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find it ; that is, whosoever by declining the profession of the gospel for fear of persecution, shall hope to save this temporal life, shall lose that which is infinitely more considerable, eternal life; and whoever for my fake, and the gospel's, shall expose him. self to persecution and the loss of this temporal life, shall find a better life in lieu of it, shall at last be madel partaker of eternal life. And this certainly is wisdom, not to lose that which is more valuable, for the purchasing of that which is less considerable; For what is a man profited ? &c.
What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own roul ? Here our translators have un. necessarily changed the signification of the same word that was used before: for the word here translated foul, is the very same which is used for life, in the verse before ; and there is no reason to alter the rendering of it; for the sense is very current thus : Whosoever will save his life, Mall lose it; and whoe soever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his life? or what shall a man give in ex, chrnge for his life ?
This was a proverbial speech used among the Jews, . to signify that men value life above any thing in this world, and it seems to allude to that expression in Job, Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will be give for his life; that is, men will part with any thing in this world to fave their lives. :
Now this proverbial sentence which the Jews used concerning this temporal life, our Saviour does very fitly apply to the purpose he was speaking of, and argues à fortiori from this temporal life to eternal life. For if we think all that we have well bestowed to ransom our lives, then much more should we be willing to part with this morial life, and all the enjoyments of it, to purchase eternal life, which doth in true value more exceed this life, than this life doth any thing else in this world.
And that our Saviour doch apply this proverb of the Jews to a higher purpose, namely to eternal life,
is plain from what he adds in the verse after the text, For the Son of man mall come in the glory of his Fad ther, with his Angels, and then he mall reward en very man according to his works; that is, there is another life after this, wherein men shall be happy or miserable, according as they have behaved themselves in this world, and then it will appear who have made the best bargain, and who at last will prove the greatest gainers, they who by following me have hazarded this temporal life, and receive in lieu of it life eternal; or they who by denying me, have secu.. red their temporal lives, but forfeited the eternal life and happiness of the next world.
So that the meaning and force of our Saviour's argument is plainly this : What advantage would it be. to any man, if he could gain the whole world, and should be ruined for ever? or what would a man that. had brought himself into this miserable condition, give to redeem and rescue himself out of it ?
And that this is plainly our Saviour's meaning, will appear, if we consider how St. Luke expresseth the same thing, Luke, ix. 25. What is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, anda be caft away? So that the emphasis and force of our Saviour's argument, is not to be laid upon the word Soul, as our translators seem to have laid it; for St. Luke hath omitted this word: but it lies in the application of this proverbial speech, which the Jews used concerning this temporal life, to life eternal ?
Having thus cleared the true meaning and intenti. on of these words, I shall consider in them what may be most useful for us to fix our thoughts and meditations upon.
In these words we have two cases supposed, and a question put upon each of them.
First, Suppose a man should gain the whole world, and ruin himself for ever, what would be the advantage of it? What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself? · Secondly, Suppose a man had made such a bargain, and undone himself for ever, to gain the world ;
when he comes to be sensible of his folly, what would he not give to undo this bargain? What will a man give in exchange for his roul that is, to redeem and recover what he hath loft.
And indeed these questions carry their own anfwer and resolution in them. Suppose a man should gain the whole world, and ruin himself tor ever, what advantage would it be to him ? would it be any? No, certainly very far from it; for the words are a usiwo is, and signify more than they seem to express; What is a man profited ? that is, he would be so far from being a gainer, that he would be a vast loser by it.
And suppose a man had made such a bargain, had thus undone himself to gain the world, would he not reflect severely upon his own folly afterward? Yes certainly, he would give the whole world, if he had it, to undo it again.
So that the sense of these words may be resolved into these two propositions :
First, That it is a foolish bargain for a man to lose his own soul, and forfeit his eternal happiness upon any terms, though it were to gain the whole world.
