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Cheat up, poor flock, although your fare be thin,
OBSE R V A TI O N.
supply their own necessities, while living, but lay up fomething for their posterity when they are gone : they do not only leave to their children what their progenitors left them, but they defire to leave it improved and bettered. None but bad husbands and spend-thrifts are of the mind with that heathen emperor Tiberius, who having put all into fuch confufions in the empire, that it might be thought the world would end with him ; yet pleased himself with this apprehension, That he fhould be out of the reach of it, and would often say, When I am dead, let heaven and earth mingle ; if the world will but hold my time, let it break when I am gone. But provident men look beyond their own time, and do very much concern themselves in the good or evil of their posterity.
visions they make for their children, that all prudent Christians are bound to do, with respect to the truths committed to them, and by them to be transmitted to succeeding faints. VOL. VI.
In the first ages of the world, even till the law was given, faithfulmen were instead of books and records; they did, by oral tradition, convey the truths of God to posterity: but since the sacred truth hath been consigned to writing, no such tradition (except full consentiert with that written word) is to be received as authentic ; but the truths therein delivered to the faints, are, by verbal declarations, open confefoons, and constant fufferings, to be preferved and delivered from age to age. This was the constant care of the whole cloud of witneffes, both ancient and modern, who have kept the word of God's patience, and would not accept their own lives, liberties, or eftates, 110, nor the whole world in exchange for that invaluable treasure of truth : they have carefully practised Solomon's counfel, Prov. xxiii. . 23. “ Buy the truth, but fell it not ;" they would not alienate that fair inheritance for all the inheritances on earth. Upon the same reasons that you refuse to part with, or imbezzle your estates, Christians also refuse to part with the truths of God.
1. You will not waste or alienate your inheritance, because it is precious, and of great value in your eyes ; but much more precious are God's truths to his people. 'Luther profeffed, he would not take the whole world for one leaf of his Bible. Though some profane perfons may say with Pilate, What is truth? Yet know, that any one truth of the gospel is more worth than all the inheritances upon earth; they are the great things of God's law; and he that fells them for the greateft things in this world, makes a foul-undoing bargain.
2. You will not waste or part with your inheritance, because you know your posterity will be much wronged by it. They that baffle or drink away an estate, drink the tears of their
fad widows, and the very blood of their impoverished children. The people of God do also consider, how much the generations to come are concerned in the confervation of the truths of God for them: It cuts them to the heart, but to think that their children fhould be brought up to worship dumb idols, and fall down before a wooden and breaden God. The very birds and beasts will expose their own bodies to apparent danger of death, to preserve their young. Religion doth much more intender the hearts and bowels than nature doth.
3. You reckon it a foul disgrace to sell your estates, and become bankrupts ; it is a word that bears ill among you : and a Christian accounts it the highest reproach in the world, to be a traitor to, or an apoftate from the truths of God. When the primitive faints were strictly required to deliver up their Bibles, those that did so, were justly branded, and hushed out of their company, under the odious title of traditores, or deliverers.
4. You are fo loath to part with your estates, because you know it is hard recovering an estate again, when once you
have loft it. Christians do also know, how difficult it will be for the people of God, in times to come, to recover the light of the gospel again, if once it be extinguished. There is no truth of God recovered out of antichrist's hands, without great wrest. lings, and much blood. The church may call every point of reformed doctrine and discipline so recovered, her Naphtalies.; for with great wrestlings she hath wrestled for them ; “ earnestly « contending for the faith once delivered to them,” Jude 3.
5. To conclude ; rather than you will part with your estates, you will chufe to suffer many wants and hardships all your lives; you will fare hard, and go bare, to preserve what you have for your posterity : bůt the people of God have put themselves upon far greater bardfhips than these to preserve truth; ; they have chosen to suffer reproaches, poverty, prisons, death, and the most cruel torments, rather than the loss of God's truth, all the martyrologies will inform you what their sufferings have been, to keep the word of God's patience; they have boldly told their enemies, that they might pluck their hearts out of their bodies, but should never pluck the truth out of their hearts.
REFLECTION S. 1. Base unbelieving heart ! How have 1 A refleflion for flinched and sunk from truth, when it hath cowardly and been in danger ? I have rather chosen to leave faint-hearted it, than my life, liberty or estate, as a prey to profesors. the enemy. I have left truth, and just it is that the God of truth dould leave me. Cowardly foul! that durft not make a stand for the truth ; yea, rather bold and daring soul! that would rather venture to look a wrathful God, than an angry man in the face. I would not own and preserve the truth, and the God of truth will not own me; 2 Tim. ii. 12. “ If we deny him, he will deny us.”
2. Lord ! unto me haft thou committed the A reflection for precious treasure and trust of truth, and as I such as suffer received it, so do I desire to deliver it to the ge- for truth. nerations to come, that the people which are yet unborn my praise the Lord. God forbid I should never part with such a fair inheritance, and thereby beggar my own and thousands of souls ! Thou hast given me thy truth, and the world hates me; I well know that it is the ground of the quat: rel. Would I but throw truth over the walls, how foon would a retreat be founded to all perfecutors ? But, Lord, thy truth is invaluably precious. What'á vile thing is my blood, compared with the least of all thy truths ? Thou haft charged me not to sell it; and, in thy strength, I resolve never to pass a fine, and cut off that golden line, whereby thy truths are entailed upon thy people from generation to generation : my friends may go, my liberty go, my blood may go; but as fot thee, precious truth, thou shalt never go.
3. How dear hath this inheritance of truth A reflection coft fome Christians ? How little hath it coftus? for such as are We are entered into their labours; we reap in quiet pallef. in peace, what they fowed in tears, yea, in fron of truth. blood. O the grievous fufferings that they
chose to endure ! Rather than to deprive us of fuch an inheritance, those noble souls, heated with the love of Christ, and care for our souls, made many bold and brave adventures for it; and yet at what a low rate do we value what cost them fo dear? Like young heirs, that never knew the getting of an estate, we spend it freely. Lord, help us thankfully and diligently to improve thy truths, while we are in quiet poffeffion of them. Such intervals of peace and reft are usually of no long continuance with thy people.
The PÓ E M.
But such from which himself may gather fruit,
grows worse and worfe.
Or end the line of honour ? Nay, what's worse,
CH A P. VI.
Deeds for your lands you prove, and keep with care ;
gold, or in keeping it, than they are in examining their deeds, and preserving them: these are virtually their whole estate, and therefore it concerns them to be careful of them : if they suspect a flaw in their lease or deed, they repair to the ablest counsel, submit it to his judgment, make the worst of their cause, and query about all the supposeable danger with him. 'If he tell them their cafe is suspicious and hazard, Qus, how much are they perplexed and troubled ? They can neither eat, drink; or fleep in peace, 'till they have a good settlement; and willing they are to be at much cost and pains to obtain it.
such cafes, may give you a little glimpse of thofe troubles of loul, with which the people of God are perplexed about their eternal condition ; which, perhaps, you have been hitherto anacquainted with, and therefore flighted them, as fancies and