An Ark for All God's Noahs in a Gloomy Stormy Day or,
The Best Wine Reserved Until Last or,
The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer's
Portion above All Earthly Portions
by Thomas Brooks, 1662
"The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore
I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24
How shall we know whether God is our portion?
But you will say, How shall we know whether God is our portion? Oh! were all the world a lump of gold, and in our hands to dispose of—we would give it to know that God is our portion! Oh! the knowledge of this would be as life from the dead; it would create a heaven in our hearts on this side heaven; it would presently put us into a paradise of pleasure and delight. But still the question is, How shall we know it? It is an easy thing to say that God is our portion; but how shall we come infallibly to know that God is truly our portion?
Now, to give clear and full satisfaction to this great and weighty question, I shall give in these following answers, by which you may certainly and undoubtedly know, whether God is your portion or no:
[1.] First, If God is your portion—then you have very sweet, precious, high, and honorable thoughts of God—then your thoughts will still be running out after God, and your meditations of him will be sweet. A man who has God for his portion, is always best when his thoughts and meditations are running out most after God. Psalm 104:34, "My meditations of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord." Psalm 63:5-6, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips; when I remember you upon my bed (or beds, as the Hebrew has it; David bedded at many places—but still his thoughts were always running out to God), and meditate on you in the night watches." Psalm 139:17-18, "How precious also are your thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! if I should count them, they are more in number than the sand—when I awake, I am still with you." The psalmist had very frequent, high, precious, and honorable thoughts of God; he valued nothing at so high a rate as sweet and noble thoughts of God, and of his power, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, and graciousness, etc.
David had such precious thoughts of God, and such great and glorious thoughts of God, and such infinite and innumerable thoughts of God—that he was as able to number the sands of the sea, as he was able to number them up—"And when I awake I was still with you." He was still a-contemplating upon God; he fell asleep with precious thoughts of God, and he awoke with precious thoughts of God; he rose up with precious thoughts of God, and he lay down with precious thoughts of God; he went forth with precious thoughts of God, and he returned home with precious thoughts of God. Take a Christian when he is himself—when he is neither under sad desertions, nor under black temptations, nor under great afflictions—and he can as soon forget his own house, the wife of his bosom, his own children—yes, he can as soon forget to eat his bread—as he can forget his God.
When Alexander the Great had overthrown Darius, king of Persia, he took among the spoils a most rich cabinet, full of the choicest jewels that were in all the world; upon which there rose a dispute before him, to what use he should put the cabinet; and everyone having spent his judgment according to his fancy, the king himself concluded, that he would keep that cabinet, to be a treasury to lay up the books of Homer in, which were his greatest joy and delight.
A sanctified memory is a rich cabinet full of the choicest thoughts of God; it is that rich treasury wherein a Christian is still a-laying up more and more precious thoughts of God, and more and more high and holy thoughts of God, and more and more honorable and noble thoughts of God, and more and more solemn and reverent thoughts of God, and more and more sweet and comfortable thoughts of God, and more and more tender and compassionate thoughts of God, etc. Take a Christian in his ordinary course, and you shall find that wherever he is, his thoughts are running out after God; and about whatever he is, his thoughts are still a-running out after God; and into what company soever he is cast, whether they are good or bad—yet still his thoughts are running out after God, etc.
Look! as an earthly-minded man has his thoughts and meditations still exercised and taken up with the world, as you may see in Haman, whose heart and thoughts were taken up with his honors, preferments, riches, wife, children, and friends, etc. Esther 5:10-12, "Then he gathered together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, and boasted to them about his great wealth and his many children. He bragged about the honors the king had given him and how he had been promoted over all the other officials and leaders. Then Haman added—And that's not all! Queen Esther invited only me and the king himself to the banquet she prepared for us. And she has invited me to dine with her and the king again tomorrow!" And the same spirit you may see working in those who had made gold their God, in that Psalm 49:10-11, "Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever. They may name their estates after themselves, but they leave their wealth to others. They will not last long despite their riches—they will die like the animals." The Hebrew runs thus—"Their inwards are their houses forever," as if their houses were got within them. Not only the thoughts—but the very inmost thoughts, the most retired thoughts and recesses of worldlings' souls, are taken up about earthly things; and though they care not whether their names are written in heaven or not—yet they do all they can to propagate and immortalize their names on earth.
And the rich fool was one in spirit with these the psalmist speaks of, as you may see in that Luke 12 "And he told them this parable—The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself (the Greek word signifies to talk with a man's self, or to reason with a man's self. This foolish worldling was much in talking to himself, and in reasoning with himself about his goods and barns, etc., as the usual manner of men is, who are of a worldly spirit), 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." Among all his worldly thoughts, there is not one thought of God, of Christ, of grace, of heaven, of holiness, of eternity, to be found. His thoughts were so taken up with his bags, and his barns, and his buildings, and his ease, and his belly, that he had no time to think of providing for another world. Therefore God quickly dispatches him out of this world, and throws him down from the highest pinnacle of prosperity and worldly glory—into the greatest gulf of wrath and misery, Luke 12:20.
And this foolish worldling puts me is mind of another, who, being offered a horse by his fellow upon condition that he would but say the Lord's prayer, and think upon nothing but God, which offer being accepted, he began—"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be your name." But I must have the bridle too, said he. No, nor the horse neither, said the other; for you have lost both already.
When worldlings should most think of God, and be most struck with the dread and majesty of God, and be most afflicted and taken up with the glory of God—yet then their thoughts and hearts will be a-gadding and a-running after the world, as you may see in Ezekiel's hearers; Ezek 33:30-32, and in Paul's, Phil 3:18-19. When queen Mary was dying, she said that if they did but open her when she was dead, they should find Calais lying at her heart. Ah! how often does stinking lusts and rotten towns, and moth-eaten bags, and other trifling vanities, lie near those hearts—where God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and grace, and ordinances, and saints, and heaven should lie! Look! as the thoughts of the men of the world do mainly run out after the world, after their earthly portions, so the thoughts of those who have God for their portion do mainly run out after God, and they are never so well as when they are most a-thinking and a-musing on God. But,
[2.] Secondly, If God is your portion—then in all your straits, trials, troubles, and needs, you will run to your God, you will fly to the Lord, as to your only city of refuge. [Psalm 28:1; 31:2-3; 61:2; 62:2,6-7; 92:15; 94:22; 32:1-2] 1 Sam 30:6, "David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God." When a shower of stones were coming about David's ears, he runs and shelters himself under the wings of his God. Though David was an exile in an heathenish country; though Ziklag, the place of his habitation, was burnt; though he had neither house nor home to flee to; though his wives were in his enemies' hands; and though his friends and followers were desperately incensed, enraged, exasperated, and provoked against him, and took counsel together about stoning of him, looking upon him as the author of all their crosses, losses, calamities, and miseries—yet now he comforts and encourages himself in the Lord his God. Psalm 142:4, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld—but there was no man who would know me—refuge failed me; but no man cared for my soul." But what does the psalmist do in this case? Does he despair or despond? No! Does he cast away his hope and confidence in God? No! Why, what does he do then? Why, when all outward comforts fail him, he runs to God as to his last refuge. Psalm 142:5-6, "I cry to you, O Lord; I say—You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me!"
He does not run in his straits from God to the creatures, for that had been to run from the fountain of living waters—to broken cisterns; Jer 2:12-13; John 6:68; Isaiah 33:16; from the light of the sun—to the light of a candle; and from the Rock of ages—to a leaf driven about with the wind; and from paradise—into an howling wilderness, etc. But where does he run then? Why, he runs to God! He knew that God was his light, his life, his love, his peace, his joy, his strength, his shelter, his safety, his security, his crown, his glory—and therefore he runs to his God!
And, indeed, in times of danger, where should the child run to shelter himself but to his father? and where should the wife run but to her husband? and the servant but to his master? and the soldier but to his stronghold? and a Christian but to his God? Prov 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and is safe." Sometimes by the name of the Lord we are to understand God himself—but most commonly God's attributes are called his name, because by them he is known, as a man is by his name; and here by the name of the Lord we are to understand the power of the Lord, for by that God is known, as men are known by their names. Now God himself is a strong tower, and the power of God is a strong tower, yes, it is a tower as high as heaven, and as strong as strength itself; it is a tower so deep nothing can undermine it, so thick no cannon can pierce it, so high no ladder can scale it, so strong that no enemy can assault it or ever be able to stand before it, and so well furnished and provided for all purposes and intents, that all the powers of darkness can never distress it, or in the least straiten it.
