"That I may cause those who love Me to inherit
substance." Proverbs 8:21 those who
The proverbs of Solomon shine as so many stars in
their orbit. They are as lights to guide us—and as pearls to
adorn us! They are divinely inspired and may be called sacred oracles. Among
other golden sayings in this Book, this is not the least, "That I may cause
those who love Me to inherit substance."
In the beginning of the chapter, "does not wisdom cry?"
verse 1. By wisdom, I understand Jesus Christ, who is called
"the wisdom of His Father," 1 Corinthians 1:24; and so Junius expounds it.
By a figure, Christ is represented here in the person of a woman crying out
to her children. "Does not wisdom cry? She stands in the top of high places;
she cries at the gates, unto you O men I call, and My voice is to the sons
of men." And what does divine wisdom speak of to her sons? Not base things
or fancies—but excellent things, verse 6. In the Septuagint it is, "grave
things," such as have weight and worth; in the Hebrew, "princely
things," fit for a prince to hear—and a God to speak.
What are these princely things? Verse 13 states. "The
fear of the Lord is to hate evil." One of the most princely lessons we
can learn is the fear of God; this is the apex of wisdom and the
spirit of true religion. This fear of God is to hate evil. He is a man
fearing God, who chooses suffering rather than sinning. In the text is an
encouragement to piety, drawn from the incomparable benefit of it. "That I
may cause those who love Me to inherit substance." They who love Me shall
not be losers by Me; they shall not "inherit the wind," Proverbs 11:29—but
they shall inherit substance. The muses, as the poets feign, were daughters
to Jupiter—but they had no suitors because they lacked portions; but lo,
here is a portion to those who love God: "I will cause them to inherit
substance." The Hebrew word for substance signifies that which is firm and
solid, "that I may cause those who love Me to inherit the true being."
QUESTION. What is meant here by
ANSWER. This has a threefold interpretation:
1. By substance we may understand
Christ. Jesus Christ is the most real substance; it is the
name by which He is called, John 8:58. Therefore, He is compared to
substantial things—the pearl of great price, the bread of life. He must be
substance, who gives being and substance to everything.
2. By substance is meant the
grace of the Spirit which, in Scripture, is termed substance.
Proverbs 3:21, "Keep sound wisdom." In the Hebrew it is "keep substance."
Hence it is that grace is called tried gold, and the true riches,
and the holy anointing, John 2:27. That must be substance which
partakes of the fullness of God, Ephesians 3:19.
3. By substance is meant
salvation, expressly called substance. Hebrews 10:34, "You have
in He even a better and an enduring substance."
The words thus opened divide themselves into two general
First, the qualification of the persons: "Those who love
Second, the specification of the privilege: "I will cause
them to inherit substance."
I. The qualification of the PERSONS: "those
who love Me." Where observe,
(1) The affection: love;
(2) The object: Me, namely Christ; yet so as is inclusive
of the whole Trinity.
1. The AFFECTION: love. Love is the princess
of the affections. Love is to religion as the soul is to the body, as the
sun to the world, which animates things with its life-giving beams. Love
mellows and perfumes holy duties. Love is that which the Lord is most
delighted with; therefore He asked Peter that question, "Do you love Me?"
2. The object of love: Christ. Jesus Christ is
infinitely delicious. He is the wonder of heaven, "the desire of all
nations," Haggai 2:7. Christ is all beauty, Song of Solomon 5:10,
"White and ruddy." He is all sweetness, Song of Solomon 2:1, "The
rose of Sharon." If men knew Christ, it would be impossible to keep them
from loving Him.
II. The specification of the PRIVILEGES. "That
I may cause them to inherit substance"; that which has a real zeal and
God causes those who love and serve Him, to inherit
substance. The Lord does not put off His people with words, or feed them
with air—but He gives them substance. He crowns them with grace and
salvation which, in the Apostle's phrase, is "glory and virtue," 1
Peter 1:3; it has a solid existence.
QUESTION. Why is grace called substance?
