The Christian's Charter

Showing the Privileges of a Believer

by Thomas Watson

"All things are yours!"
1 Corinthians 3:21

Chapter 21. The Believer's Objections answered.

There are three great objections which he makes.

Objection. 1. "Alas!" says he, "I cannot tell whether I have faith or not."

Answer. Have you no faith? How did you come to see that? A blind man cannot see. You cannot see the lack of grace—but by the light of grace.

Question. "But surely, if I had faith I would be able to discern it?"

Answer 1. You may have faith, and not know it. A man may sometimes seek for that, which he has in his hand. Mary was with Christ, she saw him, she spoke with him—yet her eyes were blurred, that she did not know it was Christ. The child lives in the womb—yet does not know that it lives.

Answer 2. Faith often lies hidden in the heart, and we see it not, for lack of search. The fire lies hidden in the embers—but blow aside the ashes, and it is discernable. Faith may be hidden under fears, or temptations; but blow away the ashes! You prize faith. If had you a thousand jewels lying by, you would part with all of them—for this jewel of faith! No man can prize grace—but he who has it. You desire faith; the true desire of faith, is faith. You mourn for lack of faith; dispute not—but believe! What are these tears—but the seeds of faith.

Objection. 2. "But my faith is weak. The hand of faith so trembles, that I fear it will hardly lay hold upon Christ."

Answer. There are seven things which I shall say in reply to this.

1. A little faith is faith; as a sparkle of fire is fire. Though the pearl of faith be little—yet if it be a true pearl, it shines in God's eyes. This little grace is the seed of God, and it shall never die—but live as a sparkle in the main sea.

2. A weak faith will entitle us to Christ, just as well as a stronger faith. "To those who have obtained like precious faith," 2 Pet. 1:1. Not but that there are degrees of faith—as faith sanctifies, so all faith is not alike, one is more than another. But as faith justifies, so faith is alike precious. The weakest faith justifies, just as well as the faith of the most eminent saint! A weak hand is able to receive great alms. For a man to doubt of his grace because it is weak, is to rely upon his grace, rather than upon Christ.

3. The promise is not made to strong faith—but to true faith. The promise does not say, Whoever has a faith which can move mountains, or which can stop the mouths of lions—shall be saved; but whoever believes—be his faith ever so small. The promise is made to true faith, and for the most part to weak faith. What is a grain of mustard seed, what is a bruised reed—but the emblems of a weak faith? Yet the promise is made to these: "A bruised reed he will not break." The words are a figure of speech, where the lesser is put for the greater. He will not break, that is, he will bind it up! Though Christ chides a weak faith—yet that it may not be discouraged, he makes a promise to it. Hierome observes upon the beatitudes, there are many of the promises made to weak grace; Matt. 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit"; "blessed are those who mourn," verse 4, "blessed are those who hunger," verse 5.

4. A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things may multiply most. The vine is a weak plant, it must be borne up and under-propped—but it is fruitful; it is made in scripture the emblem of fruitfulness. The thief on the cross, when he was newly converted, had but a weak faith; but how many precious clusters grew upon that vine! Luke 23:40. He chides his fellow-thief, "Do you not fear God?" He falls to self-judging, "we indeed suffer justly." He makes a heavenly prayer, and believes in Christ when he says, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom!" Here was a young plant—but very fruitful. Weak Christians often are most fruitful in affections. How strong is the first love to Christ, which is after the first planting of faith!

5. A Christian may mistake, and think he is weak in faith, because he is weak in assurance. But faith may be strongest—when assurance is weakest. Assurance is rather the fruit of faith. The woman of Canaan was weak in assurance—but was strong in faith. Christ gives her three repulses—but her faith stands the shock. She pursues Christ with a holy obstinacy of faith, insomuch that Christ sets a trophy of honor upon her faith, "O woman, great is your faith!" It may be a strong faith, though it does not see the print of the nails! It is a heroic faith which can swim against wind and tide, and believe against hope. Christ sets the crown upon the head of faith—not of assurance! John 20:29, "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed."

6. God has most care of weak believers. The mother tends the weak child the most. "God will gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom." The Lord has a great care of his weak tribes: when Israel marched towards Canaan, the tribes were divided into several companies or brigades: now it is observable, all the weak tribes were not put together, lest they should discourage one another, and so have fainted in their march. But God puts a strong tribe with two weak tribes; as Issachar, Zebulun, two weak tribes, and Judah a victorious tribe. Therefore he gives the lion in his standard. Surely this was not without a mystery, to show what care God has of his weak children! Christ the lion of the tribe of Judah shall be joined to them.

7. Weak faith is a growing faith. It is resembled by the grain of mustard-seed, which, of all seeds, is the least. But when it is full-grown, it is the "greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches." Faith must have a growing time. The seed springs up by degrees, first the blade, and then the ear; and then the full corn in the ear. The strongest faith had once been weak. The faith that has been renowned in the world, was once in its infancy. Grace is like the waters of the sanctuary, which rose higher and higher. Wait on the ordinances, these are the breasts to nourish faith. Do not be discouraged at your weak faith; though it be now in the blossom and bud, it will come to the full flower.

Objection. 3. "But," says a child of God, "I fear I am not elected!"