Now into this impregnable and indomitable tower, the righteous in all their distresses and dangers run. All creatures run to their refuges when they are hunted and pursued, and so do righteous souls to theirs. But what does the righteous man gain by running to his strong tower? Why, he gains safety; he is safe, says the text, or rather according to the Hebrew—he is exalted, he is set aloft, he is a soul out of the range of gunshot, he is a soul out of all hazard and danger, he is safe in everlasting arms, he is safe in his strong tower of defense; he can easily overlook all hazards, yes, he can look upon the greatest dangers with an holy neglect.
When the burning fiery furnace was heated seven times hotter than at first—where do Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego run? Why, they run to God. Dan 3:16-18, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king—O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
And so Moses in that Psalm 90:1, "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations;" or as the Hebrew has it, you have been our refuge-place in generation after generation. By this Hebraism, generation after generation, the prophet sets forth all generations, to show that there has been no generation wherein God has not been the refuge of his people. God was a refuge to his people before the flood, and he has been a refuge since the flood, and he will be a refuge to his people, while he has a people in the world. All the time that Moses and the people of Israel were a-traveling up and down in that terrible howling wilderness, wherein they were compassed about with dreadful dangers on all hands, God was a refuge and a dwelling place unto them. In all their troubles and travels for four hundred years together, God was a shelter, a refuge, and an house of defense unto them. Every man's house is his strong castle, and there he retreats when dangers come; and thus did the people of God in the text. When dangers threatened them, they still run to their God, they still made their retreat to the Holy One of Israel.
A man who has God for his portion, when he is in his worst condition—can never be houseless nor harborless. As long as God lives, he can never lack a house—a mansion-house to hide his head in. All the powers on earth and all the powers of hell can never unhouse, nor never unharbor, nor never unshelter that man who has God for his portion!
It was a witty saying of that learned man Picus Mirandula, "God created the earth for beasts to inhabit, the sea for fish, the air for birds, and heaven for angels and stars; so that man has no place to dwell and abide in, but God alone." And certainly he who by faith dwells in God, dwells in the best, the noblest, the safest, and the strongest house that ever was dwelt in. And so Psalm 91:1-2, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, and my fortress—my God; in him will I trust." In this whole psalm the safety of a saint is set forth to the life; to abide under the shadow of the Almighty, notes the defense and protection of God. Those words, "shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty," are a metaphor taken from a bird or a hen, who hides her young ones under her wings, and so secures them from birds of prey. God never lacks a wing to hide his children under. Look! as little chicks run under the wings of the hen when danger is near, so the people of God do commonly run under the wings of God when danger is near. And certainly, that Christian may well bid defiance to all dangers, and easily and sweetly sing away all cares and fears, who can by faith shelter himself and lodge himself under the shadow of Shaddai.
Look! as the worldling in all his straits, troubles, trials, dangers, and needs, still runs to his bags, to his earthly portion for support, for comfort, for support, for relief, for shelter, for protection, Prov 18:11; Matt 19:24; 1 Tim 6:17. So a Christian in all his troubles, trials, and distresses, still runs to his God for shelter, comfort, and support.
Psalm 31:1-3, "In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me." Psalm 61:2-4, "From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings." Psalm 94:21-22, "They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent. But the Lord is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge." Psalm 57:2, "I will cry unto God most High; unto God who performs all things for me." Isaiah 25:9, "And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us—this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Mic 7:7, "Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation—my God will hear."
Thus you see that the saints in all their straits and trials do still run to God. They know that that God that is their portion is an all-sufficient God, and that he is a sun and a shield to those who walk uprightly. Therefore they delight to be still a running under his shadow. A man who has God for his portion, may truly say in his greatest distresses and troubles, "Well, though I have no riches to fly to, nor any friends to shelter me, nor any relations to stand by me, nor any visible power on earth to protect me—yet I have a God for my portion, who is always willing to supply me, and able to secure me."
Psalm 18:1-2, "I will love you, O Lord, my strength," or as the Hebrew has it, "I will dearly love the Lord," or "I will love him with inmost feelings of affections," as a tenderhearted mother loves her dearest babe with the inmost affections of affections. "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." In this verse you have nine different expressions to discover what an all-sufficient refuge, God is to his people in their greatest distresses. When a Christian in his worst condition—yet he has celestial bread to eat, which the world knows nothing of. The grand policy of a Christian to secure himself against all dangers is to run to God. But,
[3.] Thirdly, If God is your portion—then you will hold fast your portion, and rather part with anything, than part with your portion. Naboth would not upon any terms part with his inheritance; he would rather let all go, yes, his very life go, than let his inheritance go, his portion go. 1 Kings 21:3, "And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto you;" or, as the Hebrew has it, 'The Lord keep me from this as from an abominable thing.' To alter or alienate the property of inheritances was expressly forbidden by God in his law, Lev 25:23; Num 36:7; Ezek 46:18. Therefore Naboth looks upon Ahab's offer and motion as a detestable and an abominable thing, and resolves to hold fast his inheritance, whatever it cost him. So a Christian will hold fast his God, whatever comes on it; he will let anything go, rather than let his God go or his Christ go.
Song 3:4, "I found him whom my soul loves; I held him, and would not let him go." The Hebrew word that is here rendered held is signifies to hold, as a man would hold his possession, his inheritance. The word signifies to hold with both hands, to hold with all one's might and with all one's strength; and thus the spouse held the Lord Jesus; she held him with both hands; she held him with all her might and with all her strength; she held him with a holy violence, with a holy force; she held him as a man would hold his prisoner who had a mind to escape; or as a man would hold his sword or shield, when his life is in danger.
So Jacob, Gen 32:26, "And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me." When Jacob was all alone, and in a dark night, and upon one leg, and when his joints were out of joint, and he very much overmatched—yet then he holds God fast, he wrestles and weeps, and weeps and wrestles, he tugs and sweats, and sweats and tugs, and will not let go his hold, until, like a prince, he had prevailed with God, Hos 12:4.
Ruth, you know, was so glued to her mother Naomi, that no arguments could prevail with her to leave her mother. She was fully resolved in this, that where her mother went, she would go; and where her mother lodged, she would lodge; and that her mother's people would be her people; and her mother's God her God; and that where her mother died there she would die; and there would she be buried, Ruth 1:14-19. So a man who has God for his portion is so glued to his God, that nothing can take him off from following of God and from cleaving to God.
When David was in his wilderness condition—yet then his soul followed hard after God, then his soul stuck close to God. Psalm 63:1-2, "O God, you are my God; early will I seek you—my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water." Psalm 63:8, "My soul follows hard after you;" or, as the words may be read, "My soul cleaves after you." David's enemies did not follow harder after him than he followed hard after God. The wife in a man's bosom could not cleave so close to him as David's soul did cleave close to God when he was in a wilderness estate, when he was in an afflicted condition.
It is nothing to follow God in a paradise—but it is rare to follow God in a wilderness; it is nothing to follow God when the way is strewed with rosebuds—but it is the glory of a Christian to follow God when the way is strewed with thorns and briars; it is nothing to follow God in a crowd, or with the crowd. But it is the excellency of a Christian to follow God in a wilderness, where few or none follows after him. It is nothing to follow God in the midst of all encouragements—but it is wonderful to follow God in the midst of all discouragements. Oh the integrity! oh the ingenuity! oh the strong intention! oh the deep affection! oh the noble resolution—of that Christian who hangs upon God in a wilderness, and who cleaves to God in a wilderness, and who follows hard after God in a wilderness!
Look! as Shechem's soul did cleave to Dinah, and as Jacob's soul did cleave to Rachel, and as Jonathan's soul did cleave to David in the very face of all hazards, dangers, difficulties, troubles, trials, and distresses—so the very soul of a man who has God for his portion will cleave to God in the very face of all hazards, dangers, difficulties, troubles, trials, and distresses that he meets withal, Psalm 44:8-23. It is neither the frowns of men, nor the reproaches of men, nor the scorns of men, nor the contempts of men, nor the oppositions of men, nor the treacheries of men, nor the multitudes of men—which will work him to let go his hold of God. A man who has God for his portion knows that, while he holds his God, he holds his life; and that, while he holds his God, he holds his comfort, his crown, his heaven, his all. Therefore he will rather let all go—than let his God go.
And so much the several leave nots which are scattered up and down in the blessed Scripture, do clearly evidence; as that in 1 Kings 8:57, "The Lord our God is with us, as he was with our fathers—let him not leave us, nor forsake us;" and that Psalm 27:9, "Hide not your face far from me; put not your servant away in anger; you have been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation." And so Psalm 119:121, "I have done judgment and justice; leave me not to my oppressors." And so Psalm 141:8, "But my eyes are unto you, O God the Lord—in you is my trust; leave not my soul destitute," or leave not my soul naked, as the Hebrew word signifies. And so in that Jer 14:9, "O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; leave us not." Now in these five scriptures you have five leave us nots, and what do they import? Certainly nothing less than a marvelous unwillingness in the people of God to part with God, or to let go their hold of God. A man who has God for his portion will rather die at the foot of God, than he will let go his hold of God. Job 13:15, "Though he slay me—yet will I trust in him." But,
[4.] Fourthly, If God is your portion, then you live upon God as upon your portion. Look! as the men of the world live upon their earthly portions, so a man who has God for his portion lives upon his God, as you may plainly see by comparing these scriptures. [1 Sam 30:6; Hab 3:17-18; Psalm 73:26; Rom 14:7-8; Gal 2:20; Phil 1:21] Look! how the poor man lives upon his labors, the covetous man upon his bags, the ambitious man upon his honors, the voluptuous man upon his pleasures, etc., so does a Christian live upon his God.