ANSWER 1. Grace is substance, for its
preciousness. Substance is a treasure
made up of precious things. Proverbs 1:13, "We shall find all precious
substance." A man's substance lies in his land, his money, and jewels. Thus
grace is substance for its precious excellency. It is called rich knowledge,
1 Corinthians 1:5; precious faith, 2 Peter 1:1. It gives us union with
Christ, and so a co-partnership with Him in all His unsearchable riches,
Ephesians 3:8. If every flower were a ruby, every sand a diamond, every
candle a star—they could not be named in the same day with grace.
ANSWER 2. Grace is substance, for its
suitableness, because it alone can fill
the soul. The soul is the more noble part of man, the glory of the creation,
a blossom of eternity. It required the wisdom of God to make it—and the
blood of God to redeem it! The soul is more substantial part; it is the
man of the man. It is only grace can fill the heaven-born soul. Things
of an earthly extract cannot reach the spiritual part. The soul may be
starved at a full table and beggared in a golden mine. Such is properly
substance, which is poured into the soul. Knowledge fills the head; holiness
fills the heart. This is to be reckoned substance which the soul drinks in.
ANSWER 3. Grace is substance, for its
needfulness. That is substance which a
man so needs, that he cannot be without. A man may be happy, who lacks
health or riches; but he cannot be happy that lacks grace. Grace is to the
soul as light to the eye, as breath to the body. How necessary
is faith, without which we cannot please God, Hebrews 11:6; and
holiness, without which we cannot see God, Hebrews 12:14. So that grace
is substance; we are undone without it. Other things may be had—grace
must be had. Without grace, a man lives under God's hatred and dies
under His curse! John 3:36.
ANSWER 4. Grace is substance for its
satisfyingness. God never put a
satisfying virtue into any creature, Isaiah 9:20; John 20:22, "In the
fullness of His sufficiency, he shall be in straits." This is a riddle—to be
full, and yet lack; to have a sufficiency, yet not have enough. The king of
Spain, though he has the largest dominion of any prince—yet gives this as
his motto, "The whole world does not suffice." The stars cannot make day
without the sun, nor can anything give solid comfort without God. Heaven
itself will not satisfy without God, much less will earth. The world is
enough to busy us—but not to fill us. As in a pyramid, the
higher you ascend—the lesser still is the range; so the higher any one
climbs into the creature—the less is the satisfaction. Grace is the true
substance; it is only this which can satisfy. Proverbs 14:14, "A good man
shall be satisfied from himself." He has that within which gives solid
Grace quiets the mind, and ravishes the affections with
delight. Romans 14:17, "The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and
joy in the Hole Spirit." He who is invested with grace is not only an heir
of heaven—but has heaven begun in him. He has the seeds of glory in his
soul, therefore, he is satisfied from himself. He can say as Jacob, Genesis
33:11, "I have enough!" or as it is in the Hebrew, "I have all!" God is my
portion—and heaven my heaven.
ANSWER 5. Grace is substance for its
certainty. We can be sure of nothing
here below; the world is slippery and full of disappointments, like that sea
of glass, Revelation 4:6, which has no sure footing. But spiritual things
are such as one may be sure of. Christ is a certainty, therefore called a
sure foundation, Isaiah 28:16. And grace is a certainty. Hope is called a
sure anchor, Hebrews 6:9. Cast this anchor upwards, and it will never fail.
Faith is sure, therefore called an evidence, Hebrews 11:1. When a man has
his evidences, now he is sure of his land. Faith is a Christian's evidence,
by which he lays a sure claim to heaven.
ANSWER 6. Grace is substance for its
durability. "Substance," said one,
"signifies something that runs parallel with eternity." Spiritual things are
not subject to annihilation. Proverbs 8:18. "With Me are durable
riches." In the original it is "durable substance. That is substance which
cannot be made to consume. Earthly delights change; they are sick from
decay. Worldly things are like a banquet, served with great pomp—but soon
over. In the Library at Dublin, there is placed the globe of the world at
one end and a death's head at the other. If we had the globe of the world in
our hand—yet at last we must come to the death's head. Valerian, the emperor
of Rome, being overthrown in battle by Sapor, king of Persia, and taken
prisoner, was carried captive and had his eyes thrust out; and when Sapor
mounted his horse, he made this emperor lie down on his hands and knees to
be his footstool. Thus all earthly glory has its period. How can that have
solid worth in it, which melts away as ice?
