the honour of his name? Does God bestow life or health or riches upon such a worthless creature as I am? Let holiness to the Lord be written upon them all. And if my fellow-creatures are poor, needy, cold, and starving, let me cheerfully minister to them of my substance which the great Lord of heaven and earth has so richly bestowed on me. My God honours me indeed, when he makes me the dispenser of his blessings among his creatures, and especially among his saints. I lose nothing by this benevolence, but am rather enriched by this very distribution. I become rich in good works, and rich in divine promises: "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed." Proverbs 19. 17. Alms are as money laid out to the best interest, and are a growing treasure.
But should I have no hope of any earthly reward for all my kindness to men, the very benefits received of God my Father constrain me to this kindness to them. Has he given all things to a poor worthless creature, and shall I give nothing to the poor, or to the unworthy? Shall I not rather imitate the profuse bounty of my God, who commands his sun to shine and his rain to descend, both on the evil and the good. It is a divine excellence to love and to distribute as God does.
The name of Jesus my Saviour has yet a further power to compel me to use all my earthly possessions for his honour. Has Christ Jesus purchased this large and fair inheritance for me with his blood, has he given me much on earth, and the hopes of greater treasures in heaven, then I will be my own no longer, but give my whole self up to him, with all my powers, and talents, and possessions! They are yours, blessed Saviour, they are yours forever. It is the solemn and deliberate wish of my heart, that I may never possess or enjoy anything from which Christ has no revenue of glory. Would that his grace may enable me to make use of present things for this holy purpose! And when I arrive at the actual possession of things to come, they will be improved in an unknown but a nobler manner, for the everlasting glory of my God, my Father, and my Saviour.
The Recollection of the doctrinal part:
And now consider, in this discourse, how you have not only been called to survey the riches of your inheritance, but you have learned also, in what manner this inheritance is made over to you, if you are a sincere Christian, and a believer on the Son of God.
Look backward to eternal ages, before the world began, when God marked out the bounds of this creation, and the limits of these heavens, and this earth: he designed them with all their treasures, for the service of his holy ones, for the benefit of his children; and your name and your share were written down amongst them. The great God, in those early days of his eternity, has provided a rich sufficiency for your present and future blessedness. May your faith then take this delightful and distant retrospect, and rejoice in God's eternal love!
Consider how God has given all things into the hands of his own Son Jesus, whom he has ordained Lord of all, that he might govern and dispose of all things for the good of his people. Christ is risen from the dead, and has taken possession of all the blessings of grace and glory, in the name of his saints, that he may make them possessors in their season, and according to their measure: That he may make you, if you are a sincere Christian, a rich possessor of so wonderful an inheritance; and that he may keep every part of it secure for you, until in succession of times and seasons, both in earth and in heaven, you are fit to receive and enjoy it. If you are made a joint-heir with Christ, you are heir of all things.
But remember, it is a living faith in Christ that must entitle you to this rich inheritance. It is infinitely important then, to search often and enquire, Am I a Christian indeed? A sincere convert, a believer in Jesus? And does my faith evidence itself in all the fruits of repentance, love, and holiness? Would that you would feel your soul to live daily this divine life by the faith of the Son of God, that you may maintain a humble claim to these treasures of mercy laid up in the gospel, treasures committed to the hands of Christ to be kept safe for you.
And may the blessed Spirit instruct you every day to improve all things to your spiritual and eternal benefit, that you may not be like a fool, who has a prize put into his right hand, and does not know how to make use of it! May you be taught to draw some sacred advantage, some holy delight and refreshment from the continual new scenes occurring in this life! May you derive knowledge, and love, and heavenly sweetness from the surprising works of God, as the God of nature, and from the more surprising wonders of his grace!
And may you learn something divine and holy from all the transactions of his providence, and the various turns and changes of this present state, until you are prepared and conformed for a more fit and ample possession of the everlasting inheritance of the saints in light!