In all his duties he lives upon God, and in all his mercies he lives upon God, and in all his needs he lives upon God, and in all his straits and trials he lives upon God, and in all his contentments and enjoyments he still lives upon God. He lives upon God for his justification. Rom 8:33, "It is God who justifies." And he still lives upon God for the perfecting of his sanctification; Phil 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." And he lives upon God for the maintaining and increasing of his consolation, 2 Cor 1:3-5. When he is under the frowns of the world, then he lives upon the smiles of God; when he is under the hatred of the world, then he lives upon the loves of God; and when he is under the reproaches of the world, then he lives upon his acceptance with God; when he is under the threatenings of the world, then he lives upon the protection of God; and when he is under the evil designs and plottings of the world, then he lives upon the wisdom and counsel of God; when he is under the slightings and neglects of the world, then he lives upon the care of God; and when he is under the crosses and losses of the world, then he lives upon the fullness and goodness of God, etc.
Alexander told his soldiers, 'I keep awake—that you may sleep.' Most sure I am, that he who is the saint's portion never slumbers nor sleeps, Psalm 121:3-4. God is always watchful and wakeful to do his people good; he never lacks skill or will to help them, he never lacks a purse, a hand, or a heart to supply them, etc.
O Christians! Every man singles out something to live upon. Some single out one thing, some another. Says the wife—I must live upon my husband; says the child—I must live upon my father; says the servant—I must live upon my master; says the old—We must live upon the labors of the young; says the poor—We must live upon the charity of the rich. Why then shall not a Christian live upon his God? A Christian who has God for his portion may say, when he is in his worst condition, 'Well, though I have not this, nor that, nor the other outward comfort to live upon—yet I have the power of a God to live on, and I have the providence of a God to live on, and I have the promise of a God to live on, and I have the oath of a God to live on, and I have the love of a God to live on, and I have the bounty of a God to live on, and I have the fullness of a God to live on, and I have the care of a God to live on—and what more can I desire?
John of Alexandria, nicknamed the Almoner, when he had distributed all to the poor, he thanked God that he had now nothing left him to live upon but his Lord and Master Jesus Christ. When all is gone—yet a Christian has his God to live upon as his portion, and that is enough to answer to all other things, and to make up the lack of all other things. Look! as he has nothing which is truly good—who has not God for his portion; so he lacks nothing which is truly good—who has God for his portion. It was a weighty saying of Cajetan, "The spiritual good of a man consists in this—that a man has friendship with God, and consequently that he lives for him, to him, with him, in him." Old godly Similes said, that he had been in the world sixty years—but had lived but seven, counting his life not from his first birth—but from his new birth. A man lives no longer than he lives upon God as his portion—when a man begins to live upon God as his portion, then he begins to live indeed, and not until then. But,
[5.] Fifthly, If God is your portion—then he carries your heart away from all other things, Psalm 42:12. The portion always carries the heart with it. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21.
Psalm 63:1, "O God, you are my God, early will I seek you" (or, I will diligently seek you, as merchants seek precious stones which are of greatest value), "my soul thirsts for you." He does not say, my soul thirsts for water—but my soul thirsts for God; nor he does not say, my soul thirsts for the blood of my enemies—but my soul thirsts for God; nor he does not say, my soul thirsts for deliverance out of this dry and barren wilderness—but my soul thirsts for God in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water; nor he does not say, my soul thirsts for a crown, a kingdom—but my soul thirsts for God, "my flesh longs for God." These words note his earnest, ardent, and strong affections towards God.
And so Psalm 84:2, "My heart and my flesh cries out for the living God." The word that is here rendered cries, signifies to shout, shrill, or cry out, as soldiers do at the beginning of a battle; or when they cry out after a victory, 'Victory, victory, victory!' The Hebrew word notes a strong cry, or to cry as a child cries when it is very hungry, for now every whit of the child cries—hands cry, and face cries, and feet cry. And so Psalm 119:20, "My soul breaks for the longings it has unto your judgments at all times." Look! a soul who has God for his portion cannot rest until he comes to God, until he comes to his center. It is very observable, that when the God of glory appeared to Abraham, he made nothing of leaving his father's house, his kindred, and his country, Acts 7:1-5; Gen 12:1. A glimpse of that glory works him to give up all easily, readily, and quietly. A man who can look upon the God of glory to be his portion—he cannot but look upon the greatest, the nearest, and the dearest enjoyments of the world, as nothing. He cannot but look upon honor as a bubble; and worldly pomp as emptiness; and great men as a lie; and poor men as vanity. He cannot but look upon his nearest and his dearest relations, his highest and his noblest friends, his choicest and his sweetest comforts—but as a dream and a shadow that soon vanishes away.
It is observable in the courts of kings and princes, that children and the cruder sort of people are much taken with pictures and their rich shows, and feed their fancies with the sight of rich hangings and fine mirthful things; whereas such as are great favorites at court, pass by all those things as things that are below them, and as things that are not worthy of their notice, who have business with the king, and who have the eye, the ear, the hand, and the heart of the king to take pleasure and delight in. Just so, most men admire the poor low things of the world, and are much taken with them as things that have a great deal of worth and excellency in them. But a man who has God for his portion, the King of kings for his portion, and all that he has—he passes by all the mirthful and great things of the world, as things below him, as things not worthy of him. His business is with his God, and his thoughts, his heart, and affections are taken up with his God.
Naturalists tell us that the magnet will not attract, in the presence of the diamond. O Christians! while a man can eye God as his portion, all the pride, pomp, bravery, glory, and gallantry in the world will never be able to attract him from God, Heb 11:24-27,35. It is reported that when the tyrant Trajan commanded Ignatius to be torn open, they found Jesus Christ written upon his heart in characters of gold. Here was an heart worth gold indeed; Christ carried away his heart from all other things. So if God is your portion, he will certainly carry your heart away from all earthly things.
Look! as earthly portions carry away worldly hearts from God, Ezek 33:31-32; Luke 12:16-21; so when God once comes to be a man's portion, he carries his heart away from the world, the flesh, and the devil. All the world cannot keep a man's interest and his heart asunder. If a man make sin his interest, all the world cannot keep sin and his heart asunder. If a man make the world his interest, all the power on earth cannot keep the world and his heart asunder. And so if a man make God his interest, all the world cannot keep God and his heart asunder—no sword, no prison, no tortures, no flames can keep a man's interest and his heart asunder. A man's heart will be working towards his interest, even through the very fire, as you may see in the three children, Dan 3:17-18. Look! as the needle's point in the seaman's compass never stands still—but quivers and shakes until it come right against the north pole; and as the wise men of the east never stood still until they were right under the star which appeared to them; and as the star itself never stood still until it came right over that other star, which shined more brightly in the manger than the sun did in the firmament; and as Noah's dove could find no rest for the sole of her foot all the while she was fluttering over the flood, until she returned to the ark with an olive branch in her mouth—so the heart of a Christian that has God for his portion can never rest, can never be at quiet—but in God. But,
[6.] Sixthly, If God is your portion, then you will own your God, and stand up courageously and resolutely for your God. Every man will defend his portion, and stand up stoutly and resolutely for his portion; and so will every Christian do for his God. Psalm 119:46, "I will speak of your testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed." David was resolved upon a noble and resolute owning of God and his testimonies before the greatest and the highest of men; and this he would do and not blush, this he would do and not be ashamed, this he would do and not be daunted. It was neither the majesty or authority of princes, it was neither the power or dread of princes, which could hinder David from giving in his testimony on God's side, or on truth's side. Josh 24:18, "We will serve the Lord, for he is our God." Josh 24:21-24, "But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the Lord." Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied. "Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel." And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the Lord our God and obey him."
They had chosen God to be their God, as God had chosen them to be his peculiar people above all the nations of the earth. Therefore, notwithstanding all that Joshua had objected, they were fully resolved to own the Lord, and to cleave to the Lord, and to obey the Lord, and wholly to devote themselves to the service of the Lord. Having taken the Lord to be their God, they were firmly resolved to own the Lord really, and to own him fully, and to own him primarily, and to own him only, and to own him everlastingly.