But grace is durable. When a Christian loses those
comforts which he cannot keep—he keeps that treasure which he cannot lose! 1
John 2:27, "The anointing which you have received abides." Death cannot
waste this substance. Proverbs 10:2, "The righteous has hope in his death."
When his strength goes from him, when his estate goes from him—still his
golden anchor is left—his hope in God abides. When a Christian
parts with all, leaving his hay and corn—now he begins his harvest!
"It is high time," said aged Zanchius, "that I should
hasten from earth to Christ, above the starry sky." Another holy man, lying
at the point of death, said, "What brightness do I see?" They that stood by
said that it was sunshine. "No," said he, "my Savior shines; now farewell
world—welcome heaven! Whether in the body, I cannot tell; I see things
Thus, the anointing of God abides. Grace is a never-dying
substance; it lasts as long as the soul and eternity lasts. This branch
withers not, because it grows up on the tree of life.
That spiritual things must have a real being and
substance in them appears by two convincing arguments:
1. Because God, who is the original and pattern of truth,
has asserted it. He has told us that there is a solid
quintessence in the things of heaven; that such as espouse godliness shall
inherit substance; and is not God to be credited on His own Word? Whom
should we believe, if not Truth itself? Where should we light the lamp of
our faith, if not at this sun? The whole world hangs upon God's power, and
shall not our faith hang upon His truth? To question God's veracity, is to
pull down the first and main pillar of our Creed.
2. This is most consistent with the rational nature.
Man, being a noble excellent creature, a little lower than the angels, must
of necessity have that to feed on, which has a real substance and sweetness.
He cannot be fed upon dreams, or live on mere air—but must have something
which is substantial to refresh and comfort him. The sublime heaven-born
soul, like the dove, can find no rest in earthly contentments—but
flies to the ark of Scripture where it may find solid sustenance.
USE 1. It serves to confute atheists who
esteem the profound and sacred mystery of true religion, but as a dreamy
romance, at best but a severe policy to bound the lusts of men.
They look upon grace but as a devout imposture; they esteem Christ
and heaven but as sublime fictions. Foolish souls, who has bewitched
you? Did God give you a being for this end, to deny Him? You are like the
people who live in Cimmeria, who have never seen the sun—so will not believe
there is a sun, or that others behold the light of it.
Surely, there must be some supreme cause; the creature
could not make itself. To create is proper to a Deity, Psalm 124:8. And as
there is a God, so this God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, Hebrews
12:6. He will not allow any to be losers by His service—but will cause them
to inherit substance. He will give them the spring flowers of grace—and
the harvest of glory! But why do I spend my breath upon atheists?
They have not as much faith as devils! James 2:19.
USE 2. Learn from hence the incomparable
excellency of grace. "She is more profitable than silver and yields better
returns than gold!" Proverbs 3:14. A soul crowned with grace may say, as
Leah, Genesis 30:20, "God has presented me with a precious gift." Grace is
like the topaz, which, as Jerome said, has the richest splendor and
oriency of all the jewels. When God has given us His Son and Spirit, and
dignified us with holiness—He has given us the finest of the flowers,
and honey out of the rock. Here is substance. This fills the
heaven-born soul; this beautifies and adorns. Smyrna was the poorest—but the
best of the seven churches, Revelation 2:8. She had less gold—but
more grace. Grace is such a solid blessing, that God cannot give in
anger—as He may other things. By this the soul lives, Hebrew 10:38. This is
Grace is profitable for all things, 1 Timothy 4:8. It
gives both the nether springs and the upper springs. Grace makes bitter
things sweet; it sweetens poverty and sickness; it turns losses into gains,
crosses into blessings; it gives honey at the end of the rod. Grace grows by
opposition and, like the vine, lives by bleeding. Grace is such a
commodity that we shall never be weary of. The best delights on earth may
prove burdens. Job 3:20, "Why is light given to one burdened with grief, and
life to those whose existence is bitter?" Life is sweet—but to one who is in
anguish of spirit, life itself may be a burden; but grace is so excellent a
thing that the soul can never be weary of it. Grace is a treasure, and is
any man weary of a treasure? To conclude, he who has this substance is so
happy, that nothing can hurt him. Grace outlives death. This star shall
shortly be above the sun.