Answer. What! a believer—and not elected? Who told you that you were not elected? Have you seen your name in the black book of reprobation? Even the angels cannot unclasp this book—and will you meddle with it? Which is our duty to study, God's secret will, or his revealed will? It is a sin for any man to say he is a reprobate—as that which keeps him in sin, must needs be a sin. This opinion keeps him in sin, it cuts the sinews of endeavor. Who will take pains for heaven—who gives himself up for lost? O believer, be of good comfort, you need not look into the book of God's decree—but look into the book of your heart, see what is written there! He who finds the Bible copied out into his heart—his nature transformed, the bias of his will changed, the signature and engravings of the Holy Spirit upon him—this man does not look like a reprobate!

When you see the fruits of the earth spring up, you conclude the sun has been there! It is hard to climb up into election. But if we find the fruits of holiness springing up in our hearts—we may conclude the Sun of Righteousness has risen there, 2 Thes. 2:13. "God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit." By our sanctification we must calculate our election. Indeed, God in saving us, begins at the highest link of the chain, election; but we must begin at the lowest link of the chain, sanctification, and so ascend higher.

Therefore laying aside all disputes, let me pour in of the wine of consolation. You who are a believer, (and though you will not affirm it—yet you cannot deny it without sin) let me do two things, show you your happiness, then your duty.

1. Behold your happiness! All the things which you have heard of, present and to come—are your portion and privilege! What shall I say to you? All my expressions fall short! When I speak of things to come, I know not how to express myself but by a deep silence and astonishment. O the magnitude and magnificence of the saints' glory! The ascent to it is so high, that it is too high for any man's thoughts to climb! The most sublime spirit, would here be too low and insipid. How happy are you, O believer! If God himself can make you blessed, you shall be so! If being invested with Christ's robes, enameled with his beauty, replenished with his love—if all the dimensions of glory will make you blessed, you shall be so! O the infinite superlative happiness of a believer! All things to come are his!

What! To have a partnership with the angels, those blessed spirits! Nay, to speak with reverence, to have a partnership with God himself! To be enriched with the same glory which sparkled forth in the human nature of Christ! How amazing is this! The thoughts of it are enough to swallow us up! O what an inheritance is he born to, who is new-born! Suppose he is poor in the world, and despised, I say to him as our Savior, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God!" All things to come are yours! Who would not be a believer! O that I might tempt such to Christ—who as yet hold out against him!

Chapter 23. Showing the DUTIES of a believer—in response to God's astonishing mercy.

There are several duties which I would press upon believers; and they branch themselves into ten particulars.

1. If you have such a glorious inheritance to come—admire, and thankfully adore the love of God in settling this rich charter upon you! You who are mirrors of mercy should be monuments of praise. How was David affected with God's goodness? 2 Sam. 7:19, "You have spoken of your servant's house for a great while to come." So should we say, "Lord, you have not only given us things present—but you have spoken of your servants for a great while to come, nay, forever!" It will be a great part of our work in heaven, to admire God; let us begin to do that work now—which we shall be forever doing.

Adore free grace! Free grace is the hinge on which all this astonishing mercy turns! Every link in this golden chain is richly enameled with free grace! Free grace has provided us a plank after shipwreck. When things past were forfeited—God has given us things to come! When we had lost paradise—he has provided heaven! Thus are we raised a step higher—by our fall. Set the crown upon the head of free grace! O to what a seraphic frame of spirit, should our hearts be raised! How should we join with angels and archangels in blessing God for this! It is well there is an eternity coming; and truly that will be little enough time, to praise God.

Say as that sweet singer of Israel, Psalm 103:1, "Bless the Lord, O my soul"; or as the original will bear, "Bow the knee, O my soul, before the Lord!" Thus should a Christian say, "All things in heaven and earth are mine, God has settled this great portion upon me! Bow the knee, O my soul!" Praise God with the best instrument, the heart, and let the instrument be pitched up to the highest pitch—do it with the whole heart. When God is tuning upon the string of mercy—a Christian should be tuning upon the string of praise! I have given you a taste of this new wine—yet so full of spirits is it, that a little of it would inflame the heart in thankfulness. Let me call upon you, who are the heirs apparent to this rich inheritance, "Things present and to come;" that you would get your hearts elevated, and wound up to a thankful frame!

It is not a handsome posture, to see a Christian ever complaining when things go contrary. O do not so look upon your troubles—as to forget your mercies. Bless God for what is to come! To heighten your praises, consider God gives you not only these things—but he gives you himself! It was Augustine's prayer: "Lord," says he, "Whatever you have given me, take all away, only give me yourself!" Christian! You have not only the gift but the Giver! O take the harp and violin! If you do not bless God—who shall? Where will God get his praise? He has but a little in the world. Praise is in itself a high angelic work, and requires the highest spirited Christians to perform it. Wicked men cannot praise God. Indeed, who can praise God for these glorious privileges to come—but he who has the seal of the Spirit to assure him that all is his? O that I might persuade the people of God to be thankful, "make God's praise glorious." Let me tell you, God is much pleased with this thankful frame. Repentance is the joy of heaven; but thankfulness is the music of heaven! Let not God lack his music! Let it not be said, that God has more murmurers than musicians. "Whoever offers praise, glorifies me."

2. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—LIVE suitable to these glorious hopes! You who look for things to come, let me tell you, God looks for something present from you; namely, that you live suitably to your hopes. "What kind of people ought you to be?" 2 Pet. 3:21. You have heard what kind of privileges you shall have; yes—but what kind of people ought you to be! Those who look to differ from others in their condition, must differ from them also in their conversation and lifestyle. Therefore beloved, "seeing you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot." We would all be glad to be found of God in peace—then labor to be found without spot. Spot not your faces, spot not your consciences; live as those who are the citizens and nobles of this New Jerusalem above. Walk as Christ did, when he was upon earth. There are three steps, in which we should follow Christ.

1. Live HOLY. His life was a holy life. "Who of you convinces me of sin?" Though he was made sin—yet he knew no sin. The very devils acknowledged his holiness: "We know you who you are—the Holy One of God." O be like Christ; tread in his steps. In the sacrament, "we show forth the Lord's death," and in a holy walk, we show forth his life. The holy oil, with which the vessels of the sanctuary were to be consecrated, was compounded of the purest ingredients. This was a type and emblem of that sanctity which should rest upon the godly: their hearts and lives should be consecrated with the holy oil of the Spirit. Holiness of life is the ornament of the gospel, it credits religion. Sozomen observes, that the devout life of a poor captive Christian woman moved a king and his whole family to embrace the Christian faith. Whereas how does it eclipse, and as it were, entomb the honor of religion, when men profess they are going to heaven—yet there is nothing of heaven in them? If there is light in the lantern—it will shine out. Just so, if grace is in the heart—it will shine forth in the life.

The looseness of professors lives—is a great sin to be bewailed. Even those whom we hope (by the rule of charity) have the sap of grace in their heart—yet do not give forth such a sweet fragrance in their lives! How many under the notion of Christian liberty, degenerate into libertinism! The lives of some professors are so bad—that it would make profane men afraid to embrace the Christian religion!

If a stranger should come from beyond the ocean, and see the loose lives of many professors—their covetousness, and their licentiousness; and had he no other Bible to read in, but the lives of some professors, he would turn back again and resolve never to be made a Christian. What a shame is this! Did Christ walk thus—when he was upon earth? His life was a pattern of sanctity! You who are professors, your sins are sins of unkindness; they go nearest to Christ's heart. Do you live as those who have hope of eternal felicity? Is Christ preparing heaven for you—and are you preparing war against him? Is this your kindness to your friend! O consider how you wound religion! Your sins are worse than others! A stain in a black cloth is not easily seen or taken notice of; but a spot in a piece of white linen, everyone's eye is upon it.

The sins of wicked men are not much wondered at, they can do nothing else but sin—theirs is a spot on black. But a sin in a professor, this is like a spot on white linen, everyone's eye is upon it! How does this dishonor the gospel? Is it not sad, that others should make a rod of your sin—to lash the gospel? The deviation of the godly, is as odious as the devotion of the profane. O that there were such a luster and majesty of holiness in the lives of professors, that others might say, "These look as if they had been with Jesus! They live as if they were in heaven already!" Aaron must not only have bells for sound—but pomegranates, which were for savor. It is not enough to discourse of godliness, or to make a noise by a profession. What are these bells without the pomegranates; namely, a life which casts no fragrance in the church of God!

2. Walk as Christ did, in HUMILITY. His life was a pattern of humility. He was the heir of heaven, the Godhead was in him, "yet he took on him the form of a servant," Phil. 2:7. O infinite humility—for a Savior to become a servant; for the Lord of glory to lay aside his robe, and put on rags; as if a king should leave his throne, and serve at table! Nay, that is not all—but Christ washes his disciples' feet. "He poured water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel," John 13:5. No wonder it is said that he came in the form of a servant; he stands here with his basin of water and a towel! Yes, to express the depth of his humility, he was made in the likeness of men. O how did Christ abase himself in taking flesh! it was more humility in Christ to humble himself to the womb—than to the cross. It was not so much for flesh to suffer—but for God to be made flesh—this was the wonder of humility! We read that Christ's flesh is called a veil, Heb. 10:20. "Through the veil, his flesh"; indeed the taking of flesh was the wearing of a veil. By putting this dark veil upon himself, he eclipsed the glory of the Deity. This was Christ's "emptying of himself," Phil. 2. The metaphor may allude to a vessel full of wine that is drawn out; Christ, in whom all fullness dwells, by humility seemed to be so drawn out, as if there had been nothing left in him. Behold here a rare pattern of humility!

You who look for the eternal inheritance—tread in this step of Christ— be humble! Grace shines brightest through the mask of humility! Humility is such a precious herb as grows not in the garden of philosophy, that is rather humanity than humility. Humility beautifies us. The humble saint looks like a citizen of heaven. Humility is the veil of a Christian: Christ's bride never looks more beautiful in his eyes, than when she has on this veil of humility. "Be clothed with humility." Or as the Greek word is, be knotted. Humility is the spangled knot in the garment of our graces.