"You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands." Deuteronomy 26:17-18. They had declared God to be their God, and therefore they were resolved upon all those holy ways and means whereby they might evidence to the world their owning of God to be their God. And so in that 2 Chron 30:8, "They yield themselves unto the Lord," or, as the Hebrew has it, "They give the hand unto the Lord." You know when men make covenants or agreements to own one another, or to stand by one another, they commonly shake hands, or take one another by the hand. Certainly all those who have the Lord for their portion, have given their hands to the Lord—that they will own him, and stand by him, and cleave to him, as Jonathan did to David, or as Ruth did to Naomi.
How stoutly and courageously did the three children own the Lord, and stand by the Lord in the face of the fiery furnace, Dan 3:17-18. And Daniel will will choose to be rather cast into the den of lions, than that the honor of God should in the least be clouded, or his glory darkened by any neglects or omissions of his, Dan 6. And so did all those worthies, "of whom this world was not worthy," Heb 11:34. Oh, how did they own God, and stand up for God, notwithstanding the edge of the sword, the violence of fire, the cruel mockings and scourgings, the bonds and imprisonments, the stoning and sawing asunder, the temptings and wanderings about in sheepskins and goatskins, and all other trials and torments that did attend them.
Basil affirms that the primitive Christians did so courageously and resolutely own God, and stand up for God in the face of the most dreadful sufferings; that many of the heathens, seeing their heroic zeal, courage, magnanimity, and steadfastness, turned Christians. Domitian raised the second persecution against the Christians because they would not give the title of Lord to any but Christ, nor worship any but God alone. Among the many thousand instances that might be given, let me only give you a few of a later date, whereby you may see how courageously and resolutely the saints have stood up for God, and owned God, in the face of the greatest dangers that has attended them.
Luther owned God and stood up resolutely for God against the world. And when the emperor sent for him to Worms, and his friends dissuaded him from going, as sometimes Paul's did him, 'Go,' said he, 'I will surely go since I am sent for in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; yes, though I knew that there were as many devils in Worms to resist me as there be tiles to cover the houses—yet I would go!' And when he and his associates were threatened with many dangers from opposers on all hands, he lets fall this heroic and magnanimous speech, 'Come, let us sing the Psalm 46, and then let them do their worst!'
William Flower, the martyr, said that the heavens should as soon fall as he would forsake his profession, or budge in the least degree from it.
Apollonius, being asked if he did not tremble at the sight of the tyrant, made this answer, 'God, who has given him a terrible visage, has given also unto me an undaunted heart.'
When the persecutors by their dreadful threatenings labored to terrify one of the martyrs, he replied, that 'there was nothing of things visible, nor nothing of things invisible, that he was afraid of. I will,' says he, 'stand to my profession of the name of Christ, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.'
When Bishop Gardiner asked Rowland Taylor if he did not know him, etc., he answered, "Yes, I know you, and all your greatness—yet you are but a mortal man; and if I should be afraid of your lordly looks, why do you not fear God, the Lord of us all?"
The executioner kindling the fire behind Jerome of Prague, he bade him kindle it before his face, for, said he, if I had been afraid of it, I had not come to this place, having had so many opportunities offered me to escape it. And at the giving up of the Spirit, he said, "This soul of mine in flames of fire, O Christ, I offer you!"
When Dionysius was given up to the executioner to be beheaded, he remained resolute, courageous, and constant, saying, "Come life, come death, I will worship none but the God of heaven and earth."
Thus you see by these instances that men that have God for their portion will courageously own God, and bravely and resolutely stand up for God, whatever comes on it.
The blood that has been shed in most nations under heaven does clearly evidence this—that men will own their earthly portions, and that they will stand up stoutly, resolutely, and courageously in the defense of them. And so certainly will all those own God, and stand up in the defense of God, his glory, and truth—who have God for their portion. Take a true bred Christian, when he is himself, take a Christian in his ordinary course, and he cannot but own his God, and stand up stoutly and courageously for his God in the face of all difficulties and dangers. But,
[7.] Seventhly, If God is your portion—then you will look upon all things below your God as poor, low, mean, and contemptible things. Psalm 73:24-25. "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." A worldly man looks upon all things below his earthly portion as contemptible; and so does a Christian look upon all things below his God as contemptible. Phil 3:7-8, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish" (The Greek word properly signifies such sordid, coarse, and contemptible things, which are either cast away by dogs, or cast unto dogs), "that I may win Christ."
And it is very observable, that after this great apostle had been in the third heaven, and had been blessed with a glorious sight of God, he looked upon the world as a poor, base, low, contemptible thing, 2 Cor 12:1-3; Gal 6:14, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Paul scorned, despised, and rejected the world—and the world scorned, despised, and rejected him. Paul cast off the world—and the world cast off him. He disregarded the world—and the world disregarded him. He was dead to the world—and the world was dead to him. The world and Paul were well agreed: the world cared not a pin for Paul—and Paul cared not a straw for the world.
And so, when Moses had seen him who was invisible, when he had taken a full prospect of the eternal world, and when he had beheld God as his portion—oh, how does he slight, scorn, and trample upon all the honors, preferments, profits, pleasures, delights, and contentments of Egypt, as things below him, and as things that in no respects were worthy of him, Heb 11:24-27. It is a Rabbinical fable, that as a child, Moses had Pharaoh's crown given him to play with; and he made a football of it, and cast it down to the ground, and kicked it about, as if it were a sign of his future vilifying and despising of temporal things. I shall not much trouble my head about what Moses did when he was a child; but of this I am sure, having the word of God for it, "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter" that is, he did little less than make a football of Pharaoh's crown! Witness his refusing with an holy scorn and disdain to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and so to succeed Pharaoh in the throne.
And so in that Rev 12:1-2, "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven—a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." The church here is compared to a woman for her weakness, fruitfulness, and loveliness; and it is observable, that she is clothed with the sun, that is, with Christ's own loveliness and righteousness, which resembles the sun in its several properties and effects. Now this woman, the church, is said to have the moon under her feet. By the moon we are to understand all temporary and transitory things. Now the church treads upon all these things as trash and trumpery that were much below her, and despised by her. Look! as the great men of the world do commonly look upon all portions that are below their own, with an eye of scorn, disdain, and contempt—as Haman did, Esther 5:9-14; and as those bold daring sinners did—Psalm 73:4-14. So do those who have God for their portion look upon all things below their God, with an eye of scorn and disdain.
I have read of Lazarus, that after his resurrection from the dead, he was never seen to laugh; his thoughts, his heart, his affections were so fixed upon God, and so taken up with God, with his portion, that he was as a dead man to all the mirthful and great things of the world—he saw nothing in them worthy of a smile.
And so when once Galeacius, that famous Italian marquis, came to understand that God was his portion, in the face of the highest offers imaginable—of honor, favor, profit, and advancement—he cried out, 'Cursed be he who prefers all the glory of the world, to one day's communion with God!'
The old Grecians, who had altogether fed on acorns before—when bread came into use among them, they threw all their acorns to the swine. And the Lacedæmonians despised their iron and leather money—when gold and silver came into use among them. So when a man comes once to experience God to be his portion, ah, at what a low rate will he value the swelling honors, the deceitful riches, and the vanishing pleasures of this beggarly world! John 4:14. Christians are compared to eagles. Now the eagle is a kingly, a princely bird; it is a bird of a sharp piercing sight, and of a swift and lofty flight; it flies high and sets light by things below, except it be when necessity compels her—and so it is with those who have God for their portion; they fly high and they live high, in God, and therefore they cannot but set light by the toys and trifles of the world. But,
[8.] Eighthly, If God is your portion—then your God is most precious to you—then you set the highest price and value imaginable upon your God. Every man sets the highest price upon his portion. Though a man may set a good price upon his delightful gardens, his pleasant walks, his delicate fishponds, his fruitful trees, his sweet flowers, etc.—yet it is no price to that which he sets upon his chief portion. 'Well,' says a man, 'though here are an hundred things to delight my eye, and to please my fancy, and to satiate my appetite—yet I infinitely value my portion above them all.' Who but a fool would cast away a fortune—for a momentary pleasure?
So though a Christian may set a considerable value upon all his outward comforts and contentments—yet it is no value to that he sets upon his God—upon his portion. 'This and that are precious to me,' says a Christian—'but my God is infinitely more precious than all,' Psalm 18:24-25; Psalm 4:6-7. A Christian sets up God above his goods, Heb 10:34; and above his lusts, Gal 5:24; and above his relations, 1 Sam 30:1-7; yes, and above his very life. Rev 12:11, "And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death. Psalm 63:3, "Your loving-kindness is better than life." The Hebrew is lives. Put many lives together—yet there is more excellency and glory in the least beam, in the least discovery of divine love—than there is in all earth's vanities. A man may be weary of life—but never of divine love. Histories tell us of many who have been weary of their lives—but no histories can furnish us with an instance of any one that was ever weary of divine love.