See the difference between the things of God—and
the things of the world. The things of God are substance; the
things of the world are but a shadow. They serve only for a show.
They are like fruit-trees drawn in a landscape which more delight the eye—than
the taste; or like paintings which represents the ideas of
things which are not.
All earthly comforts are only imaginary; they are
not substance. Riches look like riches—but they are not true riches;
our Savior calls them deceitful, Matthew 13:22. They promise to ease us of
our cares—when they only multiply them. They promise to fulfill our
desires—when they only increase them. Beauty
looks like beauty—but it rather deludes than delights. Proverbs 31:30,
"Beauty is vain." The finest features of the body, and the most lovely
face—are nothing other than well-colored dirt! Honor
seems to be honor—but it is but a fancy. Acts 25:30, "When Agrippa was come,
and Bernice with a great pomp"; in the Greek it is "with a great fancy."
There is nothing in the world which has reality, but sorrows and troubles.
Solomon had made the most critical inspection into the creature of any man;
for variety of delights, he exceeded all the kings who went before him,
Ecclesiastes 2:9. Yet, in all this, he could find no substance, verse 11,
"Behold, all was vanity!"
Earthly things are golden dreams which leave the
soul empty when it awakens and comes to itself. All the sweet waters of
pleasure cannot quench the soul's insatiable thirst; nor can the most
ravishing music fill the clamors of conscience. Satan casts a mist
before men's eyes and deceives them again with the apple, making them set
real affections upon false delights. The Scripture deciphers the world to be
a non-entity. Proverbs 23:5, "Will you set your eye on that which is not?"
But he who has spiritual things, inherits substance.
Christ and grace are substance. If you speak of true wisdom—it is to
know God. If you speak of true honor—it is to be born of God. If you
speak of true beauty—it is to have the image of God. If you speak of
true riches—it is to be rich in faith. If you speak of true
victory—it is to overcome the world. If you speak of true delight—it
is to have joy in the Holy Spirit. If you speak of true happiness—it
is to see God. Here is substance. This is that which will fill the soul
eternally with wonder and delight!
See the detestable folly of those who mind things of less
importance, but do not look after substance. Isaiah 55:2, "Why do you spend
money on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy?" Many
desire husks more than manna; and would rather put gold in
their bag than, with the wise virgins, have oil in their lamp.
Instead of laying up their treasure in heaven, they lay up their heaven in
treasure. Is not he unwise who is serious about trifles—and neglects
the securing of the main thing? As if one should lay out all his money for
ribbons or feathers—and forget to buy food. Many busy themselves about
worldly merchandise—but do not mind substantial things of eternity. The
earth is the basest element; men tread upon it—yet they make that their god
which they tread upon every day. The earth lies most remote from the
celestial globe—yet that which is farthest from heaven, lies nearest their
hearts. Alas, how poor are these earthly things, that men so throw away
their hearts on! What are silks—but the excrements of worms? What is
a pearl—but the disease of the fish? What is gold—but the dregs of
the earth? These things a man may have and go to hell. Luke 16:19, "There
was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly
every day. In hell, where he was in torment." A pack horse carries gold and
silver all day, and at night lies down in the stable with a painful back.
Just so, a man may be laden with worldly riches and, afterwards, lie down in
hell with a painful conscience.
Not but that it is lawful to take pains for the world,
and to take comfort in it. A man may neglect the world and seek God—but the
sin is when we seek the world and neglect Christ and grace. Oh, how few
trade for the pearl of great price!