Humility sweetens our duties. Incense smells sweetest when it is beaten small. When the incense of our duties is beaten small with humility, then it sends forth its most fragrant perfume. The violet is a sweet flower; it hangs down the head so low, that it can hardly be seen, and only discovers itself by its scent. This is the emblem of humility.

The humble Christian studies his own unworthiness. He looks with one eye upon grace—to keep his heart cheerful; and with the other eye upon sin—to keep it humble. Better is that sin which humbles me, than that duty which makes me proud! As humility hides another's error—so it hides its own graces. Humility looks upon another's virtues—and its own infirmities. The humble man admires that in another which he slights in himself. He is one who does not deny only his evil things—but his good things. He is one who does not deny only his sins but his duties. He desires to have atonement made even for the pious duties.

The humble Christian is no murmurer—yet he is ever complaining. The more knowledge he has, the more he complains of ignorance. The more faith he has, the more he complains of unbelief. In short, the humble Christian translates all the glory—from himself—to Christ. Constantine use to write the name of Christ upon his doors. Just so, does the humble soul write Christ and free-grace upon his duties! "I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I—but the grace of God which was with me!" When he prays, he says—"it is the Spirit who helps my infirmities." When he mourns for sin, he says, "the Almighty makes my heart soft." When his heart is in a good frame, he says, "By the grace of God I am what I am." When he conquers a corruption, he says, "It is through Christ, who strengthens me."

As Joab, when he had gotten a victory, sends for king David that he might carry away the crown; just so does the humble Christian, when he has gotten the victory over a corruption, he sets the crown upon the head of Christ! O blessed humility! You who look for things above, let me tell you—the way to ascend is to descend! The lower the tree roots—the higher it shoots up! Would you shoot up in glory, would you be tall cedars in the kingdom of God? Be deeply rooted in humility. Humility is compared by some—to a valley. We must walk to heaven, through this valley of humility. Humility distinguishes Christ's spouse, from harlots. Hypocrites grow in knowledge—but not in humility. "Knowledge puffs up," 1 Cor. 8:1. It is a metaphor taken from a pair of bellows that are blown up and filled with wind. He who is proud of his knowledge, the devil cares not how much he knows. It is observable in the old law, that God hated the very semblance of the sin of pride. He would have no honey mingled in their offering; "You shall burn no leaven, nor any honey in any offering of the Lord made by fire," Lev. 2:1. Indeed, leaven is sour—but what is there in honey that should offend? Why no honey? because honey, when it is mingled with meal, makes it to rise and swell: therefore the people of Israel must mingle no honey in their offering. This was to let us see how God hated the semblance of this sin of pride. Be humble.

3. Be like Christ in LOVE. Christ's life was a life of love. He breathed nothing but love; he was full of this sweet perfume! As his person was lovely, so was his disposition! He was composed all of love: his lips dropped honey, his side dropped blood, his heart dropped love. You who expect these glorious things to come—live as Christ did—live in love! O that this spice might send out its fragrant smell among Christians! "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." Do you love the person of Christ, and hate the picture? "Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too." There are two devils which are not fully cast out of God's own people; the devil of vain-glory, and the devil of uncharitableness! Are we not fellow-citizens? Do we not all expect the same heaven? Nay, are we not brethren? This should be a sufficient bond to knit us together in amity. We have all the same Father, God; we are born of the same mother, the Church; we are begotten of the same seed, the Word; we suck the same breasts, the promises; we feed at the same table, the Table of the Lord; we all wear the same clothing, the Robe of Christ's Righteousness; we are partners in the same glory, the inheritance of the saints in light. Shall we not love one another!

You who look for things to come—live suitably to your hopes! Walk as Christ did, that some of his beams may shine in you, and his life may be copied out in yours!

3. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—be content, though you have the less of present things. A believer is to be valued, according to that which is in eternity. Things to come are his. If you were to take an estimate of a man's estate—would you value it by that which he has in his house, or by his land? Perhaps he has little in his house, little money or decorations. But he has a rich inheritance coming—there lies his estate. While we are in this house of clay, we have but little. Many a Christian can hardly keep life and soul together; but he has a rich inheritance coming! So be content with less of present things. It is sufficient if we have but enough for our necessities, until we come to heaven!

An heir who has a great estate beyond the sea, will be content, though he has but little money for his voyage there! Should not Hagar have been content, though the water were spent in her bottle, when there was a well so near? God has given Christ to a believer, and in him all things, "things present and to come," grace and glory! Is not this enough to make him content? "But," says the Christian, "I want present comforts." Consider, the angels in heaven are rich—yet they have no money. You have things to come—angels' riches, so be content then, with the less of present things. If you complain of anything—let it be of your complaining.

4. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—labor for such a high degree of faith, as to make these future blessings, to become present realities. Faith and hope are two sisters, and are very alike. But they differ thus; hope looks at the excellency of the promise, faith looks at the certainty of it. Now faith looking at the infallible truth of him who promises, thus it makes things to come, present. Faith does antedate glory; it does substantiate things not seen. Faith alters the tenses—it puts the future into the present tense, Psalm 60:7, "Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine, Ephraim is the strength of my head," etc. Those places were not yet subdued—but God had spoken in his holiness, he had made David a promise, and he believed it, therefore he looked upon it as already subdued: Gilead is mine, etc. "Just so," says faith, "God has spoken in his holiness; he has made me a promise of things to come; therefore heaven is mine already!"