Look! as the people prized David above themselves, saying, "You are worth ten thousand of us," 2 Sam 18:3, so those who indeed have God for their portion—oh how do they prize God above themselves, and above everything below themselves! And doubtless, those who do not lift up God above all—they have no saving interest in God at all. Whatever a man eyes as his greatest interest, that he sets up above all, and before all other things in the world. Now if a man eyes God as his greatest interest, he cannot but set God atop of all. I have not credulity enough to think that ever such did truly love God—who love anything more than God, or who set up anything above God, Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple."
Look! as Darius set up Daniel over all, and as Pharaoh set up Joseph above all; so a man who has God for his portion, he sets up God over all, and he sets up God above all. Augustine set so high a price upon Christ, that he has long since told us that he would willingly go through hell to Christ! Bernard said, 'I had rather be in my chimney-corner with Christ, than in heaven without him.' When one of the martyrs was offered riches and honors if he would recant, he made this excellent answer, 'Do but offer me something which is better than my Lord Jesus Christ—and I shall recant.' And I have read of another, that set so high a price upon the Lord Jesus, that whenever he did but mention the name of Jesus, his eyes dropped tears. Were every star in the skies a sun—yet a man who has God for his portion would prize him above them all.
'Do you ask me where be my jewels? My jewels are my husband,' said Phocion's wife. 'Do you ask me where be my ornaments? My ornaments are my two sons, brought up in virtue and learning,' said the mother of the Gracchi. 'Do you ask me where be my treasures? My treasures are my friends,' said Constantius,. So if you ask a Christian where his jewels, his ornaments, his treasures, his comforts, and the delights of his soul are—he will answer you that they are all in God! He will tell you that God is his portion, and that God is his great all, and that he enjoys all in God, and God in all, and therefore he cannot but prize God above all. But to prevent mistakes in this weighty case, let me give you a few brief hints; as,
[1.] First, If God is truly precious to you—then ALL of God is precious to you; his name is precious to you, his honor is precious to you, his ordinances are precious to you, his promises are precious to you, his precepts are precious to you, his threatenings are precious to you, his rebukes are precious to you, his people are precious to you, and all his concerns are precious to you.
Look! as every sparkling stone that is set round about a rich diamond is precious in the eyes of the jeweler, so is every sparkling excellency in God precious in his eyes, who sets a high value upon God. Look! as all of the newborn babe is precious in the eyes of the tender mother—as head, face, hands, arms, body, feet—so all of God is very precious in his eyes, who has any tender regard of God. Look! as all of a husband is precious in the eyes of a loving wife, namely, his person, name, credit, honor, estate, liberty, life, etc., so all of God is very precious in his eyes that loves God with a real love, with a superlative love. But,
[2.] Secondly, If God is most precious to you—then all the dishonors which are done to God, his truth, his worship, his ways, his ordinances, his institutions, his government, his people—are most grievous and burdensome to you. "The reproaches of those who reproached you have fallen upon me," Psalm 69:9; "I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved, because they kept not your word," Psalm 119:158. The word that is here translated grieved signifies to loathe, abhor, and contend—I beheld the transgressors, and I loathed them; I beheld the transgressors, and I abhorred them; I beheld the transgressors, and I contended with them—but not so much because they were mine enemies, as because they were yours.
It is just between God and all those who have a precious esteem of him, as it is between two lute-strings that are tuned one to another; no sooner one is struck but the other trembles. A saint cannot see God struck but his heart will tremble, Jer 9:1-4. A father, lying upon his deathbed, called three children to him which he kept, and told them that only one of them was his natural son, and that the other two were only brought up by him; therefore unto his son alone, he gave all his goods; but which of those three was his own son he would not declare. When he was dead, each of the three pleaded his birthright, and the matter being brought to trial, the judge, for the making, if possible, a true discovery, took this course. He caused the dead corpse of the father to be set up against a tree, and commanded the three sons to take bows and arrows to shoot at their father, to see who could come nearest to his heart. The first and second did shoot and hit him—but the third was very much angry and displeased with them both, and through the natural affection of a child to a father, threw away his bow and arrows, and would not shoot at all. This being done, the judge gave this sentence, namely, that the two who shot at their supposed father's heart were no sons—but that the third son, that would not shoot at all, and that was very much displeased with those who did shoot, was the true son, and that he should have the goods.
O Christians! every bitter word is an arrow shot at the heart of God; and every bloody oath is an arrow shot at the heart of God; and every heavy curse is an arrow shot at the heart of God; and every superstitious custom is an arrow shot at the heart of God; and every snare that is laid for the righteous is an arrow shot at the heart of God; and every yoke that is laid upon the people of God is an arrow shot at the heart of God; and every affront that by debauched people is given to God is an arrow shot at the heart of God, etc. And what true bred sons, what sincere sons, can see such arrows every hour in the day shot at the heart of God, and hear of such arrows that are shot a thousand thousand times in a day at the heart of God—and not grieve and mourn, and not be afflicted, troubled, displeased, and astonished to see men and to hear of men who were once made in the image of God—to be turned into such incarnate devils, as thus to deal with God, yes, with such a God as can speak them into hell at his pleasure! But,
[3.] Thirdly, If God is most precious to you—then you will part with anything for God, then you will let go of anything, that you may hold your God, and enjoy your God. Phil 3:7-8; Matt 13:46. Then your Isaac shall be made a sacrifice, if God will have it so, Gen 22, and your Benjamin shall be sent into Egypt, if God will have it so, Gen 43; then your Jonah shall be cast overboard, if God will have it so, Jon 1; then out goes the right eye, and off goes the right hand, upon a divine command; then you will never cry out—Oh! this mercy is too near to me to part with for God, and that comfort is too dear to me to part with for God, etc. Oh no! But then you will say, as the king of Sodom said to Abraham, "Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself," Gen 14:21. So you will say, "Give us God, oh give us God, and let who will, take the goods; let who will, take the honors, and the profits, and the pleasures of this world. It is enough that Joseph is alive; it is enough if we may but enjoy our God."
A prince will part with anything—rather than he will part with his crown-jewels; and so will a Christian rather part with anything—rather than to part with his God, whom he values above all the crown jewels in the world. But,
[4.] Fourthly, If God is most precious to you—then you can never have enough of God. You can never have enough of communion with God; you can never have enough of the presence of God; you can never have enough of the Spirit of God; you can never have enough of the discoveries of God; you can never have enough of the assistance of God; you can never have enough of the secret influences of God; you can never have enough of the comforts and strong consolations of God, etc. [Psalm 27:4; 84:1-12; 42:1-2; 63:1-8; Song 8:14; Rev 22:20] The grave, the barren womb, the mammonist, the pope, the Turk, the devil, and hell—will be as soon satisfied—as you can be satisfied without clearer, further, and fuller enjoyments of God. "No man," says God to Moses, "can see my face, and live," Exod 33:20; upon which words Austin makes this short but sweet reply, "Then, Lord, let me die, that I may see your face!" It is impossible that ever a man's heart should rest satisfied until he comes to a full and perfect enjoyment of that which he has set up as his grand interest—as his great all. But,
[5.] Fifthly and lastly, If God is most precious to you—then you will give up yourself wholly to God without any reservation. Whatever a man sets up as his great interest—to that he devotes himself—to the service of that he wholly gives up himself. So when a man eyes God as his most precious interest, and sets up God as his most precious interest—he cannot but devote himself wholly to God—he cannot but give up himself wholly to God. [Song 2:16; Acts 7:2-4; Acts 13:22; Luke 5:6-7] Psalm 119:94, "I am yours, save me." I am not my own, nor sin's, nor Satan's, nor the world's, nor friends', nor relations'—but I am yours! I am really yours, I am wholly yours, I am only yours, I am always yours! I am your to be sanctified, and I am your to be saved; I am your to be commanded, and I am your to be ruled. Lord, I am your own, and therefore do with your own as you please; and dispose of your own as you please. I am at your foot, willing in some measure to be anything or nothing—as shall seem best in your own eyes.
When the keys of the whole house, and of every room in the house, are given up to the king to be at his disposal, at his service—then he is entertained as a king, and honored as a king, and valued and prized as a king. And so when all the keys of the soul, and every room in the soul, and every faculty of the soul, are given up to God to be at his disposal, at his service—then God is entertained as a God, and honored as a God, and valued and prized as a God—but not until then.