QUESTION. But why do not men labor more after spiritual
ANSWER 1. Ignorance. Let pearls and diamonds lie before a
blind man, he does not discern them. 1 Corinthians 2:14, "The natural man
receives not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them."
Christ is a treasure—but a hidden treasure. Holiness is beautiful—but
this beauty is spiritual which a natural man can no more discern, than a
bodily eye can see a spirit. To this day, "the veil is upon the heart," 2
ANSWER 2. Presumption. People fancy they are in a state
of grace; they presume they have gotten this substance, and he who conceits
he has a thing already will take no great pains for it. Revelation 3:17,
"You say I am rich, and have need of nothing." A presumptuous person takes
all his religion upon trust. He will not take his money on trust—but brings
it to the touchstone and balance. He will not make his land on trust—but
examines the title; but he takes his grace upon trust. Oh, presumption, you
child of the devil, you great devourer of souls! How many have you flattered
into damnation! Take heed of this precipice! That which has kept many from
obtaining Christ, is the notion that they have had Him already.
Let us examine whether we have this substance;
this is that which most nearly concerns us. Let men be ever so rich, if they
do not have this spiritual substance, they are no better than bankrupt in
1. If we have this spiritual substance—then we can
remember a time when we lacked it. Time was when we had not one
shred of holiness, not one drop of the Spirit's oil. If we now blossom and
bear almonds, we can remember when we were like Aaron's dry rod—not one
blossom of grace growing. Faith sucked in with the mother's milk, is
suspicious. He who always believed—never believed. If we have
the seed of God in us, we can tell when it was otherwise. We were as far
from sanctity as the wild forest is from fruit, and all of a sudden God
broke up the fallow ground of our heart by contrition, and planted the
blessed fruits of the Spirit in us. If now we are light in the Lord—we can
remember when the veil was upon our heart.
2. If we have this spiritual substance—then we know how
we came by it. Grace has not dropped as a ripe fig into our mouth
when we were asleep. Though grace is a legacy given us without money and
price—yet not without labor. If we have this spiritual substance, it
has cost us many sighs and tears, many strong cries in prayer, many combats
and agonies. In the sweat of our face, we have eaten this bread. Never did
any man so bestir himself at his labor, as a Christian does in working out
his salvation. Is it not strange that a man should have his cabinet full of
rare gems—and he knows not how they came there? And is it not as great a
wonder that a man should have a stock of grace in his heart, and he knows
not how he came by it? He scarcely ever bestowed a serious thought about it,
or put up a prayer for it.
3. He who has this spiritual substance—highly prizes it.
esteems grace for the preciousness of it, above riches.
Christian, is it thus with you? If God should stand as King Ahasuerus, with
a golden scepter, and say, "Ask and it shall be given you to half of the
kingdom," can your soul say, "Lord, let me inherit substance. Enrich me with
the saving influences of the Holy Spirit. Let the upper springs be my
portion. Rather, Lord, a heart full of grace—than an house full of gold!"
"Lord, bestow Christ upon me! Let me lose, yes, suffer
anything—so I may get my Jesus," said holy Ignatius. This is a good evidence
that you have this spiritual substance. None can rightly prize sacred
treasure but those who have it.
What is it we thirst after most? Is it after this
substance? David thirsted for the water of the well of Bethlehem, 2 Samuel
23:15. Sampson cried out, "I die for thirst," Judges 15:18. Such are our
inflamed desires after spiritual things—that we are not satisfied with the
fruit of the olive tree, or the wine of Lebanon. We do not look upon these
as substance—but our desires run in a spiritual channel. We breathe after
the grace of the Spirit, the blood of the cross, the light of God's
countenance; other earthly necessities we are thankful for—but we desire
Christ and grace as our portion. These desires are the smoking flax which
God will not quench. This holy thirst evidences a great degree and
proportion of goodness in the heart. Desire proceeds from love; if we did
not love grace, we could not have such impatient desires after it.
If God has filled us with this substance—then He has
first emptied us. He has emptied us of our unrighteousness. He has
purged out the love of sin. The Word preached has been medicine—to
kill the worm of pride. The fire of lust is quenched. The earth is dug out
of the heart.