When one will shortly have the inheritance of a house, he says, "this house is mine!" O that we had this art of faith, thus to anticipate heaven, and make things to come present. You who are a believer—heaven is yours now! Your head is already glorified; nay, heaven is begun in you—you have some of those joys which are the first fruits of it. A Christian, by the eye of faith, through the telescope of the promise—may see into heaven. Faith sees the promise fulfilled before it is fulfilled. Faith sets it down as already recieved—before it is paid. Had we a vigorous faith, we might be in heaven before our time! That which a weak believer hopes for—a strong believer does in some measure, possess. Oh that we could often take a prospect of the heavenly paradise: "Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels," Psalm 48:12, 13. So, go and inspect your heavenly inheritance, see what a glorious situation it is, go count her towers, see what an inheritance you have! O that every day—we could thus look by faith into our heavenly inheritance!

Do not say, "all this shall be mine;" but say, "all this is mine already! My head is there, my faith is there, my heart is there!" Could we thus, living up to the height of our faith, realize and enter into things to come—how would all present things vanish! If a man could live in the sun—the earth would not appear! When Paul had been enraptured up into the third heaven, the earth did hardy appear ever after! See how he scorns it, "I am crucified to the world!" It was a dead thing to him, he had begun heaven already. Thus it is with a man who is heavenized. You saints who are earthly—the eye of your faith is bloodshot! It is the character of a sinner, "he cannot see afar off"; like a man who has bad eyes, who can see only things which are just before him. Faith carries the heart up to heaven—and brings heaven down into the heart!

5. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—then walk CHEERFULLY with God. Put on your white robes! Has a believer a title to heaven? What—and sad! "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God!" Romans 5:2. It is but a little while—it is but putting off the earthly clothes of our body—and we shall be clothed with the bright robes of glory! And can a believer be sad! See how Christ does secretly check his disciples for this, Luke 24:17. What, sad—and Christ risen! So I say to believers—things to come are yours! How can you be sad? Let them be sad—who have no hope. O rejoice in God!

When the lead of the flesh begins to sink, let the cork of faith swim above! How does the heir rejoice in hope of the inheritance! How does the slave rejoice to think of ending his time of service! Here on earth, we are harassed by sin, and a child of God is forced sometimes to do the devil's work—but shortly death will make us free! There is an eternal jubilee coming, therefore "rejoice in hope of the glory of God!" Can wicked men rejoice that have their portion in this life? And cannot he rejoice, who has an inheritance in heaven? Can the waters of Abanah and Pharphar compare to the waters of Jordan?

O you saints, think into what a blessed condition you are now brought! Is it not a sweet thing to have God appeased? Is it not a matter of joy to be an heir of the promise? Adam in paradise had choice of all the trees, one only excepted. The promises are the trees of life—you may walk in the garden of the Bible, and pluck from all these trees. Who should rejoice—if not a Christian? He has never so much cause to be sad—as he has to be cheerful.

Objection: 1. But my sins trouble me.

Answer. This is true. That sin will not forsake you—is matter of sadness; but that you have forsaken sin—is matter of joy! Sin is a heavy weight upon you. That you cannot run so fast as you desire, in the ways of God, is matter of sadness. But that you go without halting (in regard of righteousness) this is matter of joy! And for your comfort remember, shortly you shall sin no more—all things shall be yours—but sin!

Objection: 2. But we are bid to mourn.

Answer. I would not speak against holy mourning; while we carry fire about us, we must carry water. That is, as long as the fire of sin burns in our breasts, we must carry tears to quench it. But consider,

1. Spiritual joy and mourning are not inconsistent. Sometimes it rains and shines at once: when there is a shower in the eyes, there may be a sunshine in our heart. Mourning and music may stand together; the great mourner in Israel, was the sweet singer of Israel.

2. The end why God makes us sad, is to make us rejoice; he does not require sorrow for sorrow—but it is ordained to be as sauce to make our joy relish the better. We sow in tears—that we may reap in joy.

3. The sweetest joy is from the sourest tears. Christ made the best wine—from water. The purest and most excellent joy, is made of the waters of true repentance. The bee gathers the best honey from the bitterest herbs. Tears are the breeders of spiritual joy. After Hannah had wept, she went away, and was no longer sad. Those clouds are very uncomfortable, which never have any sunshine. Just so, that mourning which dyes the soul all in sable, which has no place for rejoicing, I would rather think it despair, than true remorse. The same God who has bid us mourn, has also bid us rejoice, Phil. 4:4. It is an excellent temper to be serious—yet cheerful. Jesus Christ loves the joyful Christian. Joy puts liveliness and activity into a Christian, it oils the wheels of the affections. A heavy mind makes a dull action. The joy of the Lord is your strength.

The pensive, melancholy Christian, disparages the glory of heaven. What will others say? Here is one who speaks of future glory—but surely he does not believe it—see how sad he is! What ado is here on earth, to make a child of God cheerful! Must we have to force an heir, to rejoice in the estate which has befallen him? Let me tell you, you who refuse consolation, are not fit people to praise God—it is a contradiction to praise God with a sad heart: "I will sing praises," Psalm 108:1. It is more proper to sing praises, than to weep them. Rejoice, O Christian, lift up your crest, triumph in the hope of these things to come. It is not enough that there is joy within the Christian's heart—but it must shine forth in his countenance.

6. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—let him not envy those who have only present things. God often wrings out the waters of a full cup to wicked men; but there are dregs at the bottom! Indeed, the prosperity of sinners is a great temptation. David stumbled at it, and had almost fallen. Psalm 73, "My feet had well near slipped!" It is not matter of envy but pity—to see men thrive in a way of sin! Do you envy a fool is in mirthful clothes? Do you envy a condemned man, who is going up the ladder to be hung—simply because he has a rich coat? "Those who will be rich, fall into temptations and a snare," 1 Tim. 6:9. Do you envy a man who is fallen into a snare? Wicked men have that guilt which embitters their comforts. They are like a man who has great possessions—yet having a fit of the stone or gout, while he is in that torment, he may be said not to have them, because the comfort of them is taken away. A believer has better things than these—an blissful inheritance! Wicked men have a crown of unrighteousness, but you have a crown of righteousness! They have rich robes, but you have the bright robe of glory. "Envy not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways." Better is sanctified adversity, than successful impiety.

7. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—be supported in lack of spiritual comfort. Spiritual joy is a sweet thing; this is the hidden manna, the cluster of grapes which grow upon the true vine; this is the saints' banqueting stuff; how sweet is it to have Word, and Spirit, and Conscience speaking peace! in the mouth of these three witnesses, faith is confirmed. "But," says the poor soul that goes mourning, "It is not so with me, I have not the secret seal of heaven, I lack assurance." Well, do not give up waiting. We read that the disciples were in the ship, and there arose a great storm, "And when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus." This, O Christian, may be your case: there is a tempest of sorrow risen in your heart; and you have rowed from one ordinance to another, and have no comfort! Well, be not discouraged, do not give up rowing; you have but rowed three or four miles; perhaps when you has rowed a little more—you may see Jesus, and have a comfortable evidence of his love!

But suppose you should row all your life long, and not have assurance—yet this may be a pillar of support—things to come are yours! It is but waiting a while—and you shall be brimful of comfort! A believer is now an heir of this joy; let him wait until he is of age, and he shall be fully possessed of the joys of heaven. For the present, God leaves a seed of comfort in the heart; there is a time shortly coming, when we shall have the full flower; we shall drink of the fruit of the vine in the kingdom of heaven! As Paul said of Onesimus, Philem. verse 15, "For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that you might receive him forever." So I say of the comforts of God's Spirit—that they may be withdrawn for a season, that we may have them forever! There is a time coming when we shall bathe ourselves in the rivers of divine pleasure.

8. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—let us zealously contend for it against all oppositions. We have a city above—but there are enemies in the way which we must give battle to. God would give Israel Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey; but first they must encounter with the sons of Anak. So he will bestow upon us a crown—but we must fight for it. Heaven is not taken without storm. Hence it is the scripture bids us to "fight the good fight of faith," 1 Tim. 6:12, that we may not through a slothful negligence lose the recompense of a reward. Christians must be military people; it befits the children of light to put on the armor of light. The apostle reckons up our several pieces of armor; the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, the breastplate of righteousness; and our weapons—the sword of the Spirit, the cannon-bullet of prayer. Indeed in heaven our armor shall be hung up in token of victory and triumph; but now it is a day of battle, and no cessation of arms, until death. And there is a threefold regiment we must fight against, which would hinder us of our eternal crown.

1. The enemy within, namely, a treacherous HEART. This is a sly enemy; "A man's enemies are those of his own house," Mic. 7:6, nay, of his own heart! Man by his fall lost his head-piece, namely, spiritual wisdom, and ever since he is an enemy to himself. He lays a snare for his own blood, Proverbs 1:18, therefore Augustine prays, "Lord deliver me from that evil man—myself!" The heart is a conclave of wickedness. It is an armory and magazine, where all the weapons of unrighteousness lie. The heart holds conference with Satan—and it sides with him—at every turn is ready to deliver up the keys to him. This is good reason why we should gird on our armor, and give battle to this bosom traitor, which stands in our way to the heavenly crown.

It is reported of Basil, that to shun the allurements and flatteries of the world, he retired and fled into the wilderness; but when he was there, he cries out against his heart, "I have forsaken all—but my evil heart is still tempting me!" Luther used to say, that he feared his heart more than pope or cardinals. Your heart, O Christian, would supplant you of the eternal inheritance. O therefore make a brave fight, run the sword of the Spirit up to the hilt, in the blood of your sins! Stab your heart-lusts to the heart with the knife of mortification! If the flesh does war against us, good reason we should war against the flesh.

2. The second regiment that stands in the way to salvation, and which we must arm against, is the DEVIL. He may be called a regiment, for his name being Legion. This is the red regiment! How furiously does he make his onset upon us, sometimes with temptations, sometimes with persecutions, that if possible we might let fall our armor, and so let go our crown! The devil, that roaring lion, while we are marching to heaven, raises all the bands of hell against us; "whom resist, steadfast in the faith," 1 Pet. 5:9. Our enemy is beaten in part already, he knows no march but running away.