By these five hints, if you will not put a cheat upon your own souls, you may know whether God sits in the uppermost room of your hearts or not; and whether God is set up in your hearts above all; and whether he be indeed your great all, and your all in all. But,
(9.) Ninthly, If God is your portion—then there is no loss in all the world that lies so hard and so heavy upon you as the loss of your God. There is no loss under heaven that does so affect and afflict a man who has God for his portion—as the loss of his God. David met with many a loss—but no loss made so sad and so great a breach upon his spirit as the loss of the face of God, the loss of the favor of God. Psalm 30:6-7, "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by your favor you have made my mountain to stand strong—you hid your face, and I was troubled." The Hebrew word signifies to be greatly troubled, to be sorely terrified, as you may see in that 1 Sam 28:21, "And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled." Here is the same Hebrew word. Saul was so terrified with that dreadful news, which the devil in Samuel's likeness told him—that he fell into a swoon. And it was even so with David upon God's hiding of his face. David was like a withered flower that had lost all its sap, life, and vigor, when God had wrapped up himself in a cloud.
The life of some creatures lies in the light and warmth of the sun; and so does the life of the saints lie in the light and warmth of God's countenance. And as in an eclipse of the sun there is a drooping in the whole frame of nature, so when God hides his face, gracious souls cannot but droop and languish, and bow down themselves before him. Many flowers, some by opening and shutting, as marigolds and tulips; others by bowing and inclining the head, as the sun-flower and mallow-flowers—are so sensible of the presence and absence of the sun, that there seems to be such a sympathy between the sun and them, that if the sun is gone or clouded, they wrap up themselves, or hang down their heads, as being unwilling to be seen by any eye but his that fills them. And just thus it was with David when God had hid his face in a cloud.
It is very observable that Job did bear up very sweetly, bravely, patiently, and nobly under all his great losses of children, estate, etc.; but when the arrows of the Almighty were got within him, then he complains that his grief was heavier than the sands of the sea, Job 6:1-5; and when the face of God was hidden from him, how sadly does he lament and bewail the withdrawings of God—"I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him," Job 23:8-9.
There is no pain more grievous and tormenting than that of breaking the bones. Now David again and again pitches upon this, to hint unto you that dreadful smart and pain that his soul was under when he had lost his communion with God, and when his God was withdrawn from him, and had hid his face from him, Psalm 38:8; Psalm 51:8.
The church sadly laments the loss of her beloved in that Solomon's Song 5:6, "I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone! (or, he was gone, he was gone) My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer." Now this passionate duplication speaks out her very great grief and trouble. Like a sad widow, she sits down and wrings her hands, and cries out, "He is gone, he is gone!" "My heart sank" or, as the Hebrew has it, "my soul went out of me." I was even as an astonished creature, I was even as a dead creature, to note how greatly and how deeply she was troubled and perplexed upon the account of his withdrawing from her. Oh! the fear, the terror, the horror, the dread, the grief, the sorrow that fell upon the spouse's heart when her beloved had turned his back upon her.
And so it was with Mary. John 20:11-13, "but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away,'" she said, 'and I don't know where they have put him." Of all losses, Mary was least able to bear the loss of her Lord. The loss was so great, and so heavy the loss, that she was not able to stand under it with dry eyes. Mary's mourning for the loss of her Lord was like that of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon, Zech 12:11. There is no loss that comes so near to a Christian's heart as the loss of his Lord. A Christian can a thousand times better bear the loss of his name—which next to his soul and his grace is the best jewel that he has in all the world, the loss of his estate, the loss of his liberty, the loss of his nearest and dearest relations, yes, the very loss of his life—than he can bear the loss of his God.
You see how sadly Micah takes on for the loss of his wooden gods, in that Judg 18:23-24, "As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, 'What's the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?' He replied, 'You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?" Now if Micah was so affected and afflicted upon the loss of his idol gods, his wooden gods; what cause then have Christians to be deeply affected and afflicted when they come to lose their God, who is the true God, the living God, the Only God, and the God of gods!
You know that when Samson's locks were cut off, his strength was gone, Judg 16:19-21. Therefore, though he thought to go out, and do as great things as he had formerly done—yet he found by woeful experience that he could not; for now he had become as weak as other men. And it is just so with the choicest saints—when their God is gone, their locks are cut, and their strength is gone, their doing strength, and their suffering strength, and their bearing strength, and their wrestling strength, and their prevailing strength, etc., is gone when their God is gone. Yes, when God goes, all goes! When the king leaves, all his train follows; when God goes, comforts go; when God goes, joys go; when God goes, peace goes; when God goes, prosperity goes; when God goes, friends go; when God goes, all contentment and satisfaction goes. Therefore it is no wonder to see a Christian better bear any loss than the loss of his God; for in losing of him he loses all. A Christian counts it his only happiness to enjoy his God, and his only unhappiness to be deprived of him. The constant language of a Christian is, "None but God, none but God!" as it was once the language of the martyr, "None but Christ, none but Christ!"
Outward losses to some men have been unsufferably afflictive. One being turned out of his estate runs out of his wits; another hangs himself with the same hands with which he had formerly counted his portion. Menippus of Phoenicia having lost his goods, strangled himself. Dinarcus Phidon, at a certain great loss, cut his own throat. When Henry the Second heard that his city Mentz was taken, he let fall this blasphemous speech—'I shall never love God any more, now that has allowed a city so dear to me to be taken away from me.' And Augustus Caesar, in whose time Christ was born, was so troubled and astonished at the loss and overthrow that Varus gave him, that for months together he let the hair of his head and beard grow without cutting, and sometimes he would run his head against the very doors, and cry out, 'Quintilius Varus, deliver up my legions again; Quintilius Varus, deliver up my legions again!' I might give you many sad instances nearer home—but that I prefer not to harp upon so sad a string.
But certainly no outward losses can lie so heavy upon the spirit of a worldling, as the loss of God lies upon the spirit of a saint. I have read of a pious woman, that having brought forth nine children, professed that she had rather endure all the pains of those nine travails at once, than endure the misery of the loss of God's presence. A man can better bear any loss than the loss of his box of jewels, and than the loss of his documents and evidences that he has to show for his estate. Therefore, when his house is on fire, he does not cry out, 'Oh save that bed, or that chest, or that dish, or that stool, etc.' But he cries out, 'Oh save my box of jewels! oh save my writings! I care not though all be consumed, so my box of jewels and my documents are but saved!'
Now God is a Christian's box of jewels, he is a Christian's grand evidence that he has to show for another world. Therefore his greatest fear is of losing his God, and his greatest care is of keeping his God. If his box of jewels is safe—then all is safe. But if they are lost—all is lost! How then is it possible for a Christian to bear up bravely under the loss of all? A man may bear up bravely under the loss of his lumber, and under the loss of his household goods, so long as his jewels are safe and his documents are safe; but if his box of jewels should be lost, and his documents should be burnt, why, then, he wrings his hands, and cries out, 'Oh, I am undone! I am undone! I am undone!'
Just so, a Christian can bear up bravely under this worldly loss, and that worldly loss, and the other worldly loss—so long as he enjoys his God; but when he has lost his God, oh then, he cannot but wring his hands, and cry out, 'I am undone! I am undone! I am undone! I have lost my God, and in losing of him, I have lost my life, I have lost my love, I have lost my joy, I have lost my crown, I have lost my heaven, I have lost my happiness, I have lost my all.' O Christians! if God is your portion—it will be thus with you upon the loss of your God. But,
(10.) Tenthly, If God is your portion—then you will set the highest price, value, and esteem—upon those who have God for their portion, Psalm 16:3; Prov 12:26, 28:6. A man who has God for his portion, never values men for their arts, parts, gifts, mirthful clothes, gold chains. No, neither by their birth, breeding, high offices, or great places. No, neither by their outward dignities, honors, or riches, etc.—but by their interest and property in God. A man who has God for his portion, prizes a poor ragged Lazarus who has God for his portion, before a rich Dives that has only gold for his portion. If you have God for your portion, then there is no man in court, city, or country—compared to that man who has God for his portion. Then there is no man in a parish, a country, a kingdom—compared to him who has God for his portion. A man who has God for his portion, has a higher esteem and a greater respect for a Job, though stripped of all, and sitting upon a ash-heap, than he has for a wicked Ahab, though sitting on his royal throne.
Paul set a higher price upon Onesimus, though but a servant, a slave, because he had God for his portion—than he did upon Nero, though he was a great and mighty emperor, Philem 10,12,17; 2 Tim 4:17. And king Ingo valued poor ragged Christians who had God for their portion—above all his glittering pagan nobles who had only the world for their portion, saying, that when all his pagan nobles should, in all their pomp and glory, be turned into hell; those poor Christians, who had God for their portion, should be his consorts and fellow-princes in heaven.