God has emptied us of our righteousness. He has shown us
that our moral goodness is mixed with evil—and that our best
religious duties are but shining sins. We are emptied of all reliance
on these, and dare not build on this quicksand. If we are filled with
substance, first we are emptied; the hand must be emptied of trash before it
can be filled with gold. "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and
all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6
4. If we have this rich substance—then we have the
indwelling of God's Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:12, "We have received
not the Spirit of the world—but the Spirit which is of God." What has the
Spirit done in our souls? Has He made us of another spirit—meek and humble?
Is He a transforming Spirit? Has He left His own likeness upon us? Has this
magnet drawn our hearts up to heaven? Has the Spirit made us pliable and
yielding to all God's commands? If we can say it is thus with us—then we
carry Christ and all heavenly treasure with us! John 3:24, "This is how we
know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us"
USE 3. Let us be persuaded to labor
after this spiritual substance. As well may one expect a harvest without
sowing—as the heavenly substance without labor, Proverbs 2:3, "If you
seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasure." Our
labor for this hidden treasure must be so great, that all labor about
the world, compared with this, should be as it were no labor. John 6:27, "Do
not labor for the food which perishes." Has not God said, "Six days shall
you labor"? Yes—but it must be as if were no labor—when compared with that
labor we must take for the Bread of Life. Just so, in that parallel
Scripture, Matthew 6:19, "Lay not up your treasure upon earth." No? Are not
parents bid to lay up treasure for their children? 2 Corinthians 12:14. It
is granted—but the meaning is, the labor for earthly treasure must be
nothing, in comparison of the pains we take for better and eternal things.
What sweating even to an agony—should there be for that substance which
endures forever. But before I press the exhortation, I must first remove an
OBJECTION. What is all my labor—unless God helps me
and gives me success?
ANSWER. It is true, we can do nothing of ourselves
without the interposition of divine grace. But though, of ourselves, we
cannot acquire spiritual things—yet we must use the means.
1. It is a duty that lies upon us. Luke 13:24, "Strive
to enter in at the strait gate." God, who made us without ourselves,
will not save us without ourselves, Duty is ours—success is God's, Luke 5:5,
"We have toiled all night, and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I
will let down the net." So at Christ's word—we must let down the net of our
2. In other cases we use means, though we cannot promise
ourselves success. We plow and sow, though we are not sure we shall have
showers and sunshine to ripen the seed. We use the means and leave the
outcome to God. If we do thus in matters of this life—why should we not much
more have the same wisdom for our souls—using prayer, reading,
meditation—and waiting with hope for success?
3. It is very probable that God may give a blessing to
our endeavor. Acts 8:22, "Turn from your wickedness and pray
to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive your evil thoughts." You do not know
but, upon your prayer, it may be forgiven you. It is God's usual way to meet
those who seek Him. When we put on a holy boldness in prayer, and will not
go away without an alms of free grace, we hope for success. The truth is,
God's stirring up the heart to seek for grace, is a good sign He
intends to bestow grace. Psalm 10:17, "You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear." When God stirred up King Solomon to ask
wisdom, He immediately gave it to him, 1 Kings 3:9,12. Just so, God's
inclining the heart to seek after spiritual blessings—is a hopeful sign that
He intends to bestow them on us.
4. God has made a promise of mercy, to such as use the
means. Proverbs 8:17, "Those who seek Me early, shall find Me." Though we
have no power—yet we have a promise. God has made Himself a
debtor to us, by His promise. Therefore, urge God with His truth. God had
promised David that he should not lack a man of his seed, to sit upon his
throne. Now, after David was dead, Solomon pleads this promise, 2 Chronicles
6:16. Put God in mind of His promise—and He will not deny. He will cause you
to inherit substance—and fill all your treasures. So, having taken this
objection out of the way, let me reassume the exhortation:
labor for spiritual substance.
This substance is worth laboring for. Grace is a
substantial blessing; it is a ray and beam of the divine nature, 1 Peter
2:4. A soul filled with this precious substance has angel's riches.