Secondly, That whoever makes this bargain, will one time or other sadly rue it, and be sensible of the ' monstrous folly of it. What would a man give in exchange for his foul ? that is, what would he not give to be put in his former condition, and to be left to make a new choice?
First, That it would be a moft foolish bargain, for a man to purchase the whole world with the loss of his soul, and his eternal happiness.
The folly of this one would think sufficiently evi. dent at first sight; yet we see men every day guilty of it, so that either they do not discern it, or they do not consider it; therefore, to make men sensible of their monstrous folly herein, we will consider these: two things :
1. How inconsiderable the purchase. is. And,
II. How great a price is paid for it. For that is a foolish bargain, when we pay a great deal too much
for a thing, a mighty price for that which is little worth.
1. The purchase is inconsiderable. Our Saviour here puts the case to the greatest advantage on the purchaser's side, and makes the very best of it ; he
made, he puts a case next to an impossibility, that a man mall gain the whole world, which no inan ever did, or was in any probability of doing. Alexander bid fairelt for it, and because he over-run a few great countries, is called a conqueror of the world : but let a man survey the globe, and he will soon- see how small a part of the world he had mastered; it was but inconsiderable in comparison of the rest of the then known world; and much less if we take in those vast and spacious regions, which have since been discovered: so that if he had understood either the world, or himself better, he might have spared his crying for want of more to fubdue. But suppose a man could gain all the world, and command all the conveniencies and pleasures of it, yet all this, if it be duly weighed, would be found to be no great purchase, especially if we consider these three things :
1. If we had it all, yet the great uncertainty of .. holding it, or any part of it.
2. The impossibility of using and enjoying it all.
3. If we had it, and could use it all, the improbability of being contented with it. If a man had the whole world, 'tis uncertain whether he could hold it, or any part of it for any time ; if he should hold it, it is impollible he should use and enjoy it all; if he could use it, it is probable he would not be contented with it: and what a goodly purchase is this; when it is all of it uncertain, and the greatest part of it useless to us; and when we have it, we are as far from satisfaction, as if we were without it? All these considerations must needs mightily link the value of this purchase, and take us off from our fondness of a small part, when the whole is so inconsiderable.
1. If we had it all, the uncertainty of holding it, or any part of it. The very supposition of gaining the world doth imply, that it is lost from those that
had it before, which shews the possession of these things to be uncertain, and that they are not sure to continue in the same hand. When Alexander con. quered Darius, and took his kingdoms, juft so much as Alexander got, Darius loft ; so that if a man could gain the whole world from those who are now the lords and posseflors of it, the very gaining of it from others, must needs be a demonstration to hiin of the fickleness and uncertainty of these things. - No man is sure of any thing in this world for his life, or for any considerable part of it; and if he were, yet no man is sure of his life for one moment. How many ways hath the providence of God to change the greatest prosperity of this world into the greatelt misery and sorrow, and in an instant to overturn the greatest fortune, to throw down the proud. est alpirer, to impoverish the wealthiest prince, and to make extremely miserable, the most happy man that ever was in this world? This change of fortune may be made by the rapine of our enemies, or the treachery of our friends ; by a ftorin at sea, or a fire at land, by our own folly, or by the malice of others, or by the immediate hand of God.
Nay, all the outward circumstances of happiness may continue firm and unlhaken, and yet a man may be extremely miserable by the inward vexation and discontent of his own mind; and if riches and greatnefs, and prosperity would stick by us, we ourselves are fickle and uncertain. Our life is a vapour easily blown away, and though it be the foundation of all other enjoyments in this world, yet it is as frail and inconstant as any of them ; so that if a man could gain the whole world, yet this great purchase would be clogged with a double uncertainty, either of losing it, or leaving it; either of having thele taken from us, or ourselves snatched from them,
2. Suppose a man had gained the whole world, and were sure to keep it for a considerable time, yer it is impossible he should enjoy it all. Though no man yer ever had, yet it is possible he may have a title to the whole world, and a great deal of care and trouble to secure that against the violence and ambition of a