3. The third regiment which stands in our way to heaven is the WORLD. This enemy courts us. It smiles that it may deceive. It kills by embracing! It has a golden apple in one hand—and a dagger in the other! Marcia gave to the emperor Commodus poison, in sweet wine. Such an aromatic cup does the world present us with—that we may drink and die. The ivy, while it clasps about the oak, sucks away the heart of it for its own leaves and berries; such are the world's embraces. "The one I kiss," says Judas, "is the man; arrest him and lead him away." So, whom the world kisses—it often betrays. The world is a silken halter. The world is a golden fetter. Some have been drowned in the sweet waters of pleasure! Others have been choked in silver mines! Oh arm, arm against this flattering enemy! "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4

If the world's music enchants us, and we fall asleep upon our guard, then the devil falls on, and wounds us. Fight it out against all these regiments.

Consider the excellency of the prize! Things to come! What striving is there for earthly crowns and scepters! with what zeal and alacrity did Hannibal continue his march over the Alps, and Caesar's soldiers fight with hunger and cold? Men will break through laws and oaths, run a thousand hazards for those things which, when they have them, will prove damnable gains. But "things to come are yours." You expect salvation, which is the crown of your desires, the flower of your ambition; oh therefore muster and rally together all your forces against this three-headed adversary which stands in your way to hinder you from taking possession. Fight it out to the death, you have a good captain; Christ is "the Captain of your salvation," Heb. 2:l0. If a flock of sheep have a lion for their captain, what need they fear? So, fear not little flock, you fight under the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

9. If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—if all Christ's things are ours—then all our things must be Christ's.

Justice and equity require it. There is a joint interest between Christ and a believer Christ says, "All that is mine—is yours!" Then the heart of a believer must echo back to Christ, "Lord, all that is mine—is yours!" It was the saying of a holy man, "Lord, you are my all; and my all is yours." Oh be willing to spend, and be spent; do, and suffer for Christ.

1. Let us, with all our might, advance the honor and interest of Jesus Christ! Alas, what is all that we can do? If a king should bestow upon a person, a million dollars per year, with this proviso—that this person shall pay a peppercorn every year to the king; what proportion is there between this man's payment—and his revenue? Alas, we are but unprofitable servants; all that we can do for Christ is not so much as this peppercorn! Yet up, and be doing! Christ hates compliments: we must not only bow the knee to him—but, with the wise men, present him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Do not be like the sons of Belial, who brought their king no presents. "But," says the Christian, "I am poor, and can do little for Christ." Can you not bestow your love upon Christ? In the law, he who could not afford a lamb for an offering, if he brought but two turtle-doves, it was sufficient. The woman in the gospel threw in only her two mites—yet she was accepted. God is not angry with any man because he has but one talent—but because he does not use it.

2. Suffer for Christ, be willing to sell all, nay, to lose all for Christ. We may be losers for him, we shall never be losers by him. If he calls for our blood, let us not deny it him; we have no such blood to shed for Christ—as he has shed for us. It was Luther's saying, "That in the cause of God he was content to endure the odium and fury of the whole world." Basil affirms of the primitive saints, they had so much courage in their sufferings, that many of the heathens, seeing their heroic zeal, turned Christians. They snatched up torments as so many crowns! O think nothing too dear for Christ! We who look for things to come, should be willing to part with things present for Christ.

10. Lastly, If we have such a glorious inheritance to come—be content to wait for these great privileges. It is not incongruous to long for Christ's appearing, and yet to wait for it. You see the glory which a believer shall be invested with; but though the Lord gives a large portion, he may set a long day for the payment. David had the promise of a crown—but was long before he came to wear it. God will not deny his promise—yet he may delay his promise, to teach us to wait. It is but a shortsighted faith, which cannot wait. The farmer waits for the seed. There is a seed of glory sown in a believer's heart; wait until it springs up into a harvest.

Truly, it is a hard thing to wait for these things to come. There are so many discouragements from without, so many distempers from within, that the Christian desires to be at home with Christ. Therefore we need patience, Heb. 10:36, "For you have need of patience." But how shall we get it? Nourish faith. verse 35, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded." Patience is nothing else but faith spun out; if you would lengthen patience, be sure to strengthen faith.

There are great reasons why a believer should be content to wait for heaven.

1. God is faithful who promises. God's word is security enough to venture upon. All the world hangs upon the word of his power; and cannot our faith hang upon the word of his promise? We have His hand and seal, nay, his oath!

2. While we are waiting, God is tuning and fitting us for glory. "Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for the inheritance," Col. 1:12. We must be made fit. Perhaps our hearts are not humble enough, or not patient enough. Perhaps our faith is but in its infancy. We should be content to wait a while, until we have gotten such a vigorous faith as will carry us full sail to heaven! As there is a ripening and a fitting of vessels for hell, Romans 9:22, so there is a ripening and a preparing of the vessels of mercy, verse 23. A Christian should be willing to wait for glory, until he is fit to take his inheritance.