The angels may say as Peter, "Silver and gold have we none." But they have
spiritual substance; their dowry is their sanctity. What if we lack the
riches that reprobates have—if we possess the riches that angels
have! Grace answers all things; it sanctifies all troubles; it supplies
all wants; it crowns with the favor of God.
All the labor we can take, is little enough for procuring
this enriching substance. 1 Peter 4:17, "If the righteous scarcely are
saved." Grace and salvation may be had—but with difficulty. Though we
wrestle as Jacob did with the angel, it is well if at last we are possessed
of spiritual treasure. "I reach forward," said Paul, Philippians 3:13. This
is a metaphor from racers, who stretch themselves forth and run with a
winged swiftness to lay hold upon the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27, "I beat
down my body." What watchings and fastings have some of the saints endured!
How have they, Hannibal-like, marched over the Alps and dug through
spiritual rocks. for the achieving of true wisdom: "If the righteous
scarcely are saved."
Be all the more inquisitive and active in searching after
this spiritual substance, because Satan employs his utmost arts in hindering
us from obtaining it. Satan, having fallen to beggary, envies to see
us rich; his work is to obstruct our happiness. When the Lord asked him from
whence he came, he replied, "from compassing the earth to and fro," Job 1:7.
The earth is part of his diocese, and he is continually visiting in his
diocese; his business is to be setting snares. When they rob the
tiger of her young ones, the mother tiger runs after them and then they set
mirrors in the way; and, while she is looking her face in those mirrors,
they run away with the young tigers. In like manner, the devil sets mirrors
in mens way—beauty and pleasure—and while they are looking in these mirrors,
the devil runs away with their souls! Having, therefore, such a persevering
and wicked enemy, it requires the more caution and industry in seeking after
the things of heaven.
What pains do other people take to inherit folly—and
shall not we take more pains to inherit substance? How eagerly men pursue
their sins? The thief takes pains to satisfy his thievish lust. The
drunkard takes pains to satisfy his drunkenness. Men take great
effort for their sins. How active was Judas in betraying Christ! He runs to
the high-priest and then back again to the garden; a slower pace would have
served, to go to hell. Micah 7:3, "They do evil with both hands." To employ
one hand in sin is enough—but they were so eager for it—that they would sin
with both hands! Are men so industrious to damn their souls? Shall not we
much more to save our souls? If they are so eager for poison, shall not we
much more for food?
It is only this spiritual substance, which will stand us
in good stead when we come to die. When the soul is ready to take its flight
into the eternal world—now what is Christ and grace worth! Would not men
willingly part with all their earthly possessions, for the anointing of God
and the seal for the Spirit? A believer at death would not exchange his
anchor of hope for a crown of gold!
He who inherits this substance—shall inherit a kingdom!
James 2:5, "Rich in faith, heirs of a kingdom!" The saints are adopted into
the same privileges with Jesus Christ. Romans 8:17, "Heirs with Christ."
Christ partakes of the divine nature; so do the saints, 2 Peter 1:4. Christ
partakes of His Father's love; so do the saints, John 16:27. Christ dwells
in light; so do the saints, Colossians 1:12. The kingdom which believers
shall possess, is a place of sanctity and dignity. It is described by
transparent glass, Revelation 21:18, —there is the sanctity; and by gates of
pearl, verse 21, —there is the dignity. In that paradise of God, are
cordials to drink and crowns to wear! There are treasures that
can never be emptied—and pleasures that can never be ended! Behold, here a
better and an enduring substance.
QUESTION. What shall we do to inherit substance?
ANSWER 1. Trade for this substance in holy ordinances.
"Wait at the posts of wisdom's doors," Proverbs 8:3-4. It is good to lie in
Christ's way; nor must we only come under the droppings of the Word—but
labor with our own souls in private. When we have come to ordinances, as the
bee to the flower—we must work the Word afterwards in the hive of our own
hearts—that it may turn to substance.
ANSWER 2. Go to Christ for spiritual substance.