Look! as men who have their portion in this world do value men according to their worldly portions, so that those who have most gold and silver, and rr have most lordships and lands—they are the best men, the happiest men, the only men in their eyes. Just so, a Christian who has God for his portion, sets the highest value upon those who have God for their portion; and there are no men in all the world who are so high in his books as they are. A man who has a saving interest in God loves none, nor likes none, nor honors none, nor delights in none, nor exalts none, nor values none—compared to those who have God for their portion. Though the men, the great men of this world may sit in the uppermost seats at his table—yet those who have God for their portion, sit in the uppermost rooms of his heart. The Jews say that those seventy souls that went with Jacob into Egypt, were as much worth as all the seventy nations in the world. And I may say, that one soul who has God for his portion, is more worth than all the souls in the world, who have only the world for their portion. A man who has God for his portion, cannot but set a very high value upon all those who have God for their portion, though in minor disputable things they may differ from him. A man who has God for his portion, had rather live with those who have God for their portion in a prison, in a dungeon—than live with those who have only the world for their portion in a royal palace. As Algerius, an Italian martyr, was accustomed to say, that he had rather live in prison with Cato—than with Caesar in the palace. And Doctor Taylor, the martyr, rejoiced exceedingly that ever he came into prison, because he came there to have acquaintance with that angel of God, John Bradford, as he calls him.
A man who has God for his portion, does as it were, tie those who have God for their portion, around his heart. Oh, he is always best when they are most in his eye, and nearest to his heart. It is his happiness on this side happiness to enjoy communion with them; and it is the greatest unhappiness in this world to be separated from them, Psalm 120:5-7. A man who has God for his portion, values the company of those who have God for their portion—above all other company in the world; and he values the favor of such—above all other men's favor in the world; and he values the prayers of such—above all other men's prayers in the world; and he values the counsels of such—above all other men's counsel in the world; and he values the experiences of such—above all other men's experiences in the world; and he values the interest of such—above all other men's interest in the world; and he values the hopes and expectations of such—above all other men's hopes and expectations in the world; and he values the examples of such—above the examples of all other men in the world; and he values the displeasure and anger of such—above all other men's displeasure and anger in the world. But,
[11.] Eleventhly, If God is your portion—then you are his portion. If you have a saving interest in God—then God has a saving interest in you; if you have a property in God—then God has a property in you; if God is truly yours—then you are really his. Song 2:16, "My beloved is mine—and I am his." Psalm 119:94, "I am yours—save me!" I am not mine own, I am not sin's, I am not Satan's, I am not the world's, I am not friends', I am not relations'—but I am yours, save me! I am really yours, I am totally yours, I am solely yours, I am everlastingly yours, save me! Ezek 16:8, "I entered into covenant with you—and you became mine!"
Deut 32:9, "For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." Though God's people are despised of the world—yet they are dear to God, for they are his portion. In these words, "Jacob is the lot of his inheritance," he alludes to the division of the land of Canaan, as if the sons of Jacob had fallen to him by lot. The Lord's people are as dear to God, and as near to God, and in as great account with God; as earthly portions and inheritances are or can be among the sons of men. Jer 12:10, "Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion (or as the Hebrew has it, 'my portion of desire or of delight') a desolate wilderness." God's people are not only his portion—but they are his pleasant portion, yes, they are his desirable portion, his delightful portion. If the Lord is your portion, then you are his inheritance, Isaiah 19:25; and his peculiar treasure, Exod 19:5; and his glory, Isaiah 46:13; and his ornament, Ezek 7:20; and his throne, Jer 17:12; and his diadem, Isaiah 62:3; and his jewels, Mal 3:17. These scriptures speak out plainly and clearly that great property and interest that God has in all those who have a property and interest in him.
O Christians! Look! that as in all God has—you have an interest; so in all your concerns—God has an interest. And look! as what God is—he is for you; so what you are—you are for God. And look! as God is sincerely for you—so you are sincerely for God; and as God is wholly for you—so you are wholly for God; and as God is only for you—so you are only for God; and as God is in all things for you—so in all things you are for God; and as God is at all times for you—so you are at all times for God.
O Christians! There are none under heaven who have that interest in you—as God has—if indeed he is your portion. Look what interest the head has in the members, the husband in the wife, the father in the child, the Lord in his servant, the general in his soldier, and the prince in his subject—that, all that, and more than that—has God in all those who have a saving interest in him. There is no man in the world who has such an interest in himself, as God has in him—-if indeed God is his portion. Sin cannot say to a man who has God for his portion, 'You are mine!' Nor Satan cannot say to a man who has God for his portion, 'You are mine!' Nor the world cannot say to a man who has God for his portion, 'You are mine!' Nor the creature cannot say to a man who has God for his portion, 'You are mine!' It is only God who can say to such a man, 'You are mine!'
As in marriage, none can say, 'This woman is mine'—but the husband; so none can say to a man who has God for his portion, 'You are mine'—but God alone. Look! as no man can truly say, that 'God is my Lord, and my God, and my father, and my friend, and my wisdom, and my counsel, and my righteousness, and my consolation, and my salvation, and my portion, and my light, and my life, and my love, and my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, and my strength, and my shield, and my high tower, and my help, and my happiness, and my blessedness, and my all in all'—but he who has God for his portion; so none but God can look upon a gracious person, and say, 'This gracious person is mine; he is my bride, my child, my friend, my favorite, my beloved, my darling, my joy, my crown! His heart is set upon me, and his love is inflamed towards me, and his trust and confidence is fixed on me, and his desires and longings are running out after me, and all his joys and delights are terminated in me!' But,
[12.] Twelfthly, If God is your portion—then certainly the least of God is very dear and precious to you. Oh then the least truth of God will be very precious to you, and the least command of God will be very precious to you, and the least child of God will be very precious to you, and the least concern of God will be very precious to you. Look! as the least beam of light is precious, and as the least drop of honey is precious, and as the least dust of gold is precious, and as the least degree of health and strength is precious, and as the least measure of liberty is precious; so the very least of God is very precious to that man who has God for his portion. Look! as every little piece and parcel of a worldly man's portion is very dear and precious to him, so every little piece and parcel of God—if I may so speak—is very dear and precious to him who has God for his portion.
The least glimpse and manifestations of the love and favor of God, the least taste of the mercies of God, the least anointings of the Spirit of God, the least communications of the grace of God, and the least drops of the consolations of God—are exceedingly sweet and precious to him who has God for his portion. The least good look that a man has from God, and the least good word that a man hears from God, and the least love letter and love token that a man receives from God, is exceedingly precious to that man who has God for his portion. "One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere," Psalm 84:10. He does not say, One year in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere—but "One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere;" nor does he not say, One quarter of a year in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere—but "One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere;" nor he does not say, One month in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere—but "One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere;" to show that the very least of God is exceeding precious to a gracious soul who has God for his portion.
Now by these twelve particulars you may all know whether God is your portion or not, except you are resolved beforehand to put a cheat upon your own immortal souls, and so to make yourselves miserable in both worlds. And let thus much suffice for this use of trial and examination.
Now if, upon trial and examination, any of you shall come to some comfortable satisfaction in your own spirits, that God is your portion, and that you have an undoubted interest and property in God, oh then I would upon the knee of my soul entreat and beseech you, I might say, charge and command you, to evidence and declare to all the world your interest and property in God.
But you will say, How should we evidence and declare to the world our interest and property in God? we are willing to do it, if we did but know how we should do it. Why then, thus:
[1.] First, Evidence and declare your interest and property in God—by your laboring and endeavoring with all your might to draw on others to get a saving interest and property in God. [Num 10:29; John 1:39-49; John 4:28-30; Acts 10:24-27] O Christians! have you been convinced of the necessity and excellency of interest and property in God? have you experienced the profit, the sweet, the comfort, and the happiness of property and interest in God? How then can you but strive, as for life, to persuade others to look after their interest and property in Christ, as the one thing necessary? When Samson had tasted honey, he gave his father and mother some with him, Judg 14:8-9. O my brethren, property and interest in God is so sweet a morsel, that I cannot see how it is possible for a man to taste of it and not to commend it to others. Those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, cannot but cry out with the psalmist, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 34:8.
Property and interest in God will never make a man a churl; it will never work a man to make a monopoly of so rare a jewel as that is. Oh the fervent prayers! Oh the burning desires! Oh the vehement wishes! Oh the strong endeavors of such who have a saving interest and property in God, to draw on others to seek after a saving interest and property in God! All true property and interest in God is of a diffusive nature; it is like light—which will spread itself over all; it is like leaven—which will permeate through all; it is like Mary's box of sweet ointment—which filled all the house with the sweet scent thereof. If you are a minister, evidence your property in God in doing all you can to provoke those who are under your charge to secure their property in God; other things cannot be secured—but property in God may be secured, Acts 26:29. If you are a magistrate who has a property in God, evidence it by doing all you can, by your commands, and by your counsel, and by your example, and by your prayers, to persuade and win others over to be restless until they have secured their interest and property in God, Josh 24:15. If you are a father who has interest and property in God, oh, then, let your soul be still in travail for your children, until Christ is formed in them, until they are new born, and until they have experienced the power and sweet of property and interest in God. But,
[2.] Secondly, Evidence your property and interest in God—by keeping far off from all such sinful courses, practices, and compliances, that may any ways put yourselves or others to question the truth of your property and interest in God. Thus did those worthies, "of whom this world was not worthy," in Hebrews 11. It is very observable that when the holy things belonging to the sanctuary were to be removed, God commanded Aaron and his sons that there should be a special care had to cover them all over, lest in journeying dust should any ways soil them, Num 4:5-13. O beloved! it highly concerns you who have a saving interest and property in God, to look narrowly to your hearts, words, works, and ways, and to see that there be such a covering of grace and holiness, such a covering of care, fear, wisdom, watchfulness, and circumspection over your whole man, that no scandalous sins, pollutions, or defilements be found upon you; according to that exhortation of the apostle, in Phil 2:15, "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Rev 14:3-5; Rev 3:4.