3. While we are waiting, our glory is increasing. While we are laying out for God—he is laying up for us, 2 Tim. 4:8. If we suffer for God, the heavier our cross—the heavier shall be our crown. Would a Christian be in the meridian of glory? Would he have his robes shine bright? Let him stay here and do service; God will reward us, though not for our works—yet according to our works, Mark 16:27. The longer we keep the principal, the greater will the interest be.

The longer a Christian lives, the more glory he may bring to God. Faith is an ingenuous grace; as it has one eye at the reward, so it has another eye at duty. The time of life is the only time we have to work for God. Heaven is a place of receiving; this world is a place of doing. Hence the apostle being inflamed with divine love, though he desired with all his heart be with Christ—yet he was content to live a while longer, that he might build up souls, and make the crown flourish upon the head of Christ.

It is self-love which says, "Who will show us any good?" Divine love says, "How may I do good?" The prodigal son could say, "Father, give me my portion!" He thought more of his portion than his duty. A gracious spirit is content to stay out of heaven a while—that he may be a means to bring others there. He whose heart has been divinely touched with the love of God, his care is not so much for receiving the talents of gold, as for improving the talents of grace. O wait a while! Learn from the saints of old, they waited patiently. If we cannot wait now, what would we have done in the times of the long-lived patriarchs? Look upon worldly men, they wait for pleasures. Shall they wait for earth—and cannot we wait for heaven! If a man has the promise of a grand estate, when such a lease is out, will he not wait for it? We have the promise of heaven when the lease of life is run out; and shall we not wait?

Look upon wicked men, they wait for an opportunity to sin; the adulterer waits for the twilight; sinners "lie in wait for their own blood," Proverbs 1:18. Shall men wait for their damnation, and shall not we be content to wait for our salvation? Wait without murmuring, wait without fainting! The things we expect are infinitely more than we can hope for.

And let me add one caution; "wait on the Lord and keep to his ways," Psalm 37:34. While we are waiting, let us take heed of wavering. Go not a step out of God's way, though a lion be in the way. Do not avoid duty—to meet with safety. Keep to God's highway, "the good old way," Jer. 6:16, the way which is paved with holiness, Isaiah 25:8. "And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness." Avoid crooked paths, take heed of turning to the left hand, lest you be set on the left hand! Sin crosses our hopes; it barricades up our way. A man may as well expect to find heaven in hell, as in a sinful way.

My last use is to such as have only present things—that they would labor for things to come. You have seen the blessed condition of a man in Christ; never rest until this be yours. Alas, how poor and contemptible are these present earthly enjoyments, when laid in balance with things to come!

1. What is honor— which is the highest elevation of men's ambition? One calls honor—the gallant madness. It was foretold to Agrippina, Nero's mother, that her son would be emperor, and that he would afterward kill his own mother; to which Agrippina replied, "let my son be emperor, and then let him kill me and spare not"—so thirsty was she of honor. Alas, what are swelling titles but rattles to applaud men's ambition? Honor is like a gale of wind which carries the ship; sometimes this wind is down, a man has lost his honor, and lives to see himself entombed: sometimes this wind is too high: how many have been blown to hell, while they have been sailing with the wind of popular applause! Honor is but a glorious nothing! Acts 25:23. It does not make a man really the better—but often the worse. A man swelled with honor, lacking grace—his bigness is his disease and doom.

2. What are riches—that men so thirst after them? Amos 2:7, "Who pant after the dust of the earth." Golden dust will sooner choke than satisfy! How many have pulled down their souls to build up their houses! What a transiency and deficiency is there in all things under the sun? Christ, who had all riches, scorned these earthly riches. He was born poor—the feeding-trough was his cradle, the cobwebs his curtains. He lived poor—he had nowhere to lay his head. He died poor; he made no will; he had no crown-lands, only his coat was left, and that the soldiers parted among them. His funeral was fitting; for as he was born in another man's stable, so he was buried in another man's tomb; to show how he did despise earthly dignities and possessions. His kingdom was not of this world.

Suppose an hour of adversity comes, can these present earthly things quiet the mind in trouble? Riches are called thick clay, which will sooner break the back, than lighten the heart. When pangs of conscience and pangs of death come, and there is no hope of things to come, what peace can the world give at such a time? Surely it can yield no more comfort, than a silken stocking to a man whose leg is out of joint. A fresh color delights the eye; but if the eye be sore, this color will not heal it. "Riches avail not in the day of wrath." You can not hold your wedge of gold as a screen to keep off the fire of God's justice.

Let this sound a retreat to call us off from the immoderate pursuit of present things, to labor for things to come. What are these lower springs—compared to the upper springs? As Abraham said, "Lord, what will you give me, seeing I go childless?" So say, "Lord, what will you give me, seeing I go Christless?" Luther did solemnly protest, God should not put him off with these worldly things. Oh labor for those blessings in heavenly places. Earthly things may be pleasing—but they are not permanent.

Do not be content with a few earthly gifts: Abraham gave unto the sons of the concubines gifts, and sent them away; "but unto Isaac, he gave all that he had." Reprobates may have a few jewels and earrings which God scatters with an indifferent hand: these, like the sons of the concubines, are put off with a few earthly gifts. But labor for the eternal inheritance! Get into Christ, and then all is yours! So says the Apostle, "All things are yours, and you belong to Christ!"