Revelation 3:18, "I advise you to buy gold from Me—gold that has been
purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments
so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for
your eyes so you will be able to see." Say, "Oh, Lord Jesus, look among Your
rich treasury of heaven. Shall I lack—when You are so full? Oh, enrich me
with spiritual substance! You are as sweet as the honeycomb; drop as the
honeycomb and send forth Your sacred influences into my heart. Lord, You
will be no loser by it. Your grace may be imparted—yet not
impaired. You may enlighten me—yet have never the less light. You
may enrich me—yet be never the poorer. Oh, blessed Jesus, open the
breast of free grace—and fill me with Your fullness. O blessed Tree
of Life, shake down some of Your precious fruits upon my soul."
Such as God has blessed with this spiritual substance,
let me exhort to three things:
1. Be cheered in the loss of outward comforts.
Perhaps the late fire has destroyed most of your earthly
possessions—but be of good comfort, God has caused you to inherit true and
eternal substance! When you have lost your temporal goods, you have
something you cannot lose. Luke 10:43, "Mary has chosen that good part,
which cannot be taken from her." Christian, have you the seed of God, the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Here is substance: the Lord has taken away
the lesser—and given you the greater. He has taken away your dying
flowers—and given you eternal jewels. He has made you low in the
world—and high in grace. He has emptied your coffer—and enriched your
conscience. How happy and blessed are you! God has taken away the earth
from you—and given you Christ and glory! As if a king
should take away from his favorite, a picture—and bestow his daughter upon
Oh, Christian, look upon your spiritual substance; see
how rich you are in Christ—and be comforted! 2 Corinthians 6:10, "As
sorrowful—yet always rejoicing; as having nothing—yet possessing all
things." To lack all—yet enjoy all, seems a paradox—yet it was a true
aphorism. Because Paul inherited substance, he had heaven in his hope—and
Christ in his heart! 2 Corinthians 4:18, Galatians 2:20. If the people of
God took a survey of their spiritual blessings, and considered what Christ
had wrought in them by His Spirit—it would silence their murmuring and turn
the voice of their weeping into the rejoicing of praise.
2. Be thankful to free grace. If God has made
you inherit substance, there is good reason that He should inherit your
praises. Has the Lord filled you with the hidden treasures of His grace? He
has done more for you, than if He had dignified you with crowns and
scepters! Oh, you saints, be full of gratitude! Make heaven ring with your
praises, Colossians 1:12. When God puts off others with feathery
things, and gives them their portion in this life; that He should give
you solid quintessence, that in your life He should sanctify you and
at your death enthrone you, what sovereign love is this! How has God
displayed the banner of free grace over you—and can you contemplate this and
not be living organs of praise? God, in giving you the true substance, has,
as the psalmist said, crowned you with loving-kindness! Psalm 103:4.
He has broached His best vessel. He has given you His very heart! You have
both the gift and the Giver! When God had made a promise of
clean water, He added, "and I will be your God," Ezekiel 36:25, 28. "Clean
water," there is the stream; "I will be your God," there is the Fountain.
Let this put another string in the lute—to make your praises sound louder!
3. Have you this spiritual substance? Labor to get more
it. We should be thankful for the least grace,
as this makes us partake of God's likeness. As a silver penny bears
the king's image as well as a greater piece of coin—the least faith will
justify. A man may be transported on the Thames River, as well in a
rowboat—as in a great ship. A lesser degree of grace will row us to heaven;
yet we should not content ourselves with a little—but still increase our
stock of grace. We should get more of this spiritual substance—more
knowledge, humility, sanctity. We should labor to have more of the oil of
the Spirit drop into our lamp. It would be a good covetousness to
covet more holiness.
The more grace—the more strength. There is as much
difference between weak grace and strong grace—as between an infant and a
The more grace—the more joy. When grace grows in
the root—joy flourishes in the branches. A Christian, for lack of increasing
grace, though he may walk to heaven safely—yet he walks there sadly.
The more grace—the more glory. They who would have
their crown more full of jewels, let their souls be more full of grace!