I have read of the dove, that there is such a native dread of the hawk implanted in her, that she is afraid of every feather that has grown upon a hawk, and that she so detests and abhors the very sight of any such feather that she will fly from it, and keep at the greatest distance imaginable from it. And shall not that divine fear, O Christians! that is planted by the hand of the Spirit in your hearts, be of as great force and prevalence to keep your souls from all those enormities and wicked compliances that may in the least occasion you or others to question your property and interest? You know a copyist may by one great blot at last spoil all that he has done for many days before upon a large patent or lease; so a man may by one foul blot, by one enormous crime, by one wretched act of compliance—dash and obliterate the fairest copy of a virtuous life, and blot out all the visible golden characters of divine graces that once seemed to be printed upon the soul.
Look! as one drop of ink colors a whole glass of water, so one gross sin, one shameful action, one hour's compliance with anything of antichrist—will color and stain all the great things that ever you have suffered, and all the good things that ever you have performed; it will stain and color all the good prayers that you have made, and all the good sermons that ever you have heard, and all the good books that ever you have read, and all the good words that ever you have spoke, and all the good works that ever you have done. And therefore, whatever you do, keep off from sin, and keep off from all sinful compliances—as you would keep off from hell itself! But,
[3.] Thirdly, Declare and evidence your property and interest in God—by maintaining and keeping up the sense of your interest and property in God, in opposition to all other interest whatever. Maintain your interest in God in opposition to sin's interest, and in opposition to Satan's interest, and in opposition to the world's interest, and in opposition to antichrist's interest, and in opposition to all carnal and superstitious interests, Psalm 63:1; Rev 14:1-4—as Moses did, and as Joshua and Caleb did, and as Mordecai and Nehemiah did, and as Daniel and the three children did, and as the apostles and the primitive Christians did. Certainly the heart of a gracious man cannot but rise, and his anger and indignation cannot but swell, against every thing and every interest that threatens to make a breach upon his interest and property in God, Psalm 69:9. A man who has a saving interest and property in God, in the midst of all oppositions, is like a man made up all of fire, walking in stubble and straw—he overcomes and consumes all oppositions, and all difficulties do but increase his fortitude. He encourages his soul in the face of all oppositions and dangers, as Hezekiah once did his soldiers in that 2 Chron 32:7-8, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said."
He is a fool, we say, that will be laughed out of his coat; but certainly he is a fool in folio that will be laughed out of his skin, nay, out of his soul, out of his profession, out of his eternal salvation; but doubtless such fools as these have never experienced the sweet of property and interest in God. Perhaps there were many broad jests and many bitter scoffs broken upon Noah, while he was a-building of his ark. The people laughed at him, and derided him, and thought the poor old man only dreamed; but yet Noah's property and interest in God being clear, Noah begins his work, and goes on his work, and never ceases until he had finished that work that God had set him about.
Dogs bark most when the moon is at fullest; but let the dogs bark ever so much, the moon will run her course. She will walk her station securely through the heavens, though all the dogs in the town bark ever so fiercely at her. Just so, a man who has a saving interest and property in God, and knows it—he is like the moon, he will hold on his course heavenwards and holiness-wards, though all the lewd and debauched wicked wretches in city and country should bark at him, and deride him, and oppose him, and speak all manner of evil against him. Property and interest in God will make a man set light by all such paper-shot, yes, it will carry him through the shots, not only of evil tongues—but it will also carry him through the most fierce and eager opposition that either Satan himself, or any of his instruments, can possibly raise against him. But,
[4.] Fourthly, Declare and evidence your property and interest in God—by your sweet and noble behavior and deportment towards Christians. Look! as a child behaves it in a different way towards his father, that to what he does towards others, so you must behave a different way towards Christians, to what you do towards those who have no interest nor property at all in God. Though a wife be very kind and courteous to all comers and goers—yet she behaves in a very different way to her husband from what she does to all others; she behaves with a great deal more kindness, and sweetness, and tenderness, and familiarness, and nobleness, etc., towards her husband, than she does towards others, whether they be friends or strangers; and just thus should you behave towards Christians.
I have not faith enough to believe that such men have any interest and property in God, who behave very harshly, and proudly, and churlishly, and scornfully, and deridingly, and tyrannically, and disdainfully, and enviously, and maliciously, and rigorously, and sourly, and bitterly, etc., towards Christians; and yet behave at the same time very fairly, and sweetly, and courteously, etc., towards such wretches that have no interest or property in God at all, yes, to such who blaspheme his name, and who pollute his ordinances, and who trample upon his mercies, and who despise his warnings, and who are given up to their own hearts' lusts, and who live as if there were neither God, nor heaven, nor hell But,
[5.] Fifthly, Evidence your interest and property in God—by doing such things for God, which such as have no interest in God cannot do, nor will not do, nor have no heart nor mind to do. Evidence your interest in God, by doing singular things for God, Matt 5:44-48; by doing such things for God that are above their reach that have no interest nor property in God at all; as by denying yourselves—your sinful selves, your natural selves, and your religious selves; and by keeping a singular guard upon your own hearts, words, and ways; and by stepping over the world's crown to take up Christ's cross, as Moses did, Heb 11:24; and by lessening yourselves to greaten Christ, as John did, John 3:30-32; and by lifting up of Christ above your lusts, above yourselves, above the world, above outward privileges, above your performances, above your arts, parts, and gifts, as Paul did, Phil 3:7-9; and by blessing a taking God as well as a giving God, as Job did, Job 1; and by rejoicing and glorying in all the afflictions and sufferings that befall you for Christ's sake and the gospel's sake, as the apostles and primitive Christians did; and by choosing to suffer rather than to sin, as those worthies did "of whom this world was not worthy;" and by keeping of yourselves from the defilements, pollutions, and abominations of the times, as some in Sardis did, Rev 3:4; and by following of the Lamb wherever he goes, as those hundred and forty-four thousand did, who had their Father's name written in their foreheads, Rev 14:1-5.
[6.] Sixthly and lastly, Evidence your interest and property in God—by falling roundly in with the interest of God, in opposition to all carnal interests in the world. O Christians! the interest of God will by degrees eat out and swallow up all other interests in the world. Look! as Pharaoh's lean cow ate up the fat cows, Gen 41:4; and as Aaron's rod swallowed up the Egyptians' rods, Exod 7:11-12, so the interest of God will in time eat up and swallow up all that superstitious, carnal, worldly, anti-christian, and Satanic interest that men labor now to uphold, with all their might, Isaiah 8:9-10.
Dan 2:35, "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth." Dan 2:44, "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever." And so Dan 7:27, "Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him." Rev 17:12-14, "The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." If these scriptures do not clearly evidence, that the interest of Christ shall swallow up all other interests, I understand nothing.
Now mark, the people of God are the interest of God, and the gospel of God is the interest of God, and the ordinances of God are the interest of God, and the institutions and pure worship of God are the interest of God, etc. And therefore, all you who have a saving interest and property in God, evidence it by your ready and resolute falling in with the interest of God. Believe it, those who fall in with the interest of God, shall fall in with the strongest side, and will be sure to carry it against ten thousand worlds. What is the stubble to the flames? what is weakness to strength? what is impotency to omnipotency? what is folly to wisdom? what is emptiness to fullness? No more are all the carnal interests in the world to the interest of God. Therefore thrice happy is that man who falls timely and cordially in with the interest of God.
But now, if upon trial and examination any of you shall find that yet the Lord is not your portion, and this I believe will be the case of many of you, I would exhort all such people to labor with all their might, yes, to labor as for life, to get the Lord to be their portion. O this is the one thing necessary, this is the sun among the stars, this is the work of works that lies upon your hands; when this is done—all is done; until this be done—there is nothing done which will do you good in another world. O Christians! your lives lie upon it, your souls lie upon it, eternity lies upon it—your all lies upon it. Therefore you had need be restless until you have gained the Lord to be your portion.